Sunday, January 24, 2021

Hospital Blues 08/01/2021

At parade the whole are evidence
for motherlands, of rightness
no broken thoughts for men like these
displayed at church
ordered with no thought
in buildings they do not understand.

In distant rooms the fractured sleep
the phantom limbs made real in dreams
of love and Saturdays in spring
the screams of their arrival still echoing
and the edge of war in wounds
that weep as mothers weep.

At watch, the VADs keep station,
no more than girls, pressed with rhetoric
by agencies they cannot translate
to play or to ambition
and old men have entrenched this mode
of feigning truth with children

since talk was talk and war became a toy
the pressing of one's truth
outside survival, beyond shelter
beyond food and love and need
into imagined height and power
marked with tin and iron stars.

The old men mapped the mud of Europe
with blood and treasure
the ragged entrails of a generation
burned to ash or brought home mad
pegging out the gold fields
for the pickings of the victors.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A Corona of Sonnets

We Have Emptied the Skies - 1 27/03/2020

So all the world is natural again,
When negatives have silenced the machines,
No love among the animals for men,
Until bluer skies meet land, and night seems,

Colder than the dots of code that blight us,
All through the substrates humans cannot touch,
What we believed was true was always dust,
Upon the jet streams and the dreams of putsch,

This is a whimpering catastrophe,
The end of something which we can't define,
Which reeks of planet-wide stupidity,
Taint that forever shows up down the line,

We are dust and to dust we must return,
Always repeating what we never learn,

Airlane - 2 02/04/2020

Always repeating what we never learn,
We make objections to the history,
That's cruelly taken from us while we burn,
Or starve idly in our complicity,

And so we hoard resentments deeply-held,
Pass pious loathing down through our own caste,
Clans differing in nothing but compelled
to pacify and hate, rewrite the past,

For our reward, and so we fear the shades,
Of humankind not kind or qualified,
To own this world and all its palisades,
Its covert bunkers and the lies implied,

That justify themselves in brevity,
Where hides the guild of our complexity,

Shadowlands — 3 05/04/2020

Where hides the guild of our complexity?
They're always with us in plain black and white,
Uncoded living, as children crave security,
Ignoring those not born to sweet delight,

Forever hoping for the dead to pay,
Benevolence to make but never do,
What saves, but revel in the disarray,
Of history and faith, and so accrue,

All that's meant for building better states,
For saving life, but theirs is not to save,
Unless it's via a banker's draft and surrogates,
Those listless shadows circling our graves,

And so I stir from passive middle grounds,
This world filled with quiet and angry sounds,

Sleeping Priests — 4 07/04/2020

This world filled with quiet and angry sounds,
That hint at murder in the ears of men,
Has breathed and raised the usual battle grounds,
This country fell and so must rise again,

The murmuring in endless summer feasts
is rage, a sour acid on the breath,
That nears the fuse and stirs once sleeping priests,
To organise and preach on righteous death,

They'd pull the lever if they had the strength,
They'd drown the bastards in the stream,
Then run home knocking sticks along the fence,
And back to mother in some fifties dream,

Of economics and the rise of light,
But nations fall again in endless night,

The Collective - 5 08/04/2020

But nations fall again in endless night,
A people drowning in their false beliefs,
Which even children question, leukocytes
arrayed in neural nets and sickly reefs

acidified with rain, know more than us,
This ray that worms its way in through the door,
That flyspeck bug that comes in with the dust,
Together in the mind must herald war,

A long haul, endocrine apocalypse,
Fragmenting truth with all those backward tapes,
And in our minds we're making up our lists,
An intellectual voodoo of distorted shapes,

Behind the frosted glass that hides the pain,
Between the rattled lines is our domain,

Isolation — 6 12/04/2020

Between the rattled lines is our domain,
A smaller world than all the worlds before,
The future stalls, a slowly flowing vein,
A burning frame of film, a dead-eyed store

of our insistent small-hours reckoning,
Pulsating in the brain like insects beat
in solid ground that seemed unquestioning,
Until the scars of earth, the very plates,

On which our overflowing cities rest,
Shake down the ordered plans of engineers,
Leave open wounds and fault lines coalesced,
But show us ways to change and new frontiers,

