1996 and more recently augmented on this page
be human is to imagine, then create, problems.
We cannot solve the problems we have created with the same thinking
that created them. - Albert Einstein
EVERY MORNING IS A MOURNING OF ATROCITY
a face as old as the dark that keeps it young
a tiger-dream pacing another cage before breakfast
is the god - not of love - but drivenness.
When you wake up in the night
it's no joke having second sight.
I remember the 1960s
The post-war bubble of frugal smugness
was burst by baby-boomer adolescents,
who found themselves inside a new bubble
of getting and spending and ego - and Lego® -
a bubble in which Bach
was compared with the Beatles
and found wanting by infantile minds,
Yeats was eclipsed by Plath and the Liverpool Poets,
Bonnard gave way to Auerbach,
lost out to Warhol and Picasso.
Thus the mummy-cloth of history unwinds.
Bravery is everywhere
Compared with us
the very stones are brave.
on a poem by R.L. Stevenson
- what is love ? A stupid, aching heart;
rage, tears, more rage, regret and long despair.
Life - what is life ? Expulsion from the lair
into a world that is a world apart.
FOR SOME IRISH
a very narrow
crazy, corrupt - seemingly
immortal - religions teach that flesh
is weak, feminine and corruptible
corrupting the mind
which is male like muscle
corrupting the soul which is male
and immoral like god.
A MOUND OF REFUSE
the poor in our society
have six times more
than it's sane to desire
And the rich everywhere
are wanting something for nothing.
stupidity of arrogance-
The arrogance of stupidity
The futility of communication
The communication of futility
LIVING PERSON IS JUST A DEAD ONE ON PAROLE
The thorn of existence
Bewilderment's the stem of understanding
that man is the thorn
on the rose of awareness
and awareness is the aphid on the thorn.
I AM NOT THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD
BUT ANY DOG COULD BE
I ever sell something
for more than I paid ? (Well, I did so - thrice.)
There's more than a touch
of evil in trade.
new version of a famous and much-translated Chinese poem by Li-Po
my wine and glass out to the garden,
to drink alone among the flowering shrubs.
Where are my friends ?
I raise my glass, invite the moon to join me:
two reflections on the surface of the wine.
My shadow, too, appears to make a company of three -
then I realise the moon's teetotal,
and my shadow merely shadows what I do,
both of them silent - so I am silent, too.
the moon - whose light they say
turns silk rugs grey - my shadow could not have joined
our little party.
I start to sing...the moon begins to lurch.
I get up and dance...my shadow sways grotesquely.
While I'm still conscious we three are boon-companions...
and just a little later I'm on my own again.
They may be soulless, but my two pals
can be relied upon as mortals can't.
For sure we'll celebrate again, soon,
way out among the stars...
and always taking
leave and re-attaching,
re-inventing love and hate and obligation
we are shadow-beings, abusing reason,
talking of 'soul' and always beyond all consolation.
talk of beauty, but what we mean
is sad adornment of the squalor that we make.
We talk of 'progress': our progressive
enslavement to comfort - no give, all take
whom and what we crush for comfort's sake;
progressive dependency on rapine
and diminishment of the whole world -
we demi-beings of too much light
and chatter, infantile, unillumined, arrogant and fake.
IN THE DEAD ZONE
I hear rocks groan in their sleep.
I am mumbling sadness
unable to love or to weep,
a perforated stone
windowing pain with words.
sound the same on the phone.
from 'A HISTORY OF CANNIBALISM'
protestant king Henry of Navarre
laid siege to catholic Paris
to gain his throne of France
was in 1588)
starving dug up cemetery bones
to grind into false flour
to make fake bread
which of course could never rise
a widow of the lesser
whose children died of hunger
roasted their skinny little bodies
and eked them out
over the following fortnight
and eking, eating, sobbed.
the man who murdered the now catholic
and popular king Henri IV
was scalded and then ripped to pieces
some of which were eaten
by unknowns of a Paris mob.
