April 1st, 2009

December 3, 2009

In April’s dawn they flowed across

The bridge of empire

Following the paper horse

Of anarchy

So many people setting off

With revolutionary fire

All out in force

To shape this once more Unreal City

To their own

Still un-confessed

Desire-

The clocks sprang forward

And the news was written in advance

‘Violent thugs attack the city’

A standard script

Yet masquerading as report

And ours was just to play a part

As the days theme

Already screamed

From hoardings as the city stirred from sleep

And we walked up King William Street

To capture all the gates in London’s Wall

To hold to hostage all those who would

Sell the sky

Would smelt the earth down to

Its basest ore

Would drain the seas

Would drown their children

Not even for gold, but just

To feed

The ever-turning

Wheel-

Instead, Bedlam reborn

As Blake and Bunyan

Dreamt in Bunhill Fields

The shouts rang out

Of non-conforming heretics

In Hawksmoor’s sacred precincts

All held fast:

From Saint Mary Woolnoth

To Christ’s Church in Spitalfields

Blood spilt for ancient gods to drink

The ritual begun at last-

Close the city!

Fortify the temple!

Seal the gates-

I ran down London’s chartered alleyways

Below the helicopter skies

And found with many others that

We could not pass through

Threadneedle

Not any more than they

Could enter Heaven-

The horse of anarchy restrained

I turned away to Bishopsgate

And found instead

A children’s carnival crusade

A shanty anti-town hemmed in

By high stone walls of silence and

Cold canyons of smoked glass

But conjuring the meadowlands

Beneath the tarmac streets until

The soldiers of the city sewed

A battlefield with batons raised as hoes

And plastic shields for ploughs, until

At last

The temple was restored

The children of the day all driven out

Chased unto the obelisk of old Saint Luke, almost

And once more the towers of glass

Reflected only other towers

Of glass and concrete till

The very horizon

Was conquered by

This hard geometry

Of profit

Yield

And loss-

Cameras like crows

Watched silently

From every corner

Hunched within black wings

The airborne eyes of some sequestered

Dark magician

In his tower on the Thames

Observing all

Attempting to

Control the many strands

That wind their way eventually

To history-

And what of April’s children

Who were not corralled

And herded in like cattle

For the cull?

Why, we chased through the labyrinth

Baiting the bull at every turn

A game, a dance,

A chance to break

Our pact with old authority

Stick darts into its hide until it snapped

And gored us rotten

And then demand that it be placed

Once more in chains-

And all the time

The working men wear uniform

And stand in line

And listen to the angry chants

Of educated accents that

Demand their sacrifice

And so they take their truncheons to

A straw man

Pissed

And twisting in the wind

And happily, they split him open

To become

A hollow symbol

Scattering sweets for all-

Mithras, Moloch, Mammon, Magog!

The true lords of misrule remain

Untouched by this petty display

Rebellion easily contained

Best start rehearsing

Games for May-

For as the children

Used to say:

“Now April Fool

Is gone and past

Who is the biggest fool

At last?”

Halloween

December 3, 2009

It was on Halloween

When I was just sixteen years old

That we were told society, as such,

Did not exist

‘There’s no such thing,’ the witch declared

But it was those of us who felt the most alone

And the most scared

Who set out on that very night, to first get pissed

And then,

To build a strange society of our own

The Kibbutz club in Halifax

Was got at via cobbled alleys, backstreets and

A flight of concrete steps, forever stained

By accidents each night of blood and spew

But in that haunted orphanage

Where darkness reigned

Everything seemed right and good and new

I finally felt free

And even though I only had

A pound for that late night bus back

Each round of flat snakebite and black

Came with a pint for me  

We were the bastard offspring of The Bomb and Branwell Bronte

Sons of Shelley, Iggy Pop and Poe

Archangels on Thunderbird, Batman’s Army hunting

For the bitter joke, the mystery

The heart of things only The Shadow knows

Children dressed up in the cast-off clothing

Of adult fetishes and fears

We proudly wore the stigma of their loathing

Even as we mimed a jaded sexuality

Beyond our years

We were the outcast and the weird

Wearing swastikas and crucifixes

With equal disdain

For we were not the ones who were insane

And we would drink each other’s blood

And so never grow old

But as they must

Someone let the light get in

And all our dreams grew cold

And crumbled suddenly to dust

The light

It’s in the light we grow

And now I look back at this poem

And I know

That it’s not right

I really wanted to believe

That somehow this All Hallows Eve

Began my personal golden age

Of lost rebellious youth

That before the world had calmly

Snuffed us out we had burned bright as stars

With love and rage

But no, that’s not the truth

For we were just as dull and plain

And ordinary as we could be

As petty and afraid

With minds as small and closed off as

The towns that we were born in

And where, for all our bullish claims 

That from this yawning boredom we would soon break free,

Most of us stayed;

