I worry about using the word ‘dream’ so frequently in poems.
It’s a Surrealist tic, and risks exiling issues of real difficulty
To a painless conceptual entrepot, to be sorted by magical thinking,
Or comedy. In future when you read me expect to see substitutes
For dream, ones with a heightened degree of definition, as ballast
To suggestion. For the purposes of this particular poem
I am trialling three surrogates. One is ‘vulva’, a word everyone respects and values
For its musicality and proximity to other upbeat words such as ‘uvula’, ‘vulgarity’
‘Balaclava’ et cetera, bringing to the table a whispering gallery, indeed one that
Two critics in a neighbouring building just termed a subliminal wreath.
A word such as vulva can carry its own plangent heft. Another post-dream word is ‘bicycle’;
Like Surrealism itself, it carries a basket of reassuring associations which act as a lure
For the death-drive, while pitching a bid for flaunted aptness in the wake
Of the 2012 London Olympics, i.e. a vibrantly British assertion of self-
Reinvention through things that go round and round and round. The third word
Or more exactly phrase is ‘Trobriand Islands’. Let’s park it, for the moment.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Actually before we start
I want to say something about an exhibit I saw at the Hayward Gallery
Around the concept of animistic knowledge transfer. The sculptor had placed
A variety of domestic items such as containers of washing up liquid, hair
Dryers and what have you as an audience on small chairs facing a TV
Showing a programme on poetic composition. (I may have misremembered
Certain details, but the overall tenor has certainly stayed with me.)
What I’m doing isn’t what the sculptor or his patient viewers were doing, to the letter –
Just want to put down a marker. Last night I had a dream in which whoops-a-daisy!
Last night as I slept I was riding a bicycle to the Andaman Islands – there goes
The subliminal wreath again, a flashing of the neighbourly in words –
When suddenly I fell into a ditch. As often in a vulva, there were no sensations
Of pain, but only faint embarrassment, mitigated by arousal at the discovery that
I could fly. The toot-toot of the vulva as I squeezed it brought applause and then a dome,
An upturned safety-net, protecting my aerial endeavours. What it would have done for you
I can only hazard a guess, like the impression of a foot in the sand, altering forever
As a marker any of us Crusoes’ take on things. Variables include the island in question,
Its distance from the mainland, the position in which the body curls at sleep’s approach,
And the degree to which that posture mimics a question mark, for the wreath to do its work.
I came to this the long way round and by saving you time, hope to annoy
At least one of the suds that are wrecking the planet in my book.
To the velodrome China will make of us all in this Year of the Unicorn,
Shooting me breathless with pearls that cross their eyes and dot their
Tees what hope for the future save water wars, goggles and bunting
On which note please rise, like old smoke from the lip of the urn, of the uvula,
Seat of the bicycle, Arthur’s seat, antique morbid motor show held this year at
King’s Balaclava, conch of the question-mark squeegee watching gleaming
TV hold the line, waiting for closing time, coming alive at night, dream.
Copyright Geoff Ward 2013