Swimming by numbers

 Posted by at 11:27 am  Anti-Gravity Surgery  Comments Off
Mar 132017

At the edge of bitterness, il gusto, mia lingua, il caffè macchiato

and I see the words, pietro colorato

I might drown in italiano.

This is swimming by numbers

and numeracy leaks away suggesting there is

a problem higher up, above the water line

pietro colorato

the colours are smudged by rising damp

meaning serious discolouration.

Why don’t I do something before the problems

threaten to overwhelm rather than this floundering around

with clumsy and wild strokes in approximation

of the swimming I learned when I was eleven

(is that right?)

Richard always needed me to go along with him

his parents paying for the lessons because they were better off

than my family. Not only did I learn to swim but I had already learned

to swim without money -

what was it I felt or what sense did I make of the absence

of family holidays, the lack of money?

i simply shut out the  possibility of the question:

desires strictly limited.

And then in the middle of my working life, after a few short years

of feeling better off, I was back to my default position.

The default position of the world:

most of us have little money!

i don’t imagine there will be any desert island discs

merely the wash of the waves and knowing that

I can be washed away by the first storm, the rising waters.

If the shoe fits … wear it

it wasn’t so long since life was incredibly hard (for most of us)

demanding, unsafe. For us in Europe, North America etc there was

a brief interregnum. Weakened by the costs of World Wars

the elite gave in and allowed certain elements of social democracy

but it wasn’t long before some tough minded warriors took to the warpath

and made out the case (there is no alternative) for the return to normality.

Truth lay exposed to the casual gaze of passers-by

but the passers-by had little time for such things.

It looked complicated, the surface scarred

by self interest, by the impact of lies and corruption

“I haven’t got time for that stuff”

Beneath, hidden from view were nuggets of possibilities

beauty patiently waiting, never ending joy …

I scratch around like a chicken

(what does a chicken feel as it scratches around in the dirt

with its beak, its sharp little eyes?)

I scratch around prodding at the words

willing them to divulge their possible and multiple meanings

to lift the lid, to uncover …


Seven Thoughts

 Posted by at 2:47 pm  Hitting the Potholes  Comments Off
Jan 312017


generating power

the turbines tumble into action

images flicker

and watch each other comparing notes



words reduced to to background rumble

but not one word in plain sight

nothing distinguished

solo you sail hoping for nothing



poetry: a constitution for human life

animals and carnivores

we show our teeth



gravitational oppositions

will you bounce into me

like an accident of some sort?



yesterday is gone

and in the middle of today

there is the usual evaporation of time



and then a way forward (or backward)

will emerge but I cannot

confirm the direction of travel until 2155



let’s say we did our best

in the face of stiff opposition

The fear of imagining

 Posted by at 10:40 am  Holy Fool/Hero  Comments Off
Jan 242017

The fear of imagining that life has a purpose must be the fear that I won’t have the capacity to create the new anew renew the species: of course if the creative impulse is blocked, frustrated, repressed … then all one can do is destroy. Thus patriarchal man in his rage of need (a deep and pressing need) to control the creative in others must invent new wars to blood soak the precious earth.


How they tremble when I strut around; their heads might fall at any moment; this day might be their last; my dreams will come to them as nightmares.


Old man who were you in my dream last night? A rough sleeper, there seemed to be smoke coming from your mouth, from your body, seeping out from you clothing. Were you on fire? And you sang a song, a dirge, a love song. Must I envy you your ancient freedom. The freedom of minstrel and bard, the freedom of the old roads, feeding the earth with your song.



And how do we manage paradox?

 Posted by at 10:16 am  Atelier, Hitting the Potholes  Comments Off
Nov 222016

And how do we manage paradox?

The shimmering mirages of our minds?

Where the world is both fragmentary and dazzling?

This is such is it not?

I mean it’s like this; this is how it is

Can you see what I’m pointing at?

Indicating the target

But in my myopic dazzle

Can I trust that the target is the target

A bull’s eye of power?

Possibly not.


My hands shake with the tension of the bow 

Paradox is all of a shimmer

There is no target

Only my tears in the cold wind.

So I will sit for a while and gather my vulnerabilities.


Over there is here now;

I love to be surrounded by all these foreigners

It makes me feel at home

Perhaps at home I am not at home.