And if a few crawled from the ruins

They did so without a backward glance

Knowing that all we’d been doing

Before then certainly deserved

No second-hand romance

So put away those scratched-up 45s

Those patched-up memories

Of when you were just waiting

For the future to arrive

Throw away your old greatcoat

The letters that your old friends wrote

The ones all full of racist jokes

And moans about the price of cider;

While you’re at it, go and hide the

Shoebox full of photographs

They’re only good now for cheap laughs

You know nostalgia kills

Forget the valleys and the hills

The passing seasons lie

So take all those old posters down

There were a mass of reasons why

You chose this coastal town

Over your precious, mythic north

Try to remember now

How little it was really worth

We did nothing but drink

Like sad old men at closing time

We let it slip away

Forget that Halloween

That night when I

Was just sixteen

And Margaret Thatcher said it was that way

I tried to prove her wrong

And in my head I got at least halfway

But now I find

That I can’t listen to those songs

No not today

The White Goddess

December 2, 2009

Good Friday, drinking in the Hope all night

I heard the Pixies sing, ‘Into the White’

And in that moment suddenly

A score of novels never written died in me

To be reborn a thousand times in verse

And I knew then I had been cursed

And if I still couldn’t quite understand

The moon being fully manifest

The muse made her demands:

“You’ll serve no other queen but I

Not success, status, no, nor vanity

For even if you be the lowest of my followers, yet still

Your will

Is mine

Your words will yearn to dance and rhyme

Across the page

In ever shorter

Lines

There’ll be no relief, reward or wage

You’ll never fill that book of dreams

With lengthy solid paragraphs

Describing characters and scenes

And plot and narrative

For it’s not in your power to give

The world a truly epic tale

And you should know by now that every time you try to do so

You will fail

Until you see

Your words

Your eyes and ears

Your every unheard cry

Your secret tears

They all belong to me”.

And so I left the Hope behind

Stumbling like a drunk who’d just been rolled

For I had got the silver in my soul, and so

On earth I knew

I’d never get the gold

December 2, 2009

We breathe in television

Breathe out fear and lies

United in a state of indecision

We tut and tarry through our precious lives

We are not good or bad

Or rich or poor

For in a sense those terms are meaningless

But we are powerless

In the face of our lust for power

We cannot keep control

Of our need to keep control

And yet we still feel small and weak

We cannot be to blame

When all the time we feel denied

The freedom that we all constantly seek

And even then it seems, at times

A pointless game

And life isn’t so bad

On this side of the fence

After all; and we are free

(We have no choice)

We’re only along for the ride

And if you criticise the actions

Others take on our behalf

To secure and defend this freedom

Then we can only but apologise

Agree that on the face of it

It does seem wrong

But in the end, you see

Our hands are tied-

‘Life’s not fair’ our mothers said

When we as children first learned to protest

And so it is. And living our own lives

Seems hard enough these days

Get off my back

And screw the rest

I do my bit

I don’t have time

And every day I have to deal

With so much shit

So why should I

Stick my neck on the line

When it won’t make a difference anyway?

For it’s not up to me

I’m only free

Thoughts on the Eve of my Thirty-Eighth Birthday

December 2, 2009

I have waived the right to children

And so condemned myself to die a lonely death

As friends and family

All go before me

For though every day I sit and think of suicide

I still suspect I will outlive the lot of them

And be the last one left

Alone

Always alone

Simply because I lack the will to act

And I have always stood apart

From all the human drama

Feeling I have never truly lived, and so

Don’t deserve anything quite as

Definitive as dying

Maybe I’ll be here forever

Over in the corner as

The world goes on without me

Great events and tragedies will pass me by

My immortality ignored and unspectacular

Eternally irrelevant

Always observing, understanding little

Waiting, looking back

And making scrapbooks

Always scrapbooks! I’ll amass

A vast mountain of scrapbooks

I will show to no-one. No-one

Will be interested

And diaries like

‘Went to the shops

  Had fish for tea’

Multiplied by a million

I might like to explode

Or plummet from

Unlikely heights

Towards my squishy doom

But something tells me I’ll expire

At home, in bed

Of bile and scorn

Alone, and then, suddenly, dead

I’ll find myself in final darkness while

I thought I was still waiting for the dawn

New Claims

December 2, 2009

‘Any qualifications?’ he said to me

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I’ve a degree’

‘And what about GCSEs?’

