The Burning

Personal, Poetry

I’m feeling a bit weird at the moment, maybe because I don’t travel much and I’m going to Finland in a couple of weeks. I told a mate of mine I was going and he said “Finland – what a beautiful city”. I’ll let you work out what’s wrong with that.

Spark-ling eyes, tender-cheeked free
Inebriate, base, elemental creature
How tender, even
Feminine as it charms,
Soothing in the blanket
Adoring conversation
And vibrating wine, drowned to the eyeline
Coke-mugged, shamed Temple goes
Friend in hand home, where the dripping
And licking and moist whispers
Penetrate his mind’s ear howling
Bouncing bed, books and blood
In the heroic past midnight
Those super-human greats, those gentle
Words, kind gestures:
So dandied, proud and unafraid,
Thinking of her he takes him in
For little words and warmth,
Miasmic pleasantries that trip off
Tongues lolling beneath,
Reassuring in the soberless sweats
But bed arises and
The angel-daemon stripping erect
Languished in love in smooth sheets
Alluring smiles, scorching in the summer
Dark. Temple falling closer to his lips,
The beauty in her eyes, the curves of his
Face, her handsome beauty and willing:
He asks, like a gentleman: it smiles lips
Touch and tongues squeezing, the
Elemental covering and feeling and
Our dear Temple is locked in the flames.
And they lie there, that elemental baby
Head safe on his breast,
Fingers stroking unruly
A bellybutton, erstwhile
Flames now a little
Cooled and tender
Licking skin on skin,
Nuzzling wet nose
Until
The sun
Appears
And
The light
Goes out.

This is an old one, like probably a few years now. There’s a bit of a religious string going through with the Temple and stuff – I kinda wanted to leave Temple as more of a person originally, but now I’m more keen on it as a symbol. I did a real quick edit to put this up but I think I might try a full rewrite to make it all a bit more thematic. This is like another, more emotional take on the “story” in ‘The Lusty Abbatoir‘. I wrote that one after and it did a better job expressing some of the content here. So yeah, there’s room for adjustment and development of this one. Honing.

Earlier this week we found a seagull that had been poisoned/poisoned itself, was just lying on the beach and my friends said it couldn’t even support it’s own head. Poor little thing was barely breathing. I arrived as they were calling various numbers to find a working seagull rescue service. One friend was supporting the dying seagull, one calling the rescue. I said, well, shall I get some wine? They nodded. I brought the wine back and we all agreed it was suffering and – because of that and because it’s a fucking seagull – we kinda wanted to kill it. But, a rescue service had picked up and since they exist is seems wrong not to use them. When they arrived, they said it’d probably die before they could get any help to it anyway, and it did. Got me thinking of this video on youtube where some environmental activists in a vet open up a dead seagull to show how bloated it is with plastic pieces. I mean we should get rid of plastic, but also if the creature’s stupid enough to eat a ton of material with no nutritional value…while pissing people off…and then choke on that nutritionless material…

I guess we can all agree human society hasn’t exactly been designed with ecosystems in mind. Maybe we should be thinking about that, not so much for the animals and plants (though I do like animals and plants) but for our own designs. If our cities and towns and industries are fucking up the world for everything else, surely that says they’re fucking it up for us too, that the design is wrong or inefficient? It’s old now but I like to mention it – there was this study by a guy called Calhoun, on rat colonies. He’s remembered for the experiment in which all the rats grew to live in shit then killed eachother. But he ran a lot of other colonies, basically enclosed environments set up to encourage different behaviours in the rats, and many of those ran well, often reaching a stage where the rats independently started maintaining their numbers, instead of growing. In other words, it reached a point in some of the colonies where the rats were just content. It seemed like Calhoun had found that our environment changes how we feel about eachother and how we deal with life. He thought specifically our cities could do with a bit of a review, bearing in mind that the rats in the poorly designed ‘city’ had destroyed themselves. But, in the end, this positive side to the research was buried under the panic caused by the colony that self-destructed, and all the people who believe we’re going to run out of space on Earth. Contrary to their opinions though, evidence suggests we just need to better manage what we have.

