As with the previous two poems I sat myself down, took several deep breaths and stepped inside Melaneia's painting. I wandered round, gazing at the remarkable images and artefacts contained within it, even stopping to speak to them at times.
When I stepped back out I had little idea where to start. I had not connected to the painting like I had on previous occasions. I felt unable to find my place within it. Something was troubling me, preventing me from beginning. Although the artwork intrigued me, I was aware that it also disturbed me.
I looked at it again from the outside, confounded by its surreal quality. It reminded me of a Salvador Dali painting entitled 'Sleep' which is a painting of a monstrous head propped up by crutches. And then it struck me: Recession was the narrative of a nightmare. Now I had my starting point. I could climb back inside & start to gather all the symbolism & allegories together in order to create my poem.
For a whole day I toiled to create a blueprint of my poem. I could sense a journey of individuation, as if the dream contained unconscious material that, when interpreted, would somehow enlighten me. But I struggled and struggled to identify a coherent pathway from art to poem. I began to write but my words were laboured and forced. After two more days I began to despair until the strangest feeling began to consume me. I felt as though I was trapped inside painting and poem and could not find a way out.
And then it suddenly dawned: this was about death! My resistance to face up to this ~ my own mortality ~ had prevented me from engaging with the artwork. The painting was loaded with scary, deathly images but, having realised what was happening, I was able to surrender to these images and, in doing so, transcend the polarity of the life-death split. As Jung wrote, acknowledging the imminence of death and the limits of our existence allows us to let go of our egos, freeing the way for our creative Self to discover true meaning.
Finally, having overcome the obstacles that had prevented me from 'letting go' of my ego, I realised who the serene looking lady was at the bottom of Melaneia's painting. She was my anima, my femme inspiratrice, waiting patiently to accompany me back from my nightmare to a new space brimming with creative potential.
Above is Melaneia's incredible painting entitled Recession from her 'Gloaming' series ~ and here is my poem:
Like Coppelius, you lurk behind my eyes
waiting for darkfall.
Palsied by sleep I fail to hear your crutches
clack across the slick red mezzanine in my skull.
It is the reek of your breath that rouses me.
Looking up I see your voluminous head,
glimpse your mantic forearms as you loom above,
an incubus of pink gristle
spewing spoonfuls of curdled dreams
into my brain.
I strain to squall, to fling away the sheets but I lie
zip-tied like a corpse.
One final retch and your sphincter blows
blasting out your gullet, spilling melted muscle
through the hole in my id.
In the underworld, death smirks like a bullet-riddled clown.
A cartoon phantom sings in oblivion
scragged by threads of luminous plasma.
Yet under your jib an ageless lady sits gracefully
waiting for wakefulness.
I blink hard and find myself at the edge of my nightmare
grasping the last few drops of allegory that slither
from the brim of your hat.
Soon, I will wander beyond the mortality line
back into the blue bag of night
towards a purpose glowing with afterlight.