Tuesday, 29 December 2009

SWALLOWS/GWENOLIAD - Menna Elfyn



Fe ddeallwn wenoliad,
briwsion ar fwrdd yr ardd,
yn llygad y drws.
Deallwn eu llwgu,
eu hawydd i dorri bara a ni.

Ac onid adar ydym ninnau,
adar nid o'r unlliw?
Eto'r entrych yw'r encil,
unigedd yn pigo'r pridd.

Ac ym mhob ffurfafen
mae mudo, cymysgu
a'r ddaear am nodded.
Fforddoloion ar aden,
eu clwyfo gan hanes,
yn chwilio o'r newydd, nyth,
man gwyn i orffwys.

Yr adar, a'u plu cynness?
Dylent gofio yr heb-ogion,
yn seri'r tir,
yn chwilio'r tir comin.

Un wen, a wna wanwyn,
un wnnol yn llunio'r haf.

Bird we understand,
spend crumbs in garden,
at back-door's eye;
undertand their need
to break bread with us.

And are we not birds who
don't always flock together?
The sky a high refuge,
lonely, knowing we'll land, meet
beak's needs, at heartbreak

And in every firmament
migrators mingle, mixing
heaven and earth for shelter,
wayfarers a-wing,
histories' hurted,
seeking anew a nest,
a fair resting-place.

So those birds, warm-feathered,
should remember the withouters
scouring the soil
in search of common ground.

One smile a spring,
one swallow making summer.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

ROUGH GUIDE - Grahame Davies



Mae'n digwydd yn anorfod,
fel dwr yn dod o hyd i'w lefel,
ond bob tro yr agoraf lawlyfr teithio
'rwy'n hwylio heibio'r prifddinasoedd a'r golygfeydd,
ac yn tyrchu i stydoedd cefn diolwg y mynegai,
a chael fy mod yn Ffrainc, yn Llydaw;
yn Seland Newydd, Maori;
yn y Unol Daleithiau - yn dibynnu ar ba ran-
'rwy'n Navajo, Yn Cazun, neu'n ddu

Y fi yw'r Cymro Crwydr;
yn Iddew ymhob man.
Heblaw, wrth gwrs, am Israel.
Yno, 'wy'n Baleteiniad.

Mae'n rhyw fath o gymhlethdod, mae'n rhaid,
fy mod yn codi'r grachen ar fy psyche fel hyn.
Mi dybiaf weithiau sut beth a fyddai
i fynd i un o'r llefydd hyn
a jyst mwynhau.

Ond na, wrth grwydro cyfandiroedd y cyfrolau
yr un yw'r cwestiwn ym mhorthladd pb pennod:
"Dinas neis. 'Nawr blw nae'r geto?"

It happens inevitably,
like water finding its level:
evey time I open a trvel book,
I sail past the capitlal cities, the sights,
and dive straight into the backstreets of the index
to find that in France, Im Breton;
in New Zealand, Maori;
in the U.S.A.- depending on which part-
I'm Navajo, Cajun, or black.

I'm the wandering Welshman
I'm Jewish everywhere.
Except, of course, in Israel.
There, I'm Palestinian.

It's some kind of a complex, I know,
that makes me pick this scab on my psyche.
I wonder sometimes what it would be like
to go to these places
and just enjoy.

No, as I wander the continents of the guidebooks,
whatever chapter may be my destination,
the question's always the same when I arrive:
"Nice city. Now where's the ghetto?"
d

Friday, 25 December 2009

8 Englynion


MEIRIONETH

Living paradise of flowers, land of honey, land of violet and blossoms,
land rich in crops, land of nut-bushes, and dear land of the hills,
John Machreth Rees ( MACHRETH)

HEATHER FLOWERS

Gaily they grow, the quiet throng, fair gems of the realm of sun and wind, the hanging bells of the high crags, flowers of the rocks, like cups of honey.

Eliseus Williams (Eifion Wyn) 1867-1926


THE POLE STAR

A lamp are you, above all stars of night, to guide sailors in the dusk;
lovely is your colour, sweet maid, standing in the doorway of the pole.

Colsett Colsett (Carnelian) 1834-1910


NIGHTFALL

Silence by the dark night; Eryri's
mountains veiled by mist;
The sun in the bed of brine,
The moon silvering the water.

Walter Davies (Gwalter Mechain) 1761-1849


EAVES

Giving, while the rain lasts, soft noises
Like a thousand being milked;
When the roof's thick with ice,
under it, strange teats appear.

