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Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Truth About Lies

The Truth About Lies


#692

Posted: 04 Dec 2016 05:08 AM PST



A Love



I don't know why I picked it.
It wasn't my usual kind:
it just seemed the thing to do
(maybe I felt sorry for it).

But it fitted in place
and it worked
when I tried it with you.

So, I think I'll keep it.
But I don't know what to call it.


28 August 1989
 
 
There're certain words (at least for me) that jump out at you. The two most significant in my life have been 'truth' and 'love'. Some would say they're connected, related even; people do talk about being honest about their feelings. I find that very hard because words are not designed with honesty in mind; numbers, yes—mostly. This is all stuff I've talked about many times before. Not that talking's helped. I'm still no closer to understanding love. I think possibly I'm just not very good at it. Or maybe it's simply harder than it looks. (See what I mean about words! How can something be simple and hard at the same time?) Did I love B.? I loved being with her. But that's not 'love love' is it? I loved F. but she clearly wasn't enough. Or had stopped being enough; needs change. There're lots of loves, we know that, which is why I use 'a' here rather than 'the' but I'm not convinced I've ever felt the same love for any two individuals. And maybe that's the way it is for everyone and the books lied to us. Well, of course they did.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Truth About Lies

The Truth About Lies


#691

Posted: 30 Nov 2016 02:34 AM PST



Coitus Interruptus



We made love
to make up

for the poem
in my head,

the one with the
punch line missing.


28 August 1989
 
 
Poems are not jokes I know but there's nothing like writing one where that last line kicks the feet from under your reader. I really don't feel as if the thing works without that. All that's missing is the rimshot: Buh Buh CHEE. This poem I have to say is pure fantasy. I never talk about a work in progress. My last two books I just handed to my wife when they were done. She didn't even know I was writing them! I'm not superstitious—far from it—but I really don't like talking about things I'm writing because they can change so much along the way. A perfect example of that is my novel Left. I wrote 10,000 words taking the book in one direction and then scrapped the whole lot and began again and wrote a very different book. What I ended up with was not the book I set out to write but what I produced was the book I needed to write. 

Just a word on the title: for the record, I have stopped having sex to go and write a poem. Man can only concentrate on one thing at a time.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Truth About Lies

The Truth About Lies


#690

Posted: 27 Nov 2016 08:11 AM PST



Secondhand



I had worn the Great Man's mantle
for some time
before I thought to check the pockets,
and they were empty.

In fact, they had been torn out!


28 August 1989
 
 
Do mantles even have pockets? I never thought about that before but they're basically cloaks and cloaks don't generally have pockets. Either way I can use poetic license to excuse myself. We all love that get out of jail free card. 

This is actually a sequel although I can't imagine anyone other than me picking up on it. In my previous poem, 'The Apeman Cometh' (#689), we see the poet looking in the mirror and not recognizing the creature gawping back at him (or, more correctly, not being recognized by the thing in the mirror). This harks back to 'The Drowning Man' (#600) where the young poet recognizes something in his hero's eyes he'd only seen before in a mirror. Years have passed and so has the great man and now the young poet is wondering just how 'great' he actually is. 

How do you define greatness? Per the dictionary: "the quality of being great; eminence or distinction." Eminence? "Fame or acknowledged superiority within a particular sphere." Distinction? "Excellence that sets someone or something apart from others." As a teenager I honestly believed I was destined for greatness. I didn't just have a chip on my shoulder I had a whole fish supper! [Fish supper is a Scotticism for fish and chips.] I thought that everything I wrote was gold. I really did. Now, when pressed, I'll admit to a certain facility with words. That I can't deny; the evidence is overwhelming. But greatness? I actually wonder how many great men (and, of course, women) felt comfortable with that label. Very few I would imagine.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Truth About Lies

The Truth About Lies


#689

Posted: 24 Nov 2016 09:01 AM PST


The Apeman Cometh



I remember his eyes,
his little sunken red eyes,
peering out of the cavern
of a grey simian skull.

They looked as if they were
staring from the depths
of my past.

Wondering what had become of me.

And not quite able to focus.


28 August 1989
  
 
Adrian Mitchell (1932-2008) has been described as "a prolific and popular British poet/dramatists known for works with a strong social conscience." I mention him because the title of my poem is also the title of a collection by Mitchell from 1975. I don't own a copy. I've never owned a copy. I may have handled a copy at some time—the cover looks familiar—but I couldn't have said with any certainty that I'd read the book or even any poem by Mitchell before I looked him up about an hour ago. I couldn't find the title poem but I did find some others from the collection: 'Ancestors', 'Ten Ways to Avoid Lending Your Wheelbarrow to Anybody' and the very sweet 'Beatrix is Three'. The first one does have a familiar ring to it but I couldn't find any individual poem called 'The Apeman Cometh'. The closest was this:
The Apeman's Hairy Body Song

Happy to be hairy
Happy to be hairy
When the breezes tickle
The hairs of my body

Happy to be hairy
Happy to be hairy
Next best thing
To having feathers
I say I don't recall ever reading a poem by Mitchell which is true but I do remember hearing him read a poem (probably on the BBC), the rather wonderful 'To Whom It May Concern' which he periodically updated to take account of the changing times. (Nalaka Gunawardene's blog post is worth checking out.)

When I sat down to write this in my head I'd taken the title from Eugene O'Neill's play, The Iceman Cometh (which I've never seen), but who knows now?

The poem reminds me of 'The Drowning Man' (#600). I don't suppose I'm the first writer who's looked in the mirror and wondered who was looking back at him be it a madman or an apeman.