I've had enough of this now, bored of relapsing though I do again in My Captain written to honour the memory and life of Robin Williams. The dreams are still upon me, held back in my academic career, so I write on the Queen Mab speech in Romeo and Juliet, mention Troilus and Cressida, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, King Lear, Jacob wrestling, the planet Jupiter being so ridiculously vast (returned to in The Magical Kingdom), Absurdist tendency to see the whole thing trick, purposeless etc. Freud (again!) before meeting my ultimate precursor one last time, Will Shakespeare.
I think I see this whole phase as one gigantic manoeuvre to get me in position for the next (last) herculean effort, but like an oil tanker changing direction it takes an absolute age to get it done, talk on Predestination, Shakespeare's output (chasing him as I had done in my sonnets), Plato, meeting myself (Terminator 2 security guard) and then my thoughts moving too fast for my pen to follow so that I begin to write whole lines without punctuation marks, meet false Trinity again, talk on my own dementia at university, the USA, celebrities, The Fellowship of the Ring, new poets, space (in continuation) and the poem's ending which returns me to that I had concluded in what now seems way back My Last Duchess, 'celebrate, contemn not life' (did I actually need to write anything in between!!?).
My middle phase, 2004 - 2007 comes to an end here; I have dived deeper than I did in my poetry from 1998-2004 but I don't know if the result has been better health for me or not. I am now to embark on one last effort, an ambitious poem which I hope will drive my own ego into the ground by replacing it with the light-giving self (prompted by my reading Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots), a task beyond my ability to effect, achieve except that at close the very thing is made possible not by human hand but by the same force and entity which was by and through me when I hallucinated at university...
The dreams came again.
Still at school, held a year retake exams completely unprepared for,
Moving out of last abode, final night and I had too many ...books to move.
Of course, did keep purchasing more by day, attendant worry I would not have time complete them all fore death.
Anxiety I understood, could reason, but of this other, did think totality my prior piece had worked it clear.
Yet the dreams came again.
Why would I, in youth so conscientious that I read ahead to extra plan,
In intellect decent so I might have jumped a year ahead more over felt the reins my mouth,
Why would that wilderness my sub-unconscious plague me with a repetition left my spirit dull each morning that I woke?
Twas as though something sat upon my mind with weight impress so heavy all life was crushed within me, mayn't breathe.
Was it those precursors?
Had I not alone been shut their club fraternal but actual collared, hauled then held for interrogation and torture?
And so the dreams came again.
Not the speech no more, just the exam.
Why held a year, why, why so unprepared?
Not worth the Queen Mab if it didn’t bother me my waking time,
But the dream paralysed my conscious thought as one whose door betwixt the realms did swing instead of key unlock.
Twas strangest speech I thought the works that spoke to hidden thought in deep profundity.
Twas as that stranger play whose robber Time had hid the alms his pocket back obliv.. .
‘Where am I?’ did I ask, on the sudden unaware location as I found me roped to chair backed other spinning fireplace,
The central room aflame, cold criminals their swastikas starting so to scream at, not me, the guy behind.
Craned I did my neck but couldn't see who was, called he or she to help release the binding but did seem to pull the harder on’t.
Spun we out of sight, pitch darkness and a cackling the fellow at my back, then to the room again where Nazi filth did move from pot-shot studied aim.
Had I to unbind or we would surely die.
‘Help,’ I pleaded, ‘why keep you us in chains when surefire shots shall kill us any time?’
Still no answer.
I struggled, weaved, ducked and wrenched at rope full force, but it bound tighter than that fool king his wheel of fire,
And I resigned myself to sleep eternal.
On that thought, binding broke, the double-chair did swing once more,
In darkened entrance hall I stepped with caution, looked me back but other chair was empty.
Scratched my head, felt as fellow must have spent the night in wrestle with that stranger, dawned upon me power of the image.
Walked I carefully through the dark to foot of stairs.
These turned right-angle in the middle.
