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

Wednesday 31 May 2017


My Pain (to be read out loud)

(for J.)

What do I say?
What do I say to the pain,
“Pain, go away”?

You are my pain;
you define what I am.
What would I do without you?

We have been together so long
like a wartime couple who married too young
and stayed together for the sake of the kids.

But this is the nineteen-nineties –
I don't need to take this. (Did I say that?)
Yes; go away. Go away now!
It won't be the same
but then
it never should have been.

5 June 1994
Three years is a long time to go without writing poetry. Prose helps but it’s not the same. Not by a long chalk. A lot's happened since I wrote ‘Pillow Fight’ in August 1991. F. and I are no longer together, I’ve quit my job, moved away, lost almost all my friends and am in the middle of my second major depression. I’d like to say this is the lowest point in my life but I’m not sure it was. I suppose for some people there’s a day where they hit rock bottom and the only way is up but, for me, it took a long time to bottom out, months in fact. This isn’t a particularly good poem but I can’t really skip it because of its significance. Saying you’re going to stop drinking or taking drugs is one thing and I’m not saying it’s easy but saying you’re not going to hurt any more is another thing completely. Rodman Philbrick said, “Pain is just a state of mind. You can think your way out of everything, even pain.” Well, this is me starting this process and it took about eighteen months before it dawned on me I was no longer depressed.
As for who J. was, I’ll come back to her. Yes, it’s a her. You knew it was going to be another her. Where would my life be without all the hers in it?

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