Posts Tagged ‘drama’


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.


domestic row

mid-battle, something
fundamental shifts — I can
recreate the terms
of this encounter and give
myself to the enemy

The battle in my dream wasn’t at all like a domestic one — if anything it was heroic, like Beowulf and Grendel — but suddenly in the middle of fighting I felt unaccountably empowered to perform an act of incredible self-sacrifice. It was my destiny. In real life yesterday, Liz and I were arguing (quite mildly, actually) about which items of furniture to bring from my flat when I move into hers. I felt quite sure what I wanted — i.e. to have one of my bookcases in the bedroom so that the top could serve as my dressing table. Yet quite suddenly from nowhere I found myself capitulating, proud in the knowledge that it was because I loved her. I quite like that the dream dramatises this as a heroic moment.

silent witness

merely to hint at
whatever I imagine
amounts to my truth
— is already more than I
am capable of saying

I dreamed I was witnessing the birth of a child — except the whole thing was a dramatic simulation. I kept wondering how the actress felt about how close she was coming to having her vagina exposed to the audience. She was delivering the baby standing up, facing the audience. In the end, it seemed that professionalism had won out, and they managed not to show any vagina. I had great difficulty writing a poem about this. The poem ended up being a poem about the difficulty of writing a poem. I guess writing a poem is something like delivering a baby.

I am that

the play of the sun
and the drama of the clouds
— simple rhetoric —
by which God speaks to the heart
using a person’s own voice

In my dream I was in Rome, walking along a river, presumably the Tiber. But the buildings on the opposite side of the river were a long way away and in real life the Tiber is not that broad. It felt a bit like Venice where you often find yourself gazing at buildings on the skyline, across water. The sky became very dark. I noticed I was able to look directly at the sun because it was partly shrouded in cloud. A massive storm cloud lay directly overhead, but it was moving swiftly and I awaited the return of the sunlight any moment. I wanted to convey in my poem a sense of awe at knowing oneself caught up in some huge massive impersonal drama involving simultaneously both Nature and Civilisation — and the paradox by which this drama is also the fact of my own individual existence — hence felt at the most intimate and personal level. I only arrived at the title after completing the poem, and I had to google it just to be sure it was a genuine Sanskrit saying (which it does seem to be). I’ve no idea where I would have heard it originally. In a book no doubt, in the days long before the internet.

γνῶθι σεαυτόν

being me involves
a very particular
and unique kind of
self-ignorance — it’s the most
daunting thing in the whole world

I think it’s the case that my blog wrings more soul-searching from me than is required to keep my daily poem going without the blog. There’s a dramatic quality to what emerges under the pressure of knowing that I’m going to be sharing it online — even if the number of my readers is admittedly few. It was interesting for me to realise, looking back at the blogs in November, that I have repeated myself. Titus Alexander featured in a blog in November (and again a couple of days ago). Likewise Max Landsberg (although I didn’t name him, the first time I wrote about him). The man I dreamed of last night might likewise have already featured in previous blog posts. He was a lecturer in English Literature at a university in the USA, and he also happened to be the brother of my teenage gay lover. I met him in 1975 when he brought a party of his students over to London theatreland. I liked him enormously; there was a solidity, reliability and integrity about him (qualities which perhaps his brother sometimes lacked). He also had a gift equal to his brother’s, for generating a good feeling in a group of people. Whatever the psychological damage done to me by his brother, I suppose you could say this university lecturer has remained in my mind as the image of the person I would have most liked to be, other than myself (if wishes like that were ever granted). So he carries the projection of my own idealised self-image. The point about the theory of projection is that it enables you to recognise, obliquely, clues as to the character of the self who is a complete stranger to you. I really do feel utterly daunted, and utterly tiny, against the mystery of this stranger in my life (me) who was presumably responsible for how much angst and joy I suffered in those days — and how totally, totally screwed up I was. Am.


does trash still count as
trash, once it has been rescued?
— surely the act of
paying attention to trash
turns it into something else?

Depend upon it sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully. This quote from Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson was rattling around at the back of my mind as I reflected how the simple task of arranging words in the syllabic pattern of a tanka (5-7-5-7-7) seems to bring things wonderfully into focus. There’s something doctrinaire about me, when I’m faced with one of my own dreams. I settle down to penetrate what it ‘means’ because I’m convinced in advance that it does mean something. But the meaning emerges purely because I’m looking for it. This act of self-creation is enormously satisfying, but it’s also circular, and self-deluding maybe. I dreamed I was printing off a document after saving it as a pdf. Clearly relates directly to the last thing I did before going to bed, printing off something to read which relates to work. An act of purely mundane significance (or insignificance). But because I dogmatically assume that all dream images are ‘significant’, I have now magically created an aura of significance around the act of printing off a document. In my poem, I was thinking of a piece of psychoanalytic theory I was reading about yesterday, where apparently D.W.Winnicott saw a pattern in the way babies play with putting things in their mouths. He saw 3 stages: (1) hesitant curiosity (2) rapt attention (3) riddance. Presumably ‘riddance’ means throwing the object away. When I identify the act of printing off a document as being ‘purely mundane’, I’m basically trashing it, or in other words, ridding myself of it. Then when I force myself to make it the centre of my poem, I’m retrieving it or rescuing it from the trash. By which time it is no longer trash. Similarly, in quantum mechanics the act of observation is understood as apparently affecting, or even maybe bringing into existence, the thing observed. Electrons only turn into electrons once they’re observed (according to my layman’s understanding). Copenhagen refers to a play of that name by Michael Frayn, one of my favourite works of literature


I would tell her to
run through pouring rain just for
the sake of running

If I could go back and do things differently….. Or if I could travel all the way back in time to the fourteenth century and talk with Edward II’s Queen. Edward II was gay. Or that seems a fair inference from Christopher Marlowe’s play written two and a half centuries later. The Queen was jealous of her rival Piers Gaveston. Anyhow this poem proposes a cure for homophobia. And for jealousy perhaps.