Ellis Jones, 20th century


THE BELOVED

A fair cheek under a merry blue eye, two brows
Under a lattice of yellow curls;
For sure the sons of heaven were called
To splinter the gold for her hair.

David Roberts (Dewi Havhesp) 1831-1884


AN OLD WOMAN

Scant and straggling her yellow hair, from her lip
The bee's honey has fled;
Withered and poor is the white skin,
Briars insted of roses.

D.Gwenallt Jones (Gwenallt) 1899-1968

THE HOUR OF SLEEP

The hour of sleep has come silently, the hour of forgetfulness,
over the ranks of being,
A drowsy hour on the heavy shore
Of the sea men call mortality.

Robert Ellis (Cynddelw) 1812-1875

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A CHRISTMAS REVEL - Daffyd Bach ap Madog Wladaidd ( 1340 - 1390 )


I have seen a court, and a dozen courts,
And no court have I seen as gracious
As the court I love for its chieftain's sake,
Not weak is my praise, like Celligwen:
Heaven's bounty on earth in Bachelldref,
Where there is a revel each Christmas,
A crowd of kinsmen, a lake of liquor,
Bright the honour of Meurig's homeland,
Many a minstel and merry fiddler,
And much the mirth on a polished floor,
And a sound of strigs, a deluge of drinks,
And the constant cadence of singing,
And a red-hued lance of Cadwaladr's line,
A blood-gushing blade, promise of meat,
And minstrels' swaying, and children chirping,
And the bustle of boys bringing food,
The cup-bearer weary, kitchen sore-tried,
And three kinds of wine for the thirsty.
Three customs there are, a merry country,
At Daffyd's hight court, blameless boldness:
Whoever you are, whatever you sing,
And whatever the thing you're known for,
Come whenever you wish, take what you see,
And once come, stay as long as you like.




SEASONS GREETINGS EVERYBODY, PEACE AND GOODWILL TOO
UNLESS YOUR A FASCIST ******* THEN **** YOU

REFUGEES - Vernon Scannell (23/1/22 -16/11/07)



British poet, author, one time professional boxer, WW11 deserter, honory Gypsy and Anarchist.

In dusk of helmet brims the eye looks stern,
Unwavering; no matter what they see
Or where they gaze- Bluff Cove, Thermopylae,
Kuwait, The Somme - the pillaged cities burn,
And when the owners of those eyes return
And put away their weapons there will be
An alien music in a harsher key,
New words and syntax difficult to learn.

Wars never end. Across the livid plain
The dark processions trail, the refugees,
Anonymous beneath indifferent skies,
Somnambulistic, patient shapes of pain,
Long commentary on war, an ancient frieze
Of figures we refuse to recognise.

Monday, 21 December 2009

happy winter solstice.



Counting the possible ring of years
on this the shortest day
every thousand years a bird flickers past
and announces, all is not lost
reach out for another shore
quietly and slowly dive.
Snow flakes embrace the moon
finding the same root as us under branches,
breathe the air as needed, look to the stars,
in the evening be at peace among friends,
The earth still breathing
wonder at it's sacredness,
doubtless there will be storm clouds brewing,
the taste of future days to behold
all in the end must come true,
words will not fail us.
Life's mystery, there now
runs silently and deep.
We try to soar above
reaching out,rejuvenating
Let us Sing out

PEACE

HEDDWCH

Choose now gentle
rejoicing.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

THE SNOWALL -Gwerfyl Mechain (1460-1500)

Brecon Beacons

White flour, earth-flesh, a cold fleece on the mountain, small snow of
the chill black day; snow like a platter, bitter cold plumage, a softness
sent to entrammel me.
White snow on the cold hill above has blinded me and soaked my clothes.
By the blessed God! I had no hope I should ever get to my house.


THE HOSTESS OF THE FERRY INN

I keep the custom of the ferry, a tavern none can blame, a white-
robed moon giving sweet welcome to him that comes with silver.
'Tis my desire to be, to all men's content, a faultless world to my
guests, and to sing among them in familiar converse as I pour out
the mead



Note :- Gwerfyl Mechain was a poetess, and so a " rara avis " of the Welsh fifteenth century. What we know of her life would hardly fill a wren's egg. She has been credited with a number of avidly sexual poems, but this is to add the unknowable to the unknown.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

STEWART HOME - Excerpt from Sixty Years Of Treason ( Neoism, Plagiarism & Praxis, 1995).



