I had been writing and thinking about society, technology, cruelty, violence, injustice. Trying to be a big boy.
I found myself turning 30 and wanting to think about; love, lust, friendship, affection and adventure. Perhaps as a way of coping. Perhaps as a dessert. And truly as a balm for feeling my age.
The events of the past year – the global dazzlements as well as the family illnesses and subsequent deaths, heartbreaks, betrayals and trials – moved me instinctively toward that literary equivalent of the howl and the supplication; the poem.
There is too much now, it seems, to convey at once in a play or a story, yet somehow I can (attempt to) capture the noise in a poem. The world has become gigantic and crude so the response is to work in a smaller form. Prose and drama involve a linear progression of experience; a poem is more openly four dimensional, like a painting. Contrary to the binaries we grasp for in our deliriums there is openness in poetry. This makes sense now and feels sacred and anchoring.
Painting: The Studio by Philip Guston, 1969
String your harp with living laughter,
let it ring,
be restrung again;
between the strings is death always,
calling your commitment.
Just got home from teaching it’s 5:48 pm and the window to my left is showing cool blue Spring light turning green and in the mid parts a big clear new sky for it is Spring, season of change and new life and always I forget the feeling fresh in my head of rising wonder the leaf of my brain unfurling into this new language of plenty light and overflow – you must know the earth turns through initial wonders and we are spinning ever outward through god’s first act; heat curiosity and love of being v abysmal void.
I drink my beer cold and ballistic and want to salute from my soul the fact I am alive to all this I even walked down streets away from home just to see and be and lost myself from the homing pigeon notions of ‘get home and eat and unburden’ just to S E E more and B E more at one with this vibrating born-just-now-this-instant city we call London. If I could I would I would bundle you all of you into my car my coach my jet my dreamings and set off up to some sparkling dumb Dionysian cloud world of three thousand day alcohol stories of the very best vintage and break up with every single one of you just to reconvene in earnest and relearned love beneath the boughs of yellow disco light and hold together in a circle centre our hands and gaily love the very institution of friendship like literature children and we would step to Mexico and Peru like giants and return snug and bloody blistered in time for Rome, Madrid, Berlin and Paris which we would roll up in pancakes and eat with chocolate and chase with rum, sleeping then, with rest a form of weather, in the clouds of Lhasa or Bhutan, or Kathmandu, whisper each other, ‘so you are sleeping too..?’ and echo laughs all through Himalayan angles to the delight of night’s tiger; forever close, forever closer.
Would we in this dream, dream further? And higher and greater and of worlds akin but adrift, and would we in those dreams also fall asleep and etcetera? It is so totally not only my privilege but my right to affirm it likely.
A poem of mine was published in the wonderful Minor Literatures.
You can read it here.