天安门 | Tiananmen

Social tranquility | Soon it will be time | to fit you with your wheels | Push you gently | to the summer, waiting for you | subdued sunshine tailed | on vacuous shopping malls | Hidden in the corner | of a plot of rapture | scarlet and carnelian, mushroom and purple | sculpted honey dripping towards the desired | jewel of stasis | riding on the hoods | fleeting light on lotus feet | escape, for a moment, the avid | collectors of order | Appear, illicitly, and we will | put you in a book of vanishing | Besides, effort to | resist | only rushes to rupture | unseemly | fluid | bodies broken | stoven in | to where the clouds | have loosened entirely, lastly, from our names | Look up: hawk | hovers to a hole in the sky | all tension and suspension points | to the dropping | bliss of the dive | Run as you will | as fast as you can | we’ll catch you into your new formation | you will fall to rounds | or just fall in | with your brothers and sisters | who hunt you down | to your opposition | The night | thickens and the moon thins | in an old, old illusion | Twist and buck | cry and mourn | squeal and riot | but when you come to | sense how right | the tracks fit to you | feel how smooth | the spin, spin, spin of your wheels

In lotus shoes | erotically contained | like a mist His gaze | parts and swirls for her | She feels its moisture | in her lungs | upon her nipples tingling | like tiny bells | a fairy clatter | of dispersing pearls | from a torn | rope | necklace | Wrapped | tight | her limbs constrained | to beauty | so dainty, her walk | on the bound feet, stubs | of nature | elegant, cultured hooves | Cover her | with glances | a tightened grace | you are | tautened to admire | but looking with such living | uneasily conceals | a warning, as a closed stove | conceals a fire: if you remove the shoes and bindings, the aesthetic feeling will be destroyed forever

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)
(this poem, September 2014)

Boris Glitter.

He sprinkles his way among the children.

He has that Frankenstein touch: something not dead twists and jerks in him.

He stomps in glam platforms over the carpet of chirruping skulls: crunch, crunch, crunch.

Cheap cheep. Cheap cheep. Cheap cheep.

It’s the dawn chorus of the fools he’s killed. The hills are alive with them. The forests are alive with them. The valleys echo them.

Twitter twitter twitter. Crunch crunch crunch.

It’s the dawn chorus of the fools he’s killed.

D’yer wanna be in my gang? Yeah, we wanna be in your gang!

Airfix spitfires, hanging from a strand of spider’s thread lifted from a decaying nursery rhyme. We’ll fuck them over on the beaches. We’ll fuck them over in the shower. We’ll fuck them over over and over again.

Over again.

Over and out.

Roger and out! In his obverse career Cambodia arc, down, down, going down, children, going down.

Over-plump from curds and whey, bottles of bubbly, bubbly Boris blusters and bluffs — oh, he’s so roguish, we could die!

Well, die then.

Boris Glitter.

In his Last Kingdom, they have old dances, old Establishment dances, the old zombie dances: the Blunder, the Snuffle, the Spin.

Eyes stolen from a pig’s head, pig’s head hanging from a meat hook, meat hook in a slaughterhouse: little blue watery eyes, swimming with flickers of missing conscience, a fat coward running for a limo, leaving a trail of lies.

And proud of it!

D’yer wanna be in my gang, my gang, my gang?

Oh yeah! We wanna!

Cheeky Boris Glitter! He’s so cheeky! Look at him! Look at him sneaking about. Lifting a carpet. With a hush-hush brush, sticking out his foot. Poking with his toe the glittering debris under — the little tattered flags with their plastic staffs — the dust — the sequins — the underlying health conditions — the little mouldy piles of lies — all covered with his glitter: under the carpet it goes.

Haha, hilarious!

Vote for your own graves!

Cheep cheap. So cheap. Cheep cheep: twitter twitter twitter.

hashtagLiars. hashtagHucksters. hashtagFrauds. hashtagGlory. hashtagSuckers. hashtagGreat.

Twitter twitter twitter: tweet tweet tweet.

We do two kinds of murder: murder by indifference, murder by incompetence.

If you want to die because we don’t care: vote for us, be in our gang!

If you want to die because we don’t know what we’re doing: vote for us, be in our gang.

Because we don’t care we don’t know what we’re doing: you can die.

Hahaha!

Hilarious!