Today, anyone who wants to write a book that's worthwhile has to write
it themselves. No one who fears new ideas need be afraid of the lifeless
commodities thrown onto the mass market by those publishing houses active
in Britain. Newspaper and magazine sales have been completely stitched up
by Smiths and Menzies, they control the vast majority of the trade, their retail
outlets are unimportant, it's their stranglehold on distribution that counts.
Book production is no different, a few conglomerates own virtually every-
thing. They throw one Martin Amis imitator at us after another, and hype this
garbage as the future of English Fiction. This is a joke, English fiction has no
future. Subversive ideas would certainly sell, but don't expect to find them in
your local high street, any analysis of books on terrorism and spookery quickly
reveals that non-market forces set the agenda in British publishing.

Maybe you've been knocking around for years and the literary establishmen'ts
stone-walling of your work hasn't succeeded in getting you to shut the fuck up.
No problem! A major publisher will buy you up, put out your new book and then
get cold feet. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy, how could the book sell if it
wasn't promoted or given proper distribution? Bought up or left in the cold,
history will prove us right. Those so called "writers" and "editors" currently stuffing their faces at literary luncheons will be forgotten in a few years time.
We know it, they know it, and this is why they're so vociferous in their attitude
toward talent. The literary establishment is eaten up with tension, with frustration, at not being talented, at not being capable of pleasure of any kind, eaten up with hate - not rational hate that is directed at those who abuse, insult
and enslave - but irrational, indiscriminate hate; hatred, at bottom, of their own worthlessness.

The crippled minds who support the dominant culture value decorum and good taste
precisely because they are incapable of understanding " ugliness " as anything
other than a mirror image of their own deformed intellects. The literary establishment hates the sterility of the writers it promotes and so it projects
this quality onto progressive cultural tendencies. However, the dominant
" culture " eventually becomes so desperate for an infusion of fresh blood that someone whose work has long been the subject of irrational hatred among the
" literati " will suddenly be invited onto the subsidised gravy train of luncheons, readings, residencies, lectureships and grants. The young dog taken up by these vampires will be bled dry in three weeks, leaving official " culture " as sick as ever. The zombies who promote traditional literary values are incapable of facing the fact that their every last thought is a conditioned reflex, entirely determined by past experience, it's much worse than suffering from halitosis, thes people have a corpse in their mouth.

Our most pressing task is to bury this " culture " of mediocrity.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

WINTER -Welsh, author unknown; c. eleventh century



sharp wind
stark hill
scant shelter
unforded ford
frozen lake
a single stem
would bear a man
wave on wave
drowns the shore
high cries
from the steep slope
hard even to stand
for a man outside
cold lakebed
before the winter
reeds withered
stalks broken
harsh wind
branches bare
cold bed of fishes
under ice cover
starved stag
bearded reeds
short evening
trees bent
falling snow
white cloak
warriors make
no foray
cold lake
of warmthless colour
falling snow
idle shield
hoar frost
idle shield
on a spent man's shoulder
shrill wind
grass freezing
falling snow
on the skin of the ice
billowing wind
through close trees
a shield sits well
on a well man's shoulder
falling snow
the valley fills
warriors go to war
but I shall not go
a wound forbids it

Sunday, 13 December 2009

PATRICK JONES - Poet Provocateur



Patrick Jones ( born 1965 ) is a Welsh political performance poet , playwright, activist and filmaker based in Blackwood, South Wales . A poet of our times, controversial, provocative , unflinching in his use of words, an uncompromising no to apathetic acceptance . He writes from the heart, with passion and integrity. Asking questions that a lot of people are afraid to talk about. He seems to want to tear down walls and divisions, and replace them with a better vision.
There have been decades of gradual opening out of media to open discussions on Iraq/Afghanistan War, sexual equality, oppression yet in recent times there has been a closing down of religious discussion.
It is not very politically correct to be an anti religious poet, which is what Patrick is, but he is foremost a poet of humanity, with all it's despair and ugliness. He reflects the closing down of dissent, is not afraid to stick his head over the trenches. Who remembers Thomas Moore, who are the new martyrs on either side. Remember People are still killing in the name of a God, we are in the age of basic new crusades.
Does centuries of struggling for womens liberation - political women's freedom and the right to vote mean we cannot now reach out to the Eastern World, to free their women from slavery, no vote, no education, no career, no equal property rights.
Patrick screams about such injustices as these, whether from a Western perspective or an Eastern one.
Here is a poet that actually challenges and confronts fundamental religion in all its forms, he dares to have the courage to use language some people in the current climate are afraid to raise. A People's Poet of the dispossessed and disenfranchised, an angry voice reflecting these angry times. He refuses to be silenced, a Christian group calling itself "Christian Voice " have called for his works to be banned, vehementally attacking Patrick's work, they have tried unsuccessfully to silence him. A disgusting symptom of reactionary Britain, if one does not enjoy reading something simply don't read it, it reminds me of book burning days , do we simply regress , or do we move forward. I don't agree with everything in the Bible, or other religious texts, but I would not seek to censor them, censorship simply fans the flames. The only weapons Patrick uses are his words, carrying swords of freedom, justice and equality , simply trying to heal the world, fighting division and all its causes, poverty social injustices. Seeking unity between us all . He also writes passionately about poverty, domestic abuse and violence. Fiercely opposed to fascism ,racism , bigotry in all it's forms. A Poet of peace then.
A powerful performer I have seen him a few times and I must say he is definitely worth checking out, he has also released two powerful records combining spoken word with music, collaborating with a numberr of musicians including Nicky Wire, James Dean Bradfield, Billy Bragg and many more.
Conversation and Amnesia (Big Noise Production) 1999
Tonques for a Stammering Time (Anhrefn Records) 2009
What follows are a selection of Patrick's poetry, not for the faint hearted, you have been warned

