Showing posts from 2021


  TWO JULY POEMS   1.   I forget the July hammer of sun each year building my boat of wavering sleep as heat swims on air to reach a beached tree; no crash of bird or rose sinks this high hammock sol makes just with itself; only nature is artificer enough to change a world by degrees, as instant as weather which is creation of new terms to live on. I drift for once with dry book as a child aloft on poetry; summer is its own genre, shaded garden in a library heart borrows from a shelf then keeps forever forgotten; parted early brightness years the loan we cannot return.     2. Speaking to themselves what we call flowers what we see as colours know their requirements so act accordingly at night and dawn, mid-summer or when frost comes on; nothing we say is meant as rain to feed their stamens, pistils, buds or leaves; bright petals lure in what needs nectar, their vines explore smart like the digital world; connection is nature’s word; we learn the language of them then arrogate our names


So 'Freedom Day' is tomorrow, and the UK Health secretary has Covid, and the PM and other top ministers in the government have to self-isolate for ten days because they spent time with him... cases are rising so quickly that delivery systems are collapsing under the strain of worker absence due to quarantine and illness. The government's idea to 'let the pandemic rip like the flu' IS WRONG. 1. deaths remain low, BUT the virus spreads quickly and makes people ill enough to need time off or hospitalisation in sufficient numbers to cause societal and economic chaos; 2. an idea that people only want to avoid death - many also want to avoid organ failure and long-term survival on respirators, or six months of brain fog. The farce should end. It won't, probably, but they should delay Freedom Day, and then scrap the idea and replace it with an on-off switch like in a world periodically attacked by space vampires - when it is green, we can go out normally; when it is r

England Was Dreaming

Well done to the England football team and its manager, whose playing got them to the first final for an England football team since 1966, 55 years ago. True, they lost at Wembley, their iconic home, in the finals, against a surging and vibrant Italian side of brilliance, but they accomplished much, with decency and boldness. Sine the loss, the shocking levels of racism still extant among England fans, and the English, towards Black players (and presumably others) has been revealed, thanks, ironically, to incompetent (or deceitful) or complicit tech firms whose ability to sell us things instantly seems unable to block our uglier side, while profiting from seemingly reading everything else about our behaviour and thoughts. By taking the knee against the booing, the England team, like the crew of the Starship Enterprise, enables us to see a future, possible way of being our better selves, and as such, their heroism transcends the rather cruel penalty kick ending to the jubilant tournamen

Michael Horovitz Has Died

This blog will write more about Michael Horovitz soon - he was a wonderful, funny, entertaining, intelligent, generous and visionary poet and a significant part of the British poetry scene post-war. His death is sad and a true loss, but his spirit and many projects and poems will live on. 

July 19th new poem

FREEDOM DAY? - a nightmare I almost died But so did you The story is old Before it is true And when it’s gone It’s gone for bad So put out the bunting And try to be glad The empire of song Is dancing away The vessels are sinking The birds have gone grey The squares are deserted Or maybe obscene The windows are breaking The sea is Joyce-green; It’s a time of regretting And making new friends; A time of denouncing And making amends; The words that go deeper Are gasping for air; The world that is better Is not very fair; What was impressive Is now dinky and mean; We’ve grown better whiskers And eat to be lean; Delivery is billions And content is queen; We live on the edge Of extremes like two stars Gaseous and distant And brutally far; I try to get closer But truths cause a rift; We’re adrift on what’s melting, The soul train needs some more coal; Brazil is burning And the moon is awhirl; The decade is comin

Variants Plus Plus

There is something of a Little Prince telling the sun to shut on or off about some businesspersons in the UK (and some politicians) demanding to 'open up' and let the travel and summer fun let rip. Such robust calls for less government control of 'our lives' seems based on the conviction, in some circles, that the government enjoys controlling people and limiting the opportunities for businesses to thrive, or that they have badly misread the scientific evidence. Whether this is wishful thinking, wilful blindness, or cynical agitprop, is unclear. When a nightclub owner or airline boss wants masses to get together again to generate revenue for a failing business, it is reasonable to understand their wish for cash influx, but less certain this person represents objective, disinterested 'common sense' let alone, the latest science. As many have noted you cannot 'follow the science' because science is multiple, but one thing 'science' is, which busine

Artistic Freedom

 It has been said more than once that the way a minority is treated indicates the quality of the majority - and in a world of multiple, and sometimes contrasting, individual and 'minority' identities, aided and sometimes undermined by, activism online, it might be soon the other way also - how minorities speak to majorities can be an issue. Of course, what is the 'majority' now, or the 'norm' with so many splintered interests, is uncertain, in an age of uncertainty. The Royal Academy has recently removed for sale works in their shop by an artist who, it was reported to them, holds potentially repugnant ideas and opinions. The reporting of these views is completely reasonable, and is it also reasonable to be saddened and concerned by such views, which threaten that community's sense of identity and meaning. What is less reasonable is the idea that the RA would then remove the artist from their shop - in common parlance, 'cancelling' them. What a commu

Is Freedom from Language Possible?