We’ll get the job done. We can get you a grave if we can’t get you a ventilator. The grave may be late, though. We’ll have 80,000 by — We’re trying to — no, I said we need 15 million — no, not from there! — what? — no! — what? — we’re straining every … — No, don’t say that! Don’t tell them that! Tell them, We’ll get the job … done

Blah blah blah! he says. He’s outraged! What a smear! On his character! Blah blah blah. Bleugh bleugh bleugh.

And they quote him in The Daily Telegraph: Bleugh bleugh bleugh says roguish lovable brilliant glittering Boris. Bleugh bleugh bleugh.

Such a cheeky chappie! With his government debris. Look at him! Hiding a catastrophe underneath his gibberish. Hiding another catastrophe underneath his jabberish. And then — and this is the kicker — hiding the first catastrophe underneath the second catastrophe, so make a third catastrophe, with a sly little smirk and inane little grin — such a cheeky chappie he is, bumbling, tumbling, fumbling Boris Glitter!

Vomit looking for a mouth to exit: a vomit of gold! Sparkly! With Union Jack bubbles all sticking and popping, we’ll send that virus packing! Our deep remorse. Our glittering condolence. Look how somber we are, shovelling up the dead — say Cheese!

Party!

P-a-a-a-a-a-r-r-t-yyyyyyyyyyy!

Hahaha!

Hilarious!

D’yer wanna be in my gang, my gang, my gang?

Oh yeah! We wanna!

All the little kiddies on J. Saville Row, all the little kiddies on TOTP, they love BG and his Glitter Band.

BG, BJ, they love Boris Glitter and his Glitter Band!

With the double pump drums and the shiny saxophones a’snarlin’, oh yeah! oh yeah! We wanna!

With the double pump drums and their clean-hand clappers, oh yeah! oh yeah!

You’ll never believe it!

Come on, come on! Come on, come on!

All the little kiddies undressed by the tailors of J. Saville Row, off comes their hair, off comes their skin, and their names float away like flimsy shopworn stickers, all for the sake of big gleaming Boris Glitter.

Rock’n’Ro-o-o-ll: Rock’n’Roll / Rock’n’Ro-o-o-ll: Rock’n’Roll.

They’ll soon rock’n’roll in their shaky rollercoaster, a-laughing and a-screaming in their knock-off ventilators, you’ll never believe it!

I mean, come on, come on!

Party!

Conservative P-a-a-a-a-a-r-r-t-yyyyyyyyyyy!

Boris Glitter!

Gigantic, strutting, jerking Boris Glitter! In his Bacofoil suit and his golden armour, with his muppet’s hair and his English spear, a St George with flickering tip of serpent’s quicksilver, shooting his glitter into the eyes of all the children, oh yeah! Oh yeah!

Come on.


from Your Autobiography, 2020

True things are real | but untrue things are real, too | and we can live by them

Paranoia in the office | the little putsch and coup | the wristwatch waiting with its tiny increments | putting the tick to the tock and the possible cancer | Ginkgo leaves in November | Damp in the flat, mould on the walls | the route through to the comic book hero | cut off | a smell of too much roses in my migraine | Thinking we’re right right to the end | wrapped in the bubble of the era’s thoughts | she says Christ, you’re not even human! | how could she be so wrong, make | such hurtful errors? | Using both thumbs, press out his eyes | tell the blind about the cliffs and the sea-green sea | the gulls with their bags of guts | the thief with her bag of jewels | and Judas in a gilded bible | and Einstein eating bagels | I can’t help it if I’m | low sometimes | why can’t you | see things from my side? | Flip off the head | open up the workings | each instant with its matrix | of perfect treachery | choose | this direction | support | that leader | take the wrong path it will still | lead somewhere and | somewhere is better than | nowhere, right? | I never listen to a word she says | she says | In the gallery | a Madonna with a still-born child | a carefully curated | road to the future | It’s time to change | Ordinary in the leavings, the promises

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)
(this poem, November 2016)

What is your past without its fantasies? | The trenchant

question you thought of, but never asked? | From the pen, spring blossoms in strands of air | swirl | A cargo of leaking chemicals | mixing | lilacs and herons on the estuary | Pasternak and Mayakovsky | huddling and letting loose | pottering | conspiring | strange combustions

She’s a million writing nibs, the ink | cocks cities and Gaul | bright, helpless golden | vanes | their lots are much the same | to spin at the weather’s bidding | She

