Friday, December 29, 2017

For Alfie and Louie, both

I know I have to lose you
for you to become what you will be
but just for this moment
stop by the wayside and look, while
we still have looking in us, together
at this instant, despite its being
manufactured by me for my needs
and spare me this, for perhaps it is
a miracle anyway, just this stopping
and looking, at what it is
this tiny thing, which possibly
neither of us would otherwise have
noticed, and which is now
almost the apocalypse. let's
just look and hold hands
in the last moments of you still being
my little boy, our last breath
of love like this, looking together

at something inexpressible, falling
apart as we do it. Can we ever capture this
while the sun breaks our entire world?


Saturday, December 23, 2017

religion becoming culturally relativistic

so this donkey with a really short face walks into a bar and the barman says hey why the long...

your next word is really really fucking important, says the donkey


Thursday, December 21, 2017

US war movie

when the fish
in the barrel win the day
US war movie


what you believe

just remember
you didn't have Snopes
all of your life


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Duodeniad

La Rage—sing, goddess, of the RAGE of Achilles

the Pope now has an HIV-infected Gay lover
—this has led to a considerable softening of his position
regarding the use of condoms

words that won't wash out: tubetrain/rucsack/Krak des Chevaliers

the Chinese eat cats like crackers
but that's nothing to the French
who drown young beaked boys in Armagnac
bury them in woodland in Spring let it all mulch down to thick soup
they swear by the fortifying properties

his vegetal body his machine massif
his midriff his central nervous plexus a clock
a barometer to be tapped and adjusted
it tracks responsively the snaking isobars set it in train
like a Victorian clockwork golem
trained to follow a bannister commit strangulation upon
a sleeper on the highest floor he intends instead
the meridians of psychic commerce every time that she
walks in the room
 rage sing of rage golem sing of
Aung San Suu Kyi at one end of a telescope
a little uniformed general with his mouth grinding the other
like a cat with nothing else

rage sing of rage he says all silly with a new bike and hat

North Utsire/South Utsire: a sea giant moderate to good
occasionally poor at first

who could love your face so full of interior disfigurement?
the Vatican explains that on a case by casis it has never opposed
the use of condoms if you have been kidnapped by Islamist baboons
force you to commit acts of disgusting coitus on a monkey
but regret that you will still attend the 7th Hell on the grounds
that to be able to commit said act at all you must have had something
going on

we took me and some friends took control of the world sometime yesterday
in ways too subtle yet to be understood

I have decided not to give up wanking
there is a pleasant place just outside Hell where you wait
until the Pope catches up
it's all just a formality now
papers and ID please how often did you do it
were you married no well in here please
try to cool it in the waiting room there will be opportunity later

the Vatican explains that it has never been opposed to the use of
trained monkeys for sex

The Papa has issued clarification-condoms

Hunkpapa winewall at the margo
in eery breathbasks

Saturday, December 09, 2017

'The Nearest of the Faraway Places'

I interviewed artist/sculptor Duncan Moon a while back for The Triggerfish Critical Review. He has since finished the work around which much of the interview focused, so here is a link to an article about it with some pictures, and the interview is available through the links on the righthand side of this page:


Monday, December 04, 2017

a retired sign language interpreter

who could say in the dust and ash and poverty
of the million tiny moments and decisions which

cumulatively brought him to this wet and solitary
place in a cul de sac somewhere in north Leeds

whether it was the breaking of a relationship he
had so tried to break without breaking or the death

and deaths of brothers or the constant repetition
of hand movements and the assumption of

a persona so unlike that he espouses outside
of such contexts but the real life one perhaps

imagines there in the lush grass exchanged
for this barren garret this gibbet this social

housing with broken things in what passes
for 'garden' in this new world already old before

he arrives. it has a small balcony from which
one may observe other, similar buildings

wherein similar breakings continue quietly,
generally, with little exterior fanfare beyond

an occasional smashing or roaring which soon
dies down or is sucked inside to invisibility

or perhaps transmuted into posture, gait,
the distortion of musculature, character

armouring, pathology, the inevitability
of ill health and depression. the balcony

it must be noted, an invitation to a rainy
pendulum into a dramatic public cessation


Magical Elements in Wuthering Heights.

