As soon as I was born
I started living
As soon as I started living
I started dying.
Life. In a nutshell.
The world sags like a winter willow branch
and everything is sick and poisoned
and the air is noxious
and the ground is broken
and the jaundiced sun can’t see through the haze
and the haze is man-made
a man-made haze
the end of days
but don’t worry
it’s the size of the button that counts
and there’s always oil where the buffalo once roamed
I know that haze
it’s 500 million men dancing in the fumes of the dollar, the pound, the shekel.
Don’t forget the ruble, comrade.
What’s next off the production line, Jack?
What other piece of useless shit is being bagged and boxed?
As the hordes unfurl their sleeping bags outside the flagship store
Are they fucking serious?
Is this all for real?
As the jaundiced sun looks down
and tries to see through the haze.
Hand me that bottle, Jack,
at least we can recycle it when we’re done.
The morning after the night before. Which is good, it means you’ve survived. Lived to tell the tale.
My tongue licks sawdust and cries out for coffee. I agree and duly oblige. My tongue cries out again when I put the steaming cup to my lips. I think of my plans for the coming day but nothing materialises. It seems too large a step from where I am now to where I should be later.
My mind is grey, a bit like the January day which sits heavy outside my window; even the birds are reluctant to make themselves heard over the nothing in the air. Everything is flat, except my tongue.
The day seems to be wrapped in cellophane and I am the Clingfilm Kid. Get off your horse and make a Western out of that.
I’ve no revolver but my pen works fine and that’s something to go on with.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” So said Oscar Wilde.
While I hope my work isn’t mediocre, I can understand the sentiment behind the statement. We who doff our caps at others are acknowledging something which we appreciate and would probably like to do or achieve.
I have a weakness for reading Raymond Chandler. Every once in a while I’ll return to any one of a number of books on my shelf. A great writer. By all accounts a greater drinker also, but that’s neither here nor there. I’ve always loved reading Chandler and, not so long ago, as an idea to ‘unblock’, I wrote a small, Chandleresque sketch. It only runs to 68 words but after doing so I found a new impetus to my writing.
I hope you don’t find it too mediocre…
She offered me a coffee. I took it like a man. Black, no sugar; like my mood. I don’t know which discount supermarket she’d bought it from but even with hot water added it was as dry as a Saharan wind. I managed to drink it without pulling any expression except appearing concentrated on what she was saying, which wasn’t much. Her words flowed like an uphill stream.
damp and cold January
I have a cough and I cough and I splutter.
Does it matter? Does it matter?
My cough plumbs the depth of my lungs in the night like my soul plumbs the depths of despair in winter and the clouds…
…and the clouds are pigeon shit-grey and they roll in then roll over then roll away and leave me…
bathed in monochrome
and the rain…and the rain.
It’s water and I’m dancing
I drank more water than what fell to earth last autumn
so we rain-danced for a drenching soul-cleaning and yet…
damp and cold January
let it rain, let it rain, let it rain
pour your monochrome down upon me.
That old adage about “write what you know” – I should laugh in its face and stick my fingers in its eyes.
I started this blog , as it says on the tin (well, the heading), as a pin-board for airing poems and flash-fiction first drafts and ideas. Of late, after a barren summer, I’ve hit a creative vein, with no idea why except it runs in tandem with another bout of worse-than-usual sleeplessness. I don’t want this blog to become a shrine to insomnia so things will change in 2018 (that’s two days and, possibly, two nights…).
This is this blog’s last insomniac poetic hurrah! If I couldn’t write anything else then I would stick my pen where the sun doesn’t shine. Luckily, I can and I have been (just not here, o bored and tired reader).
Have a great New Year everyone and thanks for looking in.
And still the treacherous night lingers on
and pulls me along with it
incapable of leaving me behind
in a dreaming world of slumber;
And still my words spill across the page
and takes me away for a while,
pulling me into its world
where pen and hand work in unison;
And still my eyes remain open
and my awakened mind rages
full of ideas that fall on paper
as my head wants to fall;
on my pillow.
and yet, and yet…
and yet I love these early hours;
the quiet, the still, the night sounds
– or early morning sounds – take your pick.
A slave to the whore of the morning
fresh on her rounds and as yet untouched,
the sheets still unblemished
and the rose cheeks of her sunrise.