I just got to thinking about this because the poem above is based on a pretty chaotic drunken night I had, in London. I mostly remember the nice parts but there were some seriously bad moments too. And everything, good and bad, happened in more or less a square mile. A relatively small space, crammed with the whole range from deepest pleasures to sharpest pains. Forgive me for wondering how useful or sustainable that model is.

Some fucking amazing music that gives the feels, on romance, on urban environments, on all sorts: Da Vosk Docta. Polish dude about town. His soundscape is just so absorbing, like some kind of neon honey. Neon honey, by the way, is probably a pretty decent way of describing 30% of my musical tastes. And this guy’s not the usual synthwave that’s probably inspired that description. I’d also recommend the synthwave though. Check Confused Bi-Product of a Misinformed Culture on youtube, also NewRetroWave.

Creative Struggles and Synthesis

Poetry, Prosaic, Pulpit

This is a follow-on from a post that helped me find my blogging voice again. You don’t need to read that one though. It was more thinking out loud where this one is basically the same but slightly better structured. The continuing theme is that we all get into a rut sometimes, overthinking or letting our emotions run away with us, or both.

Writers block is about disconnection, because writing, and even art generally, is about leaving the boundaries of your own body. Heck, all communication is about that. It’s probably what defines humans above all else – our ability to empathise with things. Empathy is a relatively new and very accurate word. It’s about putting yourself in the shoes of someone or something else. Not just sympathising “oh it must be hard” but realising “oh, it is hard. It really is.” Also I suppose knowing when you know nothing. “That’s just way beyond anything I’ve experienced, but here’s my sadly academic attempt at describing it. Because an attempt is better than ignoring the possibility of truth.”

Words are referring to and so trying to make you think of, and partly experience, things which are not immediately happening to you. Even if someone else is talking about you as you do things, they’re talking off-point. You’re drinking and they say “Ian is drinking”, it doesn’t describe the sense of thirst, it describes the sensation of drinking, or it could be a sarcastic reference to your alcoholism. It pulls you into the speaker’s perspective and away from your own. And that’s incredibly useful.

Empathy is like having a soul or a spirit, you know. Because empathising is extending whispy non-physical energies than can interact with and generally access physical things. Empathy is magic, and so art is magic. Talking a bit like Alan Moore here. Your ability to accurately understand someone else and so tailor an interaction to them, is magical. Or can seem so when you do it proper, because it’s so subtle and yet so powerful. The perfect gift, the manipulation into something, or the feeling of love and safety and acceptance you read in a friend snoozing on your couch. That’s magic, okay. That stuff is pure brilliance.

And that’s art. When successful it takes you somewhere. Teleports you or possesses you or releases you. All these phrases for the same sort of process. Someone else connecting with your experience through and/or despite theirs…powerful.

There’s a good old movie called Excalibur. Proper Northern-European. Yeah, that manages to be a cultural thing. Merlin the magician helps by creating symbols, by helping with masquerades, and by creating fog. He doesn’t shoot lightning bolts from his arse, he appears in the right place at the right time and says the right thing to people who don’t understand the world in the way he does. This is no Gandalf fighting the Balrog. This is the man who taps into the power of the Dragon – pure life energy – in his sleep. He quietly glows while Gandalf desperately struggles. He gets how things connect. He empathises. And he only turns up when he thinks it’s appropriate. Which is why he’s only struck by something as fictitious as ice magic – being turned into a block of ice – when he loses his power to empathise in a fit of madness, caused by deep betrayal. The only time when he loses his aura of mystery is when he stops empathising, falls into despair, and lets his own emotion overwhelm him uncontrollably. It’s like when Spock panics, but much cooler. (Sorry Spock, you’re still really cool, which is why I’m mentioning you out of context.)

So, let’s look at a poem.

