PETULIA'S PARTY & ALL PETULIA'S FRIENDS
Copyright 1989, Dale Ashman & S Hartwell

Dale writes:
Dragonqueen - youíve caught onto the feeling of the Petulia poems; halcyon days where everything seems alright, but where there are undercurrents of jealousy and possessiveness. My verses are lyrics to songs. We recorded a couple of the "Petulia" songs, namely "The Dream" and "Petulia in the Park". The latter was about eight minutes long, mainly instrumental and in four parts:

i) Sensomilia
ii) Crazy Jane has an Attack
iii) Petulia
iv) Petulia in the Park

Crazy Jane and Sensomilia are based on real people. Petulia and Sensomilia represent different side of the same person i.e. extroverted on the one-hand, quiet and shy on the other.

I donít really know why Jane is crazy. I havenít seen the real Crazy Jane for a while, yet she still has this enchantment over me that I donít seem to be able to shake off. She was from a poor background: alcoholic father, mother on valium, brother and sister forever fighting. She was the oldest and so a lot of the burden fell on her. Add this to the fact that she has had arthritis and psoriasis since she was a baby, and it's an ideal formula for someone who can use their disadvantages (and attractiveness) to their advantage.

Sensomilia Petulia was a strange girl, inclined to severe mood swings, hence the two separate characters in the poems: When she was good she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid! Unfortunately, I was the only one around whenever she was horrid and so our friendship suffered ups and downs. It was only towards the end that I understood her problems were due to the fact that she was raped when she was thirteen by her fatherís best friend (something she has always kept secret from her parents). That sent her off the rails somewhat and inevitably shaped her into both the happy, extroverted Sensomilia, and the reserved, insecure Petulia.

Sensomilia and Jane were friends. A casual observer would have put Sensomilia in the driving seat of the relationship but the truth was that Crazy Jane pulled the strings. In the poems Jane and Sensomilia are lovers, in our world they were not.

Myself and the Mad Cyclist met Jane and Sensomilia in late 1985. Friendship followed but declined over the course of the year. Jane had a (possessive) boyfriend and loved him madly. I "loved" Jane, and, unbeknown to either of us at the time, Sensomilia also "loved" Jane (her lesbian tendencies were due to her childhood experience). The situation was bound to end in disaster and breakdowns, and of course it did. That is the background that formed the poems. The poems are somewhat elevated from the vicious back-stabbing of real life, but that is poetic license.

SENSOMILIA PETULIA AND OTHER ASSORTED FRIENDS
Copyright 1989 Dale Ashman & S Hartwell

A collection of scribblings and songs with a central theme.

 It is an evening in July at that time when the light fades softly and a chill begins to creep into the air. Walking down a high-banked country lane is a young man dressed in a white flowing shirt and tight black jeans. He pauses by a gate for a while and checks nervously around to see if he is being watched. Then, sure that the coast is clear, he opens the gate and quickly steps through.

The gate leads to an old graveyard, small and well kept around the paths but lacking in shiny new headstones. All the markers here are sandstone, their letters crumbling with the passing of the years. The man sits down on the grass with his back against the wall, bathing in the warm orange glow of a streetlight and lights a cigarette.

 LEE JANE
Copyright 1989, Dale Ashman

At night when thereís nobody there
To stop you and ask why youíre walking alone,
Down Lee Lane.

The old oak tree standing bare,
Its last branch points to the footpath that leads
To Petuliaís lair.

Cast off your troubles and throw down your cares.
Feel the grass growing and breathe in the air.

See the child playing in the road.
Now picture her burning and blistering then screaming
When the bomb explodes.

See missiles, wave after wave,
Raining death from the skies, hear whole nations screaming
See the world in a grave.

But cast off your troubles and throw down your cares
In Lee Lane.
Feel the grass growing and breathe in the air
Down Lee Lane.

Sit in the graveyard alone
And drift away softly to sweet scented lands
Where fear is unknown.

And somewhere, far, far away,
A bell marks the midnight but we need not leave
Her House of Lost Play.

So come with me, walk with me, talk with me
Shut out the screaming.
Stay with me, play with me, lay with me
Help me to dream.

The young man finishes his cigarette and leans back against the wall closing his eyes. As he drifts into sleep a lone thrush mourns the ending of the day.