To break and turn us to the unaligned,
A newer world with no one left behind,

Keystone — 7 20/04/2020

A newer world with no one left behind,
We will decry the growth which made us strong,
And so move outwards with the non-aligned,
Into the gaps where humans scratch along

the bottom, with the pits and traps and dust,
The snares of systems set complacently,
By those who climb and welter in distrust,
Of those they push or press into the sea,

Of those who make and form the stairs they climb,
But now were all detached, at one alone,
And all intoning blues in common time,
The world resetting, made of monotone,

Which scrapes the satellites and frees the brain
So all the world is natural again.

Monday, January 04, 2021

 The Blind and Haloed

There must be unsensed ecstasy
in faith, a thrill I cannot see
but you have both seeing eyes
held out delicately as proof
of martyrdom unsung and undone

and sightless eyes restored
to you by good and piety
that make new sight
of old sense and feeling
touching the delicate string

of remembered history
suspended forever dangerously
over the rolling oceans
of forgotten truth and war
and all the unseen meek

lacking alms and voices
for whom your eyes are payment
taken and not taken
in violence, unjust
as it was then and is now.

But Saints are so much mist
a feather of vapour on the wind
Wild Thyme in the river's walk
they stand for the dead they saved
and for the opposite pole.

These days they have armed you
against the assault which made you
but the sword they have you
steal from your executioner
is like wishing away Judas

and now all that remains to worship
falls like a leaf to earth
or like water over cataracts
unfeeling of all physics
pulling it to earth

so all that is left is goodness
the perfect glow of ascent
through incense and woodsmoke
to sainthood and patronage
both blind and sighted.

Saturday, January 02, 2021


The room in which the mirrors come and go
makes revolution easy, the plainness
of your clothes defines need without want
and marks the travel of light
a hundred years of sun to earth
disguising Petrograd
in at your grandfather's window
and on and off the looking glasses
so arranged to let you see your back
while painting frugally
the uniform of coup and statehood.

Defining its albedo through the clouds
You have detained the glow of that day
a century of imprisoned depth
a fisher of the changing halo
the mistress of your own image
wreathed with a smile, tempered these days
by failures of dogma, to a regretful
lift of the mouth in remembrance
of sunnier days, which government
would now call decadent
in the bright, marine aurora
of your dressing room
a decade earlier, before October.

It was snowy in Neskuchnoye that day
but you painted your room like summer
bare shouldered and elated
ecstatic at your dressing-table clutter
all of it practical but beautiful
each thing a gift of early wonder
and you not long not a child
recalled each thing arriving in the house
being unwrapped or unhidden
by your father, back from business
in some far city like Saint Petersburg
sleeping in this same mirrored room.

The stasis of these later, sombre hues
becomes your exile, all the ideologies
defined by idiots in false fury
meaning nothing but separation
and repudiation of your homeland.
The articles of revolution are dry dust
or spent rounds in a basement
though that is not it at all
say all your marks on canvas
your curves of snowy exaltation
painting the cold air with kindness
and compassion.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Cooperative         01/01/2021

This is a railway town
its city walls, a ring of rust
iron released to the green of England
nettled and abandoned

our train is hours away
a single connection of recession
hauling, empty, and implacable
the only light in misty flats

and ice that steels the stagnant
fleeting ponds of last year's rain
a sleepy, machine-made worm
of grimy yellow, crawling home

across a whitened prairie
its grasses stiffened
and fragile, papery in the cold
of January winds.

We have made ourselves alone
sole customers of oily tea
and stale biscuits, salvaged
from behind dusty, angled glass

together the subject of regret
but happy and not outside ourselves
we have no thoughts of anything
beyond a café and a locked gaze

our future is never to be together
but at this grim moment,
we are one over this greasy table
measuring each other's saccades

thinking of nothing in memorial
of children's infatuation
but the moment we were happy
and I was not the only person living.