The Curly Auburn DJ

My nostalgia for you

Particularly, hugging me at work when you’re tired
Sharing sandwiches and mugs
Because you don’t like too much cheese
Being okay with my saliva
Dirty fingers from polishing your shoes sometimes
Because I want to
Sonorific MTV memories
And your little unexpected gifts
Always

Especially, innocent shameless on tired weekday evenings
Warm, rainy nights behind open doors
Lonely blue guitar rockstar singalongs
And romantic pointings beloved of Elvis
Lookalikes of lookalikes
Staggering
Striding through streets
And being alone with our lagers, hands

Specifically, kissing me with your hat on
At home, in private, with no-one to see though windows open to the night
With moonshine and lamplight on the sill
The felt catching on my forehead but sliding over, not down
Silently looking into your eyes
Feeling your body, privately, for the first time
Through softened wool or cotton and layers
You watching as I hold you and touch you
You would want to understand
And you would
A little, or more
Us dancing t
o your quiet music

I don’t like this one. I don’t like most of, if any, of my poems. They’re all trying to describe pristine moments or feelings, and they only get there part of the time. It’s like Stonehenge maybe. You only see the brilliance and utility when the sun shines just so, what like once a year. This one, I’m not sure if it makes it to communication proper. It’s basically only going to work – maybe – for the one reader who can catch all the references. Maybe you can read it and like parts of it, or maybe like me you read through it and see flaws that need correcting. I’m trying to present something for you to empathise with. I’m trying to make some magic. I need to try harder. Problem is, emotionally sensitive area. Ice block time.

Whereas another poem I’ve showed you and talked about before, I’m working on an update that’s tasty. Tasty because it’s honest, communicative.

EDIT: I’m cheating a bit as this is an old post that I hadn’t finished, until now. So, the first of what may or may not be many updates to Consul Orange is already here. I hope it’s as tasty as I suggested. Probably not, but I’m a pessimistic guy when it comes to this stuff. So maybe.

It gets ice block because I unfortunately enjoy being in love with people I’m not supposed to love. Nothing weird. Jane Austen, Darcy, -style nothing bad. Just stupid really. And if the love succeeds, if the hunt concludes, if the chase is done…well…not exactly what’s the point but…chasing is fun. Heck if I could just write beautiful love poems, no issues, no questions asked, wouldn’t that be a bit boring? Well, maybe not. But that’s how the grass looks from this side of the fence. There’s always a struggle therefore, there’s always an emotional vulnerability, there’s always the chance that I’m fucking up by saying what I’m saying. It’s a bit of a gamble you know? And I do enjoy a bit of a gamble, well, within what are really very safe boundaries.

How does this tie in with empathy and writers’ block? You may well inquire. Well, on the loving from a distance thing, I find myself becoming good friends with people, and one day I realise I know them really well. Basically from loving them in a mostly non-sexual way (love seems to play a huge role in my life) I get to learn a huge amount about them, what they like, how they tend to act. I get an insight into how they think. I get strong empathy. Sometimes. These are people who can then pull me out of any block or depression because just being with them hooks me up to the 230V and suddenly I’m ready to go again. That’s like art/communication but with very low distribution. I mean it’s putting all your effort not into a single work, but into another person.

Specific acts and methods are all well and good, however: what you need in life is a balance between your means of emotional satisfaction and your ability to pull yourself away and analyse stuff. You need those two seemingly incompatible sides of your being to interact regularly, and help you achieve what you want. The good friends I love are a microcosm of that. I’ve got to a place where there’s balance – albeit tentative – and so I can get the most out of what’s happening. And, you know, just feel good.

So, two sides: the distant, analytical empathic effort is great but you can’t drain all sense of self, you can’t become some distant contemplative creature like a transcendent god, because you’re not that. And you’ll just get really sad. Some writers fall into this trap I think, hiding away in the shed in worlds of imagination. You can’t really know what other people are feeling if you’ve not explored your own emotions and interpersonal interactions. Basically, you don’t want to spend so much time flying out somewhere that you forget your way home, run out of fuel, and other metaphors.

On the other side, you’re asking for trouble if you just go all emotion and all running around activity. You’ll end up stuck somewhere doing something you don’t understand, and eventually you’ll not feel great about it. Some writers become celebrities and get so busy with gala luncheons they forget how to make decent work, or they plunge into alcoholism. Any emotional excess – pretty self-explanatory why it’s bad, no? Charles Bukowski says he did a lot of his sexy poems for smut magazines because he had to pay the bills, which included bar tabs and booze money, but then he’d still manage to sneak in a grander theme somewhere in each of those poems so he could still express something more meaningful. Even in what some might call the depths of degradation, the man basically held it together: maintained a kind of purpose/perspective/balance.