THE DREAM
Copyright 1989, Dale Ashman

I know my eyes are open
But all I see is black;
A magic misty morning,
Waves to call me back.
Thoughts within a plastic bag,
Vague movements of my head,
Magic dragons blowing fire:
Oh God, I think Iím dead.

Rising from my cardboard box
With smokey eyes.
Flying off into a new strange feeling.
Seeing friends in silver coffins.
Welcome to the dream.
This is your dream.
Open your heart now the skies are clearing.

He wakes to find himself with his back against a tree beside a stream. Leaning over him is a fair-haired girl dressed in a symphony of bright clashing colours. Beside her is a smaller girl, with a pretty face and sad blue eyes. Standing to her left is another girl, quietly dressed and carrying a cup of tea. The girl with the colourful clothes is Sensomilia, her sad-eyed friend is Crazy Jane and the girl with the cup is Petulia. In the distance, heading towards them is a man on a bicycle: the Mad Cyclist.

"Hello. Iím Sensomilia and these are my friends."

ASSORTED FRIENDS.
Copyright 1989, Dale Ashman

Petulia:

She floats on champagne bubbles,
She cries for all her troubles,
Her boyfriend runs to catch her tears
And bottle them up as a vintage year for funerals.

The Mad Cyclist:

He rides the skies at night
With thunderbolts and flashing lights,
Dragons fly through tea-cup handles
While ants parade round rubber candles.

Sensomilia:

Champagne waterfall,
Lightening bolt, bouncing ball,
Light laugh, whiplash,
Red lips, blonde flash!

Crazy Jane:

Auburn hair, blue eyes,
Musical chairs, min-spies,
Bleeding hearts, sympathy,
Bravery and treachery!

Fall in love with Crazy Jane
Amidst the flowers and the rain
But tell me how you love a dream
When everything is not as it seems.

Come to the party, Petuliaís party.
Come with the party, come to the party.

Later that afternoon, Petulia throws a party for her friends (strictly invitation only, so that no-one would be lonely when it came to goodbye kisses at then end). The party is held beneath a chesnut tree in a glade in the forest. It is a tea-party, with lots of tea and cakes and plenty of candy currant buns!

As the party progresses and the guests become more relaxed, the Mad Cyclist begs silence, stands on the table and speaks.

THE MAD CYCLIST SPEAKS
Copyright 1989, Dale Ashman

"Ladies and gentlemen...

Blow your mind,
Save mankind,
Lead the blind,
Look behind,
Blow your mind!

Love is free,
B.B.C,
Three and three,
You and me,
Love is free.

We are one,
Have some fun,
Kiss the sun,
Get things done,
We are one!"

His speech is greeted with rapturous applause and cries of "More, more!" Alas, he declines the offer and sits back down to have another candy currant bun. By this time the young man has become a little bolder and more at ease with his surroundings, strange though they are. Crazy Jane in particular catches his attention and he longs to know why she always looks so sad, even when smiling. As the party progresses he pays her more and more compliments, and eventually moves to sit beside her.

However, all of this pleasant courtship has not gone unnoticed. Sensomilia has been watching like a hawk, though to all casual observers she appears to be devoting her entire attention to the party. She is somewhat annoyed that their guest should be paying Crazy Jane so much attention. Not only does she desire to be the centre attraction but it must be remembered that, as for her and Crazy Jane,

"They were lovers it was said,
And they shared a feather bed,
In the cottage at the bottom of Lee Lane."

So, Sensomilia announces that the day is getting late and, after thanking Petulia for wonderful party, leaves, taking Crazy Jane with her. Our hero asks Jane if he can see her again. She smiles sadly and knowingly, shaking her head gently. The Mad Cyclist also announces that the time has come for him to fly, and he too leaves. Only Petulia remains with the youth. Together they sit beneath the chestnut tree and share the final currant bun, Petulia holding his head in her arms as the youth drifts off into consciousness.

PETULIA IN THE PARK
Copyright 1989, Dale Ashman

Watching Petulia through
Green coloured glasses
And sighs.
Watching her body
Melting before my
Unfocused eyes.
Cellophane smiles in the park.
Tears for her friends after dark,
Itís breaking her heart.

Loving Petulia in
All that she does
And all that she says.
Failing to notice
The laughter thatís slipping
So softly away.
Are you only a stranger at home?
Spending days sat by the phone?
And at night youíre alone.

