Archives for posts with tag: superstyler

Mr Farrago spent the day cleaning his collection of lies.

The collection wasn’t particularly distinguished — in fact, one cruel critic had gone so far as to suggest it was “hackneyed in taste, too obvious in the overall selection and, in the promotion of supposed masterpieces, simply lacking in credibility” — but it was Mr Farrago’s collection, and he rather doted on it.

(And in this tendency to favour a private, long-built, much-beloved collection of artefacts, Mr Farrago was perhaps not unique.)

He had been folded through illustrations from various planes to produce a donkey’s bray and a baboon’s arse. Small national flags, on cheap-looking white plastic sticks, stuck from his pockets. His garments were a veritable catalogue of Bros., Street and & Sons: tweeds, silks, polka dots, brogues.

Haw haw.

Haw haw, he went.

His limousine, with its imposing façade and Mock Tudor timbers, sat in the calm cool darkness of his garage.

His chauffeur, Peter Fluff, had the day off.

His wife — Mrs Farrago — was away in town, visiting relatives.

Her relatives.

They did various dances. They did the Poltroon. They did the Mosaic, the Fibber’s Mile, the Recession.

How the pipers piped, and the fiddlers perspired.

Mr Farrago was delighted.

Haw haw, he went.

Haw haw.

Who could have foreseen his rise? Transfixed by the beams, floodlit from above by droning airships, with his peroration in full flow — “Bloor bloor bloor bloor, faffle puffle, bloor, bloor, bloor… Bloor…” — surely, the more sane among the contestants must have been utterly bemused by Farrago’s promotion to host of the entire show.

Each man is an island, he assured his yeomen.

At night, he put on his wireless. He looked forward to his favourite programme: Live from the Bedlam — the world-famous Bedlam Theatre, of course, in Mayfair. They always had a good line-up: The Duke’s Minstrels, Vapid and Bunnie, The Burlingdon Quartet, The Six Stout Sons, all excellent and reliable artistes, not to mention the fun and fireworks provided by the ebullient compere, Bobby Bluster — the “Blonde Opportunist”.

Haw haw!

Haw haw haw haw haw haw haw!

Half a sovereign, and a penny for your jam.

What was on the telly?

Punch My Migrant.

Turn over.

Counterfeit Kingdom.

Turn over.

Some dreary avant-garde Scandinavian epic, The Passengers of the Titanic Applaud the Iceberg, utterly pretentious, who in the world, completely absurd, why would anyone applaud an iceberg, really, how do they get the funding, unacceptable, write to the Director General personally, we’ll see about this!

Turn over.

Independent Execution.

Turn over.

Name That Treachery.

Turn over, turn over, turn over.

Turn off.

Ah, the sweet rapture of nightingales in the haughty bower of the English countryside.

Words like “inalienable” — “inviolable”, for example.

Mud and brollies! Bulldog parrot. High jinks, low blow jobs, oooh er! Trilbies, fox-hunts, whist.

The village fete, designed around the theme of steam power and indestructible national ingenuity. Bunting.

One of us, and none of them.

All for me, and the last one out is entirely alone.

Sir Shut-the-Door, and Lady Rally.

Perks and nods. Knowing. Winks and bluffs.

Dave Camaraderie down the bar. Old shag. A light foam, and pewter dreams. A Hard Place, by Miss Doris Innuendo — turn a few pages before…

My work is done, thought Mr Farrago.

My life of toil and sacrifice.

My efforts on behalf of…

My eventual triumph, turn a few pages before…

Let others do the work now. Let others take the strain. I’ve done my bit.

Mon Dieu et Mon Droit.

Persona non grata.

Liqueur. Almanac. Confidante. Irish setter.

Garbage à la mode.

Monsoon. Dervish. Berserk. Chapati.

Grit. Scar. Pluck. Spunk.

Half a pint of Let’s Get Fucked, please, Landlord.

Haw haw, he went.

