Poison to the Antidote

Personal, Poetry

In that Netflix series Narcos, Poison is a pretty un-chill guy. He reminds me a little of the protagonist in the Sniper Elite series of games, just doing drug hits and about 30 years on, and younger and Colombian.

Here’s my latest poetic adventure. I wrote it inspired by discovering King Krule, and trying to recount an incident after a concert at Ally Pally that I still don’t fully understand. The incident, that is, not the concert. TLSP are fookin’ amazin’.

The slashes are there to help me read it, because it doesn’t have any punctuation. That’s not to be “groovy” and “trendy”, it’s just to force you to make your own punctuation while desperately trying to find some of the real stuff, like a comma. Everyone loves commas. But they’re not in this poem. This poem says fuck commas – make your own pauses. Or try to follow mine, I guess.

I’ve got you bleeding on my heart in minature/
An action figure temptress/ arm missing
And the paint faded/ go figure that overuse
Would wear and tear your eyes still bright/
But now blue tracing my heart attack
With creeping electric sugar/ sonorific infections/
I keep Alex Turner in a box in the freezer/
Crystalline watery eye discharge and shut lids/
He’s between life and death now/ when I wake him
I’ll heat slow and careful/ he always opens with
Do I wanna/ and no, it’s you again feeding
On my heart in minature/ parasitical love bliss/
How beautiful the worm of an idea wriggling
In that/ grey matter jar demanding pickle juice/
Of red and blood or wine and fine/ spirits or
Caffeine or legal excess heart palpitation/
Explosive thumping and DVT and hours in
Front of the blue-white light softly screaming/
And your gnawing something fictional I’ve/
Got to breathe I’ve/ got to get a breath above/
Your erection pushing over my eyelids/ the
Watery discharge of eyes in distressed cold
And bulging/ weary discharge of eyes/ your
Presence up and dagger thru the ribs/ your
People dagger up the ribs/ ceremonial sword
In the eye/ your eyes and distant memories
Of perfect protrusions in panties a vision/
I try but I can’t replicate/ I hate the way
I beg your action figure for favours
Alex Turner/ snaps in the freezer box but
I’ve got superglue in the drawer danger/
Flammable liquid lighters catch well on bricks
Tho/ harmful vapour may spew affects the brain
Or nervous system/ prolonged paraplegic
Exposure may result in severity/ physical injury
Developed for war casualities, used by jilted
Lovers/ I may have thought about you too long/
And the others also feel this that I was burnt/
Before they set me on their eyes/ and that drunken
Prize value was lost on the turn of a lightswitch/
Catching fire mechanism broken and glasses
Empty everywhere/ I don’t know your hair some
Silken straw maybe on a pillow or in a hand/
How does your worm still make me want it/
In my salt shaker chilli pot I’m your gusset/
Soaking or flattery aside an accidental art class
Colour mixing stain/ on something lost to black
Plastic landfill/ still too much I find and Alex
Shivers with me behind the scenery/ Bill Shatner
Shaking hands with a styrofoam dino meanwhile/
A Waitsian wino dribbles on my shoulder fabric/
Reassuring soft skull, again, like yours, again/
Your pop-up platform shoots gyrating/ sheer/
fairy/ wings/ and flying pink papers[wings] scuttle what’s
Left of me/ that’s the story I hear recounted after
The dream, that’s still what I wake up to even as
I’m culling/ and they see it in the half looks cast
Away seeds to salty turf/ they feel women in the fall
My ratio is 4:7 and the lights are down low on
North London’s streets/Ally Pally apocalyptic market
Stalls lining my liver/ each concrete step the sweetest prostate
touching excrement/ and a catalytic mind’s eye over
Hollywood hills/ vest open tie low jeans hanging
Off thighs a belt buckle dangler bouncing/ the night
Propositions through a young creature/ wild whites
Locked about my lumpy indecency and Strongbow
scented exhaust fumes/ thanks but you can fuck off/
King’s Cross unfettered stomach adoration
Replacing you/ you lost in the folds of the past’s fat
I’ll have another pint but they’re shut and it’s three
if you can get it in the morning Alex trying to change
My mind Turner to agree with the pit of my chest not you
Anymore missy/ I’ll not call you love at all/ but I’m still getting
Mined by friends or at least I wish love can’t die
Can only fade/ and yawning to the mobile buzz bright mean
Screen/ I’m alright in the bed spread/ trousers falling down
Stumble through the brain strain down an alley not in the rain
And piss in a cascade.

I’ve got to work on it still, as with them all. And it might be one in a three part mini-series. At least, that’s what it says in my folder for it. So you never know.

If you feel like feedback, anyone, I’d love to know what you reckon. Too long perhaps? I love it. I love long things. Don’t mind if you don’t though. I want to try and plumb the depths of a topic, either in the time and resources expended on its exposition or in the wit and content of the phrasing used in its mere description.

