Inside Cellar Walls
A splinter of rain in the cool yard; the endless smell of perfume and decay; a splitter-splat of rain on leaves, bird droppings; the wind-song in the shadows; a tonal splash of dust, damp air; branches sway, leaves flicker in a breeze from the river: Imagination chooses an individual’s path, through a garden of hunger.
The cold cellar smells of mysterious perfume; a plateau of flowers above me; birds jump like monkeys through the trees. The window hidden by ivy covered wa1ls, midday sun casts a dusty beam for an hour when the backyard swells open to the sky; closed by a tapestry of foliage argumentative sparrows. Two African Marigolds like green nuns blown over by the wind. I put them under the sink, green necks in a pile of tipped dirt. I bring my crippled hands, forgotten songs and poetry to spiritual seclusion from the outside world; exhausted by the day’s work; resentful of people for their violence, madness, and day to day pain.
A concealed Pandorran box opens. Wild romantic roses grow amid the tumult of ivy clinging to the three story building. A beam of sunlight penetrates the cellar like a laser beam, vanishes. I sleep, a strange otherworldly sleep: Prisoner Dream. The cellar grips the events of my life that threw my inner self out of place within me.
Sculpture stands in the enclosed garden, vegetation amassed about them, the hand of a bird ghostly in the storm; the heart of an owl bleeding in the night. The window is open across the ground. I watch the rain, white sky, light, sound. A petal falls from a lush white rose.
The cellar becomes dark: flowers loose light and colour, sparrows plummet into exhaustion; the smell of the earth, carpet fading evermore into colourless rag, the wooden crate glowing in the twi1ight, my pale blue sponge still bright. I look through the window, light a candle; eat bread and honey, wild roses in the dark rain; and the statue of Beethoven, ghostly white in the candlelight.
The man-who-depresses-me, in a mirror fragment, that drifts from doorway to doorway, weightless, goes to his room. I see his reflection, also a fragment of me, a shade paler than I imagined, depressed. The man who-depresses-me reflects the anguish I don’t understand. I go down the spiral of doubt into the cellar; no light, no heat and no water, just loneliness. A splatter of blood on the wall, I cover my broken window with cellophane, stitches in my wrist. A heart squeezing loneliness; a face to face with life detachment; songs noted down in my notebooks lying in a vacuum of hopelessness. I stare through the window to the empty garden.
I am buried in a fantasy, a vacuum in my mind; I am buried in dirt like a plant. There is no cellar only the perfume. My books of poetry turn into pages of savage visions. My heart beats wildly. I awake in a fit, sweating, half dead with fear, like a withered rose.
The ceiling has a hole from where plaster has fallen home for creepy-crawlies. Nailed over the hole, the unfinished full size self-portrait of the man who depresses me, one leg is red, one arm is dark blue and his head is day glow green, poised like superman in flight. The canvas is six by six feet square. One corner is obscured by a zigzagging water pipe.
There is so much space this evening. The sky is blue; rain occupies the space, so immense it makes us seem eternal. Where does it come from? It surrounds us as we shelter in the building. Where did it begin? What distant universe has it traveled through? My mind imagines a golden light in the far sky. It has boldness, substance, and activity. It swarms, melts, and hardens. It falls from the void into the prison of the unseen far sky into the house of darkness, the house of dreams. Tiredness, a cloud evaporating, a rain shower in full moonlight with stolen light darting, twinkling into the ground; into the depths of my being; a sulking tiredness, on the train of deep sleep. Sleep wanders a pathway to the pool of life, phantasmagoric sleep drifts through cinders of a burnt out forest, collecting the images of dreams lying in ashes; a jigsaw of illuminations that swings forth at night.
It is the summer of 1979, thunderclouds roll along Whitechapel roads, Mobiles of light dance in the backyards. The forces acting on the old house are twisting the stone sin. Three stalks of Gladioli sway upwards, pink blooms step into the gloom impregnating the cellar.
