It is perhaps ironic that I spent 12 years working on Hibernation. I originally conceived it as a grand tour of everything I had been thinking about and writing about up to that point. Part prose poem, part play, Hibernation was meant to draw a line under a period in my life while being ambitious enough to expand my linguistic skills and develop my style. If I’m honest, it was also partly a prophecy (in the original biblical sense of the term) in that it was an allegorical reimagining of contemporary events. Like Chekov’s Konstantin, I had no idea where I was going or what I was for and I imagined that if I could write myself to the place where I felt I was at, I could by turns write my way out of there. I began work on it early in 1998, but struggled, periodically, for more than a decade.
To more mature eyes Hibernation seems a little naive. It was written when I still saw the world as black and white and not multi-hued. Yet the psychological importance of such totems in our lives is important and I wanted to finish the damm thing for closure. I spent so many hours thinking about Hibernation, I owed it to myself to bring it to a conclusion and talk my way out of the wood once and for all. It is also the last in a series of pieces of similar length that I have been thinking about for nearly as many years. All except Hibernation had been written (with varying degrees of success) and so its completion really did draw a line under everything I had been writing up to then, a recognition of the mental energy I had exerted in reaching a point where I felt worthy as a writer, where a transformation had finally taken place and I felt comfortable actually describing myself as a writer.
Yet while Hibernation is a deeply personal composition, Act II as dark as anything I have written, it was also meant to be generic to anyone who goes through such cycles. A message in a bottle for anyone marooned in their own troubles. Hibernation is an incantation, an epic spell to intone at times of despair or isolation, to reassert a sense of perspective, to re-establish reason through metaphoric battles and soul searching. Time will tell how successful it has been in that sense. Ultimately I love all my children, even if some of them take a little longer to figure out what they want to be than others. I’m not sure Hibernation worked out exactly the way I had envisaged, but I am immensely proud of it as a piece of writing. I hope that you take as much from reading it as I have writing it.
"Thy kingdom come, thy shall be done,
On Earth as it is in Heaven."
The Lord's Prayer
"Go back to your fucking crackerjack lifestyles
and I'll meet you at the evolution bell curve.
I'll be sitting there awhile, it's kind of a tortoise
and the hare story."
Walk across this barren land, yet be sure you show no light, for the scavengers which reside out here will douse your heart and rape your soul ‘til all that’s left is but a shell, blind to all except their anorexic promises of a better life. Darkness falls on another eternal night of the collective spirit and once more will issue the cries of the tortured masses. Enslaved with fear. Alien to their own minds. In time will they emerge. Band together from hovel, pit and burrow, an indignant horde of soulless ghouls united through a common crime of what they know not. And before this night is done like vermin shall be hunted down another victim, thrashed and beaten to their end. If you wish to survive on this sterile ground, show no difference, show no weakness. For if you are in any way separate from the mob then the failings in this state of play are yours to bear and yours alone.
Quickly in undoing manifests a multi-national complex.
Blood soaked dirt subdues a crowd, but only for so long.
For one night and one night only did they call on me to join their grim, twisted dance of misdirection. Encircled me like the walls of some malnourished cell. Three sixty degrees of manic stares and thinly disguised hate. One broke from the herd, taking me by the throat in readiness to strike the first blow. His eyes were gouged, yet still could he feel the penetration of my stare as I cocked my head and asked, ‘What is it that frightens you so?”. With that he clasped his hands to his ears, falling to the floor in agony, screaming at me to cease the inquisition. In unison they howled, like the mother bonded to her unborn foetus, the stark realisation that ignorance presents no challenge to the enlightened.
With a flash the cracks appeared and free, as free my heart has always been, did I stride through the prison door, never once looking back, for I knew they followed with haste, ‘case some chink in the armour should be seen. Several hours we danced that subtle ballet of immortal foes. Love against hate. Enigmatic fear versus its embodiment, its personification. But on the horizon caught I a glimpse of sanctuary, drawing them in closer to sweet haven’s glow. And bathed within her burning light, she sang me softly to my sleep.
Tranquility at last, beneath hope's eternal pyre,
For the natives here are primitive and no primitive
Would dare incur the wrath of fire.
