Sometimes I feel like I could believe in your god, because they say he is the love we feel for each other, and I know that it is something elemental and real, which often seems to come from outside us, yet flows through us, yet is bigger than us, so much bigger that we can seem lost at sea, on the point of drowning. But I feel that you can never truly die so long as you have love, that you will be buoyed up just enough.
Sometimes it seems big enough to make everything else small enough that it can be overcome.
Man, how did I become stuck only able to express myself in words, and they are so insufficient. But what can you do in the face of something ineffable, intangible, yet powerful enough that you can be humbled by it?
Do you feel like that? I remember when I saw you, I felt like it made sense in a way that I could not possibly explain, yet if I ever could, I could wrap it up and sell it for millions. And of course I wouldn't; I couldn't. Because if I ever could, I would only want to give it to you for nothing.
And it cannot be your god, because it is not huge and untouchable. It is something tiny and precious, so little and fragile, I snatch it up and hold it tight, so tight in my hand, my fist clenched, afraid that if I open it, it will be gone, that I will open my hand and you really will have flown.
But there is part of me that never lies, a small part, deeper than anything else, and sometimes when it is still at night, when it is cold and I feel like nothing can warm me, it warms me. I know you cannot understand what I am saying and it feels like you dare not, but I cannot write the words it says because they are not in a language I understand, but strange and incomprehensible as it is, I am compelled to try to listen and I will die wondering whether I ever really knew. And I ask myself, does she have a place in her too that sings for me or am I just imagining a world in which I am more than nothing at all? And I won't let go from fear that that world is only something some corner of me has spun from the emptiness that would otherwise engulf me.
Did you ever watch Breakfast at Tiffany's? Such a fine film. I wish I would one day write a screenplay that good, and of course, Moon river is my song. It goes without saying that I found, loved and lost, my own Holly.
You know what's wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You're chicken, you've got no guts. You're afraid to stick out your chin and say, "Okay, life's a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness."
I had mostly a nice day hanging out with A in Tampa. We tramped around Ybor, the old Spanish section, which has some great old buildings. It feels a bit odd not to be able to talk to you about it, because I think you would love to hear about the streets, the sounds, the smells, the sights. As I walked around, it struck me a couple of times to wonder what you are doing. I miss knowing the little things about your life that matter: about what you do with your kids, where you go, getting your nails done, having a new hairdo, the small shit that we share to bond us more closely. Yeah, I know that's the problem. R, A's husband, has gone a bit weird because he doesn't understand how come this guy he doesn't even know can say he loves his wife and they can be good company yet they haven't met before. But that's the internet. It's made a world we never would have believed possible, right? So me and A have "met" many times and shared a lot of laughs and some tears; although I am in a lot of ways a stranger, I am also a good friend of hers, as close a friend as any she has here in Tampa, I think. But of course, I can put myself in his shoes. It would be fucking weird if L had had a friend to stay who she was somehow best mates with but I didn't even know.
And you know A has been a good friend to me. And friendships can take all kinds of forms. Did you ever see 84 Charing Cross Road? If you haven't, it's written by a woman who has a 20-year correspondence with a guy and comes to love him, yet never meets him. I feel a bit weird about making internet people real, because it seems like you risk ruining everything (and I'm due to meet some more people who are virtual friends, so I should get used to the idea!). You don't know whether you will destroy the image they have of you or improve on it. (A is though just exactly the person I knew her to be and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to have made her a "real person" and as it happens, her husband is also a lovely man and I feel privileged to have been able to be part of his life too.)
It feels odd not to be able to talk to you about how I feel about visiting America. More than odd. It feels like a big gap in my life, like you ripped something out of me. And I do understand why you felt you had to do that, but you were wrong. The day I start thinking that it is wrong to love someone is the day I give up on this life and become an automaton or just die. Nothing is better than love. I've tried a lot of what else there is, and I'm confident I'm right.