Reading an essay on poetry and morality (or even sin) by Geoffrey Hill, the 'great', dead, 20th century English poet born in Bromsgrove, most often considered by critics the exemplar of 'difficult', 'rigorous', 'serious' or even 'elitist' poetry (as contrasted, to, say, Larkin), one is reminded of at least one thought: to choose a style is to select a way of thinking, or appearing to think. Allusive, circling, referential, and interested in other poets and their ideas - deferential then, to, if questioning of, tradition(s) - Hill's prose is not far from an ideal, the ideal perhaps, of what an intelligent use of language might sound like, or be. That this is an artifice - the choosing of this sort of dress for the mind, rather than another style - might be a heresy too far - some writers who are thinkers, like Orwell, consider the clear and precise use of language - a clarity - both moral and political - an essential fusion of the good - langu

The death of Prince Philip

Despite having the same human failings as every other human, Prince Philip , in the documentaries on the BBC after his death, has been shown to be one of the great men - and I use that word intentionally for good and ill - of the past 100 years, in Western civilisation - a civilisation whose values, again, flawed for being human, nevertheless will be missed within a decade from now. Tall, handsome, physically expert at every sport he tried, superb and brave in war on the high seas, intelligent, interested in science, an early adopter of new technologies, and an environmentalist, who stood by his wife for 70 years as monarch and never complained, and was known for an irreverent sense of humour, with a Christian mother who harboured Jews from Nazis, and a profligate father, Philip Mountbatten was the all-rounder - a flawed but ideal sort of 'James Bond' man's man - strong, stoic, and able to serve a greater common good. He was no rebel, but he was non-traditional in many ways


  55 (x 2)   Nothing could have prepared me For being born In Montreal, not even the long 18 th century, the little ice age, Or the summer my father learned   To swim and dive. As stoics Enjoy saying, ad nauseum, Death is like thinking Of all the years before birth. It barely registers and cannot hurt.   What doesn’t hurt doesn’t make you Exist, or their other idea, that earth Mingles Caesar and commoner alike. It’s a strange comfort to be told Your time preparing to arrive   Is what death is – so we come From death; then birth is stealing From the dead world? This is not What I want to go on about In this prattling meandering form   In which I choose to materialise Before you, which is what poems are, A way to teleport back and forth – In time and space, the zoom call Of their day. All early arts are replaced   Eventually by a better way to sing Happy birthday or choose a hot date, Or haggle over shares of some corpo


Cathy’s Clown   ‘I die each night I hear this sound / here he comes that’s Cathy’s clown’   As the Anglican communion withers on the vine, After centuries of Brexit-like post-papal decline, Britain finds its new age built on a looser soil,   Belief brittle, online, feckless and vainly personal, As if the idea of a higher being was a crass magic That the Francis Crick ‘team’ had finally licked   With an ace crackerjack vaccine that mainly works When it infuriates the French, Germans and Turks… What other church is overseen by a former oil exec   Who admits to often being a bit depressed, atheistic? It’s difficult running a side-split faith organisation Derived from a randy king’s desire for penetration   In multiple ways not approved of by the testaments – Only in England could ‘bells and smells’ be meant In the best possible way, could priests be somewhat gay,   Yet told not to sleep together, in direct contrast, say, To their founding


  ON BEING KINGS OF LEON   Here’s what no one says: It’s hard to be a man these days; Probably harder not to be, To be some other identity, But that’s their story, and good luck To them, but if we’re about saying Truths, then this is one, just the same: When I was born I was slapped With a father’s name, But no fathering came to me. At least none I could see. The car I could have driven Remained locked; the golf course I might have mastered with a steadying Grip is wintering under ignorance. I barely know how to drink. Watching the new Kings of Leon Video, shot to look resonant of An age when black and white imagery Was meaningful, it is hurtful To sense how little these four white Men have left, apparently more sober now, About their business with a parental sense Something else is more valuable Than backstage rotgut and upfront groupies. Maybe. I see men sweating, ageing, growing beards And bellies, the look of the lockdown, N