Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

'Perhaps it's me...but in all honesty, I could not penetrate that tangle of syntax, invented words, and structure, and derive any kind of meaningful image from it. Sorry.'

- Critique recently received on an online poetry forum. Not often you get a keeper like that. I might just have it engraved on my headstone.

ad ugly damn diction

this no damn chinaman got me
no hepkat whore pours yellow ozone
back up my veinhome, this a German-French
sailor gripes my throat-gag

we know it in our grain-fathers
and the seepage of our guts

it is known likewise that we put on undergarments
as a sacrificial layer against the clear fact that we leak,
to protect others and ourselves we meet from the contagion

only for the dying dying,
like those others, those Irish-Iberian boilers
who came for the richness, the black loam and foam,
the Black Forest rides to the White Hart of Celt-death
of all I want out I want O I want out now
(but best perhaps not to mention any outer layers
for we have none here)

Beaker People come home
and your beds disturbed
your seed blows ravaged
so make it right with your fire

Beaker People I don't mean you
I mean those others who cry on the wind, those others

Beaker People, it's not really you
I'm calling to, but those others like you
who sing through the channels -
I don't know their names those others

fire magic make it right
with your fire magic make it right
with your fire magic make it right

whip the wind of its lies
and put back the lost things recovered

at what expense we here
I want out of.

Monday, January 29, 2007

killing saddam

A market in Mesopotamia
a bad boy favoured today
by Allah drives a camel
with a stick that he inserts in a wound
created for the purpose

wind scours his eyes,
winds here have the names of demons:
Simoom - the poisoner
Bad-i-sad-o-bist-roz - wind of nails
everyone’s fucking corpse-wind crawls across here
blowing sand off graves
whipping up silk rags
into the sky
they will all die of wind

leaves fall, his eyes
fall into ditches

he thinks of afreets
coming for him
dragging him again into fire
and darkness, a big-eyed djinn
leaping from the grave
tearing his shut eyes mudbrick

fragments that clatter
in the wind, a blown sunhat
amongst the ceramics, his hands
ziggurats that strangle
the babble

he drowns
in silence and clamour,
feels for that space between

brick fingers bore sockets,
the wells of Ur Nammu,
Nebuchadnezzar, rectangular
weep-holes in masonry
terraces denuded of time,
growth, space

after applause, vacuum
after climax - silence,

there will be none. Taken by afreets,
by time’s stoop, the clamour,
lost to comprehension
a straight drop brings him

a dignity of shadow
and the world slinks home
ears and nostrils stuffed with garlic
for the fear
that their souls might rise against them

quiet, quiet now, the work is done
and we who found our voices thick
with bile and antiseptic
must now find a time for our choking.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

dumbass buddha in the age of gold

(This is a riff on the theme for the purpose of gestation - it's not a piece of writing yet)
this corpse-faced Capa Coha buddha with the leather mummified skin was I believe ritually flayed of all circuitry extraneous to the Samadhi of profit by the AIs at T.K.Maxx his unlit eyes like razored slices of trusting dead cow eye painted black
gone out, inverted and gazing into a bland Satori of suburban lack, some zombie quiescence born of sofas and soft furnishings designer satori of labels and stack-em-high, shit he looks happy enough in that lobotomised way that Buddhas have
when they've forgotten what it was that they were looking at in the middle distance
and let their eyes droop into the commercial break. This buddha, this housing ladder halfwit starter home happy head sunday league sideline-racer avid fan of reality TV this weather swapper this cash injection cctv new labour neocon illiberal iron maiden buddha shocked by the war suspicious of muslims better bomb em anyway buddha buddha buddha sergeant rockery buddha waxing of car born christian and now not quite sure but who knows there might be something pelican head lost object buddha waking in the garden shed at midnight in his wildest rainstorm buddha TK.Maxx Wallmart Imperial Tobacco buddha spending his synapses watching the flickers projected by the stormlight on his stone faced new brick bulkhead this droopy Buddha has got a yap dog buddha early night with his tired wife once a week where he finds all the Satori he needs, then goes off retail middle management internal email viral advertising firewall bitching styrofoam needless blackberry buddha without vision buddha without question without courage content to be his own enemy looking benignly at his own reflection in the wall of his tank wondering what it could be looking back with dead eyes.Dumbass Buddha.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

WORD (in progress)

 a long corridor
to snapping
just a tendril
shimmer with dewdrops
the node flashes between these
mirrors each
a cobweb jerking
a lung flooding, a wave collapsing
all words codified
first the p words b words plosified
when you look when you stop

time and fix
the moment like this, you see
it's like this that all possible routes
were travelled to this point
the poem of this point
a frozen frame
one circuit sparking
encoding a whole,
a fishdrop is this word
this face-down-study word this
library Larkin cup of tea word
this shuffle of an overcoat word
home in the half light

a symphonic dusk of starlings
to a lonely house word
each to each
smoke flows back down

the chimney, coughs
are sucked back in
lungs filled with expectoration
where grow inflections of undifferentiated
word tissue, stem-words
that may become all issue, lexica-stock
of the probable, no men
clat ure of collapsed
the pandorad hoard scattered
the hope-spasm of a diaphragm
the formula-shuck
of a buccal chasm
bilabial plosive
orgasm unvoiced
merely fricative thrust, close rounded and schwa
vowel freak-vowel schwa ugh lateral

ugh approximant of consonantal drift
gondwanaword of a pacific
rimshot acoustic
of blowface composition spit it out spirant
spit it out dearie, better
out than in

schwa (I know you not) bleak Blairword
thrusting bronchia-beyond-body-branch and broken
and web and filament and stem
and monofilament and unchained
polymer of word
enter your ear-anvil
still hooked umbilical in my
mindlung my voice chamber, still