This is fucking dualism, mate. To some extent. Mind and body are separate in some ways, but are also connected, must also work together. It’s not a contradiction, it’s a complicated web of biological and nervous connections that we don’t fully understand yet. Mind-body. Two separate things, connected. Balanced, hopefully.

Now, after that inspiring talk…can you feel the creative struggles fading away? Can you feel that Hegelian synthesis pushing its way up through the hole left by flawed arguments assuming contradiction? If not, I’ve got an off-the-wall suggestion: read the Great Gatsby (again if you’ve already done it) and try and work out who the characters are, what happens to them. For example, who’s responsible for the big murder at the end? Is Nick actually a massive gay? Is Daisy the victim of ceaseless manipulation, or a ruthless social climber? Or anything in between…

It’s a great book for refusing to give clear, straight answers about what happens. And it’s got a pretty beautiful setting throughout. It was a contradiction 101 for me: I learned, well, realised, that contradictions generally aren’t final. They’re a sign that something is more complicated than it seems.

 

I Lost My Guitar

Personal, Poetry, Stories

I lost my guitar a few months ago. To be honest, I never played it much. I learnt the whole of Nirvana’s “Polly”, but it’s not the most complicated tune. I learnt riffs from White Stripes songs, like “I Smell a Rat” and “Sugar Never Tasted So Good” and “Cannon”. I learnt some Arctic Monkeys. They all felt pretty good, but I’ve just never been persuaded to put the hours in. As a kid I had lessons in classical guitar but I barely remember any of that. Maybe my fingers do, I don’t know. I imagine that’s the kind of thing fingers might do.

It had a sheen like pearls
And every time the strings
Rusted it was like the stone
Had swallowed the clam
All those times I dropped it
To the seabed, it evolved.

So I lost my guitar. Stupidly, while moving. I left it in the rental van and didn’t notice for days. When I finally realised what had happened, I just thought about going to the rental place to collect it. I mean, this place is an hour and a half walk for me. I think we rang and they said I’d have to come in person to check through lost property. I didn’t.

One dark winter it ran:
Away I guess, message in
A bottle floating along
That sea of roadways, well
A guitar in a case. Now
The case comes back as
Black velvet, the stone
Guitar impossibly gothic
Impossibly desireable –
It’s valuable now it’s gone.

Things like this really cut me up. Just neglect. Plain, simple, lazy neglect. My own I mean. Other people gotta do what they gotta do. And my attitude when playing wasn’t always great either. Like with “Polly”, that’s why I went for it: maximum impact for minimum learning effort. Still a lot of psychological going into the performance though I guess. It’s not easy singing the words of a sadistic torturer, words imagined by the late and great Kurt Cobain, last sung in what might have been his carefully staged goodbye show in New York. But fuck. It really stings to know you’ve been …consciously inadequate.

Somewhere, the velvet now
Unpacked, she sits on a lap
Singing to more cultured
Fingers and her player’s dulcet
Tones entwine with hers,
Newly-tuned, in some kind of
Loving symphony, or at least
A charming folk tune.

I lost my favourite plectrum too. This skinny yellow thing I found on the street and that I’d been using for maybe two years. You know, on-and-off, picking up some songs then forgetting them through lack of practice. But man, I realised more and more as time passed that I had a serious connection with that guitar and plectrum. The guitar had been bought for me years past, because people thought I cared about playing. The plectrum had travelled, like the coin in No Country For Old Men, through so much to get to me. These things, I mean just objects sure, but I’d just let them fall through my fingers as though they were sand. They’re not sand though.

So descend a thousand
Smoothed triangles pushing,
Prodding, poking into creases
And as I move the sweat
Sticks them deeper, their
Bright colours shining off
As I struggle with wrists
And hands, the noise
Rising above my own.

Bit of a sad one today, sorry. Some allegory here. From back years ago, learning what love and sex are. One time in particular a girlfriend left me and I was stuck with all sorts of thoughts about how great a love it had been and how certainly she’d become a sexual possession of someone else. Like how badly ruined the whole thing would be, like imagining the other guy fucking her, how it was obviously my fault. How only I failed, and continued to fail in imagining her as any kind of sexual object, in any context. I mean I was denouncing the short-lived “love” as hard as I could, as infatuation, as lust, as demented possessiveness. My whole sense of things had been so fucked up, I realised, and was still being fucked up. Until dealing with this shit, I’d not been the most social of kids. Love for me was built way up there – I didn’t look at porn, I didn’t masturbate, I didn’t do the evil thing in video games. Well, except Elder Scrolls. In that all bets were off for some reason.

