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

Wednesday, 3 February 2016


Julia Please

I told her that I loved her
to fill the gaps between us.
But the gaps were too big
and my words were too small.

So with nothing more to cling to
she held herself and shivered,
then with neither word not gesture
she turned and walked away.

17 December 1987

Between leaving school in 1975 and 1999 I wrote only two short stories. Lots of poems—I was a poet after all—but prose didn’t have much of a pull on me. I don’t have exact dates for the stories but they were both written in the late seventies. The first was a most odd one—a priest has a conversation with a terrorist who, if I remember correctly, had planted a bomb in his church—the second, after much revision, became ‘Waiting’ in which an unfaithful husband comes home to find his wife has discovered the scarf he’d bought for his lover. In the story the following line appears:

Able to stand it no longer he spoke first, small words that couldn’t possibly bridge the gap between them.

The poem is a reduction of the short story, a distillation. I’m not sure it works but it was an interesting thing to attempt. I have no idea why I chose the name Julia by the way. I’ve never known a Julia—a couple of Julies—but something clearly appealed at the time.


Jonathan Chant said...

Lovely poem and explanation.

I have always been drawn to Julia by The Beatles and Floyd's Julia Dream. I don't know why, I never knew a Julia either.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thank you, Jonathan. I’ve never been a hundred percent sure of this poem so it’s nice to find someone who got something from it. As for Julia, yes, it’s odd that there’re so many Julies out there and, by comparison, so few Julias. I tend to think of it as a bit classy. If I was writing a classic murder mystery set in a big house then I’d probably call the daughter Julia and the son St John or maybe Rufus. Or maybe I’d call the dog Rufus.

Jonathan Chant said...

Rufus the Dog... yes, I think you might be on to something. I can see this idea taking off.

Very good poem.

Kass said...

I'm really liking this Julia poem. I could set it to music.

Jim Murdoch said...

It does have a certain musicality, Kass, but I would have to do something with the third and fourth lines of the first stanza. The poem never reads quite right to me. These two lines limp. I have written lyrics—not for a while—but I stopped including them as poems when I was about sixteen. If you can do anything with this, maybe expand it, please feel free.

Kass said...

Before setting to music, I would do this:

I told her that I loved her
to fill the gap between.
The emptiness grew larger
than any words could span.

With nothing more to cling to
she held herself and shook,
with neither word nor gesture,
she turned and walked away.

Pretty sing-songy for a poem, but not for a song. Did you mean "nor" instead of "not" in the second to the last line?

Jim Murdoch said...

You do what you like with it, Kass. Make it your own.

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