This was not unjust, but some would think it cruel.
the last siege of Paris
(which was in 1870) there were no reports
of cannibalism. But some of the starving
into the catacombs and crushed
the fleshless bones they found
to make an utterly un-nourishing gruel.
of the eleventh day
of the eleventh month
hypocrisy plays dumb.
the Republic of Ukraine
a man accused of killing a woman
and skinning her corpse
to make a brassière and shorts
told a court that
he did it to calm his nerves.
defendant was not identified in the reports."
found dog skins
and a blanket made from mouse skins
in the 21-year old untaught-shaman's home.
be human is to be a whimpering terrorist,
a hoplite of heartbreak trying to escape the frame,
each day pregnant with the guilt
of having woken up,
each day sewing up our minds
and faces to obscure our shame.
HAPPENED AT ARLES?
knows. It seems
after all that it was only
the lobe or the top of the ear
that was severed -
which sounds like an accident.
Maybe the unpleasant Gauguin
brandished a knife and got carried away
when both were drunk.
When both were drunk, maybe
the unpleasant Gauguin bet
the very difficult
and overwrought Vincent that he wouldn't
cut off his ear. Maybe they intended
to cut each other's hair when drunk,
and the unpleasant Gauguin
entirely by accident, or perhaps
out of spite for a much better painter
and much better person just snipped
the top off the ear of the man racked with guilt
and sorrow at living, the man not so easy
to live with - and driven. And perhaps it was the
unpleasant young Gauguin's idea
to have his tortured friend
make the famous delivery
just out of badness or devilment... This may be calumny.
THE MISERY OF MILK AND HITLER IN THE HEART
eat meat as though
vegetables were rare
- as if we lived in cold palæolithic times
when there weren't even nettles or chickweed
- as if they were feudal lords
- as if meat tasted better than cellulose flavoured with blood
- as if it were not forbidden to photograph abattoirs
- as if cows had no sorrow
-as if we were only victims of history
- as if there were no tomorrow.
LIES ARE THE MOST ACCEPTABLE DRUG ON EARTH
of the heart
is the angel of transformation.
Ease is the angel
TO A SOCIAL WORKER WHO WOULD MAKE
A BETTER COSMETICS SALESPERSON
'meet with me'
have the same relationship with 'meet'
as 'fuck with me' has with 'fuck' ?
Or is meeting me really like
meeting with an accident ?
OUR "DEMOCRACY" AND "FREEDOM OF INFORMATION"
British Government papers
concerning Napoleon's living and dying on
the island of St Helena are still Top Secret
and available to nobody but the Prime Minister.
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ARE UGLY AND THE FORESTS SAD
do not breathe: the Earth breathes us
its throttling genius-animus
through lungs of light and landscape. Thus
because the world is more than human
we try to make it much less than world,
the governors, the cleaners,
bureaucrats, teachers, manufacturers,
scientists, shopkeepers, farmers, doctors,
bedwetters and the unemployed:
all spiritual wrecks for whom no breath
inhales the challenge of prismatic consciousness -
only challenges of infantile guns, jobs, status,
drugs, pain and sex...
through our ungrounded imagination,
we have lost the landscape,
all that we have is loss
engorged with traffic.
We are slaves of desire who want result
without connection, the insane
prisoners of progeny, vacations and champagne.
OTHER MAKINGS OF
in the fulness and pride,
all that fulness of time and taunt
and pain and plenitude
and cruelty and want.
the serried cages
of stuffed soul-parrots and shrill
implantations of ego, wide
emptiness is the only place
to start to change, to live, to hide.
NO MASKING LAUGHTER
just the box I came in -
shabby proof of mere existence.
When I was young I aspired neither
for money nor for status:
foolishly, I had ambition only to be wise.
I carry wisdom I wish only
soon and forever to close my eyes.
come and go like buses Highfalutin' is one I don't hear now. Wholesome is another.