Trod I to that landing, reflected still the wrestle and its force upon imagination.
Twas of course suggestion that opponent was he angel, and that the Lord’s gave further strength the struggle,
Usual fight one’s enemy, but an ally, friend, no, not friend, more, well, what, shadow,
Ay, a shadow like an angel, God's negative, He my jilted lover seeking retribution for the spurn I sent His way that time agone.
But still, why the dreams, and how so vivid that now in amongst them did I catch subconscious with its other held reality illusion?
It couldn’t be.
Twas method of inanity that waking world the dream, sleeping globe its real.
Let us posit the suggestion on our operating table, scalpel blade incision find its core.
First, the one we thought was real.
What happed there?
Our parents mated, we fertilised, zygote embryo to egg gestation for three quarter year our home the womb of which remembered nothing,
Brought forth no clothing still remembered nothing, suckled, weaned, crawl, walk, grow, learn, love, change,
Awareness world be not that centred on ourselves,
Thought pause from that to other folk, our family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, enemies, must have them walk our way,
House, road, street, village, town, city, country, continent, world, sky, space, galaxy, universe, cosmos, unending so it seems,
Vast distances too great our mind to comprehend in terms its individual existence, and so we
Unless we still are stuck with us at centre point the whole shebang, and then we happy prove.
What of that?
All I see be that knowledge gained is content lost, lessons better taken not on board absorbed.
I object to the size of the cosmos, that not just I but my race and its home seem upon its scale so
To me, it always pears unreal that outside the hugeness of this planet, in our own system alone,
Lives a gas giant that might swallow us one thousand three hundred times over,
That our star, one of countless trillions, sits with us swirling tilt off-centre at exact right distance for life to take effect,
Where all others, in infinite space, somehow miss the trick.
Tis not right.
Some conjuror plays it to fool us.
The more I grow, the further I think a mind that makes it all from atom to nebula has us as beadles,
Whipping our minds till painful thought makes them bleed.
Now, what of the dream world?
Does it make more sense?
On first reflection, no.
Whoever wakes from imaginings of the subconscious to declare it forms perfect reason is rare indeed.
More often, we are left with confusion - scattered images, ruptured film, faces from ages past or those we know now performing odd parts
Full un-akin to how we view them as we wake.
Once more I fell asleep, once more I dreamt a figure of authority, my coach this time, become firm friend the track,
But in this wilderness of supposition did he spurn and doubt, roll eyes as I decided baulk his session for my own.
Perhaps I may be reaching point the turn become a proper over young man, the gulf exploited by unconscious
Whilst in waking time I held me back through fear and trepidation.
Would dream dictionaries, codes or doctors help my cause, or that bearded master I declared I did not like
For that he championed never seemed the human spirit?
And what of that?
The very pinnacle of literature had so annihilated it with indistinctness that since turn of seventeenth century
Our race had bared upon itself with ferocity reserved upon a time for that evil threatened by... S ... Sa... Satan.
I looked up the staircase.
Will was whetting his knife at top.
‘Welcome,’ he smiled, ‘to our final chat.’
‘Was that you in the chair just now?’ I asked, frustration and anger mixing metallurgy in my head. ‘Why do you keep evading me?’
I stepped upon the first stair second case, yet as I did he magicked up another level kept him nine ahead of me.
‘When did we first speak?’ he toned, though in manner of all folk over one spake he his confidence.
‘I remember not.’
‘Nonsense,’ he scoffed, ‘you remember well. Twas at Remove the Merchant and my Henry V.’
‘Liked I not the latter. Your King spoke too well fore battle to then utter such cringe that French femme.’
‘Though men of valour do oft lack amorous language for their hardihood. Tis such facet human nature you are weak upon, and so your work it suffers.’
‘How improve I?’
‘Read more,’ he said sharpening, ‘live more. Learn more.’
‘Will I surpass you?’
‘The Crown comes not with glory. Know that, or you shall be taught it.’