If you see Petulia, tell her
Iíd like just to
See her again.
If you see Petulia,
Remember me to her as
One of her friends.
Tell her that Iím feeling fine,
Wearing a smile all the time,
Will she think itís a crime?

 

PETULIAíS PARTY
Copyright 1989, Dale Ashman

So in the shadow of the mountains,
In a sunlit forest glade,
Petulia threw a party for her friends.
Strictly invitation only,
So that no-one would be lonely,
When it came to goodbye kisses at the end.

She set a wooden table
ĎNeath the spreading chestnut tree,
To give her friends the comfort of its shade.
Then she brought her finest china,
Knowing nothing could be finer,
For to serve the herbal tea that she had made.

Ah! There were cakes and milk and honey,
Strawberries and cream,
And everywhere were posies of wild flowers.
There were candy currant buns,
Enough for everyone,
O what a way to while away those summer hours.

And when everything was ready,
She took a silver horn,
And blew upon it twice to give the sign
That the party could begin
As soon as everyone was in
That forest glade, beneath the chestnut, drinking wine.

Sensomilia arrived,
With her friend upon her arm,
Her favourite friend whom she called Crazy Jane.
They were lovers it was said
And that they shared a feather bed
In the cottage at the bottom of Lee Lane.

Sensomilia to Jane:
O what wonders are there here,
A table spread with food fit for a king!
And Petulia I see,
Has finest china for her tea,
And when the cyclist arrives we can begin.

No sooner had she spoken,
Than the sky above grew dark,
And the heavy drums of thunder beat the air.
"Itís the Cyclist!" she cried,
And soon everyone espied,
The little man with flashing eyes and floating hair.

He weaved between the clouds
This little gypsy of the storms,
Then turned and rode towards the forest glade;
And whilst coming into land,
A subtle gesture with his hand,
And the thunderous towers of cloud began to fade.

Welcome now, my friends,
(Said Petulia bowing low,)
Pray help yourselves to anything you see.
Your places all are marked,
So when youíre ready we shall start
With a candy currant bun and herbal tea.

Throughout the afternoon
They sat beneath the chestnut tree,
And laughed and drank and talked of days gone by.
Till the Cyclist he said,
With vague movements of his head,
"I think the time has come for me to fly."

So he bade them all farewell
And rose into the sky,
And headed off towards the setting sun.
Ah! Crazy Jane she cried,
And Sensomilia, she sighed,
While Petulia ate another currant bun.

As the twilight hour drew near
Sensomilia stood up
And whispered, "We must go now Crazy Jane."
To Petulia she said,
"I fear we must retire to bed,
But let me thank you for your kindness once again."

So Petulia came to me
Sat beneath the chestnut tree
And we shared the final candy currant bun.
"You must come again and play
Some other time and while away
A lazy afternoon beneath the solstice sun."

Then she took me in her arms
And kissed me gently on the cheek
As I slipped away into a distant dream.
When I woke up she was gone
But now and then I hear her song,
As she plays outside her cottage by the stream.

And now it comes to the commentaries on the main players of the drama: Sensomilia, Petulia and Crazy Jane, all of whom had a hold over the youth's imagination. It's time to analyse and exorcise the memories of that dream-like afternoon.

AT THE BOTTOM OF LEE LANE
Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Down at the bottom of Lee Lane
Where the faeries dance
to the eerie strains
Of piping wind among the ancient graves

You lost your heart to Crazy Jane
With her eyes that are
Kaleidoscopes of pain
Sheíll tear your heart in two and then sheíll say

"Farewell sweet sir, Iíll see you never more,
Donít come a-hanging round my door"
Sheíll toss her auburn-crown-ed head
And wend her way back through
the houses of the ancient dead.

Sensomilia takes her by the hand,
They fade from view and
now youíll understand
The sweetness of a love youíll never have.

Oh donít you know that it is said -
They share the comforts of a
single feather bed?
Crazy Jane prefers the company of woman instead.

"Farewell sweet sir, Iíll see you never more,
Donít come a-hanging round my door"
Sheíll toss her auburn-crown-ed head
And wend her way back through
the houses of the ancient dead.

And donít you know lifeís just a dream
And things are never quite
just what they seem
Down at the bottom of Lee Lane!