I was young
there was a word uttered
especially and deprecatingly
by men who were the age
I now am: Newfangled.
progress, newfangledness is ongoing -
progressive - almost exponential.
The world of human beings is ineluctably in thrall to the newfangled...
not to what is wholesome.
the American girls were interned in the zoo
in the Bois de Boulogne - isn't that interesting ?
So interesting for the mostly less than interesting
American girls. American girls are now
less interesting than ever, but much more interesting
than Irish ones, and less interesting than the frighteningly
interesting trans-sexuals who now are a zoo
in the very uninteresting Bois de Boulogne -
just as frightening as (but more interesting than) German
soldiers - and much more interesting and much less frightening
than American senators or American food
or British war-crimes and endless, English war.
A LA RECHERCHE DE PAUL VERLAINE
if love is not the reason
if they are not kisses
if they don't die of love
Men have killed
more women than men
The most miserable love
is fought for
The most pitiable kisses are weapons
and the most pathetic men
refuse to live for love without motive.
Wisdom is awareness
of the futility of communication
and the prodigality of the
communication of futility:
Wisdom is bareness.
Books are dead trees
and marketing and choked drains,
and poems are dead cells
from dying brains,
through whose intent, intention,
the vivid randomness of life and nature
has been turned to death
by planned inequity and inequality.
FALSENESS CLOSE TO KIN
'For the coffin & the cradle & the purse
are all against a man.' - Christopher Smart
three half-hearted, vain abortion efforts came
the mutual punishment of birth and the tight
pretence of my Adoption. Then you failed
to force me in the painful mould
of your own image, uncommunicating, cold.
Still, we have been faithful to each other:
rebel son and secret mother.
I'm getting old, and you're ever more stubborn.
You think that I have failed you,
and can't remember when last you ate.
We were hardly in each other's knowing -
now my half-respect for you has turned to emptiness
and the ashes of the fire.
Compassion is crossed fingers behind your back
as your shoulders hunch like a crone's.
Compassion is the corpse buried in your eyes.
Compassion is the burying of stones.
Like most werewolves I find very few
humans that I actually like.
Like most werewolves
I find only large quadrupeds and other
werewolves sexually attractive.
In front of the fire or out in the byre
we hug and caress and make slow,
impenetrative werewolfish love
And voluptuously ease into the even-
better, slower, many-times-releasing
I went out to buy contentment
and came home with bulls' testicles.
I went out to buy transcendence
and came back with a mobile phone.
The vileness of money
is that it turns stupidity of desire
I listen to time coughing and watch
the wolf in the Institute being
flayed to the bone.
NO PITY FOR THE YOUNG
My foreskin is a
cap upon a pen that writes
Most texts are greater than the writer.
BEING AND ITS EMBRYOS
I have come here through the
continuing hug-famine of Ireland with
my portfolio of pleasures
to discover that so many people
are colourless attempt at living,
for we are bred for rapacity,
But when the fashionable
sun excludes you, I shall administer
my bony cuddles through the
breathless, fleshy night
knowing the unsensual, senseless
cruelty of light.
the Conference of
An observer who claimed
That a tree was worth
A thousand poets
Was declared mentally ill
And unfit to work at
BEAUTY AND DESPAIR
The forest's lovely, dark and deep,
But I, unlovely human, have pale and
shallow promises to keep
to well-kept humans.
There is no gain but hurt
as we turn the planet called Earth
to the planet called Dirt,
the planet of pain.
And we are vanity & all in vain.
Every girl and every boy
is born with and robbed of
the secret of joy.
And not a thing will satisfy
Because we all are cut away
from our innate capacity
to be appropriate, attuned.
are pus from that terrible wound,
wound of wanting, dark and deep.
The woods are lovely We explain
and turn experience to pain,
turn pain to planetary experience,
and we are vanity, and all in vain.
BETWEEN THE CANDLE AND THE WALL
I walk among ghosts
for whom cleverness,
the lies of history
are worth a whole world
more than wilderness
FLAMES UPON THE NIGHT
Christians destroyed the Oracles
not because the Sibyls lied
but because the uncouth
wanted The Good News
and couldn't bear the truth.
