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Canto XII: VIOLENCE

violentatm

Canto XII

While sliding down a steep escarpment, scree
and faeces twisting ankles while we try
to slow ourselves enough, though hard to see

it’s possible to feel the lime applied
by builders from Victorian times preserved
by fetid air for years and trapped inside

the sewer made it hard work and unnerved
us way before we saw the Minotaur
along by where the blood red river curved.

“WHAT THE FUCK YOU COMING THIS WAY FOR?”
he thundered at us never blinking, pale
for someone bull-headed and rendered poor

and stunted, but particularly male,
conceived by non-consensual sex with bulls
as if his violent nature never fails

but due to someone else’s failing pulls
away his own responsibility.
But here he is in Hell. The fault is full

and his and his alone. He rounds on me
“YOU FUCKING GAY” and comes at me to punch
me in the head. I totter back and see

his half-drowned van, still white but scraped and crunched,
embedded in the river bank, and hide
behind it, neck and shoulders pinched and hunched,

my throat is catching on the left hand side
and sharp as if some food has caught and stuck,
my legs slo-mo, my stomach tightens dry.

“YOU FUCKING FOREIGN CUNT COME HERE YOU FUCK”
his bradawl focus doesn’t see our signs
between each other hoping for some luck

we start to run along the bank behind
the wide perspective from the van improves
the further on, the running calms our minds.

Until we hear the sound of horses hooves.
Three centaurs canter over drawing bows
and one says “Back in the River before I lose

my shit with you.” Though somehow Patrick knows
we’ll be OK, a centaur trots up close
and shoulder-barges us then smirks and slows

enough to smell the alcoholic boasts
he fires at us; me noticing my flank
already sore with tension stress the most.

“He isn’t dead, we’re travelling this bank
of River Enoch Powell. Let us pass
– and you’re obliged to guide us, being frank..

I know about your Father being crass,
his love of horses…” “Let me give you him,”
he points to Nessus “He’ll be good. He’s fast.”

The anxious toxic sting of breathing thin
that comes to my attention in the lull
is crawling like a poison under skin.

Distracted though, by Nessus; “These we cull
with arrows every time they bubble up.”
He points at River Enoch, at the dull

lit feet and heads and body parts and muck
of mostly men of violence below
the surface of their bloody stinking rut.

“There’s every kind of violence here you know
from anger disproportionately done
to physical but also mental blows

and through to those who torture just for fun
to see you crumble in emotions terms
or break you with the barrel of a gun

when psycho bosses pushing till it burns
while smirking like your empathy’s a crutch
and for the weak as far as they’re concerned.

when those who think that non-consensual touch
is not a problem: punished here as well
for sexual violence even once too much.

when blackpowder will leave an acrid smell
when skull meets pavement, single punch, and cracks
when blood will clot before the final bell

when eight police will knee her in the back
when IEDs throw Humvees in the air
when slavers must ensure the boat is packed

when threatening a child with a stare
when neighbours dogs have jumped the fence and bite
when dragging somewhere hidden by the hair

when doggedly insisting on a right
that’s luxury by any other name
from oil and sweatshops working through the night…”

“Please. Stop.” I beg. The slow encroaching pain
from waves of nausea start to amplify
the background hum of violence that drains.

“Who are these people?” I begin to cry
“I don’t know where I am or what to say.”
“We’ve crossed the Enoch to the other side.

You’re on your own.” He slowly trots away.

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My Throat Closes Up

My temper stirs against unjust
behaviour. Anger, Fear and Needs distilled
begin to form a yell, but in the shouts
my throat closes up.

Rehearsing thoughts through whispers strained,
decanted into empty rooms where no-one hears
dissolving sentiments to try to solve
my throat closes up.

As if in some peculiar way
the universe or target hears and answers “YES”.
though mostly it or they return a “no”
my throat closes up.

So parched and routed, stopped at birth,
instead I write the strangulated words;
a poem should be read and heard
my throat closes up.