10 million christs

marching cadavers
inconsequential consequences
of another's lust and greed
stapled medals, a rosary for the cordoned
starving for successful failure

backpack messiahs
blinded by visions of paradise
unwashed feet caked in mud
a warrior psychosis
sold to souls
from
saladin's blood
on lionheart's sword
to bush's head
on bin laden's pole

crustacean crusade on overfed donkeys
a jism jihad on blurred video

an olive branch
an oxygen mask
a trident missile attack
purveyors of putrefaction
asinine dumb waiters
drunk on faith
fatah hamas hezbollah
idf scientologist taleban christianvoice

how many more christs
until we are all crucified?
_

in absentia

i light a candle for the absents
the almost forgotten, the waiting, the worn,
a day light for the dark nights
a filament of throat from thought
i light a candle for the absents
the dissapeared, the frightened
the watching, the saturday fathers,
disneyland dads, happy meal patriachs
contact controlled, access asked
permission prayed
the deadbeat, child support agents
no rights only deepest resposibility
i stare into the flame
see love and hate
unite
in
one
silent flicker
a black and white photograph in agolden frame

but
from the slit wrist
the rose will grow
from the distance
blazes the geography of the soul
like candles, we inhabit the night
absence is not abstension
what feeds the wick?
who starves the oxygen?

and

what man is not made from woman and man?
_

hymn

"Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces
his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head
unveiled disgraces her head - it isa one and the same thing as having her
head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off
her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to
be shaved, she should wear a veil. For a man ought not have his head veiled, since
he is the image and reflection of man. Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man."
1 Corinthians 11: 4-9

cover my face
with burkha so unatural
i'm so ugly in your eyes
or is it my vision is so clitoral

use my holes
to cleanse your souls
paint my image as your icon of immaculation
force the feminine into your crucifixion
an olive branch drowned in thalidomide
they said it would make the sickness go away.

away, away

For the pope and for the imam
all i preach is deicide
just like mary magdelene
i fucked jesus
just like mary magdelane
i have been deemed useless
i shall drift to dust
all around
within,
us
slit my wrist with rosary beads
blind my eyes with testerone veil
turn the other cheek
as you leave your seed

Go to bed with jihad so young
fasten my vulva with catholic tonque
decapitate me while i kneel
as all my sisters bow like culled seals

just like mary magdelene
i fucked jesus
just like mary magdelene
i am in each of us,
-

cut-up/morning prayer

onward christian soldiers marching as to war
with the cross of jesus going on before
the confrontation that we are calling for
does not know socrates debates or platonic law
but it knows the dialoque of bullets the ideals of
assassination
bombing and glorious destruction
gates of hell can never
gainst the church prevail
we have christ's own promise
and that cannot fail.
there shall be no peaceful solution
only pen and gun
by word and bullet
by teeth and tongue
onward christiian soldiers marching as to war
with the cross of jesus going on before
the sinners shall be known by their marks and shall be
seized by the forelock and the feet
run the straight race through god's good grace
lift up thine eyes and seek his face
life with its way before us lies
make a covenant o sister to make
their women widows
and their children orphans
to make them desire death
and slaughter them like lambs

and

let the nile and euphrates flow with their blood

we are brothers and comrades

we stand side by side...
sidebyside
s i d b y s i
d...
_


incursion

i

a bomb is not a bomb until it lands in your living room,
again,
religion gets off its knees,
and attacks,
like sand thrown into eyes,
it blinds,
flags stab borders
and dialect drowns intellect
as the bomb bloated thin line
marks our space, our place
you and i
becomes us and them,
"the birth pangs of a new middle east" says condelozza rice
but the baby will never be born,
as children lay dazed in wrecked hospitals,
oh father, which art in heaven, we praise you
"we have the right to self defence"
but a warplane knows no mortality
just another precisioned target on a silent road
in another country, another country...