Maybe I just don't know how to calculate it. I seem to have been blessed with a mind that can run through mazes of thought, yet in some things is simple. What can I do about that? Anyway, it's not something I would ever want to change about myself. I am content to feel that love is worth more than anything else and that you disagree is not anything like an argument that convinces me.
Most of the day I was listening to old music. They say it soothes the savage breast, or something like that (at least if you keep the heavy rawk at a minimum), and I stumbled across this. It's a pretty bad live version but I couldn't help wondering when you last listened to this:
It made me feel uplifted. I didn't feel sad that we can't listen to it together or anything like that. Rather it made me think of your smile. I don't remember you ever doing anything but smile. Am I romanticising it? I suppose I must be, and I know I've made you angry from time to time -- or frustrated at least -- but when I picture you, in all the dreams I have of you, you are smiling, and I am at least some of the time causing you to smile. I wish I still could be your spark.
I wanted to find something that sounds as beautiful to me as you are. But there is nothing really beyond the secret song that my heart sings to itself because you exist. So this is only second best, but I hope you will find it beautiful too.
I have another lonely day. I have no company and no one to spend time with. The best thing about having you in my life was that you are great company.
I know you will read this and I know you are thinking about me at least from time to time. All you have ended up doing is punishing me for what you feel you were doing wrong. That's my life though; I'm used to it.
I vividly recall the lights in the trees by the river. I had seen them on the way out past it, but on the way back, I did not notice them again. I wanted only to look at you. I longed to hold your hand but of course I couldn't.
I have never wanted to be with someone as much as I wanted to be with you as we walked by the river. I have never felt better about being with someone than I felt about being with you as we walked by the river.
Someone mentioned something interesting to me. Maybe you'd like to think about it. In the book of Matthew, Jesus is asked why he is hanging out with sinners, and he quotes Hosea 6:6: "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."
This makes sense to me, that God should feel that abiding by the form of goodness is worth much less than being good. Given that I am as far as you are concerned the burnt offering, it strikes me quite forcibly that this is true. I have a simple view of morality: I try to deal fairly with the world, to do justice, yet to allow it mercy. I do not have beliefs that force me to hurt others because at heart I agree with the Buddha: we should do no harm.
Still, the bible is also full of people who take great comfort in righteousness, yet God rarely favours them. Jesus is saying that you could not curry favour with him by being righteous, but by loving others. Jesus and I have that in common: we favour love over "principles", and I like him a lot as a moral guide, especially when, as I have had to, I have to deal with grey areas that do not allow easy answers.
One thing Jesus never said, as far as I know, but I believe he would have if he had thought it necessary. That is that we should first show mercy to ourselves. I have had to learn to do that and I am only sad that you believed yourself not worthy of mercy for something that only men, I believe, and no god worth worshipping, would find wrong.
I am simple. I suppose it’s curious that a person who can deal in big words, big concepts and big ideas, can spin feelings out into words so that they seem complicated and huge, is willing to say, I know nothing much about feelings, only that I feel them.
I have a simple understanding of love. I love you or I don’t. I can’t force myself to, or force myself not to. I do not know how to. I am not inside you or anyone else, but I don’t know how any of the people in this world can be different. Isn’t it just like a spring that wells inside you, that you feel it and cannot deny it?
It doesn’t always last forever. You love and lose, we all know that. But having said that, I have never stopped loving a person; they have just chosen that I not love them any more, and I have had to live with it.
I do not know whether I love a lot of people or a few because I do not know how many is a lot. But I know I can enumerate them easily and I have no doubt about how I feel about any one of them.
I love my mum. I have loved her since I knew what the feeling even was and I do not know how she would make me stop, not that she would want to. She is a fine woman, and she made many sacrifices for me, but that is not why I love her. I do not love her because she would die in my place if I were dying, although I know for certain she would. She does not have to earn it in any way. I love my mum.