‘You say that for you want me not to beat you.’
‘I say it for I want you not to continue my tradition.’
‘You have just detailed.’
I looked down. ‘Did doubt start with you?’ I wondered aloud, ‘Is this what I must overcome?’
‘You are ill.’
‘Yet the malady affords me clarity amidst its obfuscation. I watch the pattern weave, and I have reconciled the two great opponents.
Eventual outcome is ordained, yet paths to reach it are they many. I feel settled now.’
‘You question more than me,’ he mused, ‘but you do wrong in ambition take my place.’
‘I must, Will,’ I urged, ‘your influence has set this race on path to self-destruction. I know you never meant to, but alas, tis so.’
‘You live not in my age - tis so.’
‘I say again...’
‘You straddle the globe some malignant colossus, offering safe harbour yet with ever-present threat your one step the water will it tidal wave our world’s fleet.
You have grown a danger to the race.’
‘Nonsense. You have built me so.’
‘That is true.’ I grimaced. ‘Yet still you wrote the words.’
‘I hold no desire for the ascendancy your age has placed me in. I wrote to make my living, not for fame.’
‘Yet surely you must have known your impact? Speeches even in the first play you ever penned are more profound than other greats in their maturity.’
‘That is wrong, Chris, and you show disservice to all, both they and me and you to exaggerate so.’
‘But tis the hyperbolic age. You are raised on a plinth, and I must topple you.’
‘How may I affect the world? Beyond the level of intelligence and academia, I mean nothing.’
‘Nothing,’ I questioned, ‘why nothing will come...’ I smiled. ‘See, see your sway? Your words enter everyday vocabulary, your characters our psyche.
My new teacher says you invented the human. I agree with him. Before you was there no complexity, since and after have we each grown in complicity.’
‘I simply held the mirror, Chris, as do I this dagger. What see you?’
‘Me,’ I replied, seeing me in it, ‘my reflection.’
‘A second soul,’ he breathed, ‘your plague duality. But if I turn it so, what now?’ Its shadow cast the stairs. So I spoke.
He stood. ‘There,’ he said, ascending once more, ‘that is your wrong. Look the shade and reflect.’
‘Where go you?’
‘I should have triumphed Comedy,’ he sighed, still climbing, ‘put Tragedy first my canon.’
‘No,’ I said following, ‘tis not your fault. Poets are borne on tides of darkness. The philosopher was right to banish us his Republic.
We mean not harm, though inevitably do we cause.’
‘Then what of you?’ he smiled, ‘will you lay your pen?’
‘Not until I have corrected the imbalance, both in your work and my juvenilia’
He smiled further, frowned and on his heel fled.
‘Will,’ I shouted after, quickly leaping the stairs, ‘no!’
Determined was I catch him for the decade had I let him slip, but on looking had the staircase lengthened more like the one
My good friend Wilfred had he helped me to the...light!
It shone at top, but steps steepened like they ziggurats some pyramid did prove.
Will leapt on ahead, I behind, always behind nine and Dante had me struggling for breath, but no starship, none,
He disappeared the glare whilst I me wondered had not I stepped it through afore in bardic song.
Was I in lightened place.
Hornet's sting but the glare blinded me.
I held my arm to my forehead, groping on, trying to see ahead but the shine was as sun some cloudless burnished day.
‘Will,’ I called, my echo sounding the place, ‘where are you?’
‘Where are you?’
‘Here. By the door. Shall I step?’
‘Shall I step?’
‘No, let me.’
I hesitated forward, but the glare increased to magnitude even my covered arm was pierced and borne through pin-prick holes.
I knew not whether to press or no, and on cusp decision made it was by reaching cavern pool.
Ducked I under rock, surprise see fellow was he staring at the surface.
‘Hello,’ I said, ‘I'm Chris. Who are you?’
Response did make he none but kept on staring Gollum-like into the water.
Curious was I his inquisition so I looked the rippled pond.