ii

you fire
cowardly rockets
that sneer into small villages
then run and hide
pray to your god,
speak of your good deed
and yearn for a fake paradise

as retaliation cannot find you
only the family fleeing their home, unsheltered,
innocent victim
to a crucifix game
they did not begin...
_

cathedra

we must overcome this
we must move higher
clasp branches
hold firm
feel again
know again
real (r) ise
real ise
what we are were and will be
again
know
no
now
this pain can only exist upon the body
there must be a residing place
where one day
we shall be whole
in holes
again
again
for this time these days
the minutes stick like flies in honey
falling
uncompromising
unfeeling
unlistening
unhearing
un dis ir dys an de
everything starts with a negation
can something begin with an affirmation
a somewhered
verb of
unatrophied flesh
to heal
this
again
again;
we have to overcome this/

_
with the sense of an ending

still the mountain
still the walking
still the breathing
still the choking
still the cutting
still the bleeding
still the feeding
still the loving
still the clock ticking
still the leaf shaking
still the silene screaming
still the ink leaking
still
still
still
be
still
still
bestill
be
still
still
be
still
be; still-

the ending
still
still this this still
be beginning
_

For further details of Patrick's works and readings , here is a link to his website.

http://www.patrick-jones.net/

Thursday, 10 December 2009

MARK ROTHKO - The Romantics were prompted...


Born Marcus Rothkowitz in Divinksk, Russia on the 26th of September 1903, he emigrated to America at the age of 13, settling in Portland, Oregan, his fathers untimely death a year later shook him badly. In 1921 he won a scholarship to Yale University and commenced his studies. Eventually settling in New York exploring mythological subjects and iconography and begins to get known for his abstract surrealism. He married Mary Alice Beaistle in 1945.
What I know about his earlier life is that he was initially drawn to writing and acting and had varied interests ranging from music and literature and was drawn to surrealism and radical causes.He was a member of the IWW the union for all workers. He explored many forms of art " artfully scribbling" becoming drawn to ancient myths which he saw as eternal symbols.



It was not until 1950 when he was in his forties did he develop a more mature form, that he continued to practice until his suicide on the 25th February 1970. He explored colours in all its depths and hues using deep colours laid out on huge canvasses ,developing a new language of feeling, exploring freedom and movement.
Rothko was both fortified by his powerful Jewish heritage, a heritage which is one of the oldest, most tenacious and demanding to be found anywhere - one embodying a collective superego and an ethic of cosmic proportion.
I went to see an exhibition of his work in the Tate last year and standing before his huge, mute abstract canvasses was drawn into an experience that required no real knowledge of the aeshetics of art - to something quite transcendent, pretty powerful stuff!

Rothkos painting technique was of painting canvasses with layers and layers of diluted color, offering a timeless time without end. He himself often used the phrase " the weight of emotions ". As a lover of music he sought to make the same emotional equivalents that he experienced while listening.

He wrote in 1947

" I think of my pictures as dramas, the presentation of this drama in the familiar world was never possible, unless everyday acts belonged to a ritual accepted as referring to a transcendent realm. Even the archaic artist who had an uncanny virtuosity, found it necessary to create a group of intermediaries, monsters, hybrids, gods and demi-gods. The difference is that, since the archaic artist was living in a more practical society than ours, the urgency of transcendent experience was understood and given an official status....
with us the disguise must be complete. The familiar identity of things has to be pulverized in order to destroy the finite associations with our society increasingly enshrouds every aspect of our environment.
Without monsters and gods, art cannot enact our dramas: art's most profound moments express this frustration."



Rothko himself did not actually adhere to any particular religious faith, but to me his work seems very mystical. What follows are some notes, statements and ideas Rothko committed to paper throughout his life revealing his underlying talent as a writer.



The Romantics Were Prompted
to seek exotic subjects and travel to far-of places. They failed to
realize that,though the transcendental must involve the strange and
unfamiliar, not everything strange or unfamiliar is transcendental.

