April 9, 2017
You are twenty. You are not dead, although you were dead. The girl who died. And was resurrected. Children. Witches. Magic. Symbols. Remember the illogic of the fantasy.
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
March 8, 2017
I came across it unawares,
Still, dark sides a footfall away,
Flattened in the summer grasses.
At first I believed it dead
And walked past, face averted.
But something about the form,
Like, yet unlike a rabbit
Took me back to gaze into
A yellow eye, wild yet wise,
Before she took flight.
And afterwards I imagined life
In all the dead things I chanced upon.
Things of flesh, and bone and shell.
(from Obsessed with Pipework)
February 26, 2017
A marble-coloured cloud
engulfed the sun and stalled,
a skinny squirrel limped toward me
as I crossed the empty park
and froze, the last
or next to last
fall leaf fell but before it touched
the earth, with shocking clarity
I heard my mother’s voice
pronounce my name. And in an instant I passed
beyond sorrow and terror, and was carried up
into the imageless
I came from
and am. Nobody’s
stronger than forgiveness.
January 15, 2017
White lilies pressed against the nudity of my bosom. I offer white lilies to what hurts me in you. For we are beings who lack. This because certain things – if they are not given – wilt. For example, the lilies’ petals would burn against the warmth of my body. I call the light breeze for my future death. I will have to die, otherwise my petals will burn. This is why I give myself up to death every day. I die and I am born again. Moreover, I have already died from the death of others. But now I am dying from drunkenness of life. And I bless the warmth of the living body that wilts white lilies.
Three Steps on the Ladder to Writing
(trans. Sarah Cornell & Susan Sellers)
January 15, 2017
Diary 15th January
Returned yesterday from a small soirée at Goodrington Sands. It is a dog owners paradise, and most of the population seemed to be engaged in walking their dogs along the beach or promenade.
We arrived there Friday lunchtime and had a boozy lunch followed by a long walk along the beach. The wind was bitterly cold.
S, almost in tears, fears her cat may die soon; it has been very ill, and she has spent a small fortune on vets bills – but, despite every test known to man, the vets are unable to determine exactly what is wrong with the animal. They are perplexed.
S is also concerned her father will not see out this year. Hopefully she is wrong on both counts!
More booze follows.
Twilight then night, with its brood of phantoms that walk the world as sentient things. Muttered “Hullo’s”. Glimpses of the strange, profound and baffling. Circling faces and disembodied voices.
A woman, mid-fifties(?), fleshy and flashy, tells me she has a complete school uniform at home: gym-slip, white socks and big sensible navy-blue knickers. ‘You should come see me in it,’ she says. ‘A weekday’s best for me. I even have a satchel containing crayons and drawing pad.’ She passes me a slip of paper on which is written a phone number and address. ‘I play an adorable little virgin, so innocent – you can corrupt and debauch me in whatever way you desire!’
Time passing. Grotesqueries of light and shadow. The people here are all affluent, bored, over-sexed – almost parodies of themselves. Women with strange secrets in their drowsy eyes. Men, faces flushed with lust, join in the never ending dance.
A woman’s face above me: shadowy eyes, a bright red mouth, and nostrils like dark wells. There are wrinkles at the edges of her mouth and her tongue seems huge inside my mouth. Her cheeks flush scarlet and her eyes glow like little lanterns when her climax engulfs her.
A man’s whispering, Mephistophelian voice at my ear. He offers his wife, a plump forty-something, who spreads her legs to my passionless gaze. He tells me in explicit, vivid detail what he would like to see me do to her.
I comply with each of his shocking instructions.
When she cums it is like a cataclysm.
And then, in another room, another much younger woman. Incredibly vivid. Incredibly flexible. Intense and demanding in each of her movements. The surging of blood to her face, lost in pure physical sensation, and the tingling of nerve endings. The quickening of her breath and spastic motion of hip and thigh…
Finally to bed like an impotent old giant.
Unfortunately, I sleep badly. Doze and wake disoriented in my strange surroundings. Dee snoring gently beside me.
As if to reinforce the surreal experiences of the preceding evening, I watch the breakfast news on BBC. A doctor in an A&E department explains to the camera that he has no beds available. No trolleys left, either. Ambulances are backed up on the A&E ramp outside. The patients cannot be removed from the ambulances, there is nowhere to put them. Consequently, the ambulances are unable to respond to any further calls for assistance.
It’s a mess!
Then, amazingly, the Queen of Brobdingnag, Terresa Maybe appears on screen in a different report. The problems, she explains, the NHS is currently experiencing is due in part to GPs not working evenings or weekends!
Luggnagg meets Brobdingnag.
I think I shall relocate to the land of the Houyhnhnms. It’s feckin’ safer.
After breakfast we say our goodbyes to S and her man. Drive then into Brixham. Dee wants to see the place again, a nostalgia trip. She’d last visited in her teens with AN, a girls only camping holiday…very Sapphic, I’m sure (only kidding girls).
Dee tells of the transvestite artist they met there beside the harbour. An older guy. Diabetic, with an ulcerated leg. He invited them both back to his ‘artist’s garret’ to show them his collection of clothes. He asked the girls to try them on, which they did. He sketched away like mad as they shamelessly stripped and dressed in his offered finery. An intimate, almost immemorially pagan scene.
Then he asked AN if he could try on the top she’d been wearing. She agreed, but the top was far too small and his attempts ended in seem-stretching failure.
