Stare-bear fellow feelings
"They seem to go for the face, why is that?" someone asked.
"Ah, they don't like to be stared at" the ranger replied
Bears go for the face.
They don't like people staring.
My life, all my life, has been stared into holes,
the attacker intact.
Bears don't like people staring,
they go for the face, a look
Someone, after having half their face clawed, committed suicide,
unable to countenance the gaze.
Mis-shapen forms, tremendous to the sight,
Th' implacable foul daughters of the night.
I Mis Shapen, yes tremendous & implacable
Our bodies not territories for your metaphors
Not land to stand discarding your desperation
Not ground to cut, tear, tucking your evil, concealing
your desires, your actions, your inadequacies
from selves you are but dare not own
A small boy, watching from cliff's edge, saw a child, a boy or was
it girl, too distant to tell. He being boy, saw boy, rushing the waves,
with and against. Down on the beach a boy saw foamed wave horses.
He, slapping his thigh, or was it caress, galloped the beach length,
whispering into ears, hidden by curve crash manes. Hooves, hurtled
down, dug in sand, dislodged creatures, dragged out against the sucking
force. Stopped in curled concentration, he examined this new
discovered life. Lifting on his fingers saw a small boy, on a cliff,
watching another, was it boy or girl? He being boy, saw boy, crouched
at the edge of the sea.
She rubbed the inside of her wrist together, skin thin. Rubbed the
marks rope had left, circled and pushed until sore became blood. Pressing
wrists against two paper sheets, their crumpled lines directed the
recoding. Deliberately I dropped the papers, to rest, marks upwards,
on the floor
Deliberately I dropped the papers, to rest, marks upwards, on the
The man sat on the kitchen table, cross-legged, feet ballet angled,
sucking his fingers, licking a sticky substance scooped from glass
as he answered the detective's questions. She stood arms crossed,
brusque in question. He continued sensuously to avoid direct replies.
Workshop did when fax installation at CCA, webbing from, 'weather'/'fantasy'
it become my first visit to Hull-HTBA
The car's stationary, I'm nervous. The window screens a moving picture.
Unfamiliar this, sitting with a friend (friend? at least classified
watching the sea watch back - except this one doesn't,
he says it's the estuary not the sea but I, who haven't seen the sea
for eleven years, haven't touched it for twenty four and now can't
reach with my eyes the other side, consider it to be the sea.
Though perhaps this is why that other, watching sea, haunting me since
is layered above this one, like a page waiting to - each time I turn
- it creeps nearer.
Without maps and direction I've known its orientation, even when lost
uneasy buildings, have been thrilled by the chill knowledge of it,
know some of
the sleeplessness here, as I lie in this unknown street, is caused
by its solid
shape pushing at the right of my neck
I turn to confront.
To keep at bay?
On the other side of attention, on a sea watching bench
two youngsters re-live the never ending Sunday afternoon.
Jokes shared, limbs interchange. Sometimes the laughter's real,
sometimes the need of relieving Sunday, the needs of being young,
pretending they're not un-sung yet, hoping it's safe somewhere.
The clouds are lowering, spinning from water surface to surface water,
no separation now. Pendulous with horizontal waiting, I slip from
From bridge to river to sea
Wading on the bridge,
coiled body sheathed
from no foot now to
place. Ribbed muscles
contract, expand, in ring hug movement around turquoise girders,
adhesive cold. Rust rasped off, merged with skin, in these soft fragments
I am the bridge.
Tired with waiting and the tedious minutiae of
at mid point my jaw un-hooked (stretch back upper and lower),
draws in clouds, sea, deep gravel trench, expending my tube flesh
unbearably. Glancing back to where the sudden
of my body winds the bridge, longing widens my desire. In slides acrid
tasting rain clouds, sliced sections of the streets where I had stayed.
Sensuously engulfed are those unfamiliar buildings, scenes of disorientation.
The mixed limbs of the youngsters, my friend and his car pass imperceptibly.
I take the bridge, pull my body to myself until my jaw, reaching the
my neck, closes over my head, over the whole scene. That substance,
called by others my venom, now assists the digestion of my desire.