You have lied yourself into ardour, into honour, even into authority | The small fort of the future | too remote, you’re forced | back into allusions and | all the fallen bastions of your past | the furniture scattered around the rooms | of ruined illusions | Your boots and the road both wait

Into a well, they drop all the forks in the paths | you never took | a brittle, beggars’ lightning

Au fait with ignorance, you catalogue fifteen types of border | Choose a footstep on a northern road | Oceans, puddles, waterbeads | True roadbuilders dig the atoms up and | leave them in piles, clear evidence | of tyrannous construction

Holding two thoughts together in the one mind | In this word

or in this word | you | can’t find the exit door, and can’t recall | quite | how you entered

Even the new is old, hadn’t you | realised? | Sift through the wreckage for the prettiest piece of wreckage | the glittering thing | that doesn’t look like wreckage

On a path with so many ghosts for company | With their laughter and bawdy and their fragrant needs | although they are entirely lies | they put the living to shame, and you | half wonder whether, when the path divides and they | seek to take the one into the night | you shouldn’t join them, or at least

Oh, look, there you are! | Just as you were | setting your autograph | to every single snowflake | in the blizzard | smiling | waving to your fans, and your heart feels as if | its feet touches the ground only | once in every seven leagues – so quickly are the | crowds dispersing

The freckled pear topples on its rolling side | So much darkness for you now, you must be a light sleeper | I feel embarrassed to leave you, but | your way is there, and I | take this path

••


from the series hypergrammar (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, November 2012)

Room peeled | left glistening with want | A solicitors’ space for the flowers, dry | air to be dripped into my eyes and mouth, but | much later | for now | we can still feel the majestic | river, ever | attentive to its task of flowing | Bridal | days | Brilliant | betrothal of frost, fine hoar for the glinting shoes of fairytale horses | and you see it, unlacing | lacing | unlacing… | unveiling… | A rich and cultured | resting | place | Then why am I | hunting my class enemy with guns | across black rocks, and glaciers | ice floes, bones | sticking out of my flesh, a martyr’s | parsimony, oh so | la-di-da? | All | fur coat and no knickers, I | find unrest wherever I can, wherever a mirror | shows me in | (and mirrors always | show me in…) | Surveyors pursue deer over our carpet | woven in a bankers’ pattern | Under our feet | miles down | silent crystals gather mass and would | sparkle as brutal chandeliers | if only they could be | broken up | into the light

Seafarers’ shoes | touch earth strangely | Flint cobbles | an arch | of whale bones | each sight a last | sight of land | New soles | for my love | buckles of pure | German silver | hear the sweet, pertinent ring | of their smiths’ | hammers in the northern air | cold | east coast stay | Frost, too, in the maid’s high | voice raised | like a toast | to death and her children | and to other such travellers | in song | Should I | go, I will only | go, my dear | as the sea | goes in waves | from the pebble shore | that is | only a short way, only | ebb to flow | for you | alone | having put all these journeys in me | put in me, too, ever only one | return

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)
(this poem, November 2013)

Edges of snowflakes through a microscope, this will be a geometer’s winter, the ice forms in my head, soft, soft, soft…

How will these words travel? Her hands are soft, too, ethereal, so they pass through my skin, and every point on my skin becomes a small heart, everywhere she touches, my hearts beat harder, I am flushed, I will not keep this journal for days, now, but must sleep in order to recover.

It is not bliss she wants, not for herself, she is merely curious, watches me patiently through her large eyes, dabs my brow when the perspiration slicks it, I want the winter to go on and on, to be trapped here among the floes, I never want to be found…

Barrels and salt, cured meats, cold fruits, picks and hammers, bolts and twine, they have all pitched camp inside an inferno, only they do not realise it, am I the sole survivor of the massive lie, do all others belong to its wreck?

Often the ship creaks and shudders, if this is pain, then I wish it would hurry and end, if it is pleasure, I don’t fear it any longer, waking is the trapped ship, and the power that splits the timbers is the power of dreams.

The truth of life is to care for your things, for these things, only: back then, when I lived among people, they made me care for other things, she brings me the fever that loosens their bonds, sets them floating away, I no longer care for mirrors or guns, my reputation in posterity? But all those years, I did care for such foam, when she puts her small cool mouth to my mouth, I wonder, how could I ever have thought the stock exchange important, a home anything other than a furnished grave?