©Michael L Radcliffe 2015

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Plumbing Canto IV

Canto 4 tools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I slowly woke to Patrick’s ashen face.
A muggy thunder stirs me from my nap
and taking in the God-forsaken space

I see I’m standing knee-deep in some crap
(as plumbers often do) but can’t see far.
Though catching Patrick’s eye, he turns his back.

“Now follow me, as I’m your Guiding Star.”
“Are you afraid?” “Well, no. You fear the worst.
Just pity makes me somewhat under par.”

Then finally we enter in the first
and foremost circle mostly hearing sighs
from people I knew well, but never cursed.

“Now what’s the deal with this? This just denies
my expectations, feelings, let alone
the thoughts I had about my clients lives.

The people here were nice! I want it known
that these ones paid on time, and more than asked!
Not like the stingy ones with hearts of stone.

And she was one who listened in the past,
and he was one who left me with a beer
and these ones found me extra work at last.

I do not understand why they are here.
If this is Hell, then where’s the justice Pat?”
He looked me in the eye. A smile appeared.

“I’m sure you’ve got a list as long as that,
of people that you’d love to put in Hell,
consign them, mark them “trash” from where you’re sat.

But learn and understand this lesson well:
The thoughts that some are wholly “bad” or “good”
are concepts that you really must dispel.

Just put the nasty ones in here? You would!
When really all of us are mixed up mess
of motivations, circumstance and “shoulds”.

So don’t be so surprised or get depressed.
Your clients will surprise you every time
And knowing this will save you much distress.

I pointed at a man: “Ah! Was his crime
to treat me with suspicion from the start?
He watched that “Cowboy Builders” all the time

He couldn’t see me honesty and heart.”
“Ah no. For watching way too much TV
is why he’s here. I know it’s hard. Now please

We have to reach that castle. Follow me.”
This castle was surrounded seven times
with walls that were the highest I had seen

and once inside I saw a well designed
and tended meadow, somehow feeling wrong.
We found a little alcove, hid behind

some shrubs where we could watch it all go on.
I saw some people who I do respect
and idols who I thought could do no wrong.

Old Patrick, staring hard at me, detects
the conflict in my feelings: “Let me hear
and help you work things out as you reflect.”

I ask if Pat’s in here (to make things clear)
He nods. “So what’s your crime? What are your sins?”
“But tell me why should I tell you my dear?”

“Look when your plumbing clients ask you in
by all means take an interest, BUT don’t pry!
You’re in their house! They’re other people’s things!”

I took his good advice, so while I try
to write this down I won’t be naming names
although it’s true and carefully described.

Then Patrick stands and shuffles down a lane.
I follow him and try to read the signs
towards the place where there’s a constant rain

and let’s just say that nothing really shines.

© Michael L Radcliffe 2013

 

Read the previous Canto or Read  All The Cantos

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The Plumbing Cantos

Hello everyone.

I thought I’d create a single page for the Plumbing Cantos where you can find links to them all in one place.

I’ve started writing a series of Cantos about my experiences of being a plumber, based on Dante Alighieri’s description of the 9 circles of Hell in his “Inferno” poem. I am drawing heavily on Dante for guidance, but setting it in the modern world. It is peppered with real and imagined experiences, a smattering of plumbing references, allegory and humour. Oh, and Patrick Troughton.

Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental of course.

So here they are:

Plumbing Canto 1

Plumbing Canto 2

Plumbing Canto 3

Plumbing Canto 4

Plumbing Canto 5

Plumbing Canto 6

Plumbing Canto 7

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Plumbing Canto 3

Last one for the weekend. This is the 3rd one in an ongoing epic poem series, based on Dante’s Inferno. You can read Canto 1 and Canto 2 first if you’d like to get a sense of where I’m going with it.

This is my favourite so far.