There are three potentially magical or supernatural episodes in 'Wuthering Heights,' in which mirrors or windows – possibly even eyes – act as some sort of lenses, and perhaps portals, through which time seems to slip. The first is when Mr Lockwood breaks the window in Catherine's old bed-chamber and encounters her ghost wailing to get back in, telling him that "it's been twenty years" (which is accurate, but which Lockwood can't yet have known). Entering the room, Heathcliff quickly reads the situation, and, banishing Lockwood, attempts to call Catherine back through the window — to no avail at this point, though it may be through a window that she later comes to join him.
The second event seems to mirror this scene, as though the two are connected across time; it occurs just before Catherine dies at Thrushcross Grange, tended by Nelly Dean. She looks into a mirror and sees a greatly aged Nelly, but sees also her old room at the Heights, with a "black press" to confirm the location. There is no black press in her room at the Grange, but there IS such a black clothes press in Cathy's old bedroom at the Heights (a 'press' or 'clothes press' is an old-fashioned clothes cupboard).
“The black press,” says Nelly, “where is that?” “It's against the wall, as it always is,” says Cathy. But she also sees another face there, which she does not recognise: “Don't you see that face? […] Oh! Nelly, the room is haunted!”
Could this be Lockwood's face, twenty years in the future, peering out from Cathy's old room? If not then whose face? It has no coherent function in the narrative otherwise. Is this the moment when Lockwood and Cathy see each other through the window of Cathy's old bedroom? Just prior to this episode we are signalled that we have entered some magical space and time when Catherine says that her bed is at this moment the "fairy cave beneath Penistone Crag" – presumably a place with preternatural possibilities.
The third magical event comes when Heathcliff dies: Nelly notices his bedroom window is wide open, with the rain blowing in, and then finds him dead in bed, smiling, with his eyes also wide open, as if to echo these open glassy channels across death and time. What else could have enabled Heathcliff to die smiling like that, unless Catherine has somehow bridged an impossible divide and they have been reunited? Of course Emily Brontë leaves us with the suggestion that their ghosts are indeed now united, and have even been seen walking together, but has this been accomplished by this through-lined literary device of the windows and the mirror, and even the eyes?
Emily clearly devises and constructs these episodes to suggest that the supernatural elements might possibly be real rather than imaginary – for how else would Lockwood know of the twenty years gulf; why would Heathcliff be smiling, even in death; and why would his window (recalling the previous windows and the mirror) be open to the rain?
And – if we are not supposed to consider these supernatural intrusions as real – why would the sheep at the end of the book refuse to walk past "t' nab" after the shepherd boy has sighted the two ghosts there? The boy's weeping and fear might be explicable by superstition and ghostly gossip, but how is one to explain the behaviour of those sheep? Yes, sheep could be influenced by the behaviour and responses of the human shepherding them, but that really is not what Emily meant. She wanted us at least to consider the possibility that Cathy and Heathcliff had genuinely made it, and were together again at last.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

sans armes, ni haine, ni violence—Albert Spaggiari

He had the finest ear, perhaps, of any English poet; he was also undoubtedly the stupidest; there was little about melancholia he didn’t know; there was little else that he did — Auden on Tennyson

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


after a few weeks of this new start
though she could see he was trying

she could also see that it wasn't working

oh she loved him and everything

but she couldn't keep living through this
like this 
for ever
& so one night when he was fucked up

she slipped the gun
into his open mouth
blew his head all over the wall
behind the bed
where they had made their babies
she sat there afterwards for a while

cried a little
made some cocoa
read a Stephen King novel
until she fell asleep

in the night she cuddled him

in his dark uncomplicated wetness

(Published in 'Burning Gorgeous' 2010)


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Slut (work in progress)

...nearer to the sun and air—wind in the willows
i am the son and the heir—the smiths
yeah, man, the elements—anon

I want to be in the sunny place
[she says points]
—points across the valley—
(like John County Clare
magicking a far-off sheep)

even to use that word is abuse
yes, the s-word (or its many toxic siblings
for it cannot be—is itself
an act of self-negative life-negative
sexual colonization
—Alice Aforethought

oh oh how elemental oh how mythic
she cries out above, 'cross the valley
but now /(she feels silly.and. her voice
is weak and unconvincing

(Librivox audiobooks:
the American woman reading Herodotus
pronounces Herakles to rhyme
with some plural of hysterical)

although one cannot quibble
at such democratizat or ask this of the lulz

—how much is left to go, Eli?
is it so very hard to die?

(ells left to go, many ells: strange, almost
Dada Nells from Imbros)

" 'We think,' they say, " 'that it is unjust
to carry women off, but to be anxious
to avenge rape is foolish—wise men
take no notice of such things' "—
attrib' 'The Persians'—Herodotus.

[the legal heirs to 'treasure L'
from the Calvert mound-side
of Hisarlik in dispute with
the Pushkin—Sophie Schliemann
arrayed in gold—who now
can say what when

— for thereof the arcsin of width/length
.4 indicates a 24 degree angle of *spatter*

the bullet and the rainbow

this will apply equally: archaeology/geology murder
the trajectory the rainbow the drift the erratics the spatter
extrusion and intrusion/the rapid cooling or the slow
—rate of insect attack post mortem

and after all this it was not after all
the black rats but infacto the gerbils
proliferate [adj] one malbenign sommer
in northern Chine in Mongolia
what spread the buboes of after all blackdeath
to Europus—

on the backs of the Mongol hordes—Simon Schama

go easy, go slow, Schliemann
says Calvert, alarmed at the sight
of a million spades. axes, steam hammers, explosives
most of all the robot tank-moles
such industry, such heedless illustry
he will cry shall we all, breathless child of the hill
.........................(thief of future past)—Madeleine Shine. 2008.