Haw haw!

Pompous, flatulent, fraudulent puffer of poisoned bubbles, we will fight them.

And fight them.

And fight them.

They’re having a whip-round.

The locals down The Proud Beggar.

How’s your father and who’s your tailor?

Eden of this silver. The birth of knowledge from the womb of error. Empires and umpires, tails and whites. Come, bite — mmmmmmmmmm!:




from the series superstyler (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, July 2016)



Mr Shimmer smiled his “very sincere shark” smile.

In lamé and velvet. His soul felt too tight, like a badly fitting suit, like a chafing cliché. He couldn’t stop the fat. Moral, of course. Corset and jowls.

He was at a signing session in a fashionable bookshop in the middle of town, but no one wanted his autograph. Then he was in the Caribbean, some island, Marco’s yacht. Memories like jewels. A hole in things, where the youth went.

Mr Shimmer, Mr Shimmer, with the shim-sham-shom. Schmoove Mr Shimmer. Svelte and slender, with glitter and clatter of hard-soled shoes.

Entertainment, these days! God!

Is that what they call it?

Soul too tight. Collar garotting, the hitched crotch of trousers serrating through balls, belt squeezing into his guts, cutting. The feeling that if he moved too sharply, buttons would burst, material rip: goodness fall out.

They were no help. Antoine and Maisie.

It was difficult getting good quality sycophants these days. What had happened to the world? Back in the old days, it was easy getting sycophants. Mr Shimmer himself had been a sycophant, that’s how he’d started out. Mrs Pooh-Pooh, Guardiola, the Dom Twins, all the greats, it was the same, they’d all started out as sycophants before they were famous.

There was no shame in it. The cartel in banality insisted on it, you had no choice, sycophancy was an art form then. Guardiola, Mrs Pooh-Pooh. All the greats. Boy, could they turn a compliment! Flatter, but gracefully. Butter you up so smoothly, place a tribute so casually, but so elegantly, like a diamond pin perfectly sited for the tie, just the right sapphires for the medallion. It would set you off. It wasn’t even a lie. Guardiola, the Dom Twins, they understood servitude, they knew greatness. They recognised the genius of fame, how demanding that genius must be. The Palace of Celebrity was a rickety, glamorous edifice, trembling on foundations of tilted mirrors, floating on a mirage of gossip, in a pool somewhere in the centre, a pure white lotus of skill, and at the heart of the lotus, a dirty little bug of will, while in the gut of the bug, a tiny parasitical worm of ambition. Jack and Jill Dom, Guardiola, they knew.

Antoine? No. Maisie? No. They were hollow people, without awe. Youngsters. They hadn’t suffered like Mr Shimmer. They hadn’t fought their way up, licking and licking. Spittle in the face? Hot spittle from a tortured dolly? Fine! Get on with it. Look up. Smile. Look ahead, to the time when you were doing the spitting, and they the licking. Maisie, Antoine? No. Hollow. Shallow. Too easy. Death was too far away from them. Poverty, just something in a magazine.

But the greats? They understood. They knew what it meant to step into the Palace. They felt awe, serving the stars. How brutal it was, galaxies of flashbulbs popping off all around, taxidermy in light. They knew the bargains, they knew the poison swilled and swilled. Sustained contortion, the injuries, like Snake Johanson, like Billie the Banana Girl, Flying Pete. They knew the gravity pulling you down, you swan, you boy, you girl, how you were out there, exposed to the elements, Hurricane Fickle and Typhoon Whim. They knew, the cruelty of being someone who was made up of others, careless others who liked to peek, liked a snide remark, liked to dream, and then move on, or the damaged, the psychotic others who wouldn’t stop loving and wouldn’t go away, the terrible ones you sometimes found in the Deer In The Headlights Motel, when cavorting with members of the ZigZag Club, hunting the thrills, the thrills, those exquisite filthy thrills, the ones that only genuine pain inflicted or received could give you, ah…

