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

Wednesday, 29 July 2015



Splayed on the grass
In her yellow dress
Quietly pornographic
In the sickly heat

Wrinkled, sweaty
Skin-like cloth
Clings, defines and barely covers.

In the park they lock at night.
20 July 1983

I mentioned this poem when I published ‘Heat’ (#530) back in May. I find ‘Sunbather’ an inferior poet to ‘Heat’. ‘Sunbather’ is like ‘Atonement’ (#548), less of a poem and more of a setting for the imagination to wander through. For me it’s all about the last line. In my hometown none of the parks got locked at night. None of them had gates. This concept had obviously been churning away inside me. The Gardens within Blythswood Square are private and are owned by all the tenants around the square so it’s not unreasonable they’d want to keep the riff-raff out but I never thought about that at the time. There was a park and I was being prohibited from wandering through it. But here’s the thing: I’m not actually sure I’ve ever seen the park gates unlocked or anyone in the park. It’s always been closed-off to me.

A locked park appears in my new book:

Getting back inside the park was easier than he’d presumed it would be. He tried the main gates first on the off chance they might not have been locked. They were. He sighed and stared at the padlock. Inconsiderately Life had neglected to equip him with heat vision so at this exact moment all he could do was stare at it. There was a spider crawling slowly over the thing. A shaft of pearly moonlight caught it and he was so utterly transfixed by the beauty of the moment he completely forgot why he was there. It didn’t last and he felt awkward and conspicuous standing there once it ended.

Blythswood Park


Kass said...

Yes, the reversal of order in the last phrase makes the poem stronger...adding import to the slightly forbidden aspect of the onlooker.

The park reminds me of the one in "Rosemary and Thyme" (the British mystery on PBS). I like the idea of a city block of houses surrounding a somewhat secret park.

Jim Murdoch said...

I’ve only seen the very first episode of Rosemary and Thyme, Kass. We watch most of the British detective shows, things like Inspector George Gently, Lews and Vera, but for some reason Carrie never took to Rosemary and Thyme so we never went back to it. I would’ve kept watching it just for Felicity Kendal I’ll be honest but it’s not as if we’re short of stuff to watch on the telly. There are SO MANY crime shows. It’s impossible to keep up with them all and we’re starting to lose ground on/interest in quite on a few like Bones, Castle and The Mentalist. They’re all so formulaic! One that’s hanging on in there is CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (we’re watching the second season with Ted Danson at the moment) but that’s about it. A show’s got to have something for us to commit to a second season these days especially if it’s 22+ episodes long. Thankfully many of the new shows are only getting runs of 13 episodes or even less and even by the end of them I’m starting to flag. That’s the good thing about British shows. Most series run to about 6 episodes.

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