it merely means 'work,' says Heinrich
read Kapek when I hear the word
I reach for my Hanns Johst
when I hear the heart says Reich
I reach for my Brownian Motion
to rouse us, Waring, who's alive?

for the time has come the walrus said
to live of many things—Madeleine Shine. 2008.
*lustration (come back to this point?)*

"I don't know what to do"
—Anon 2015

these words uttered listlessly:
give me a look like a hostage crisis
(a culebra cut in Trojan prophylactic gold)

is this enough, Eli?
is it so very hard to die?

is bucket a compound noun?
is mama a compound noun-well
a clerkenwell (Oh well—John Winston Smith the Resignation-Lennon)

"I will try my best for that not to happen
if I feel suspicious I will
throw THROW it out of my head"

for we are holding a drug bee a writing bee
a sex bee a cookery bee a future bee a bee to be
—unknown; possibly from ben, a prayer or prayer meeting—
it is only formally and foolishly fortunate that we are not apiarists

(for what do you call it when a bunch of apiarists
gather to tend and discuss their livestock?

for though Anglo-Saxon, it rhymes
with the Arabic word for darling)

[shibari kinbaku lingchi -- come back to this?]

the kessel envisaged as a giant hedgehog

From Middle English frithien, from Old English friþian (“to give frith to, make peace with, be at peace with, cherish, protect, guard, defend, keep, observe”), from Proto-Germanic*friþōną (“to make peace, secure, protect”), from Proto-Indo-European *prēy-, *prāy- (“to like, love”). Cognate with Scots frethe, freith (“to set free, liberate”), Danish frede (“to have peace, protect, inclose, fence in”), Swedish freda (“to cover, protect, quiet, inclose, fence in”), Icelandic friða (“to make peace, preserve”).

when you were gestating birthing fixing

what dreams were begat of the world?

Margaret Shakespeare died age 1 year 1563
400 years before one's birth, before the deaths of Huxley
Kennedy [Jelly Fish Kiss] Robert Frost, Sylvia
Plath, Edith Piaf, Patsy Cline, a bullet from
the back of a bush Medgar Evers, William
Carlos Williams, Tristan Tzara, Tough Tony,
Jean Cocteau, Georges
Braque, Theodore Roethke, Elmore
James I gather unto myself such magic harvest
in sustenance for the late survival of birth
such dreams for a year for which also
the invention of sex and the Beatles-also-born
in vinyl and Bond-born in celluloid—Profumo,
well one need not mention

[that Ulster-rendered 'now' is a clusterfuck

of /ah/aw/ee/ phonemes (visibility moderate
to good, becoming schwa later)
and high-rising/falling terminal becoming cyclonic
quite unlike the monotone English a-oo
(Utsire an island around which herring swim
far, a long-long...)]

evidence of an immortal typist-monkey

unearthed near Stratford where ever ...

(Miss Fay Wray, come down come down—

ever too high in the widening gyre and gimble
in the Dædalus of thine own inner hast borne
thee too lofted in the Empire inner statehood
whose freudian grillers now will tak thee back ...)

... to that sweep of sunlit snow across the valley
—but something had gone out in her
and would not come again)

and then he knew
that was not where
he was going


another time-things: ice


O dark traveller, click the hyper-link 'the Weshesh'
on the 'Sea-Peoples' page of Wikipedia
find out, at last
where we have been all along
bouncing along the corridor
we did not take
to the hall of mirrors
for humankind cannot bear
very much bouncing bloody reflection


"Do you know Carl Garner, Brandon Garner

or Fast Eddie?"

I do not.

You don't have junk here (hooray!)

—Microsoft SmartScreen is working
to keep it out of your inbox too.


in the 1980s I worked as a recreation assistant
in Meanwood Park Hospital in Leeds, running a 'music
and movement workshop' for the 'mentally
disabled' residents. once while exploring
in this incapacity I found a dried-out brain in a dish
in a sunny (unused) upstairs room. whose abandoned brain,
I wondered, was that, left there to dry
like so much cast-off-offal, uneaten?


Dear Maria, before arrival in Umbria must we pass through Penumbria?