The youth nods, but can he ever come to terms with the fact that Crazy Jane will never love him in the way that he loves her? That she will always remain out of reach, protected by her friend Sensomilia? The cottage at the bottom of Lee Lane will always be forbidden to him, though he covets one of the treasures it holds.


LOVE IN VAIN
Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Sweet dreams you have of sweeter lips,
Of secret places twixt curving hips,
That have never known a man,
That Sensomila ensures never can.
Fantasise of tragic eyes,
Sorrow in a new disguise,
Pert breasts like bows of sailing ships,
That will never feel your hand,
Pale warm flesh of luscious thighs,
Owned by woman, designed for man.

Do not aspire to Crazy Jane,
Loving her is just a breed of pain,
Admire her bodyís gentle swell,
But Sensomilia guards her well.
Puckered lips like loverís knots,
Eyes that say forget-me-not,
Love her well and love in vain,
With a passion fair and fell.
To Sensomilia sheís enchained,
In a cottage in Lee Lane.

Sensomilia is fiercely protective of her lover. She is a bright, wild, erratic extrovert, but she is also very afraid. But all of her gaiety was meant to distract attention from Crazy Jane. In his heart, the youth realises that it is Jane who holds Sensomilia in thrall. Soon he begins to question whether the encounter ever really happened at all.

SENSOMILIA
Copyright 1989, S Hartwell 

Sensomilia wears
A cacophony of coloured cloth,
Sensomiliaís hair
Is honey champagne blonde,
Sensomilia wants to tear
Your soul in two.

Sensomiliaís face
Is all red lips and eager eyes
Sensomiliaís grace
In clashing clothing lies
Sensomilia wants to hear
Your "I love you"

Visions of dappled silken hues
Swirl sparkling in the evening dew,
Gypsy bells and chiffon scarves,
To please the ear and draw the eye
While dreams of rainbow satins sigh
And Sensomilia laughs.

Sensomilia hears,
All you say, she knows the words
Sensomilia fears
You taking Jane from her
Sensomilia is quite
Jealous and afraid.

Sensomiliaís eyes
Are watching every little move
Sensomilia spies
The way youíre looking at her lover
Sensomilia leads
Her lover from the glade.

As they go you catch Janeís eye
Full of mute apology
As Sensomilia takes her safe back home
Practical Petulia takes
Your sleepy head and when you wake
The partyís gone and youíre left all alone

Your dreams revolve like coloured sparks
From the ashes of your wondering heart
And percolate into your slumbering head
Was Sensomilia really there
Pirouetting in the air
In swirling mists of saffron silk and russet red?

And what of Petulia - outshone by wild Sensomilia and the tortured Crazy Jane? Introverted and quiet, the sensible, sensitive Petulia prefers to be eclipsed by the others. Misused when younger, Petulia prefers it that way. She is Sensomilia's inhibited shadow.

PETULIA
Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Sensomiliaís sunlit hues
Are woven on a solar loom,
The cloth is cut-from golden bright sunshine,
And stitched into a rainbow dress
Of golds and greens, blues and russet
And into Sensomiliaís sunshine smile.

Petulia chooses cooler dyes,
Their shades diluted by lunar tides,
As if the gaudy daylight hues,
From her clothing had been leached,
By a gentle silvery bleach
Donated by the enigmatic moon.

At home within her woodland glade,
She prefers the quieter shades
Which complement her thoughtful face
Her practicality and unassuming grace
Outshone by the wilder ways
Of sunlit Sensomilia and Crazy Jane.

Candied buns and herbal tea
Are her speciality;
She watches silver moonbeams as they fall.
Sensomiliaís gay and wild,
Janeís a pained and crazy child,
But Petulia is quiet and practical.

Finally, though he will never stop loving her, the youth understands that it's time to move on. Crazy Jane had manipulated his feelings just as she manipulated Sensomilia.

I REMEMBER CRAZY JANE
Copyright 1989, Dale Ashman, D Stead & S Hartwell

I remember Crazy Jane,
Her world was candy-floss and cellophane,
They tell me she was quite insane

And itís so sad
That Jane was mad.

I remember Crazy Jane
I remember Crazy Jane, we were insane
So long ago we were insane
I was in love with Crazy Jane

Crazy Jane where did you go -
Where did you find to hide and did you know,
Thereís more to life than your insanity you know?