According to false laws, they rule: through such rule, they abide, more or less. Custom and truths hooked on the rock of passing comets, that is their society, my bones are like maggots, eating me out from the inside, it is not death she wants, but neither does she revile it, she studies me, as if I were a snowflake lying on the plate of a microscope, she is playful in her studious, child’s way, when this game is over, she will find other playmates, I am happy for her, these things are not love, perhaps, but better than love, greater, soon, I will not care for going on, I will not care for the task of breathing…

Sometimes, we break open a crate, and dine on the brittle jewels of frozen strawberries…

 


from the series Silver of the mine of gold (open-ended: 2013–present)
(this poem, November 2014)

The city inside him rarely fell still. It was a mistake, he was sure, to think of himself as separate from the city, a sovereign state, even though, it was true, he could leave the city and go elsewhere if he wished, a village on the moors, a small port town on the south coast, with a snub white lighthouse, in winter. He didn’t contain the city, as a phial contains a particular liquid; and he wasn’t a passive object, like a white screen upon which the city was projected in a series of images. Everything was more porous than that: the city was a field of interactivity, in which the citizens were participants, coming into and out of existence as thoughts fire and fade in the mind, as lights go on and off in a building. Pronouns felt increasingly deceptive to him, the clumsy “I” and the “you”, the “it” and the “me”. His mother was in the advanced stages of dementia, and despite the grief and disorientation he experienced at watching her metamorphosis, he marvelled at the way his mother’s brain had progressively jettisoned parts of what had once been essential elements of her life, including her son, whom she had loved and cherished for decades, and including even herself. It was terribly cruel, to be introduced to her over and over again, the person she’d borne in her womb, and dandled and taught, guided, punished and adored, now he was somebody with a question mark for her, a “Joe?”, or “the television man?”. A conjuror inside her was making items vanish — a goldfish in a bowl, a white rabbit, doves — but never returned them, so her world, in theory, grew smaller and smaller, less and less populated, more and more empty. She was a periodic table, dropping members, first without mercury, then without sulphur or plutonium: failing connections plucked from her titanium, cobalt, zinc… Instead of the full 98 elements, hers was a table of 50 or 40, a dwindling amount. She was far less her “self” than she had been ten years earlier, her husband, two children, pets, her home, all had been mislaid in the mysterious zone of forgotten memories, their status problematic, their survival unknown, perhaps they were only extant in fragments, shards among the shards of broken dreams. Was she any less of a person? Of course not! She had her world, her routines in the assisted facility at the hospital: it was only that, quite evidently, she was not in control of who she had been, and she was not in control of who she was. She was not her self. Other powers held her in their sway, and yet they weren’t malicious or impish, they had no sentience, they were impersonal, systems that ran with no aim and no choice, cells that helplessly mutated, chemicals that were forever combining and re-combining in different formations, atoms that rose and fell in their own tides, swept back and forth, fluid and unresting… In other words, she was a collection of energies, but not in a stable or fixed condition, but like the collections of great patrons and museums, over the ages, first accumulated, painstakingly, treasures sought and added in, built and built up, then broken down, when finances or circumstances forced it, scattered, some artefacts destroyed, others lost, still others drawn into the holdings of new collectors, representatives of nascent empires, newly wealthy republics. And he was like this, and even the city was like this. And the girl in the boat looked so lonely, he felt like weeping: did she have any idea, how sad and how funny it was to mourn an illusion, to cling to a wreck that seemed so young?

 


from Semapolis | City of Signs
(series of poems, unfinished, 2012–present: this poem, November 2014)

There were dragonflies in your ears | The soft fume of your voice was wavering | the evening grew drowsy | no more children | to be had | Warmer than mother | the peach rush | long over | let fall | the orphan summer | Across the bridge | car headlamps were coming on | they went superfluous | and we watched them | all go | from the tall grasses | to chatter of the city and the shore | the conquering | the built careers | The nape of your neck | under your | lifted hair | a single yacht | left on the sea | turned about | I blew, softly and your voice | went out