 

Plumbing Canto 3

The legend written just above the gate
said: “Either this or living on the dole.
Through here you’ll get to see the people’s fate

who made Themselves the only worthy goal.
The closest thing you’ll see to modern sin,
your last remaining chance of staying whole,

Abandon Hope all ye who enter in.”
“Take courage, lad” said Pat “No turning back.
We’ll fortify ourselves with shots of gin.”

And in we went; the air was blue and black
with languages and angry voices, next
to plumbers’ vans of every type all stacked

along the River Effra’s banks, with text
of every type, and stickers everywhere
in every livery that you can get

with plumbers’ numbers, Gas-Safe stickers, large
emblazoned names in clashing colours loud
as dodgy typefaced scattered business cards.

The sun was coming up behind a cloud
revealing everything and more besides
and in amongst the massive plumbers’ crowd

were posh and chavvy standing side by side.
Some spiky crew-cuts, male & female, all
the races represented thin and wide.

And every single person, big or small
was absolutely naked. Every one.
There’s every type of tatt and piercing, all

were glinting in the light, the rising sun
had brought out midges, biting everywhere
and bruised and open wounds began to run.

“Excuse me love” I said “Don’t mean to stare.
But why’ve you got no clothes on? What’s the point?”
“You dirty little bastard” she declared.

“I’m after 15 mill compression joints.
The Plumbers’ Merchant on the other side.
We’re going over there” she says, and points.

A boat approaches. Squinting and inside.
the Mayor of London brings the ferry there
and moors and waits to give them all a ride.

“Well HE can’t come aboard” the Mayor declares
“It’s fine” says Patrick “He’s a special case.”
At this the naked plumbers shout and stare

The Mayor of London hits them round the face.
He’s found an oar and grabbed it, swung it round
and beat them on the boat, and took his place.

“Get on” hissed Patrick “Do not make a sound.”
I’ll tell you things about these people here.
What goes around does truly come around.

And if you’re plumbing well, then have no fear
Don’t pay for advertising like they do
‘Cos if your work is good, then people hear.

It’s word-of-mouth that brings the work to you.”
By then, the smell, the wind, the heavy sun
had got to me; and Troughton’s words rang true.

I passed out, tired, and feeling overcome.

 

© Michael L Radcliffe 2013

Second Canto    All The Cantos

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Plumbing Canto 2

Last night I published the first of my “Plumbing Cantos”, with a brief explanation of why how and what they’re all about.

It seems I’m on a bit of a roll, and have now written the second one:

 

Plumbing Canto 2

The night ahead felt long and daunting now.
I tried to get myself together. Please
bear with me trying to write the whole thing down.

A muse to help my memory, I need
to get across the weight of these events.
“So Patrick” I began ” Some answers, please.”

“Why me? I’m no-one special. Were you sent?
D’you think I’m up to this? I’ve got some doubts…
This journey may just be at your expense.”

“My name’s iambic, fitting (just about)
Tom Baker would have fitted, too, it’s true.
But Tom’s alive, and my name has the clout

And Bill and Jon would not have worked for you.”
“Nor David Tennant?” “No, he’s still alive.
But this is not about a Doctor Who.

I represent the power you derive
from idols, rock stars, father-figure types.
All archetypes that formulate your “tribe”.

It seems to me that something’s come to light.
These second thoughts you’re having make me ask:
D’you want to make a living fixing pipes?

Before you answer that, I’ll cut in fast
by telling you who sent me at this time:
The spirit of a client from the past.

A woman who you worked for heard you whine.
She had concerns about the things you wrote.
The plumbing work you did for her was fine.

She read your poems. Liked ’em. And she hoped
you’d be successful. Truly she believed.
So when she saw you struggle, then she spoke:

‘A friend of mine (though fortune’s not his friend)
has got himself a little stuck in life.
It may already be (for him) the end…

For those in his profession, doubt is rife
but cheerleaders are there to spur him on.
He also quoted me the cheapest price.’

She sent me. This is why I came along.
Take comfort from this every single day
whenever things may look like going wrong.”