I love my dad. I have complicated feelings towards him but they are all based in love. He is a sensitive man, and that has made him hard to love, but I love him all the same. I have sometimes not respected him but love does not require respect, and anyway, you can misjudge respect. Love you cannot misjudge. It just happens and you go with it. I love my dad.
I love my sisters. They are fine women. But that is not why I love them. When I see one of my sisters, I want to hug them, to enfold them in my arms and keep the world from harming them ever. I want them to know they are loved in every moment of their lives and that there is not a second that they are not present for me. I love my sisters.
I love Zenella. I do not love her because she is sensitive, because she is funny or because she is clever, although she is sensitive, funny and clever. I love her because she makes forever a real word for me. I want everything for her, for all time. I regret that she must live a human span more than I regret anything else in this life. I want the world for her, wrapped up and delivered. I want what she wants, and more, because I fear that she will not want enough, yet I don’t know what enough even would be. I love Zenella.
I love Zenita. I do not love her because she is cheeky or because she makes me feel beloved with her smile, although she does that. I love her because she made me realise that love is not limited in me, that even though I could not believe I could find more love after Zenella, still I could. I love her because if I had the privilege of dying for Zenella, I would with my dying breath beg God for another life to give for her. I love Zenita.
I love Naughtyman because he is beautiful in every way to me. He is as handsome as a boy can be, and charming too. But of course that is not why I love him. I love him because he is gawky and clumsy but that moves me deeply in a way beyond words. I love him because he is fragile and lovely and yet that is not why I love him. I love him because he is my son. There is no other way to explain what I feel for him but that he is my boy. And I admit, this is a way you can love yourself, to have a son and love him. I love Naughtyman.
I love L. It is quite simple for me. We laugh together even now we are embittered and unhappy with each other. I love her for reasons I cannot begin to articulate, and when I try, they sound thin and unflattering: that I promised it and meant it, that she deserves love as much as anyone else, that I cannot help it. All true, yet none the truth. The truth is I still believe she is the person I loved simply and truly and I cannot stop believing it, and don't want to. I love her because I want still to be worthy to love her. I love L.
I love P. I love her because she was entirely unaware that she can be loved when I began to love her, and even now when she feels loved (and I am glad beyond measure that she does), she does not realise the good that is plain to see in her. I love naivety in anyone who exemplifies it. I love frailty, the ability to fail, to lose, and I love people who make me laugh. I love P.
I love S because she did not give me the opportunity to stop loving her and I became confused, so that I am left with the residue of love and no way to resolve it. So I know love can be painful and fractured, yet it is just as the Buddha said, a flower in the rubbish heap: if we can walk away from the destruction of our promises to each other with a feeling of love, we will never have failed. I love S.
I love A because if you want to know what a good person looks like, you could look at her and be content. She is a friend who will not desert you, will give you what she has and not complain at the hardship that giving entails. She is infallibly decent, a scale to weigh your thoughts and deeds in, yet she would not punish you for being wanting. I love A.
I love E because she is the love of my life. That is all. I love E.
Here's the thing though. I say that my poetry doesn't move you because if it does, you keep that to yourself. That's not something you say to hurt someone; it's something you say because you are hurt. It's something you say because you wrote from your heart, something that you believe should make even stone bleed, but the person you wrote it for did not allow you any part of any warmth they felt, if they felt any. People can only know what you feel when you express it; they cannot see inside you. And yes, they get you wrong; you can feel maligned when they have you wrong. But they can only say what they feel you are like. Of course you have good reason not to share what you feel but if you don't, the other cannot know. And to the other, a cold shoulder looks just like a cold shoulder: what else can it look like? No matter what the intention behind it is, it will seem that way.