Ladies and Gentlemen we are floating in space—Spiritualized


Hold back the edges of your gowns, Ladies,
we are going through hell—William Carlos Williams


Please expect a little turbulence, ladies and gentlemen;
there are monsters in our midst—Alice Aforethought 1988


to join the Mile High Club
you really have to give a flying fuck

"Ach, ja"—Der Rosenkavalier, Richard Strauss

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mile High Club

to join the Mile High Club
you really have to give a flying fuck


Notes for a Poem about Cursing (revizh 2017)

Sister Sue, tell me baby, what are we gonna do?—Mink Deville

time has gone wrong here for no reason
it keeps swinging me back

..........................look it's like this
like you've had a sort of stroke
let me explain that there are flowers
where your hands should be

but what is this called he keeps asking
day and night with that look about him

you have a condition which means
you have to be careful what you think

he insisted there was a warning in the sky
but it was just electricity 

humming & sparking

oh we told him right there and then:'ve had an episode are reassembling things
.............................without a plan

time has done something
there has been a catastrophic error
this poem has performed an illegal operation
& will now shut down

...........................the head and limbs are in the wrong places
...........................—it doesn't matter but some people
...........................will call it a monster

it went on for years
think of him as a boy facing the corner
in a pointed hat
is he a dunce or a magician
either way he's thinking something up

....................the thing is someone starts it
then you take over 

and don't know
how to stop

[your screensaver is a vision of your own death
the naked one reaching for you in the leaf mould]

..........................that's all it is

the beat goes on & the beat goes on

hold the flowers up to your face
work them until you see fingers
this might take years
dip the flowers in hot wax
think them into dripping clusters
of language and light

a sort of stroke—you need to think hard now
what was it that did the stroking?

this computer has not recovered
from a fatal error

(Published in Intercapillary Space April 09)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

eyelid bats modified

bats like rips in twilight

owls for now stolid as off-white statues
beaming in the boughs over the already black embankment above
hearing as we cannot

the shrieking of the bats
in the dead, electric
silence of dusk


Saturday, November 04, 2017

when you were tiny I carried
you on my back into the wind and snow
to explore the moors
and you didn't complain much

even when the snow blew into your ears
and both of us hurt a bit, but
I cushioned your little ears
and wrapped them up

you are too heavy for that now
and your exploring is beyond me

and now my heart is devastated
and doesn't quite know what to do

having turned itself so profoundly
to you


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Modernist Visions of the City: Joyce's 'The Dead' and Langston Hughes's poetry of Harlem.

At some early stage in its metonymising arc, the understanding of the Latin word for 'city,' urbs, merged with its juxtapositional notion of civitas, deriving from civis, meaning a resident of a city (Online Etymology Dictionary, 2017). This etymology endorses the general, if ill-defined, view that a city is the recognisable but quasi-mystical nexus of its inhabitants with the buildings and topographies which are their identifying physical idiom and expression. So we may feel entitled to examine this question of a city “presented up close and at a distance” in the rather dreamlike sense of a superpositioning of psychologies, histories, cultures, human bodies, and architectural structures. To examine a complex and entangled entity called 'Dublin,' for instance, in the flickering magic lantern of James Joyce's 'The Dead,' or another called 'New York' through the fervent, angry, celebratory affirmations that are the Harlem-words of Langston Hughes, is to experience these cities as liminal, as subjective, simulacraic characterisations of two specific cities, and as some deconstruction of the ultimate idea of city itself. These cities, with their shadow cities beyondGalway City, or the greater New York surrounding Harlembecome narratives and discourses, intertextual mosaics that are in some way real, and yet appear dreamlike. They are embattled from without; they bestride thresholds between old worlds (whose Baudelairean ghosts still clutch at the sleeve), and new, burgeoning worlds attempting to become, and we read of them as states hovering indeterminately between historicity and mythopoeia. They are liminal too in the anthropological sense of ritualistically incomplete, for these evocations are in some sense ritual texts suggesting or hoping for transformative social epiphanies and actualisations as their conclusions; and the voices, characters, structures, terrains and events they present are captured at indefinite waypoints between their previous identities and the indeterminate outcomes they foreshadow. 

Liminal is also the word used to translate another signifier for in-betweenness: the Tibetan bardo, representing an intermediate state between life and death. And the Harlem we find in Langston Hughes is such a state, a physical place whose earlier incarnations have died (though architectural and other cultural shells remain), but whose human renaissance, whose next manifestation, which Hughes is wishing into being, is as yet incomplete—for instance, the 'Harlem Renaissance,' for all its lyrical homages to black women, has at this point provided genuine emancipation or equality for very few of them. In 'The Dead' too we find everywhere this intermediate state: to read through the dream-streets and iconography of Joyce's Dublin is to feel the mythic Dead rise through the layers of the other Dublins that lie sleeping below. And hovering above Joyce's city are the two Biblical taxiarchs, the totemic and militarised archangels: the uncertain, conditional-tense Gabriel, and the affirmative and cohortative Michael, existing in a state of cold war unrealised even by Gabriel; both dead and undead in their different ways, contending to see which of them, which of the dreams they represent—and whose version of the city—will be most alive when the snow settles. And we feel this tension also in the representation of the new Dublin middle class represented by Gabriel, the “Western Briton” (Joyce in Norris, 2006, p. 165), and by both Miss Ivors and his own wife, Gretta, representing the Irish resurgence. These incomplete rituals of becoming in these cities are, of course, enacted through words; through images, musics and song; and through layers of excavated or constructed myth. (Norris, 2006; Gates and Appiah, 1993)

