The Stream of Consciousness: A Cerebration of Poetry
THE STREAM OFCONSCIOUSNESS A Cerebration Of Poetry By έ
How does it start, one wonders. Can the expert tell at the very onset? Can the veteran observe the earnest gaze with which the toddler contemplates the mobile and say, “Theres a dark cloud over your Precious, sir”, or “Keep that boy in hand, maam, or hell turn to verse”? How does one identify thecasual rhymer before he becomes a nuisance? Or- could there be a seed of amateur poetry in everyone? I shudder at the thought. My own journey originated entirely with a World Literature course book and an incredibly naïve and blasphemous thought: “Hey, poetry really isn’t that hard!” Who knows- hadsome passer-by done the decent thing and chewed off my lefteyebrow, I might have turned my bumbling good intentions to gardening. Anyway, off I went, disregarding P.G. Wodehouse’s sageobservations on the end of the amateur poet. I played with the sacred haiku format; I tore up the rulebook on rhyme andcadence and made papier-mâché monsters out of the strips. Imarched on when inspiration had dried up; I closed my eyes to obviously-idealized depictions- glaring untruths, even. Artistic license, it’s called. Sue me. Even then, the harm hadnt been done yet. Its possible that Genghis Khan dabbled in calligraphy, but it is only genocide the world berates him for- because Concubine 37.6 had the Christian decency to destroy his brushes as soon as he gotthem, and make glue out of his parchment scrolls. It was not set in stone that I should join the despised few. The internet, however, made it quite inevitable. Previously, one had to dosomething with oneself, and thenceforth gift the populace with ones opinions on the weather, the government and continental drift. Thanks to the blogging sensation, however, people can actually find an audience without conquering an Armada or translating Virgil or anything like that. Thanks to this,
my gems of versified wisdom were broadcast fresh from the oven (oven being a a ready-made metaphor for my searing- hot wit). That it was broadcast unedited goes without saying. That my nuggets of rumination could have gone unsaid also goes without saying. Still, no one read it, so there was little harm done. Of course, friends, but... ah, friends are the landfill of life. Then a little flippant quip from a buddy- You should publish this, dude- solidified into an inspiration, and from that to a burningambition. Curse not my friend, dear reader. He does penance by reading political autobiographies.So there the matter lies. A good number of pages lay ahead of you, full of my brave and hopeful stabs at the mighty windmillcalled Lucid Expression. I only hope your martyrs countenance is lightened here and there with a nostalgic smile for thosedays when you, also, brooded as Beethoven could only wish to,while berating fictitious muses for spurning your passionate suit. Let the happy memories- of the ABAB scheme and the moodand the theme, of hyperbole and apostrophe- comfort you as you hack through the wilderness of my mind.
This project is dedicated to those queer people who live the most poetic lives with enough bloody-minded pragmatism for an entire clan ofDostoevskys best serfs, and yet still get their laughter lines before worry stakes its own claim- from army troopers to zoo keepers, thank you for being.Also, to those who desperately wring the romance out of every second like the fragrance out of roses, only to apply it most liberally behind their ears, in their pits- those people who should be prevented, on pain of flagellation, from keeping journals or writing letters. Fellow amateur poets, this is for you. Especially dedicated to the Great Queen Bee: A house on her head, Her kids in her arms, Snakes and crawlers Firmly underfoot. Every monkey needs a Mommy to love am.
I am a stream;From me flows wisdom and stupidity mingled, Like mud and water in the bubbling brook. I am a babbling brook; I am a stream of consciousness. Life, that unruly schoolboy, Daily comes to sit my banks beside And contemplate, and daily without fail Toss stones in me, called experiences. The ripples are what I write.
ARTArt, Art, wherefore art thou Art? Be thou but harmless Fun and wed all beyours forever...You know, I genuinely believe that half the worlds population consists ofartists, and the other half business-people. Unfortunately, the way lifeworks, the casual, life-is-a-journey approach taken by those of the artisticpersuasion is in lower demand than that of their angle-measuring, O-sandpapering, Q-buckling counterparts. Results have gotten to besomething of an addiction with us. Even artists are required to actuallyproduce something before they are recognised as such. This isunfortunate, you ask? Yes it is. Why? Because the full measure of artisticspirit will of necessity render its earthly vessel incapable of activity. The trueincarnation of Art should have its mouth eternally ajar, and an indolentgut.Ah, what can we do? Weve gotten so good at sponsoring people to feeland express for us. It is much too late for us to start thinking for ourselves,unless we make some pretty momentous strides in the area of memoryerasure very soon- to level the playing field. Because even actual artistsare plagued, in their search for originality, by the past. It occurs to youthat its been a while since you last wrote about flowers. Use Google mapto find some charmingly overgrown garden which endears you to youraudience? You should, if you are like the typical artist and really have hadmore important things to think about than crocuses, but instead your gazetravels to that Longfellow fellow, and pff. Adieu, creativity. There is nothingharder to do than getting the legends out of your head when youre tryingto find your own way to immortality. You know it sounds good, butWordsworth would never say that. It looks lovely, that cloud, but Whistlerwould splutter at that technique. So if you are going to use thatprogression for the bridge, why dont you just leave the Beatles out of italtogether? And so on, till you just give in and do what they say.Sometimes you actually take the path of least resistance with a song anda smile. Thats the funny thing: I have been blessed, in that Ive beenrelatively unaffected by the past, perversely because I havent had thatmuch access to it due to my environment. I know this helps me stand outas an original artist, but I cant help longing for the day when Ill get to gointo a big museum and watch lumpy potentates of the Renaissance eraintimidate each other from opposite walls. Thats one of Arts greatmysteries.Another is that theres literati, and then theres bookworms.But the saddest thing about Art is the life it requires. The moping, thehanging about on the fringes of conversations, the hopeful smiles as
people approach, the heartbreak as they do drastic U-turns to avoid yourmanifesto readings- its all too much for me. Oh, the results are fun, sure... A stream might somewhere flow But for all the tears unshed; Art isnt pain to me, Its drink, its bread....and introspection is good for you, but in moderation, see? The wholesuicide and addiction thing is really unhealthy.I believe, though, that one can catch ones self before too much harm isdone, and return to society before a rehabilitation program is required.The warning signs are: 1. Inaccurate and poorly-suited use of quotations. There is nothing more dangerous than a young artist who has only just realised how well- and barbarously- they get by without dragging Balzac into things. I vowed to shave myself in penance after reading my first high-brow magazine. A week later, I had began my journey into the land of impromptu quotation, with A.A Milne. Only Shakespeare holds any difficulty for me now. Also to be noted is a propensity to share bits of unnecessary history. 2. Drastic change in choice of music. This can be used to forecast both temporary (as in the case of heartbreak) and permanent (as in the case of completion of a Literature Appreciation course) artistic fervour. Emo music is bad, but jazz, I assure you is worse. The more de-constructed, the more asymmetrical, the greater the danger. But the worst is world music. If your loved one takes to raga, or Sufi devotional music- I dont know. Bite them. 3. Marked non-adherence to the laws of conventional fashion. In these cases, infection is localized. I mean, I had always seen them on TV in their wonderful Tuareg outfits, but the scarab didnt really bite me until I surveyed pantalons of similar capacity, accompanying a certain young mans legs at a party. And then I got nutty for sartorial acreage. Oh, yes. Seriously speaking, this whole cleanliness thing, when you take a critical look at it, really is just a trend too. In a couple millennia we will be back to the Neanderthal aesthetic. And the artist leads the way. 4. General suspicious artistic behaviour: If your cherished one speaks of Ché or Guernica, quarantine them. If they walk around singing random everyday phrases in a lilting sort of way, introduce them to
agriculture. If, the Lord forbid, they ask you to pose for them- purchase a disguise, acquire a new identity and embark on a ship. Freighters will let you work for your board. 5. Rebellion!: Hitler was a criminal. Your teacher is, practically speaking, not eligible for a Hague trial. Dont talk like that. Do not even think like that. That is the root of the evil, did they not tell you? It is that which causes your clothes to acquire a tie-die motif, and your face to instantly blossom with parasitic tendrils of adolescent hair. I speak from experience; I had the misfortune to observe the phenomenon on the face of a young man I was speaking to. It was especially disconcerting because I had only just finished counting my own sorrows. I rushed home to find the grapevines of wrath creeping from my Sahara of a mandible. Trembling, I tried on a beret. Loved it. The page is my ashtray Where I tap out the remains Of this tube-shaped life After the fire inside has consumed it.I am a poet, hear me raw.Really, though, it is a good stage of life. It is good to have a past thatmakes you smile and blush at the same time. It is the best sort offoundation. There is so much that has been given to us by the generationwhich first instituted global social engagement- despite the gratuitousnudity and police brutality (the kind against the cops, understand). True,they also gave us things like the Lame Protest Chant, and mantras, andsyphilis, but every good thing has its flaws. I believe the profusion of art is avery good thing. We should all get to express, to wonder, get a feel for ourinside self. We should also get to experience the joy of meditation beforewe receive our first cubicle (Complete with Overflowing In-Tray!). Itherefore welcome the blogging revolutions, both the macro and theinsignificant, and I treasure the fact that there are a lot more homerecording studios than there are actual ones. P.G. Wodehouse projectedthat, when everybody had become an amateur poet, the thing woulddie out, because no poet reads anybody elses work. Wouldnt that besomething? A world in which everybody so clearly knows their own mind,Oscar Wilde and Proust are forgotten? I dont think civilization should havecommon points of culture. Oh, I dont think they shouldnt have them, I justthink its bad when we aim for conscious unity. We should each listen toour individual centres, look to our individual skies, and find honesty from
both within and above. Then we should share like crazy, because thatswhere the true humanity is. Well only grow old When our tales are all told And our lisping lips fall silent. TO THE LORD OF RHYME AND SONG Flow, ink, like water over parchment earth; Shine, words, like sunbeams through my soul. Move, thoughts, like boundless rivers Through my pen, and leave a hole. PLEDGE Well write like crazy, Then sleep like the dead, And well never forget To keep our hands dirty, Our eyes keen and Our quills wet. THE HERMIT SCRIBE His was a nomads heart, The pencil was his staff. He held unruly words As a tender does his herd And sheared their coats. He strove against the winds of life, Seeking fresh green thought and bubbling emotions.