I need to turn round and catch a glimpse of the self behind me

Hiding perhaps 

Those opposite but maybe apposite impulses

Cheeky devils but devils non the less 

Twisting me about their talons . . .

Holding me to the flames.


I don’t think optimism is overly concerned with the contradictions of paradox,

Do you?

We could even make the next leap together . . . 

We shall discuss it at tomorrow’s conference and discover that the door is open 

Or if it’s not a door, then the path will be apparent

Though its degree of difficulty remains uncertain

Surprises are guaranteed.


Is backward the new forward?

 Posted by at 10:38 am  Fundamental Perversions  Comments Off
Nov 172016

And what does forward mean?

No, don’t look at me like that,

That exasperated expression on your face;

I mean it seriously:

Forward is now back.


Is this Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence?


1970 is as far as got before the braying donkey of the right

Rediscovered those populist slogans 

To feed the resentments toxically exaggerated 

once equality was downgraded

To a shrug of indifference 

By the freeing of markets 

That poured billions into the open pockets

Of the rich.


After all we can always blame the stranger.

Nov 112016

Brexit . . . Trump . . . is the darkness gathering? Is it Tolkein time? The gathering of the forces of tyranny? The denial of democracy as a system of enlightened governance? A realignment of world power? A Putin/Trump axis?

Should I pack my belongings on the poor donkey’s back and head for the hills?

Or will life carry on much as before apart from relatively isolated acts of mindless violence?

The sun is breaking through the clouds here in Florence. Perhaps I will go out to play.

Care worn

 Posted by at 3:45 pm  Hitting the Potholes  Comments Off
Nov 022016

I woke early this morning – maybe 5 o’clock – to a sense of being worn out and remember the phrase care worn – worn out by caring – the slow work of love, of caring for others, that gradual erosion of the outer layers until only some sort of essence remains: a skeleton of self. Work completed we slip along the darkening track that leads to death.

I get up and sit for twenty minutes and then return to bed and sleep some more and dream of my sister collapsing in the street, a thin stream of vomit issuing from her mouth. I rush towards her and wake from that image.

Later I read in the Guardian a piece by George Monbiot about his touring the country talking to audiences about loneliness and mental health. How do we care for each other? He invites people to turn to a stranger and say hello. In a few minutes it is difficult for the platform to regain the attention of the audience who are chatting away to each other.

Geoff Dyer, in Zona, reflects on the central theme of the Room being a place in which one’s deepest wishes can be met. He confesses to his own desire to have sex with two women but amazingly (to me) he doesn’t identify (my assumption) that our deepest desire is to love and to be loved.

In the current horror of the American presidential election campaign battle we have the bewildering sight of two brands of liars making their bids for power: one, the professional politician smoothly squaring any circle that is presented to her and the other a lying, cheating, abusive example from the business community, the entrepreneur, who doesn’t even attempt to refer to any tangible reality, merely fires off in all directions, pushing the buttons of all those who have been failed and feel cheated by the established political elite.

So…here…to write…

 Posted by at 8:56 am  Anti-Gravity Surgery  Comments Off
Oct 252016

So…here…to write…and being surrounded by books, overwhelmed by books, let’s be frank, by words, overwhelmed by words, tumbling madly, there is no way of processing, better keep the books locked in the cellar where they can do least harm. Is that true? Is it possible? Won’t they leak into the damp walls, crumbling bricks, stone, concrete, mortar, rotting wood; leach into the hidden waterways. The mysterious ways of water.

To carry a word. In the fluid of my mind – a sort of cellar, I guess. One word should be enough, enough for a lifetime. If one is given the right word. The to and fro of barter. You give me this word and I give you…? But surely not, surely the word must be freely given, left somewhere ‘hidden in plain view’ where I might or might not discover it. Turning over a stone, wedged awkwardly in the black earth. Rich humus in which new life emerges, new life awaits discovery. A new word or simply an old one waiting for its time of rediscovery. 

Words are what we are born from. Stone water words potential of thought, blinding vision – after which – into the darkness.

Discovered in Geoff Dyer’s Zona (page 79) where he quotes from Kafka’s Zurau Aphorisms:

‘Beyond a certain point there’s no return. 

That’s the point that must be reached.’

Choice is impossible there is no going back; I can’t go back even if I wanted to. What does it look like out there?