'The Dead' is undoubtedly the text from 'Dubliners' that takes us most deeply into the essential mythologies of Joyce's Dublin and its 'geologic' layering. Selecting any of the available texts from Hughes to do the same level of representation initially appears more difficult: these are saccades of up-close Harlem life rather than the grand sweep of multi-layered perspective which is 'The Dead.' Their Modernism is of another type entirely, from a different continent, with locally differing, if allied, socio-political imperatives; but they too give us insight into the experience of a city, and of a people striving to orient and reinvent itself in a cultural and politicised context which would have been impossible for most Black people in the US only a few years earlier, and which would still, even during the 1920s, have been unimaginable in the still-resentful, erstwhile slave-states of the American South with its lynching culture and Ku Klux Klan, and with the 'Jim Crow Laws' operating as minimally-modified reworkings of the 'Black Codes.' As with the deep history in every corner of 'The Dead,' Hughes's poems, despite their celebration of Harlem, still evoke the poverty and suffering of the 1920s, and the deep histories of slavery, and of Africa beyond. These realities too stare at us from every shadow, and we stare down at Harlem, as with Dublin, in this far wider historical context. As Hughes pithily states it in 'Not A Movie,' “there ain't no Ku Klux on a 133rd”, showing us both the joy of this huge fact, and of Harlem as a decisive refuge and haven, but also the roots that clutch, and the act of remembering the disenfranchising south with its extremes of racist violence: “Well they rocked him with road apples […] and whipped his head with clubs”. So while Joyce's and Hughes's texts give us to differing degrees images of cities in paralysis—perfectly illustrated by Gabriel's absurdist 'equestrian' perambulations around a symbol of his own unrecognised oppression—they show us also peoples historically oppressed and brutalised, but for whom there are signs that change has begun, even if for both peoples that change will, as we now know, yet be long and bloody. (Johnson, 2000)

The rhythm of life is a jazz rhythm, Honey,” states the incongruously asexual Hughes in 'Lenox Avenue: Midnight', and this is approximately the first moment in history when anyone could have written these revolutionary words, by which he means that the frequencies and cadences of Jazz are somehow mathematically observable and integral in nature, in the rain, on the hissing and rumbling streets, even in the structures and idioms of the city and its inhabitants. It is the rhythm of life and therefore of sex and the creating of life, and he writes these words in the context of Harlem at night, thereby celebrating and proclaiming the sexed-up, dangerous, jazzed-up nightlife of Harlem. But unmistakably too we sense the alienation and weariness in the poem; this is an area where street cars rumble all night; haven though it may be, this is not some quiet, salubrious zone of the city, and we have the defiant binaries of Hughes peering at his own reflection in Harlem, painting something “dark yet shining, harsh yet gentle, bitter yet jubilant—a Freedom song sung in our midst” (Blesh in Gates and Appiah, 1993. p. 41). But more important, perhaps, than Hughes's words themselves—as Harold Bloom and Arnold Rampersad have suggested—is the fact of him writing them here in this moment. In some ways Hughes is his own opus, his “life a larger poem than any he could write” (Bloom, 2007, p. 3), the detail of his words less significant than the facts of his peripatetic and demonstrative life (at a time when, in reality, few black people had such general freedoms), and his proclaiming that this Harlem, this emancipatory mind-thing, is now possible here, so shortly after the dreadful history of slavery and subsequent oppression, and of the South's de facto ethnic cleansing. So Hughes's poetry of Harlem is a flag waving in a new breeze; it is a decisive snub; and at least in its authorial intent, it asserts a district displacing the beating heart of New York from 'The Great White Way,' or from Broadway, to Lenox Avenue, which he unequivocally constructs as mythic. (Rampersad, in Bloom, 2007)

