Pernod in the Interwar Years

Papers, Personal, Political, Prosaic

On my way here today I got an ad for Wix, I wondered: who’s paid off Google to translate “Wordpress” to “Wix” first, or is it all just some damned mistake…that some ad agent somewhere, paid more than the freak curating our children’s futures, just happened to confuse one ‘w’ word with another, relevant, ‘w’ word. I feel like these kinds of mistakes cannot reasonably be made with nouns.

I’ve been away from the blogging world – and from writing – for a little while now, and I’ve hated it. Nightmares from childhood crawl through my skull even in broad daylight, a substantial marker in my mental landscape of sustained failure. A warning that arises unbidden when I’ve spent too long writing cheques that won’t be honoured. Metaphorically of course. Show me a 20-something of today that ever wrote a recogniseable cheque from their own account. Even when I had my Mary Poppins Kiddie Account at the Halifax (I think I was 13) I didn’t write cheques and I’m pretty sure that was the only way you could use the account. Perhaps I dislike banks and even money altogther. Perhaps we all do, secretly, even while we profit from them. But more of that kind of rant later.

Editing other people’s writing for content rather than style is a disgusting activity that should only be conducted at times of definite intoxication. I have been undertaking this kind of task, sober, for extended periods of time. This had been part of the source of my break from writing. There are other things: transitory things that don’t make the cut here. What you need to know is that I shouldn’t be editing anyone for content, I should be exposing their own lies to them or singing out their truth. Editing doesn’t come into it. But style – if they want a different style to their own, if they want a unified publication style, well, that’s something I can disagree with but also something I can enforce while employed to do so. That’s something I can edit, but that’s also something that’s not part of my employment description. Time will tell however. Manoeuvrings and strategems, possibly even ruses, will enable me to gamble at the kind of position I desire. Inklings already here, staining my fingers.

Enough of gambling, however. Writing has to return to my life, and this is the allocated medium. Content production must occur, ideally with some extravegance or flair or other expressive quality. I adore neutrality but language isn’t neutral. It’s like some disgusting fizzing pot of chemistry full of PH papers and overshadowed by distillation tubes and pipettes and other extreme scaffolds with distinctly menacing connotations. The right amounts of love and bile must be associated to produce something approaching a middle ground, or at the very least a highly entertaining segment of nothing at all.

People don’t respect a writer who’s not writing. They don’t understand the alcoholism, the binge-watching, the binge-eating, the long walks, the hibrow cultural gatherings – they’re not pretence, they’re all an effort to convince the psyche and soul to reinvest their myriad energies in the act of verbal description. Coaxing a mouse into a bottle, except this is no ordinary bottle. The acoustics are fantastic, and there’s a thin crusting of rum salts at the bottom and up the sides. It’s been a struggle bringing myself back to this point, I can’t pretend to you it hasn’t been. But the nightmares have led me here safe and sound. I don’t want to be dealing with them anymore. I’ve had enough of childhood recollections taunting, without reason, without logic, except the undeniable fact of my own failure to pursue my own designated purpose. Got to get back on the horse, got to carry on up the path, or down it, at least until the next town.

But these distractions! For someone such as myself, who takes pride in low self-esteem, who hails it as a philosophical attitude, it can become painfully easy to get sidetracked. I mean why should I do any better, the question comes. My answer has to be tight. I have to navigate my own internal highways with great care, understanding, and above all, integrity. I can’t be intimidated by myself or else the plot will be lost for at least another day. And that’s another day of nighttimes and youtube advertisements and trips to the shops. If only the shops would go away. I don’t know if I can take the consumeristic bent of it all any longer. I can, but I’d rather not. And it’s that preference that scares me. More stable types than I have probably been lost to insane delusion. Firebombings and riots and even ideologies…all seductive to the head, all very sinister. I myself nearly became an ad man, once. It took the death of my father to stop it – Fate speaking a clear message with a completely unexpected heart attack. Or was it co-incidence? And is this ignorant arrogance?

Too soon to tell. Too soon. The memories will well up and consume eventually, and then the truth of it all will be reality, for better or worse. Or perhaps this is already the present, the great procession of Septimus Hodge marching and shedding in perpetuity, despite both fires and equations.

These times for the individual are like the interwar years were for Europe – a time of both certainty and uncertainty. A time when the controlling forces change more or less and begin to understand things, while the masses ignorantly celebrate every last moment they’re allowed, safe in the knowledge that they can do so without being randomly exploded. Now, once again, they will only be exploded for transgressions against more powerful parties within their own society. Elsewhere in the world will largely leave them be, for now. The individual is both – the thinking master and the wishing-they’d-rather-not-have-to victim. We’re each an ouroboros, infinitely changing, infinitely the same. At least, we are if you interpret it like me. And this is where the self-hatred or at least deprecation comes in as a natural response to an uncertain new world for humanity. We don’t want master-slave anymore and yet our biological hard-wiring struggles to make the change, on the personal level and on the social level. It can’t provide the internal stability our ideals prefer. So we work at it: we want democracy, we get representative oligarchy, we say that’s good enough for now. Maybe that’s all there is for us. The next generation will do better if they can.

We must destroy these kinds of assumptions. We must carefully and knowingly unselve, in select ways. Unravel our own stiching to do a better job than the Great Seamstress in the Sky. This is willful evolution, a new process often ignored or rejected by right-thinking scientists and pseudo-Darwinians. More on that another time.