‘No- but I’ve got eight O-Levels’

‘English and Maths?’

He asked.

I almost laughed.

Everything Must Go

December 2, 2009

And in the final weeks we stripped

The shelves themselves from out the bays

And sold them off, and then we ripped

The signs and symbols off the walls

For we were told that nothing, no nothing at all could stay

And every shop assistant with some sense

Knew how to fence

A table here, a chest of drawers there

To some poor square who didn’t want

To join the queue

Or maybe knew that twenty cash straight in the regulation pinnie

Pocket might seem cynical to some but if

It got you what you wanted fast and cheap

Then was it wrong?

No receipts, of course, but they’re not worth

The paper that they’re written on

And after all, it’s common knowledge, as everyone knows

That everything must go

The End of the Pier Show

December 2, 2009

‘This shouldn’t be happening,’ the customers would say

Each day, in all sincerity, fixing their eyes on me

‘All of these businesses, all closing down, it isn’t right.’

Maybe; but did you ever stop to wonder

What the consequences might turn out to be

When for the last thirty years, you let the banks

And corporate barons plunder

The assets and the hard-won rights our governments

Just gave away for free

Damn the unions; forget market legislation

Soon we will have flat screen television sets

And the latest Playstations

First ecstasy and BskyB

Then internet and MP3s

We don’t care where they’re coming from

If we can constantly defer the real cost

Then we won’t think about the things we’ve lost

Until one day it all starts falling down

And then we’ll turn around and say; who moved the ground?

What happened to the value of the pound?

And say, what is that dull and distant roaring sound?

But getting closer, closer still…

Yes, it’s a shame, I say, as I give them their change out of the till

And remind them that they cannot bring their items back

We are sorry, but we cannot offer refunds

On goods purchased after this date

Even if they are faulty; I repeat

There can be no refunds anymore, on anything

For after all, it’s getting late

The end of the pier show is here, please

Be sure to read the notice on the doors

Indeed, the writing on the wall

We are sorry that we cannot offer refunds anymore

On anything at all

Can You Imagine That You Are Healthy?

December 2, 2009

I was seduced.

I was pressured into doing it.

I was looking for you.

I wanted to feel connected to the person.

I wanted to feel closer to God.

It was a favour to someone.

It seemed like good exercise.

I wanted to be popular.

I was afraid to say ‘no’ due to the possibility of physical harm.

I wanted to show my affection to the person.

I wanted the person to love me.

I felt like I owed it to the person.

I wanted to say ‘goodbye’.

I wanted to make a conquest.

I wanted to hurt an enemy.

I wanted to get rid of aggression.

I wanted to get rid of a headache.

I wanted to get a raise.

I wanted to get a raise.

I wanted to change the topic of conversation.

I was afraid to say no.

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

I wanted to intensify my relationship.

I wanted to give someone a sexually transmitted disease (e.g. Herpes, Aids).

I wanted to celebrate something.

I felt like it was my duty.

I realised I was in love.

I love you.

I love you.

Someone dared me.

I think we’re at the

I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

(Each line was a junk mail message header that arrived in my inbox over a few days in 2008)

The Nostalgist

December 2, 2009

I do not walk awake and clear-eyed

In the bright new dawn

No- I dwell in the half-light

Afflicted by the dream narcotic

Of beloved memory

I lean out perilously

Over the abyss of times past

I breathe the poisoned scent

Of yesterday’s flowers

I came out of the womb

Facing backwards

And the future is a far-off land

I can’t imagine visiting

I only feel the moment passed

I only live in days gone by

I only care for what I’ve lost

I only breathe

In dust and desolation

You see me now

But I am not quite here

I’m transported by a sudden fleeting scent

Upon the breeze

That takes me to a place that never was

And wraps me in some strange

Somnambulistic sadness

That is the warmest joy I know

And happily I start to fade

Like an old photograph

And crackle

Like a turning song