He explained his leg was ‘killing’ him and had to sit down. AN, very kindly, changed the dressing on his leg for him…
Dee and I sat outside a café in bright sunshine. The weather was totally different from yesterday’s. We’d left Cornwall in snow flurries. And now, sitting looking out across the harbour, I could feel the sun burning my face!
Dee said, ‘What a glorious sunshiny day! We’ve been so lucky.’
Finally, we drove home. I felt very second-hand to be honest. Slightly hungover and jaded. Cooking a meal last night for Dee and L, I was really running on empty. I managed a glass of wine, for myself, followed by a large brandy, but no food. I went to bed at eight-thirty and fell immediately fast asleep.
Uneasy dreams followed. They always do. Gigantic shadows of men and women entwining. Faces glowing scarlet-red with excitement. Ephemeral rooms, scattered with cushions. Laughter, gently mocking. Becoming harsher –
Then waking, thankfully, to this sombre dawn.
A new day begins –
January 13, 2017
Diary 13th January
My to do list:
In time our cities will fall, as other cities have fallen, century by century, into ever deeper decay; their forsaken streets grown over by forest or shrubs, the buildings reduced to gaping ruins, the haunt of rats and owls.
Such dead cities stir us with their desolate beauty, in sharp contrast with their past greatness and wealth.
The towers which soared into the air, temples to materialism and the terrible God of ‘Maximised Profit’, will give way under their great weight…Oh, time, great leveler, showing how great was our greatness now turned ruinous. Golden palaces of commercialism become tangles of brambles impregnated with the earthy smell of manure.
Even in the US, once great towers will become ruinous with time, overgrown with ivy, young trees sprouting from crumbling walls. And that great White House, dwelling place of Imperial Caesar and his family, will be home only to lizards and vermin and forgotten dreams.
Yes, we will decline and submit to history. London, Washington, all our cities, will join with the ghosts of Nineveh and Babylon, overwhelmed by time…And we will be as dust!
Her spirit double, I’ve discovered, is a tiger. She is a licentious woman, devoted to the pursuit of pleasure. But be warned: She makes grown men beg and cry!
Oh, God, what voyeuristic delight I take in watching you both. I’m sure it’s unnatural, but I don’t care!
Really, I don’t!
Watching your fine bodies wrapped in moth-wing shadows. Beautiful, unblemished, engaging in every indecent act your fertile imaginations can invent.
In this perfume of misery, in this dolorous salon, upon two slabs, two cadavers dozed, covered by bright white sheets, sinister vestments of terror.
(Isabelle Eberhardt, Voluptuous Corruption)
There are things I’d sooner whisper and never say out loud to you.
(Peedeel last night)
I ask you, honestly, would any young girl, even one from the year 1862, on seeing a giant white rabbit take a watch from its waistcoat, leap to her feet and give chase across a field? Further, would that said youngster then follow the feckin’ bunny down a rabbit hole?
I don’t think so.
December 13, 2016
Diary 13th December
Last night, strange dreams – almost fever dreams. Unsettling; unpleasant. The night before that, I dreamt I was in a dense forest. The place was unknown to me, and yet I seemed to know which path to follow but without any idea of my final destination. Despite this I remained still, quiet, calm. Now, I sit at my desk and watch the fog gathering across the lane in the darkness: an opaque obscurity about the hedgerows. It is cold outside. It all seems strangely threatening to me.
And my loves, sleek and smooth, a pair of subtly scented shadows under the bedclothes in the next room, sleep through the velvet night, in gentle oblivion. Which is as it should be.
Ah, come, whisper me some more dreams, will you? Dreams of mistletoe kisses and sensual mouths; wild cascades of gleaming hair, and the closeness of made-to-sin-bodies.
Storm birds die in the depths of her eyes!
Oh, when she is angry, she is intimidating! But still so very beautiful…
We made love the first time on the thirteenth. I passed my driving test on the thirteenth. I left school, unofficially, on the thirteenth…The luckiest number, ever, IMO!
November 29, 2016
Once I said I didn’t have a spiritual bone
in my body and meant by that
I didn’t want to think of death,
as though any bone in us
could escape it. Maybe
I was afraid of what I couldn’t know
for certain, a thud like the slamming
of a coffin lid, as final and inexplicable
as that. What was the soul anyway,
I wondered, but a homonym for loneliness?
Now, in late middle age, or more, I like to imagine it,
the spirit, the soul bone, as though it were hidden
somewhere inside my body, white as a tooth
that falls from a child’s mouth, a dove,
the cloud it can fly through. Like bones,
it persists. Little knot of self, stubborn
as wildflowers in a Chilmark field in autumn,
the white ones they call boneset, for healing,
or the others, pearly everlasting.
The rabbis of the Midrash believed in the bone
and called it the luz, just like the Spanish word
for light, the size of a chickpea or an almond,
depending on which rabbi was telling the story,
found, they said, at the top of the spine or the base,
depending. No one’s ever seen it, of course,
but sometimes at night I imagine I can feel it,
shining its light through my body, the bone
luminous, glowing in the dark. Sometimes,
if you listen, you might even hear that light
deep inside me, humming its brave little song.
November 12, 2016
Pain enters the body. It is sharp at first. Then awful. Then contradictory. Like nothing else. Nothing: and it’s when the pain becomes unbearable that it begins to go away, changes, becomes something good to moan at, scream at, takes over all of your body, your head, all of the strength in your body, your head, and in your totally defeated ability to think. This can’t be called pain anymore, it might be called death.
The North China Lover: A Novel