58. OK, Then, Let’s Take the Road East to Harlow & Never Mind the Dark

In London
& the Duggan Inquest shows that
the police can shoot you & lie
& lie & fake the evidence & fool
some people still

Darrel (or Karla)
you left your parents’ house
you really did need to
your parents can’t afford your room any longer
& next they’ll cut your Housing Benefit
So you’ll’ve nowhere to live at all
     – har har hardy-har har!
     snort the Bullingdon Boys
     & all their little hangerson

In Sainsburys
oh white lights of infinite choice
– we still live within
this state of illusion

On the way home
the moon inside her armature of light
cuts a silver window through cloud

Baraka
. . . Build the new world out of reality, and new vision
we come to find out what there is of the world
to understand what there is here in the world!
to visualize change, and force it.
we worship revolution1

Amiri Baraka, “When We’ll Worship Jesus”, emailed to UKPoetry ListServ, Fri, 10 Jan 2014 by Anthony John on hearing news on the ListServ of Baraka’s death

Just written
You don’t accept improvisation – just do it, tenderly & in wonder.

The practice of outside
outside
where the vagrants live
all the cold & pain
we hit against
each other

Jarvis
     He had to get to Harlow before dark.2
In Hertfordshire the loneliest certainties are
     trod into pavements of the patient dust.

Simon Jarvis, The Unconditional: A lyric (Barque Press, 2005), p 17

Spicer
Things fit together. We knew that – it is the principle of magic. Two inconsequential things can combine together to become a consequence. This is true of poems too. A poem is never to be judged by itself alone. A poem is never by itself alone.

Jack Spicer, “Admonitions” (“Dear Robin, . . .”), The Collected Books of Jack Spicer, edited Robin Blaser (Black Sparrow Press, 1975), p 61

Brecht
Fröhlich vom Fleisch zu essen, das saftige Lendenstück
Und mit dem Roggenbrot, dem ausgebackenen, duftenden
Den Käse vom großen Laib und aus dem Krug3
Das kalte Bier zu trinken . . .

Brecht, “Fröhlich vom Fleisch zu essen”, from http://www.fleischwirtschaft.de/dokumentation/kunstkultur/pages/2.html on fleischwirtschaft.de

 

 

1 Another embalmed head cult here, so watch out. Anything needing or demanding worship is self-evidently a demonic or delusory fetish. On poetry, revolution and psychotic delusion, read Sean Bonney, Notes on Militant Poetics, http://www.mediafire.com/view/ez1idi117qns675/Bonney%20 %20Notes%20on%20Militant%20Poetics%20%28imposed%29.pdf. I think he records symptoms rather than any remedy. There isn’t – carry on adjusting & attacking as we adapt to it & it to us. Cutting through it all in desperation merely detaches heads and fetishises the consequences.

 

 

2 This line I admire most of the poem, when the inherent & self-regarding London-Cambridge axis admits (though of course in suspension) another path for movement than its own mock-epyllionary oscillations.

 

 

3 Grossness is all

45. A Recipe for the Commitment of an Imprecise Poem

for the Veer Collective, who spat out what was offered them1

OK, no pressure, guys: your choice
is your choice & no one could think that
something this impaired could match what you require
publishing is hard but what you value I thought clear
but, well, I am reduced to talking snarkily just now
to say I find those values of commitment and precision to be
well, fucking inhuman – dead abstractions
orders from the mouths of disembodied heads2
I am disgusted by these words & turn
to where my attention is more upon the care of little ones
it isn’t that I believe in Liberty3 but
that comes from inside, yes? not
some retro Between-the-Wars ModernistTM delusion
planning the relaunch of New Masses yet again
now that’s what I call real corrosive kitsch
I prefer the stuff people do in kitchens for
more revolutions start over food than verse

OK then, dudes, I hear you say
so what are you working on? what
‘s new out of Bishops Stortford? OK
the game goes on & we start
                            where we are:
so no food & drink, my friends
                    no bread & water
but stones & gasoline for you to throw – OK?

And then to list my ingredients all dutifully?
they’re around us I reckon in common human actions
not committed to separation & asylums
but communal, messy & just happening:
      loudly saying no
      & calling out wrong decisions
      joining together against these
      & at the worst4 some
      active stand in opposition
      even with the risk of loss
                            or wound
      & we’d take from that
      human fellow feeling to
      see how a new ordering
      can form itself, as
      utopian dreams get realised
      through kitschy rituals so
      this should be then made into
      something joyful & sustaining
      no I can’t give you instructions how
      but suggest feeling & emotion, good
      like in a poem, OK, imprecise
      & what it is committed to
      never externally determined or adopted

      And all the processes that affect us
      huge & frightening
      new high status elites
      bursting from the carcass of the old
      seizing in their mandibles
      all common necessities
      & making us then pay
      over our entire lives
      just to exist in this world
      they claim they’ve bought
      & demonstrate possession
      by making all that there is good
      funnel into them & theirs
      it happens continually
      it is at
               that moment of change
      maybe now to be upset
      but how to do so
      without smashing our own life support
      or not surviving the guns they have already hired
      rather more effective than our poems I would guess
      no, I don’t know how
      & if you think you do
      oh you precise & committed ones
      then try it if you like
      but we are done with leninism
      as it brings nothing
      but another new elite
      – don’t you know?