The industry, the system, the whole country. Sometimes it felt as if the journalist was the star. The star! When the world was right, when Mr Shimmer was young, when the nation was young, when the universe dripped with milk and semen and the drugs jumped around the room like baby rabbits, teeming all over the floor and the bed, and the pools had a lucid turquoise hue to their waters, and the cars were big, heavy, redolent of eaten space and conquered plains, sporting the fins of jet planes and rocket ships, journalists knew their place, which was in the common dirt, and they wore their lackey livery before everybody, no platinum blonde or Parisian suits or Mexican stints or ropes of glistening pearls for them, but the sweat and the grovel and the slide, begging for entry to the wonderful Palace, slinking round the gates, clunky cameras like angular yokes hung round their greasy necks, Never let them get close Jill Dom would say, Keep them small and keep them guessing, give them nothing, and they will take nothing away. Aura is precious, Jackie my love: without our aura, what are we?, and the new concrete was so white in the new villas, white as fine cocaine, white as luminous clouds of bright cocaine rushing up into the sensitive spot in the skull where heaven might be found if you only flew faster, faster, faster…

Snake Johanson, Flying Pete, Banana Girl Billie, they’d understood, even then, before their careers turned into shaky, cheap, badly shot scenes in gas stations on the road to Oblivion, Oregon, before the junk and the infections, before the traditional squalor, the classical abandonment by friends: they’d understood, the Palace is no place for weaklings.

Maisie, Antoine? No. Too young. They think their life has only one direction: UP. No respect, not really: no idea. No sense of the death of kings, of beautiful queens who ruled a generation. No idea of the nerves, the precariousness of brilliance, the pressure! No sense how Time, that bastard son of Torture and Misery, slunk around, always haunting the pillars and the pillows, making the Palace a jittery, flickering place. And this country, now? They don’t want you old, or only to torment, or to congratulate themselves they’re better off than you, despising you for your arthritis, flaccid tits and penis, misplacing Idaho, the catheter in the geranium.

Entertainment, these days! My God! Is that what they call it?

Entertainment these days!

Oh, God!


from the series superstyler (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, October 2014)

Those old truths again? You harp on so. Like those old poems, before we invented language. This is not the place to store anything. No one is coming back here. Haven’t you read Heraclitus?

So, on a floating wreck, an old couple fret and carp | from the remaining spars hang the bodies of dead angels.

In a beauty parlour, a mathematical genius idly turns the pages of a fashion magazine. She can do things in her head we do not know exist. There is very little elegance in prose these days, there’s no demand. Young people still fall in love, though, or think they do.

So, in an Arctic base, the last survivors of a zombie apocalypse fuck and bicker, emote or introvert. It is the very small things she remembers, and by remembering, mourns. Cal’s fresh young skin, the brilliance of his eyes as he watches a ladybird trickle up his forearm: all the time in the meadows.

These old tricks again? Did you think it was some cosmic law held the stars in place, inertia, mass and gravity? Or your lust? Your make of deity? Not at all: it is money. Money will keep these stars shining. Money will facilitate the course of your education, money streamline the structure of your divorce, money dictate the grain of your thoughts, the degrees of their roughness or altitude, if they have Nietzsche.

So, the self-help guru, holed up in a neon bunker, like a miniature Las Vegas. The crimewave makes them feel nostalgic, as if analogous to student riots in the 60s or their first hesitant teenage sexual experience.

You are born in poverty, and you will die in poverty, living in poverty through the years between. Your poverty is important to us: we understand your efforts in a scheme where it is your place to stay poor. We intend to manage your poverty as best we can. We value your poverty. An advisor will answer your call as soon as one becomes available. In the meantime — and it may be a long time — have you considered alternative ways to approach your poverty? Given that in this world you will never be anything other than poor, wouldn’t it be helpful if we could all, all of us together, re-think poverty? Is poverty actually a bad place to live? Is it really a trap? Poverty is your address, and, yes, by the very nature of your situation, you won’t be travelling far from here — but is it really so much better by the private pools, the outdoor jacuzzis in the shadows of palms? The rich also suffer. Suffer differently, no doubt, but suffer. Is suffering so bad? An early, avoidable death, so bad? A long, difficult demise, so bad?

