Archive for the ‘tanka’ Category

revisitation

what new horror lurks
in the near-total darkness
of Llandaff Road? — can
all this ignorance be mine?
— and time only compounds it

My sister commented to me yesterday that our mother has always been a drama queen. I know what she means. Yet I also suspect my dream last night took me back to Llandaff Road which was our family home for four years 1969-72, as an indication or a nudge to remember just how much drama there was back then.

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no choice

the gut argues for
sexual congress — never
such raw compulsion
as now — two bodies wholly
determined to do their thing

In 1969 Ian McKellen toured playing Marlowe’s Edward II, which I saw at the age of thirteen at the New Theatre Cardiff. Ironic, given at that point in my life I was oblivious to any homosexual feelings — nevertheless I was profoundly impressed and moved by the representation on stage of the historically fairly-accurate love affair between Edward II and his court favourite Piers Gaveston. Twenty years later, a dream told me that that particular couple had had ‘no choice’ — it had been fated — and I knew immediately, awake, that this had been my own feeling about my own gay love affair on which I embarked in 1971. Some decisions come from such a deep place that they can only be right however much misery and heartache they subsequently bring.

In my dream last night I was embracing another man’s wife. My poem describes the dynamic between us quite well. She was Judith whom I knew in 1977 by her maiden name of Everard. I was thoroughly smitten, but she was out of my league. Not in any carnal sense, for I don’t think she would have been interested in ‘sex before marriage’ in any case. But morally out of my league. She had a strength of character and integrity which I lacked. She has stayed firmly on a pedestal in my memory for the last forty years. It feels momentous to dream of her now as another man’s wife amenable to being seduced by me. I have dreamed of her reasonably often over the years, but cannot recall any similar dream where she comes down off her pedestal so decisively. In the dream, I was mainly concerned for my own unfaithfulness, not hers. I knew I’d betrayed Liz, and was looking desperately for ways of remedying the situation.

fetish

my shame of owning
this brand new iPhone 5S
— reveals my inner
monk/puritan — quite distinct —
a sub-personality

Well, microchip technology is quite something after all. Conversely, I experience a swell of pride that I successfully weaned myself off a mild addiction to Twitter and Facebook (I’ve deleted both). The film Steve Jobs was, for me, a useful prod to the imagination to help grasp just how momentously computers have changed all our lives. Computers somehow engage our emotions whether we like it or not — which is quite some irony given they are totally emotionless themselves. Since a couple weeks ago I now own my first ever brand new iPhone. Prior to that, I had been using my sister’s cast-offs. I dreamed last night that I was holding my iPhone 5S under a stream of running water, trying to wash it clean. Then I realised with a jolt that I was supposed to have waterproofed it first. There was some quite  specific procedure for waterproofing, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember if I’d already carried it out or not. This was an anxiety dream and a wake up call to realise I care far too much about my iPhone! But the poem focuses upon the figure in my own unconscious who seems to be always whispering to me how much better off I would be if I owned nothing at all.

hugs

a lot can be solved
by physical affection
— coming together
in mutually confirmed
blind ignorance of being

There were some terribly difficult dynamics at work, between colleagues, about a year ago. I found one person in particular above all quite problematic to relate to. Last night I dreamed I was with her, and that we were just on the verge of beginning to touch each other in a sexual way. I suppose you could call it flirting. Then I was being like that with a whole series of female colleagues, in the dream. It felt quite liberating. Earlier in my life for decades I was extremely uptight about touching women, whether sexually or just socially embracing. It’s so tempting to imagine I have made ‘progress’ in being more confident now. The dream kind of confirms this point of view. But I wanted to challenge it in the poem.

in old age

a man’s teenage pain
returns by devious paths
to haunt him — just one
final rebellion left
— the act of remembering!

A week ago I had my sixtieth birthday. Ageing seems to be a constant theme of this blog. Employing a title like this, ‘in old age’, does seem a bit melodramatic of me. I dreamed last night I stood accused of being able to alter someone else’s reality just by the act of remembering. I felt innocent. But at the same time, I did in fact feel as though I had engaged in some kind of subversive act, simply by allowing a certain thought into my head — which was the memory of someone named Howard Pollock, whom I knew for a couple of years in the mid-seventies.

our trespasses

begging forgiveness
— comes more readily to some
than others — I wish
this whole thing could be dealt with
minus Christianity

I had an interesting conversation yesterday evening, with a man who is quite an experienced counsellor — although it wasn’t a counselling session. We were talking about Christianity. Also yesterday, I begged forgiveness quite insistently, after telling my partner Liz to shut up in the heat of a minor row about where to pick up the bus home. I really hate the monopoly on human goodness which Christianity lays claim to, surreptitiously, via the divine goodness of its ‘good’ God. About fifteen years ago, I asked my father to forgive me for the brutality of my behaviour towards him in my teens. He evaded the issue. I was disappointed not to get ‘closure’. I felt quite certain, and still do, that his resistance to using the currency of that kind of language of forgiveness, has something to do with his lifelong habit of resisting the negative influence of Christianity, which was dominant in my mother’s family, being associated with all kinds of repressive attitudes. But the problem outlined in my poem is much broader. I often find myself wondering what sort of a relationship with goodness and forgiveness I would have, in my own mind, if I had not been brought up a Christian. That would entail being far removed from my actual cultural context — either by space (a non-Christian country) or time (a century before Christ) or simply by being born into a different family in this country, although I suspect anyone born into a nominally Christian country, even if their family is atheist, probably gets infected by the polarities of conformity with, and rebellion against, the monopoly on goodness and forgiveness which Christianity implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) lays claim to. I dreamed last night of my long-dead great-aunt Adelaide. She was helping me deal with the fact that my mother had died (not the case yet in reality). We nearly parted acrimoniously but she was too generous-hearted to let that happen, and called me back and said sorry to me.

cattle

why are my options
so similar, all of them?
— marry this woman
or that, who cares? — thus my soul
mourns its own brutality

Simple dream. I was making my choice between a number of women to spend my life with. Utterly unreal, the callousness with which I took for granted that any of them would have me. It took me about two hours to arrive at this final poem, but am pleased with the end result. In the dream, I ended up coupling with the woman of my choice, on a high ledge in full public view. Early drafts of the poem played with the idea of trying to find a ‘niche’ for myself, both literally and figuratively. The literal niche of the high ledge made me think of comparing myself to a feral pigeon — surely there is something callous about the mindlessness of these creatures? Yet when I was homeless, I felt a strong bond with them, terribly protective towards them.