And this break up and failure just…ugh. I mean it makes me a bit disgusted with myself, so much wallowing, so much thinking. I tried to ring her to talk, I sent her an angry facebook message asking her to take me back. That was it. Every time I saw her something in me died. Fuck, man, I was just done. And so I started pulling myself out by finding a place in the world of romance that would eventually become empowering, I started making my bisexuality an active thing, I started to build another identity. Basically as a sub. Like submissive. Because you know, being a sub can have such strength to it – it’s not about self-abuse, or doesn’t have to be. I started to teach myself properly about love, romance, people, the world. Oh yeah. Sex, too.

I have to go over this here because losing my guitar gave me a tiny glimpse back into how I felt then, and so the poem I wrote about it reflects in part my mindset from back in those times. The feature picture too. Not so much who I am now. But hey, if it gives me a poem and an opportunity to be real with y’all then I guess I’m not going to look a gift-horse in the mouth (or something).

Oh man it feels so much better to be me now. Not just because I could go to Soho and try and pull a guy anytime I want – and stand a pretty good chance at it for the next decade. It’s because I feel confident enough to do shit like that and know that I’m not going to crumble, or in some old patriarchal way try and own the person I want to fuck me. My heart can sing now – as cliché as that is – where before it was just giving me notifications like in Dead Rising, in those big, red, screen-spanning letters “Brian Reynolds is Dead”, “Your own sense of self respect is dead”, “Your sense of self-worth is dead”. Haha, sorry again everyone. I feel like a total mess talking about this stuff. We have more poems incoming. I’ve got a stock of oldies that need review, and I want to do some stories about ex lovers and stuff, partly fictionalised to protect the innocent. So maybe that’ll happen too. More tender, less real. Maybe. Oh and another essay en route though I feel like those are going to be less popular, but what the hey.

Yeah, so, uh, stay tuned. (see what I did there – guitar, tuned, eh, eh?)

Sleep, Waking and Work in Progress

Personal, Poetry

I can see this becoming a common theme here – I struggle with sleep. Like I struggle letting go of the waking hours, I don’t want to give up on all that stuff I’m supposed to be doing. Stuff that’s always on the cusp, that I seem always to be about to do. Plus the dreams are really weird, which I like, but which can also be unsettling. The other night I dreamt I was sleeping on a bench and then a seagull came down and nestled behind me, like in the bend of my back, and it wouldn’t go away. I told it to go away and I tried to lift it up, but it wouldn’t go. It just kept all closed up and sleepy like those pigeons you see hiding in small spaces. Weird.

But back to reality, struggles. It’s late. I’m sitting, staring at my lava lamp thinking whether to try and write something big and proper. Well, proper at least. But fuck it, like. It’s well late.

I start going through old poems and things, adding a few lines here and there to unfinished pieces – I might really have made some progress on a few of them this way, actually. Sometimes you’ve just got to spurt out those words and worry about the mess later, since clearing up the mess might just give you the stain you need. Ahem.

I’ve got this little dedication for you. Related to our Consul Lactarius back there.

When I met you you were walking dreams and fears woven
You had a glare like bemused coffee or cats and lizards
Framed by your windswept jaw cutting cheese cheeks
You live the less known parts with anonymous condoms broken on your fingers,
Flappy rubber rings making silent hilarious finger puppets
You fix the orange gloom of dusk while lazy eyes drink sleep bubbles
Breezy chest bird, you surprised me with a like mind gone for a film of a sculpture ticking
And poetry in pages as sheaves of grass innumerately knotted with pictures

With a few of these I get the feeling that I’m in cutesyness overload. I had a poem once called little perubird or something like that. I’d post it but honestly I think it’s borderline insulting to the subject, though that’s not what I meant at the time. It’s the dainty phrases like “cheese cheeks”, “finger puppets”, “drink sleep bubbles” – they’re the verbal equivalent of dancing tippy-toed. A ballet maybe, but a childish one. I don’t know my ballets particularly well, just searching for activities that fit the descriptor “tippy-toed”.

