Friday, June 30, 2006


writing poems in my head
submerged in bathwater
hairless buffalo

The Duct Tape Guys have categorised these poems as "freeform" rather than haiku. Well, okay! I always called 'em haiku but I never really knew what they were, I just write them. MU, as the Zen people would say.

Duct Tape Poetry

You can see, should you be so inclined, three of my poems at a rather bizarre--but brilliant--site dedicated to (ahem) duct tape. No, really. It features poems about "stickyback plastic", which is either a gimmick or a fetish--but at least it's different from all the others.
How did I get involved? Well, the people who run the site--the Duct-Tape Guys, as they're called--circulated a request for submissions via Norbert Blei, and I thought, Oh, why not? These guys look like fun. So I wrote three in five minutes (oddly I had no poems about tape in the files), and sent them off without sitting on them even a moment. Generally this is a bad habit of mine and it earns me a pile of rejection slips much higher than those of my wiser contemporaries. But this time it worked out okay. I've even earned myself a gratis duct tape bumper sticker, according to the email I got last night!
Still, if Ralph Murre (who also has one on there), gets into the duct tape anthology and I don't I'm going to be mightily fed up! Poetry is not about hearing the Music of the Spheres, it's about competition...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ralph and Sharon Race to the Aid of the Poet

After having coffee and answering emails this morning I visited the sites of poets Ralph Murre and Sharon Auberle (two regular morning stops), and boy did they put yesterday's ruminations on work into perspective: Ralph has a beautiful photograph of some back country spot (he rightly doesn't share the locations of these places), and a poem of almost Taoist purport and cool hip language encouraging you to "be", or as my hippie brothers and sisters would say, go with the flow. Sharon has a photo of a bus headed for Alaska ("Northern Exposure" territory!), and notes the mind-altering impact of watching an eagle fly across the face of a glacier. Kee-rist, and I'm getting stressed about a care home in the back end of a provincial town in the trouser pocket of England. See the bigger picture, poet.

"the world"

Ah, but "the world" is a royal torture at times...At work with spies and ambitious plotters and capricious arrogant stupid kings, the only place a simple soul can be happy is sitting on a bench outside with the wind and the sound of birds in the trees. Maybe I'm too simple, with country naivete running through my middle like "blackpool" runs through a stick of rock; maybe I'm too delicate emotionally, with the resilience of a spoiled infant-- but I just can't take all the backbiting, all the competition, the plotting against one another, and the sudden changes of weather in your relationships, someone who loves you suddenly hating you for no reason you can determine. Makes me want to hit all of 'em with a frying pan and head out for the country--except I have to spend large chunks of my time in the place and if I escape to save my sanity I'll lose my job. I used to say what I thought to my colleagues because I believe in the twin sisters of Honesty and Trust. But everything I said was reported to the boss. Now I cut short every conversation about work characters or policies with everybody, even if they present themselves as someone I can trust, by calling on a favourite old English saying: "Least said, soonest mended." This too is interpreted, in the cynical world of work, as some kind of game I'm playing. But it's just the last defence of someone who seriously needs to get away.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New (rising)

rising from meditation,
a pigeon on a lamppost
looking straight into my window.

"have we met?"


Tim was musing last night about how there must have been some kind of cultural opening-out of late because audiences were noticeably more receptive to bands and performers playing their own material in the pubs and clubs as well as the usual covers.
Well, yes, though it might be your own opening-out rather than theirs. Or as well as theirs--a happy partnership of openness! Certainly things are interesting if you put yourself forward boldly enough to encourage other people to do so--don't know if it was always the case, I didn't have the courage before.
Sometimes I'm tempted to think we live in this bland world where nobody believes anything, nobody deviates from the path laid out for them by businessmen and politicians: be a nice little worker with no opinions, there's a good chap.
But you know what? There's Tim, poet and musician going up to the Isle of Skye today to see Joe Strummer's grave; another person I know is friends with Last Stop Chinatown and knows the woman who used to write all those Black Lace female erotica novels; someone else is a Pagan with all the usual fondness for trees and the courses of nature; someone else is a Christian, but actively, can sense the existence of God--which is much more interesting, to my mind, than believing nothing, like some other people I know who have never examined what they believe (so really they don't even believe nothing). I even know a George Bush-style evangelistic Christian (this is a different one); but as much as I enjoy her company, she scares me. Her mouth is full of apocalypse! Condemns gays (what have they done to everyone to make them so mad?), doesn't drink, chastises friends for getting tattooes or practising yoga (which invokes evil spirits), dismisses Darwin, believes unquestioningly in the Book of Revelations. Whew.
It's a colourful world out there if you look closely enough.