EMPTY BARRELS WILL SPEAK Some say make art when your belly is full- Only fools, I say, will try to silence you.The empty barrels noise is a cry for heavens dew. CONNECTED A sip from dreams river, A dip in its flow, Watching ripples scatter From a stone throw; Counting moon slivers As they disperse, Solemn sweet shivers As fairies rehearse, Dancing in the deep... Milking the willows as they weep... Songs of the night, In bugs living light... Humble delights Of the connected heart. ENTERTAIN ME Mulch me, Over-indulge me, Loam me... Tome me. Milk me, De-silk me, Shear me... Raconteur me.
GROWING IN THE DARK First its just void, Then shapes emerge, And start to speak. And still its mute, Then you hear your shoes: They start to squeak.Then you hear thoughts whizzing through your brain, Then you consider if youre going insane, Then you speculate on life... joy... pain... Youre growing in the dark. ON RHYME Iamb, iamb, iamb, trochee, Rhyme-and-meters not for me; Some like order- good for those- But "Poetry", I say, "is bite-sized prose." TO THE WRITER SISYPHUS We established the tribal griot; We hacked at the log, we tackled the mote This story, this African story, Will it ever be told? Its still running... It never gets old. TALK PARTY Pound of bongo drums And syncopated diction, Mixing politics and fiction. Words swirl like tie-die print Around the buxom figure Of Mother Art.
DRAW ME A DREAM Draw me a dream, Dreamer-boy, Pick a char out of The bomb-blasted ruins And draw me a future; Give me peace And laughter, A bird flying free- Draw me a dream. TIMON OF ATHENS The very earth Saw his death Imminent; The firmament wept, Wind read the obituary- Short, simple, sweet ceremony. EDITORS Cutting, pruning, Sound retuning, They with their blind shears go Tearing memories apart; They would have us think it art.(A teacher inspired this one, relax. I have no problems with good, involvededitors with artistic sensibilities above that of an emu. If anything, weshould celebrate editors more, make them a more natural part of theprocess. Editors, translators, art restorers, heres to you.)
SAID THE SILENT VOICE Said the silent voice to me, Pick up thine pen and write.Said I, Why hidest thou from me? It said, I hide in plain sight: In childrens laugh I tinkle, In the thunder is my roar; Im the matchless beauty In the preying eagles soar- Attend my thoughts, O scribe, It said, and speak for me.
FRIENDSHIP Ah, who could truly like a surprise visit? But a friend fakes it.Ah, friends. That delightful doormat-like tribe whose members treat us tocoffee and babysit our pets and positively secrete Kleenex. Love them.I have a theory. I believe that the institution of friendship is quitenonsensical. For qualification, you want someone you genuinely like, andadmire, and wish well. For usefulness, you want someone who doesntmind doing awful things as much as you do, you with your sensitive soul.Ergo, anybody who is nice enough for you to want to have as a friend isobviously too nice to be saddled with your hand-me-down tribulations. It isimperative, therefore, that we redesign the concept for the good of ourcivilization, and only make friends with the ones on whom we wish theworst kinds of stress and agony. The really nice people we should justwatch football with.Is friendship fundamental to our humanity? Im sure it is, but it is by nomeans unique to us. I have seen goats in real distress at the forcefuldetainment of a fellow member of the local posse. I was recently sent oneof those delightful viral pictures which demonstrated just how otters holdhands in their sleep- both cute and practical, i.e., all a relationship shouldbe. I dont know if that storys true, but I do know that most fungi andbacteria exist in communes where his casa is everybodys casa, and mylunch is public property. That impresses me greatly, because coffee canbe shared with minimum fuss among humans, but not backyard pools.Bacteria share mucus. So much for the love innate in us.The thing which impresses me most about relationships is the ImperialArrangement. Kings, priests and parents are permitted to claim that theylove all their subjects equally, though we accept that it is quite impossibleto do that. The Queen may ostensibly love the highest lord exactly asmuch as the lowest waif, but neither of these gets to cuddle the royalfeet. Sir Waddles has that pleasure. Now the internet has made thismagical arrangement available to the common man. The average userof the average social network has something like two hundredrelationships which are solely accessed through their account, and tellsjokes by broadcast. It is a phenomenal development. All you have to do iswish them a Happy Birthday when your virtual secretary reminds you to,and you have an ally who- as far as relationships go these days- stickspretty close.Does that sound negative? Maybe the future will be. Possibly were on theverge of a cultural change that will make us a hive species, all scurrying
around as individuals, yet inhabiting a great shared consciousness madeup of bizarre snapshots and grammatically-flawed gems of wit. Shouldthat day come I will miss the simple times we had- the times were havingnow- when ones best friend was within arms reach- a thing not to besniffed at, for people who occasionally need a good smack to restoretheir sanity. But I dont worry too much. Think of the broadband such anestranged future must have- think of the virtual habitats! Think of theMMORPG!I hate MMORPG.Were doomed, are we not? Did the ancients see this one coming? Therewas all this talk when Gutenberg started his technological revolution, ofcommunication being cheapened, but I wonder who could haveforeseen this wonderful, horizon-broadening, bubble-bursting interaction?And it sets its limits, the Web, you know. You might think the possibilities areendless, but they are not. Take the typical social network: there is aprogrammed interface, ergo theres things the system has been trained todo, and things it cannot. In the end, the least algorithm-defined parts ofthe internet are blogs, video and picture sharing sites. And we had thosemedia already. So the internet age gave us the next stage oftransportation. Do you see? Every other form of communication, if it wastruly a form of communication, embraced all reaches of socialinteraction. The internet just enhances parts. Therefore, we should viewevery cultural change the internet brings with caution, because it doesnttruly need to change us, the way it works. It just does, because we think itis huger than it is. Text introduced the X for a kiss, because you couldntdeliver it physically, visual art introduced stylized depiction because youonly had so many colours and now mountains are purple and the Sixtieswere sepia-tinted. The internet culture brings even more limitations than itneeds, considering how efficient it could be. Did we really need micro-blogging? Truly? Now it is an essential branch on the tree of civilization,but it was by no means needed. How do we know what news would belike if it didnt happen in a mouthful of characters, and change everytwenty seconds? Would people give details if there was room for them?Do people even bother to find out the details now?But then again, when was the last time we did? Looking back, I guess weshould have seen it coming. For over a century our news has been boilingdown to the bare essentials, stepping back to give us the panoramicview, till now we have to give special commendation to people whobring us the inside story. Why is there any other kind? We have thesehuge technologies, and grand outlooks, and we are becoming narrowerpeople. Were in a mighty ocean of opportunity for expression, and all wepossess is our tiny little shell.Its not that hard to break out of the rut, but you must begin to feelbeyond the edges a bit. When you see something new, ask about it. Not
all animé has to look like that. Not all music has to sound like apocalyptictechno. There are more colours and pixels every year, and richer, morediverse musical tones every month. But the greatest secret is tounderstand that the world gets larger every day. Every song on this weekscharts is more insignificant than the songs last week, because every newsong is that much smaller a fraction of the whole body of humanendeavour since the phonograph was invented. And so on. When youhave grasped this, every day brings something new for you to learn, butyou dont let anything define you conclusively, because you have thingsto look forward to tomorrow. And when you have began to appreciatethings as fleeting, insignificant decimals, people seem to grow bigger andbigger in your estimation till your vision blurs with tears when you see afriend as they are, stretching across time in unshakeable humanity. Andthen an XO for a hug-and-kiss doesnt quite cut it. HELLO YOU When you got back The horizon curled upwards In a smile... It was droopy the whole while You were gone. MISSING YOU My dear I found a way to keep you, But it isnt quite fair to God, Who, Im sure, has 30-hour days Whenever you go abroad. COLD WAR Your silence is a booming voice, A gesticulating judge, A damning indictment... Your aloofness wields a stifling force; Your absence is a tangible thing.