And itís so sad,
They say youíre mad.

Crazy Jane youíre quite insane,
Chained to self-doubt and hooked on pain,
Your life was so much cellophane,
Multicoloured but not really real,
You were afraid the world would steal,
Your soul.

Insane Jane you just canít stop,
Your mind is spinning like a top,
Your heart is wrapped in ancient plots;
Suspect the world of treachery,
Accuse the world of sympathy,
Oh no!

And itís so sad,
Crazy Jane youíre mad.

I remember Crazy Jane,
I remember Crazy Jane, we were insane,
So long ago we were insane,
I was in love with Crazy Jane.

The Dragonqueen tells her friend, the youth, that life without Crazy Jane will always be a compromise, but that sometimes it is better to compromise than to be broken by life. She understands that the youth needs to move on, not held back by flawed friends who have already deserted him, if he is to realise his full potential. Otherwise he will end up as insane as Jane eventually becomes.

GENIUS
Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

Do not despise the compromise, society
Will break you in the end
If you cannot bend, go quietly
To normalityís ball and chain;
Though madness has a persuasive quality,
And entices with a sugared smile,
There is no refuge in unreason;
Life will crush you in the end.

Your genius is flawed, ignored, left lying
Dormant like a mineral seam,
Untapped by mankind, slowly dying,
With the shards of your precious dreams.

Do not baulk, you walk in umbra,
No-one wants to take your hand,
Frightened that they will go under,
Be submerged by insanity; suffocated.
The sane world cannot hope to plunder
The riches of the insane mind,
By normality unplacated,
By conformity left behind.

THE ETERNAL COMPROMISE
Copyright 1989, S Hartwell

There is only one way to survive
The rigours of a bleak unfeeling life;
Thus we must forge some compromise,
The concept has a bitter taste
So much potential goes to waste
As we mould ourselves into a shape
More suited to societyís needs
And burying our deeper needs
To be more comely in the eyes of hollow friends.

Could Sensomilia have understood?
Her of gauzy silks and rainbows,
Who held Jane in mesmeric thrall,
Who wore her heart so openly,
Upon embroidered rayon sleeves,
Laughing in the face of life?
Could her charisma be subdued
Without the risk of inner feud
Or apocalyptic strife?

And what of Jane, sweet Crazy Jane,
Does she have room for compromise,
Between the pillars of her pain?
Space to manoeuvre and negotiate,
To balance and to compensate.
Could Petuliaís inhibitions
Be torn asunder, cast aside,
Her reservations compromised
Without disastrous repercussions?

How many lifetimes does it take,
How many wasted years
To learn to bend but not to break,
To learn to let the soul stagnate
While inner urges reach stalemate,
While weíre bled of motivation
And society extracts its dues,
The originality it will lose,
Usurped by indifferent resignation?

The youth has gone. The Dragonqueen is alone. She was never in love with the youth, but she needed him. They understood each other. The Dragonqueen has fulfilled her function, the youth has exorcised his personal demons. In giving him what he needed, The Dragonqueen has absorbed his pain.

THE PAIN
Copyright 1989, S Hartwell 

How can I relate
The indescribable pain
Of losing you? How
Can I make you see
The irreparable damage
To my heart and to me?

Itís like a hole thatís been torn
In the flesh of my soul,
As though the child in my womb,
Had been torn from my flesh,
With a hole in its throat,
Before drawing first breath.

As though a bayonet of grief,
Lodged deep in my gut,
Was slowly withdrawn
With a twist and then thrust
In ever deeper
Into my despair;
Till I choked on self-pity
And gagged on despair.

As though a hand clutched my heart,
Squeezed it like a rag
Then ripped it from me
Still dripping blood
While I groped at torn edges
To seal the ripped skin
Forgetting as I did so
That I was bereft
And the blood in my veins
Would grind to a halt
With nothing to drive it
But the hole in my chest
Where once you had lived
And now all I knew
Was the chasm of grief.

The pain I have felt
When I lost you that day
Has dimmed in my memories,
While only the blame
Shines out like a beacon,
A maroon, a flare,
Asking why did you leave me
And wondering where
It all went so sour,
Why you went away
And took my heart with you,
And passed me the bayonet
To twist in my body
And torture my soul,
With the riddle of grief
That I cannot solve.

DRAGONQUEEN'S LAIR

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