Why did you bring him with you?
He is not welcome.
My feelings were clear.
Stop struggling: you're clouding the water.
Do you know what you've done?
23 March 1989
In March 1989 my life was filled with women. There was F. and B. and a veritable alphabet of others. It was, in some respects, a wonderful time. The Drowning Man was, however, rising to the surface:
Almost without exception, a dead body lying on the bottom of a river or lake will come to the surface again. This is due to gas formed in the body tissues as decay occurs. When enough gas has formed to inflate the tissues and distend the skin, the body becomes lighter than water and rises to the surface – The Biology of Drowning
There’s a common expression: muddying the water. It’s what I found myself doing. Instead of looking to F. to satisfy my emotional needs—this was never about sex—I found that there were others who could give The Drowning Man something to hang on to; in some cases literally. He started to spoil perfectly good friendships. Once everything had been clear, we all knew where we stood; now we didn’t.
The layout is deliberate. Each line in a separate stanza. The poem is supposed to be read with a pause in between every line/stanza and what was going through my head was the scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where Dave Bowman is turning the computer, HAL9000, off. Remember the machine pleading at the end?
Stop, Dave. I'm afraid, Dave. Please . . . stop.
It’s not in the original script. They must’ve improvised that bit.