Another year, another…well, year, I suppose.
Time doesn’t drift, it flies.
It flies in the face of life,
it flies in the face of all that we know
yet can do nothing about.
I’m older today than I ever was before
and I’m younger today than I ever will be again.
If we’re lucky we can hitch a ride,
but we can just as well walk.
The horizon is ever before us.
the road behind is barred
the road ahead is open
our worn-down heels will be our proof of our existence.
Mind muddled, befuddled
hours doing everything but sleeping
crawling on my knees
to the dawn queen.
Lying there in the dark
looking at every darkened shape
of every angle of every wall
and feel every stubbed toe
on every piece of furniture
lying there in the dark;
Alarm clock; you are redundant,
again. As ever.
Your services are limited
except when you tell me
how long I’ve been lying there awake.
As I crawl on my knees
to the dawn queen.
The twisting cobbled streets
slick with the damp night air
holding their sodden breath,
waiting for morning
each stone a rain-washed monument
to man’s short-lived triumph over nature:
But watch the sprouting weed
or the green shaven-headed moss
hiding in the cracks
of frost-split stones
polished by centuries of feet.
History has taken us from the humble cobbled stone
to the cloud-reaching tower
of glass and concrete
of plastic and steel
Babel now lies in every direction
praise be the money-god. Ha!
Yet even these so-called wonders of man will fail
when nature decides to reclaim her own.
We can hope.
He went out in the streets to find love
and found instead crushed cigarette ends,
oil-filled puddles swirling with colour,
yesterday’s news blowing in the gutter,
a choking fit on exhaust fumes,
a cold foot from a hole in one shoe
and discarded chewing gum stuck to the other,
as a dented Coke can drummed along the road
and shouts came from an open window:
no love there.
He looked at cards in telephone boxes;
no love there.
He watched a police car speed through the lights;
no love there.
He heard the siren of an ambulance split the night;
no love there.
His shoulders slumped and he shook his head.
Every night it was the same.
Same street. Same sights. Same sounds. Same hate.
A teenage girl helped an elderly woman across the road
and left without stealing her bag.
There it was.
In the streets there was love.
He turned for home.
Svuotare la testa
liberarsi dei pensieri
esistono i pensieri neutrali?
Quindi se non credo in qualcosa è un pensiero negativo?
Respira l’aria del mare
guarda le onde
senti il rumore
e voli come un gabbiano.
Voli e voli in alto
voli in alto e voli lungo,
lontano, finché puoi.
Nessuno ti può frenare;
Gabbiano. Senza gabbia.
Look ma, no brakes!
Just my hands in front of me.
That push over the edge
that fall from the ledge
that push down the slide.
always down; unstoppable.
No skin left on my palms,
red raw and racing to ruin,
or just racing, really,
but movement is movement, after all.
The days pass
and time is passing,
another day has passed into night.
Time ticks on. Time ticks by.
The clock strikes. The bells chime.
The sun rises. The sun sets.
Always rushing, I’m buffeted by time
like the wash of air from a speeding truck,
carving lines on my face, like sea over sand
yet what is the significance of these lines
within the grand significance of time?
Time was. Time is. Time will always be.
Time. Oh, how it passes.
A muse, to amuse me
to use, abuse
to choose words for me.
A muse, to confuse me
to effuse ideas
and be abstruse for me.
Amuse, to ruse me
who eschews my views
but enthuses me.
A muse, to refuse me
to peruse my work
and then contuse me.
Don’t talk to me about the weather
when I can see and feel the sun,
the rain, the snow and the frost.
We have weathermen for that, anyway.
Don’t talk to me about your politics
when I have ears and hear the bullshit,
the lies, the promises; mostly broken.
We have newspapers for that, anyway.
Don’t talk to me about love
and how they say it is blind. It isn’t.
We jump in with eyes wide open.
We have hearts for that, anyway.
Don’t talk to me about death
when it’s the guaranteed end of everyone.
I know I can only be at peace with myself.
We have priests and undertakers for that, anyway.
Sleep no longer came around so often;
it shied away like some embarassed first date,
or a cat that slinks away under a moonlit sky,
or the thief leaving the scene of the crime.
Ah, fuck it!
There are still a million words to write.
“It wasn’t me.”