Come walk with the immortals, we songful tribes. The gods of nomadic thought who laugh with a defiance at your subservient worship in the church of another’s ideals. With a passion we breathe and through love achieve life. No time to betray for as time marches on do we see ever more of those dreams become clear, in focus and real. Never the swell of this famine here come to bear. Where he would stumble shall she stand tall with the promise of grandeur burning free from a nation with no sight. No wall shall be left unscalled, no gap left unbridged, no fear left unchallenged, no challenge left unconquered and no truth concealed by a lie. For in spirit are we kindred, every thought expanded, advanced, evolved, as we gather together, fuelled by each other’s warmth.
Though in solitude have I explored, I was but one of a tribe.
With a road to be crossed. The universe to incite.
Yet in adversity is our true nature revealed. Another night sleeping rough atop a disheveled stump and the sun in absence, as ever it is from these opaque skies, did another listless day begin. Where once, only hours before, had been pandemonium, now found only silence. An uneasy calm which even the winds dared not disturb. Peace. Except. At first I thought the noise I’d heard was little more than the residue of a dream nervously daring reality. No further sound came and with a yawn I prepared to drift once more. Even the tireless oversleep now and then.
A second cry and I was leaping to the ground. Rushing at breakneck speed to hunt a point of ambush for malevolent butchers. But wait! And applaud the triplet, for I knew where the ensnarement lay. Off once more to the sound of blood rushing, adrenaline surging, head thumping, temples pounding, as with dirt kicking I slid about that final bend and the character of much incident entered stage left.
Oh to exist as pure thought. To transcend this anodyne reality. Too late I arrived to find the tragedy unfolded. Two blank orbs bore deep from the incipient void.
Tears streaming, I staggered from that place. Enraged, yet too overwhelmed to act. The bandits paid no heed. It seemed I had already become as anonymous as they. Who knows how long that tenebrous crawl continued. Onwards through the wasteland, a thousand points of thought screamed at the mind’s ear. Until at last, and in absolute solitude, I found myself encircled by the forest density. A tangled wood to lend the crescendo reality.
It was shattered and exhausted that I fell at the bank of a liquid crystal expanse as my own sweet passion cooled to a numbing touch. In haunting tranquility, I saw the defeat had been completed. Abject misery descended. And so set apathy about its slow decay.
Nine long months and nine months more have I sat here. Nothing but the icy water at my finger tips to sustain this humbled existence. Omnipotent to the world, yet every day grow I stranger to myself. Like the hollowed out oak. Like an oil spill burning on the ocean’s ebb and flow. Alone. No love to warm me, no friends to comfort me, no hope to guide me. All that is left is the memory of an anonymous past. Images of experiences that once were mine and now are gone. Oh to take that leap of faithless despair. To plunge into a timeless release from an infinite, worthless pity. As a god was I brave and now a shadowy, loathsome creature no courage remains. Only a whisper that holds me captive to a future which seems as delusional as the remembrance of a smile. In paradox a glimpse of rare beauty, where exists only I, intangible and ugly. So I’ll sit here, just nine months more. Maybe then I’ll feel more my old self. For now I am but a statue. Rough, cold and chiseled from stone.
Why does this face haunt me? Speaks of a life forgotten. Silhouetted in the muddied waters, reflected in abyss of this disembodied soul. Is there but one angel left out there? One creature who would take this mutilated heart and heal its timid ache with a loving caress? Sometimes I hear voices. The fearful and the free, as they walk the walls of this prison that now I call my own. Sometimes they sound familiar. A forgotten friend, the harmonious song of a long recanted love. And for that briefest of moments, I long for the company of my own. To leave this place and be at peace. Yet to them would I be nothing but a phantom. Neither god, nor mortal, only a pale shade of grey. And shamed quiet would follow like the darkness of an approaching storm. Hushed whispers saved for when I was departed or my back was turned. Far better then this joyless meditation at waters’ edge, secluded from a hostile world. It still grows as I grow still. Fade from the thoughts of those who once knew my name.
This is what I have become, what I have always been. A meaningless piece of flotsam, mediocre at best, human at worst. Don’t find me, nor seek me for I have nothing worth hearing, nothing worth saying. Leave me to the web of this disenchanted mind. A jigsaw puzzle, desolate with no box to help put the pieces back together. Myriad fragments where once stood a picture postcard, now jaundiced at the edges.
