Posts Tagged ‘pedestal’

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.



what if the junkie
begging nextdoor my workplace
— a black girl face and
soul eaten up by hunger —
what if that girl were Anna?

There is something terribly wrong with goodness and light and safety and security and happiness and love and fulfilment and health and fatness. How privileged I am, to have lived through so many years of utter deprivation, earlier in my life — financial, psychological, emotional, social, nutritional — I had nothing at all whatsoever in my life. Except, actually, my mother. I seem to have forgotten what it is, to suffer agonising anguish and mental torture every moment of every day. Surely THAT was real life — not this relatively happy, fulfilled, contented life I’m living now? Fortunately I was never into drugs at all. Mostly these days when beggars ask me for money, I can notice some extremely faint flickerings of compassion in myself. I can see my previous life in them, just a little bit — hardly at all, but just a little bit. Occasionally I give them money or food. With this particular junkie however, who begs on the street nextdoor to where I work, I feel nothing but revulsion. She popped into my mind for some reason as I reflected this morning on last night’s dream, which was of Anna, the girl I fell in love with as a teenager. In my dream, she was still on the same old pedestal. In real life, it was an unrequited love in the sense that she refused me, although I persisted in believing for several years that she loved me, based on the evidence of my own dreams. Whatever the truth of that — I learned an enormous amount from believing it. My poem brings together these utterly opposite female figures — Anna and junkie — and makes them one. I suppose they stand, respectively, for the two opposite extremes of fulfilment and deprivation which my own life has shown me and which I struggle to make sense of, on an ongoing basis. I feel like I’m living in a bubble of fulfilment, just waiting for it to burst and for the real world outside — the world of extreme suffering — to come flooding back in.


so why do women
get put on a pedestal
by men? — it’s as though
we want to elevate them
away from their own Being

And incidentally, away from ours — away anywhere — just away. I’m afraid this poem is itself something of a defence/barrier against the unsavoury content of last night’s dream. The great love of my life, at least through my teens and twenties, was a girl named Anna with whom I never had any degree of physical intimacy at all. But in my dream last night she was focused, to the exclusion of all else, upon achieving physical intimacy with me. It felt very undignified, even in the dream: so it’s perfectly clear the dream is bringing her down off a pedestal. The poem tries to do the same thing but I’ve noticed a circularity in the way the capitalization of my final word Being somehow restores her to her pedestal even though the sense of the poem is arguing completely against this tendency. Das Ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan (the last two lines of Goethe’s Faust) is normally translated ‘The Eternal Feminine draws us upward’. But, via Google, I’ve found ‘Woman Eternal, draw us on high’ which seems better to me. Anyhow, either way, the fact Goethe chose to end Faust this way helps convey how deep-seated the whole pedestal thing is, in the male psyche.


the gold lies hidden
in the shit — understood — but
what if the found gold
reverts — begins to display
the shit hidden in the gold?

I’m not sure that ‘but what if….’ is really very poetic. Still, it’s a fair reflection of what I wanted to say. I dreamed of somebody in real life whom I respect and look up to enormously. A psychiatric survivor who embodies for me the idea that the worst life experiences and inner states can be turned to good account. She was however, in the dream, behaving quite irresponsibly and chaotically. The very opposite of the reliable ‘rock’ I know her to be in reality. There was an element of mockery in her manner. Quite scary, thinking about it awake, to find such a symbol of reliability suddenly undermined. Can’t help wondering if it’s a warning. Am I in danger of behaving in that way myself? Maybe it’s a warning against putting people on a pedestal.