tugging and coming, coming hammered
bloodroot to become
now yours this word delivered
of the systemic etymology
shivered into echoism
of silence,
sigh lens,
word ecology fish-flapping now
a last flap the pin fixing the wingfin

to the specimen board we bends
creaking to look what it became
in the fixing, that fix
when all roads just stop
mouths go silent, clouds crystallise
as usual the miracle
a brown, dull thing
a word no one would use
in a brown dull poem even

not even
in our wildest sparks

Friday, January 12, 2007

self loathing at dusk

He shows them magic
sparks cascade around his head
his fingers, tendrils that channel
starlight, he tells stories and poems,
his confidence backlit
with the mild hysteria of someone

watching a clock run down
he watches their eyes gleam,
wonders what he will do
how long he will survive
when these little lights
go out
when the moment
has ebbed away
in the near-dark of five o clock
the applause
leached out of his blood
the insistent hour
come upon him.

They don’t make storage cells for this stuff
it comes and it goes like rainbows
you can’t freeze
these frames
they’re here and they’re gone
like POOF…magic
in your hands

a lizard’s tail flicking, drying
he looks out into the evening
with that hollow light burning
all down the river
wonders if drowned people
are floating past
and he stands there in the twilight

in just his socks
for almost an hour
while the dark spreads down the hillside
and wraps itself around the streetlights

feeling something in his guts
that he never felt before,
not really, he wonders briefly
if it is illness, or just the tide
going out.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

the pursuit of the white hart*

The kind of poetry (and writing generally) that currently most interests me is the attempt to speak from areas other than the intellect. Note that you can't do this directly, it has to be achieved through various kinds of suggestion, which require that you abandon any idea of overt, linear narrative, and replace it with a kind of mosaic or montage (both the wrong words) of narrative attempting to work at, and to contact, different levels simultaneously. This also requires some understanding from the reader that the direct narrative is being deliberately subverted to this end. A way to achieve it is by, having first located or established the subject, looking for it in different areas. If it is overt or physical, or extraneous, then look for it in yourself - see what is corresponding inside to what is outside, see what that looks like and what words and images are attached to it. See what it feels like, and what words come with those feelings. How deep can you follow it? The deeper you go (into what can become a quite shamanistic, meditative pursuit), the closer the images and words become to dream narratives, as they permutate through successive layers of language and imagery.

The vital thing is to keep the thread intact between the initial impetus and the deeper imagery - if the connection is lost, then the words cease to have any authentic link to outer reality, and the poetry becomes effectively meaningless outside of what is more or less a dream state. It is no good just summoning abstract or surrealist images from your imagination, they MUST be sequentially connected to the surface by the poetic equivalent of a chain of neurons, and able to fire in both directions.

If it's achieved - and some people have done it very well indeed - then the result is a startling interactive narrative of different realities speaking with different voices, and all ultimately decipherable through the presence of this Rosetta Stone of interconnectedness. It can seem very abstruse, and the best poetry of this kind often is, but it is never gratuitously or actually unintelligible, and it represents ultimately some of the greatest accomplishments in the pursuit of poetry and what it really is. Eliot and Joyce are probably the two best known poets to really use these sorts of dream narratives.

*The title 'pursuit of the white hart' refers to the frequent instances in myth of the appearance of a white stag, boar or other creature, announcing the proximity of the 'otherworld', or perhaps the 'unconscious'. Celtic mythology is particularly rich in these references, and I take them to be imagery of exactly the process I'm trying to describe in this piece, though they might have been more literally intelligible to their contemporary composers and listeners.

To be continued/revised.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Notes for a poem about Alan Turing

Turing is a candidate for the 'father of the computer' title. He was a prime mover in the decryption of the German 'Enigma' code during WW2. See Turing Test / Enigma / Ultra etc.

Kallisti - Inscribed by Eris, the Greek goddess of discord, on the apple presented by the shepherd-prince, Paris, to Aphrodite, was the word kallisti, meaning 'for the fairest'. Apple of Discord. Turing committed suicide by eating an apple injected with cyanide, having been convicted of homosexual acts in 1954, and presented with the choice of 2 years in prison (at extreme personal risk), or submitting to chemical castration by oestrogen injections that would have curbed his libido and caused him to grow breasts. His suicide came two years after his conviction, following a period of deep depression; which there is little doubt was brought on by the disgrace, the oestrogen injections - and, no doubt, what must have felt a humiliating rejection by a nation that he had done much to save from defeat by the Nazis.

Words to discard - love that dare not - apple - dials - fingers - secrecy - enigma - test - intelligence - betrayal.

I imagine his wheels spinning, iterating through algorithms of dead ends, all solutions barred, the certainty that the decryption was false, that no solution was currently available, the code now lost, the wolfpack arrayed in the mist across the North Atlantic, no way through, grinding of foghorns in the mist, a mile of darkness beneath, the final certainty that it would be better to run into a mine and vanish in some small, secret explosion than to either sink into the crushing darkness waiting, or surrender to a sickness prescribed by a grateful nation in an act of gross judicial indecency...

Enigma Machine

It was possible to dream for a long time, there amidst the bundles of cable that stretched out into the mist. Always cold, but even possible to dream sometimes that you knew who was out there, that it really was a human being sending back those signals from the North Altlantic, from the mist, from wherever, somewhere on the end of those cold wires was a human that you could fall in love with, or who at least might come in singing in the night Lily Marlene across the shipping lanes to pluck apples from the waves imagine apples falling from the night that hummed with electromagnetic Asdic amongst the Nordic clouds rolling in from the North. But of course it was never really possible to know what was out there until the answer came in unequivocally, when the machine turned finally and the screen cleared, and a face appeared, an iron face that no human could ever love, not in this test or any other.