I mean I’m someone who likes dresses and heels and pink nail polish, so the cutesy is to be expected, but I really struggle to pull it off. There’s too much soldier culture in me through all the movies and the military history, like I’m obviously not a soldier but that kind of manly masculinity has got me needlepricked. It’s floating around in those veins. I try though. I’m searching for a kind of balance really and just not entirely sure where to find it. Occasionally it’ll show in the poetry, I think. And the other writing. Hey, we’ve all got to aspire to something, haven’t we?

Here’s a piece I’m working on. I don’t know why it’s in Acts, but until I’ve got a clear reason to change it, it’s staying that way. Posting now, before it’s finished, because I might not be blogging anything for a few days. We’ve got people round. So I figure I want to give you something to be getting on with (and not just that fucking dedication, that’d be cheating). Working title is “My First Dress”. Obviously the kind of thing I’m keen to write about, but don’t worry: this isn’t all I do.

Prologue

Your unicorn smile: smooth cornucopia Inserting
Real, the coca-cola room receeding, burning
For your hard hand-on-heart pushed past processional
Ribs, the flaming licks, flicks, knicks, and babbling rum
Incenses quietly forlorn young girls

Act 1

You’ve got some jam on your lip and
I
Don’t say
You’re making me new to your eyes –
They could be yellow –
And you gave me your ‘slut dress’ so that I could
Give
Myself
At home in the quiet I jut my hips and
Massage my lips
With clay and
Wandering fingers edge my tips and
Because you believed me without being told
Because
You didn’t slip under me or over me.

Act 2

I miss that slick prick
Pushing through skin
Dredging up thick weaves
The sinful sighs
Come again
Solicited and moaning
“but you’re not gay”
And I’m silent about my dress
And he’s laughing and smoking
And I’m sucking

I think “Act 3” (if I carry on with the frankly random theatre referencing, well, life is a stage and men and women merely players) is going to be about this wonderful man who I can never get off with, but we keep seeing eachother all the same.

If you’re a romantic, I think it’s important to keep these things going. Love isn’t all bodies, okay, and a personality is way harder to get to know than a body. Way more interesting in the long run too, way more dominant. Look, even “Platonic love” becomes beautiful and wildly emotional. So those friendships are worth keeping, and more than that: the friendship is the real content of a romance. It’s the exchange of emotions that give all that physical theatricality value, man. So when you fall in love with someone but the usual sexy thing doesn’t seem like the right move, or is literally the wrong move, just be friends. Do the sexy minds thing. Plus, that way you can go fuck other people too.

Love and sex – totally not the same thing. But sex – totally worth doing.

Now, before I go there’s a night band you really should listen to. Yes, night band does in this case mean that you should only listen to them at night. Probably after 1am. It’s Hungry Ghosts, an Australian group whose album “Alone, Alone” I got into while living in a flat off Brick Lane. They’re top for mangled morning sessions of whatever really. I tend to end up writing on ’em. The album really has been like a drug. Any other time I seem to find it less than inspiring, but in the wee small hours it transforms to a near-perfection. I guess it fits with the concept of a hungry ghost (at least the Chinese traditional/buddhist concept outlined by wikipedia). Also, the Hungry Ghosts I’m thinking of – who can be found on youtube – aren’t the supercool Hong Kong band of the same name. (Sorry.)


Attribution for original seagull pic: By Post of Armenia (http://www.armenianstamps.com/2003.html) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Pigeon Has a Cold

Personal, Poetry

It’s about 8pm, and I’m sorry – I would’ve posted earlier but I’ve had a shit of a hangover. The best way to get over a hangover is to keep drinking (and sometimes to throw up) but I wanna take it easy on my liver and throwing up is really not something I like to do. Used to have a particular hatred of it as a kid, and even though I now realise it’s just a means to an end, reverse eating/drinking still seems very uncomfortable. So I’ve just been wallowing, watching youtube videos and Netflix, eating huge quantities of carbs. A couple of hours ago I had the recovery coffee that’ll set me up for a night of writing. It’s gonna be good, I think.