Continuing workshop web, 'weather'/'fantasy'
Weather flags going over to the snaking truth
flattened beach - legs bent, wide laid
soaking, undulating the low clouds
and veins in crook of arm,
roll the sand
No elbows, no forearms but slide away to
wavering dunes, sharp roads, open soil
Wet hair tree roots and flight of parrots
sharp stab of beak
Large skirted jelly fish,
tendriled mushroom propelled by undulating
movement. Pushing inner body outwards before
sucking up, orgasm, turned inside out.
By this turning the universe
is reversed, becoming another.
A container? No.
A large, stupendous,
undulating tube. And the other so
a tube in
with me large enough to hold life, push
push it out in one
Water, when ice, holds the mould of the container it was frozen in,
it starts to melt. When liquid it can take the shape of a vase, until
a crack appears in the glass, then it flows, it seeps, runs, streams.
It's said, a river can't be stepped into twice by the same person,
the body which does the stepping isn't the same either.
A friend, a photographer, with unimpaired vision,
pleasantly forming a life story - his blueprint? - says,
if he became blind he'd give up photography altogether
I sometimes use a wheelchair. Sometimes in a shop or when I
encounter a steep curb, afraid the powered chair will tilt too
much or just to unfurl my legs, I stand up, I walk.
The world cracks,
I see it on people's faces as they watch uncomprehendingly.
Would we recognise ourselves returning, would my friend?
Identities are as slippery as fish.
A body's like a river, never the same.
The sand witch moves over dunes, through razor-scratch grasses, roughening
fine edges to pumice stone curve. Never stopping she sometimes resents
the prettily spread out yellow frocks, the unbuttoned blazer, the
blue white socks
and frowns a fine spray of herself into the folds of skin, chafing
Sand witches hunt out mysteries, detect the suspicious,
silently uncover, recover the solutions
(Sandwiches? No, sand witches. Made of sand -
hard packed. Haunting the sands.
Changing with the wind, with the sea.
Sand witches not caught between glass plates,
moving with liquids constant change.
Hope the sand isn't the judging witch.)
A fridge and what's in the fridge, the door opens, a small dark shark
streaks out but we don't care, we're too loose to care. The dark creates
an ark, which the creature desperately wants to escape from - it couldn't
relate to the other animals.
Not being a mammal, it isn't admired like a whale nor loved like a
('inferior mouthed', the dictionary says)
The separation, categorisation (carbonisation - a mistake) of shelves
is immense, particularly the one with the separate door. A universe
of layers or Dante's Inferno, contaminated only by the odour of other
Deserts, uninhabited, lie inside, cool in their wrap in the long dark
between opening lights.
We didn't have a fridge but Mavis did. Part of the construction of
the prefab, built in though removable I expect, if it developed any
failing. Lollies to be made, professional, like shop bought. Can't
recall having many though but the fridge, yes that fridge was swish,
something we didn't have, part of the 'mod cons' of those strange
dwellings, the prefab. Fab for fabulous, no, for fabricated. Like
The shark follows the ice-flow rapids, only they're slowids. Mind
though, they creak-crack, jaw-roar snap, if you don't watch out. Mavis's
sister, my mother, says, it's the fault of the seal, the rubber seal
but no cubbing around here.
All lost by self-defrost.
I don't know what form to write in.
What I can use consoling my phobia - not length.
What can I use - reclaim or INVENT, a
working class woman, a Disabled woman?
Would they feel valid to me, if I invented?
Can I TAKE from poetry what suits, from drama
too - combine with other forms
- only ever what suits, never being persuaded?
I had to invent how to live, how to know,
be what my body was being - made up of
pain, of difference never spoken, only in
unrelated, irrelevant, irreverent terms,
words or worms by strangers, estranged
from wanting to learn my tongue.
So I need
de-forms, re-forms, new-forms, 'de-foems'
(A working title) -
I am a wryter? I wryt de-foems?
Transition, caught in contradictions.
Life quite isolated, okay. Then abrupt,
involved in a rush the world non-
disabled. Designed not by, not for
A different planet? No, dimensions flip
into, out of. The way things are done,
the conditions all alien (though who
is the alien?) In transition constant.
I don't see myself in adverts, unreality pervades.
might I cease to exist this moment as I'm never seen?
No image shows my existence, my physical dimensions.
What would happen, you look there's no reflection?
Where are images to identify with, roles to model?
Not charity humiliations, long years presented,
cashed to fund their jobs, retain control -
But myriad identities, images for a lifetime.
Do Not Disturb an anti-personnel mine,
if you do, don't make a fuss as your
limbs are disturbed from your body or
your life from your spirit.
