Posts Tagged ‘impatience’


an erect penis —
so much more than an item
of biology

Against the odds, I’ve managed a half-decent attempt to capture in words the flavour of last night’s dream. I found contemplation of the dream quite disturbing and depressing, and I began to despair of finding any kind of acceptable representation for the issues it raises. As a teenager, I had French horn lessons, because my father had been a French horn player. The French horn I learned on was his, the French horn teacher was someone he knew professionally. Then when I was 16 I moved to London and had a new teacher — a younger man with much more awareness of the latest ideas on horn technique. I had severe emotional problems and although obviously he could see that was the case, he rarely displayed anything other than suppressed impatience with the pathetic mass of insecurities which was me. But he was a good teacher who improved my playing, and we somehow found a way of working together. In my dream last night he seemed to be concentrating deliberately on sustaining an erection while he was teaching me. The penis was hanging visible. I thought I had to imitate him. At the literal level, I should make it clear this dream refers to nothing that ever took place in real life. At the symbolic level, I guess manhood (or assertiveness) was somehow the issue between us. I was a closet gay at that time. In the dream I was fascinated in a horrified way by the penis. In reality he was quite an assertive character. I used to hate his assertiveness, because he seemed so deliberately unsympathetic. But I had nothing better to offer.


predatory streak

the taxi driver
pulls out of the queue, skidding
wildly, his patience
broken — poor man! — how can I
use this to my advantage?

In the dream I was a passenger in the taxi, calculating whether my driver had made the right decision from the point of view of reaching the destination of my journey. Now that he’d reversed out of the traffic queue, he was going to have to go round by a longer route. But what if the queue were to disperse any moment? So much for the dream. In the process of writing the poem, I found myself writing ‘Poor man!’ and it all fell into place. I could juxtapose an expression of pity next to the raw self-interest I’d felt in the dream. Yesterday I was reading about Nietzsche and his critique of pity as a decadent emotion. I don’t agree with him at all. But I have to admit the poem, as it turns out, puts his case very well.