So, in a student bar, two post-docs duel martinis and mimic nightingales.

I was listening to the sound of revolution, then the commercials came on | I was no longer in Ratcliffe Highway.

Those old lies again? Do you not understand, our end is distraction, now? We do not care for your society. Even if your illusion was just, even if your solution plausible, do you think we have the time to sacrifice our trivial oil-tanker for your solemn hazelnut? We do not! The outcome of revolution is falling off the edge of a page, and sleep will solve most problems | starting with mine. Life is not staying round to care: life is the next plane. Death is caring. Death is staying put and digging in and hanging on. Effervescence is a morality. So… effervesce.

Take one part of sincerity, dilute with two parts of irony, add two parts of time, add three nights of loneliness in an empty motel, the dull sound of Swedish shotguns, not heard for months, suicides in sleek forest lodges, the tramp of detectives through saint-kissed snow, find your way to the new truths | thus.

So, in a podcast on the future, always be wary of anything that smacks of old men discussing old times, their rank nostalgia, as if it could be better, round the fireplace in 1939, for example.

I was listening to the music of compliance, then the commercials came on | I was young and free, my guns fully loaded.

When you have finished building the mountains, we will not notice them: cities are the new black | and, besides, I have Nietzsche.


from the series superstyler (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, October 2013)

Dinosaurs of icing sugar, pink and blue, and gelatin, and caramel, in whorls and whirls, candy-striped, plod around the parking lot

The classroom is supershattered | as if a discreet explosion has belled and bloomed | and, in silence, rearranged all the furniture and fittings | and especially the books | into shreds and angles | illicit | bends and tangles | mangling the struts and shards into new formations | glistening among hazy morning sunshine | the concrete floor | littered with the confetti | from a physical wedding | nothing of spirit | left in | but the ghosts’ | wandering

A little boy in the corner | from his eyes | streams of tiny skulls, instead of tears, are falling | they make a small pocketing sound | as they land on the floor | and bounce and spill | rattle and roll | collect an ivory pool | spreading slowly out around his feet | his name will be Ivan | and then it will be Saul | then Terry | then August | When the soldiers come again | their boots will crush these dainty | skulls like sweets | and inside the soldiers | the skulls, each one, will open their mouths and begin to | croon tales of the “old days” | when the soldiers were young | and their mothers | taught them right and wrong

Through the classroom’s window | a ferris wheel | not supershattered | but extant | among the supershattered landscape | even the air is supershattered | Don’t go there | Aren’t you curious?

Obsolete cartoon professors | with huge balloon foreheads | and white beards | in lab coats | carry clipboards | as they drift around | checking the debris | If they could speak | they would speak in fake | German or Russian accents | or maybe be Americans | sound real dorky | but basically | they would be fake Germans or Russians | if they could speak | because this is the Old World | corrupt and stained | fungoid with empire | rotten | toenails in a mouth | ankles where the ears should be | before the march of freedom | before the arrival of CG

No one in the sports hall | no one in the swimming pool | No one in the forest of my empty heart | after dark | but the remains of wolves | phosphorescent and snagged on instinct | heading for the town | to leave tracks with foxes, birds and horses | in the sports hall | the changing rooms | snow on the floor | the showers | is this Heaven?

