absolute evil —
give me the grace to own it
— blinding nuclear
annihilation doesn’t
happen to me — it is me

I slept with my partner Liz last night for the first time since my latest pornography lapse two weeks ago. The cat interrupted our beginnings of lovemaking, and as a consequence I fell asleep. I then dreamed of a nuclear bomb being dropped into a kind of trench (vagina?) a few hundred yards away from me. The flash came and I knew it meant certain death, yet somehow I had the time and the mental resources to notice my own cowardice — even more disturbing than the inhuman evil of the flash itself — whereby I found myself hoping to get in the shadow of a nearby building and somehow save myself. And in that moment I knew I cared more about myself than either my mother or Liz. I’m intrigued that the word ‘shadow’ in this context appears as the only positive symbol in an utterly horrible dream. Yesterday I was thinking about Jung’s use of the word, because of having texted someone about the ‘shadow side’ of ‘overcaringness’. I wondered if she had understood, and told myself that, because material objects do have a quite literal ‘shadow side’ when lit by the sun — it must be therefore a pretty self-evident metaphor. My poem is called Caliban because of the words of Prospero at the end of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, where he says (referring to the monster Caliban) …this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine …. — which, heard through Jungian ears, is a way of saying ‘I acknowledge the evil parts of my own personality’. I take Jung’s ideas around evil very seriously.


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