The derivation of 'Jazz' remains uncertain (though elaborate associations between 'Jezebel' and 'orgasm' and 'jism' and 'jasm' have been proposed), but undoubtedly there is a sexualising of the Harlem scene in 'Lenox Avenue: Midnight,' as there is in other Hughes poems such as the rather infantilising 'Harlem Sweeties,' or 'Juke Box Love Song.' And 'Jazz' is undoubtedly a new, sexy, magic word of the city—recently declared 'the word of the 20th century' by the American Dialect Society (Wikipedia, 2017)—trumpeting both the freedom and equality of black Americans, as the unmistakable virtuosity of Jazz musicians left white visitors to Harlem with little credible rationale for notions of racial supremacy. The word is powerful, and as with many other black idioms and neologisms it will go on to imprint itself upon the world. It is a new structure raised first in New Orleans, but now here in Harlem, and when the white folks awake they will see it towering there on the skyline—they will wonder and resent and scoff, and finally they will embrace it. So here we have Hughes spreading the word of this Jazzed-up new freedom in a new black language, which is informal and conversational, and rather more authentic than, for instance, the non-Jamaican-vernacular poems of Claude McKay, which remain less stylistically free, less urban and modern, and largely “imprisoned in the pentameter” (Brathwaite in Jenkins, 2003, p. 285). Hughes, albeit in a more readerly sense than Joyce, is announcing some sort of revolution, and the modern freedom of his language tells us something about the city and its voices. But alongside the celebration we feel always the menace of the city outside: that other city where few black people yet live, the surrounding vastness of New York with its overarching and watchful narratives filled with “images of impenetrable whiteness” (Morrison, 1992, p. 33). “There ain't no Ku Klux on a 133rd” is not merely a triumphal cry of escape from southern oppression: with its rejection of other potential stopping points en route to Harlem (Washington, Baltimore, Newark), it is a decisive identification of territory and a warning. So Hughes's poetry, language and consciousness constitute, perhaps, a unique Modernism, which will become profoundly influential, will lead, ultimately, amongst other things, to the white Beat culture, to Kerouac and Ginsberg et al emulating its Jazz styling. “The gods are laughing at us,” declares Hughes, becoming in some way one of those laughing gods overarching the city which he himself is instrumental in creating—and an enquiry of modern black Americans for the purposes of this essay reveals that he is still regarded as iconic in this process. Whatever the alleged limitations of his poetry, Hughes, “well before his compeers [...] demonstrated how to use black vernacular language and music […] as a poetic diction, a formal language of poetry” (Gates, 1993, pp. x-xi), and we feel keenly both the rising of this language from the shadows, and with it the rising of a new city. (Wikipedia, 2017)

So while 'The Dead' is perhaps more writerly, giving us components rather than overt declarations, here too we are presented with—or enabled to construct—a city whose spirit and language are rising from the dead, and of actual or latent conflict. The paintings of 'the balcony scene' and the 'little princes' are effectively 'intertextual,' intersecting images of death, factional violence, and blood feud, which we know are already spreading and worsening across Dublin at this time, as though the 'Furies' (and would Joyce have failed to notice the Erin in Erinyes, the Greek name for the 'Furies?') are indeed rising, called back, like Furey's name itself evoking some Homeric or 'Aeschylusian' atavism of retribution and reclamation, in poetical and linguistic opposition even to Gabriel's surname, 'Conroy,' which we can reasonably deconstruct into a Joycean wordplay meaning with the king. And in the references to the surrounding city, we have the church on Haddington Road, next to Wolfe Tone Square; we have the jarring binary juxtaposition of tyranny and rebellion in the Wellington Monument near the site of the 'Phoenix Park Murders;' and in all the references to imagery, to statuary, even to music and to the food served, we have these same binary tensions that are presented between Michael and Gabriel; between Galway and Dublin; between the west and east coasts; even between Gabriel and Gretta in the vast closing epiphany between them which says so much about Dublin and Ireland and the rising (if partly invented) spirit of its history and tradition. All of this is wonderfully captured in the instant visual canonizing of Gretta captured against the stained glass in John Huston's film of 'The Dead' like the the 'Spirit of Éireann' (contemporaneous poster-icon adversary of the 'West Briton') suddenly incarnate in Dublin, in that atavistic burst of colour and song which has Gabriel suddenly transfixed, though still failing to grasp the resurrection here, still in denial until the final moments where he realises he has been competing with the chthonic Michael, whose undead Gallic spirit and the discourse it represents—which he had hoped was long exorcised from Gretta and from Dublin—has been here throughout. And if he had only looked more closely at the city and his wife, perhaps he might have seen it all along.


Monday, October 16, 2017


High altitude water, though. 
It's different and more expensive. 
It's made from the sky.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Oh Carrie Anne (Regardless)

Carrie Anne Regardless

just when we thought dying was over for now
it might be some grey flood-taking
down trees in waves of static the way they
look it comes over you like that like
hands of bone like childhood hallucinations
voices through the pipework through the wall
behind the bed beneath the floor
like confinement or sickness
it is a grey flood (here, demon, here)

—boys/men we know have been scrawling dicks
on walls forever there they are in Herculaneum
those ochre fossil cocks fossilizing their testo-historic laughs—

it is the confounded performative
of a disputed will
it is the folds in the face and the cracks
where tears have spent themselves
where the dead rivers
of her or a voice breaking down the line
it is/they (it is they that) are the waves without lines
the wireless that is truly so (uplifted)