“What do you mean, it wasn’t you; you were seen.”
“Did you do it?”
“Do you have an alibi?”
“I’m gonna have to take you down.”
The accused raised two stumps for wrists.
“But you said she was strangled.”
moving, always moving
but going nowhere
The clanking machinery of daily existence
steam hammer blows
and sharpened scythes
hacking, chopping and cutting.
The tink, tink, tink of machines cooling
and the whir of motors humming
and wind in the sails;
there she blows, boys!
and the slosh of the hull in the water
while some dancing, gyrating compass
leads us to the world’s end.
Pull back, you’ll fall off!
No captain, there’s an iceberg ahead
cliff tall and cliff white.
Don’t stop me, don’t stop me
and look, there’s land ahoy
I see smoke and fumes rising
as big business beats its big drum
and the machines a-clattering
and toxic clouds lay like quilts over everything,
and everything’s changed,
touched by the hooked finger,
a stab in the chest like a stab in the dark
and light’s reflection on steel
beaten by a hammer
as the sparks fly
and molten liquid steams in the mould
as another of man’s design pops from the die
and then lapped up by we who wait
with paper and plastic in our hands;
but clean hands at that
although our nails are chewed.
The nails, nails, nails
beaten down into submission
but don’t forget to remove your thumb.
The whites of the hospital
the whites of our eyes
always peering around the corner
because you don’t know what’s going to hit you
unless you see it coming
Like a jack hammer to the face
beating, beating, beating; pulse like
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Can you hear it?
It’s life: talking
My day is filled with verbs and tenses
clauses, phrases, words and sentences
quantifiers and determiners
My past participle participated and departed
my present continuous continues to continue
while my future simple
will be far from simple
I’m conditioned by my conditionals
and positioned by my prepositions
I’m an English teacher who wants to write
my language is my day
but when I put that pen in my hand
I’ve nothing left to say
The lines were drawn
the enemy position made clear
I was becoming surrounded
but was surrender an option?
Was I to give my all,
myself to myself
like a Pagan sacrifice to knowledge?
What did I learn?
But the enemy retreated
and I slept the sleep of a clear conscious
and I slept the sleep of an innocent soul
and I slept the sleep of a hard day’s toil
and I slept the sleep of a body and mind broken
and so, finally,
I slept the sleep.
I thought black was black
as in: the night was pitch black
but when I close the windows
and pull down the shades
I see shades
eerie black and
which is not pitch black;
the night tattooed on my mind
With my eyes closed
I see black
With my eyes open
I see black
As I wait to see
the grey of day
Counting down the small hours.
Counting out the night.
“Come to bed, baby.”
No one sleeps anymore. Have you noticed?
Curse of modern man.
Stress of modern life.
Stress? Ah yes, that new old chestnut.
It’s not exactly the same as being kept awake by the crackle and spit of the fire you need to constantly tend as you peer into the darkness looking for the reflected firelight in the eyes of a predator; a sabre-tooth tiger, for example.
The caveman knew stress.
Did the caveman sleep?
Did his weary body recover after a day traipsing across the plains, spear in hand;
looking for soul food and a place to sleep?
“Oh, I haven’t slept in years”.
It’s the arse-end of 2017.
What’s my excuse?
What’s my sabre-tooth tiger, baby?
To the hero’s end they ride,
once death by sword tip.
Now, just take your pick.
Blood, so much blood
and shed for what?
Belief, possession and gain.
Where’s your faith my son?
It’s my holy one against yours (if you have one)
I believe my belief is believable
and you’d better believe it.
(So I look him in the eye, and I say)
Show me a miracle of your faith
and I’ll show you someone out to profit
Show me the forgiveness you preach
and I’ll show you someone out to stop it
Show me your ten commandments
and I’ll show you ten twisted sinners
Ask me if I’ve sinned
and I’ll show you the world.
and walked away.
The air is filled with the symphony of a thousand broken hearts shattered into a thousand pieces while the remaining void is alive with the anonymous scream of a thousand voices, cried bloody and hoarse.
Symphony and scream
The kid was snorkelling and the sun was shining. The sun was shining on an azure sea, shining so that the tops of waves looked like the wings of a million seagulls so white it hurt the eyes.