GLASSES PLEASEI wrote you a song for a rainy morning with sunlight peeking through, I wrote you a song for a highway corner with life rushing at you,I wrote you an elegy for what has been, a prayer for whats to come, I wrote you a toast to moving on... I wrote you a song. TO MY FRIEND You define the sky and Ill define your limit, Then Ill say dont grasp the moment while youre in it. Still, our lives stand testament to the power of a dream, That faith, though things may seem uncertain, works. The test- we faced it; the thrill- we chased it, The first to catch the iron of life and taste it, Best it, possess it and leave walking, While the rest were still talking with their eyes shut, Hoping God would bless their folly- only if they knew: He was with me and you, getting the business done. RIDE However we wish, were not kids any more- Now they just call us immature, insecure, They say we dont know what were heading for. Wish I had the power to bless their mediocrity Cause them finally to confess their insecurities And learn to ride like we do, but theyre too scared to. Were scared too, but whos to try if not me and you? We plant the yam, we forge the knife, we blaze the futures trail; We coast where others have come, and tried, and failed. We ride.
SECRET SMILES Have we a secret? When we last met, You smiled at me As though we did. CHRISTMAS MUSHINESS My favourite tales Are tales that end: Myself and - So this is thanks For your indispensability, Much like seamless pants And natural fangs. Bless. TO YOU ON CHRISTMAS DAY Someday we will grow, I suppose,And it will become unthinkable for us To say the things we say now, Do the things we do now, Think the way we think now, Till we express our love with Gifts and store-bought sentiment. Maybe that day is inevitable,But its hard for me to see your smile And even think it possible.
TO A DISTANT FRIEND And I swear I will wait, My friend, by the gate Where we last laid fond eyes On each other, where Goodbye Rang through the cold night. And when you appear through The evening mist, I swear to you, I will be waiting, and we will Smile and hug and find we stillLove each other, as though you never left. NEVER WALK ALONE Take a friend, Where’er you may go To the mall, to lands end, To the valley of the shadow... Take a friend.
MUSIC A sword cutting through the wilderness, A tower of sound to which the weak can run...I have this fantasy, concerning this young assistant in some lab, don’tknow when, who hit upon the genius idea of harnessing the power ofsound for generation of electricity, and spent millions sitting by the PAarray at countless Metallica concerts with a dynamo. It is extremelyprobable, you have to admit. It is only a matter of time before the truth isrevealed in a YouTube video series. That young assistant was on to a greatthing. Only thing is, they should have tapped the vacuum-like peace inthe hearts of the violently gyrating concert-goers.You know what I mean? That shivering sort of stillness that comes over you,if you let it, with really good music? It becomes clearer on those days- weall have them- where you get all the symptoms of an acid trip withouttaking any drugs. I plucked my guitar one such time, and the throbbingstring seemed to swell with each oscillation until it was this fat bow of solidsilver. I get a feeling that thats how we look inside when that switch isflipped inside us by a really good record.I have a lot of experience with the power of music. Whenever I can’tsleep, I strum nonsense on my guitar for some thirty minutes and my eyesrefocus on a bright and beautiful morning. I have never listened to anentire Chopin concerto, because I always conk out about two-thirds ofthe way through. Not because I’m tired- I once slept the five hours prior toa BBC Proms concert to stave off the effect and still slept like a blanket.The thing annoys me. I don’t go into a trance, my eyes do not mist up withsoft and mushy feelings, I do not glimpse the pattern in the fabric ofexistence- I just doze off. Still, it qualifies me to say that music is a wild anddangerous beast: the pleasure of stroking its coarse fur is exponentiallygreater than that of owning, say, a Schnauzer. And walking is never achore.But occasionally the unthinkable happens, and that wolfish fiend growsattached to the bowl with “Buster” written on the side; the music acquiresa formula. What happens then? Everybody starts rapping exactly thesame way, and they give that formula a cool name and launch anInquisition against anyone who dares to try anything different. Youremember the wild enthusiasm of jazz in the beginning? It was a collectivename for… everything that hopped and squirmed into your head and outof every other qualification. What it is now I dare not say. Oh, it’s stillbeautiful. Of course it’s still beautiful. It’s just empty, that’s all. There’s no
transcendence to it, no magic. The coat’s still glossy; the wolf’s just lost itsgrowl. It doesn’t make people move any more.Dark view, I know. But I also know that the wolf never dies. As long asthere’s still a pack somewhere that still pads through the night and stealschickens, the howl will live on. And one day, Buster will hear the echo, andhis hackles will rise, his teeth will show, and the wolf will wake.Amen. SEUL MOMENT A single glance... The magic dance... Ah, sweet romance! Well cup the sands Of this hour- In our hands, Fragile flower- And never ever break this trance. TANGO We step, you twirl, we clasp again... The music swells- ah, sweet refrain! We glide liquid, noiseless, through the night- "The stars are watching; get this right." MELODY Shirtless beast of rhythm, Beardless youth of soul- Ones got iron in him, The other’s dug a hole.
CROSSED CHORDS Soulful chords Cross swords; The dogs of war Bay in harmony... MIND MUSIC Hearing songs within songs, With ghosts of melodies wisping through, And the spirits of summer voices singing, Cutting through the sultry russet eve. SING Sing until your voice Lends itself to the music,Till inspiration comes from the sky no more; Then sing yet. THE GYPSY HOLLOW Hands strum the guitar Hands play the drum Hands work a flute, Breath supplied by airy lips And ghostly heads nod, And ghostly feet dance.
LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS We live for it; It is the death of us. Love goes on.Love is a mad, infernal force; the gates of Hell are guarded by Connubis. Ihave no idea where ancient Rome got the idea for Cupid from, but itdoesn’t make sense. Unless the baby in question is the misshapen thingwith foul, grinning smokers’ teeth in Lucifer’s arms in Mel Gibson’s Passionof the Christ. That could work. Yes, with arrow-shafts of depleted uranium,equipped with pressure-sensitive nano-warheads with two-kiloton blastforce.Love is a lean mean smitin’ machine.My theory on friendship works just as well for love. If you truly love theperson, you really shouldn’t even consider saddling them with all yourbaggage. You should just let them go. Or you can kill them, to eliminatethe threat of some other inconsiderate jerk preying on them. That kind ofthinking appeals to a certain kind of mind. But instead, the world aboundswith people who have lists on what they’d like a soul mate to do: Be ThereFor Me is the favourite. Comfort me when I’m sad; sit with me in the dark…and to think that people complain about the horrible treatment internsget. At least they only need to get the coffee. Lovers have to be thecoffee. You have to be the bright spot in your sweetheart’s day. That is anawful lot of pressure.The problem comes from the way we get our emotional education as aspecies. Breakfast at Tiffanys, as lovely and as deep a story as you maythink it, cannot prepare you for life with someone who leaves blobs oftoothpaste in the sink. It isnt meant to. It is supposed to make you feel sogood inside, you become temporarily immune to the animal feedingnoises and the alien hairs stuck in your beloved Personal Comb.Considering that this is very rarely the case unless its one of those movieswhere one of the protagonists has a serious disease or actually dies at theend through the film, I guess Hollywood has failed horribly with romance.Romance. Theres a problem right there in that word. Romance. It literallymeans story. Which makes storybook romance a tautology. Whichmakes elopers a very suspect breed of fish. And which, most importantly,makes the bulk of relationship advice tantamount to a generous helpingof Plutonium. Which makes Killing Me Softly a most appropriate song.You shouldnt ever have to change your life specifically to accommodatelove. You will have to change, of course- everything changes us; thatswhat growth means- but you should never have to do it without personal
gain. If you ever do, either youve gotten hooked and will do anything toget your buzz, or you have become a pragmatic beast who sits theredrawing up compromise contracts with a spreadsheet. Most of ourrelationships get by without self-immolation or safety words, so why do weencumber our intimate lives with such mad rules? And my understandingof the rules phenomenon extends to cover the No Rules rule. Judging bystatistics, ones best friend will last longer than ones spouse. Which meanswe should take that more seriously, and put more work into that, and takemore quizzes and name-compatibility surveys about that. We do not. Ifour friend starts exceeding the Soulful Look quota and we havent just hada fight or a crisis or a death of a close relative, we express concern fortheir mental stability. So is love getting smothered? It is natural to care somuch, and I suppose in a perverse way, a harried spouse might considerjust how loved they are to be so persecuted, but it is hard to find time toconsider this while battling between sleeping in the office or finding areally strong alibi for the weekend.So we are raised to nurture insanity, not love. Well, not to fear-socialization isnt that difficult to reverse, as our prison systems show (Imean that in a way directly opposite to the one that has your eyebrowsup there). But no, the unscrupulous must needs cash in on this unconsciousyearning to see our soul mate in a straitjacket. Along comes the self-helpsociety’s foray in the dark and dangerous rainforest of Love. Noweveryone is romance-literate. They know how to tell the exact moment atwhich a relationship starts souring, with little more than facial cues andcolour of clothing for reference. You have any idea how much of marriedlife depends on couples overestimating their life span by a few decades?Why should you need to teach someone how to love and maintain anormal relationship? When it comes to people with a true disadvantage insocial interaction, we get professionals, do we not? If its not a geneticanomaly, you are considered a bit of a danger to society. In an idealworld, therefore, the readers of relationship coaching books shouldn’t beallowed to purchase firearms or join the security services. And the writersthereof should be hounded by said security services and have thecontents of the above-mentioned firearms introduced to their internalorgans.A fundamental question occurs to me, concerning these Tell-tale Signs ofa Break-up things you find in the newspaper, with the bald, spotlessly-shaven guy and the well-manicured lady sitting faced away from eachother on a couch (Note: These are models, they tell us. The shock rendersus vegetables.) Are they written by people who have been throughbreakups? If so, how many? Methinks one requires a minimum of fourheart-rending relationship disasters to qualify as an expert. And thereshould be laboratory conditions, to verify that the partner is the textbook