Do Not Disturb the
business of arms trading
Britain is against international restrictions on anti-personnel land
They don't make, export these at present but in the future...
It wants most to protect its arms industries -
oh the smell of corruption, death house lingering.
How can anyone bear the stink
entering the charnel-house-of-commons.
Surely a pomander ball or two is insufficient
or are the members immune?
Britain supports self-neutralising land mines, these are supposed
inactive within a set time. Arrogantly, Britain has done no research.
countries have found a 10% failure rate. Also, armies differ in how
want mines to be potentially active for. If countries, who can afford
high tech mines, protect this trade other countries, without the wealth,
technology, seeing this favouring will decide to continue making the
mines - those which explode even after a forever of lying in the ground
lying around in the ground waiting,
seeded land masses of the world.
To enliven dramas here we, all evacuated,
protected, still use the finding of
unexploded bombs. Like eggs carrying
alien species from other planets but they're
ours not other, carrying our self-hatred,
why invent hostile aliens, planets, when
we devour ourselves, our own.
Change has occured - expediency alters decisions
but, land mine treaties not withstanding
Britain still wants most to protect its arms industries
We Must Disturb the
madness of arms trading
Mr & Mrs Ordinary In The Street, search for knowledge through
Eager always for dream time to pursue the quest.
A fly, a free fly sent by the post in plastic bag, caused problems.
A number of years later, around twelve, this manifested by the back
stayed on the threshold of worlds, gradually occupied each room in
sat still on a chair, permanently refused to be dead. Hostages in
strangers, unfamiliar, beetles and cockroaches travelled from their
underground passages, woke to find in hair, in shoes climbing. Here,
sharply glazed, masked figures moved sharp implements.
Mr & Mrs Ordinary In The Street, would love to know the things
differently - Please fax them all the ways you don't conform.
They're not me, not like me yet
they speak for me,
not live me but speak me.
In early morning wakefulness, a sign
of depression they say, the day
stirs more than grasses,
garden tall grasses, dandelion clocks, lawns
unmade now. Ready for complaint,tidily kept say tenancy agreements.
So she worries they might demand we leave,
offer cramped bungalow, noisy flats,
too much severing after forty years.
My mother used to - her sleep is fitful also -
yes, she used to 'hoover', her word, not
mow the lawn when fifty, sixty, with pleasure.
Assuming, forced to this late task, becoming joy,
with others less welcome when my father died,
both just fifty. Now in her seventies
- I look at the ribbed light through closed curtains -
our life is in this house.
now, no future, only waiting
But still they, who are not me,
who do not live me, speak for me.
The empty weight of their voices
An old woman, young woman and myself, wait
an invisible scarf
neatens the lining
of her coat
soon these movements
curled and furled
pleats don't, won't hold
Dust the bench
balanced piles of sand
blue loose cotton frock
sift the sand from
let me breathe
Leased into a long road
a long arriving
along the sea front
being got down by the dunes
arms out emptying a large apron, a sail to the wind
this my gesture of helplessness as they desperately signalled for
the tide sucked them farther in
Rivers don't only flow, they push, move, redistribute.
The land, landscape is changed. Rivers of ideas, questions.
Rivers are long they don't belong
Or so wide can't see to the
Rivers stretch-reach, narrowing
tributaries finger tip touch
water exchanged, do seas meet?
A postcard's horseshoe, not landed
by gigantic, thrusting visitor but
persistent, vigilant time.
Criss-cross there's an aching loss
three, four, where's the door?
river stay away?
And Bellerton Lane now, its tall grasses against dereliction.
Always magic, still mystery, you a space between places.
The dereliction of you now was then.
I don't look and remember your time of industry and men.
(perhaps that's why they put a mine down, to know the mysteries)
Instead they, you, were never real
and the no place space has swallowed them up.
Steaming time pools, tiled hot, tiled cold,
un-roofed, un-walled and all
We just pit, scar the facade,
that given us to play on, maybe,
or where our testing lies.
We puffed out from who knows, puffed out as places not quite joining.
Sheep can't keep on asking,
kneeling down in prayer
to no avail, wanting
the mint sauced sacrifice
to pass from them
Birds of a certain disposition can seldom bare to part
Naked birds shelter
a feather to hide,
Now embarrassment sets in
Foul flocks, feathers held tight
not allowing difference.