I know I am selfish and I can only express the pain of being out in the cold. I am not saintly; I am like a small child who wants the warmth of their beautiful friend, and cannot understand why they do not have enough meaning that the other person will want to wrap them up. But the small child is not trying to hurt anyone when they cry in the dark; they just want the light to be turned on. And when you are angry with the child for crying, their pain redoubles. I do not know what your childhood was like, but in mine, sometimes I would be sent to my room and my light turned off. I would cry in the dark, and nothing felt worse than that my mother seemed not to care enough that I was in pain to come and hold me. I did not know that she was suffering to hear me cry because she was convinced it was best not to express it. She was wrong: there was no lesson to be learnt from it. This is why I say I am suffering for an abstraction: she did not respond to me as a person, as a being, and that was wrong. If the small child crying in the dark becomes an adult in waiting to you, who must be taught that actions have consequences, or whatever lesson I was being taught, that cannot be right. At the least, the child feels to themself that they are a being, not a concept.
You know what you are like? You are like the sun on a rainy day. Don't you know that it feels cold to have the sun turned out? It feels like I have been punished and I don't know why. I know it is hard to love someone when you shouldn't. I don't diminish how bad that can feel. But I don't know why that means you should stop. It must be painful to do that. I know you are kind and will not enjoy hurting me at all. I am not thinking you are just callously serving yourself. I know it seems like I don't understand; but I understand, I just don't appreciate it. No matter what reasoning leads you to feel it's better not to love me (or make me feel beloved, because you are right, of course, that I do not know your feelings, but I am trying to say that both seem the same from where I stand, and maybe you do not know that), I am left the person who feels unloved.
I understand that you chose your life, but I thought I was part of that. I thought I was important and that just ridding yourself of me would be a bad thing. It hurts that it's less painful to be rid of me than to suffer for having me. And if that's not true, be with me in the way you can. I would rather have any small part of you than nothing at all.
Please don't be angry with me, sweetheart. You do not know how wonderful you are, how good it is to know you; if you did, you would understand how painful it is not to have you in my life. You know that people in places like Iceland go mad in their long winters, because they do not see any sun? They do not go mad because it is dark. They go mad because they remember how good the sun felt and cannot stand to have it gone. Like them, I do not care that I am mad, or what anyone thinks about that. I care only that it is dark.
Last night I dreamt of your smile, and how beautiful that was, and for a moment I thought, perhaps she will relent tomorrow because she would not want to hurt me, because I had forgotten that my dreams do not have the power to move you. But I was awakened by a small but persistent voice that mocked me, saying "she does not even wish you to exist". Such is the pain of waking in the cold at 3am: you cannot tell whether your own heart is true or lies to you; you cannot know.
When I was a child, sometimes my mother would lose her temper with me and shout at me, but that never hurt, and I would just laugh. My sister S was smarter. She knew that I could only be hurt by demonstrating to me how easily love can be withdrawn, and that if she would not be angry with me, I would not feel the love that powers anger with those we are close to.
But I had then too great an opinion of myself and I thought that I could be loved and not just be for all my days someone who could just be taken or left as you pleased. They say that a lesson we learn begins when we are first born, and do not understand that the world is bigger than us; gradually, we come to realise that there are others, that there is a boundary between us and the rest of the world, and with time we are diminished, if we learn our lesson well, until we are able to be dismissed and not think so much of it, or at least, we are become so small that cast away we are like the leaves on the breeze, without meaning to those who pass by, and in ourselves, brittle, fading songs of vigour, no longer expecting to be heard by anyone, even ourselves, no longer even to hope that there will be a book we can be pressed in, kept and cherished, although while we have any green left us, any living cell, any piece that can still feel love however undesired it is, we remember the spring we were once part of and do not truly believe it is all used up.
They say Robert Johnson made a deal with the Devil. He gave his immortal soul for the blues. I cannot sleep these past few days: I have nothing to smoke and my sweet dreams have been washed down the drain you opened for them. So I lie awake and think about what I would give the Devil for my half of the deal. And I think, so long as he gives me love, what's a soul to me?
In the place I love the leaves are coming in. The world will become full of colour, it will deepen and enrich the world, then fade and disappear, till all that is left is the stark outline of the beauty it once held. Then the people who live there will huddle up in the cold and wish again for the brief sunshine.
