Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 1 February 2015




a hand out of blindness
to touch

words whispered

a place to be

memories will come


a need for silence
(but not forced)



8 May 1977

This is the second poem I wrote inspired by William Carlos Williams. It’s also the first half-decent love poem I ever wrote. It’s certainly not your typical love poem and it certainly wasn’t appreciated by its recipient, the woman who would become my first wife and who would bear my first and only daughter. I had, of course, been in 3love before and I’d been infatuated more times than I could count—all you have to do is tally up the poems I’d written about women prior to this one—and so it’s odd that I didn’t incorporate a dedication, not even her initial. Looking back it’s tempting to read something into that but I probably shouldn’t.

The title refers to the song by The Beatles. Couples are supposed to have an ‘our song’ and so I decided that ‘Yesterday’ would be ours; it had been rereleased in 1976. I seem to recall informing her of my decision in a Chinese restaurant in the Village in East Kilbride. (The Village is what the New Town of East Kilbride was built around.) It was there I ate lychees for the first time. My girlfriend as she was at the time said they looked like stewed testicles. You don’t forget something like that.

Looking back I think some of my poorest poetry’s been written whilst in love. This doesn’t mean I haven’t written a few decent love poems but they are few and far between. This one I don’t hate. I can’t find any publication details for this one but that doesn’t mean anything.


Gwil W said...

Eating stewed testicles you definitely don't forget!

Jim Murdoch said...

The thing is it hasn’t put me off them, Gwilliam. I’ve a tin of them in the cupboard and a carton of lychee juice drink in the fridge. My current wife can’t stand them but she’s not as fond of sweet stuff as me. And she dislikes anything she describes as “perfumey” which, of course, lychee are, even the tinned variety.

Gwil W said...

I've never knowingly eaten them, tinned or otherwise :)

Jim Murdoch said...

For years the only place you ever saw them was in Chinese restaurants, Gwilliam. Now they’re commonplace. I’m not sure I’d add trying them to your bucket list but there’re worse fruits out there; I’m not so fond of mangoes or apricots. And I haven’t touched a banana since I was a wee boy and sickened myself. Except in yoghurt. I’ll eat pretty much any kind of fruit yoghurt but I don’t think I’ve ever seen lychee yoghurt.

Kass said...

This is a lovely poem, a bit more obscure than your others (in a good way - makes me muse over multiple meanings).

Jim Murdoch said...

Thank you, Kass. Of course when I read a poem like this it’s going to conjure up quite different memories to anyone else. Now, having been divorced from the woman I wrote this for for thirty years, it’s impossible to imagine me writing it for her. If I’m being honest I, and I expect that’s true of all men of that age, I had an idealised view of what love should be. I wrote down what I thought love should be all about which really wasn’t what our relationship was about at all. We shouldn’t’ve ever got married. When we first split up my daughter used to ask me periodically why we’d separated (and subsequently divorced). After a while she started to ask how we’d ever got together in the first place.

Kass said...

Ah, your daughter gets it. It's interesting how our story and the actual truth don't match up at the time, only in retrospect.

Jim Murdoch said...

What’s really interesting, Kass, is how much additional meaning a poem is capable of housing. I hear songwriters talking about this all the time, how something they’ve written gets co-opted by the masses and made to mean something very different to what they intended. The example that jumps to mind is Drive by The Cars. It was the track chosen to play over a video of starving Africans during the original Band Aid and now it’s impossible to associate the words with anything else. In reality the song was written from the perspective of a guy who's watching a woman (who he presumably used to date) "going down the tubes," and who is trying to get her to take a hard look at what's going on in her life.

I’m not obsessive about any of my poems doing what I set out to do. What I set out to do was get my thoughts in order. That anyone gets anything out of any of my poems is a plus and I’m grateful for it.

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