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

Sunday, 29 May 2016


The Drowned Man

He is undead.
He comes from within
and his name is Hunger.

I bring him women
to help feed him
because their feelings are the strongest.

They give him guilt
and fear
and pain –
now there's a feeling
to sink your teeth into.

25 June 1989
This is the last of The Drowning Man Poems. The panic is over. The drowning is over. The transformation is complete. This is as confessional as I get. I look in the mirror and see myself for what I’ve become: an emotional vampire. B. often hurt. I got to act as comforter and confidante. I got to feed off her. Call it inspiration if you like. I think that’s too pretty a word.

I’d noticed this detachment before, the way a side of me (the writer within) would step to the side and observe events dispassionately, taking notes; everyone’s fodder. If someone died he’d get excited. He’d get to watch all the lost and grief-stricken friends and relatives for something he could turn into poetry as if only poetry mattered.

The best I can compare it to would be the delight a resident might feel on learning that someone had come into the ER with some ghastly condition or injury because they get to a) witness it first hand and maybe b) wangle a way on the team that gets to treat it. I imagine journalists must feel much the same when they learn of some natural or human disaster.


Kass said...

Yes, those feelings are mighty mouthfuls to gnaw on.

Jim Murdoch said...

I find this poem a little distasteful, Kass, if I’m being honest and it is a very honest poem. I remember the first time I got to go to a funeral how excited I was. I knew the deceased. I knew they were dead and I knew they’d left people who’d miss them something rotten but I was going to get to experience something new for the first time and there was a callousness to me that never went away. As I say in the new book, “they were fodder, ordinary folk entangled in ordinary lives, food for thought.” I’m all for commitment but it’s something I struggle with because I’m always just a little bit detached. That’s why the whole premise of The More Things Change makes such sense to me. There’s always this aspect of me in the background taking notes.

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