Sorry, I’ve got a…prosaic brain on at the minute. Is it prosaic? Is it just a bit twatty? I can’t tell. I hope you can ignore my comments and enjoy the poem.

Incidentally I would recommend King Krule. Have a look.

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.

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.

Some News and Stewart Lee

Personal, Stories

Hey, so I’ve not posted in a while. (How many times have you heard that before?) So, here’s an update. I’ve got a couple essays I’m scared to put out, but if all goes well they should be coming in the next couple days. I know how you love my rants about the state of modern democracy and philosophical semantics, so you’ll enjoy that. Anyway…

I’ve been working for my local paper on a voluntary basis, editing their “Community” section. It’s good, it’s a way of reporting on the exact parts of a locale that I want to nurture and encourage as the first (and arguably only step) in the democratic revolution. Non-violent and legal revolution that is.

I can’t complain pal, you know. I’ve also been catching up on a few literary greats, reading some Hemmingway, Kerouac, admiring Hunter S Thompson (perhaps unhealthily) and hunting down online poetry (etc) magazines. I might make a list of them on here if that seems helpful. I might even put up some of my old poems – I found one the other day about a pigeon that’s got a cold. Trust me, it’s gold.

Hunter Thompson though, I mean what a sad end. I mean it looks like he succumbed to media pressure to become Duke for many of his formative years, and then fell into an early retirement advising some decent actors. Or maybe not. I’m sure there’s more to the tale.

Getting distracted a lot too by Stewart Lee (picture above) don’t know if you’d have heard of him…? Some good snippets of his shows on youtube. A master of comic repetition I think, but really that’s something else, some kind of unashamed stage presence, the character he’s created of a disillusioned funny man mocking the audience and himself. There is a lot to his act, and the way that every stage of talking about him contains a kind of irony and pre-existing commentary of its own only adds to the brilliance.

I’ve wanted to do an ironic comment about irony under one of his videos, but the comments sections are so dated now that to post in them would seem vaguely embarrassing. So I’ll post it here. Would’ve gone under the Caffe Nehru video, probably, though the routine comes from his other stuff, like the Ratko Mladic and Twitter segment.

Look at that man there, that man, there, wearing his suit jacket, his little Edwardian, Teddy Boy, Mod jacket turned black by the 90s and hiding half-remembered dreams of fashion, hiding his little beer belly from all the beer and Ginsters pies, that little man, there, on that comedy stage – comedy! – little man, there, with his eyes and the hairs in his nose, and his little pin on his little mod jacket, on the lapel there, his little 2009 ‘black is the new black’ many-buttoned coat of a jacket concealing the small child he ate on his way to the theatre, look at him, there, standing up on his legs, his little legs in his skinny trousers with the distressed knees, distressed so that middle class elitist liberals can pretend they had to kneel to do work, so that they can simultaneously abuse working people in South-East Asia and write reviews of paint-covered artists in South-East London, distressed elitist liberal reviewers abusing while they review people who do vaguely work, or while they provide a dim sense of creative capacity to utterly grey businessfolk, who use a veneer of personal failure and creative inadequacy to disguise wildly excessive profit margins, Stewart Lee, that man, there, breathing his little breaths in between words, little words there, words about things, look at him talking about the things, to the people, and the little people off-camera listening to the things that he’s talking about, the people there, sitting, off-camera, listening to the things he’s saying, the words, people there, people, thinking “oooh, irony has let itself go”.

The Shame

About

I want to do an about me section (rather than just the ‘about philosophy’) because, I figure, I don’t want to seem like I’m hiding anything and then be uncovered real quick with some google searches. Also the affirmation. I want to know if I seem interesting. And I’m squirming, by the way, even if you can’t read that between the lines.

I’m not normally proud of anything I do, alright, so it’s been very surprising to some people that I’ve come up with this philosophy thing that I seem to like. That I’ve not abandoned any mention of it even as I fail to explain it. Folks have even thought I’m arrogant for not backing down on it. Like “This is so clearly bollocks, there’s only one explanation for your continuing to pursue it: you’re a cunt.” If I’m a cunt, is it supposed to be about wanting the whole world to fuck me, and that being irritating?

I’m 20-something and my name is Merlin. That’s my real name. On the WordPress I’m starting to go by Jack since people get confused by the site title. And I like the generality of “Jack”. No offence to anyone named it, it’s just Jack and John are the kind of names given to unidentified corpses in police records. I really like being a Merlin as well though. Growing up I was steeped in my Dad’s own take on pagan traditions. He was an Albion, although he named himself on that one. Pagan traditions – in this case particularly the British ones – are pretty great. The whole reincarnation thing is in part responsible for my bothering with philosophy at all. It gave me a chance to say that Heaven and Hell just ain’t good enough. Now of course, I have a somewhat modified view of reincarnation. On death the body becomes part of everything else around it – that’s science. I don’t know where the existential self goes though. Maybe it splits back into smaller parts and exits right with the body. I’ve also decided I don’t like saying “Philosophy” to people, although it is a nice word and it’s very very easy to use when you’re doing the thought dance and want to tell people about it formally.