I carried on the journey straight away.

 

© Michael L Radcliffe 2013

First Canto    All the Cantos     Third Canto

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Plumbing Canto 1

I’ve had an idea for a series of poems that I’m going to write called “The Plumbing Cantos”. They will be based on Dante‘s description of the 9 Circles of Hell in his “Inferno” poem which forms part of the Divine Comedy.

The Plumbing Cantos will form my first attempt at an epic poem, and will take a lot of inspiration from my experiences of plumbing in the real world, while at the same time attempting to be universal and allegorical at the same time. They may remain as they are or be re-written on the fly. I may take comments as a sort of informal “Reading Group”, and I reserve the right to take them on board or ignore them completely. Don’t take it personally. 🙂

Here we go:

Plumbing Canto 1

I came upon a mid-life point in stealth
Like many other people: Forty-Three,
Not living, working hard at something else.

I’d lost myself in darkness. Hard to be.
Un-certain how I got there. Hard to say.
I’d felt there was a better life for me.

A kind of sleep-walk brought me day-by-day
that kind of living death we all despise.
I stopped to wonder how it got this way.

A tower block! And then I raised my eyes
To see my home; the window’s light a hint
Of warmth and comfort made my spirits rise.

A woman dressed in onesie, leopard print
had stood and blocked the entry phone to me.
She sucked her teeth and flicked her purple tint,

her hair across her face but not for me.
Her children, feral, kicking footballs near
My legs, some windows, cars and OAPs.

“Oh will you shut the fuck up! Keys aren’t here.
Serenity, you’re doing my head in. God!”
My chance to enter in did not appear.

Instead I turned around and left and trod
the broken glass-strewn path the way I came
towards the dark and cursed the little sods

And so I tried another way in vain –
the route was cordoned off by thin blue line
“We’ve had to make arrests” Police explained.

It’s not the kind of night I had in mind,
with feeling overwhelmed and under-slept.
A leash-less, snarling Staffy dog behind

began to bark and chased me till I wept.
I sat on fencing, gathering my strength.
I couldn’t work out where to go and yet

A man appeared. We talked of things at length.
“Have pity on me, sir.” I rubbed my eyes
“I don’t know who you are. I somehow sense

that you can help me.” Looking up he sighs.
“I have to say you’ve seen my acting kids
on TV shows, dear boy.” To my surprise

he says “the biggest role I ever did
was Doctor Who from ’67 on.
Now can we talk about the things YOU did?”

“You’re Patrick Troughton? No, you must be wrong.
He passed away in Georgia, USA.
I just need help. This Canto’s got too long.”

I’m meant to go, tonight, along the way
to quote for plumbing work at half past eight.
I’m also meant to invoice by today.

I’ve lots to do before it gets too late.
I’m feeling overwhelmed, this job’s too much.
I want to be at home on my estate.”

“Well ‘Leopard-printed Onesie Girl’, as such
Won’t let you pass; you’re in a kind of Hell.”
He paused a while, my shoulder felt his touch.

“I think, dear boy, to get you feeling well,
I need to guide you on a journey through
the circles that describe your Plumbing Hell.

Perhaps in facing things, you’ll be renewed.
There’s happy, well-intentioned people there,
Or possibly you’ll realise you’re screwed.”

A chance. This opportunity is rare.
An unknown path, a chance I’ll take, of course.
To be a better man or live Despair.

He lead the way. I went without a pause.

 

© Michael L Radcliffe 2013

All The Cantos   Second Canto 

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Bass Gods

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Almighty God of Thundering Bass from above,
The water torture of drip-feeding, shaking and pain.
I tried to pray thee once “Would you turn it down, please?”
You poured your scorn and fury on my unworthy head.

And just because I dared to approach this Great God
the gates were shut and bells removed, stopping ingress.
I supplicated other Gods, like Noise Pollution.
who couldn’t use the powers given, and impotent to act

They couldn’t even name the Gods above, but calling
it “bass” like “ass”, not “bass” as in “ace”, and so still
the Bass Gods who pounded away, punished my sins
that served to anger more, and compounded the hurt.

