Monday, 10 January 2011

New Stuff 1


Surprised how slim you looked, how young,
red cotton briefs that made you look like Sybil Starr,
my room the way it was, the bed half-broken.
I lay, my body rhymed, at last, with yours,

though clothed: the same smooth legs,
same swelling breasts, the same receiving void
between the legs, the origin of worlds,
here, at the end, yours given, mine achieved.

I felt you shaking in my sleep and cried
then, as you came around, I wiped my eyes.
You looked at me and barely said it’s time.
All I could say, at last your daughter, was goodbye.

*    *    *

The musician Paul Heaton fell out with pro-Labour pop music initiative Red Wedge when they refused to endorse his demand that the British music industry be nationalised. I kind of have the same feeling about poetry: I think the government should pay all poets a modest living wage as a kind of insurance policy for the spiritual welfare of the nation. Partly this is because I genuinely feel it would do some good, but partly this is because, if I was paid to be a poet, then after writing poems like this one I could take some flexitime, go home and nurse myself with comfort food and feelgood movies for the rest of the day, instead of having to go into my quote unquote 'real' job and toil in the macro-geometry of the corporate Archon for seven hours after having to confront something literally traumatic.

Traume is German for 'dream', and this poem is based on a particularly heartbreaking dream I had this morning. In the dream, I was a girl, meaning, I guess, that I'd transitioned fully. The woman lying in my old bed with me was my mother and, just so you have all the facts in before you page Dr Freud, she was dying. It was a horrible dream, and what gave it a particular horror was the thought that here I was, finally a real girl, as it were, but all I got to say was goodbye, as the final line has it. Fucking heartrending.

So the logical thing to do with that as a poet is write something based on it. Writing as magic: binding the demon, making something beautiful out of the pain so it works for you instead of against you. Whatever. This is my effort at such. I'm not entirely happy with it ('swelling' breasts, particularly), and would welcome suggestions for improvement.

(As to explaining who Sybil Starr is, I did attempt a rather long explanation but it quickly got off-topic and turned [as most conversations with me generally will] into a vituperative attack on the scientific validity of the theories of Sigmund Freud. Suffice to say that she's the kind of girl who'd be very popular with the narratrix of NSFW, though, if you do intend to google her, you should be aware that quite a lot of Ms Starr's work is itself NSFW. I'm not really sure how an allusion to a female wrestler called Sybil, of all things, wound up working its way into such an already strange dream, but there it is, as Francis Bacon used to say. Odd place, the subconscious.)

(On a related note, the phrase 'the origin of worlds' is, of course, a reference to this similarly NSFW piece by Gustave Courbet.)

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