Seeking a sequential holding -
abusing the abused,
frightened their rigid flesh
will not wait if their minds step
forward, step out of rigid patterns,
identifying their difference.
Difference no challenge to me
but they their nakedness
then know, one feather away
from a sharp fall.
Birds of a feather flock together
routinely we know this
(I felt softer towards them
but this wasn't what came)
Thinking of a radio personality as I lie in pain early one morning
Sometimes from a cage
released, let go,
from their experience.
He boy-man blundering,
with easy, heavy tread
knocking life size
pieces from the game
Warm water glazing the skin clean,
tasting of, why, tasting of tears.
Tears, oh surely not, no one's crying here.
Altered now, dilute with blood, steadily thickening. What?
Who can be bleeding?
Damp stains, patch every wall,
blossoming on electric stem, rooted plug.
Centering the ceiling a falling red draping the bulb.
Running fast from socket.
Splash off floor.
Ricochet off walls.
Spinning spray hosing the groaning room.
Yes, soft sighs grown to clamour, to touch, to be known.
the room uproots itself,
switched to a coal face
An interviewer states on radio 4:-
They use child and slave labour, so, how can the coal industry here,
compete with that? Not, what are we doing contemplating competing
with that, allowing that, buying that coal? Compete and who
would be the first slave labourer here, the first to volunteer their
Wouldn't it be right, if blood came from that light, from that socket,
covered that screen, my hands, ran from this machine? If every time
we hurt another, exploited another, it carried the true cost, the
Walking as pain
pain-me-body, me-body-pain, (Not 'I', 'me' more familiar than 'I')
a sheet of water, a stretching desert.
No 'body' defined, no edges, no ending
Pain in space or in 'fields of potential' without time.
Walking in Hanley face scraping the floor in agony,
touching, shaking the cloudy skies in knowing, in ecstasy
[endorphine, the brains own narcotic, or a truth? Is there a difference?]
In rain people flee, no disappearing then in stares, pained to the
density of a black hole.
Delight in rain, wet touch, wanting with no rejection
People, stares, no differentiation, no bodies only stares massing,
fill claustrophobically the space bodies, an illusory projection
to make selves visible?
Book shop, withstood/endured the pain of standing so much more than
a grisly butcher's or the meat market. I commented on this myself
but thought it quite reasonable. Oh, I miss you Webberley's now I
just photograph your exterior, seeming in photocopy black and white
like offending, oppressing institution yet, even though you shut me
out, how I'm drawn to the warm brown aging of your bricks, the shadows
of decoration, especially around curved windows. Colours my memory.
Turquoise thoughts, analysis, though white blue flames of new ideas
as each page turned; jacket gallery miniatures; poetry promiscuously
mixed, seeming so much more than when books unwrapped (unwrapt), I
read at home. Wooden bannisters and stairs to flat pan colours, worlds
waiting and paper names, espousing textures, countries, lives. Art
Materials came first, Doreen the assistant less, not class nor intellectually
less intimidating but someone at the pens counter, alongside the books,
was a victimiser, I'd met that way of being before, so borrowed books
continued and these owned ones waited, now layering the house, too
difficult to unearth.
The shock, always shock of 'outside', unmuffled weather, movements,
roof line, glances, walls cornering, rain on roads [shine, slish,
rough all at once, that's amazing not like cling-wrap television]
carrying the slap of ominous, unknowable, awe and wonder.
Revere being touched by the air inside so restricted, even
an open window, this though has to suffice when ill, in pain
The physical experience of difference
no actual shape of body understood/accepted;
managing how to move, walk - slight or major adjustments needed as
I learn my body each moment, never taken for granted, never anything
taken for granted
caused a different psychological process, different intellectual analysis,
how could it not. Didn't I then have to become knowing of the two
cultures my own and the others? Who was 'the other'?
My walking world
starting, 'neither up nor down' but 'halfway', my house set on steepness.
Down the bank, not a slope. It's acute, as my disease they said, both
'acute' and 'chronic' [not my terms, mine not asked for] but the bank's
steepness, that counted, worse, strangely enough, to walk down. Feeling
a mid-way sliding like the levels of a double-decker. Did you never
think the top deck would slip forward, away off the bottom, landing
before it? Smallthorne's sheerness, caused such dreams.
Walking and the levels were reversed. A lower half tortuously pulled,
shifting sheets, slip, sliding of geological layers, unavoidable.