I tried to understand why the scorn had been poured
with oaths and cursing. Nights that I needed some sleep
or illness overtook me. But answers did not appear.
I called the God of Housing, the Only Remaining.

A Call and Answer Prayer that ran backwards and then forth
had yielded some results: It appeared that the threat
of homeless life gave pause. And the Pause was employed,
but not for long. The Bass Gods returned victorious.

I caved. Abortive, tries to retaliate. Nothing.
Accepting omnipresent capriciousness. Sad.
A growing cancer lingering in the background
prohibits growth in every way possible.

Lord Have Mercy.

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42

 

 

42

 

I’ve reached a middle point in life, I think

where if I stretch my arms out either side

my finger tips can very nearly reach

the boy I was and older man I’ll be

and treat those two imposters just the same.

 

I realise, of course, that I’m the One

who cheats himself the way that those two can’t

and if I stretch my arms out either side

of life, the universe or anything

I’ll be the only one that I can blame.

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Breathe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will you breathe with me please?
Can you stand still? Just as still
as I slow down life in this place.
Can you taste the air, cold
like the first time ever again?
Can you feel in a way
that is new, some old things?

Will you look? Please. And breathe
in the cold air of Autumn
Can you live as if skinless
where the touch of another
is what lives with you, hurts
for more days than it should?
I suspect that you can’t.

So you war. Making life
much harder than it is.

 

 

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September On

The crisper mornings, clearer somehow
Sharpen focus, lighten up the air
As sun will contrast frosted grass
with heat that doesn’t work at all.

Some will find a kinder meaning
come alive than warmer seasons,
fight against your natural gloomy
scrabbling brain that is trying to cope.

Nature starts to close things down.
Early nights are better, lessened light
before the Christmas season’s cultural
testcard blocks transmission.

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Tribes

 

When I called, she told me that you’d gone out.
but I thought that all of you were best friends.
I mean mine, and not your own exclusive club.
I was left to think that it was our hub.

I could see from then that it was my mistake
That in fact you weren’t having a fun time
at the times when I was on the centre stage.
It was this that began a lifetime’s rage.

So I cycled over to confirm that
where I knew you’d be, having a fun time,
(And I caught the lot of you from out of sight)
I was not a part of your divine light.

It was then that one of you just looked up
And she caught me looking as I darted off
But I paused to stop, as a kind of nausea hit
with the sadness, shock, and my world split.

Then the return journey from the crime scene
seemed a lot slower from the new baggage.
For a week you let our friendship stall
until 7 days’ worth of guilt made you call

“Maybe now, perhaps, you’d like to come
to the pub and drink with a number of us.”
Did I say that I would? I should have been stronger
And I should have confronted you all head on.

But instead (and all the more sad)
Things dissolved and nothing was said
and I knew that for us all to stay alive
I would have to find a completely new tribe.

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Shoes

Shoes

They say you shouldn’t judge another person
until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.
But how are you supposed to feel about
a person wearing YOUR shoes?

– who walks a thousand miles and more but does it
with much more grace and makes it look so easy?
They don’t display the same sloping shoulders
despite the same decaying, creasing footwear,

pronating, though, they still can find the power
to run, and not to trip and fall while others
decide they will not laugh, but help you stand
and others still look on and sympathise.

Yes, who can do that? What are they like these
extraordinary people who don’t appear
to have the same restrictions, cut the same way,
but still they leave me wondering how.

And – trying to find my motivation
I put my hands behind my back and stare
down at my shoes.

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My Jumble Sale Mind

My Jumble Sale Mind

My mind is like a Jumble Sale
where people come to rummage
amongst the chaos, clothes and things
and nonagenarian scrummage.

The day had started out so neat
with tables laid out nice.
But now it’s piled-up, pushed-around
and no-one’s looking twice!