The unfriendliness of society is difficult for the artist to
accept. Yet this very hostility can act as a lever for true liberation. Freed
from a false sense of security and community, the artist can abandon his plastic bank-book, just as he has abandoned other forms of security. Both the sense of community and of security depend on the familiar. Free of them, transcendental experiences become possible.

I think of my pictures as dramas; the shapes in pictures are the performers. They have been created from the need for a group of actors who are able to move dramatically without embarrassment and execute gestures without shame.

Neither the action nor the actors can be anticipated, or described in advance. They begin as an unknown adventure in an unknown space. It is at the moment of completion that in a flash of recognition, they are seen to have the quantity and function which was intended. Ideas and plans that existed in the mind at the start were simply the doorway through which one left the world in which they occur.

The great Cubist pictures thus transcend and belie the implications of the Cubist program.

The most important tool the artist fashions through constant practice is faith in his ability to produce miracles when they are needed. Pictures must be miraculous: the instant one is completed, the intimacy between the creation and the creator is ended. He is an outsider. The picture must be for him, as for anyone experiencing it later, a revelation, an unexpected and unprecedented resolution of an eternally familiar need.

They have no direct association with any visible experience, but in them one recognizes the principle and passion of organisms.The presentation of this drama in the familiar world was never possible, unless everyday acts belonged to a ritual accepted as referring to a transcendent realm.

Even the archaic artist, who had an uncanny virtuosity, found it necessary to create a group of intermediaries, monsters, hybrids, gods and demi-gods. The difference is that, since the archaic artist was living in a more practical society than ours, the urgency for transcendent experience was understood, and given an official status.As a consequence, the human figure and other elements from the familiar world could be combined with, or participate as a a whole in the enactment of the excesses which characterize this improbable hierarchy. With us the disguise must be complete. The familiar identity of things has to be pulverized in order to destroy the finite associations with which our society increasingly enshrouds every aspect of our environment.

Without monsters and gods, art cannot enact our dramas: art's most profound moments express this frustration. When they were abandoned as untenable superstitions, art sank into melancholy. It became fond of the dark, and enveloped its objects in the nostalgic intimations of a half-lit world. For me the great achievements of the centuries in which the artist accepted the probable and familiar as his subjects were the pictures of the single human figure - alone in a moment of utter immobility.

But the solitary figure coould not raise its limbs in a single gesture that might indicate its concern with the fact of mortality and an insatiable appetite for ubiquitious experience in face of this fact. Nor could the solitude be overcome. It could gather on beaches and sreets and in parks only through coincidence, and with its companions, form a tableau vivant of human incommunicability.

I do not believe that there was ever a question of being abstract or representational. It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing and stretching one's arms again.

THE ROMANTICS WERE PROMPTED

"Possibilities 1 , winter 1947 -1948


..

Sunday, 6 December 2009

CHARLES BUKOWSKI -The Captain is out to lunch and the sailors have taken over the ship. ( a brief extract)

Charles Bukowski, a determined outsider, he may not have been a beat, but he lived a cruel driven sort of life, always thirsty, hungry, a prolific writer of both prose and verse. He is itinerant America, with all it's dumb failings, he is it's voice, from the street; his stories full of America's downtrodden, the frowned upon ,the dispossessed, the fallen, the lonely, forlorn and forgotten. For me at least he was beat, truly beat, his life like a heartbeat gradually whittling away, money running out, desperate for the rent, the dark underbelly, America without it's shiny white teeth, destitute, naked , his voice reflecting its dark underground. His words scrambling in America's darkness looking for some sweet sanity!

He was born in Andernach, Germany in 1920 , and came to the U.S.A at the age of 3. He was raised in Los Angeles, where he worked for many years for the U.S Postal system. His words were wild confessionalisms , containing existential bleakness, combined with a conversational style, using American speech and a gritty alcohol infused lyricism.

He died in 1994 but kept on writing to the very end. This act of writing sustained him for sure, it kept all sorts of demons away. Despite the crippling ravages of a disease which overtook his body, his mind was adept at stealing a moment here, a moment there. He knew his writing was what validated his life, it made him something in a society that did not care for him, or him for society. Their have been numerous posthumous Bukowski publications, so prolific was he. So many books, so many titles. In his poetry you will ,a post modern rejection of metaphysics that pushes sometimes an experimental style that casts asides so called proper poet's rules. A great anti- literary literary writer then! He did occasionally grapple with tenderness, he did have a soft side, which does not undermine his sometimes excessive macho role. What follows is a bit from a collection of journal writing with it's fantastic elongated title, the title of this post.It displays him , as a poet of the racehorses. Enhanced at the time with classic Robert Crumb illustrations.
Off we go then.

