Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Truth About Lies

The Truth About Lies


Posted: 10 Feb 2016 03:51 AM PST


I don't know what William saw in us.
It's true, he used to undress us with his eyes
but they were so gentle
you couldn't be angry with him.

He had his name for all the girls.
He used to call me Looker –
because I looked back, he said.

No one's ever seen me naked
the way he saw me clothed.
Not even in a mirror.

29 June 1988

It's been six months since my last poem. Funny, if you'd asked me about the past I'd've sworn I was writing poems constantly, well, one a month anyway and maybe it averages out to that but clearly I wasn't in any rush to get my ideas finalised. On Boxing Day the Drowning Man returned. Now it's Sweet William's turn. This is his second. appearance The first was in 1981, 'Common Denominator' (#534). A long break. And then this, ostensibly out of the blue.

Looker is a prostitute as was Stiletto in 'Common Denominator' and Hot Stuff in the next poem in the sequence. What exactly his relationship is I never found words for. He is drawn to them. He sits on his wall and watches them but he's different to the men who pay them, there's an innocence to him.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Truth About Lies

The Truth About Lies


Posted: 07 Feb 2016 03:56 AM PST

The Return of the Drowning Man

I thought he'd gone
but I was wrong.

Weighed down by feelings
he'd sunken deeper inside me.

(Only the darkest passions
live this far down.)

And I could feel
the weight of the ocean over him.

26 December 1987

I have no idea what prompted this poem but the date might be significant, Boxing Day, the day after Christmas and always a bit of an anti-climax. An article in The Irish Times at the end of last year opened with the following statistics:

ONE-in-six people believe Christmas is the loneliest time of the year, according to a survey.

A quarter of people surveyed by the Samaritans said "everything feels worse" over the festive season.

The charity is expecting an upsurge in the number of calls it receives over the holiday period.

The survey also revealed that one in 15 often spent Christmas [alone] while one in 25 said they were with family and friends but actually were alone.

This is nothing new. For years we've been aware of the problem.

On the whole this poem feels like it's missing something and I think this is because by now I was starting to think of The Drowning Man Poems as a set and even though I didn't have a plan for the sequence I did realise this was just the next logical statement. Maybe when I get to the end I'll repost the whole group and you can see what you think.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Truth About Lies

The Truth About Lies


Posted: 03 Feb 2016 09:14 AM PST

Julia Please

I told her that I loved her
to fill the gaps between us.
But the gaps were too big
and my words were too small.

So with nothing more to cling to
she held herself and shivered,
then with neither word not gesture
she turned and walked away.

17 December 1987

Between leaving school in 1975 and 1999 I wrote only two short stories. Lots of poems—I was a poet after all—but prose didn't have much of a pull on me. I don't have exact dates for the stories but they were both written in the late seventies. The first was a most odd one—a priest has a conversation with a terrorist who, if I remember correctly, had planted a bomb in his church—the second, after much revision, became 'Waiting' in which an unfaithful husband comes home to find his wife has discovered the scarf he'd bought for his lover. In the story the following line appears:

Able to stand it no longer he spoke first, small words that couldn't possibly bridge the gap between them.

The poem is a reduction of the short story, a distillation. I'm not sure it works but it was an interesting thing to attempt. I have no idea why I chose the name Julia by the way. I've never known a Julia—a couple of Julies—but something clearly appealed at the time.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Truth About Lies

The Truth About Lies


Posted: 31 Jan 2016 08:49 AM PST


The truth is hard
like yesterday's friend
and if we must live with the past
does it have to feel like incest?

17 December 1987

I can't remember the last time I spoke to Rita. It was long after 1987 and a lot had to happen to both of us in between. This poem's not about her but the more I found myself not wanting to talk about this poem the more I found myself thinking about Rita. I think the last time I talked to her—talked to her properly like friends can—was a few days before she gave birth to her first (and for all I know only) child. I have no idea how I found out where she was but somehow the information filtered down to me and I decided to visit but as I had to go to the hospital for a physiotherapy appointment I chose to chance my arm and to be honest I rather wanted to avoid regular visiting hours because you can't talk then. I had nothing especially to talk to her about—we had no unresolved issues to put to bed—but I did want to be able to talk to her. To be honest I can't remember much about what was said apart from one thing. She said, "Jimmy, I've done some terrible things, things I'll never tell you about so don't ask me." Those may not have been her exact words. I don't think she said "terrible" but "awful" doesn't sound like her. It doesn't matter. She'd done things she was deeply ashamed of and that much she did want me to know even if she couldn't bear to relate the specifics.

I've loved Rita for over forty years even though I've not spoken to her in twenty and hardly saw her the ten prior to that. We were never anything more than friends. I would've liked to have been but she knew that would've ruined what we did have and so she gently disabused me of that notion. Then she got married and I got married or maybe I got married first and we drifted apart but were always pleased when we did run into each other. We got to pretend we were teenagers again for a few minutes and not adults who'd messed up.

I'll never know what Rita has to live with. She probably imagined I wouldn't be able to look at her if I knew. The thing is I really can't imagine anything that would stop me feeling the way I do about her even though she hasn't been that person for a long time. She's probably a granny by now for Christ's sake, Granny Rita. I don't have a photo of her and I've tried to find her online but there's nothing. I think I may have got her married name wrong and 'Rita's' not even her legal name; I don't know why her family called her that but it's who she'll always be to me. A while back I found a picture of a Russian girl that reminded me of her and this is what stands as a placeholder in my mind. I think it's appropriate anyway. Most of our memories are mostly imaginings anyway.