Tortured at the hands of the totalitarian mind, I care not to endure its subconscious propaganda any longer. So I am mute. Silent in defeat. The tempest continues unabated, as I, the lotus, sit rotting at its core. White noise roars at my ears, fills my vision, a manifest wall to keep me hostage, trapped within the secretion of morbid terror. An inferno rips to the heart, renders translucent the senses and fleetingly is revealed who I used to be. Anxious ambition tightens the chest, overpowers with the vision of escape. Swallowed hard, to the pit it sinks, the bitter taste fades from the mouth and in numbing peace the fool will stumble to sleep. In slumber another piece separates from the whole: Smoldering; consuming; exhausting. And as the embers fade and die, all that remain are the remnants of an ashen soul.
A corpse in battle forgotten.
A dream which waits for tomorrow.
How many realms of shadow such as these,
Stand guard over gateways to unity’s embrace?
Persuasive in assurance of shelter from cold defeat,
A potent deception, this belief in life without grace.
Time a frozen maiden of ice.
Days merge to a sandstorm patch.
Months of inaction carve a trench for the soul.
The addict’s nicotine starved, winding fantasy track.
How so often these eclipsed realms prevail in their intent,
Grind the finest to dust, slay the purest of hearts,
How many poets slip by, concealed and secret?
An esoteric shadow never catching the spark.
A mirror to crack within the resonance of self.
A nihilistic destruction stalking glory with stealth.
Deprived of all senses, insight hones to a point,
Entices madness or eternity through the void to anoint.
To have stood on the edge, emerge from the brink,
Is to outlive a glimpse of true essence, naked and pure.
What’s left to impact upon a conscious survivor?
Fear itself is affrighted faced by those who endure.
So as the world sullies itself far and wide,
Turns gods into demons, shapes stone out of earth,
A scant band of spent flames will sit simmering,
To rekindle the fires of fame’s resilient hearth.
For a glimpse of the future, look not to the mass,
Where stagnation, inertia are all that abound.
Seek out those domains of stone silence.
That’s where our next evolutionary step can be found.
All ye dwellers of darkness, all you denizens of night,
Cast off your ghostly shrouds, your nocturnal cloaks,
Outside a supine world lies servile.
Sunrise waits expectant, her onset ours to evoke.
Galvanise to an iron clad resistance.
Immune from the body politic of forlorn fate.
Now will we cease to speak of aspiration in whispers.
Confident clear towards ambition at a blistering rate.
Yet all should mark well this road travelled.
For you shall find yourselves back this way at length,
To be immutable is to remain ever changing,
Reflection breeds growth, from catharsis comes strength.
Strength through adversity, strength through strife.
Strength to bestow passion on those on the threshold of life.
Strength to exist free radical, a dream dark bright.
Or to stand a clan united, derive daytime from night.
Wake! What a microscopic world you seal yourself away in. I remember when the whole universe was our playground. And now this. Pitiful and pathetic.
You mock me.
If I make light of your existence, such as it is, it is only because I carry the memory of a time when you were far, far superior to this and none of those Golem-esque creatures out there dared touch you. For they knew that they would burn.
I failed her.
Yes you failed. All of us at some time in our lives are defeated. To deny that enduring truth is the mark of cowardice. Yet you have always appreciated it. For them there is no sentience. It is a time spent idled away with quaint distractions and delusions of greatness. You lived that dream. The dream of a god.
Immortality no more! Do not taunt me with talk of long forgotten realms that I will no longer behold. For when I attempt to recall those passionate times, the pain, the horror of that day is prevalent in my mind, like a wall I lack the strength to scale and peer beyond.
Have you learned nothing from your disembodiment? There are no good or bad experiences. There are merely those that we learn from and those that we do not. For if we can take something from each new experience, no matter how painful or horrific, then we can remedy that which has been inflicted upon us. This is part of you now, so what good does it serve to sit here drowning in self recrimination?
So what? Must I forever ride upon a wave of euphoria?
All need sleep. All need rest. It allows us to order and evolve. But you can't rest forever. Every direction points back to reality. How many other fires have been extinguished since you first arrived here? How many others you could have lent the fuel in your veins to?
I have become too shallow.
Yet you have depth to make that accusation. Look. Look, tell me what you see.
A shadow. A smothered soul.
And from where comes the shadow if darkness casts no light? Your soul is not smothered, merely grown dim. Soon remedied if you would only cease this senseless wallowing and stand up for yourself and all who follow in your wake. Stand up for yourself. Stand up and say in a proud, clear voice, “Do you know who I am? Do you have any comprehension of the things I have yet to achieve. The epics that remain unwritten, the symphonies I have yet to compose that when finished will shatter your sleeping senses and cleave this threadbare reality in two.”
I do lust after that past mettle.