Your tea is the first thing
I have bought for someone not myself
and the first time I love someone

Monday, August 24, 2020

World Lines and the Daughter Cell 25/07/2020

Oh God I forgot myself,

But there are other stairs to climb,

That pause of the dark and feline at the turn,

The false landing of a traitor,

But I am here and now,

Closing in upon this end,

That beats away the darkness,

Even now it crumbles,

Falling in pieces to the sticky floor,

Where the concierge does not stir,

As all my mind disintegrates,

In front of him,

I have stayed here an hour,

Seven hours perhaps

The truth, and smoke I smell,

Fourteen years of smoke,

Killing without coincidence,

It worms its way to me,

Through gaps and bad construction,

His whisky and his settlement,

Time equation ticks are audible,

Heard across the city,

Where the cars are stopped,

Their metal fading out at height,

I spent an hour yesterday,

Living in the gap between my window,

And the floor at which the sirens stop,

All of America in conflict,

Far below but not with me,

My enemy is me,

And I would fall and cut 

against the building,

And fall and fall into the sound,

Of nations tearing from their groundings,

But perhaps it's me,

Missing the ground to fall like Alice,

Through not space and earth,

But to the core of all of this,

The knot of axons,

The father neuron cut and pinned,

For querying of photographs,

For propriety I cannot see,

I am past the sirens,

Beyond the madness of the sidewalk,

Where the crowds walk and eat,

Into the slow of downwards,

Matching speed with blurry souls,

That also fall,

But they are all commercial lights,

Here is the fading of the day,

The last Sunday shadow takes this hall,

And we are ignored,

Just passing tokens of the city,

to the wrecks and relics of this place,

They step over us,

Apologise for us, the trespassers,

Forget us and survive another day,

I wake, a finger in my mouth,

My own, a comforter in dreams,

Chewed down until it bleeds,

Hear lovers in the distance,

Conversations, arguments and pain,

The purring operation of hotels,

Of rooms that can be rented 

     by the hour,

Then typing on another floor,

The clockwork of the mind,

The alarm that calls at 3am,

That beats inside the future,

That takes a step towards the plane,

     and is gone,

I'll cross that ocean soon and

Be myself the idol of the idiots,

That visit every day,

To leave me pens,

And flowers dying in the rain

    of England,

Among the black wind-blasted

   stone of it,

The small cold rooms,

Of small dark towns,

The houses gathered up like sheep,

Against the shriek of moorland edge,

That grabs a corner of the town,

And tries to lift the roof off it

   to heaven,

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Welcome to Hell. Please Wipe Your Feet

The art of war: the artist who sketches under cover at arms fairs

In this article, the artist has sketched what appears to be a woman next to two missiles in a pose more suited to that of women draped across the bonnets in 1970s car shows. I suppose that this is just a side-show to the general perversity of commerce in this line of business. The fact that these events  try to keep out anyone not directly involved in the buying and selling of weapons and all their terrible peripherals, perhaps indicates some measure of shame at what goes on at these places. I'd like to think that this shame might be the wedge for their downfall but I am probably wrong. I am not sure how the marketing department for the missiles in question thought of using glamour to sell their deadly products; it strikes me as spectacularly inappropriate but maybe it just distracts from what the abominable end purpose of the product actually is.

I've always had a problem with arms fairs. They seem to attract the representatives of some of the worst regimes in the world, dazzling them with crowd-control devices which are illegal to use in this country. Many of these things look like something that would be carried by various special types of Star Wars Stormtrooper. Let's suggest that this country cannot produce or sell on anything which is illegal to use domestically. The trouble then is of course how do we know how much actually is illegal here. This is where my lunch hour fails me because I can't really do the research from my desk. Let's say what would be immoral to use in this country regardless of it's legality. And now a level up I begin to worry about the many people hiding behind keyboards who state they would happily do horrible things to anyone daring to express an opinion a fraction of a degree to the left or right of their own beliefs. Morality is a flexible thing. This is of course ethics and therefore introduces a whole new level of complexity. I have to tell myself that spinny-chair generals would never act on these threats and that their feeling of safety and immobility while using social media, like excess alcohol, accounts for the lack of filters.

We are delicately balanced between anarchy and civilisation and I have to believe that in the long term, as it has been with my little country for my lifetime, it will stay as it is, hopefully at some point without arms fairs.