I’m going into a place where I’ll be ‘culturally pagan‘ a bit. But I don’t like to be any one thing – that’s boring. So other labels coming out of the box…I’d say I’m a romantic whether I like it or not. I’m British even though in many ways I don’t like it, and in many of the subtle little ways I do – we’re all about subtlety. Even British itself – I realised after (deliberately) typing Britishish that there are two ‘ishs’ there. We are ‘Brit ish’. Kinda Brit, like maybe. If we wanna be.

[edit: I did a rant the other day about how fucked up Britain – and by extension any nation – is, so, take that as you will, haha]

I drink black coffee. I drink a bottle of wine or three beers and a whisky most days of the week. Sometimes a flagon of cider if I can get one. Yeah, hehe, a flagon. I love going for walks or jogs – and yeah, there’s a beach. I prefer forests for it though, and sometimes streets for people-watching. I want to say I’m a female (if that’s different to woman in your book) but I don’t know if I can. It depends on whether you think of the feminine as an abstract concept like the goddess, or if you think it’s a very physical (as well as social) quality that can be held only by biological women and certain carefully chosen hermaphrodites. I prefer getting fucked by men, but I’m open to anything really. And yes I do need to mention that – I’m youngish, it’s an important part of my regular experience, and – while we’re talking about me – that’s the subject.

As the title implies, I usually think I need to apologise for existing. Sometimes not though, and sometimes I can only keep the self-flagellation at bay by fighting it. So I get a bit pugnacious, but it’s only really directed at me, alright?

I used to and still kinda do really like clothes. Ever hear of Geovictwardianism? Well, it’s interesting. Not quite my cup of tea (more of a coffee kinda gal, as I said) but I like it and especially any piratical and gypsy derivations. Oh and Peaky Blinders is my current ‘style guru’. I don’t go around like Tommy Shelby but for me it’s the height of fashion and possibly self-expression (politely combined with self-control).

My Desert Island Disks are: “Lovers” by Alex Turner; White Stripes’ “Cannon”; Arctic Monkeys’ “You’re So Dark”; “Les Cactus” by Jacques Dutronc; Trevor Something’s “The Possession”; “Cigarette Duet” by Princess Chelsea; the Libertines’ “Gunga Din”; and Ian Dury’s “My Old Man”. I’m not sure how all those would help on a desert island, but I guess I’d be doing a lot of remembering while waiting for death. And I remember a few other things I could sing. Without a cd player, singing from memory is probably all I could do anyway. The book I think would be Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia”, and the luxury some kind of lubeless dildo (sorry). I also have no fucking idea what I’d want to be on a desert island with me haha, so this is just the result of about 30mins on-and-off contemplation. A kind of blurb – not particularly well thought-through but still revealing.

I’d probably rather not have a favourite poet and say instead that I’ve consistently enjoyed reading Vagabond City Lit. I’m spending a lot of time on Charles Bukowski at the moment though.

I don’t know exactly why I’ve written this. I guess I just want to give you, stranger, a relatively honest and maybe even informative account of who I am. I guess a large part of the site is about that anyway but stories and poems sometimes just leave you wondering. Which is great, but I don’t know: I don’t want it to seem like I’m some anonymous stranger to you. I am that, but I’m also not. I’m the same species as you, which surprisingly means quite a lot of connection on its own. And if you’re going to read what I have to say and think anything of it…I feel like it’s important you know who wrote it. I want to know, if I track you down from your like or follow and enjoy what you’ve got to say.

Erm, yeah. I don’t really know what kind of ending to put on this.

Biscuits.

Does anyone else get tired of labels?

Papers, Political, Prosaic

I’m thinking ideologies and religions and politics and genders and all that stuff, but maybe some shopping labels too. I mean we wouldn’t need traffic light nutritional guidelines if all the food was in its freshly farmed or slaughtered form, or prepared by a trustworthy authority that’s not trying to pump us full of tasty tasty fats and sizzling stimulating sugars. Bastards.

I’ve been spending some time trying to work out what femininity is, and I’ve mostly been avoiding the masculine. I know enough already, I figure. But really, all you learn in research is that both terms are unhelpful. They’re social groupings that just don’t matter. I mean, grand scheme don’t matter. Like sure walking down the street right now reading this on your phone, or maybe sat at home listening to a loved one do something in the next room, or lying in bed listening to some filthy Lou Reed…then maybe it matters a little bit. But still not really. It’s not an important part of who you are, it’s just a filter that other people will try and feed you through, if and when they can. It’s not something you have to participate in.

