Am I moving forward, or stepping over the edge?

Life is strange with its little twists and turns. If I had stayed in medical school, I would probably be a doctor somewhere in England now, most likely married to another doctor with whom I went to school. But then I would never have met C and done so many other things I’ve done in my life.

We just got back from Disney world, which aside from being a great vacation I think brought us somewhat closer. Perhaps one reason C has not wanted our relationship to go anywhere recently is that she feels she spends most of her time being shouted at by her mother and doing chores, and having a relationship would only worsen things in that regard (she would have less time for those things). But being on holiday together may have made her realize that being around me is pleasant, and perhaps living together would be enjoyable.

Although she is very careful about what she says (which is funny in someone so genuine and perhaps slightly gullible, in the nicest possible way), we did hold hands quite a bit, and she slept on my shoulder several times during our trip. It reminded me of when we were very close friends years and years ago. She also said some sweet things about me. On Friday she said she wished I didn’t have to leave to go back to my house for the evening, which was really lovely. It being a vacation, I had the opportunity to do something a little romantic, so I had flowers delivered to our room on the last night of our stay. Not very original I know, but there aren’t too many options for romantic things you can do with a child around and have delivered to your hotel room…

Anyway, I think she is careful because she knows I love her and she doesn’t want to lead me on. So either she doesn’t think that holding hands is significant, or she is enjoying that closeness on some level or other.

We have actually discussed living together starting in November. Or should I say living together again, since we actually did so in 2006/2007 for a brief period until she moved here. Her mother would be moving out and we would share the house she is living in together. It would be a big change for me, but also a big risk because I would not have any legal or renters rights (I wouldn’t be on the mortgage or have any official rental agreement) so if her mother decided to move back in, I wouldn’t have anywhere to live. And I know at least one of my friends thinks it’s a bad idea, but the thought of being closer to her and maybe seeing her every day is wonderful.

Longer term, C has said she wants us to live together somewhere else. I suggested that we could get a three bedroom place and have one bedroom as a study/homework room, which would mean she and I would have to share a bedroom. And no, this isn’t some devious plot. Most of my current living room is my work space, since I work from home, and most houses simply don’t have enough space for a living room to be half work space.

And yes, sharing a bed with someone you love who doesn’t want to touch you can be heartbreaking, but I think it might be worth it. So, my life may be moving forward again shortly…


The girl with the brown eyes

One of my friends recently advised me that it’s time to get over C and move on with my life. I don’t agree, but I appreciate where she’s coming from. I think she doesn’t want me to spend all my life waiting for something that will never happen. But it led me to the following quotation from Hermann Hesse:

One must continue to go forward if one wants to fathom the world. And you have already had what is best and finest from the girl with the brown eyes, and the farther you are from her the better and finer it will be

Seamus Heaney Tribute (possibly part 1)


Seamus Heaney wrote a lot about the past, which is one reason that it’s sort of appropriate that he translated Beowulf. For those who don’t know, Beowulf is an Old English epic poem, possibly the earliest work of literature in English (although Old English doesn’t bear much resemblance to modern English). His version begins with what is possibly the greatest start to an epic, as well as the best single word sentence ever: ‘So.’ I have used this a few times, and you can be sure every time I use the word ‘so’ to start off something, I am thinking of Heaney’s Beowulf. Here are several examples.

As a rare… thingy I will give some notes on the pieces. The first is about San Francisco. The line ‘shredded you to a whimper’ owes something to T.S. Eliot. Kerouac, as some may know, spent a good deal of time in SF, and in fact there is a street named for him. While I was there I drank in the bar that he used to frequent (although I forget the name and I shall not guess at it). The line ‘somewhere under the rainbow’ is a sort of reference to SF’s thriving gay population; and of course the song ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ from the Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland being something of a gay icon (by which I mean an icon in the gay community).

The second is a piece about writing, and what poetry is or is seen as today. I shall also give away that the quotations in the piece are entirely made up by me… part of the point is that a common trope in poetry is quotations from unheard of, or at least obscure, people.

The third is about love (from Nanowrimo day 20). It is basically about how I met someone I loved, and still love. It contains a few little references that I will share with you. Taiheiyoh is the Japanese for Pacific Ocean. Little Fluffy Clouds is a song by The Orb. Most of the rest is specifics, real or not, of a now long past relationship. Sighs.

Sadly I forget what I was thinking when I wrote the fourth one. My apologies. But you are free to read into it whatever you wish. Let me know your thoughts and I’m sure I shall recognize it if you’re thinking what I was thinking.