monster, and not ones self. Then one could get ones certificate and startworking on the opus: Love and Loving: What We Get Wrong.Have I ventured advice of my own? I beg your pardon. Give me somecredit. I could have said something catchy and cringe-inducing enoughto cement my place in the industry, like Alls Gold That Listens orsomething like that. I did not. No thanks necessary. But if I were toencapsulate my wisdom, I would look to my cat: This thing was going tobe raised by a single mother anyway- because male cats are really pigs.Unfortunately, she lost both mother and twin within a week. As a result, herattitude to mice and vice versa has rewritten over a million years of food-chain wisdom. Occasionally I wonder if shed land on her feet if droppedfrom a height. Yet this girl insists on pretending like shed be on the streets,handling business, if it wasnt for my over-protectiveness. What is the bigdeal about independence? I wonder how people rationalise the decisionto reshape their relationships to prove that their lives dont revolve aroundtheir partner. I know nothing of romantic relationships, really, but my liferevolves around my family and about six close friends. Thats life.Bottom line, they lie when they say they know the rules. No one knowsyour rules. We use language almost unconsciously, and the number ofprinciples we do not fully understand could drown us. Thats how the realworld works. And dont think so much of love. Love is a dementedchicken, going about, pecking at random grains of corn. It is the partnerthat one gets to choose- and one should choose. With great care. Whatuse is fireworks and string music if it comes with burns and blisters? But withevery word I speak I am hurting the relationship advice market. Go findyour own truth. And keep it to thine lovely self, I beseech thee.
THE PIT Some look for it and find it, Some dont and fall in it- Love, the bottomless pit. LOVE Love is a strong wind; A taunt in its face Is a spit in ones own. LOVE ON TRIAL Solace to all the flowers Spilt by jilted lovers; Peace to the shards and splinters Of myriad jars and shutters Who paid for loves undeserved fame; Your time has come. THE ENIGMA CALLED EMOTION Is love an equation or a place? Or a wraith, a mere concept, To which each man may put a face? Do we get at all to choose what to feel?Or does love merely beckon, and we all come to heel?
THE MOON IS WRAPPED IN SHADOW The moon is wrapped in shadow- The sun has shunned its face. Like my heart its cold and cloudy- Love has left us in its wake. YOUNG LOVE Boy cant talk, girl cant listen; Girl hopes for love, boy for kissing. What more can there be? Theyre clearly juxtaposed-But theres so much we cant see till our eyes are closed. Whispers a little motherly voice, low and kind, Love, my dears, is blind. REDEEMING LOVE ... and there you put a refrigerator, so I couldnt stare at the wall any more...
WARWhen I heard about soldiers playing Dolly Parton’s ‘Nine-To-Five’ on theiriPods in battle, I experienced nil horror. The significance of the casual toneof voice was lost on me; the similarity to the video-game experience wentunnoticed. The only thing I could think was, ‘Dolly Parton. In battle. Well,they’re soldiers. They don’t need machismo.’ Then I thought, ‘Mm. I’dplay Liszt’s ‘Consolations’. Martial Zen.’ The video-game syndrome, it workson me. Two seconds after coming to terms with my own frailty, my feralcore on the battlefield… nothing would ease that shock. Games teachyou to disrespect the sanctity of the lives of others. War teaches you todisrespect your own. Nobody gets death who hasn’t had blood dry ontheir hands before, and gone back to barracks and done a quick mentalcount to find that the soldier they sat next to yesterday isn’t here…But the more I think about it, the clearer it is to me that the course ofhistory is F1 class, not cross-country; there are no off-road shortcuts. Warhas to happen. Biased capitalism has to happen. Persecution has tohappen. Some things just suggest themselves to people. You wake up onemorning and you hear the distant baying of the hounds of War aroundthe treed hare of Sanity, and suddenly your back straightens and youacquire a solemn piercing gaze, and a bad haircut. It just seems to be theway the world works. Maybe it’s linked to some instinctive urge todepopulate. If so, the lemming legend offers a much easier plan.Despite this certain knowledge that the bloodthirst is never fully gone, Ican’t help but feel good about the species’ core when I hear of soldiersflipping the bird at officers and sharing cigarettes, that internationallanguage of oppressed foot soldiers ever since the discovery of tobacco.Or thinking of their lungs as well as their shared humanity and faith andsharing chocolate and singing good old carols at Christmas, and rousingsongs about the resurrection while they bury the dead. It tells me that weare not fools. It tells me that somewhere deep down we know thathowever great a service you do your country in battle, the ones who bringthe peace are the ones the world will remember with pride. We gentlymanoeuvre the medal-laden boys and girls to the back of the groupphoto and try to forget what animals we had to be yesterday. Indeed, themedals don’t stay on for long either. They’re stowed away carefully insome box and polished once a year and stared at with unseeing eyes. Butthe memories of the carol melodies sung to strange words, and the home-made cigarettes with the unfamiliar tobacco- those stay forever.And now, we have revolution. Revolution has muddied the waters quite abit, has it not? The world has never known so many to want to kill for goalsso huge and far-reaching before. The world has seen some uproar before-
take the seventeenth century. That time saw the systems of God-givenrule weaken under huge pressures: plague, political turmoil, famine.People who had borne inhumane treatment rose up, not because lifehad no longer had meaning- mostly because it had never had any- butbecause life itself was threatened on all sides. People were maddened bydesperation to the point that they abandoned the pillars of their beliefand sought revenge on the people they had been raised to worship. Theywent out and murdered landowners and clergy, and then the thing wouldhave subsided, as in previous times, had political elements not herded thefrenzied masses to a bigger agenda: the fall of royalty. Revenge hadbeen had sought against the people they held responsible for the neglectand the plagues and the hunger, but they were educated to understandthat those nobles answered to the monarch- a monarch whom they verypossibly hadnt seen before. That revolution wasnt born in the minds andhearts of the people; it was schemed on paper and realised byinflammatory propaganda.Now we experience something entirely different. When my lights go off, Iblame my president. When ones cousin is arrested, one blames thegovernment. We apportion blame in grand ways now. When a bunch ofpolitical extremists attack a commercial tower, a nation takes offence,two indirectly related states gets invaded on the strength of public anger,and a religion gets ostracised. Those guys probably wanted revenge forthe invasion of Jordan and Lebanon, and the BBC. They killed lawyers,retailers, accountants- almost anything but military strategists andimperialist Zionist propaganda-mongers. I stood for the Arab spring, notthat I would have wanted it to happen before I saw it starting, butbecause I genuinely believe that anyone who makes their peopledisregard their own interests and safety in the thirst for revenge must fall.Humans dont go around wanting to kill. Thats why we have to train oursoldiers. We are pushed to the ledge, and there is no greater evil inhumanity than to pushing someone to a point when they want to takelife- whether their own or anothers. I genuinely believed this was what washappening in North Africa; now Im not so sure. Now, I fear that we arebecoming a mercenary species. Not mercenary in the sense that we fightdispassionately or for personal gain, but we channel our desperation sovery well, one just has to wonder which came first, the goal or themotivation. Because I dont think humans should kill. I pity those who servein firing squads and execution chambers and compassion centres andarmies, because no matter how necessary the death, no one should haveto effect it. Because humans pay for actions in their heads and hearts.When hysteria comes, people do things and when its gone, they areashamed. When people keep their heads and do the same things, andthey have that thought process available to them forever after, thatmesses them up. That makes them sociopaths, We used to get this. Weve
always acknowledged it through our hypocrisy, claiming to be so proud ofour military, yet telling awful tales of the returned conscript. Weve alwaystrained killers to do the dirty work so we wouldnt have to, and now wepush weak little fragile humans to go fight for the future. And we do it witha guitar. We are making sociopaths of little children in Libya and Syria justlike we did with children in Vietnam and Congo. And however much wespeak of standing with them, our cost is infinitesimal compared to theirs.And that is our condemnation. LIKE MEN THEY DIED Here fell a man, And there another. Like men they died, Like men they died. Some lost a son, A friend, a brother. Their women cried, Their women cried. Neer once thought they To beg a reason- Not their part. Their king their hearts required, On them relied. Like men they died, Like men they died. THE WARRIOR’S WIDOW The drooping willow Drinks the tears of the river; The warriors widow Refills the muddy bowl.
