David Ayer's LA-based gangster picture,The Tax Collector, just released, is a uniquely terrible film - and one that will be a cult classic in ten years.
Reviews rightly observe that the film is ultra-violent, and depicts Latino culture as one enmeshed in a criminal lifestyle, with Shia LaBeouf playing a particularly nihilistic enforcer; as such, it has been summarily dismissed as exploitative, and perhaps borderline racist. These are easy accusations, and miss the mark. It is a terrible film, but also, astonishingly bad, and therefore, most watchable, for any fan of B-movies and crime cinema. Firstly, let's address the all-Latinos-depicted-are-bad claim - not true. The main character, the Tax Collector for various gangs in LA, David, has many family members who are entirely good, decent people. The film is especially careful to establish a pecking-order, and many people in the community are preyed upon, ordinary citizens; moreover, even the murderous African American gang that w…


[Note, in light of the subject of this essay's continuing refusal to apologise, recognise their errors, or show any humility or empathy, it is hard to maintain a sense of compassion for them; I thought they were merely ill - it seems they have deep hate; however, despite the recalcitrance and hole-digging, which seems deeply misguided at best, at worst, despicable, I will seek to maintain the position of trying to separate the sin and sinner. Though, for the time being, I can support those who now seek to publicly remonstrate and demonstrate against Twitter and this person's ongoing foul fusillades against the Jewish people. It's time for Wiley to take responsibility and acknowledge the pain he is causing. I pray he does.]
Wiley has made a series of totally offensive and wrong anti-Semitic comments on Twitter, and was immediately banned (for a week) by the social media company - that false friend that encourages discord and profits by it - and has lost his management team, …

Do No Harm

Don Share's recent resignation letter from Poetry magazine contained a fascinating claim that poetry was a promise - a promise to the reader to ultimately do no harm to them. Writing in the context of having published a very long, probably mediocre, and offensive poem filled with racist slurs, by a young, privileged, white American poet, in his famous magazine, this makes a noble sense. At a time when systemic racism is a vital issue to confront, editorial decisions have meaning - symbols matter, and time and space given over to less important themes or concerns can appear to be, or actually be, hurtful, and damaging.
Share was writing primarily as an editor, willing to take responsibility for his selections and choices, but he is also a poet, and a scholar, whose expertise relates to Seneca and, in the modern period, Basil Bunting. Bunting, a disciple of Ezra Pound, could hardly agree with Share's idea of harm, nor would the stoic Seneca, since the stoics believed harm only re…


I am reminded of Cato's Guilty Men, the 1940 British best-selling polemic that established the 'appeasement' approach as wrong, and charged (Cato was three anonymous journalists, not a judge) the many men named as dolts or worse who had squandered the past ten years, and let a great evil rise unchecked. Churchill, newly elected to a national unity government, would save the day, and rid the top of the failed dead wood; Churchill did save the day, and nation, but he keep most of the top untrimmed. He was, after all, a Conservative.
For then, think now. Ten years of NHS underfunding, and gross under-preparation for the pandemic, long-warned-of. For the 'Munich' agreement, and the deal, think of the 'herd immunity strategy' - or the late 'lockdown' - or indeed, the now unfortunate '20,000 deaths will be a good result claim' (oft-repeated). But who, then is Churchill?
In one sense, PM Boris is, because his return to power, as the newly-Christened …


HOT ZONE CONFESSIONS‘Thomas and Lowell made themselves the metaphor of their poems’1.I am myself the quarantine.The garden spreads childrenIn summer clothes like soresOn a lip. The world quivers,All arrows locked and loadedTo overflow. I don’t quite explode.2.Writing has never been bomb squadTo the great squatting missiles belowOur skins; you don’t avoidVolcanic eruption with lava postcards.Words hurl microbial aerosolAcross the lawn to sicken, invade.3.I’m only paper, metaphor, inky myth.What’s made isn’t mine or shrapnel to own,Contains pandemics in its sly mists.Controlled explosions like punking steam?All dreams are engines to the minefieldMind we try to civilly distance from, or collide in.4.We’ve died in rhetorical verse too often to seeThe trees burst from it like shells out ofBurial mounds; all’s fecundity, even dross,Drivel, moss, or fungal rot. All personal worksSurround me, yet extend, like vines on branchesFurl in forests to the furthermost interior animals.5.Go out, stay …

Flattening Chaos

A week ago, on the 14th, I predicted here we would likely see around 20,000 reported UK deaths, and between 160-200 k cases reported, of infection. As it turns out, the hospital reported deaths as of yesterday are closer to 17 k, and the reported cases are around 125 k. Now, since reports suggest community-based and care home deaths (unreported at this stage for these hospital NHS figures) add another 41% per cent to these already solemn and tragic figures, we probably are looking at over 20,000 UK deaths so far related to Covid-19; and at least 160,000 cases - though some studies suggest the number is closer to 1.6 million infected in the population.
The government has had a mixed time of it - they have succeeded in acquiring more beds and ventilators than needed, and their ability to persuade the electorate to law-abide and stay in has been marvellous. Infection rates have seemingly begun to plateau, deaths are slowing - the lockdown has worked, the NHS has not buckled.


CICERO UNLOCKEDAfter  W.B.Y & D.T. with loveCicero knows a soul is there or isn’t thereAnd neither bandage unbreaks the fear;My cat’s coalfired sleeping in a fiery poolPut out in purrs sleep derails, his furThe kingdom of panthers all breeders conferRibbons on; in heaven the dead move too –In puzzled sleep, at their side some ownerScribbling also of the worried times: halfThe world is half apart from half the world’sOther part – the solid heart has come to knowThe dialogue of self, and loss, and selfless loss;As Plato told, and Aristotle tossed aside, in scorn.We’re divisions of an army made up of usAlone; the hill-town’s been cut off from its face,To save the sloping nose to keep the mills alight.Economies of scale collapselike climbing biblesTipping off a feeding beltway to appal the stars.It is dust bowling as dollars fly like miceOut of the cat hospitals to die church poorIn single pairs of lost mittens, disallowed to mournUntil morning’s dark and the mountains flat as ice.We …