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

Wednesday, 11 March 2015



In many ways
Life is like the bed
in which we fake love
(revealing ourselves
along with our bodies)
after which we lie
foetal and impotent.

In Death we leave the bed,
still warm,
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 sepia9happy 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’.


Gwil W said...

Last night I had one of those annoying dreams that I was late (yet again) for work.

Jim Murdoch said...

I can’t recall ever being late for work, Gwilliam, except when I had to cross the Fenwick Moor during the winter; quite often it was impassable. Any other time I’m invariably the first person to arrive, in fact in my last job I renegotiated my hours so I could start at 8 a.m. (so an hour before everyone else) and then routinely turned up at 7 a.m. I remember once I went to pick up my sister for something and arrived two minutes before the agreed upon time. I found her standing outside her flat and I said to her, “What if I was late.” She replied, “Jimmy, you’re never late.” That pleased me more than I can tell you.

As far as dreaming about work goes it’s one of the main things I dream about; I dreamt about work last night in fact. I clearly miss it. I mean I work every day so it’s not as if I’m lounging around bored out of my skull but I (surprisingly) miss the group dynamic. I never really saw myself as a team player (I’m terrible at delegating work for starters) and I had nothing in common with any of these people bar work (that’s all we ever talked about in or out of work) but I guess I liked the routine and being needed. And being good at what I did. I’m good at the writing part of what I do now but I really haven’t managed to get a handle on all the other stuff you need to excel at to be anything vaguely resembling a success as a self-published author.

Kass said...

I think it's appropriate that this particular poem ended up in a magazine featuring a breast in a body of water.

Jim Murdoch said...

You know I never noticed that Kass. How many times I wonder over the years have I looked at that cover?

Ping services