I do it for fun, sometimes. I make myself a science experiment, probably way too obviously. I become the shy girl or boy walking into that club, that bar, that coffee place for the first time. That lecture hall, that fashion outlet, that library. I make myself look ‘interesting’ and do ‘interesting’ things, and I wait for people to respond. Sometimes I get real chats – people who find and love the opportunity to sincerely be themselves with another individual. Sometimes I get fake come-ons, brusque and lustful slurps of kisses or coffees, raised eyebrows, scowls, or timid and tender requests for books to borrow, seats to steal.

The identities I put on are not identities, they’re labels, uniforms. And I find it really…sad, that we have to act this way, or that we choose to act this way. That we get lost in posturing.

So much of what I read about masculine and feminine identity, for example, comes down to physical features and behaviours. But it’s like trying to say someone is bald – that semi-famous philosophical problem – how many hairs does it take? Because clearly you can be called bald even if you have some hair. It’s a vaguery of quantity and presentation that seems to defy conventional logic: the point at which someone becomes bald is relative to who’s looking, or who’s wearing or not wearing the hair. But mainly who’s looking I guess. It’s not so important to the one with the hair, they just feel more or less of a breeze. They probably don’t have much need for a name for how they look. They have other words, pictures, sounds, for their experience, what they think, how they feel.

So with masculinity and femininity – it’s a vague labelling to help other people understand who you are, and how they see you. It matters to them whether you walk how they want or have the curves they want, or the muscles they need you to have, the job they want you to work. In a sense, therefore, it’s not something you need to worry about at all. It doesn’t matter to you, you just have to be yourself and, hey, why not enjoy being yourself while you’re there? So what if someone else doesn’t like it? If they’re not involved in your life in any meaningful way, it shouldn’t matter. If they are involved in your life seriously…then why aren’t they taking you seriously?

Okay, sometimes being yourself will get you into trouble with the onlookers. They can imprison you, harm you, bully you. Sometimes. Basic line of defence there is the same: fuck them. You’ve got one life being you, so don’t let anyone shit that up. Being yourself can hurt but unselving is worse. The middle ground is, I guess, hiding in the labels people like without adopting them. The safe place, maybe, mostly, is that. Understanding the labels other people use, that you probably also have to use, remembering that a label is just that. Remember the you behind that peelable sticker. Behind that loose dust jacket.

Identity is something far more personal, and so far more nebulous than label. No name can fully describe, no traits, no long videos, books, audio recordings, nothing can quite encapsulate it fully except you having yours, you being you. And heck it’s something you can’t avoid. Unselving just hurts worst, it doesn’t actually break you. You continue being you, and having been you.

Sometimes I think labels are a way of people escaping their own totality. I’ve done a lot over the years I’m unhappy about, and that stuff doesn’t go away with time. Forgetting it for a while doesn’t wash it out of history. But hey, that doesn’t determine who I have to be, what I have to do, how I have to feel. It’s stuff I have to come to terms with, and carry on in spite of. And hiding, pretending, putting it off…that’s just running away from creaks in the floorboards, rustles in hedgerows, the call of the Moon. Life is something you have to live, you know. It’s weirdly self-fulfilling like that. All it asks is that you get properly involved in being…and being you.

Now, maybe I can’t make this properly engage with the debate on “identity issues/politics” but that’s because I don’t like having to be part of that warzone. I’m peaceful, I want happy, functioning folk, not holy corpses. Most of any debate seems to have become people demanding obedience and adherence from people who demanded that from them, because people demanded that from them, because people demanded that from them…ad nauseam. It’s a minefield in which most any opinion is wrong for someone. I just wish we could get back to the reality…you don’t need to have such a strong opinion about someone else’s life. Beyond wanting them not to shit on you, they’re really not your problem. And most people don’t want to shit on you. Scat porn is relatively exclusive like that.

It’s so frustrating as politics descends into nonsensical exchanges of buzzwords that have lost all meaning, discussions of gender, sexuality, patriarchy, identity, dissolve into a mess of offended males and females fighting for their right for other people to call them male or female…and that we seem to be unable to say “rape is wrong” and have everyone understand. We seem unable to say “racism is wrong” and have everyone understand. “War is wrong. Violence is wrong.” Or worse, we know these things are wrong, but in despair we suffer or indulge them anyway, the incomprehensible spewing mess of our existence drowning so many fractured minds…

I think we’re ordering. I think bit by bit humanity is helping itself to calm down and recognise a fair and universal understanding almost beyond description, but well within grasp. And on the one hand it’s so beautiful to feel that hope, more, that knowledge. But on the other, I am human and I am impatient.