The presentation of our change
must be less obvious, less
cut off in self-righteous correctness
but engaged through our human actions
which must include for us our writing
as that is what we have to do and if
we commit to something other than what’s our poetry
I think we’d be wasting our own best efforts then
I know it’s not heroic nor what you’d call political
but that too needs some total metamorphosis
not repetition of past failures yet again
“keep the line, boys, keep the line”
no – this is not the field of status games
but the whole of our human life

In the southwestern sky
that sun of winter dies
nonetheless, though we hibernate
or fly, burrow underneath
forage dutifully amongst the rubble
we’ll work for what comes after us
not for the absolute precise but
just a better life somehow

[I got this just from what I’ve lived and seen. It cost me (& 80 colleagues) our jobs; looks like it’ll cost me publication too now. That’s all I can say at present. Sorry if it’s not adequate; but not if not found precise or not demonstrating some image of commitment. It’s what I have found more important than adopted stances, disembodied thought & the glee songs that built mass movements. Memo: write poems, find some better publisher[5], carry on with the care of little ones and the preparation of our food.]

 

 

1 “Thanks for submitting the work. Veer editors have read it and reached the decision that it doesn’t fall within the currently more precise and committed stance that we are adopting.” Email dated November 16, 2013

 

 

2 that means Charlie Marx & Big Ted, remember? & now Paulina the Staffie bitch

 

 

3 as you know, free Americans have pissed all over this word, like mice raiding a larder

 

 

4 usually that means usually

 

 

5 any suggestions, please? anyone?

42. A Praise Song by Sarah in Honour of Paulina

You are ferocious, Paulina as you are maimed
You are the source of delicious pleasure, kitschy & sincerely false
You fuse the fire of intent with incapability
You ignore all tenets but the right
You are never commonplace yet totally familiar
You are what is next
You are starting at 15.29 as a novelty act
You are an important relic of our trash
You are welcome, despite all your damage & your disorder

Yes! You are harsh as bones, as peacocks & our laughter
Even on your stick, you will outlast your friends
Once, you were what we chose
To our delight, you continually make up incomprehensible rules you order us in vain to follow
In all things, though you deny it you improvise
To say it again, you need to be exploring
In truth, you are the Empress of Xi
Poets say you are our warning
As society started, Paulina, you instructed us without words
                             stuck dumb upon your stake

40. Here in This Ragged Old World (When the Storm Has Passed)

Society & all its institutions now reformed
– like cheap meat

 

Oh Paulina, Paulina
so admonitory & warning
I get lost for words
what you say is so true
you’re as harsh as the storm
blowing over us now

 

Ja, das Meer ist blau, so blau        Ja, das Meer ist blau, so blau
    – und das geht alles seinen Gang      – und das geht alles seinen Gang
Und wenn die Chose aus ist            Und wenn die Chose aus ist
    – dann fängts von vorne an            – fängts nicht von vorne an
Ja, das Meer ist blau, so blau        Ja, das Meer ist blau, so blau
    – und das geht ja auch noch lang      – und das geht auch nicht noch lang
Ja, das Meer ist blau, so blau        Ja, das Meer ist blau, so blau
    – ja, das Meer usw.                   – ja, das Meer usw.

Berthold Brecht, “Was die Herren Matrosen sagen” (Matrosen Song), from Happy End

 

“I was challenged, or challenged myself, to begin writing a book . . . without knowing what the answer would be. This seemed a fair test of the idea, which I had become interested in exploring, that the superiority of narrative to other sorts of . . . writing was that you, meaning the author as well as the reader, did not necessarily know, and perhaps ought in principle not to know, the end before you started. In that condition I began to write the book . . .”

John Bossy, Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair (Vintage, 1992), p xi

 

let’s rearrange
this time
the rules
everything working

 

hundreds of trees down
but we’ll get through them
even escape
out of this cloying heart
M & S itself

 

The bowl cracked but
holds water still
just oscillating
as we work

 

sweet potatoes, broccoli
& carrots – something solid
but very simple & just
what we need

 

lit in what we improvise
– the flashing head of Jesus

 

all the ragged clouds & trees
& the humpbacked moon to view

36. Now Open, We Hope

Oh big
dogs too
no not
their heads
it’s complicated
something to
focus on

it’s not
i deal
good morning
saturdays; crash!
all dead
all here
accept fate
yr place
accept or
better not

unabased today
kiss all
my scars
dutiful pleasure

i can’t
think what
is possible
learnt it
& flourish

hullo there
tell me
yr story
agricultural college
at school
last year
probably 16
very nice
bit snooty
they’re right
take on
& off
we go

this is
narrative now
no voids
connective tissue
took it
every where

a funny
little thing
a fox
quick divine
appeared and
then gone

gosh Mr
Hughes1! you
are inescapable
a dark
suspicion but
filial piety
we don’t
choose we
work with
the given
even you
to night

do you
want to
return ??
why no
need she
can’t if
Pauline we
dance as
we go
fine when
we do
it OK?

all horrible
nothing works
now i
don’t care
go shout
don’t care
what trend
just shine
clear bright
i decide
now open

 

 

1 more familiar to some of you as husband to the unfortunate but now justly more famous Sylvia – thank you, Veronica