Honeysun | late in the era | to the fuzzy | pulse of bees | can you hear | your voice | fading? | Draw apart | the velvet curtains | reveal the stage | flattened | mountains of the bed | clocks still | on sentry duty | the front door | open | The prompt | distant | crack of an axe | from the orchard | a brush | of far-off | falling | Candles | floating to a western dawn | stay calm | zoom out | in a certain | lack of pity | First | to touch | heads of small flowers | the perfect | quiet | a dry | sea floor | blood flush | in the paper veins | we stirred | with the sound | of children’s voices | coming back to us

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)
(this poem, November 2015)

Back to the party | No one is interested in what you say, except the boy, and he is later | when you are dead and there are palm trees | If you had money, this place would be different | it would appear to be | more under your control | and though appearances can be deceptive | deception sustained for any amount of time | will do for truth, and besides | appearances can be veracious, too | They say it was her greatest work | her most radical | I say | it is full of tired modernist/postmodernist clichés | most of this was done | back in the day | the 19th/early 20th century day | and the rest | no one gives a fuck, or if they do | they should get out more | go where real things are happening to real people, principally | to me | Back to the party | the brains being peeled one by one | and the drugs kicking in | all the promises you made | about loyalty and beauty | flushed down the pupil | into the unverified place | a darkness | conjuring the various spectres of faith | the tried and tested | routines | operates | And Jim has this great trick with matches | he looks pretty cool in his cowboy shirt and hair | slicked back like a windswept sumo’s | while Ted is hawking his theory | of itinerant concepts founding a groundless reality | but no one is interested

Turn up the music, turn down the thoughts | a beat will get you through | when logic breaks apart | Go to the bar where the pilots go | in Shanghai | where boys and girls | dressed as mermen and mermaids | swim in glass tanks | swim and dance | of course they have plans too! | Or go to where the crowds are going | will you find | what they are finding there? | Though England made me, MDMA saved me | now haul up the golden anchor | and listen to the glassy sound | of the breeze ruffling crystal sails | make landfall on a weekend island | of furballs and murmurs | and paywalls and murders… | On background TV | in a serious programme | a trivial guru is asking | Of course, doesn’t it follow that | if, as life goes global, the intensity and regularity of the state | we may call solitude grows, then | now, Jim, my man, tell me | how did we find our way | into this Killjoys’ Kingdom? | We make the choices, or so | we are told | We are in control, or so | we are told | We are making progress, or so… | We like the rush | the forward momentum | infinitely prolonged | or the illusion thereof | flight without landing | cruise without ports | dreams without sleeping | When you wake | crowned with seashells and pearls and intricate bones | your body smells of decaying kelp | on a humid shore | where Jules, dressed as Pierrot, stares catatonic into a mirror | and the avaricious waves | paw pale sands | Back to the office, a few hours now till Monday | reaping less and less | what more and more | strangers sow | And though one is lonely | in her cap and braid | and one is lonely | in his sequins and someone | else’s  hair | if you are a passenger | go to where the pilots go | and stay there

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)
(this poem, November 2014)

Islands of sleep | Remote, unreachable

Shoreline, much later | Strangers clamber through the dreck of teenage dreams | adults and children, both | neither belong

Some vast, toppled industry | a tangle of ruined cranes | obsolete products | junk that was jewels

Picking through the waste | sieving the shallows | where tiny, mutant fish | flip their silver | and gasp, and | gasp…

We cling to the faultline | It gives out | seasonal blossoms, a ratio of grief, an irresistible desire | we find in ourselves | the electric | hunger of the cherry stones | and in the sticky | mess on the pavement | under suburban | black cherry trees | spectres hold hands | helpless, must issue | moment by moment | a desperate | luscious slime

Islands of sleep | Deserted, we imagine, but no one | walks under those moons | no one calls back to us | when we lay our mouths | against the vent | the breathing quiet | here in the bright, the busy | mainland of wakefulness | no one comes through | our voices don’t reach them

What are the faces | appear in sleep’s mirror?

Old man, you are not needed here…

Hoarding an error | Feeding a mistake | greedy | Ariel equals Caliban | By sleight of hand | producing a monster

Eating fried jewels | The forest’s horizon | a saturated green | Our bodies, stretched to their own, aching azimuth | sport out regrets…

Marching | Marching | Marching | Marching | Marching

Following quicksilver’s | notation | What is left, we are | Residues | clinging inside | cracked barrels

The might of private armies | stranded in their age and gender…

Mourners at my birth, you were right, you were right…

••


from the series hypergrammar (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, November 2014)