Posts Tagged ‘Liz’

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.



who and what am I?
— we each have a thousand ways
of not knowing this

And that in itself, of course, is a kind of answer. I thought of calling the poem ‘sideways knowledge’. There seems to be nil link between the poem and my last night’s dreams. I woke at 3am and decided to get up, pleased that I had a few dream images still in my brain, and plenty of time to spend before work this morning, trying to shape a poem. I’ve been busy lately with the business of moving house, with a date set for the end of this month, and that is partly why I’ve not kept up with this blog. Also, I’m going to be moving in with my partner Liz, and it isn’t clear at all whether our life together (or whether she) will allow me the luxury of an hour or more at the beginning of the day, spent thinking about my dreams and trying to blog poetry. In view of that uncertainty, it’s natural to ease off the rigid habit, and see if I can do without it — before circumstances force me to do without it. I dreamed last night I was playing through Mahler’s 2nd Symphony in my head, wondering at the marvel of it. Actually I woke with the music of the 3rd going round and round, but in the dream I thought it was the 2nd. I guess there is — very broadly — some connection between ‘who and what am I?’ and Mahler. His music does ask this.


….and I would argue
for a return to the old
cosmology — Earth
at the centre of all things —
for this is where we are, yes?

I doubt I can explain this coherently. First let me describe my dream last night. I was in the centre of a large city. Although it was impossible, in the dream there was a planet not much smaller than the earth, located in the centre of the city, and a very skilful pilot was flying an aircraft or spacecraft, in a long elliptical orbit round the planet. Somehow he did not collide with the buildings of the city. The idea seemed to be to use the gravitational field of the planet (or the impetus of the orbit) like a sling shot as the point of departure for a longer journey elsewhere. Meanwhile I was worrying in case the mass of the orbiting spacecraft might in some way upset the equilibrium of the planet at the centre.

Secondly, let me sketch some thoughts I was having yesterday. In many spiritual traditions, there is the idea that the dead need to be able to let go of their attachment to things earthly and move towards ‘the light’ (whatever that means). This idea is found in spiritualism, in Tibetan Buddhism, and in Jung’s ‘Septem Sermones ad Mortuos’. I was thinking yesterday how absurd this is. Surely this life, on this earth, is worth every bit as much attention on the part of the dead, or more, than life in ‘heaven’. For me, this is similar to another idea I entertain periodically: the idea of telepathic communication with aliens. If aliens exist (probabilities are high that they do) and if their intelligence is superior to ours, they are far more likely to be encountered in our minds than in our skies. And in that case ‘here’ (this planet) is somehow not different from ‘there’ (their planet). And ‘we’ must be ‘them’. In that case, what seem to us purely human dramas — on this planet, in our families, in our minds — are in fact, unbeknown to us, providing an arena where ‘they’ act out their dramas.

In that sense, we are the centre of the cosmos. Or at least the centre lies, if not exactly in ‘us’, in the unknown foundations of our consciousness.

There are also resonances in all of this, for me, touching on my relationship with Liz and the way I have made her the centre of my universe.


to do the right thing
just this incredibly strong
urge — like an instinct
— towards rightness — what is it?
how come it does so much harm?

There is a clear route of association, from having seen the film The Danish Girl last night, to this idea in the poem, of a person’s inbuilt sense of rightness — although it wasn’t conscious at all in the process of writing. But the Eddie Redmayne character (Lili Elbe) is made up almost entirely of this passionate urge towards rightness (i.e. to her, being a woman feels completely right). I got to it though, this morning, by thinking about fidelity. I had two dreams last night, in both of which Liz was my faithful companion. In one, we were digging up the roots of a tree together. In the other, we were part of a foursome with another couple. I noticed, thinking about how much I passionately desire to be with Liz and to stay with Liz, that it was all bound up with a generalised desire to please the beneficent forces of the universe (whatever they are). Actually, fidelity is much more irrational than that sounds. It goes to the deepest gut level which I don’t understand. But so in fact does the urge towards rightness. There’s no doubt at all, for me, as to how illusory the idea of ‘right’ is. It ends up wrong so often, it’s almost the invariable rule. But I don’t propose to try to justify that statement here.


our journey towards
becoming human reaches
its consummation
in helplessness — power is
nothing but a falling short

I guess, for me, the definition of reality is somehow equivalent to human helplessness, while power is something thrown into the mix in order to throw us off the scent in our quest for ourselves. I’ve no idea how this poem came to be written, except that I dreamed of the word ‘Wednesday’ and decided it must be a dream about companionship (on the strength of association with Robinson Crusoe’s Man Friday). From there, I thought of Liz, my life companion (maybe ‘Woman Wednesday’?) and the way she rounds me out, adds another dimension to my existence, adds to my humanity. I love the idea of life as a journey toward becoming human, and the poem kind of wrote itself as I became locked in a desperate effort to complete that idea without sounding too lame.


petitioning to
be my lover, head tilted
seductively — he
persuades me to abandon
Liz — how is this possible?

Based on a dream I had, Christmas morning, depicting a schoolfriend whom I lost touch with in 1973. He was never my lover in reality. But in the dream I wanted to be with him rather than Liz. I even had a plan for how to let Liz know. I quite like the (for me, unusual) way this poem just describes the dream exactly as it is, and draws no conclusions or interpretations.


to be in your arms
— your eyes so deeply troubled,
filled with suffering —
self-sacrifice with you is
as natural as dancing

I am very fond of this poem already and I only wrote it a few hours ago. Liz is a naturally talented dancer with real flair, and if I was going to touch on the subject of self-sacrifice, I wanted to find some way to lighten it. I forgot all my dreams last night, but wrote this anyway based on the look in her eyes shortly before we fell asleep. I climaxed to pornography twice earlier this week and physically this means I had little left to give Liz last night. Our lovemaking went OK for a good while but then I lost my erection. It’s not just that my libido was already exhausted, but the whole experience (of the pornography) had somehow lifted me away from feeling totally in tune with Liz. It was clear as we settled back to go to sleep that she was troubled. I confessed my pornography habit to her back in January but she took it so badly I have felt unable to seek support from her for the continuing problem. So everything last night remained unspoken as far as whether she guessed the reason for my impotence. I could see in her eyes that she did. But was astonished to see almost nothing of accusation in them (the accusation that had been very verbal back in January). Along with her own suffering, there was just incredible gentleness, forgiveness and love.