WAR... and still men cursed and heroes cried, And fear and faith fought side by side Till stung the taste Of lives laid waste Their hardened hearts inside. CASUALTIES When the smoke clears, When out of the fog The war-hounds slink, Its never houses, landmarks slain- Its people; this is oft forgot.
CIVILIZATION & THE EARTH Earthworm to mole to farmer, Snake to rat to bomber, Theres few changes in the world.Taking this blue melon as a microcosm of the greater grapefruit that is theuniverse, say I, its safe to assume that theres really no intelligent life outthere. Oh shut up, some people say. Some people, you see, are proud ofcivilization. Those people say, well, look what we’ve done. Howeverflawed our work is, it is a work to which every human since the dawn oftime was contributed. True, but it’s not your masterpiece. It is the result ofcollaboration between your instincts, the weather, gravity and the finiteuniverse, and the dangerous words floating around in the air. We did verylittle. It’s like painting around a projected image. Sure, it requirestechnique, it requires dedication. It does not, however, requireintelligence or originality. We just read the script.Lord, if only we’d noticed the scribbled-in corrections.The greatest dilemma is when it is completely logical. Take this Big Datarevolution. The technologys plagiarism of Orwell is clear, but how to stopit? It seems the rational thing to do. Practically speaking, I almost findmyself looking forward to the day Facebook can suggest music I actuallywant to listen to. Of course we want service delivery to be fair andpractical. Nobody should be able to trick the system into favouring them.Obviously, for life to go on as usual, wed prefer if we could. I, for one, canforget about student loans if my internet data is available to the banks. Infact, based on my search history, they might consider it advisable tosmother me in my sleep. Who am I to stand in the way of progressthough? They say these new technologies will improve efficiency. Thing is,I despise efficiency. Efficiency shows amusement by acronyms.Has any generation gotten it right? I wonder. The age of innocence isalways a few decades behind us, but that’s just relative. The age ofinnocence which the prudes of my generation- myself inclusive- refer to isthe sixties, when free and irresponsible love, and electrically distortedmusic first shook hands, when the world was divided into two by ametaphorical metal curtain. The one my mother gets nostalgic about(without having lived in it, of course- that’s what defines an age ofinnocence) had a war in it. Still, I suppose it was better then than now.People even fought cleaner. You had dashing spies go and kill people,not little boys. And they got the troops of concubines right here. Andmusic had a twang in it. But what am I going to do about it? I love theenvironment, but I cant say I feel its pain. I am very dependent on my
computer, and I hold my deodorant quite close. These actions cause itpain, and still I do them, because that’s what life means to me. And tothe generation after mine, life will mean a bit less- or more, some say- andso on, like an all-night party, until someone is finally considerate enough tocut the lights. And secretly we all want to go home, because we stoppedtasting the drinks like two hours ago. We’re living on metaphorical money,eating chemical food, drinking toxic water, shoving for space. Mountainsof debt and oceans of Sprite- and we call it progress. ...A mortals eyes, And a mortals pride In his finite world.And every time a messiah comes along, the winds of change get caughtin the brambles of insanity.Whats wrong with our civilization? Im beginning to think its ourtransference of knowledge. The dogs bedtime instinct often makes moresense to me than our educational system. People keep their certificatesaround longer than they keep their textbooks. Harried teachers helpstudents cheat the system. Parents beat children into submission, thenthey blush with pride to hear their grown-up children say, “I understandmy parents actions now, and Im thankful.” That is not a vote ofconfidence. That means that you just kept the antisocial act under thewhip until somebody better than you could help them grow out of it.Often, kids never find such a person, and Life has to do it for them. Hence,Experience is the best teacher. And despite this hackneyed aphorism, wekeep raising kids the way we do. And theres still more textbooks thanworkshops.That’s why almost everybody has an ending burned into the front of thebrain: fire and brimstone, a tsunami to top all tsunamis, a solar flare, tenthousand avenging angels- we secretly expect an end to all things, butwe all believe ‘all things’ doesn’t necessarily include us. I believe inHeaven, but Ive learned to hope I’m not going there. I mean, I hope myhumanity doesn’t make it over. I want the conscience to stop back-seatdriving and finally take the wheel and get us out of this dark wood. Naïve,you say. Any more naïve than civilization? Sex used to meanreproduction. Now it means nothing. Money used to mean food andsecurity. Now it means nothing. War used to mean self-defence- now itmeans nothing. Okay, none of them really means nothing. Now theystand on their own worth, which is really nothing. We have sex for sex’sake. We crave money for money’s sake. We have war because theywere going to attack you anyway, soon enough. Our religions havedevolved from certain knowledge that there was a lightning-hurling manabove who would be really angry if you didn’t at least pretend to like him,
and now it is something we do for the sense of fulfilment. We didn’t seethe values change because it happened in decimals, so we just keptdrawing and building. If there is life out there, that’s why they’ll be comingover. To see the Leaning Tower of Pizza Boxes. SILENCE Growth! Growth! the people sing. Progress! Ah! their voices ring. Give us a king! Your sins will not be forgiven thee. THE END ... and they lived happily ever after On sunshine and laughter And fruit from the polyester tree. CIRCUS And while they sang One dared to ask, And what do these for wine? They drink blood. THE FUTURE IS NOW Weve struck the bridge, The crossing is now upon us; Its not the futures fight any more.
DIRGE As winds blow Across the sands, Like unruly children Dry grasses scamper Across ancient sea-beds, Through withered forests; Waves of ocean, Now waves of sand, Sweep over the wasted land; Ghostly trees seem To heave and sigh In the storm; In the sadness Of the howling winds It seems now and then A bird cries, A bull calls, An ape screech Rings through the wastes, And the barren white Echoes and re-echoes These dirges to nature, To poor Mother Earth. CIVILIZATION Greed grows from gold, And hate from perfect peace. While the righteous sleepThe wicked sow their poisonous seeds.
IT IS ROUND It is round, It is metal, It makes a distinct sound; It is evil, It can kill- Coin or cannon-round? EARTH, 6000000000 BCE to 2050 CE The earth was born, Then it died; No one cried. And that, sadly, Is all there is to write. DRINK YOUR FILL Judgement day will be a while (Yes it will) But will it come? (Yes it will.) Grass will shrivel in the fields (Yes it will) But will it grow? (Yes it will.) Some will go and some will come, Some will picnic in the sun; Some will die, some will cry, Some will think that they can run.Death will catch them, in good time- Yes it will. Drink your fill, traveller-brother; Drink your fill.
RHYTHMS OF REVOLUTION Freedom always has a beat: The beat of fevered hearts at rallies, The beat of students feet; The beat on oblivious mothers doors, The beat of police sticks; The beat of electronic war drums, The beat of freedom on oppressions massive barrier...The beat of little shards of terror raining down into liberated hands raised in thanks. POLITICS Naught but hot air From empty vessels, Lowly vassals trying To steal a crown, Little bits of cardboard Kingdoms falling down.