A tumbling hall of bric-a-brac
and long forgotten clothes,
descended on by everyone
all treading on your toes.

You’ll offer things at 20p
and still they’ll barter you down.
They’ll say the object’s not worth shit
then wear the thing uptown!

The things you thought would disappear
have stayed and not been sold.
The worthless crap you didn’t mind
was grabbed and bought as gold.

And so it ends, it’s packed away.
Tired, deflated, late
you’ve only empty feelings now
and ten pounds eighty-eight.

Image © whosjack.org

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Confidence

All I need from you is something
like concern, and being gentle,
empathy, the loving touch of
hugs, or questions like: How are you?
My God, that must be terrible!
To show me that you care or just
believe in me would bring me some

Confidence

Life is hard, and so are you
Making life much harder still
sad, I’ll look for all that stuff
somewhere else. I’ll find the fuel
Love brings. Someone else believes
somewhere I’m a good person
who’ll reach fifth gear sometime soon.

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Stillness

Time goes on. I watch the seconds, minutes
and hours tick away like passing cars.
I haven’t noticed. Except the odd
peculiar detail. And then they go.
Within a moment unremarkable.

The stacking up of urgent tasks. Ringing
phones. Impatient e-mails won’t bring me round
because I’m hit by high demands and
damage done has given way to lower
thresholds and expectations than before.

Simple tasks are incomplete. My eyes are
red and heavy. Short breaths. Heavy limbs. Days
long; as if I’ve over-reached. Stung by life
half a search for serum. An antidote
to cancel out this strange unwelcome poison.

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The Turpsichord

Designed and built one Saturday,
when I was very bored,
I made a brand new instrument
It was The Turpsichord.

Church organ-like, and very tall,
with keys and stops and throttles,
it made a sound by blowing air
through different turps-filled bottles.

It made a lovely warbling sound
that drew the sharpest breath
rendered all more poignant by
the player’s possible death.

I gathered friends to hear me play.
They coughed and choked and gagged.
I castigated one of them
who nearly lit a fag.*

And soon recitals were performed
to many gathered throngs
to hear selected medleys of
White Spiritual songs.

Performing indoor concert halls
became a thrill again
until The Turpsichord was banned
by Health & Safety men.

I suffered much for all this art.
I played when I was bladdered.
The drinking took my mind off it
this massive fire hazard.

I planned a last performance then,
a swan-song, if you will.
The weight of suffering for my art
had made me very ill.

It had to be an outdoor gig
with careful preparation
to find a way to get around
the government legislation.

And so I played it one last time
the people came from far.
I poured my soul into the songs
then lit a big cigar.

That’s how you end an arty life –
you go out with a bang.
I left the earth for worms to eat
but with a turps-ish tang.

*For the benefit of our American cousins – “fag” is English slang for cigarette. I do NOT set fire to homosexuals.

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Paranoia

The questioning the actions.
The reading subtle signs.
The analysing stupid things
that aren’t between the lines.
The only option possible
is one you have in mind.
The only truthful answer is
the one you’ll never find.

The “Nothing’s wrong!” that never works
and never satisfies.
The way it feels and compliments
a lifetime’s worth of lies.
The friendships that are twisted
are never quite the same.
The playful dance of quiet thoughts
perpetuate the game.

The way forgetfulness forgets
the way it started out.
The non-existent whispering
imagined as a shout.
The tapering of friendliness
that ends in being alone.
The rarer sound of human voice
that follows ringing tones.
The justifying arguments
repeated every day.
The bubbling resentment
that never goes away.

I seem to have fallen back into poetry again, after my last rather intense bout of art show work. One of the advantages of being multi-disciplined is that when you burnout on one artistic form (painting), you can fall back on another (poetry).

This latest poem is one that has tumbled out amongst a whole host of others over the past few days. I tend to write nothing for months and then finally a whole lot of poems will come out at once. I’m currently writing another one that’s very long and story-like, provisionally titled “The Ballad of Facebook”, so it might be a while before I post it.

