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Poem for my mother, who read me Frost first

P oem for my mother, who read me Frost first The whole thing is the fact we’re not okay, The thing and the rest of it are the same corollary It has the name of all and several sectors, sprayed, Like lavender oil or some arcane graffiti, in display – We’re meshed up with the disappearing decay, gone   Like Spengler into the madhouse there, a fairground Array that would make Ian Curtis moan this is the way Not to go – we’re AWOL on a precipice for Cruise To cycle off, in cyclone, in perpetuity, as if to say, The ground is up above, the twister is also there,   And I don’t care who knows the plans of the Chief Who holds the cards intact, the hand betrays The eye that bulges from battle affray, from fearsome Blown debris, it’s not a good time to be staying out late, Or even indoors, mate, stay somewhere else, sick bay?   The tree that hid us from the storm has been struck twice First by light’s finger, then by the malefactor known as ice. As Elvis C.
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The debate last night between Trump and Biden was one of the worst moments in American political history. Far from being just a pitiful spectacle, that can be mocked, it was (and remains) a terrible, shocking and even terrifying look into an abyss. The main take-away was that the two main candidates are unworthy to be President, and that a once-great nation of hundreds of millions of people, that can only locate these two for the most important job in the land, and world, is in peril. But it gets worse. Trump is more than unworthy - he is a clear and present danger to the world. Not everything he says is a lie, or monstrous, or threatening, but a lot is. He openly refuses to accept democracy, and is likely to side against NATO in the Ukraine conflict, undermine efforts to control global heating, as well as implement radically extreme positions at home. His re-election to a second term would signal a low from which American democracy might not recover. Biden, on the other hand, did his


  IN MEMORIAM HELEN VENDLER, APRIL 2024   Critics who die are never loved; Love itself is a paradox their ambiguous work Cannot solve; theirs are the rocks The penmanship of prose is   driven onto – Theirs the grove the poet is not laurelled in – Canyons divide what labours they prove To themselves have value, from The impression made by them on authors   Stranded to one side of their prodigious wake – They take more than they give, some say – While others bask in their praise, as if Their gift was new, more luminous solar rays – But even when their own texts approach, Penumbral, art itself, the beauty or truth They claim remains incongruously peripheral, Like the third lover in any complicated bed –   Used, then merely tolerated, perhaps despised, For envy is bred by savage intimacy entangled by Parasitical limbs – or what passes lyrically for such, In the books they tore to shreds, or adumbrated, As the worthiest of desire’s deceitful a


Since it is Easter week, I have been watching Jesus of Nazareth again, that star-studded 1970s spectacle, that brings back wonderful memories of being 11 and watching it with my Uncle Jack. My other favourite TV experience of the 70s is The Poseidon Adventure , when it was broadcast, and the two productions share a similar theme, actually - a holy man trying to lead his flock to safety in a dangerous environment. Both also have Oscar-winning casts (including  Ernest Borgnine ). The Jesus of Nazareth mini-series is now seen as a Sir Lew Grade classic, with Maurice Jarre 's rousing score, and astonishing array of actors, and realistic location-shoots, adding much. Oddly, the screenplay was partly written by Anthony Burgess , whose A Clockwork Orange is probably antithetical; and much of the key moments are directly from the King James Bible New Testament. Whatever else one may think about The Bible, few books have ever had as many great lines of dialogue, so many memorable saying


I am writing this post without much enthusiasm, but with a sense of duty. This blog will be 20 years old soon, and though I rarely post here anymore, I owe it some attention. Of course in 2023, "Swift" now means one thing only, Taylor Swift, the billionaire musician. Gone are the days when I was asked if I was related to Jonathan Swift. The pre-eminent cultural Swift is now alive and TIME PERSON OF THE YEAR. There is no point in belabouring the obvious with delay: 2023 was a low-point in the low annals of human history - war, invasion, murder, in too many nations. Hate, division, the collapse of what truth is, exacerbated by advances in AI that may or may not prove apocalyptic, while global warming still seems to threaten the near-future safety of humanity. It's been deeply depressing. The world lost some wonderful poets, actors, musicians, and writers this year, as it often does. Two people I knew and admired greatly, Ian Ferrier and Kevin Higgins, poets and organise

Oppenheimer by Nolan

Nolan's film Oppenheimer when at its best, is as good as cinema has ever been. I admit to writing this on the anniversarary of the dropping of the first bomb on Japan, which I consider a war crime and a human tragedy of the largest kind, as was the second bomb. I write this post with great respect for those who died or suffered then, and I know that the film itself seeks to expose, somehow, the sheer magnitude and moral toxicity of this invention - one which, as the film shows, could have burnt the whole world, not just Japan. Art can perhaps speak to the atrocities at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, or avoid them. Nolan's film obliquely references the horror - the inventor and the president both speak of guilt or innocence, neither seems to inhabit the space to fully comprehend their crimes. So why make a film about nuclear bombs, if the material is so powerful, so painful, so irradiated with historic guilt and shame? I suppose because of ambition, a desire to take on the largest th

thinking of kevin

L ike a lot of people, who knew and loved him - and I am not referring here intrusively to his closest relations or loved ones, but instead, to the poets, editors and publishers who worked with him - I am having a hard time with the death of the great Irish poet, and person, Kevin Higgins . Though we often disagreed on politics, and though we had drifted apart, he WAS the person who wrote the introduction to my Salmon Poetry selected poems, Seaway , and he WAS the person I included in almost every anthology or event I organised for over a decade or more, starting with Poets against the War . He felt like a soul brother to me, and for many years we met relatively often, had dinner or drinks, and spoke about poetry. Our partners met with us, sometimes; and we met not only in London, but Paris, New York, Budapest, and of course, Galway. Other than Patrick Chapman , he is the Irish poet I feel closest to, aesthetically, but also, in how we view the established order of poetic things (that