RELIGION & FAITHAh, religion. The great controversy. Truly, though, is there anyone whodoesn’t have one? The spectrum extends from being nice to strangers, toseeing the coffin lid as a horizontal door. I have a couple dozen. I believeLiverpool will win next year, I believe two plus two makes four, I believeschool is pointless, I believe Jesus will come… I believe a lot of thingswhich just arise from inside. Everybody, at the very least, believes in sharedhumanity. Some take it farther with shared language and currency.Currency, at the very least.Seriously, consider. Why do we believe in money? At first it did meansomething. It meant gold. Now it just means China hasn’t called in itsdebts yet. Worth a party, but hardly worth the groceries. And yet webelieve. We’d shoot our mother for enough pieces of coloured paper.And can you seriously look at the thousands of people in suits shoutingvalues of metaphorical stock certificates at each other, and dispute thevalidity of an altar dedicated to some rain god somewhere? That god willnever amass the number of followers Microsoft has. Or Superman, for thatmatter.The only valid reason for knocking religion is when it isn’t honest. Oh, Idon’t mean when the worshippers don’t truly love the god they’reworshipping. I mean, who can truly love a god whose sole responsibility isplagues? Still, belief of any kind is essential. You don’t want people sittingaround and debating grammar. What most rational people really hateabout true believers is the way coincidences come to buttress theirdelusion just when the argument was all but done. Just when you’reabout to start mocking them because it didn’t rain after all, here comessome NGO to dig a borehole. And then the simple souls take it as Godworking in mysterious ways. You will never understand why the universe isso wicked, leading the poor innocents on like that. In the meantime,they’ve got all their washing done. It’s disturbing how they always find justenough cosmic coincidence to tide them over for a couple of years. Itwould take a true believer in the non-existence of God to resist the urge tojoin them.The other great question is, where does the extremism come from? Itcomes from a vacuum. That’s what makes it so cool- it is the only thing inthe universe which can do that. Fundamentalists, terrorists, inquisitors, all ofthem, they need to make their own evidence by destroying all others.That’s what makes them so desperate. It really doesn’t disturb a believer,either in God or the lack thereof, when an opposing view is aired. They justshake their heads at the naïveté of it all, or bow them in conscientious
prayer that the poor misguided one too will find the light. If it shakes them,they obviously weren’t very steady to begin with.But does anyone get it right? We keep reducing our concept of God to fitour capacity, forgetting that that voids all claim to the title in the firstplace. That is something that every worshipper must first understand:theres the God who is, then theres the God we worship. Its not a He,because thats a sexual distinction. Its not alive, because that makesabout as much sense as water being alive. The fact that God toleratesour narrow-mindedness is, to me, a thing of wonder- and theresremarkably few of those now. We have forgotten how to wonder; now wethink weve learned how to understand. God help us all.Religion is not a symbiosis, and it’s not insurance. It’s not a warhorse andit’s not a death wish. It is based on faith, and that is a high and beautifulthing that comes from trust; trust as great, or even greater than, the trustwe place in family and friends. You can sit there with your higher power,and just talk. Thats a beautiful thing. Its not a diary hosted in the Cloud, itis a truth within yourself. And until we understand that, that the kingdom ofGod is within us, well get it wrong. FRAGMENT: EVEN SO COME ... and then shall the Lord of the Harvest come and reap these fields of granite... THE COINCIDENCE REGULATORY BOARD Servants of the creator Sit left of dead-centre Monitoring all thats to be: The gaffe initiator, The chance regulator, The Head of All Things Unforeseen. There a chance meteor Hits a freak black hole, Which triggers an impossibility- There! See?
TO GOD You reign over the big picture; I live in the pixelated mess. Im always glad to have someone Who gets it that Im much, much less than. THE FOOL’S PRAYER How, O Lord, he cries, Do I nail this job without Your help clearing this path? These diamonds will cut my feet! ON GOD How does one keep the faith? First find, said the Sage, pockets Wide and deep enough. ENLIGHTENMENT ...when you learn to sit in unqualified humilitytill you see Gods tear race the sparrow to the ground.
DESPAIR At the end of the tether, Wondering whether To kick away the chair...Any good psychoanalyst would feel duty-bound to point out to me justhow many sad poems I have in here. I would, in turn, feel duty-bound toshoot them.Depression is boring. Depression is depressing, actually, and self-perpetuating. You sit there and hear these things in your head, and youroll your eyes at the drama of it all. You would never say such stupid thingsif you were sane. I hate sadness. I hate the horrible cycle of loneliness andself-absorption. I hate everything that seems to make up forty percent ofmy emotional range. Looking at Poe and Baudelaire and Kafka, I wonderif it’s worth it to be considered a genius. Of course it seems like genius tothe world, the thoughts are so weird and unique. Actually, it’s just theproducts of a warped mind. The world reads this stuff and indulges in alittle shiver of delighted horror, but they, poor madmen, had to live withthese giant roaches scrabbling around in their heads. Nobody ever thinksof that.Still, it seems to help when you write it down. I suppose that gives it a sortof definition which limits its power. It’s very embarrassing, though, to comeback after the clouds have passed, and read this… stuff. Sometimes itdoesn’t even seem honest. It’s a weird thing.And the associations dont help, do they? Things just keep finding you. Idont know how I even found Springsteens darker work. They teach us inschool that reflection works by light, then I come home to find myself inshadows. Sometimes you wonder how come your circles are so well-defined, how people who arent like you learn to keep away. Consideringhow long Ive had this streak in me, its probably emblazoned on myforehead, in absolute lack of expression.Considering all this, I don’t know why I even left this chapter in. I supposeit’s worth the laughs. I just hope it doesn’t leave any more shadows in theworld than it came to meet.But I genuinely do not understand suicide. I do not get how the drive tosurvive can just switch off like that. Certainly half of the time I wouldntmind dying, because I mainly stay alive to get some stuff done, but asmuch as I lack that distinct appreciation of life, Im much too human toactually remove myself from the game. I have an enormous fear of deathwhich perfectly balances out my apathy to life.
Also, theres that little problem which keeps me going: what if its all me?What if Im like the wicked Queen of the North, and summer will return thevery second Im departed? What if all the problems in my environment aretied to me? That means Ill be missing one heck of a party when Im gone.No, Ill stay, thank you kindly. SEND ME AN ANGEL I haven’t known hunger since I swallowed my pride But I’d feel much better With the Lord by my side. I LOVE THE MOON I love the moon. People cant understand this; I love the moon. I love it that, unlike All that Ive ever known, It didnt leave, like the windblown Leaves and sand and people That were my home. Now my rock is in the deep blue sky, And Ill never have again to wander why All things are so false and unfaithful. Like the sun, which comes and goes, And the morning sky, soon in dusks throes, Like the wildflowers in the sands, which wither away. No, the moon stays, and sings me asleep. I love the moon.
MAL ANNIVERSAIRE Ceci Nest Pas Un Garçon, I8 by 12 months, Pain on memory, Artist unknown. ABORTED GENIUS I sing a song of pocket change, Of life lived running from the rain; He went to the loo Two hours to début And never resurfaced again. ROUGH WORK Living in the margins of life Like rough work on a test sheet, To serve a purpose, then be crossed out. THE SILENT YEARS... and the more we mean, the less time to say… Until we learn to get words out of the way, We seem doomed to wander this earth forever, Mere shadows of our expressed selves. LIFE How can we think this life worth living for When chances come through the window And misfortune kicks in the door?
SORROW SONG And above birds circled, and afar off cows lowed, and the earth with the passive cruelty of the eternal kept on spinning spinning spinning and you stayed dead. QUE SERA Some must live on the mountain- Il faut que, I suppose; Cant be helped. And some in the valley where The floods splash through- Il faut que, I suppose; Cant be helped. NIGHT And in the night Comes cold, impartial light That shines to seek out your one faultAnd leave a long, dark shadow on the wall. LIFE The friend who frowns loves you; The foe who smiles stabs you- Oh what a life this is!
PERSPECTIVE And oft it seems the light From our greatest good Becomes in others sight A mere candle in a wood. SAME OLD STORY.... until youre just that worn, tattered thing folded into the corner of the lobby, like last years fashion magazine... SORROW What do you do when people die? I? I cry. I find a nice quiet hollow And pour out my sorrow To the air, to the earth, to the sky- Thats what I do when people die.
