Poems from psychoanalysis

I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.

1  The Breach

Hide and seek is the game
we play, alternating
parts, clinging to walls
just beyond reach.
Who can live with me?
he says, mocking.
Come out. Come out.
Scar says hands on head,
to your knees. Scar says
shout, then says die.
Scar gives the lie to
harmless thoughts,
then settles down
in the dark house,
corrupt little animal
gnawing at the heart
and baring teeth
that cut up memory.
Sleeping and dreaming
he’s more alive,
feeds on each hurting
image, gorged and lying
safe beyond the breach.

2  Self and Space

Science probes the atom
revealing matter
mostly emptiness.

Congregations of memory
clutter darkness
at the heart of things.

Going deeper you and I
search the self and fall
through infinite space.

3  The Lesson of Eumenides

Client

“My father’s mother
loved her child’s only son
demonstrated the fact
holding the grandson’s head
against her wrinkled
milkless breast.

“My father’s father
loved his child’s only son
demonstrated the fact
when he died bequeathing
fifty cent scraps
of each fortnight’s pension
to a trust of his grandson’s name.

“My father’s parents
neither loved each each other
nor loved their son
demonstrated the fact
letting him grow fat
on careless marriage,
double portions, his and theirs.

“My life repairs mistakes in others’ past
blood fighting for the line’s success in life.
It ends with me
hate’s puzzle knotting all that should make sense
and useless with anger.”

Analyst

Ghost and Furies inhabit the temple
demanding justice
for horrors beyond speech.

Orestes, the son,
runs a whole year
body dispirited by effort and fear.

I promise protection
and equal judgment releases him.
—Athena left to placate Furies’

unearthly rage, revenge-hot blood:
“My new city has difficult gods who
strike its people down with no warning.

“Will you be the city’s warders?
turn your strength
to good works?”

They accept
and in their dark world
tie death’s agents down;

while in Argos, safe
and crowned with light,
a murderer is king.

4  Confessional

Lonely are the gifts
I took with me
into this death
like absurd too many chairs
I can sit on only one of them
at a time.

I have drawers and chests
hundreds of places
to stow parts of myself away
but you find them
a pick in your hand
and in my head
the case opens.

Your father angers you
like a doctor
I have books
which I open sometimes
and do not understand
why the lock of my cell
is so difficult to open.

In the cell is a horrible creature
with two heads
both of them ugly
both of them screaming.

Your mother loves you
like a priest
I have words in my head
I never use
and places I
have never seen
gifts that were brought
I want to refuse.

Gifts of rope and knives
dressed in striped boxes
and coloured ribbons.

They expect me to answer
fulfil expectations
they speak to me in a language
I never learned
they never taught me
full of private symbols
drawn on my forehead
and on my back
everywhere I cannot see.

5  Egg

Something about them
is difficult to touch
with their bloody insides
awesome and fragile

treat lovers delicately

their skin is strong
but thin
as they move from room to room
with their soft soft edges
like shadows
and internal affairs of eggs

that at the slightest jolt
display their dark insides
rich with confusion

6  The King of Hate

Years the beast spends
dining on his own flesh,
inexhaustible passions
coming from who knows where
beyond the breach.
My arms outstretched
find a way through
glowing darkness back
to where the hate began
a life of forgetting,
bandaged head, a mask.
Come in. Come in.
He says, this dark house
is larger than love,
your heart unwired
will warm to knowledge
of superb pain,
will grow to fill
its infinite rooms.
He crowns me king
of beasts, winds me
in red fields and war,
promises all the void
will sing my name;
if only I would stay.

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