Archives for posts with tag: variant 1

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)


And then, abruptly, nothing | The storm stops cooking its violet | The train simmers, oil | is not enough | The dream is no longer shared among sleepers | Feathers | dither in the air, flakes | eddy and settle | around the body of the slaughtered goose, still, set to | one side a moment | What should I do? | Kiss your heels? | Stand up | in the burst of bright silence | deliver a lecture to the cows and fences? | Applaud the clouds? | Kiss | each of your four ankles, give up | waiting for the wings | to slow their beats?… | Childhood | rings us and there is a path | spongy, tawny with dry needles | under dark, imposing pines, it leads me back to | to the beasts of my childhood | and all I’ll lose to them, suddenly | I know I must take that path, if I | get going now, the sooner | I’ll reach you | At the edge of the field | in motorbike Arabia | pause though | poor white trash standing in | a free blaze | of poor white trash | wondering?… | And their breath smells | of hormones and sweet | anger | and their manners rough | their teeth for boxers and tinkers | and their need? | Their need? | Their need … enough…

Very still, like those mornings after heavy snowfall, your lungs and the backs of your eyes | lined with deep, white velvet | no choice but to love | It is decided | Your Holbein child’s | cheeks, roses from lullabies and nursery rhymes, clouds | on the edge | of dissolving | The darkest glance | Nodding off | in a lecture on the origin of | Romance languages, safe | to do | there is so much future | But also | as your body | releases the swans and ice | “beautiful, mysterious” | a place you | stop for | no | feelings to hand | maybe with crumpled daisy chains trailed | among the marking stones, the soft | light of buttercups held under the chin | on a hot, motionless day | entirely full | entirely empty | like graves in midsummer


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

Dawn | Meaning to go on to fix | everything in place, but… | To the group of all known and unknown things, you must add | a moment, every time | Wild fire stampedes through the heart of the city | Waiting for the first ferry after making love | Mind not quite | made up | a fuzz of susurrus, the sound of | passing sounds | autumn at the core of summer, leaves falling | inside the glass and concrete, the gulp and gantry | of pelicans mooching close in to the shore | Checking your watch to find | sunset, also | turned to dawn

Moments’ yeast | In the organised silence of a cenotaph, chic | fronts of department stores, empires of litter | mammalian heat and beat in iotas’ portions | a sparkle and foment | elfin | foundry of a working brain | City at 4 a.m., such a dull | drained feeling, money | trying to sleep but unable | In the distance of the pavements and jaded ginkgo trees | a loft and agitation dwindled | to whispers and clouds | vast flocks pouring into flight | So, you see, this is how it works: I can go back to sleep | Everything is, and everything is in place, now | isn’t it?


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

Moon coming with us a way | Tender and soft-edged, white and hazy against the dark blue evening sky, but not | really against | Shoulder to the door of my spirit | keep it closed forbidding | whatever wants to come through | but it wants | so hard | meaning I will be | very tired when this day ends | The moon is waning black | on hidden bleachers | I must carry it where I can | illicit and a sign | of my weariness to recall | those who labour against the sea | the grandeur of their slow | rock and haul | and the sea | wonderful in uncaring | A butterfly | bears down with | the weight of a bear, carcass of an ox or horse, of the dispassionate | city buildings with their rotas of exits, doors tufted with different purposes | the landscape slipping back into itself, into the watch | of other eyes | It is all the same thing, in other words, but then | who would need our poetry? | There is a sea’s | obtuse loveliness to the struggle | of this and that, the fight | to silence the animals or to bid them | speak with our voices | Carry the full moon | back to my bed once more, a bull | kicking and butting at the timbers | of the stall | and the tide | answering | If I could love again, the weight would feel different | tender and soft-edged, white and hazy, meaning | it is close, now, and wants so hard | to come through


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

Sometimes, the love comes again | blown like a memory of summer in a sachet of warm air | in autumn | surprising you | The description deepens | there are colonnades, trellises, wisteria | perhaps even hussars parading | It is the description that matters | for most of the time, anyway | Meaning resides | in the details | the Caffe Sicilia cups | of white china | the man with a doll’s face, a little like | Andres Iniesta | you knew from years ago but hardly | remembered | such things | absorb you | time is how they pass | The statements matter as well, of course | they are like blasts on trumpets | fanfares by unfurled flags | drum rolls | the bold statements | the flourishes, the definitives | but then, somewhat bathetically, we are back to autumn, and the shorter days | the angina, the vagina, the munitions | the conditions | the description | And with the love, comes the sorrow | a kind of anchor | at which the ship drags | the vital, the precious | ship | with all those souls on board | praying to their gods or sternly | studying barometers | or, swathed in gilt, issuing clipped orders | and everyone | both passengers and crew | fret as the storm continues | to build | in intensity | their unuttered cry being | Let us survive, so that we may go on describing | who we are and what we are and where | we are | every delicate, mundane | why and wherefore | how we each | rebel from the mass | and confirm to the tribe | that we wish to live on | to feel that sadness again | on the train, in the office, in the bed beside | someone who makes us | feel so alone | the acute, diffuse sorrow | like vaporised diamond | like mist | floating on wisteria | that state, or mood, or illusion | indulgence | vision | that meaning | that conclusion | which is yet so very | difficult to describe…