9/26/91

11:36 PM

A title for the new book. Sat out at the track trying to think of one. That's one place where one can't think. It sucks the brains and spirit out of you. A draining blow job, that's what that place is. And I haven't been sleeping nights. Something is sapping the energy out of me.
Saw the lonely one at the track today. " How ya doin' camaraderie. He wants to talk about things. Horses. You don't talk about horses. That's the LAST thing you talk about. A few races went by and then I caught him looking at me over an automatic betting machine. Poor guy. I went outside and sat down and a cop started talking to me. Well, they call them security men. "They're moving the toteboard," he said. "Yes," I said. They had dug the thing out of the ground and were moving it further west. Well, it put men to work. I liked to see men working. I had an idea that the security man was talking to me to find out if I was crazy or not. He probably wasn't. But I got the idea. I let ideas jump me like that. I scratched my belly and pretended that I was a good old guy. "They're going to put the lakes back in," I said. "Yeah," he said. "This place used to be called the Track of the Lakes and Flowers," " Is that so?" he said. "Yeah," I told him, "they used to have a Goose contest. They'd choose a goose girl and she went out in a boat and rowed around among the geese. Real boring job." " Yeah," said the cop. He just stood there. I stood up. "Well," I said , " I'm going to get a coffee. Take it eary." "Sure," he said, "pick some winners." "You too man," I said. Then I walked away.
A title . My mind was blank. It was getting chilly. Being an old fart, I thought it might best to get my jacket. I took the escalator down from the 4th floor. Who invented the escalator? Moving steps. Now, talk about crazy. People going up and down escalatoes, elevators, driving cars, having garage doors that open at the touch of a button. Then they go to health clubs to work the fat off. In 4,000 years we wont have any legs, we'll wiggle along on our assholes, or maybe we'll just roll along like tumbleweeds. Each species desroys itself. What killed the dinosaurs was that they ate everything around and then had to eat each other and that brought it down to one and the son-of-a-bitch just starved to death.
I got down to my car, got my jacket, put it on, took the escalator back up. That made me fell more like a playboy, a hustler- leaving the place and then coming back. I felt as if I had consulted some special secret source.
Well I played out the card, I had some luck. By the 13th race it was dark and beginning to rain. I bet ten minutes early and left. Traffic was cautious. Rain scares the hell out of L.A drivers. I got on the freeway behind the mass of red taillights. I didn't turn on the radio. I wanted silence. A title ran through my brain: "Bible for the disenchanted." No, no good. I remembered some of the best titles. I mean , of other writers. " Bow down to Wood and Stone." Great title, lousy writer. "Notes from the underground." Great title. Great writer. Also "The heart is a Lonely Hunter." Carson McCullers, a very underrated writer. Of all my dozens of titles the one I liked best was "Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts." But I blew that one away on a little mimeo pamphlet. Too bad.
Then the freeway stopped and I just sat there. No title. My head was empty. I felt like sleeping for a week. I was glad I had put the trash cans out. I was tired. Now I didn't have to do it. Trash cans. One night I had slept, drunk, on top of trash cans. New York City. I was awakened by abig rat sitting on my belly. We both, at once, leaped about 3 feet into the air. I was trying to be a writer. Now I was supposed to be one and I couldn,t think of a title. I was a fake. Traffic began to move and I followed it along. Nobody knew who anybody else was and it was great. Then a great flash of lightning crashed above the freeway and for the first time that day I felt pretty good.


THE CAPTAIN IS OUT TO LUNCH AND THE SAILORS HAVE TAKEN OVER THE SHIP
by Charles Bukowski ; illustrated by Robert Crumb Black Sparrow Press


Some of Bukowski's poetry :-


I AM DEAD BUT I KNOW
THE DEAD ARE NOT LIKE THIS..


the dead can sleep
they don't get up and rage
they don't have a wife.

her white face
like a flower in a closed
window lifts up and
looks at me.

the curtain smokes a cigarrette
and a moth dies in a
freeway crash
as i examine the shadows of my
hands

an owl, the size of a baby clock
rings for me, come on come on
it says as Jerusalem is hustled
down crotch- stained halls.

the 5 a.m. grass is nasal now
in hums of battleships and valleys
in the raped light that brings on
the fascist birds.