I appreciate that paranoia is not the most livening of subjects, especially while most of the world is celebrating right now, but I’m aware that I owe you all a post as I’ve fallen silent for a little longer than normal. This poem has just been completed. Ink barely dry and all that.

I’m wondering if anyone else can relate to that feeling of paranoia. Have I described it accurately? Is your experience of it different? I wanted the poem to have a slightly naïve air, as I think paranoia stems from naïveté. (Did I put all my accents in the right place there?) I’m sure there are some cunning linguists out there who will be able to tell me…

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White Van

She wasn’t very young. She’d had a life of hauling
things around. Her latest beau’s a fitter
that’s working hard enough to leave her keys
inside her un-attended. Then she went.

Abandoned and gashed along one side
she crashed out right in front of council flats –
a hidden part of Southern London – rare
that someone comes there just to hide.

And then the raping starts as kids break in,
go in and out her sliding door that’s on
the side, and open up the back with ease
before they rip the innards out and spread

the contents everywhere. The carpet tiles
and underlay, the grip-rods, scaff poles, tools
and spray paint cans all arcing through the air
and sometimes used to mark surrounding things.

Her owner came and rescued what he could.
He brought his brother’s bravado – useless when
the kids had gone for tea. The men could not
save her. Insurance men were called. They couldn’t

turn her over. Turn. Turn turn.
Turnturnturnturnturn.
Turn. No. Battery: dead.

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They came.

They came
straight in, no pause
“Now this I’ve got to see”,
she said and carried bags and
some coats to keep them clean from blood
and then the sound of someone being
kicked. A sound like sandbags. thud. thud thud. thud
as fifteen people set about him, trainers rain
the thuds along with “FOK”, “You FOKing FOK”, “You do
that for?” And probably he knows or doesn’t think he
don’t deserve it as he collapses on the floor
he needs to be supported by his mates but
instead they pick him up and take him with
and off they go and drain away. It’s
dark and quiet – peaceful now there
is nothing left to show for
this entertainment. Close
the blinds and up the
fear for all
concerned.

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e e cummings

e e cummings

I came across a good poem by e e cummings today.

I’m reading a compilation of his selected poems, and to be honest it’s been heavy going. I like the idea of reading something that is mutilayered, but in his case, it’s possible to have too many options.

As you may have surmised, I wasn’t looking forward to whiling away my journey in his company, but earlier today I read a poem that was so good, it made me feel bad for cussing him on Twitter this morning. I thought I’d share it with you:

hate blows a bubble of despair into
hugeness world system universe and bang
-fear buries a tomorrow under woe
and up comes yesterday most green and young

pleasure and pain are merely surfaces
(one itself showing,itself hiding one)
life’s only true value neither is
love makes the little thickness of the coin

comes here a man would have from madame death
neverless now and without winter spring?
she’ll spin that spirit her own fingers with
and give him nothing(if he should not sing)

how much more than enough for both of us
darling. And if i sing you are my voice,

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At last! I’m in print!

I got my first copy of my first ever poem to be printed today. Cool! As you can see, it’s been put into the book opposite a reproduction of the icon I did for the moot community, which is good all round, and pretty exciting.

It has been published in a book called “The Becoming of G-d” by my mate Ian Mobsby. He went off to the States yesterday to embark on a speaking tour to publicise the book.

He’ll be at The Episcopal Book Store, 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017 later today from 4.30pm to 7pm, (if you’re reading this from anywhere near there do drop in, he’d love to see you) and then on to other parts of New York, followed by Montreal, Canada, Jamestown NY, Chicago IL, Denver CO, Vancouver in Canada before ending up in Seattle WA on the 1st of July.

If you want to catch up with him, check his full itinerary here, and be sure to say Hi from me.

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Esau

Two Brothers

I am important. To me
you don’t seem bothered. At all.
You don’t put time in – with me
it’s all work and business like.