Big Toy General | in Soviet-style | peaked cap | drifts over the town | watches sweetshop dinosaurs | munching on building tops | and gangs of feral teddy bears | roam the supershattered streets | Wan sunlight | through the winter mists | picks out Big Toy General’s gigantic | shape | his field-grey | uniform | stripes of crimson | down the legs | opera of gilt in candelabra | epaulettes | medals depicting | hearts and stars | violet and purple | yellow and Arctic | blue | Big Toy General | come loose | from his moorings | drifts gently west | and the shy spirits | of all the raped boys and girls | slip out from the supershattered | cafés, offices and houses | and cry “Come back, Big Toy General, we need you | to protect us, please | save us” | He floats | horizontally on | and all we know for certain | is that soon | there will be | cool moonlight falling | on his slickly | polished boots

The Moral of the Story | is hunted through abandoned towns | by skeletons in furs | with sniper-rifle eyes | very old grins | from Empire Fables | of folly and reaping

Wound-up | the President | marches as he must | crunching traffic | in the hallways of his cranium | advisors march smartly with whipcrack steps on cold stone floors | bringing figures on gains and losses | propaganda and the supply | situation | supershattered | clockwork | sounds like early | Detroit techno | and when the President | sleeps | it is like a whispering | clubland

The President | has burnt out paths | to follow | scorched earths | handed down to him | He will be strong | and lead the tumultuous | ghost of his nation | back into its history | of smoke and corpses and ash | Glittering | snakes where | he believes his | thoughts are moving | glide and wind | down the slim | sticks of lollipops | He has never wanted to | murder anyone personally

The hospitals | were ready | now they are | supershattered

The temples | were sanctuaries | now they are | supershattered

The weapons | were primed | now they are | supershattered

Dead children | eat the jelly | snakes | When they are grown up | they will never | let anyone hurt them


from the series superstyler (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, September 2014)

Parts limping around | looking for a whole | Wholes wandering off into the desert | dazed | disorientated | leaving glittering trails of parts

The sad eyes of machines looking at you | their guts dripping out in wheels and cogs

The poor quarters

Infinite mechanisms | of opulent complexity and tremulous delicacy | their only flaw | that they are not completed by a glance and | nothing and no one is in the slightest bit interested in them

Lost at the fragile, attenuated end of one of the limbs of just such a mechanism | a planet drifts and | on the surface of that planet | a shy building has emerged from the | undergrowth of an inane megalopolis | and trembles in the early morning sunlight

Inside the building there is a room | full of the trivial wrack of ephemeral things | the by-passers’ paradise of glimpses | ashtrays | stereo | milk carton | books of 19th century French poetry | translated | into Japanese

The forgotten, the abandoned, the expendable | who skip school and | run drugs and | join bad bands | and | generally sift the landfill rubbish of a pointless society back and forth | forth and back | and back…

They have their part to play in a losers’ economy | Crowd parts | Fourth assassins

Translucent robots made of flowers and the heart-breaking moments of symphonies or films where the heroes discover | the takings didn’t cover the expenses | generate further strings of DNA and the miraculous slow-motion photography of bumble bees landing on the pollen-smeared stamens of a lily | wrestling with them like mountaineers | with heavy velvet knapsacks | on a beautiful mountainside | trundle off into the void | and even as the darkness enfolds them | believe their memoirs will be published and the truth of their love affair in 1984 | will receive the correct quotient of attention | and they will be vindicated | and that one, unequalled kiss | will reach the world in its proper state | a kind of apex in nature…

Haiku with damaged wings | insufficient syllables | creep along

Ponderous sonnets snap them up and crush them in their mechanical gullets

Novels with fake endings | Readers with no love | Vain, shallow people who | in a sharp and bitter twist | turn out to be me

The fzzsst! and buzzsst! of the most beautiful of the robots | her mind a trail of subtle planets | of grief and love and | moments of | impossibly idiosyncratic observation | She drips kisses and talks about the future as if | we are all going there together | or as if | some of us | at least | might somehow reach it

My oily cyborg shell | clunks along | the airless surface of a minor moon | My job is to ignore the cries of the helpless as they die | A tedious occupation, but | the hours are good and it | pays well

As the grinding machinery is a sonata | for piano | we drown out our own noise | by clicking on the next page and | preparing what we intend to say | about the scale of the silence | we will leave behind us, and imagine | the kind of silence | that is really peace


from the series superstyler (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, September 2012)

New, for you, from the superstyle range ||

Sometimes, you become aware of it. In moments of weariness or rest, when travelling, perhaps, in unfamiliar surroundings, in a state of inanition. You have been you for so long, lived out the shape of the life you possess so consistently, and have fitted that shape so perfectly, it comes to you with something of a jolt to detect, inside you, the shadow of another living presence.

