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.

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.
He says hands on head,
to your knees. He says
shout, then says die.
He 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.

The living room

You see, it is just like walking through the door of a city hospital; the doors slide back automatically. With beautiful music in the background, you could almost be a film star on the set of a well produced American soap opera; but you have not quite decided yet whether you are doctor or patient. A directory on the wall reads: Surgery — 4th Floor. You take the elevator. Stepping out, a thin, red line guides you into a stunning steel room.

Sinks line the walls, and canisters of fragrant antiseptic soap are attached to them; it is just like home: harmless, clean. Walking into the well lit living room (that is what doctors like to call it), a comrade of many years motions you closer to the operation, and says:

“Would you hold this for me? I won’t be long.”

It’s disturbing. The meaning of this episode strikes you suddenly: you are just a visitor here; you came to wish a sick friend well; you didn’t expect to be given his heart.

This ‘story’ was first published in Meanjin (as Peter Kein, pseudonym) in 1982, and then in A crowd of voices. It is included among dream reports because it was originally a dream. In later years I abandoned attempts to turn dreams into stories and concentrated, instead, on finding a way of writing dreams that allowed them to remain, more obviously, what they were.

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