starlings / winter time

It is winter now and I’ve passed a lot of time lately looking through glass. Sometimes it seems like everything only really exists on the other side of the glass. These poems are about what I’ve seen and this is what I’ve wondered.

starlings

O simple bird, in summer, squabbling, wretched
  Are you the ones who fly across my skies
at dawn, murmuring above the pier at dusk
in winter teaching me the signs
of the weather, and time
  I come to live my life by, look out for you
Desperate, at such times for the vitality I need
In you – is this the meaning, reason for your summertime greed?

  Are you one, the same?

*

ocean / sky / man

Ocean silver light and peach
Sky blue reflecting ocean
Shining is a mirror of the
Sky alive and moving deep below 

Ocean living mirror and the
Sky a plate of life upon it
Starlings like sails in the
Sky above the crying gulls upon the 

Ocean

Sky

Ocean

Man

 Ocean watching on the beach
Man wonders by the railings
Staring at living seas is only
Man watching living sky.

 Ocean silver light reflecting
Sky upon the surface life
Moving deep below life where
Man alone is watching life.

three

(poems for the summer)

Brighton coast / Photo by Rachel Silverlight

Night (summer).

 In the stillness of the night I hear
Some car pass down some road.

Or is it the sea? That roaring rumbling
Sound is so distant and so faint.

Or the wind that whistles down these streets
Between the buildings like channels to
The sea?

No matter; the laughing gulls are up.

 *

Three.

The sea belongs to me.
The sea belongs to me.
Three times I have swum now
Three days in the sea
And three makes it true
Don’t it?

The sea belongs to me.

 * 

Fixed
(after Camus)

I will die not happy not sad
it will come to me just as it is
and it will be everything
I will feel some trepidation before,
but no more than any man or woman
at any other change coming.

After all it is fixed
like pain is fixed
and joy has its limit
and cold is fixed
and so death
from the moment we’re birthed
and before
played out in the lottery of the stars
in the light of any distant sun
still playing out forever.

sea/sun

essential reading for the summer daze

Albert Camus: A Happy Death

So the school holidays began last week, which means that for many summer is really only beginning even though if I’m honest, I feel the heart of summer has already passed. The first time it’s properly hot and sunny you fall under a kind of madness; a kind of desperation when every moment is so bloody precious (especially working 9-6 with a forty five minute bus journey each way), and it’s really, really great. But the minute it’s not quite so hot and bright any longer it’s also kind of a relief, because living that way is exhausting.

Nevertheless – like I said, for some summer is only really beginning. So it’s the season of what they call ‘jetting off’ and holiday reading, which is of course the topic of this post. My essential summer read is A Happy Death by Albert Camus, and I’m going to tell you why.

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four lovers

Frida Kahlo - The Two Fridas - 1939

Frida Kahlo – The Two Fridas – 1939

The lines

And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love for me.

are from Sylvia Plath’s Tulips, which slightly inspired this. Although I’ve been intending to write about the vagina for a pretty long time.

*

Four lovers

 

Heart you’re the best part of me.
Your simple desires, your blind bloody stubborn love.
Oh all those fancy others on whom my favours fatal fell,
whose wills bent to the world
What are they, what are they now!
I understand your pain now
heart.

When mind grabs & takes me running, mind fascinates
On journeys to strange places I meekly followed in delight
To elope with a vision of us walking side by side.
But mind you got me lost and
Your contemptuous impatience waits not and
You think I hold you back;
You care more for your adventure than for me or for your safety.
Mind travel far, leave me watching far behind. 

And you gut, who swells with each next great thing
Swells with each swallow, Seeks and eats great joy,
and when you are full, gut it feels so good
That I believe you might be the source of love.
But gut you are not:
you were made only to receive
you digest love into particles, and gut that’s not the same.
And then so ravenous insatiable; hungry again so soon!
So no great joy or love lasts long in you
O greedy gut.

 O and o, Vagina! whose charms especially excite
Whose company so brilliant I want to be with her
All the time, she shines
Intoxicating like being on drugs
When she’s there you worship
When awake she makes the world
Incredible – I love her!
But love and worship for her leaves me spent.
I love her, I love her: she is in me, a part of me, but not me, she is not.
She is a cunt
who desires only to consume
She only desires; a self-obsessed destroyer
She loves and lords her power laughing.
She cannot, does not, love me back, O alas.

  

Heart, you were so quiet
How could I have known?
Your sweet simple desires, stubborn bloody love
Wanting only to be where you are, inside
Strange comfort, your quiet regular love, inside
Wanting only to keep me alive
Even if it were against my will, you’d try
Your one demand
I don’t mind that.
You know me best
Heart, my heart who
opens and closes
your bowl of red blooms out of sheer love for me.
I realised then.
Forgive me.
Heart, o heart,
I understand your pain at last.

bus dreams

rumblefish

the seas were fake and made of plastic

Over the hill see the stars of the city red green yellow and a faraway peach coloured crescent of light glowing roman colonnade

 the comets bus window reflected lights

 Coast past handsome Georgian town houses like we’re entering the Mediterranean only not quite like they’re braced: against the weather, grey waves no gentle blue.

 huge halo dandelions of  streetlights rain-blurred

 Sudden bus smell something who knew you’d missed or would/could miss: musty, sweaty smell of someone once’s bed– gone.

misty on a runway in space.

the rattling road
the crumbling pen

A palace of light, signs where cassette lord reigns and fat man crossing road flaps his arms left right like an oversize duck attempting to take flight and stars approach and fade, a memorial, a memorial, a hall of strangers:
it is the City!