Walking up, the ground wanted to hold, to comfort, not hard, endlessly
distant as it seemed when I couldn't contemplate myself in a fall.
Meeting Mrs Lundy, she with a son my age, a daughter older, me moving
through 10, 12, 15..... an alien meeting an alien, no strangeness
then with bodies, with experiencing pain, being pain, when the other
isn't - when the other seems such a bland body, all empty cylinders
- instead she's like me, age discounted [Or perhaps I was 35 to 45
years old in some ways, as psychiatrist said. Did pained genes increase
maturity, intelligence?] Sometime in the age dots, when I no longer
walked from 'halfway' up to Norton, Mrs Lundy died.
Down to the right to the world, the city, future to the left
and up, Northwards to history, imaginations worlds, fictions and country.
So I've taken a Walk on the alien side.
Will this get worse as I get older? I do not see, do not know, myself
as conventional body but feel it is something I have to project but
the discrimination will layer, the dis-respect
The walking outside at night I've so very rarely done - Pat's still
journeying out there?
Virtual walk with a piece of software I'd like but will it give me
what I want, is it possible? They sell software but who gives advice,
even spending vast amounts does not assure - government agencies,
companies all buy useless systems, programmes incompatible, the journey
The programme provides simple three dimensional environment to move
'walk' through. In this banal, looking anything but photo realistic,
world I want to stage writings, and add to the space we appear to
be walking through, static photographs of real walls, pipes, sinks
topseyturvey in this so banal it's eerie world or is it an
imagination - but will the software be up to this, will the photographs
retain enough detail, the amount of text be possible?
Others photos/snapshots too and convert them [like religion?] manipulate
them by my world.
[I dreamt that their was great debate in Parliament over all the people
who had died, creating virtual buildings and not being able to get
Not about writing - ah, was that a Freudian slip? I'd meant to say,
Not about walking, though might be likened to 'this is not a pipe'
I'm quite severely depressed, despair has spent so much of my life,
all of it in a way - one of my selves carries on in this manner continuously,
a will to die, a temptation to die, enthusiasm for ideas-creativity
resist the calling of deaths peaceful offer, that and sometimes anger
that I'm forced to murder myself.
And now the writing thing is carving me up. Leaving her for so long
whilst I maithered and fretted about equipment, then goldening my
past feelings during the writing I'd done. Now it's panicking hollowness,
not simply, even easily, described as a 'fear of writing' but panic
that I don't know what writing is, who my writing self is, there's
no 'who' to write, think, know, feel enthusiasm [I feel spent and
finishing, a failure, done nothing]
[And the, was it mirage? - way of writing I felt was shaping itself,
not one thing, not poetry, not fact, not drama, though a 'performance'
on the page, a response yet not reply. Was it a mirage if not how
could I stimulate, shape it again - it was for me my response to someone's
essay, just a start but a start and I let it go now I'm lost.]
How to break this? Thought I'd caused some crazing Tuesday, did therapeutic
techniques found useful before but the overhaul I need's long, arduous
repair, quick-fixes appealing, useless.
Are there any women who have given up art for philosophical pursuits
- chess, pipe smoking?
[Not a break to raise children, this never seemed voluntarily in the
I heard recently of a male artist who, [dramatically] 'gave it up'
but has since 'come back to it' How do they live, nothing so mundane
as another job is ever mentioned?
I could sign things... like my my raised toilet seat.
The first was perhaps too crafty - made by Remploy, a curve of patterned
plastic, sixties kitchen style, with raw wood staves, precariously
supporting a black gloss painted, wooden seat [not amiss in a 'closet
at bottom of yard"]. The staves rotted, untreated wood not being ideal
for flushing toilets.
Now it's not quite high-tech but at least truth to material - moulded
cream plastic. Though how to fathom the scooped-out front? Supposedly
for the male [Disabled male?] and his penis but how and are there
any substantial enough - long French bread rolls approximating the
size needed. How does he place it in the dip, where do his legs go?
Perhaps he sits on the seat and the scoop gives space to lower his
I could, on giving up art that is, pursue - like Cinderella story
- appendages which fit. Not exactly looking for Prince Charming rather
for research - not quite philosophy though.
Oh Esther Rantzen, what a job for you. Where are you now? [With her
heart actually turning to solid gold, I hope]
More the witch I'd be than a Cinderella or a Prince
her or return