On second glance did notice some faint outline, figure, shoulders, chest and head, but in place of
dimness was just a shade.
‘Look you at your shadow?’ asked I, ‘do see me only mine.’
He righted then, turned towards me agitated by my...great God!
Twas me, me looking at me, half-expected index finger raise with bladed point thrust through my eye so dropping coffee would I shiver die.
‘My doppleganger,’ I mouthed timorously, ‘what do you here?’
‘No copy,’ said he rising in motion take me further the cave, ‘this way.’
I followed, though by what obeisance knew I not as no desire had I see myself reflected so,
Especial since this chap wore he shirt tie and strutted arrogance his step. Reflection, worried I, was this how I trod?
Slopping down, dirty mud my caving to a passageway the which we had to crawl as light became it naught.
He went ahead.
I lengthened out my frame some humble Kate did onwards crawl yet he before well on a sudden stopped and saw I somehow knew I sometime guessed I
How the panic filled his boots then top-toe direst cruelty shivered like some spirit of the deep and I could not believe my eyes as shape before me morphed
Did stretch like green-man hulked his clothes the suit did split I fearful lay no chance retreat if growth continued would the tunnel bend, expand, then snap upon us
Crushed by tonnage from above.
And yet he moved.
Were we approaching open cavern could I see dim light ahead.
Still he changed, transmogrified, fire coursing his body, and then he was through falling out in waterfall the hall whilst I did tumble out behind,
Landing with a smack upon the surface struggled breath the swim to break me clear
Three thrones were perched through watery and disjointed angle did I see them cleft.
Will sat upon the bronze, and figures I knew not but guessed I from my days of worship took the others.
I grimaced at the thought a further full examination such subject mine benighted though did notice something different.
Angel wings in Gold were matched by pointed beard, cloven feet.
In Silver, horns sat upon a head with bright white bearded face and staff of peace.
‘You blur,’ I oped, ‘why so?’
Silence from their maws.
Will he looked concerned, impeaching me to silence so it seemed.
‘Who are you?’ pressed I, then to Will when they declined to further talk, ‘what is this place?’
Uncomfortable he looked, as though he had some itch he may not reach, shifting, squirming,
Did sudden feel the same sensation in my skull, not physical, no pain, simply my mind,
God, twas as that winter had the foe played Pacman with my pellets of intelligence chomping far away the very grey matter of my...
‘Stop!’ I shouted at the fiends before me, ‘what do you?’
Gold he uttered forward commandment. ‘Pass judgement on that you condemn.’
‘But,’ added Silver, ‘consider cost your expense.’
I looked at Will twas he fretting the while as much as I felt the itches multiply my synapses.
No counsel therefrom came.
What had I condemned recently?
Had given o’er topics at my first apprentice level to be replaced by matter more concrete, real, worldly.
‘The hyperpower,’ said I, ‘grow I ever angrier at its sway my countrymen.’
Gold, ‘Do you consign it?’
‘Yes,’ I straight declared, ‘alone for its influence the night.’
Silver, ‘Would you rather the Reich?’
‘Of course not.’
‘Then must it stay, for that it removed.’
‘But it crushes us.’
‘You, does it mean to?’
‘I have not thought that far.’
‘Then tis you ought be consigned. A poet without reflection is as huntsman without a hound, hampered and vulnerable in search his prey. Next.’
‘Academia,’ said I boldly, ‘tis wasteful. I have studied hard my whole life yet still I know nothing and still ignorant folk live more worldly than I.
Classes are pointless, there is never anything of note to learn at school.’
Will gripped the sides of his head with his hands, cocking his head from one side t’other as though slamming it repeatedly against hard object.
Asked I why he did so but was interrupted quick by Gold.
‘Wisdom sources many springs,’ he counselled, ‘tis error yours to concentrate on one its fountain when you may taste the gush from many more.’
I studied him.
And his pal.
Something wasn't right.
This was too, too rational.