I hope your world is brighter without me. I feel only sorrow that I am a cloud when all I ever want is to be a small warming glow somewhere in the picture of your life.
I remember a frozen pint of beer -- at least I think it was beer -- in the street in Reykjavik, a snowball fight with Zenella outside Hallgrímskirkja, the pipes clanking in the mission building, huge basalt cliffs, the birds over the Tjornin, fulmars nesting and asparagus soup. Each of these things the acme of its kind.
I remember a cappuccino as Mrs Zen confirmed that Zenella would come to be, smoking on the patio at Yeronga, a picnic by the river with Zenella propped up between my legs, a hot kiss in Byron, sex at the Shingle Inn, she is so warm and this is where I want to be. Each of these things the acme of its kind.
I remember chaos on the dock in Bissau, the ropes and yells, Justino Delgado rocking the boat, BAGGAGE in Ghana, three men dead in a tree in the rain, our car the lights go out when he brakes, the whores in the courtyard full of joie de vivre, my brain boiling in my head. Each of these things the acme of its kind.
I remember lying quietly with E, her heart beating strong and just for me, kissing in the dark, the weight of her on my hips, her magnificent tits in my hands, the heat we generate, kissing me like a boy kisses, for a moment I am in bloom and I do not want to be anywhere else. Each of these things the acme of its kind.
I remember singing my soul out in a muddy field, we catch each other's eye and we're like YES, and off my head in the long grass, music moving me and we are all singing together. Each of these things the acme of its kind.
I remember Cantona bringing magic to the pitch, we forget we are among the "enemy" and we leap for the sky, I remember our voices are one voice, marching on together, champions, on top of the world. Each of these things the acme of its kind.
I remember holding my son as he slept, safe in my arms, safe forever. I know I can do harm, but I have never meant to, and I know I can feel joy, because I have felt it. I do not have much I want to celebrate in my life, but each thing I celebrate is the best it could ever have been. I have a good heart; it will not be broken forever; I will find my way home to the beach where we ran and laughed, I know I will. I am not lost; I have just forgotten where I am. I will remember; it will be okay.
I am glad I am going to the States next week. Things are so hopeless for me that I do not think I could face many more days of this. It is just one thing after another. I cannot bear how lonely I am. I have no one to help me through it and that makes it hard.
I did have. I felt loved and wanted and that helped sustain me. But I know I am not the kind of person who can be loved for long. I don't know what it is about me, I truly don't. Maybe it's just the confusion of life.
Each of the women who have loved me has found it has gone sour for them, without my really feeling I ever really had any influence on their feelings or how things were. S was angered by my need to protect her, P felt slighted in ways I don't really understand, Mrs Zen felt she should have more allowance simply for being a wife and E decided I have too little meaning for her to bother with at all.
There is nothing worse in this life than for someone to stop giving you love. I could bear torture more easily. I keep telling myself that it's not unreasonable: S needed me when she was at a low ebb, and felt I let her down; P needed me because I suppose she felt it flattered her to be befriended by someone she looked up to; E needed me when things were bad in her life, and now she feels they are better, she is discarding me. What do I have to offer anyway? I am just a sad, lonely person with little left to give. I wasn't good enough at having a family to keep my children; I wasn't good enough to keep my job or for my clients to want me to work for them; I am not good enough to suffer for. I am not even good enough for women to want to go on a second date with, even when they laugh all the way through the first.
It's hard not to be good enough, to feel that you are never going to be, that it's only a matter of time before people decide it's just not worth it with you. I don't want to be writing this, and I think this will be the last I ever do write about this kind of thing. It's going to be pirate stories and other shit from here on in, because I can't stand that the people it really mattered to me to care about me just didn't, that I am left with the fear that in time, I really will be lonely enough that I don't care about living any more, and no one will even care about that.
How did I get here? How did that nice Cornish boy come to this? I wish I knew so that I could unravel it. But I can't. Sorry for wasting your time with more whining. I won't do it again.