SATIRE So this guy Walks into a car...Satirists are bastards. Every last one of them.I get to say this because I have the same outlook on life myself, and Iknow just how evil it is of me that I find the frailties of my species amusing.Stuff’s going horribly wrong and there I stand, pointing out the wickedirony of the moment. I seem to watch crises in freeze-frame, zooming in onthe ridiculous bits, like the man up the coconut tree when the bullets areflying, or the portable generator in the hallway of the electricity companystation. Do I help address the problem? No, I do not. I don’t even see theproblem half the time. I just see the absurd effects.Sure, this does make life easier to handle. In fact, my good humour oftenworks in direct proportion to the desperation of the moment. TheApocalypse will very probably have me in stitches. That does not meanI’m fun to have around in an elevator when it’s trapped halfway betweenthe sixteenth and fifteenth floors, with suspicious snapping sounds comingfrom above. Indeed you might lynch me if you ever found yourself withme for company in such a situation. In horror movies, I’m the next to goafter the snobby prom queen character.Still, there’s so much to laugh about isn’t there? The universe lovesabsurdities. It makes them inevitable. Look at the duck-billed platypus, forexample. Or the ostrich. Or the concept of the ceasefire. Or the U.N.resolution. Or the U.N., period.On one side of the world, the incumbent with thirty years in power isbussing the same two hundred supporters from town to town. Why? If hispeople complain, even grumble in their heads, he has them tortured, buthe really worries about what the BBC thinks. On the other side of the worldthere’s a bunch of two hundred long-haired youths who just bussed overfrom some other state. They are retuning their guitars and praying for asaviour, forgetting that the last time they were sure they’d found a saviour,that saviour went and ran for office and became the Man they are nowfighting against. The best part is, each group thinks the other’s point ofview is so alien. How could I not giggle?Or there’s the government agricultural committee holding its sessions withall the windows shut because those crazy rural farm folk are out thereshouting again, and on the other side of that coin there’s the politicianswho believe that if all the normal people who really make the country runwould come up to Parliament- dropping the duties which make thecountry run- and use their knowledge of the situation on the ground,they’d work administrative magic. Then there’s the two armies locked in a
border dispute, failing to notice that it’s so difficult to plot their desired linefor fencing purposes because both sides are busy building illegally over it.Then there’s the U.N resolution again.I wish I could have a radio program where I’d just sit and read U.Nresolutions with slapstick noises in.Some people who don’t get the point go around saying life is absurd. Lifeis not. The absurd is often downright horrifying. Life makes perfect sense ina way that makes you slap your forehead and groan. Life catches youwith your head in the clouds and gently but firmly reintroduces theprinciple of gravity. Life catches us saying stuff like ‘I’m only human’ andreplies, ‘You are so right’, and blinks in surprise when we burst into tears.Still, that’s no excuse for satire. Life is like an elephant. Satire is like ademolition squad. Its the Please Sign Here bit that hurts.P.S.: Any references to actual persons, organizations or events, whetherreal or imagined on your part, are apologised for. Also the flinging of pooat said actual persons, organizations and events. My keyboard isn’thousebroken.P.P.S.: Apologies to all die-hard feminists who are upset by my use of thephrase ‘The Man’. ‘The Person’ doesn’t have quite the same ring. PREYING (ON) SEMANTICS Coincidence and convenience happen to mate And their child is by the elders christened Fate. WIKILEAKS Bones in the closet, Ghosts in the bin- Dead men dont talk But they sure do stink.
THE TRANSPOPULANTIC TRADE Some shake it, some bake it, They all get rich off the man who takes it- Aint life a stitch. The Mexican supplies the Nigerian don, The Afghan cooks the crack the Marine coasts on, The doctor makes the pill, the pusher gets paid- Thats what makes the Transpopulantic Trade. BLESSINGS O DICTATOR Blessings, O Dictator! May your allies multiply. May the debt relief continue! May your critics choke and die! May the just Lord clear your sinuses, So your weekly rants sound better... What? Rants? I did not say rants! (Here our supplicant wets his pants) Your highness knows I meant speeches- Theyre just jealous, the poisonous leeches... Ah, where was I? Good sire, my fountain Of praises threatens to dry, but were the sky A parchment, and my tongue a quill, The essay would stink- I havent the skill. But we know, dont we all, that his Majesty is great. His Majestys beard is long. When his forces congregate, They are at least two hundred strong.His awesomeness is hard to describe, (Without inviting death, He thinks but forbears to enunciate- but too late, The king will rise... the king is rising... the king smirks And sinks regally down again.) An extra ration of gari and pepper for his family. Blessings, O Dictator! the vassal sings. As they haul him from the chamber, the sniggers ring. Ah, the Majesty is witty. His family, the King said. Must have hated the little ditty. Our supplicant, alas, will soon be dead.
GUANTANAMO Oh no, the soldier groaned, A bird just broke the no-fly zone. LO, I PONTIFICATE! Côte dIviore. Big black bold print, front page: Helicopters purchased; Government has advantage. But how? public gasps. Machines counterfeit? How to remunerate? Gbagbo jubilates- 100% hike of tax rate. Merchants irate. Protests by Ouattarate. Government proceeds to depopulate. Opposition forces reciprocate. Stalemate. Some wise guy in the UN reads a speech- His own, we must state- calling on delegates to adjudicate: "Select an invasion date!" Checkmate. Ouattarate, overjoyed, hibernates. Erstwhile bastions of hate aggregate, Now affectionate. Skirmishes abate. Gbagbo now succumbs to natural fate. Populace, hitherto willing to accommodate, Begins to demonstrate. Ouattarate, it states, Deserving of similar fate. UN also inculpates.Losing advocates, Ouattara camp disintegrates, Sheds affiliates. Presently, front pageWith Ouattara portrait: "Five-Day Prez Abdicates!" Gday mate.
YES-MEN Mirror, mirror on the wall, you see more gluttons than them all. THE WARFIGHTER Your helmet, sir; Your epaulettes, your boots- Or they wouldnt know who to shoot. ALL DIE BE DIE... cause when it comes down to it, dear boy, there aint nothing like ladies boxing gloves. MONEY IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL WORD Green and pink and magent, Bronze and gold and argent, Shapes and colours, Sheens and odours, Moneys real sensual stuff. AN ODE TO… Internet porn, O internet porn! Miracle place where C-listers are born! Teens adore you, bachelors gore on you, Hubbies and octogenarians subscribe- Oh my!- Truly youre one of a kind- Oh my!- The king of the internet tribe.
POLITICS AND STATISTICS The first flood took two-thirdsOf the populace; the second took the rest. Its safe to say therefore, my friends, We reduced the casualty rate- yes, My friends, we are indeed blest. BON APPÉTIT You pollute the air, The sun shines rare. Add your spilled oil, Things aquatic broil And are fished ready from the sea; Bon Appétit. THE SURRENDER And their guns- Oh, those guns That flashed as They marched in- Became masts for The flags of truce That saw them out. ON HOLY VENGEANCE A tongue for a lie, A head for an eye; You steal from me, You scum, you die. THE RAT RACE Lemmings, rather, We should call em, Rushing as they do; First one way, in the a.m, Then- whiz!- the other, after noon.
WIND AND SAND Wind and sand: Aint life just grand? One groups paid to dig a hole, The others paid to fill it up. SAMSON’S ASS ... and O, the foes thine jaws have slain!Even better, mule, while Samsons ass was dead, You aint.
HUMOURI’m not entirely sure I agree with the theoretical difference between satireand humour. As I understand it, humour is defined by the proponents ofthis classification as ‘innocent fun’ and ‘not a whiny-baby stinky-poo, likesomething whose name starts with s-a-t-a-r’. Really, I just say those peopleshould realise how weird they look on the kindergarten rocking horse andlearn some spelling already. Still, I sort of get their point. It is true, there issuch a thing as healing humour. Here’s the difference as I see it: satire isthe jokes life plays on us, told by someone who was standing outside thelandfall area. Humour is the jokes safe enough that you can appreciatethem yourself. There is always someone with a truly legitimate reason forfinding satire offensive. Good humour is usually rated ‘E’.Wait, it isnt very often so, is it? For some reason, non-satirical humour isvery often simplified to an extent that it needs to be tailored to specificdemographics. And once that is done, the temptation to pander to thatdemographic by knocking all others is very strong. Truly universal jokeshave always been rare, and now the narrow way is but an imaginary line.Sure, we dont have black-face, and we dont ridicule disability (well, notas much), but who knows what the future will despise us for?Still, I strongly believe that comedy, the innocent sort, is truly the onlyrelevant entertainment, specifically because it is usually less relevant toour lives than anything else. We get to enjoy it in abstract. Perfectfalsehoods go unchallenged by the consciousness, because it reallydoesnt matter in any way, and the art benefits as a result. For this reason Ispend at least sixty percent of my entertainment time watching cartoons;I can laugh knowing that it means less than anything else possibly could.But whence comes the crossover appeal of slapstick violence, even inanimation? Why is it that it doesn’t seem wrong when the universecontrives to place eight planks (or tree branches or iron girders orwhatever else one can experience most intimately and uncomfortably fora few precious moments) at exactly the right intervals to interrupt a fallingindividual’s trajectory eight memorable times? Some say that the bestcomedy is the kind that the audience can relate to. If that’s true, thengood comedy died quite a few years ago. Otherwise it would mean thatwe all have tremendously messed-up lives, or a certain very unfortunatefriend. No, humour has no reason or rhyme. In much the same way,percussion doesn’t actually need a rhythm. Their respective functionsdefine life and music. To do that, they must fit in perfectly with theaccompanying instrument or situation. Some comedy will heal yoursorrow; some comedy will actually make you sad. Somehow though,good comedy is as natural as worship. If you don’t get it in a temple, you’ll
get it in a stadium, or a concert hall. When a baby is born, they smack itto make it cry, and then they have the impudence to say ‘NaturalReflexes Vigorous’. I wish they’d push the favourite uncle out of thewindow sometimes. Laughter is the true natural reflex. That’s why it makesno sense to classify it as kind, or innocent or free of politics. Just as long asit’s funny, as the Hollywood exec once said. PHILOSOPHY 101 Tis the early worm That meets the whetted beak Of the early bird. GOOD NONSENSE The conundrum of the idiom Is that the horse really wouldnt mind The cart coming first sometimes. LEGEND And he won renown For being so familiar As to call the Devil Lucy- To his face. CELIBACY ... cause aint ribs that protect the heart, boy- its bad hair and socks.