—in such spirit tribades we strid-
ulate as though set free by years by prime
numerics as saccades exiting suddenly
a nest and in this there is a distance and in
this there is a pleasure seen from many angles
and from above and below and the median—

an ethereal shriek then
a sugaring and the opposite of all
convention around the word
now rendered lethal to infants
our age has caught up at last

we have reached 8000 metres
there are no trees, no signs in the heavens
we have already started to die

fucking Jesus i am already in bed but look

look at the thing's face


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

each day without fail
there is a long moment
when I remember


Friday, September 15, 2017

things just do not end (a literalist riff for now or notes for a poem maybe)

stuck deep and immovable it is as
background radiation one only occasionally now
tunes in but it is always there, can always be felt
still fizzing inside the aftermath of the blast
and what preceded that all now entwined and inseparable
so that now one grasps all of the clichés
and knows in fact that the heart itself is a brain
with forty thousand neurons too many

and it does not easily forget, though it fades,
as a plant denied light, unless dead,
ever awaits the return, ever feels the absence
as a presence, for something was changed
something that reacted and was changed
forever. biological, it feels, like sap or sex or screaming
or the echo anyway, which will not stop
and soon the second birthday and counting them all out
for humans are so easily broken

all the things
I really can't think about
just came back


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

moving with little differentiation from the pornography
to his girlfriend
and scarcely noticing
the difference beyond sensory enhancement

for there is some sort of wall
beyond which he cannot pass
which stops him and divides him
it is as if the air between them
existed in different planes
and he sees little of the forest
within her with its bright birds
its shrieks its filtered sunlight
its loam and and great age
and its songs of forests and feminity

 in any rightful world one would have to say
he didn't deserve this complex creature
and he thinks he deserves better
even with such poor ability to assess such value


Friday, September 01, 2017

The Trump Jump

so there comes this day
when Trump, all the shame
of what he is
somehow settling in him,
and the press are there
and the right wing dicks are there
and we are all there
and he jumps
but it's not like
the arc of some graceful bird
because halfway down he gets stuck, impaled
on a flagpole
or some other protuberance
and he wriggles there
and slowly dies
and his blood runs down the side of the building
in a big dark streak
and afterwards we walk home
wondering how long
they'll leave him up there turning black
having his eyes pecked out
by any starlings that happen by
and wish to consume
today's fake views

these ghosts
I have never really known
why now?
even the owls
have shut up now. it's too late
for everything

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Oh whatever

It's 'choose your stupid haircut' time. Really, it's as simple as that. And if you get it wrong the world dies. Well you asked for reality TV. Mwah! :0)

pop song

see in the dishonesty
we have become enemies
seeing each other
through the trees
each of us effectively
on our knees

thank god
for this



in every second
the lost heart returns
its clamour



somehow levitating in that moment
into the treetops and the drips and leaves
showering all around with the earthy
wet feel and smell of one's children



the doors are open
perhaps a dark fairy
might just walk in

the owls yap again
now the rainstorm is over
all night so clear



the wildflowers never happened as everything
was too ill, too disabled, too uncomfortable
as though a grey malaise of sky had been drawn in
bringing shouting and storms, and despite the best
intentions in the world the wildflowers just didn't
for how would they in such fog and tempest?


Saturday, August 05, 2017

some huge bright day

in a stolen open-top car
we drive towards a cliff edge
and I ask her
to marry me
for as long as it takes
for a blowjob maybe
or to change her name
change everything
and both of us sharing a bottle
of something
pass it back, I say
for we might never hit
maybe she says
when we hit the bottom
but not fucking before
I need to see commitment
and it's her turn with the bottle
as we go over, laughing
yes she says,
yes, to this
down through the low clouds
the trees, the whipping branches
that break the windscreen
that lacerate our wild, bloody faces
pass it back, I say. it's now or never
got to be joking, she says
crackling through the broken radio
that was your last shot ever
and I look
and seriously no one is there
last thing I hear
is nothing
laughing like the sky
far above
where birds now gather


Sunday, July 09, 2017

Rachel Jones Uproar. On the Day of her Death.

as though one should hold upon high
high high they cry but no
messing now is the winter of a life
less lived but if we charit
then no less oh stop there is
and is almost and is not

listen, creep. I knew and knew not
but it crawls

upon just now death, its yellow/grey bony place
its cessation, its evacuation, its nice thing
that we think of as

things as though perhaps
some spirit were near (here, spirit,
one could, hey no, here, serious now

(here, spirit!)

not help but feel that, and want to reach
her at the utmost
and say
and feel the birth
of religion/shamanism/the caribou fucking
drear the vast unforgiving wall of grey
the unappointed

death just now i have been in the presence
of death and other death the other language

frog creature leaping with deep resonance
into the haiku of nothing

I cried. clumsy. ill-fitting. that's all I had.