WORLD IS A
HOSPITAL In memoriam Osho
Connection is the door
to the perfectly gentle sore.
Religion is a luxury and not a leap:
"You need a Master when you are
A PAGE FROM THE HANDBOOK OF HEARTBREAK
"Men have lovely bums," you said.
Yes indeed, lovely bums,
and their hearts aren't far past
the diaper stage -
which is why I gave up
lust and rage.
SINGING THE MYRRH OF TRANSCENDENCE a poem on St Valentine's Day
Let every erection
in the sleepy morning or at night
or in the quiet afternoon
celebrate a resurrection
from the dreaming that is
a panoply of pain
into the dreaming that is
is unnatural selection).
Let armpits be sniffed for their glory
and feet licked for
Let brother nibble the nipple of brother.
Let grey beards tangle in
kisses and nuzzle grey groins
and let the sparkling wine of becoming
pass from one set of lips to another.
And let sweet ejaculations
express the picture now free from the frame, and not flush
through the plumbing
of drab consolations.
'war against drugs'
cannot be won
by people addicted to sugar
and the work-ethic, sex,
and monogamy, money
not to mention
the legion of 'warriors' in high places
who are corrupt
'war against terror'
cannot be won
by terrorist methods
Not by governments
nor by armies
Nor by confusing it
with the 'war against drugs'
It can be won only
the idea of winning anything.
war against war
The jihad against totalitarian
can't even begin
fields are bleak
even in summer when the grass is high for silage.
They are prisoners,
beaten up, interned behind barbed wire,
inside us, our fenced land, our property
- and we cannot shut it out.
Nor brick nor stone nor wool nor wine
nor fire nor electricity can keep it out
of the trampled, overcropped, exhausted
field of consciousness
club and cleft stick,
man and woman
are seasoned by the sourness of centuries
thickening to peat above them and below
spring after ritual spring. Gort
- one of the Irish words for 'field' -
comes from the same root as Latin hortus
and English garth, yard and garden.
The Persian paradise
is a shrine to tidiness,
a place for dolls,
fragile and cruel as its creators,
each one a habitat destroyed,
a wanton blasphemy of wilderness.
And wolves and bears have vanished
as the wilderness has vanished.
just a piece of tidy property
whence beauty, truth and toleration have been banished
into books. And books are dead trees
and marketing and choked drains,
and poems are dead cells dropping
like sleet from wintry brains.
BEING IS REDUCED TO WORDS
AS SPLENDID MEALS ARE
TURNED TO TURDS
We are too arrogant to learn
and what we must re-learn
is beyond speech.
The stupid don't know how stupid
they are, and the wise
try to cope with constant surprise.
is profound shit.
The famous are into it
Deeper than others.
of glass have no transparency.
Beyond the tombstone palaces of sensual delight
the ultimate sensuality
is dying. Can anything else we do
in the self-regarding Punch-&-Judy show
of psychoclastic Normality
be harmless - let alone be good ?
Words cannot be free
nor silence right...
I say to you: The only art
that's true is how you mould your heart.
TWO MORE PARIS POEMS
In the Paris street
famous for at least 800 years
for comforts and deformities of flesh
a pretty, very sweet
young whore approached me: I'll pleasure you
for just 100 francs, she said. You have a tender face.
I touched her gently on the arm
and smilingly declined
her old recensions of the intimate
freak-show by which some choose
and some refuse
to propagate the race.
In the Empire of Things
sellers are clones
of kings without counsel or freedom
and buyers are thrones
of consumption and heartlessness,
MAN TO BOY
is plumbing and pleasure:
Let yourself go down the throat of 'society'
Piss on the unholy family,
progress, and the power-obsessed state
Point your willy at 'God' and let go -
and if, like me, you dribble, don't worry:
the stains and the smell will add to
the things you can do to keep
insane normality (a.k.a. morality) at bay.