COMIC (BOOK) ROMANCE...until sometimes I cant believe that two frames back we were lovers. AS A FRIEND I SHOULD TELL YOU... its not a heart youre missing in your chest, dear boy- its a bullet. REVOLUTIONARY ALTRUISM And if in time you should retract With new-found proof that I was right, You swear your phagus to contract And laissez-faire? Then by my plight The freedom fight would much achieve indeed. OR ELSE WHAT? OR ELSE I’LL SHOOT YOU Its an outright felony That folks in Pre-Zoic jalopies Should get to promenade Unchecked, and serenade My poor, poor ears with their metal song. THE WAY OF ALL FLESH ... And the forbidden fruit Now comes in cans, enriched With vitamins and minerals In brand-new packaging, Available somewhere near you.
MINE EYES APPEAL Mine eyes appeal; Yours reveal clear And lucid criminal intent. SCIENTIFIC NONSENSE Any theory can be proved workableWith men in white with mobile mandibles And press junkets of size respectable Enough to proclaim it so. HEALTH WARNING One whiff that blew His system through And he wasted, In situ. NEVERLAND So where is it all babies are Running off to when they forget? Had they good memories, I suspect Theyd all be vanished quite. GOMORRAH, A.D. ... And it was in that dayThat men began to quote Bible passages With ellipsis, like in product testimonials. GLOBAL WARNING The dollar sign did weigh So heavy on the earth, It lost its gravitational sway And seemed to shrink in girth.
ISCARIOT Youve done well, dear Iscariot Ill-gained riches suit you; Though, riding in that chariot, You beg the world to shoot you. THE BIG CHEESE He jumped from a cliff into the ocean, The sea turned to vapour in her fright- O Gorgonzola. WEAPONS OF MATH DESTRUCTION Alpha, Gamma, x and y, The square root sign and dreaded pi: When all apart, they do no harm-Put them together, youve bought the farm. ODE TO TRAFFIC Cars all stuck: Half-parked, Double-parked, Round the corner Roars Noahs Ark. Cops clear out of tickets- The worlds gone crazy To help me fit. THE ROLLING STONE A roving spirit Breezed in one day- Out went my purse the other way.
HOPE & JOY Stuck in the mud and dreaming of skies; Dancing the waltz to the music of flies.If comedy validates life, hope guarantees it. If there was no hope in atomorrow, anywhere in the world, there truly wouldn’t be a tomorrow. Ihonestly believe that. It’s not the whole fairy thing, it’s true. Some explain itmore rationally, with the perception-altering effects of depression and theproliferation of small arms, but I say everything explains everything else,according to the theory of relativity. Hope is a powerful thing. It is likecocaine (to define the joyous and vigorous approach to activity) and LSD(to define the idealized perception of results of vigorous activity). In short,it is like a good espresso. Of course then the problem arises of how to goto bed. There are times when you need a clear head- where by clearhead I mean an outlook composed of equal parts of the fog ofdepression and the fog of delusional optimism- to pick out the fuzzy,many-legged bits in the bowl of cereal called Life. And when others areengrossed in this gut-wrenching procedure, the last thing they need is achirpy, bright-eyed Huzzah And Up And At ‘Em. At such times, the smallarms are purchased for unselfish reasons.But still, we all harness hope in one way or the other. Bringing it down tothe lowest common denominator, we all saw monsters in the shadows,clear as… night. We knew for certain that they were there, and it wasreally no use shutting our eyes and sliding under the sheets. We knew all ofthis deep in the core of our being, but for some reason it helped to hearthe blind grown-ups say, ‘But that’s only a dressing gown.’ We knew itwasn’t a dressing gown; the very suggestion was ridiculous. Still, we chose,consciously or otherwise, to believe in the experience and securityembodied in the grown-up more than in our own eyes. And somehowthat did make the monstrous skeletons collapse and quench the evilflaming eyes. So I guess in a way hope is a sort of religion. When it getswings and starts wearing a cape we call it faith, but when it’s still ashambling thing we hang up with the baby mobile, hope is all we get tocall it. It is quite useful though. Hope breeds joy, and joy breeds hope, andthe ensuing overpopulation will slowly but surely drive the primitivehandgun into extinction and bob the sun up and out of that same darkhole.And gratitude is a powerful part of that. One learns to push the G-wordaway, as a male, but I have recently woken up to the fact that twominutes out of every morning spent in Pollyanna Mode may be the solereason why I can pass for an optimist. On close inspection, it becomes
clear that all the bad bits in our past werent so catastrophic- specifically,tomorrow came. One can scientifically postulate, therefore, thattomorrow will come again tomorrow. Q.E.D. I’LL MISS IT Somewhere a bullet flies That had my name on it; I missed it. And a death bell tolls, That tolled for me; I stilled it. Somewhere a joint is passed around That somehow passed me by; I snuffed it. Somewhere a funeral pyre burns, That burned for me; I leave it to burn, and fade, and die. Somewhere a plane takes off thatll never reach the sky, But my mother is not among those who cry; I missed it. More bullets yet may fly, More ways for one to die may come yet- For you, if you wish it: Ill miss it.
PARADISE When bombs are thrown They will not blow; Down theyll go And rot, to someday grow As a flower; And life will flow From death. WE’LL OVERCOME Now we accept the wall before us; Weve learned the hard way that It dont crumble when we deny it- Now were going to climb it. SEIZE THE DAY Time, jealous of my lot, Would hasten age and rot To my door. A fig for him; a grape for me. CARPE DIEM My joy is way too violent To rest silent in the grave. Theres bubbles in my blood. HOPE Castles built of cloudy fluff, With spires of beams of golden sun;Dreams can often, with time enough,Give hope and get the business done.
THE BATTLE It would seem, my boys, He said, his gruff voice Mellow, thats us done. Would Mars that wed won! Was one mans lament. No! he cried as he went The troops among; No, my man! Were not quite yet undone. And where we fall, he grinned, Will Jasons seeded warriors spring;Where we rot will grass and freedom ever grow. ON ANGRY SORROW Muddy rivers lie; They show no sky In their murky depths: They deny the very sun. TENACIOUS ME Itll never be too late to change, Not even when Im dead. I can learn to fly; I can be the sky... Thats what the Good Book said.
MYSELFWhen I was a kid I used to use Oprah as a device for introspection.Seriously. It wasn’t conceit or wishful thinking or anything; I simply found iteasier to be honest with the talk show queen, even in my head. I guess itsays a lot about the way my mind works that I didn’t even give myself theallowed commercial break after a really awkward question: there werejust these great throbbing pauses. Felt like Larry King on a bad-suspenderday.Anyway, it means I know a lot of embarrassing things about myself. Notjust know, not like the way we all know we pass gas sometimes, but I knowin writing. It’s unusual, considering where I come from, where life is so in-your-face, so practical, that you’d have gotten blank stares just a decadeago- i.e., before MTV- should you have asked someone what theirfavourite colour is. (Mine is the green of a young banana, or the black ofthe yawning mouth of a cavern of unmentionable horrors; but that’sbeside the point.) I actually know what I truly think about the meaning oflife and my place in it. I know my stance on love and relationship. I knowwhat I’d do with a million dollars, and why. I just say this to make youunderstand that if this chapter was an exercise in self-introspection or asymptom of self-absorption, it would be much grislier. Much, much moreso. There’d be sonnets in, juxtaposed with clamours of Judgementtrumpets. Instead, the few personal bits are (I hope) examples of mepoking fun at myself. I like poking fun at myself. I do it as often as somepoke needles into themselves, and for very similar reasons. The seeminglyboastful bits are really just wishful thinking.The actual reason I left this chapter in is, the stuff in here applies to almostevery one I know. I discovered when I was young that it is pointless tryingto Sherlock Holmes people. I just compare strangers with people I know.Using this theory, I have amassed a fantastic crew of friends, all quitedifferent, but possessing a little bit of something that I am proud to haveinside myself. The best experience any writer can hope for is to createsomething that resonates with something in their own being, and thendiscover that a couple hundred million others also get it. I wonder if youcan relate to the one coming up right now…