goodnight, powerful woman x



Friday, June 23, 2017

on the disposal of the possessions of a relatively unknown and recently deceased man (unfinished riff)

strangely like the clattering of 1950s newlyweds
they go clanking down the garbage chute
this and that, each a thing of significance
even if only, and the plastics I imagine undisposed
straight out to sea fragmenting, denaturing, atomizing
into a haze of green mutant depth under a sky
so brilliant, so thick that fish walk upon air
choking--this then the man-killer, the fish-killer
the fifteen fathoms of evil water column
your monument and eulogy
stranger, stranger old man, possessor of these items
which now clatter into a skip somewhere below
in our dark dreams we see you whirling
in some anti-recycle, into the trash vortex
into the undifferentiated trash tissue which no one
will ever excavate and treasure in any far future
for you are not Mycenean pottery with its hydra
swirls and fixation of the sea--you are just a bunch
of unknown plastics and crockery clanging only
the funereal clatter of your own falling into
some industrial embrace, and your spirit
each tiny fish-swallowed fragment of pvc
some particle of spirit and where perhaps
we will end up, now toxic, bringing down
great birds on dead islands, choking in black sand
surrounded by unreconstructable vestiges
of someone's shopping one long-ago day
in fucking Halifax, of all places. Goodbye,
honoured at this moment, unknown man
down the chute. goodbye, man who once
must have been huge and vital and beloved


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

sixteen love songs and a game and a waterfall

just like that planets
and then stars somehow
as if never
and this, this
may finally
but what if not
and all of it now
in handsful of dust
y shit?

what then?
I suppose we know, but let's not
say it while the trees shake
in the slightly opaque wind that creeps
up the beck, tilting
the geraniums or Herb Robert
into angular distortions of love as we walk by
wondering as we go
is this this or that, we wonder
wondering further
well is it?

and the fennel is out and reeking
and the trains go powering by
in remembrance of a steam age
that we feel anyway

and in this moment I wish it was you
and I know that it is
and always will be

To join the mile-high club
you really have to give
a flying fuck


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

late at night

in the rainbows of Bradford
with the light
why the light obviously the fucking light

downtown wondering

blown up, in a hole somewhere, my heroism

carrying you out, smoking

on the fucking News

canonised by Marlboro


Oh shoulda stuck with me, baby



at this point the world floods
and we are thrown back to Joyce
and paralysis

is it even worth bothering, he must have asked
fuck, if they won't even try

Friday, June 02, 2017


somehow a rain of slugs
not my favourites really
but we held hands sometimes
and the sea and the cliffs
and we got lost
and it was nearly dark
I loved you and felt responsible
but then suddenly we knew

but the mornings
were always six ways out
of delight
so I apologise
for the late  nights
I couldn't help it
god I'm struggling a bit

not to ring you now

it's lucky really
that I have my new helicopter

there is no room
for loving you now
but the flowers just
keep growing


Sunday, May 14, 2017

there was an impolitic teaser
known widely as Sleazer Theresa
who said will but then won't
but I do and I don't...
this geezer should be in your freezer

Monday, May 08, 2017

heave and heave again

I am angry with you today, dead elephant friends
and lovers. I feel myself there amidst
the scattered gravel, the scorpions,
the very scent of murder.
I want to feel you again, but I shall not
now, for the beat of my life denies it, as does yours.
I would not rouse you if you were
not needed on this occasion like the milk
of a dying mare in the harsh sun. So
I ask if you will rise. And I ask,
and ask please. All your ghostly forms,
please rise and lend your heft
for you are needed, and you would
not anyway have this bond were
it not that you had some instinct spirit
of war upon which I now call.

Rouse yourselves, warlike women,
from death or from sleep, or from
your lovers; our children have need
of you and your warrior spirits.
As ghostly elephants from the swamps
may you arise, laughing, to wage war now
bedecked in cobwebs, dripping
fearsome things of love, moaning
in your mightiness, with vines and ivy
adorning your grey backs as you lift
all of you from the mires
then looking south or west
decide no, and decide and turn
this way, mighty beast,
for we have war now.


Friday, May 05, 2017

Clare de la lune

not like it's real anyway she or they
sat next to with their her but i thought
stupid i thought it was or were or might
but have to say and stutter that this or these
before the fire in the front room
was uh the best uh time of my life
it's i suppose not great to learn
of the qualifications, but here and there
we are and is all wrapped and trying
to live through our filters. i don't know how
really but mine still allow love. it keeps coming
like a bat up a chimney a first date like
a zebra just walked in now wants
ta piss all over your floor
alien creature, forever now unknown
came out of this chimney with love
dead all around me in red strands
gotta swear one choked on one's own ass
so sad but the survival and everything
grates and then it steams up
your narrow garden, wide
garden, all that it is
forgiving, most unforgiving ever

just a little lights go out


Wednesday, April 19, 2017


I flush
the fish away
she beats a kettle drum
the children watch the funeral rites
struck dumb

Monday, April 10, 2017

Love is a weird old Church near Corwen where All is Forgiven

even in real life i won't not now
or i will try not to
you owl
fuck in the tree
i gonna hoot too like more
mad than you
i won't stand here sayin no hoo hoo
that ain't how
ya hoot
make me a owl now
ya fuckoo