I put out the lamp and get in bed
beside her, she thinks I'm there
mumbles a rosy gratitude
as I stretch my legs
to coffin length
get in and swim away
from frogs and fortunes


STARTED INTO LIFE LIKE FIRE.

in grevous deity my cat
walks around
he walks around and around
with
electric tail and
push-button
eyes

he is
alive and
plush and
final as a plum tree

neither of us undertands
cathedral or
the man outside
watering his
lawn

if I were all the man
that he is
cat-
if there were men
like this
the world could
begin

he leaps up on the couch
and walks through
porticoes of my admiration.


MY OLD MAN
16 years old
during the depression
I'd come home drunk
and all my clothing-
shorts, shirts, stockings-
suitcase, and pages of
short stories
would be thrown out on
the front lawn and about the
street.

my mother would be
waiting behind a tree:
"Henry, Henry, don't
go in... he'll
kill you, he's read
your stories..."

"I can whip his
ass..."

"Henry, please take
this... and
find yourself a room."

but it worried him
that I might not
finish high school
so I'd be back
again.

one evening he walked in
with the pages of
one of my short stories
(which I had never submitted
to him)
and he said, "this is
a great short story
I said, " o.k.,"
and he handed it to me
and I read it.
it was a story about
a rich man
who had a fight with
his wife and had
gone out into the night
for a cup of coffee
and had observed
the waitresses and the spoons
and forks and the
salt and pepper shakers
and the neon sign
in the window
and then had gone back
to his stable
to see and touch his
favourite horse
who then
kicked him in the head
and killed him.

somehow
the story held
meaning for him
though
when I had written it
I had no idea
of what I was
writing about.

so I told him,
"o.k.,old man, you can
have it."
and he took it
and walked out
and closed the door
I guess that's
as close
as we ever got.

THE MOCKINGBIRD

the mockingbird had been following the cat
all summer
mocking mocking mocking
teasing and cocksure;
the cat crawled under rockers on porches
tail flashing
and said something angry to the mockingbird
which I didn't understand.

yesterday the cat walked calmly up the driveway
with themockingbird alive in its mouth
wings fanned, beautiful wings fanned and flopping,
feathers parted like a woman's legs
and the bird was no longer mocking
it was asking, it was praying
but the cat
striding down through centuries
would not listen
I saw it crawl under a yellow car
with the bird
to bargain it to another place

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Copenhagen and beyond

Today promises to be the largest climate change mobilisation in the UK, known as the Wave.Hoping and demanding that politicians finally take serious action in Copenhagen next week when world leaders meet to discuss climate change.. We are, I am afraid a little to late. We are way beyond pressure and turning point. The world is boiling as you read. Concrete proposals are needed immediately not next week. Words will be casually used, promises will be made. Commitments will be made, but in all probability will be quickly forgotten.
We will be greeted with images of smiling politicians, happy looking and shaking hands, falsely agreeing to fix problems they have no intention of fixing. Obviously action needs to be taken globally, now not tomorrow.
Binding agreements should be non negotiable, sadly they are not. Expecting major polluters to sort out the climate is like putting hooligans in charge of your neighbourhood watch. The basic injustice is, it is the poor who have contributed least to climate change who will be the most effected by it. They will be forced to go begging to the nations that have created this situation in the first place.
With the best will in the world we will be unlikely to see any serious challenge to industry from our world leaders. Rich governments will simply play lip service to combatting climate change, probably achieving absolutely nothing.
Immediate priorities should be halting deforestation, supporting adaption in Africa and other vulnerable nations and supporting technological change and exploiting ambient energy resources.Their is a fierce urgency to all of this, their is a need for strong leadership, alternatives to current practices have to be explored. Capitalism does not seem to be working, but we cannot afford to give up hope, we must demand the impossible.
Sorry for little rant , and my general pessismism, normal sevice will presume sortly. I try to keep on dreaming!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

DECEMBER by John Clare

While snow the window-panes bedim,
The fire curls up a sunny charm,
Where, creaming o'er the pither's rim,
The flowering ale is set to warm;
Mirth, full of joy as summer bees,
Sits there, its pleasures to impart,
And children, 'tween their parent's knees,
Sing scraps of carols o'er by heart.

And some, to view the winter weathers,
Climb up the window-seat with glee,
Likening
the snow to falling feathers,
In fancy infant ectasy;
Laughing, with superstitious love,
O'er visions wild that youth supplies,
Of people pulling geese above,
And keeping Christmas in the skies.

As tho' the homestad trees were drest,
In lieu of snow, with dancing leaves,
As tho' the sun-dried martin's nest,
Instead of ickles, hung the eaves,
The children hail the happy day-
As if the snow were April's grass,
And pleas'd, as 'neath the warmth of
May,
Sport o'er the water froze as glass.