Posts Tagged ‘soul’


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.


infinite vista

within me — there’s more
wealth, more courage, more beauty
— more exquisitely
cruel ignorance — than my
soul will ever comprehend

I did try hard with this poem. Last night I dreamed of a girl and a guy on a blind date. The guy was clearly me — he had written some lovely music — and I exclaimed that this music was just like the music I used to try and write — only better! At one time in my life, in reality, I did entertain ambitions of becoming a composer. The girl was a girl to whom, in reality, I am attracted quite a lot. She is thirty years younger than me, so I tend to deal with my attraction in real life by denying it. It is painful to have to realise, thinking about this dream, that there is a much more pronouncedly romantic flavour to my feelings for her, than I am capable of holding properly in consciousness. The poem is about that contradiction — that discrepancy — between what the dream shows me, and what I am able to accept.


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.

I am part

mountainous terrain —
incomprehensible tongue
— deepest mystery
of the human soul — lovers
here, now — nowhere, never — look!

Difficulty getting back in my stride after writing no poem yesterday morning. But the effort this morning has paid off I think. Very pleased with this. I particularly like the title, which I struggled to find. The opposite of ‘I am part’ would be ‘I am whole’, and wholeness is supposed to be the goal of the Jungian path (to which I am pretty well committed). But ‘I am part’ suggests being ‘part of’ a greater whole. Part of a pair of lovers. Part of a mystery. Part of the human race. There was a mystical euphoria for me in writing this poem. It may be derivative, since the final line of the poem clearly recalls the euphoric last words spoken by King Lear in the play by Shakespeare. I dreamed last night of my teenage gay lover, who in fact introduced me to the wonders of King Lear, which I still love, almost more than any other single work of literature. I was cradling him against my breast in the dream, in a way that recalls my embrace of my aged mother in real life last time I said goodbye to her on Friday. She is getting old and confused and, in order to get through to her, I am getting more physically confident to embrace her than I have ever been in the past. My dream last night also included quite literally a scene in the mountains where I seemed to be in France and unable to understand the language being spoken (in real life my French is so basic as to be practically useless). I feel this poem hangs together as a poem, which is more than I usually expect. As I explain on the ‘about’ page, I write as therapy not as art.


without God, there’s no
slightest possibility
of discovering
what I am in myself, right
now, at this given moment

I struggle again and again every morning, with finding a title for these poems. I usually end up being ironic, but without feeling confident that the irony will be transparent enough for anyone else to perceive. The word existential often seems to me like a mystification of something very simple. Likewise the whole of theology does. I dreamed last night of my teenage gay lover. In the dream, I felt in a very vivid, present way the full connotations of abuse which our particular relationship carried. He abused me psychologically: I am reasonably happy with that statement. Exploring that feeling of being abused leads into mysterious areas when the experience being explored is a dream — and where therefore the abuser is actually a symbol of some aspect of my own potential for committing, rather than suffering, abuse. God is quite an abstract rather than personal entity for me. And oddly enough I tend to believe in Him not so much as some massively powerful Being by whom I am loved, but just as a logically necessary complement to my own incompleteness. Human love must have a divine object. In other words the universe must be capable of receiving my love directly at the moment that it bubbles up in my soul. I guess I first thought of this proof for the existence of God about 25 years ago, but it probably originates much further back, in 1976, when I first came across The Cloud of Unknowing in the Penguin translation by Clifton Wolters.

postmodern hell

how shall I preserve
my soul? — damnation is a
consumer, grazing
the multiplicity of
competing philosophies

And yet there is no answer for me in single-minded devotion to any single religion or philosophy. Christianity is the religion of my childhood, which my inner child responds to like no other. Buddhism seduces me with the promise of a superior spirituality. Taoism accords most closely with the Jungian doctrine of opposites which I do go along with, heart and soul. But there is something so coldly intellectual in the idea of opposites as the basis of all psychic life. And if Jung was right about it, how come the world hasn’t embraced the idea? Or to put that another way — what use to me, to possess ‘the truth’, if I am in such a tiny minority of believers? And how can it be science (as it claims to be) if it requires me to believe? The fourth belief system I am tempted by is the belief in a mother goddess. This relates to last night’s dream where I was in the garden of Robert Graves’ house in Mallorca, getting along famously with Graves himself. In reality I met him when I turned up at his house unannounced in 1983, and his wife kindly entertained me for half an hour or so. Graves himself was in a wheelchair and by that time had retreated into dementia and silence. For a Wikipedia summary of the Graves-goddess connection see here

millions of us

funny how we share
our names so generously
— John — symbolizing
my uniqueness — the one thing
I will share without fighting

It passes over us, without a trace of envy or resentment — the irony that, by and large, each of our names is shared with a million other human beings. The one single thing that denotes the precious individuality of myself is itself not remotely unique or individual at all. It’s ‘mine’ to the point of being ‘me’, but I don’t get competitive about it. When else does that happen — that we don’t feel possessive about our possessions? I met someone named Hannah yesterday evening, with whom I felt a strong connection. Then last night I dreamed of a Hannah from my childhood. I also dreamed of my own name John, which somehow seemed to have taken on a disembodied life of its own. I’d have liked to get the word ‘soul’ into my poem somehow. I have the name John in common with my paternal grandfather, who died when I was fourteen, and because of the connection of the name, I have often felt, over the years since his death that our two souls were on some kind of common journey. As part of this, I toyed with the notion I might be a reincarnation of John the Baptist.