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The trouble with getting older, aside from fear, boredom, and the only end of age, is, of course, you keep hitting milestones and anniversaries like unwanted speed bumps on the road of encroaching senility.  Eyewear, the blog likes to note some of these as well as the next media outlet (see the recent post on Pulp Fiction).

It comes as a shock to read in NME that it has been 25 years since The Cure released Disintegration, even still.  From a North American perspective, certain bands from the UK created a certain moody indie romantic feel, that spoke to the suburbs and made those lost places feel enchanted with an outsider's chance of escape.

It was poetry for the adolescent, in all but name - music yes, but far more impactful even, still - it was a bible, it was poetry, it was our wine and our dregs - and that group of 7 must include Depeche Mode, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Smiths, Simple Minds, Tears For Fears, Joy Division/New Order, and The Cure among its key players (add the Americans R.E.M, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Iggy Pop, The B-52s, Talking Heads, and The Replacements, and you have a good idea of the 14-heavy playlist of an era, just before Nirvana,  Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Metallica, Oasis and Radiohead broke over us in the 90s).

The Cure - like all the best of the bands mentioned above - defy categorisation, and form their own demi-monde of reception. This particular album has all the faults of the genre it is the epitome of - doom-laden, emotive goth indie - kohl-eyes, Geisha-white pancake make-up, red lipstick on boys and girls, black hair, black clothes.  This was my time, and for a while, my garb, my tribe.  Yes, I was a goth at one stage.  It seems like a different person, of course.  You don't easily move back from 90 kg to 66 kg, from being pale and skinny and 23 and shy, to being 48 and pale and chubby and scared - though Robert Smith was always as chubby as a eunuch, or is that cherubic?  Anyway, Disintegration is the masterwork of its tone, and aim, and mood-mode: as melancholy, drifty, haunting, love-lorn, and world-weary as Apollinaire.  In the end you are weary of this ancient world - indeed.

The album, inspired by the suicide of some fans, among other things, is about running out of time, of closing down, of ageing, of leaving behind what was once the thrill, the defining thrill, of touch, desire achieved, that kiss in the dark damp park under the trees, her mouth tasting of cigarettes and lipstick and wine.  The shiver-shudder of half-innocent lust-hope, of love-art, that makes the young person's thrill like Rilke's violin strings.  We age and forget, but if you play back this LP a flood of memories, faces, parties, crushes, and crushed hopes, comes in, on the new wave, the last hurrah of that great 80s new wave. You make me feel like I am home again.


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Wheeler Light for 'Life Jacket'.

The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand


With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.