I’d love to rescue a piece
of something useful from this –
the history shared by us then
has made us men, and shattered us.

I’m not important. To you
I’m part of brokenness. Trying
to live a better way. But
just tell me how you’re doing.

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A sonnet

I wrote this sonnet ages ago. I needed to find it again last night, so naturally I came here to look for it (hey, I don’t store these things!) and couldn’t find it.

I realised that I hadn’t actually posted it. Horror of horrors.

After frantic digging through old notebooks, I finally re-discovered it. So here it is:

The park I take my kid to every day
has always got a scar or two from nights
before when older kids graffiti spray
between the scooter runs and knifing fights
and bites were taken out of children’s swings
by fighting dogs to sharpen up their teeth.
The morning’s fallen leaves and other things
disguise detritus lurking underneath.
My little girl knows nothing of this world.
She loves the slide, the sandpit, climbing frames,
the roundabout from which she’s often hurled –
just innocent equipment for her games.
And over there beside the broken fence
she’ll carve a better space through innocence.

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Robbie

They called you Robbie.

That wasn’t what I called you back at school.
You had a different tag back then, with friends
and you and I were eight. You played the fool
at my expense in front of all the kids.

I want to hurt you

and now I have the chance. You’ve no idea
how often I returned to your assaults
that time. The sound, the looks, the memory’s clear
from frequent re-rehearsals ever since.

And now we’re older

I stop. Your face has sadness. Looking coolly
you don’t see me. I see your life is written
on your shoulders. A life of being a bully
with humour made you suffer more than I have.

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Perichoresis

I’ve just submitted my first poem for publishing. It’s going to go in to a theological book, by a friend of mine called Ian Mobsby – the book is called “The Becoming of G-d” and will be published soon.

I’ve read a lot of the book, and it focuses on recovering a better understanding of the Trinity. It gave me the idea for writing a large chunk of the poem in dactyls, which have a kind of ONE-two-three rhythm, which I could then break up with iambs, as the idea of interjection by writing takes hold.

A dactyl consists of three syllables, with the first one being slightly stressed. Some example of where this crops up naturally in the English language are words like “Happiness”, or “Perfectly” you would naturally say “PERfectly” rather than “perFECTly”. Trying to construct an entire poem out of dactyls is a bit of a task, but I think it has some merit. Here it is:

On Friday nights we went to clubs
until we noticed something that
night when the three of them came and took
over the regular dancing. So

Did the Creator throw shapes on the
dance floor whilst dancing a salsa that
turned all the heads of the punters there?

Vogueing away while the other two
scattered. They took up their places but
somehow remaining together there

How the Companion perfected that
fight in a way that was calming them.
Making them friends from thereon until

Now. The Revealer is reveling
showing us all just a little too
much how its done by his lead for us

Dancing together while beckoning onlookers
come on and join us, and have a good
time. Doesn’t matter it’s happening.

Keeping the rhythm up copying
maybe looked easy as no-one would
dare to reject their advances then

in pairs we couldn’t make it work
and groups of us tried sussing out
as individuals put together
were fitting triplets into four time.

We stopped the dancing, getting going
on paper noting down what happened
as dancing disappeared while writing
and scrapping round some bits of paper.

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Manflu


My body’s wracked with never-ending pain
I try to swallow through a swollen throat
another cup of honey, lemon – hot,
my bed is soaked and heavy with my sweat.

I shuffle sadly to the nearest doctor
with all the sadden pathos of an opera
to plead my case for need of medication
and hope I do not need an operation.

I’ve watched through every DVD I have
and then again with commentries. I blow
my nose again and clear away more snot
that exits from my nostrils day-glo green
the likes of which is normally not seen.
My scrunched up tissue tower nears the ceiling
and no-one understands the way I’m feeling.

I crawl back into bed to sleep again
I don’t believe I’ll ever feel the same
my body’s wracked with never-ending pain.

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