A scent of honeysuckle near dusk | the evening quite still | the neighbours playing Beck | The bricks, if we stroked them | would be rough | the step | yet to be taken | not so high | it was higher | once | Clouds, still dimly visible | like Calais or the Duomo | float by | in the calm surface of a pool | of water let fall | by last night’s storm


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

Sir: ‘Tis a tribulation of genius | to be patronised by inferior minds | Whirled back by the London crush | the vampires of old times | something as tired as a milieu | Cabs drawn by dead horses | tuberculosis in December | etcetera in everything | the rickets of the game | Days I had to work | to make it seem like love | Other days, when it was easier

Softness in the mist, more softness | in your damp cashmere | The material… | Vanishing again into yourself, things the sea takes back | Until there is nothing but the sea | Set out my ocean stall, stale old wares, the brilliant | sculpt of gulls through salt-washed air, sailor tang, seamen | innuendo… | How the sea wanted honey | the ships’ horns | weeping for honey | Spoon by spoon, the medicine | is taken | this is | all we can offer you | Palliative care | What happened? — parts of sentences covered by blah blah blah | that’s what | In a village of idiots | the least stupid idiot… | To feed a zombie memory | caged and groaning | they are doing George A. Romero in FS | Polishing smoke | Snatching back | the picture they got | out in woolly-back country | glitters in a pouch of glance | a greenhouse | engulfed in ivy and weeds | no farmer, I guess?… | And do you know, some of them even have the gall — Darling! — to ask | “Why the sea? Why only | the sea?”…


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

When she talks to the cherry tree, it belongs to her just a little more

And when she puts her ear to the cherry tree’s trunk, she swears she can hear the beating of a tiny heart

There is too much of the calm summer day, she lies on her back on the grass and throws little questions up at the sky | When they fall back to earth, she has gone, and the mystery around them deepens || Then the evening star | is unendurably beautiful

All things have set out on an adventure | Some of the planes | don’t return

Vortex and YouTube, building a pyramid | with sugarcubes | why do I endure | the indifference of your beauty? | this waiting around | examining | all the fashions of your ignorance?

All these days of ‘but’ and ‘perhaps’ and ‘maybe’?

By praying the cherry tree tells her in her sleep you create a god

And truly, none of the planes return, their base | is no longer there | it set out, too, for the next pattern of its incarnation | a cinema | rice paddies | a place herons stalk

The young man in the café with his love and his time | doesn’t even know the cherry blossoms are the roads | he will take out of here | he only sees | the sky in its most insatiable mood of blue | most fatal | most acute | and too entire

Why can’t I bow my spirit to the spirit of the matsuri, run and chase the procession? | clap, and stamp, and dance | and sing?

Why do I want to drag down that sky | and give it even a moment’s rest in pointless words?

You won’t look at me anymore | and erase me with each breath, but I | stupidly faithful | each night | give you a handful of gods | for you | to toss casually away | onto your heap of useless things

And after all the things have set out on their adventure | why am I so stubborn | refusing the careless matsuri inside me | and loving you | my style of treachery?


from the series bliss point | angels of disorder
(open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem: September, 2012)

We know only what the music knows | I want to | say | But that kind of saying is over | for the time being | Maybe it will be back one day? | And the winter isn’t perpetual | the ruins are ruins for a while, for sure | but then soon are re-developed | or covered by forest and then | re-developed | there’s business to be done here | salt and cashmere to be traded | lambs | derivatives | Ruins are in the structure | the gamble of stand and fall | part of the music’s charm | as fatigue belongs to the metal | the plane’s wings preparing | to fold | the plane | to sleep in a bright | re-direction of atoms | a new swirl | a river’s re-flow | This, we tell ourselves, we know | or we used to tell ourselves | We used to say: We only know what the music knows | and we would say that | while listening to music, or dancing | very slowly to music | in a half-lit room | when the destination of our journey | was like a bud | opening on a branch | And in our love | there was business done | lambs traded | cashews, salt | and slaves and guns | it was | how the edge | belonged to the core | As we stopped dancing | we tried to remember | how the music had been | but, well, we’re flawed | and we couldn’t get it exactly | and besides, the ruins were already | walking in | asking us to go | We had no choice | And if the silence came then, would we know only | what the silence knows?