MEETINGS WITH SIGNIFICANT DOGS
animals are perfect.
We are frightful aliens.
The earth is just the launching pad
we're clearing for our take-off
happened to the world ?
People kept robbing it.
That's the price of beauty,
said the aliens.
A VOICE FROM THE MIRROR
say my heart was broken
if I believed in hearts.
I recognise the void within me
and I despair.
is just as true as rumour
and healing death the shadow
of free, meaningless forever.
WHAT SILENCE MIGHT
HAVE SAID TO SPEECH
to the sperm die in my scrotum
and to the shedding of dead skin,
and to the thickening of my blood
as I live out my minor malady of living
that none is more suspect
than those who teach,
that to be single, solitary, is far
from being a punishment or prison,
far even from being a limitation,
but an accomplishment - a prestidigitation.
(a headless chicken,
or red herring in a cul-de-sac)
is as over-rated as a frequented beach.
TEN SHORT POEMS
to dogs, unknown
to sharks and butcher-birds -
revenge is the terrible result
of the compulsory
inheritance of words.
is the entertainment of the evil
or The Devil
and every army
of life for me is not its origin
nor end nor meaning
but people's relentless superficiality.
people who waste the most water
are those who most complain
(Taps drip unfixed throughout
vast regions of unceasing drought.)
the paranoid, collective
loneliness of unending aspiration
created a vaunting, world-wanting,
head are five nice Nazis,
four Jewish war-criminals,
three bestial anarchists,
a Jehovah's Witness
and six far-seeing
(and very sexy) Gypsies.
'Good Sex' Tells Us:
then lived in
much as is convenient).
Science looks to me
like destructive superstition.
the breadth of human
(and therefore animal)
experience decreases day by day.
And so we blaze our way.
CULTURE OF ACHIEVEMENT
People succeed and win
so that others fail and lose.
A saint is one who's happy
just to shine your shoes.
The culture of achievement
is the morality of bereavement
and the happily insignificant
are 'just losers' stuck in queues.
MORE SPUTNIK THAN BEATNIK
to think that the 1960s had passed me by
mainly because I have a visceral dislike of pop-music, pubs,
clubs, football, fashion and TV- but listened to blues
and folksongs, Sibelius and Tchaikovsky on my record player;
read Kafka, Dostoyevsky, Steinbeck and Shakespeare
sonnets, and went to Bergman movies.
I taught myself to paint.
now I realise that I was
quite unknowingly a True Child of the Sixties,
drifting in and out of universities,
to and from Denmark,
into the Air Force for six long weeks,
and living alone in rent-free cottages
ignorant of Stevie Wonder and Pink Floyd
(but not Sister Rosetta Tharpe
- the nearest I got to pop-music).
I never had a job, not then or since,
and still am drifting, still in commodious
free accommodation - a dissident sputnik
wobbling through the Great Catastrophe,
a dark moon of the Welfare State
adrift upon the strange side of existence.
NEW YEAR/PARASITE POEM with apologies to Spiro Ilo and Lediana Paja
In the Beginning there was the Planet.
Then Paradise, then God the Parasite
(Never ever Paraclete)
Who bombed the Gaza Strip until the world ended.
There were false rumours of an iguana
Or python or something -
A pomegranate tree and
The sweet deception of knowledge
Inside the fig.
Camouflage of fig leaves, the birth of sin,
And God said Adam, lie down in that hole in the ground.
And Adam lay down
And God poked him with his monstrous, scaly
- What are you doing ? Just a surprise for you Adam, don't worry, keep happy!
Adam laughs, excited.
Adam feels appalling and exciting pain.
Adam takes the surprise in his arms.
Then there were progeny,
Cain, Abel and fratricide
And the bribing of God with burnt
Sheep, bloody, tattered foreskins,
And raped women stoned to death.
God dyed his beard (and pubic hair)
Blue, collected all his bribes
And counted them every night
Before he went drunkenly to bed with baby boys.