Then breathe in the negative and exhale as positive and we shall send a shock wave through this land that will set the power hungry and hate fuelled to scurry and cower back to the gutters where they belong.
They fear us..
They can never subscribe to that which we seek to attain. An exponential growth towards our maturity. Yet we can inject them with a dose of their own and lose not one step. For whereas it is their weapon, their aggressor, it shall also come to represent their destruction.
And we may live to see the hue of dawn breathe life into this land.
Yes. Yes! That soundless hour when all phantasms freeze,
When lifted faces scorched by a smoldering sky,
Feel Fate’s hot glow
Why should we sink so low? Why breeze
Through life in’t same casual manner. No. Defy
Them. Defy Fate. Defy thy stars and defy all
Who seek to separate the darkness from the light.
Even me. Even you
Yes! Shades of grey is all.
Except not grey, but thousand points of burning bright,
That as the stars on our clear first night shall be seen
To resolve themselves. Hues of red, blues, orange, green,
And myriad shapes, moods, forms, yes, even regret,
For what is lost
What is lost is never returned.
Shall we retain the knowledge of that lesson learned?
Lest sliding dark days down we should ever forget.
We should never forget.
We shall never forget.
And so once again I find that I am boundless. No more shall I remain veiled in shadow, nor obscure my face, nor employ personas as masks for parts I might play. No boot is held to my neck, no tyrant mind enslaves me. Fires burn deep. Flames sear the veins, cauterising zeal, burning with insight and finally I see who I may or I may not become. For when I am done with this tirade, I will throw off these shackles, weigh anchor, raise this knotted cell to the ground and rise into the air to greet the dawning sun. Metaphor shall give way to meaning: Allegory to action. Cancerous lethargy to cantankerous forays into a world that I have long retreated beyond.
When I find you, think no more of me as a god, but only a messenger, for a message is all I have to offer. A message of self-vigilance and determination. Of fluidity, the ability to bend with intellectual dexterity in the breeze. For that immutable force, change, punishes the rigid (such hearts are too brittle to ever find an answer worth questioning). Children of the gods we are not, but gods in and of ourselves. Monothoughts conceive themselves as born out of perfection and create static worlds in order to hold us forever on the edge of eternity. But I say that boundless, unconditional eternity is our ultimate destination, not a point for departure. I will not live in servitude. έγω γαρ δοκεω άριστοϛ άλλ’ είναι θελεω*. Yes, the past propels the present into the future, time’s arrow stabs forever forward and to exist always looking to dwell in the long ago is to dance upon one’s own grave.
We are not slaves, but madmen, which is what they have always called us for even in insult they cannot bear but condemn us all as one. And yet we are not. We are each in and of ourselves. Individual. Different. Myriad solutions to the mystery, the majesty of life. We are stardust, nomadic travelers from the beginning of time. So why this inertia? Reverse this state. We have much to learn from one another. Join with me for the time that we may share together and let us go when our time is done. You will know when you no longer need me, for when you no longer need nor require me, by this sign shall you know the necessity for our parting. Yes, I have reclined in solitude too long to ever believe in a bond that remains sealed forever. Yet the nature of my gregarious spirit draws me to others like a gravitational well, a hope sprung eternal. I can take you only as far as my heaven. Then you’re on your own.
Still. Leave the future where it is. Now. That’s where it’s at. Drop into the present, be in the moment, breathe only for now. Do you know who I am? Do you have any comprehension of the things I have yet to achieve; The epics that remain unwritten, the symphonies I have yet to compose that when finished will shatter your sleeping senses and cleave this threadbare reality in two? Still. I’m humbler than that now. I will speak only when I have something worth saying. When I do speak, I will do so whether there is anyone to hear it or not. I do not want for an audience (still, I will shatter your senses though). I will not let self-doubt claim me (breathe in as negative). I do not let self-doubt claim me (breathe out as positive). I do believe in my own sense of self. In my abilities. In my ambition. Yes, the cycle turns once more with feeling and we will rearrive back at this point. To ride the wave is the ideal. For now I live to exist. To learn and to love and to lust, to try and test and teach, to maintain a fragile truce with fantasy while keeping faith with reality and with reason. The scavengers will no longer fear us when they are so used to us that they can but only accept us. Only then can we shove them in their true direction. Time to ride the wave.
Walk across this barren land, but be sure you show your light. Accept yourself. Watch but don’t wait for my sign.
*For I do not wish to seem the best, but to be it.