These demon angels spoke sense but carried not the weight I had heard before encounters with the...dead.
‘That, it, these fellows had not the sagacity of the grave, though seeming immortal did they 'pear this plane.
Impostors, then, but who?
Would play them a little, seek to draw, for moment follow their game.
Noticed Will had stopped his head banging though my nerve ends still tingled uncomfortably.
‘How feel you,’ asked I the would-be sentients, ‘that a clutch of folk take your crowns parade them in your stead?’
Each looked the other. ‘What speak you?’ asked Silver.
‘Why, screen people. Don't you know you are usurped?’
They shifted a little.
Surely they would be aware, these gods?
‘The world has no need for deity now,’ I rammed, ‘we have Science.’
‘The two equal each other,’ thundered Gold, ‘men of Science are Champions of Olympus.
We alone control man’s knowledge of himself. We are the true gods.’
‘You are nothing,’ said I suddenly getting him, ‘if think you some infantal discipline may upset ancient teaching, then are you deluded. You worship anyway.’
Confusion his features. ‘The natural selector,’ I ponted, ‘he your idol, though his base metal shall be ground and fed you till your maw’t rejects.
And you,’ I said, turning to Silver, ‘you must be, yes, I know you, and this also - sophistry and ill-gotten secularism are straw to the reaching fire of faith.
You shall not quiet it. Come, Will, I have enough here.’
‘Wait,’ urged Gold, ‘you speak of screen folk.’
‘What of them?’
‘Indeed, what may be done?’
‘Nothing. They celebritise themselves to rival the gods of yore.’
‘But they must be stopped.’
‘For, for they are not grand enough to be worshipped. Reason and Intellect must triumph. The brightest men are the best men.’
‘Your Bronze would disagree.’
They turned on him then, the pair their vile half-formed appearances, turned and bore their scream as Angmar's mount
Did I clutch my ears so pierced their drums the sound.
Started so to morph in front of me, twisting, shaping, forging wings and beard to cloven tails and tridents,
Tightening the tremble till more human form they seemed to make, recognised if only from the tomes I’d recent read upon them,
A priest on a bike and a man the northern isles, settling the thrones how noticed that my mind was now at ease.
‘Go,’ whispered the vicar, ‘travel deeper through this grove. Take Will and meet thy Maker. Test him, though none too thoroughly.’
‘Go,’ echoed the Orkney, ‘follow Will but stand him firm. Your time is come. He shall impart.’
‘My dear fellows,’ said I, ‘I would you come too. Your verse inspires me as none has for decade,
And to travel in numbers must surely be safer, if only write us our pens the dark.’
‘Man needs but one shadow,’ said Will taking me by the arm at which he sudden jolt like android had he tail some beast
Or hobbit spider’s spike the trooper brain-suck shute thrust into his headed back and foam began
to collar at his mouth
Whilst fire did it start engulf his frame I cried it no but poets on the throne foul mimic started
laugh and tricked I knew as dived me into water,
Swam at length the cavern fire-demon following till ducked I under rock came up some cavern
fresh did wade me to the edge the pool.
Reflected on the cackle, why guffaw at me, I honoured them and they spurned me?
‘Twas not the real poets there,’ a voice did sudden speak, ‘impostors were they still possessed those frames, hit weakness by going for your strength.’
Looked I, twas some fellow holding paintbrush and a pen in either hand, two sides his frame,
One a gurgling baby down the left complete with rattle dummy, down the right some old man
wrinkled with a walking stick his wrist.
‘But they are great poets,’ said I, ‘their work heartens me with its insight. And I had never heard
of them heretofore. Who are you, anyway?’
But dove he sudden into further water and I lay stuck decision.
Behind me, Will took fire, ahead this second was next lead to possible escape this underground.
I figured my bardic pal could look after himself, if not I would return.
And so I leapt, swam, ducked and kicked through tight-fit tunnel how it seemed to narrow every stroke
And I in mind that tale once of sewage pipes and boy with bursting lungs ingesting foul the...
