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APOCALYPSE NEW

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I am back here from some personally challenging times, health-wise, including having a three-wire device implanted into my heart, a large blood clot on my heart, heart failure, and Covid twice in past two months. But enough about me. Recently I went on my first family vacation since the pandemic, and it was truly wonderful to see my brother, sister in law and godson. To swim. To even sip a bit of sangria. Anyway, since I have been gone, the Ukraine war has increased in ferocity, and tens of thousands of people have died in the battle between Western liberal freedoms and the alternative autocratic vision; we have a European drought the worst in 500 years; polio back in London's water; Trump a martyr to the FBI and likely to be the next president; a China threatening Taiwan; and the worst economic slump in the UK in over 27 years, leading to severe fuel shortages, and a crisis for families trying to pay their bills, with inflation at 10% and rising and 5 quarters of recession on the

Poem day before my 56th birthday

Poem day before my 56 th birthday   The perfect poem is out of sight, around the bend, Part optic fibre cables being laid underground, Part cherry blossoms staggeringly impermanent, Outrageous as Stravinsky music in the air,   Part finely shattered, gold-re-joined, Satsuma vase, Part so-brazenly broken national laws, Part of the world as it moves around other worlds, Part so personal it embarrasses even itself,   Part cruelly stern as a witchfinder general, Part wonderfully iconoclastic as a witch’s brew, Part cat sleeping, part cat leaping, part paw, Part mouse that got away; part all the pain   We ever knew, and then some, and then some more; The treasure under the floorboards under the stairs, Is being written for someone else’s birthday, By someone else; won’t ever be written, to be true,   Because perfection is the enemy of any friend To what is troubling to imagine, harder to rephrase. That won’t stop me from summoning this one up, Stolen from the mystery shelf where languag

SNOW, NEW POEM

  Snow   In Hampstead for Warfarin blood tests I meet a lady with a cane at coffee after who lives near Keats' house, whose mother knew Louis MacNeice;   whose husband, post-pacemaker, jumps from helicopters to ski; and I recite to her the poem 'Snow' about the sudden world, particular,   indivisible, and we speak of books, how at Easter, she hides them in her garden for her grandchildren, like chocolate eggs; and then she leaves;   and I reflect on the world of strangers, the world of blood, atomic, riven, how this April the coldest winds are being driven to us from Russian forces;   how the white snow looks like surrender being torn up into a polyglot roar of refusal, anger, and civilian defiance; how I am thankful to the invisible maybe   of creation for more hours in this flurry of experiences, talking, being vulnerable, less dead than I could be, than others are, as snow unseasonably becomes real.     Ap

new poem

PRE-OP SPRING DAY IN MARCH 2022 It's been too long till spring -     is false. It's here, in time. just as it always was, a thing     like a wheel or a poem, rhyme; that is, it has its schedule,     takes its turn, happens as it does. Still, the sun climbing trees, I'm full     to bursting with light's to and fros. All is event, like thought, argument,     war or love; like a pacemaker device, implant I fear to have, spent     hours returning like a general to their tent. It's life itself that surveys     maps, terrain, future battlefields. Nothing less than this glorious day     of impractical miracle-sun, big yields, obliterates memories of lockdown, shelters     underground, darkness that preys on mind and heart-valves, those skelters     that turn about like unlovers, May's dancers around the burgeoning pole.     I'm alive, for now, pre-op, thoughtful, re-reading The School of Donne , again,     to be reminded of a deceased friend to look at a brilliant

Ukraine

I have remained silent at my blog about the terrible invasion of Ukraine, because I have been ill, and also didn't want to say anything useless, as if my voice or opinion on this matter had much sway. I am now going to try and compile a fundraising anthology of poems, because I have experience of doing such things, and it seems a small way to raise some money, and perhaps print a few good poems that may inspire others to also help a refugee, or give some money or other material benefit. This is obviously a very dark and troubling time in our history, and I am worried of escalation to atomic weapon use, or chemical and biological weapons. I light a candle for Ukraine in my window. I will write more about the anthology soon, after my operation. Hopefully the peace deal will come soon.

SWIFT REPORT 2021

My report will be brief this year - I am grateful to be alive. 2021 was a very tough year for a lot of people - and 2022 looks to be also very challenging. Up until December, 2021, I would have said the best of the year was keeping the Eyewear publishing company going so it could reach its 10th year (2022), and therefore keeping a small good team in work; and 100s of books in print. Personally, hiking in Northern Ireland/the North of Ireland, and doing wild swimming, and training with Al Beard, and Wimbledon, would have been summer highlights; plus great sporting events, and the English almost winning the Euros... Then, a few days before Christmas, I went into the hospital for heart failure; I have a large blood clot on my heart, and my heart was only working 17% or so. Now it is up to 22%. I am off work, and still seriously ill, on 15 or more tablets a day. My family is worried, it is a super worrying time. I am focused on recovery, doing what must be done, staying calm as possible. I

CALM BEFORE THE STORMS?

Depending on where you live in Europe, 'Christmas is cancelled' is already a thing. Lockdowns and major new waves of Delta/Omicron have already started in Ireland, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and beyond. Travel is being curtailed, as is access to pubs, restaurants and crowded events. In England, the most laissez-faire of the UK's nations, there is a sort of blasé exceptionalism, commingled with a frantic surge in third (and fourth) vaccinations (boosters). The UK government has been keen to normalise the situation since summer, and 'move the conversation on' - the new variant is a bloody impertinence, and not on message at all. This blog and its chief writer-editor are not optimists. I find the history of human conduct to be an almost infinite library of ignorance, cruelty and self-interest, leavened at times with striking acts of sacrifice, wisdom, and kindness noteworthy by their relative rarity. Violence and depravity seem hard-wired, but even if it is onl