The motel room is bland, an identikit structure. Lamp, dresser, bed. In the bathroom, the mirror, light cord, complimentary soap, toothbrush holder. Sheets and blankets, with their antiseptic odour, washed clean of previous bodies. Pastel, restful colours, taupe, duck-egg blue, cream.

The neutrality of the room, its impersonality, possesses the discreet artificiality of a stage set. Night after night, this stage has seen the appearance of different actors. Day after day, the old actors leave, new actors appear. The room itself remains pretty much the same, the scenery only very gently deteriorating over time – a chip here, a small stain there, the onset of whisper, wheeze and bleed of a faulty washer, a gradual patina of pale green scale on the enamel. For each new actor, though, the room is simply as it is, simultaneously both new and old, familiar and unfamiliar – a motel room, in a cabin, part of a chain. Form follows function. Vacancy follows occupation.

Why, on this day rather than another, you fall slightly out of the normal shape of your life, you don’t know. Perhaps it is the character of the motel room itself, which fills you with an unusual feeling of melancholy, the slanted sorrow of all creatures who are aware they are to die and to be replaced, superseded, forgotten. You are on a production line, or perhaps, rather, on a series of production lines. In the motel room, certain parts are added, you are modified in a particular way, and then you move on, to the next stage, while right behind you, another human unit is checking in, preparing to take your place. The motel demonstrates the sequentiality inherent to life, the sense of items marching in series. Perhaps it is this, that has a deflationary effect on your sense of your own significance, leaving you exasperated, querulous, unsettled? Yes, perhaps – but there is more to it than that…

Who is that, living inside you? You test the inner boundaries of your self. There is the face, dimly reflected in the tv set, the features that belong to you. These are your hands. Your eyes move across the text, look at the bed, the picture of deer on the wall. Involved in this, there are names, pin numbers, relationships, addresses, gender, nationality, and other, more amorphous things – hopes, ambitions, a trail of memories reaching back across the days, receding into the darkness like a path of delicate phosphorus stretching away across moonlit seawaves. This is you, this is your self. Perhaps, as you will ruefully concede, it is not quite the structure of your athletic youth, the physically confident creature, who once possessed the psychic architecture of a sleek, singular building, but is rather more a collection of rudimentary shacks, like a cardboard city under a flyover, prone to decay and clearance; nevertheless, it is all still definitely you, all you have gathered over time, and collected under the umbrella of your name.

Yes, but what is that other presence inside you? It isn’t human, or not in the sense that the rest of you is human. It fails to emit the intimacy of your self. It isn’t part of that intractably wrought biography, isn’t stained with the unique dye of your personality. You couldn’t say that you ‘possess’ it. And yet, at the same time, it has found, in you, a specific and solitary method of existence.

You’re creeped out. For these few moments when your skin doesn’t quite feel as if it is your own skin anymore, you have the hazy notion of yourself as a dreamy host, which has gone through life innocent of the fact that, all the time, dwelling within you, travelling along with you, there is an immense, torpid parasite. It is part of your self, but your self is not part of it. Indeed, your self is not part of anything. The surfaces you touch, the sensations you feel, the memories you store, the people to whom you are drawn, the ones you love, the ones you pursue… they go into the parasite, and the parasite doesn’t conserve them at all. It has no sense of individuals, no charge of care for you, or for anyone, or for anything. It is simply life.