It is the city.

(peacehaven to brighon, last bus)

first quarter reading list 2013

sex drugs & madness

Narcopolis, Jeet Thayil

Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis: not my book of the quarter

January

Albert Camus, Exile and the Kingdom
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
William Burroughs, Naked Lunch
Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis

February 

David Sandison & Graham Vickers, Neal Cassady: Fast Life of a Beat Hero
Antonio Melechi, Fugitive Minds
Hermann Hesse, The Prodigy

March

D. H. Lawrence, Sons & Lovers
Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All

Sex, drugs, and madness was how I began the year. Literary wise, if not otherwise, but probably a little otherwise too. But in reality, it probably was more literary than any of the other three (or the other three combined).

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world poetry day / crow

Matt Collier, Crow Country

Matt Collier – Crow Country, April 10

Today is World Poetry Day – whatever that means. If, like me, you only know about it because you spotted it on Twitter, or maybe just now while you’re reading this, and maybe you’re reading it in the future and it isn’t World Poetry Day any longer anyway, that probably ain’t a whole lot. I’m just guessing that there’s a ‘national poetry day’ and an ‘international poetry day’ &c. like there is for short stories, long stories, and just about every author the art institution/general public ever really LOVED (or hated).

This particular day was declared by UNESCO according to Wikipedia. That doesn’t mean a whole lot to me either, although I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the name UNESCO on the TV so I guess today being World Poetry Day is pretty legit. More to the point, I actually happen to be reading a book of poetry at the moment, which despite my literary pretensions is a fairy rare occasion because as I frequently mention, poetry makes me a little uncomfortable. This book is Ted Hughes’ Crow, and I bought it because the quote from the Observer on the back said ‘Each fresh encounter with despair becomes the occasion for a separate, almost funny story…’ Despair being one of my favourite themes, obviously. I was not disappointed and found the quote to be almost accurate, except for the  word ‘almost’. The poems in Crow are not almost but frequently funny; full of black humour. This is one of my favourites; I think it’s terribly good, and it’s for my mother because she likes birds.

*

Crow and the Birds

When the eagle soared clear through a dawn distilling of
emerald
When the curlew trawled in seadusk through a chime of
wineglasses
When the swallow swooped through a woman’s song in a
cavern
And the swift flicked through the breath of a violet

When the owl sailed clear of tomorrow’s conscience
And the sparrow preened himself of yesterday’s promise
And the heron laboured clear of the Bessemer upglare
And the bluetit zipped clear of lace panties
And the woodpecker drummed clear of the rotorvator and
the rose farm
And the peewit tumbled clear of  the laundromat

While the bullfinch plumped in the apple bud
And the goldfinch bulbed in the sun
And the wryneck crooked in the moon
And the dipper peered from the dewball

Crow spraddled head-down in the beach-garbage, guzzling
a dropped ice-cream.

*

The image in this post is by Matt Collier.

 

THE ETERNAL WOMAN

Hermann Hesse & the idea of Woman

the eternal woman

‘There is much that is immortal in this medieval lady. The dragons have gone, and so have the knights, but still she lingers in our midst. She reigned in many an early Victorian castle, and was Queen of much early Victorian song. It is sweet to protest her in the intervals of business, sweet to pay her honour when she has cooked our dinner well. But alas! the creature grows degenerate. n her heart there are also springing up strange desires. She too is enamoured of heavy winds, and vast panoramas, and green expanses of the sea. She has marked the kingdom of this world, how full it is of wealth, and beauty, and war – a radiant crust, built around the central fires, spinning towards the receding heavens. Men, declaring that she inspires them to do it, move joyfully over the surface, having the most delightful meetings with other men, happy not because they are masculine, but because they are alive. Before the show breaks up she would like to drop the august title of the Eternal Woman, and go there as her transitory self.’

- E.M. Forster, A Room With A View

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letters of prodigious length

to N.C., secret hero of these poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver

ImageIt’s gonna be a short one I’m afraid on account of being unplanned and I’ve been away for a while so let’s consider this a warm-up of sorts.

The day before yesterday, February 8th, was the birthday of one Neal Cassady, whose biography, by some kind of serendipity, I happened to be reading – else I would never have known.

Neal Cassady more a myth than anything. His star’s a kind of literary penumbra. In a previous post I mentioned how he was a figure who haunted. in the book, Aquarius Revisited, which I reviewed, he did not feature as one of the Seven who Created the Sixties Counter-Culture that Changed America but he haunts its pages as its muse and hero, one whose energy was so great he was the star of the show even when given a cameo role.

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