In many ways
Life is like the bed
in which we fake love
along with our bodies)
after which we lie
foetal and impotent.
In Death we leave the bed,
stained with dreams.
9 March 1979
The title I probably borrowed from Owen—I always liked his ‘Futility’—but other than that I don’t remember much about this one. I recall an editor knocking it back because he didn’t care for the opening line and I get where he’s coming from. In the novel I’m editing just now I use ‘seems’ a ridiculous number of times. I’ve removed most of them but couldn’t resist grafting in:
Reality, though we like to think that’s how things really stand, is a fly one (anything that can be perceived can be misinterpreted): nothing is; everything seems to be.
This is why I hate the notion of truth. Truth is but most things are not, not wholly anything. How are you feeling? I’m happy. Are you? Are you truly happy? How happy are you? You can’t say you’re happy if you’re not 100% happy. And how long can you keep that up? Life is not a bed (with or without roses strewn over it) and only at times does it resemble a bed. Probably not even many ways. Just occasionally. In poor light.
When I reread this just now I wondered if this poem had been influenced by Beckett but I probably didn’t see Waiting for Godot for another year after which I rushed out and bought his Collected Shorter Plays. Reading this I can see why I connected with him. It has a griminess that you find in Beckett, especially his short prose pieces.
‘Futility’ first appeared in Sepia #9 (misnumbered at #10) along with ‘Punks’.