The wind was blowing, keeping the temperature down to STILL TOO HOT, and still the orange tip of the snorkel tube drifted along, the face it connected to seeing nothing but sand.
Nothing under there but sand but still the snorkelling went on and the sun kept shining, the wind kept blowing and a million seagulls’ wings so white it hurt the eyes kept moving; always moving.
In all my years as a detective on the Kent police force where, admittedly, I wasn’t inundated with out-of-the-ordinary cases, this was probably the strangest. if I hadn’t had been there, I’d have laughed it off. I was, however, so I didn’t.
Being close to London, we had our share of dead bodies turning up, the majority of them unwillingly dead. Then we had the willingly dead, the suicides, which normally entailed jumping off something high, into something deep or into the path of something heavy and fast-moving. The story of The Seeker is none of the above.
Why The Seeker? Well, his circumstances brought to mind that old song by The Who, we named him that in the station and it stuck. When we have our pub get-togethers the case still gets referred to as The Seeker and yes, we smile about it now; certainly more than we did when we found him.
We were called to a semi-detached house on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells one morning. It was June and the glorious English two-week summer had been and gone and had been replaced by scattered showers and lower than average temperatures. The bin men had become concerned at the lack of refuse at number 31, The Rise. Strange, they said. Not like him, they said. Never goes on holiday, they said. Would you mind checking? So Davis and I pulled up outside number 31, between downpours, and knocked on the door. Receiving no response, we circled the house, round to the back garden. The only window open was the small hopper window, impossible to get through without removing it. 10 minutes later, Leatherman multi-purpose tool in hand, the window was off its hinges and Davis was head first and arse last through the hole. I could only hear his muffled voice.
“Christ, it smells like your armpits in here.”
“Just open the door and let me in so we can confirm the man’s gone off on holiday and get back to the station for a coffee.”
The key turned in the kitchen door and it swung open. Davis was right, the place stank. I would, however, contest that my armpits smell like that. The mewing of cats came from the landing above our heads as we walked through the hallway. We looked at each other, no words needed. Something wasn’t right. The stairs creaked as we made our way up. The cats scattered as we reached the landing, at least five or six of them. The stench was almost unbearable. A reluctant room-to-room followed. We found him in the small studio room, still sat at his computer.
With the help of Martins on forensics the story was pieced together and it went like this.
The man had had an addiction. No crack, meth or needle chill for The Seeker, no. just good old Google. He’d played chicken on the information super-highway and lost. Too much information can kill you – ignorance is bliss. He should’ve listened.
Only afterwards, going through his browser history, did the full extent of his addiction come to light. He’d researched everything from an aardvark’s anal glands to a zebra’s zoonosis. During this month-long bout of browser fever, he’d starting neglecting himself then he’d started neglecting his cats. The official cause of death was dehydration; he’d sat and sat until his body was so drained of fluids he’d just collapsed. He’d even rigged up some form of hose system to an old washtub so he didn’t have to get out of his seat. No eating for The Seeker, he was nourishing himself in a Wikipedia frenzy, feeding off a You Tube drip and, slowly but surely, Googling himself to death. Somewhere during the course of this derangement his dehydrated body gave up and his heart gave out. At least we hope it did.
After all, the cats had to eat.
Crow the black
cawing in the morning
from his lofty perch;
this Summer Solstice
is his alone.
Harbinger of doom
Picker of corpses
Guide to lost souls
Friend to Pagans
Raven’s little brother
descended from Thought and Memory;
who sit upon the shoulders
of the one-eyed god.
They see all
and tell him everything.
I want to write a poem of the sea
and watch the gulls,
wind-blown and free
and feel the breeze caress my face
I want to hear the story of the sea,
to feel the sun
burn and scorch me,
in the salt spray of the breaking waves
I want to sing the song of the sea,
the siren’s call,
the fisherman’s plea,
as the storm clouds gather on the horizon.
I want to feel the anger of the sea
The pebble rattle
on the shore lee
as the waves beat upon the strand
I want to give myself to the sea
at the end of my time,
and let my body
be taken in the longship’s flames
In the dark,
a candlelight in my head
as I’m pulled from infinite dreams
Eyes closed but the mind
opened to a thousand possibilities
in the coming dawn
(at least I hope it is)
I want to hear the morning’s chatter
among the birds
and their song of the morning