Broke the surface, swam to edge, up the side and on along dry ground with fleeting figure up
ahead now moving through the scene
And frantic drawing with his brush a bridge of magnitude attended by archangels and arch
demons how I called myself up after on the structure
As he drew an exit ramp did disappear the figures turned they statues, gargoyles and I spun.
Form of fire jawed its way toward me cracked its bull whip me the wizard sudden Khazad-Dum.
‘What want you?’ screamed I at it, ‘why seek my soul?’
Roared then, inferno left its mouth toward me and on sudden was I faced again with... me!
It laughed, cackled, guffawed, then launched ferocious stroke upon itself…me.
Did block the attack with, what, couldn't tell, twas not a staff, nor wand, nor stick of any knew I but something, some implement
Sliced as cleanest knife right through the whip did fiery me gaze dumbly on his weapon.
Then he jumped the bridge. Down,
disappearing the cavern and I determined have confront him leapt myself thereafter,
Tumbling the deep and wishing friends were here to shout their love upon my fall did turn to onward chase the fleeting figure
Spiralling the depths this gravely pandemonium till out in cavern vast I caught and spun we
freefell must have been as fast as any
Gone he was through separate hole I chased once more at speed I never knew possessed did
further spiral through such cluster stars
And suddenly in space the cosmos infinite I found myself the beauty of infinity unloosening my
mind from claustrophobic tunnelled rock
My fire self kept fleeing, past the inner planets, through our belted asteroids,
Acknowledging the giant gases afore leaving god the underground for interstellar travel.
There, my shadow stopped, in friendly terms he sudden spoke. ‘You have made it,’ he said, ‘tis up to you now if you stay continue. Look your hand and choose.’
So I did.
Twas Urizen’s brush I held.
‘Who are you?’ I asked softly, ‘I know me, but who, really?’
‘That part divinity,’ he answered, ‘residing as your crutch and spur.’
‘Who were those fellows, Gold and Silver? Why did the poets laugh at me? Why do you haunt me? Where is Will?’
‘Still you seek reason the insoluble. Faith saves a world unexplained by intellect.’
‘Yet we need answers. Calamity befalls the race at every turn.’
‘Twas ever the way, Chris. Hope rises from the fire of suffering, new belief and fresh love its
Relationships grow stronger through conflict, look your own disruption.’
‘You live not on Earth. Tis tumultuous, geared for frustration and disappointment.
I don’t belong there, I was born with half my head i’th grave.’
‘Then set your sights according to that.’
‘I do. I aim to supplant Will, I make bold assertions that I will write Histories to complete the cycle,
Yet when I attempt the verse it is poor and unlettered.’
‘For you have not practiced. And you have heeded the wrong folk.’
‘No, they are right. I have tried, and am found wanting. I give o’er.’
He smiled, then on the quick began to morph. ‘This is your beginning,’ he said,
‘Now you reach juncture where you may stand alone, without recourse to voices heard encouraging disparaging your work.
Now you reach point where your decade’s work the subject bears fruit your written word.
Now you reach level where you trust yourself, your instincts, your judgement, without external
And now you reach base camp from which you may start ascent my Mons Olympus.’
With that, the change complete, I almost fell me backwards - twas Will.
And I was standing some bedroom seemed it from another time.
Looked I the window, folk in doublet hose were raffmg down the street,
Horse and cart trod mire and old crones threw excrement the window.
Maggots crawled through the flesh of beggars whilst boys and girls in tattered rags played through the mud and slime.
‘I don't believe it,’ said I turning to him, but he was gone.
I studied the room, walked from it to another, then downstairs and back to starting point.
Twas no mistake, I in master bedroom and a note upon the winding sheet.
Good luck, it read,
To thee I leave what did my wife,
Now celebrate, contemn not life.
The window swung open,
Breeze blew in,
I lay me down to rest.