I was watching Night on Earth with a pal of mine and his son. It’s a proper movie, which for me is one that just looks at people without much of a “good vs bad” dynamic colouring the lens. I enjoy a grand narrative playfully referencing big ideas, but I enjoy a realistic narrative more. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – a definite favourite movie…and presumably theatre performance if it comes to that. Two people who may or may not be in loving acting like idiots to eachother. Doesn’t get more real than that, eh?

It shakes its head, it shakes its head. Coughs and splutters and feels it’s dead.
The pigeon has a cold.
Outside the sun, on a stony run, it spasms its neck, its brain to check.
The pigeon has a cold.
It waddles
along, standing still too long; too far from the friendly throng.
The pigeon has a cold.
Its bloated body rises above its shoulders to cushion its pecking head. The sun is down. The others have flown.
The pigeon has a cold.
The wind is gone. The frost is come. The day is done. The warm is run.
The pigeon has a cold.
It takes to the skies, so low it flies, the trees – all these – not below its knees. The pigeon is old. Wishes it had been told.
The pigeon has a cold.

A bit depressing amirite? Yeah, well I was going through a rough patch a few years ago. Anyway, if you’ve ever been to London you’ll know some of those pigeons have much worse than a cold.

It just seemed like an interesting thing to focus on at the time, the idea that a pigeon could be feeling under the weather too, just like us. But as with everything I did back then the idea got sidetracked by misery haha. Maybe I’ll do a re-write or try something about seagulls – those fuckers are everywhere, and I saw one steal a lady’s ice cream last week. It was rude and uncouth and it got mobbed by about ten other seagulls once the ice cream hit the floor. “Just go fishing like you used to you lazy fucks,” is what I often find myself thinking. Sadly they’re not psychic enough to hear me though.


Attribution for original pigeon image: By Alpsdake [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

Consul Lactarius Aurantiacus

Personal, Poetry

I’m taking way too much time over this because it was for someone I really care about and I kinda want to get it right. But as ever that’s a bit of a self-defeating exercise – getting it right – and hey, I’ve not seen him for years anyway so who gives a fuck? This is the latest version of Consul Orange, now with a picture.

I can smell your flat Shandy Bass:
Crazy fresh open window Streathamings despite 4x4s
Maybe the glaucous seal,
Guardian of sheet seas and water-treading,
The glint and prickle of Sainsbury’s soave:
Demented cartoon solipsism and no
Questions, seeping into the night:
Some kind of pure morning sun feeling
Bursts November snow flow,
Their latex drops on the draught,
And on vague attempts at siphoning
The hairy gills embrace:
Oesophageal anticipation,
That exhausted Tadcaster blur moaning,
Bound eyes dour to the ceiling,
And white emperor armour self-inflicted orange
Somehow unjust, tearing and milk spilling
Like discarded lines sweat-patched,
Invader Zim acceptance, lonely perfumed
Shower soap irritating unknown orgasm:
A world set above the world claws
Your shiny glass skull, self-reflecting or alien crystal,
Talking fish singing penitent,
Discarded shirt, tie, lissom French letters,
Vapor boots neatly stacked with wine glass columns:
Your epic poetic resounding sweet chill pizza,
And the last hungry dribbles shared:
I could have laid the whole mo[u]rning through
No cold in the exhausted breeze cradling
Drowned sugar between sheets.

I performed this once, and the crowd looked at me as though I wasn’t finished. I’m not sure if it was just shellshock (I’m awkward and embarrassed about these things – I could get some kind of shock from performing I’m sure) but I think they didn’t do anything, whereas for everyone else including the people whose performance skills were as inspiring as my own, they’d at least clapped. I remember the host/MC saying, as I walked back to the masses cuddling their wine glasses, “That was great…I really liked the [and he misquoted a line]”. I thought, well, I’m glad you liked the version you made up at least.

Performing poetry is fucking weird. Also if they thought I wasn’t finished, they were right. This is still a work in progress. A labour, if not of love then of…labour.

For those of you keeping track, I promised you a poem about a pigeon that has a cold. You’re going to get it. Tomorrow. I just felt like putting this out today…it’s overdue really.

On an unrelated note, has anyone seen that Netflix series the Last Kingdom?  That Alexander Dreymon is what we used to call “a lovely bit of slice”. You have to say that with as much phlegm and spittle in your mouth as possible to show how tasty the person you’re talking about is. It’s an Essex/Saaaaf Lundon thing, don’t worry about it. 