A bleak, uneasy thrill. At this moment, you realise, you feel more alive than you’ve ever felt before, but simultaneously closer to complete annihilation. You, your self, the thing that you’ve assumed has centred everything, organised it, filtered it, is revealed as a tiny, fragile, jewel-like thing, a butterfly riding on the back of an elephant. It is the neutral space, the anonymous components of moments, these endure – the rest is a mirage (albeit a mirage you fought so hard to build and preserve), a flare of silver mist across a mirror, water in the instant it is being chucked out of a pail, the scratch of a hard-bristled broom over a concrete pathway, the passive operation of algorithms in a computer programme operating the lights in an empty building.

Needless to say, you can’t quite grasp the significance of this parasite, its scale, the true nature of its relation to your self, nor can you hold on to the vision once it’s occurred. The parasite slips away, into the dark voids of your body – which, after all, belong to the parasite, and not you – and vanishes.


from the series superstyler (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, August 2012)

A bell not swinging in a tower | and the tower built for a different purpose | to the city’s current obsessions | The things you find in a jeweller’s dreams | for instance — jewels, of course, and feline | paws | black padding | of velvet display cases

Privacy is important, too | The carcass  of a limousine | stalled in traffic | the poet in place | of the chauffeur | The usual set of emotions | and lamentation is the key | because things are not as they were | and not as they will be | Remember, Shanghai, and Jerusalem

Swords | And Ariadne, from Texas | There’s no such thing as decay, the snowdrops | offer no gift | The order is as you make it, or as | you are made to make it, or | because we are too lazy | to change it | as we want it to be | providing | we can complain | Complaint is our archery

Grave treasure | and the genuine laughter of the young sex worker | it is not | reproduction | Gifts that outlive the givers | and the receivers | and the crucial commands of the era | Evolution | Spectacle | Exchange

Irony sometimes selects as its instrument | the most unlikely subject | as many | readers will tell you | or not | The troika vanishing into silver mist | or Yazidis at the border | her fierce blue eyes | of ineffable candour | or murderers | chatting about the game | Futility used to mean something | and perhaps, one day, it may again

What weakness comes to | skulls separated from spines | the bones piled up in mounds | or not | Inside Monty’s drooling mouth | his head slumped to one side (the right, as he sees) | words that won’t quite form | as the abscess, like half a duck’s egg | swelling on his anus | in the care home | prepares to burst | It isn’t a future | It wasn’t a past | Won’t they ever shut up | and show some respect to silence?

The lost | are just a little in love | with the maze builders | but the vain | don’t think too much of the makers of mirrors | Russia squanders her beauty on the magicians | and the audience | remains ambivalent regarding the trick | The solution, although part of a greater problem, remains enjoyable | to implement or to contemplate | The conclusions are endless | The resurrection is mothballed | due to lack of funds | I say I love you, but really | you are a place I put the diamonds


from the series superstyler (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, August 2015)

Dwarf in a flask.

Bright hard ball of a dwarf, smiling.

Clock with five seconds.

Clock with four seconds.

The fuzz, as of an immeasurable energy, moving too swiftly to be clearly registered. Sudden flicks and blurs, and then the dwarf smiles again, and opens one of several eyes.

An ambient rumble, freight trains wrapped inside an egg, so the spoons tremble on the wooden table. Occasionally, too much light to see, so we look away. We want to be blinded. Has he carted all the snow from the Carpathians, the white snow with no footprints? Coldest ever snow. The brilliance where the retina dies. Edge of morals.

Clock with three seconds.

Occasionally, his smile. Out of the vantablack, and the voice, curiously seductive: if a kitten could speak, and the kitten had red eyes. Then blurred to dust, a mob of particles, like tiny starlings in a flock, trapped flowing and swerving in the flask.

With two seconds, clock.

