Friday, 12 September 2014

    brief images seen
                in dark places
        penile fish in calm water
                an albino fawn sleeping
brief words flicker
                in a darkened mind
 sad, naïve words
                must not forget
 salt coats the trail of
                these brief things
 these fleet things that would not slow
                or swing low
                      or let me ride
a dark room with windows open wide
                to dark sunlight a darkened
open wide to receive
                these fleet things
                             a decaying bear’s hide
                                a teeming sky
open wide to remember
                until memory flees

leaving a salted trail

Monday, 8 September 2014

the bit about life is wrong

I should build a still
Like the one in Hawkeye’s swamp
My daily round of death
And life. Hard to forget the
Death easy to
Undervalue the life. Life’s
Only a novelty, like a freeze frame
Snapshot, drop of milk turning
Into a tiara
A gimmick. Gim-crack. Gew-gaw.

I should build a still
Distill oblivion for my convenience
But just one drink goes to my head
Coursing sensations of empty
Bonhomie, flint-spark love and
Joy, then ten minutes later morose and heavy-
-headed, peering into darkness in lit
Rooms until I drink another and another
And only flashes of oblivion
Like glimpses of darkness at noon
And never the night sky at last

I should build a still
Safe place somewhere high in a tree
Or deep underneath a city
I should write my will
But I have nothing to leave
And anyway I leave it all to you

I should build a still
Living beast, a magnificent monster, be
A postmodern Prometheus,
Steal the gods’ secret
Recipe, brew up a new race
Giants. Immortal. Benign.
I should.
I really should.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

a poem about my father's death

A room at the end.
Tubes, machines. Mechanical sounds.
My father’s wife sings a religious song.
Faith, tears.
I found tears too.
Faith is over. A stranger from the first.
A room at the end.
Not large. Well lit.
His hair still dark. Dyed?
Still thick. Features?
Used to be handsome. Maybe still is.
Dwarfed by the bed, by all the appliances.
A room at the end.
I look at the room he lived in while
he was dying.
Wheelchair. Respirator.
Vodka bottle.
Books: westerns, history, crime, travel.
A smart brown blazer hanging by the bed.
A room at the end.
I shower in the attached bathroom.
Change into dhoti, don the sacred thread.
Gooseflesh. Shivering. First time.
Conduct the last rites.
Hypnotic. Befuddling.
Fire and water and milk and leaves.
A room at the end.
He slides along the ramp.
Into the chamber.
I go away for lunch.
Come back and am given an earthen pot.
Ashes. Bones. More rituals.
I have no connection to this.
This is not my father. This is not my ritual.
A room at the end.
I dream him into it.
A quiet place. Maybe some Debussy.
Modigliani nudes. Degas.
An easel on which waits a landscape in progress.
A bottle of vodka.
Books. I suppose that would do for him.
A room at the end.
There is always a room. And the end. We are not intrepid. Or immortal.
No mountainsides, battlefields, ocean deeps, daring sports gone wrong.
We are not intrepid in that way. In this
we are alike.

This is 
not my tribute.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

scrutiny and long acquaintance

death has more details
to take in
more to say
more to remember
for me life is a series of banal
a film school dropout’s montage
of cookie-cutter
characterisation and context
for me life is like wallpaper
i disagree with and
will lose the argument
death is so much more
compelling. consider:
none who ever lived resisted its
compulsion ignored its
or evaded its coming
i have seen enough of death to
it is never just death
it is never just a number
never just another
death is always fraught
always rife with detail
always unique
death stands out
even in a pack
even in a massacre or epidemic
and the only ones to whom death
can be held at a remove
can be anaesthetised
and dismissed
are neither dead nor alive
but far worse

Friday, 22 August 2014

people send me pictures

Copies of my books are being spotted in the wild. Here are some pictures I have seen:

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Metal culture has a serious 'good German' problem. Virtually every metalhead I know has posted something in the last few months about how some group of elitists or n00bs or old schoolers or core kids or backbiters or backscratchers is fucking up the scene, but hardly anyone ever thinks they might be part of the problem. The people I can relate to most are the chronic malcontents, the ones who have always critiqued the 'culture' while remaining true to their own personal journeys as listeners.

And really, the problem isn't that different people have different tastes or that they're not accepting of other people's tastes. The problems are: that we're content to be a bunch of marketing-driven consumers, no matter how niche a market we constitute, but we think we're some sort of gritty, independent underground subculture. That we settle too often for bands that make all the right noises and punch all the generic buttons, but have little to offer beyond that. That we think most metal radio and magazines are not as much a marketing tool as their mainstream counterparts.

A lot of these people forget that dissent is not aggression; disagreeing with you is not the same attacking you (although one can shade into the other) and not liking your favourite band doesn't really add up to being narrow minded and hate-filled (except when it does). The beer and buddies and 'bangers vibe, which is valid as far as it goes, is not the be-all of the genre. It's more important to form your own tastes. And remember what Peter Steele said: don't mistake lack of talent for genius. 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

What we can learn from Richard Dawkins

One odd explanation offered for Dawkins' latest faux pas, claiming that date rape is bad and rape by a stranger is worse, is that he was busy making a logical point (x can be bad, y can be worse, and both are still bad) and forgetting a rhetorical technique that undermines his point (when we say x is bad, y is worse we are often implying that x is not really that bad after all). This doesn't wash - the effectiveness of applied logic is only as good as its underlying assumptions and Dawkins' assumption here is flawed. Add to that the fact that a large majority of reported rapes are perpetrated by people known to the victim.

Dawkins is knowledgeable within his field. He is also widely read and has a degree of awareness of the cultural heritage of the West. What he does not have is a clear awareness of the nuances of gender issues or the realities of sexual abuse. Added to this, he is unwilling to learn, generalising the attacks he sees on Twitter and comments threads to claim that all opposition to his magisterial pronouncements is offered by weak-brained, combative people who do not have valid points. Dawkins, someone whom I once respected (and I still think his books on evolution, like Unweaving The Rainbow, are marvellous), has fallen into the trap of turning an unexamined and poorly-informed opinion into dogma. He is so committed to upholding his own image of infallibility that he has shut down the possibility of productive dialogue and learning. He is a useful object lesson to us of how people can claim to follow a certain philosophy but in reality apply it when it suits them and are actually driven by more emotional compulsions and obsessions.

Perhaps what we should learn from Dawkins' poor performance on issues of gender and race is to always examine our own opinions and be aware of their basis, and ready to discuss them with others and try to learn from differing opinions. We should also learn that our backgrounds shape us more than we like to admit - my online friend Derick has pointed out that Dawkins is at heart a British Protestant philistine for instance - and understand the values and limitations imposed by that background.

Most of all, we should always be prepared to change our minds and admit we were wrong. Growing as a human being is more important than preserving some image of ideological commitment or personal infallibility