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

Wednesday, 10 February 2016



I don't know what William saw in us.
It's true, he used to undress us with his eyes
but they were so gentle
you couldn't be angry with him.

He had his name for all the girls.
He used to call me Looker –
because I looked back, he said.

No one's ever seen me naked
the way he saw me clothed.
Not even in a mirror.

29 June 1988

It’s been six months since my last poem. Funny, if you’d asked me about the past I’d’ve sworn I was writing poems constantly, well, one a month anyway and maybe it averages out to that but clearly I wasn’t in any rush to get my ideas finalised. On Boxing Day the Drowning Man returned. Now it’s Sweet William’s turn. This is his second. appearance The first was in 1981, ‘Common Denominator’ (#534). A long break. And then this, ostensibly out of the blue.

Looker is a prostitute as was Stiletto in ‘Common Denominator’ and Hot Stuff in the next poem in the sequence. What exactly his relationship is I never found words for. He is drawn to them. He sits on his wall and watches them but he’s different to the men who pay them, there’s an innocence to him.


Kass said...

Gentle, undressing eyes - what a prostitute hopes for.
Nice, subtle irony.

Jim Murdoch said...

What does a prostitute hope for, Kass? I’ve often wondered. I’ve never asked one but I would’ve liked to. I’ve only ever spoken to one. I was propositioned on the way home once when we lived in the Gorbals. The thing is I was so apologetic for not having the time; I had to get home for my tea. You’d’ve thought she was conducting a survey and not asking me to commit adultery with her. I was just so taken aback by the fact someone was offering to have sex with me even if they were doing it for money. She didn’t have to approach me. Which meant I was clearly someone she wouldn’t have objected to having sex with. Somehow I came away from the encounter slightly flattered. I can imagine, however, that after some time spent with the kind of men who do frequent ladies of the night that most of them have a jaded view of men and probably rightly so.

Wolf Pascoe said...

Such a beautiful poem. It does everything a poem should do in a simple, unobtusive way. Not one extra word.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thank you, Wolf. Yes, I must admit after all these years this one stands up; it has a nice flow and I still enjoy reading it.

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