Shake the flask, the voice made of snowflakes says. Shake it I bet you can’t break it. Don’t let me out. Don’t let me out. Shake the flask, I bet you can’t break it. I break you can’t bet you can’t shake you can break you can shake.

The flask.

An odd pressure. People who die in heatwaves. Or in cold snaps. Extreme weather. A cyclone in a thimble. Teeters.

Shake the flask harder, but don’t let me out.

Dwarf in a flask.

Dark mist of a dwarf, with hard white teeth, smiling.

Clock with one second.

The temperature at which blood boils. Cities, packed in a mirror. Planets, popped in a bag. Bodies, chopped up, to fit in suitcases. Atom migrants. State shift. Edge of desire.

Shake the flask, the voice made of snowflakes. It is so cold, come in with me, the water, the bed, the lake, the flask.

Feedback. The whine of old Detroit guitars. Atoms moulded and remoulded. An engine that doesn’t lead to the heart, or to a name, or to an end, generating a power without a motive, without a use, without a home.

Pretty, pretty, dwarf in a flask.

Clock with.

Oops! Don’t drop! Careful! Oops! Don’t drop! Drop! Don’t careful don’t oops oops oops careful don’t.






from the series superstyler (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, June 2015)

The 7 days of Roman | a hypergram presentation / 4

With Wednesday, the mythical ‘hump of the week’ is being chased, and Roman has become a brine-pickled whaler under the command of a beserk silver-bearded captain with heart-attack eyes, seeking to harpoon the phantom monster of a rewarding existence / a demoralised knight in a faintly seedy quest, clanking in tarnished silver armour through a world of seething mutant briars and famine-razed villages, stumbling down a landslide slope of skulls, the chuckling, clacking, bobbing and popping bones of his colleagues who fell victim to the dragon of illusion and whose spirits still, trapped in the bubbles of marsh gas that now form their entire world, believe in the holy grail of a normal life and consider obedience to the system as the horizon of their ontology || Revolution in this immanently penetrated state is pleasure: the sensible indulgence in Class A drugs, the white water rafting adventure in a place which is, in essence, a glorified holiday resort or even (in the elastic miasma of Roman’s vision) a stylised jail in which it is difficult to say who, among the natives and the visitors, is the guard, and who the prisoner | Meanwhile, gigantic photocopiers blunder across the veldt, chundering and ruminating, and printers vomit | articles on cellulite and the bad days for Virgos || Roman, exhausted, in rags, with a parasol made of animal skins, must work late, and he weeps with despair beside his tree-trunk canoe | The server goes down, meaning that molecules don’t move, and the world warms by another fraction of a degree | The Mercury Lounge calls him: he will drink late and sleep little this night, but at least Dr Ethanol will anaesthetise him for a few hours as the next stage in the terrible operation of his life begins…


from the series superstyler (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, June 2012)

What are we to do with | all these unnecessary words? | Do we really | make any more | sense with them? | Marked as junk | bounced | Theseus, the | Apollo programme || Long, brooding walks through | Romantic poetry | standing by the shore | looking out to sea | Hum and chatter of a metro train | lost in Gogol or Paul Auster | the strange | bat-winged project of Modernity | ladies and gentlemen in personal planes || Those carriages | in goods yards | that never seem to move | weeds | growing up around the bogies | daisies and fine-eared grasses | So many sounds | flesh | wilts under their light | weight || Shadows | of kisses | convulsive | nebulae of climax | the horsepower and the | mist | muscles shift into | when you | come || Oceans of | type and pixels | this | fragile spray | Nowhere to | park the oceans || Shelf life | Ovid and Naruto | the drifting galleons | of discarded | Victorian tomes | tons of | bizarre cargo || Space | inside a comma || Heaven | an erratum || The body | sends out its mules for | unspeakable supplies | and we | talk about pores or instinct || In Nevada | and here | a graveyard | of signs || Silence | comes for the voice and did you say | you loved the snow?


from the series superstyler (open-ended, 2012–present)