Jean Rhys wrote some good books in the interwar years, and in one of those books her detached character liked Pernod. I have to say it’s an excellent discovery. I’m not drunk on it now, but I will be shortly. Then to the pub? No, no. Not enough pay for that. More importantly – not enough certainty of positive social contact. Who’s there? It could be somebody, it could be nobody. It could be some demented bat with a perfect tan and bleached hair, his eyes guarded by overly keen cheekbones. A heavy ordeal to encounter as the light fades on such a seasonal evening.

No, I’ll stay back and edit that last poem. Drink some more Pernod. Drive it forward with minimalist synthwave drumbeats etc.

The time could be near.

Is there any more to be said?

Perhaps not yet…the prey must be led with breadcrumbs, not brought to escape with a labyrinthine thread. That’s what they say at ad school. That is…unless you want to make them escape from their own heads, their own realities…but no ad man is genius enough to come up with that kind of manipulative scheme. The unreality on us now is sheer accident brought about by centuries of corruption crushing layers one upon the other. The sort to make a conspiracy aren’t advanced enough for it. More stuff, more, more for the fire. Break all the chairs, break all the pots, the food, break everything you made the fire for, just to keep it going. The burning must go on.

I have to escape now, before the anti-capitalism takes me away for hours…….and so the Pernod comes, an aniseed twist up the nose, dreams of green oblivion……it must be allowed to take effect…poetry must be drafted, writing must unfurl and snarl and beak at the uncertain consistencies all up the walls, the procession must go on…

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.

Exhausted Stumblings, Confused Salt Crystals

Papers, Stories

I’ve been away too long. I’ve got to get back on the metaphorical horse.

I haven’t done a huge amount of writing except that I started a little freak page on Facebook that I’ve also temporarily abandoned. As ever, more is incoming – with poetry etc too. I actually really want to do some journalism. Like proper journalism. I don’t even know what that is – proper journalism – but I want to do it. Anyhow, facebook freak page:

It began with a picture.

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And then another one.

800px-Armpit_by_David_Shankbone

Caption: “There is also a Nipple in the bottom left corner, but this is something you must not notice, for it is not strange and not unusual. Nipples are everywhere. Like foot cream.”

And this of course inevitably led to an opening story, with picture.

529full-elliott-gould

“Hello. I am not a strange crystal, but this is what some people think when they meet me. They say that I become involved in hair and sweat and unholy things. None of this is true. My tip is coated in a thin watery discharge and then thrust up into the darkness of the underarm, wherein no other crystal can see, and so I am a clean and healthy and normal individual. This is my work. I am determined and conscientious. Amethyst understands. Rock salt used to understand because he was young, but now he is old.

Here is the body part of Elliot Gould. The arrow marks it. Can you tell? It is moustache. There are other pictures of Elliot Gould, but this one is from listal.com. It was added exactly three years before I was born, by a nice man called Leo. Perhaps it was his birthday too? He is green. I like him and Mr Moustache.”

There are other segments. Maybe it’ll become a book? Who can tell.

Here’s the second story. I want to give you a sense that there’s some character development going on in this series before I leave you hanging.

MBDMOMA EC001

“I do not like advertising. It tells the flesh folk that what we do is sensual and filthy. It shows us rubbing our tips into the hairs and the salty sweats and their small, small crystals. It is wrong and disgusting. When I come away with a hair in my mouth, all the others say “you have been advertising again, you have, you have” and they laugh and raise their lids up and down. I say nothing to them. Amythest tells me that when she was young they would all look at her. She would try to crawl away deep inside, but she could not move and her lattices shone with words I could not understand.

This is Sean Connery from a post on theredlist.com. They made a very good post and their section on Furniture Design agrees politely with curves. I have actually seen it shake hands with the curves, but do not tell anyone. Sean Connery is like goo and cotton wool on fire. A rude man, a smart man, but I like his pretty face. Here he wears a hat.”

I really love exploring weirdness. A long time ago, I thought well fuck it: I’m only going to live as me once. After that I don’t know. I might as well try and experience as much as possible, from as many different perspectives as possible. Now that’s not what I’m doing with the Crystal thing, but that kind of thinking did inspire me to try and write something kinda stupid but also kinda pointy. Pointy like meaningful, almost disturbing but clearly non-threatening. A spike of odd you can investigate or leave well alone.

Finally (for now) a third post:

Kiwi_aka

“Today I went into the cupboard behind the mirror. Next to me was the shampoo bottle that is called ‘Aussie.’ He is from a place called Australia which the others tell is the deadliest place in the world. It has good caves. Aussie is glad to be away from there because now he can go into hair and ‘lather snuzzle’. The others say Aussie is a pervert. However, I know that he is shampoo. He may have a very dirty job, but he does this job quite well, with fine smells. Sometimes, if the fleshy one has been messy and not put back the lid, Aussie lets me go close and sniff his sticky cream.

Here is a kiwi fruit. It does not have hair, it has skins with fuzz. I like it both for texture and occasional self-pollination. Kiwi fruit are like flavour eggs – this is what the fleshy ones say. Sometimes the flesh eat out the green and suck the core. They are not wrong, but strange. Some claim the kiwi in the north of this picture is actually an hedgehog egg. They are liars.”

Check out the Facebook page that also got me working along these lines: https://www.facebook.com/welcometomymemepage/

(there was a frankly amazing tumblr called something like “littlebird” with illustrations of monster-freak-feathereds but I can’t find it anymore. The writing style in the captions though…beautifully weird)

Don’t worry this isn’t the order of business from now on. I just don’t have anything else publishable to hand. Will write/edit something tonight though.

Creative Struggles and Synthesis

Papers, Poetry, Prosaic

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.

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”.