My neighbour’s room is empty for the weekend. This evening, the tub that contains the dripping water from the broken pipe in the closet was overflowing. I emptied it down the outside drain. The cellar collects the stink; dampness soaks into me, my clothes, bed. I turn the chair from the window and sit down.
A vacuum in the cellar; a vacuum in me, the cellar is dying; I am dying, the sky brightens; the cellar brightens and I brighten. The sky looks sick, the walls are crumbling and I feel dizzy. The sky is dizzy, the walls are sick, I am crumbling. The roof will fall, turn to dust. The sun will brighten but the cellar is shaking. Nothing is real, all is dark; nothing can be identified.
The cast iron fireplace, the old iron bed on the stone paving, Wellington boots under the twisted yellow sink; someone else lives here, yet they don’t. I am that someone else, but I am not. The cellar suggests the presence of a servant-gardener of the I9th century. The collection of furniture belongs to another personality. I imagine this person has come to life.
There’s no rhyme or reason, alone I go out at night, but I cannot communicate. Boudicca is there, sinister lies fly through the deep darkness. Back against the cellar wall, the window is a sheet of mirrored candlelight. In the reflection I see again the room with the barstool. My friends are total strangers they argue with Boudicca. This morning they were so at one with life. Now dark impenetrable forces search every visual surface for a weakness.
I am a child walking past a wall, a slum wall, division between the outside world and me. It seems to protect, imprison and hide me; I feel afraid to go too far away from it. There is a strange thing imbedded in the wall made fatty tissue, I stab it and dislodge it with a stick, it darted in panic and glided out of sight. It was alive. My heart beat faster.
In a Garden of Eden, mysterious sculptures of skeletal abstract bird-heads, like false gods that a primitive tribe worships, waiting to be brought down by the true one. The tribe obviously is the Iceni. Boudicca divides the people into tribes. The womenfolk divide the tribes. So the people are divided.
The man-who-depresses-me awakens in the middle of Christmas night. He sits in the rocking chair for a moment, rocking anxiously, confused. He must redress a balance. There is something down in the cellar. He goes down the steps, opens the door, and closing it behind him. He pulls up the paving stones to discover a crate of bright white glowing female figurines in a box. He marvels to see them then puts them back and returns back to his bed, to deep sleep. By morning he has forgotten his dream; the cellar is back to normal.
Aug. 30th. Morning. I move the furniture into new positions.
Afternoon, I move it back again.
Sept. 3rd. I move out of the cellar. I take the bed and chair with me. The kitten is the first to move into the vacated rooms above, has a look of relief on its face.
It’s been raining. – Now, I’ve been caught;
I’m back in the old prison. familiar with this dream spell,
the reappearance of which I cannot escape for long.
In an emotional frame of mind I turn things over for a while;
set in my ways like concrete I stumble over shadows of old forgotten truths.
The novelty of running from myself is reversed
and I’m faced with the same old empty room.
Sunlight falls into the cellar through the attic of clouds.
The land turns white; a page of sunlight glides through the air
– descends from the summer sky and drops onto the cellar floor.
I begin to read the writing, anonymous erasers drift in the sky
– a door closes on the sun, a man in darkness breathes a sigh.
Wind barriers, sound barriers like bright white lights.
I am longing for new puzzles; trapped by old nightmares.
Facts falling like jigsaw puzzles into dense electric light bulbs.
Daylight in cellar atmosphere moving like silver shadow;
Falling from ladders of old architecture
he has no part in the builder’s plan.
Falling down onto an old foundation,
long buried under the darkness of time
My Hand through the Smashed Cellar Window
Smashed cellar window, my hand bitten by jagged glass.
Transparent darkness below the party.
I fall to the floor with drunken fears that reach the pit of my stomach.
I become a dark embryonic shape that cries like an animal.
In the darkness what I hear is one of many voices;
one of many languages tangled up in pain.