After the Spear-Danes
And shields
And myths have passed
This is how it ends
After the city has shredded you to a whimper
Twin peaks slope everything down
Through smog to the idle of the bay
Kerouac clatter down alleys
Lettered in gold
Living here
That sharp smell of impatient words
Burnt coffee
The twitching eyelid muscles
Leach out the beauty under the eyes
You become more tourniquet than tangerine
The only happiness you can grasp
Is the happiness of knowing
That you can survive
Totally alone
Somewhere under
The rainbow

shuffle the words
a fan of cards
spread hand
five and fifty
it is almost
the lengths we stretch
spin money away
flatten our dread
into stocky equaliser lines
maybe I shall
begin with a single word. So.
A fragment: surely that
will course up the ire and itch
of prescriptivists
incite a war in the margins
or perchance
a dictionary definition
the delicious skill of
copy and paste
is our lunge and riposte
[it will save time if
you declare your ignorance
in the prologue]
Franz Gruber said
‘we fall back on the classics
we are too lazy to improve’
I shall begin with quotation – in latin for preference
[it will save time if
you declare the reader’s ignorance
in the prologue]
history is a puzzle that is mostly sky
Perhaps I should bring out
a squat blue fragment
at random; magnify it until
it fills the frame of reference
until everyone can see
yes this is a piece of sky
‘Is it gold flecked, imbued with
the sweat and suds of promise,
with crystallized language?’
no, no, it is after all, only sky
George Wolfram said
‘If I name all shades of blue
in a towering column, that must
be poetry’
It certainly cannot be science
You are
the discarded parings and dregs
of history and philology
perhaps we should move
away from the 800

The sharp points
In days gone by
All pointed at me
And I said ‘Look at me’
Whereas now I would say the opposite
And by saying it I met you
Always sitting at the front of the class
(I always sat at the back)
You wore that skirt I loved
And clutched your books in slender fingers
And we crashed together like two waves bound for the same shore
And we held hands under the table
And I caught you when you jumped off the steps
In a puff of rosin
And we read together, our fingers entwined with the lines
You touched me like punctuation
We skimmed stones over the tai hei yõ
And I felt my present drift away
Like little fluffy clouds
There was an ocean of you
I could dive into

Sure, sometimes there were storms
And the waves would crash against the beach huts
And the rain would run down the buildings like tears
But, until the day I poured away the ocean
You always had your piano-slim hand in mine
And your smile brushed against me
Like light shining off the water

I was the sparrow
Skipping like a child
Branch to branch
I caught butterflies
On every twig
Snapped them from the air
Like dying stars
But in me now something has changed
The heart of a sparrow is gone
And in its place
The slow beat of a hawk
All terrible hovering adumbration
I can nearly see the blood pumping
In something small
As a shrew
Such a pretense of innocence
That will not save it

I am not ready for heroin

This piece was a sort of revelation for me on a couple of levels. Firstly, it has an actual title, a title that I quite like. Secondly, it really just came out without any effort. I know that  writers hate it when people say things like that, but I sort of casually wrote it while watching a movie about Kerouac.

No, I do not think I am ready for heroin yet
I do not think I am ready to read Swann’s Way
To own a television or a couch
To travel across America in a broken-down sedan
To take a week-long train ride from coast to coast

I do not think I have suffered enough
To sing the blues
To return to those things I carelessly discarded
Those people I broke like guitar strings
I do not think I have played enough minor chords

I do not think I am ready to open the music box
To hear that tinkling of angelic notes, prophesying nothing
I do not think I am ready to pretend
Or to fuck somewhere we might get caught

I do not think I am ready to rhyme
To read poetry in front of a crowd
Wave my words like a loaded sestina
To finalize the divorce
I do not have room for a coffee maker

I do not think I am ready to lose control
To drink until higher functions all shut down
Until I can no longer hold a pen
Until I am a penumbra of infirmity

I do not think I am ready to leave Oregon
To breast the mountains like a board on the waves
To throw away those old CD singles
To give up on my dreams of the stage

I do not think I am ready
To appreciate abstract art
To kiss you and not mean it
To scream as long and loud as the highway
To pick up the good times like litter when the bad times are falling ashes

I cannot cry at nothing any more
I cannot watch you grow up
I cannot stop wishing I was a girl
I am not willing to buy a new toothbrush

And I do not think I will write you a love song
I am not ready to throw a plate in anger
Or carry a loaded gun
To kick those old, white habits

I do not think I am ready
To abandon hope of you
To use the word ‘broken’
To throw out those t-shirts that no longer fit
To finish


I recently had a prompt.. or exercise, whichever you prefer, to write a Villanelle. The form is an old one, but I’ve always enjoyed writing them. In this case I had to write two before I did one that I thought was acceptable.

Another day she can’t erase
A frail ghost of an aging plea
She turns away to hide her face

I can still imagine every place
We ran, every leaf on every tree
She turns away to hide her face

She leaped and spun infinite grace
And, simply put, I turned to flee
Another day she can’t erase

O fair foundation where to base
My ruin, darkness comes to me
She turns away to hide her face

And now, alone, I flit and pace
Whisper ‘to be or not to be’
Another day I can’t erase

I drift without her in this barren space
If I could… but never would foresee
She turns away to hide her face

She is gone without a trace
Without her I am failing by degree
Another day I can’t erase

But we have had our last embrace
We wade through the debris
Another day she can’t erase
She turns away to hide her face