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

Sunday, 2 August 2015



An uncanny attraction
for something unseen.

The mystic eroticism
of imagined nudity.

Glimpses in the eyes
of things unsaid.

Can you hear the sea
in sea shells too ?

(For F.)

26 July 1983

Thus begins the next phase of my life. Ten months after my first wife left me I found… now here I really want to write “the next great love of my life” or even “the first great love of my life” but the words don’t feel right. In July of 1983 I would’ve written it and believed it but by June 1994 it was all over. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that in December of 1996 I met Carrie, my present wife, but there were two others in between. I’m no Picasso—far from it—but I tend to divide my poetry into blocks based on the woman I was with, in love with or besotted by at the time. This, then, is the beginning of the Poems for F. period—Blue period sounds so much cooler—and, at least at the start, there are a lot of poems dedicated to her. My first wife got one, the not even slightly romantic ‘Mental in Glasgow’ (#457), although ‘Yesterday’ (#466) really should’ve been dedicated to her. It was the one and only love poem I ever wrote for her and, had you asked me, womans-face-sketch-iiat the time I would’ve sworn I was in love with her. Maybe not so much after all.

‘Shells’ is not really a love poem. I don’t do traditional love poems. I write poems that read like a guy in love wrote them but they’re not always very romantic—wait until we get to ‘For F.’ (#555) and you’ll see what I mean—but I can tell you, in July 1983 there was only one thing on my mind although I’m not sure it was love. I’m not sure it was lust either but lust did get in there and cloud the issue for a while. This, then, is a you’ve-got-my-attention poem. I badly wanted her to be my muse.

F. was married when I first met her although she and her husband separated shortly afterwards—nothing to do with me—and so I saw in her a kindred spirit, a shell of a person, hollowed out and fragile.


PhilipH said...

I like this #551 very much Jim. Has depth in just a few lines.

Jim Murdoch said...

I’m glad you liked it, Philip. It’s an interesting piece. If it were a play the stage would be empty, all the actors would be in the wings and the audience would be left to simply wonder what was going on. I’m not really a love at first sight person. And the simple fact is in this case it wasn’t love at first sight. F. was my friend’s big sister and I’d met her years before but in the context of the big sister. She was married with a little girl and eight years older than me. I might still have been at school even; I’d have to do the sums. It was only years later when we ran into each other again, once Life had given both of us a good seeing to, that we found ourselves on the same wavelength.

Kass said...

The reference to glimpses in the eyes reminds me of John Donne's coinage of "babies" (a pun on the Latin pupilla) - the reflection of yourself in your lover's eyes and his assertion that there is an extramission in the look between lovers.

I'm reading, "Can you hear the sea in sea shells too?" over and over and wondering if you're being poetically sarcastic - which is appropriate in young lovers grasping for monumentally meaningful commonalities. I thought for a second you were going to go for synesthesia. I think I'm overthinking this little poem because without analyzation, it's quite charming.

Jim Murdoch said...

It can be read that way, Kass, but I no longer remember. I’m not even certain at this stage where we were in our relationship. I know by the time I wrote ‘For F.’ (#555) in September we were in… something but not here, not yet. I can be sarcastic—I’m actually quite good at it although I’m not sure it’s something to boast about—but here? No, I can’t see it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t read into the poem; you’re not wrong. Interesting comment on extramission—new to me—especially considering I’m just about to post ‘The Ophthalmologist’s Wife’ (#552). I do have a poem called ‘Synaesthesia’(#991) by the way.

Kass said...

Jim, both of those poems on "Ink, Sweat and Tears" are very, very good!

Jim Murdoch said...

Thank you, Kass. I should really send out more stuff but you turn around twice and it's been two years since you submitted anything.

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