Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

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.



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.

science and magic

light is both at once
a wave and a particle —
in the same way, love’s
reality consists in
fantasy pure and simple

I dreamed last night of Anna, my first love — a long and involved dream, and unusual, for the fact that I seemed to be myself as I am now, in the dream, with all or most of the thoughts and feelings about Anna appropriate to not having seen her for thirty years. There seemed to be the opportunity for sex with her, but in the dream, I was able to interrogate myself whether sex with Anna was the wisest course to pursue. What about her marriage (she was married with children last time I met her in 1985)? The dream ended with her husband rescuing me — literally pulling me with a firm grip of his hand in mine — from the bed in which I was beginning to get it on with his wife. It was almost as if we were allies, with Anna, or Anna’s sexuality, as the enemy. I’m very pleased with this poem. After all, there was never in reality the slightest physical expression of love at all, between myself and Anna. It was pure fantasy. But all love without exception is pure fantasy. That’s just what it is, in itself.


a shower of pink
roses — and that moment of
exquisite horror
as I watch myself slowly
start to stuff them in my mouth

The roses were so beautiful, and so unexpected. In the dream, I had only the very faintest sense (but just enough) that I was committing some kind of sacrilege by eating them. What can this mean? In another part of the dream, my stepmother who in reality is 69 years old, was a young woman in her early twenties. We were discussing the nuances of feeling, around the issue of whether to split the bill for a meal out, or allow my stepmother herself to pay for everyone. I feel probably the shower of pink roses implies some kind of bridal procession — presumably my stepmother’s. The innocence with which I set about eating the roses is worth noting. Come to think — it reminds me of the innocence with which, in reality, I snubbed my stepmother’s wedding to my father in 1976. The wedding took place in February. It would have been inconvenient to attend, because it was the middle of my term at Cambridge. But more than that — when I received the invitation I literally experienced no interest in it. In later years I marvelled at how completely I had failed to realise the implications of not turning up. It simply never occurred to me that, symbolically, I was withholding my approval from the marriage. Maybe one can opt to view the eating of the roses positively. Nature taking its course. Healthy appetite. A wedding invitation accepted.

cast off

old clothes — a pile of
not very fresh ideas
I wore for awhile
— now it’s time for them to go —
what, me? — attached to old clothes?

Anna is quite a common name. But I had an email at work yesterday from someone named Anna whose email profile just stated ‘Anna’ with no surname and this made me wonder for a moment if it was an Anna out of my past. Potentially every Anna reminds me of my first unrequited love which obsessed me for about five or six years from 1975 to 1981. I dreamed last night I was having an open affair with Anna outside her marriage to someone else. I knew the affair had to end, and that it was untenable for me to be keeping all my belongings in their flat: so I was beginning the job of moving them out. There was a particular moment when someone held up an ancient pair of trousers I had worn to tatters. I guess, awake, as I wrote my poem I began to wonder if Love might be one of the tired ideas symbolised by the old clothes.

The Family Man

so I went mainstream —
without ever the slightest
real idea why
— a straight exchange of darkness
for darkness — who pulled that deal?

I dreamed of a ‘typical middle class’ wife and husband and small children. The whole family was determined to help me in all kinds of unexpected ways. I felt like an interloper. I enjoyed getting a glimpse into their lives. Couldn’t quite understand why they seemed to love me. The Family Man is a movie I saw by accident on telly a good while ago. It was a glossy Hollywood product with a facile message and I loved it. There are so many things wrong with the way we glorify heterosexual family life. Despite feeling so utterly alienated from all that up to the age of about 45, through it all I never lost sight of the fact that I knew it must contain an enormous amount of value that deserved to be affirmed, and that I wanted to experience for myself. Partially, I have achieved this. I have no children but look likely to get married. My poem is saying that even though the mainstream me and the alienated, marginal me look and feel so different, they are both just different forms of self-ignorance.


forgive me, my dear —
but this year, for your birthday
I shall marry you

I dreamed last night of Barbara Windsor. In the dream, her age was under discussion. It transpired, to my surprise, she was about 61 or 62: and I realised this meant she was only a couple of years older than me. It was mid-afternoon by the time I came to write a poem about my dream, and I had on my mind the problem of what to get my partner Liz for her birthday. She will be sixty in July. When I was fifty in 2006, she surprised me by making a big fuss of this particular birthday. That is, she met me from work and presented me with no less than 3 birthday gifts: a wallet, a watch and a ring. The ring in particular was incredibly moving for me to receive from her. I have worn it ever since. Maybe therefore it was inevitable that I would think eventually of marrying her as a sixtieth birthday present. But the name Windsor also had something to do with it. I’m not sure if the connection is obvious, between marriage and monarchy. They are both incredibly rich institutions at the symbolic level, where the boundary between the archetypal and the everyday tends to break down.