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

Wednesday, 4 March 2015



...and in an inflamed sky
the sun bled light,
and the ground opened
its lips in parched
voiceless protest.

Trees are lungs
are gasping for
breath, and my thoughts
are phlegmy and ancient
in concept:– I must
be naked and
prostrate in serving
this god by the
edge of waters that
taste of salt; Man's part,
Primeval ... the
Sun's merely divine.

lungsI make a big thing these days about the fact I don’t have a spiritual side. I think, I feel and that’s it. I’m not saying those who do find a place for the spiritual in their lives are wrong or misguided. I’m really not in a position to do so. It would be like a blind man commenting on the tones in a Rothko. I was brought up in a Christian faith and it was a very academic upbringing. Faith was a product of reason even reasoning as basic as looking at the night sky and seeing it as a product of an intelligent mind. The evidence is compelling and yet I lack whatever it is spiritual people have. I’m like a blind man in Rothko’s Chapel. It’s nice and quiet. Seats are a bit hard. And it’s a bit chilly if I’m being honest.

I have no idea where this poem came from. It was written just after ‘Stray’ and so there’s definitely a vibe here. The ending’s weak which is a shame because it has a strong rhythm until the penultimate line. It’s the extra syllable in ‘merely’ that ruins it or the ‘the’ in the line before it.

I always liked the image of trees as lungs because sans leaves that’s exactly what they look like.


Kass said...

"...and my thoughts are phlegmy and ancient in concept." -

Yep - that one jumped out at me.

Jim Murdoch said...

Word association tests have always fascinated me, Kass. I’ve never sat a proper one but those I have played with have definitely stimulated my imagination. I tend to write poetry quite quickly. I may play with the thing for a while afterwards but often what you’re reading is something I wrote in not much longer than it’s taken you to read it. Which doesn’t leave much time for rational thought. The first thing that comes to my mind is what ends up on the page. Allen Ginsberg said, “First thought, best thought.” I’m not sure I necessarily agree with him but first thoughts are often interesting thoughts. In what universe if I sat down to take a word association test would I respond with ‘phlegm’ when presented with the word ‘thought’? Or even ‘ancient’? But they work.

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