Then again there was a snake,
Followed by hyænas, jackals and wolves,
Gorillas, bears, and rats and all the fine animals
That Adam named Vermin.
And Holy Geese in flight without their innards
And pigs in dark, satanic concentration-camps.
a golden bough
And a joker called Devil
And the pomegranates in bloom
And the earwigs in the flowers
And the mass graves forgotten
Till the dawning of the day of doom.
And the fire, the catapult, the arrow
The armour, the bullets, the steel,
The nuclear submarines (not painted yellow)
The interrogations, and
The bloody white cabinets
And the monumental monuments of killers
And occasionally their victims
In city squares -
Trafalgar, Tiananmen, Times,
Red, San Marco, Skanderbeg, Aleksanderplatz,
Concorde beside the bloody river -
Illusion (usually called Intelligence) grieves,
and stands bereft, pretending not to shiver
behind a bunch of plastic leaves.
the poor poets
snatched from the
Creative Writing Groups
by the academic, the
entertainment and the
cultural propaganda industries
until what the literati
call Poetry pops out...
is only solipsistic
pips of pale purple prose,
for there is no poetry in them
and maybe never was...
it was drained
from them or otherwise removed
before they reached their teens
when they were trained
out of truthful sensibility,
and just the phantom of ability,
the ghost of something
worth saying insubstantially remained.
it never stops drowning out
intelligent and worthwhile
language is probably
the worst kind of communication).
INEVITABLE DECLINE OF CEREMONY
private ceremonies have mostly disappeared
(this must be one reason why some people
convert to Islam). Few couples
light candles every time they dine, for
dining as a reinforcing ritual of mutual esteem
is becoming rare,
and few of us are calm or beautiful enough
to get erotic pleasure
from our dinner.
course, in Bad Old Days
there were the dreary, sometimes very fraught,
family meals where tensions rose to fractious
outburst, or kept the diners stiffly silent. And those
where I was not allowed to leave the table
until I'd eaten most of the gristly meat,
rubbery tripe or tubey liver. Fish on Fridays
was such sweet respite!
Eastern and Middle-Eastern meals on cushions
with various dishes to be eaten in any order
or not to be eaten at all are so much more appealing.
with music: smoking a marijuana-pipe
while listening to the 'oud or sitar or elbow-bagpipe
is so much more ceremonial, more intimate
than a concert-hall with rows of numbered seats
for music-muzhiks to sit upright, up-tight upon!
I digress! Not only is there no ceremonial innocence,
but there are no private ceremonies of wisdom, either.
In societies where plastic flowers are placed
where road-accidents occurred - or bombings -
sex becomes the only outlet for sweet ceremony.
sex as loving ceremony is probably as rare
as worship of a tree or spring. (We worship only techno-gizmos now!)
Sex is the last cellar of private ceremony,
and more and more the seekers of catharsis
are deprived of any opportunity of psychogony,
while the religious, with passionate intensity,
dream of kissing angelic arses.
the teeming world of different yesterdays
and the world (more teeming) of indifferent tomorrows
and their insistence
is the chasm of explanation, blame -
the gap between our flesh and earth
or earth and flame -
the violent gap of sheer existence -
the stupid gap between words and feeling -
the inner gap of wanting
(the outer world ransacked to satisfy us) failing
the billions wanting, trampling, wailing -
the great gap of consciousness
in which joy, so rare, so tender (like 'love')
is the feeling of inspiration just being itself
(unlike 'love'), not intruding
but simply being, beholding, attending,
not holding, not seeking, not including
poetry is full of puns -
but words can never conquer guns." "Very apt, and very true -
but what the blazes can I do ?"
Concerning The Transcendental Hotel:
an actual poet who isn't too fucked-up and full of self pity to live out
This is rare. This gives me hope.
Like Rilke, you remind me of what poetry is capable of -
insight that can't be reached by any other means.
Now I'm done kissing your ass ! »