Poison Coffee

Personal, Poetry

An oldie I thought had a hint of charm left in it…

Dans la fromagerie a londres
The scents of smelly cheese like happy rotting
There are cakes
Not cheesecakes
Normal cakes
And the waitress is poisoning my coffee.
Her eyes reaching up and down my face
As she fills the cup
With almost nicotinal pleasure
Words
Sugar?
Milk?
Kissing my ears
A smile that remembers,
Burrowing into my heart
And the waitress is poisoning my coffee.
I fear her touch,
Giving change,
Like a witch must fear salt or water or salt water
So soft her hands
Reminiscent of rows of young,
Painted
Sicilian cottages,
Melting in the sun.
I take and drink the poison coffee.

Thirteen

Poetry, Pulpit

The lights that show us through the dark are burning away our days

In crowds of black&white commuters, stark against the background sound quiet, glaring on, petty mumblings, headphone pendants, votive coffee cups left in temple alcoves

Or

Shellshocked private school boys in red scarves and brown wool overcoats the colour of dead leaves in Winter shining gold to be embezzled

Dulux charts of navy swimming in that grounded sky blue perpetual in the night and

Listed buildings stand testament to our strange obsession with memorials of the damned&angelic

Global Corporate Golgotha

All the tombstones have personal names that mean hotels, finance, property, alcoholics, pharmaceuticals like the way we give God a personal pronoun: Lloyds will handle it, Marks will handle it; He will handle it

Violent partially-erect sexual aids consume our city finances

Smoking&fire&loss&alarm&prevention&free paper are red

Security cameras are blue because they are comfortingly sad, or grey because they are not there

The harsh butcher lamps in shops saying come&buy&leave, in homes saying come&sleep&leave, in hospitals saying come&die&leave

The city heaves great lumps of dripping profit

Streetlamps making you drive & closed parks

The ant-hill windows burning on condemned estates

Then a thousand artists iridescent in pointless silver running onto railway tracks

To report on suspicious citizens & see it & say it & sorted.

The Curly Auburn DJ

Poetry, Pulpit

My nostalgia for you

Particularly, hugging me at work when you’re tired
Sharing sandwiches and mugs
Because you don’t like too much cheese
Being okay with my saliva
Dirty fingers from polishing your shoes sometimes
Because I want to
Sonorific MTV memories
And your little unexpected gifts
Always

Especially, innocent shameless on tired weekday evenings
Warm, rainy nights behind open doors
Lonely blue guitar rockstar singalongs
And romantic pointings beloved of Elvis
Lookalikes of lookalikes
Staggering
Striding through streets
And being alone with our lagers, hands

Specifically, kissing me with your hat on
At home, in private, with no-one to see and the windows open to the night
With moonshine and lamplight on the sill
The felt catching on my forehead but sliding over, not down
Silently looking into your eyes
Feeling your body, privately, for the first time
Through softened wool or cotton and layers
You watching as I hold you and touch you
You would want to understand
And you would
A little, or more

To your quiet music

The Lusty Abbatoir (V1)

Poetry, Pulpit

In the alleyway of forgotten hotel rooms
Unserviced, we shrugged
Up to a numberless door, a key protruding
From your coat of sheer confidence

Tumbled into the breathing air and you
Showed me past the pots and on the staffroom
Carpet we cried our little hearts
At the dusty old past and that
Empty work filled into the night

Butcher lights cut our drunken daze
I considered the toilet to wash
In case the cocktails worked like in movies
Aphrodisiac in every drop of Campari, Martini

But your face was inscrutably beautiful
Mouthing me things with your sparkling eyes
The tone of your voice settling in my mind
Leaving something somewhere bound with the drinks-memory

Even crusty kitchen meat-hewn meals
Spoke notes of quiet understanding
That put me naked in that blue place
Barely a shiver before sheets enveloped

So in your bed I was back at the bar
All smiles and cards and happy stories
Yet with a grin you let yourself under your sheets
And I could feel our sweat touch cold

The lips holding daring hands when you asked
Can we kiss. The twining like misty trees
Silent shiver of blissful fear as your boxers
Were pulled away