Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Big Shouty Crowd

Listening to Secret World Live - Peter Gabriel

You can just guess how good this website is going to look.

A nice day, late in the year, pretty much like now and almost unreadable like some wittering diary, make poetry of prose. This is clean weather, a day with nothing bad and the promise of rest and riches to come. Or maybe hiding in a corner or behind the curtains where you really are hidden from everyone else. The dreamers dream and stand back, trying to find science in all this religion. I am still hiding and this book is just perfect. It is red science, the engineering of the Soviet space programme or something that once and for all proves evolution is not just a theory but is indeed complete and unequivocal fact, fact and more FACT. I am ten again, like just before the war, with no anticipation of being a machine gunner. I would be too young even to lie about my age. The sent me back to my books and that quiet corner with no more than a clipped ear.

Sometime back in the sixties I found art, all those huge and glossy books at the back of the library. I almost couldn't lift them but I covered the table with them and turned over every page and looked closely at every picture and photograph. The sun always shone in from the side, always lighting the dust in the air. I there I was half way up the stairs like Kermit's nephew, and still with a book. Never read the words except those in books without pictures. Duduk sounds in the background make the dust dance and show up the grief and sadness of the wars that went on all the time over the sea. People I knew shouted, at me sometimes, but head down in all those words, I could easily ignore it all. Until I remembered the B52s pouring towers of bombs into the jungle and making communists of everyone down below. I saw riots in Ireland and I think I can even recall some of the Paris stuff from 1968. And still the dust dances.

Now it is as if I cannot concentrate on these things I read; everything is just too real and no book has the level of escape it once did. I still long to sit behind the curtains or down at the bottom of the garden and waste whole halves of the day there. No music has the emotion it once had. Sometimes I put on proper black vinyl records and the crackles cannot drown out that analogue emotion. Music these days is ALL digital and clean and nothing seems to connect. Sometimes I think that vinyl has a spirit that CD plastic doesn't; the ghost of the disk perhaps, some animist deity that we should placate with record cleaner and a lint free cloth. I cannot write anything and this sentence is false.

I crawled up under the stoop and the world turned into flashing lights, like an aircraft coming into land at night. All the debris the family had stored, crowded in on me and cut my face. I still have the scar; sometimes the baby looks at it quizzically and then changes expression as if he knows what happened all those years ago. And between us, after I came back we started a band. I played the bass not very well and it was good. The vibration went through me and I was mended. And this music, this minute is the best thing I have ever heard; and tomorrow, the track I am listening to will be the best thing I have ever heard.

Rare Vinyl

Jagged records scraped, make this girl gutter,
a wince like lemon juice on blues and jazz,
the rare and breakable in cardboard,
glossed and cleaned like lovers held
in gentle sleeve and plastic.

And each one touched has made a tear,
as if I have her whole life in these discs,
as if she lived in some hole before she came;
a vinyl freak so freaked by us, the enemy.

I hold up Blues, edgewise spinning
with my eye for dust at dust and static,
a greasy alien threatening the blackness
with my own powder, my flaking skin.

Until she cracks. This disc is mine,
my father, the only voice I have.
And in the guttering, the wow and bend
of this deck, this state-of-art machine,
I am not suitable, could not love enough
the green-haired freak, the bluesman.

I wrote her poetry, all girls dreams,
such gritty stuff, the death of bass,
technicians noise I thought, but swinging
through the night and rain like Steinbeck
Hemmingway and Lowell.

I made her African, a polished, white colonial
ex-patriot on white verandas with her gin
while all around the falls made white sounds
in the woodwork and the clouds.

And it all vanished, sucked out of me
and spat back flat and drained of words.
Blues girl scraped and made me gutter,
a wince like lemon juice on blues and Jazz.

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