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

The air is eating the soft fruit of my lungs | and the stock market is falling

Slowly all the cities are connecting up by means of infinitesimal threads of quicksilver, and | I am in a mood

Autumn rests against my skin | the fine hairs on my arm rise a little against the cooler air || It will be vellum

She bites her lover and he spills tiny seeds | Small frills of his flesh tighten and loosen, he will run to the temple, where there are pictures of beautiful trees

Stars are forming all over the surface of her skin and her darkness is expanding, the small points of luminosity | drifting further and further apart

The books ache not to be books, and the words | chafe on their pages || they feel autumn coming, too | the damp, the fogs, the mildew

The long winter night of her kiss frightens him | the beautiful trees are letting fall | oranges | persimmons | pomegranates | lemons

Exquisite as a Persian miniature | his sorrow | is not really enough to make up grit sufficient for even | a single pearl

She doesn’t love him | although they are called “lovers” | There will be no more summers | Only the empty bourgeois walks in walloping galoshes across wet fields and woods where purpose runs out and will fails and his body grows as frail and as pointless as a child’s balloon | slipped from moist little fingers | given to the air’s indifference | blown and floating

When she cries, the tears are tiny wriggling caterpillars | They glisten and glitter | She never sees them take wing, and perhaps they never do?

The chemistry of grief is well known and the famous “next words” are written and read | and another of her kisses fills him with snow and delayed trains and she can’t leave her phone alone, in it is stored | all the devices of his irrelevance

She dines on her own heart, it no longer satisfies her | Why are happy people so contemptible?

They will never hear the clink of goat-bells again, the high pass in the dust and the rapture | They will never establish the basis of their relations | with other people

The crowd yearns for celebrity | The wedding dresses of her cells | unwind their long trains and the silk snaps and whistles | Always, the groom is changing!

Entire cities fall prey to storms of amnesia | When we find them again, they are ruins, their citizens | mummified in ash, their bus passes | no longer valid and their homes | hold no interest at all for anyone, surely?

The jewelled cannibal of her wristwatch nibbles away at her, the piranhas of instants school and glimmer | And light pours down through the trees scented with milk and nostalgia, weighted with the memories of November evenings when the light itself | has gone

I won’t come to this place again | I think | It is hateful and | the silence that follows it is always so very, very long…


from the series bliss point | angels of disorder
(open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem: September, 2012)

The slow storm of time has blown down the pyramids and the Empire | State Building | we are looking at the cheval glass as it is manoeuvred up the stairs | a palm of such intense green | is sliding horizontally into the sky | a prisoner | and a token of nature | tremulously rooted to the dark, star-shot waters | of a distant oasis | and the Babylonians have completed their ratios | and the dressmakers of the Ancien Régime have mislaid their needles | tremendous wars have been fought and troops have died | in uniforms of scarlet, of grey, of cream and khaki | and meaning has been erected and subverted, chased, worshipped and despised | and so here we are | by the wallpaper of duck-egg blue | printed with white designs | of baby’s-breath | doing what we do | being what we are | and the rest | for us | is nothing | even the Trojans

Put your fist in my mouth | just | shut me up | Hang me from cords you bought online | from a marine outfitters | and cut me with razor blades | not too much but | cut me a little more | if you like | we have the time | and I have ample reserves | of grief and confusion | and of course | blood | and if I pass out, then, well… | So this is the good life | Like elegant mules, carrying their supplies in designer bags, five | bags to a hand | and in their designer clothes and sunglasses | the shoppers emerge from famous emporia | the escalators will take them up | or down | as they require | this might be pleasure | it has no moral | You put | my head in your hand | and begin to squeeze | and we talk in between sessions | in between rooms | in between sleeps | and we muse | on our fates | although the confusion is, perhaps, inevitable, have I come to like | the grief? | Squeeze and squeeze and squeeze | and crush down the matter | to a point of singularity | the state where others take the stage | and perform their plays | and indeed | build their own theatres | Our friendship has become | entangled | the puppets with intertwined strings | only the sunflower boy, allegedly | can save us | personally | I doubt it | when every remark we make resembles | one of those insects | we inadvertently kill | when we feel | a light contact | on our skin | which unsettles us | Where geology and climate conspire | from the desert an eye | of fertility | figs fall | and at night | a young girl’s dream | is nested inside | the dream of Achilles — the creak of the ropes as the ship | sails over the water | and every so often | as the bow smacks a wave | a momentary coolness | against the refreshing flesh | of atomised foam


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