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

Sunday, 4 October 2015



It was a strange feeling:
standing naked for him,
frozen in that state of change,
the distance and the silence
breached only
by a desire to please.

(For F.)

4 July 1984

degasThis is the last of the poems for F. The first was ‘Shells’ (#551) written on 26 July 1983 and so what I have here is a record for that first year. It’s an odd record because it only dwells in the holes where we used to hide. There’s no record of the public me or what was going on at home with my parents, with my wife and daughter, with work and with my studies. None of that existed. Only desire existed. It was a strange year. It was an intoxicating year. It was a frustrating year.

On Friday Carrie and I watched the recent BBC adaptation of The Go Between and although F. and me didn’t have a wee boy passing notes between us—thank you Alexander Graham Bell—the situation wasn’t that different. Looking back now I’m frankly embarrassed by our desperation. I didn’t post ‘From a Distance’ (#561) but it’s a record of the day F. caught the train with one of her sisters and I stood on top of the multi-storey car park watching for them so I could drive by the station as she was going in hoping she might glimpse me which, as it happens, she didn’t.

In four and a half years the first poem for B. will appear.


Unknown said...


Kass said...

So mysterious. " only dwells in the holes where we used to hide."

Why would you be embarrassed by your desperation? It's the stuff that fuels expressive writing.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thank you, Partho.

And, Kass, by “holes” I was thinking about foxholes or something along that line. As far as being embarrassed by our desperation the fact is I’m a cerebral kind of guy most of the time but every now and then my emotions get the upper hand and I always hate myself for the lack of control that follows. I’m resigned to the fact that I’m not fully in control of myself—and none of us are—but I don’t have to like it. It’s an addiction and that is the word, a habit that’s got out of control. For that first year especially F. was my blue blanket (I’m thinking of Mel Brooks’ The Producers). We weren’t in love. We thought we were and ended up being but at first it was just physical. What was different with Carrie was we met online and so there was none of that distracting physical stuff at the start. SO MUCH BETTER. We got to know each other as people first and then the other stuff came, once she got on a plane and came over here. Terrifying, of course, but it seems to be working out.

Kass said...

Jim, I agree about the physical stuff, but most men seem to want to get it out of the way before they want to get to know you. What a terrifying and lucky leap you and Carrie took. I'm glad it's working out.

Kass said...

Just read a quote from your book on Elisabeth's blog.

“Truth is like fear: it only gets to you if you lie down to it. He was scared spitless. He’d known fear before: he’d known the fear of displeasing his father; he’d known the fear of failure, the fear of the dark and he wasn’t that keen on clowns come to think of it. This was a fear of the void. There was nothing to fear, the nothing that was not there and the nothing that was.” brilliant!

Jim Murdoch said...

I like the way you say “out of the way”, Kass, as if once you’ve had sex you can suddenly see who that person really is. There’s a story in the Bible that has always stuck with me. It’s the one about Amnon and Tamar. Tamar lusted after his half-sister, Tamar. The account in Second Samuel says that he “fell in love with Tamar […] Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill.” Anyway, long story short, he manoeuvres things so he can have his way with her. She’s not up for it and so he rapes her. But it’s how he responds after he’s had his way, “Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her.” As a kid that confused me but the older I get the more I realise how much sex muddies the waters and you can’t trust love either. I also find novelty more resilient than one would expect. For me once was never enough to, as you, say get it “out of the way” and all it ever did was get in the way. As I was to write years after all of this:

      Burning Images

      Again is not
      the same as more.

      You've seen it all
      so what else could

      there be to see?
      And yet you want

      to see again
      just to be sure

      Because you have to be sure.
      Because you weren't paying attention.
      Because you forgot some tiny detail.

      Because things change over time.
      Because you couldn't believe your eyes.
      Because you would never be that lucky.

      Because you just
      want to. Okay?

      8 May 2009

I’m glad you enjoyed the quote over at Lis’s blog. It’s the main reason there’s been no poetry this year. All my poetic ideas have ended up in the novel.

Kass said...

The 'Amnon and Tamar' account is so interesting. Of course, the carnal knowledge in this case is complicated with rape and certainly Bible times authors were highlighting the narcissistic tendencies of men to transfer their self-disgust onto the "object" of their affection.

Again is not the same as more. Again is not the same as more. Again is not the same as more.

Hmmm, cigarette anyone?

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