What's New in the Blue Fred Village

My poet friend Tim Sansom called tonight to say he'd put a word in for me with the owner of a Northampton club that does poetry readings, and the owner wanted to talk to me about doing a reading of my own. Yikes! Even contemplating the prospect of taking my delightful little short poems onto the stage makes me redecorate my pants a deep shade of brown. But I have to follow it through. If I don't the curiosity will plague me for the rest of my days.
So what else is new in the Blue Fred Village? Ah! Well, apart from continuing flirtation and long, good talks with ****, a new relationship which maddens and intrigues me, tonight my brother Simon sent two more photos from the old days--that is, my childhood--and how sweet it is to have them. They reactivate buried sense memories! Both pics show a bizarrely youthful me at a primary school May Day celebration in Little Harrowden in the early Seventies. I am small and thin, with long unkempt blonde hair and strangely feminine features. In one picture I am engaging in a pursuit called, then, "country dancing", which as I recall involved a lot of weaving in and out and taking partners by the hand and swinging them jovially while an accordion wheezed. In another I am snapped in a chair on the edge of the school playground where the festivities were occurring; I am turned sideways from the other kids (no change there, then), and looking down rather abstractly while the wind plays havoc with my hair. Who'd have thought that angelic but slightly morose little boy would turn into a poetry giant?


Got time for one more? ~ Neil Young to the crowd at the end of a show.

Anybody else want to play guitar? 'cos I'm finished ~ Jimi Hendrix, likewise.

New (bus)


erection on the rush-hour bus--
jerked awake by a screaming horn

long-legged beauty
in a new red jacket
chewing grass clumps
in the trickling rain

Sunday, June 25, 2006

New (Much Beer)

much beer, hot afternoon
willie nelson wailing
lonesome blues.

remembering one,
thinking of another
suspended between
lost past and unreal present.

making someone
into a phantom
that meets some
hidden need
for a connection:
small wonder i can't
grasp her like
a woman.

my foot cramping
underneath the desk,
at least, is real.
i can't deny
the shooting pain
that travels up the arch.

alive! it seems
i am alive.

New (say anything)

say anything

say anything
but don't insult the poems.
hate me, but love them
we'll be all right.

christian, gay-basher,
vague racist laughing
at the "n"-word
in a puerile joke, okay.
our future may well
be secure.

but knock the poems,
we've got problems, baby
say anything
but not that they're
no good.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

New (philosophising)

on my windowsill--
dawn pigeon

New (mohawk and tattoos)

mohawk and tattoos, bulk enough
to knock down an outside toilet,
seated sideways on the morning bus,
her bag says "the muppet show".

New (sneezing)

sneezing on the dawn bus--
ten people jump in unison!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Creatus Interruptus

I've been able to write very little this last week, after a long period of inspiration that produced 5 or 6 really decent poems (a good average), and a lot of stimulating blogging. It's been one of those periods when as the Motorcycle Boy would say, "California got in the way"--although in my case that's only a metaphor!
There's been too much death around; I can almost feel the Grim Reaper breathing his stale cigarette breath on the back of my neck. First my friend's friend died; then another friend's daughter reported that her best friend at school had been murdered; now someone I know, a nice kid who has called me dad ever since we met, has miscarried her baby. With so much sadness around, my mind is too heavy, too disjointed, for writing poetry. I have been pulled into the world-- head, hands and all. And there's this woman, but--I don't want to tell too much about her yet. I'm too concerned that I may yet look a fool.
I sit down with pen and paper, or wait with finger poised over my keyboard, but the poems just aren't coming at the moment. Still, I won't label this creatus interruptus as Writer's Block. I'll just keep writing, however formless or uninspired, however flat the language, and work my way through the Doldrums by sheer force of my persistence. And in the meantime I'll keep my eyes out for the Reaper. I understand he bears a strong resemblance to Keith Richards of the Stones.

New Haiku at the Other Place

B.F.K. premieres two haiku by Maureen Doyle--aka Dahny--tonight. Take the usual route via the button in the Reading Room to have a look at them.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Poem (One Crow)

one crow on the rooftop
while i write of death
clouds moiling in summer wind

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

splake Back in the Blue Fred Village

Blue Fred's Kitchen today has the first of a new batch of poems and writings by t.kilgore splake. Hit the button in the Reading Room to see what he has to say for himself.
Oh, and pay no attention to the Barbaric Yawp reviewer who claimed that t.k.s. is beginning to repeat himself. He's mistaking STAMP of originality for LACK of originality. splake has a very distinctive voice poetically and--like all of us--certain themes he returns to over and over again. But he's exploring his themes from different angles, with more depth and flavour, more humour,more honesty,better technical understanding, than before. Which is probably what turned off at least that one critic. I see the emergence of a new poet, actually, in the recent poems and books, and I like the new poet a lot.
But that's just an aside. The writing speaks for itself, and it's waiting for you at The Other Place.

The New Smoking Ban

News this morning reports that the Blair Government is now proposing a ban on smoking in open spaces where people might gather, such as bus stops, taxi ranks--God knows where else. I don't smoke, and I spend a lot of time at bus stops, but heavens, what kind of puritanical nightmare nanny state are we blundering into? I don't appreciate having other people proscribing my freedoms. So you don't approve of smoking? Stop taking vast taxes on it for the government coffers: talk about the wages of death! I don't approve of uncouth people shouting for my attention from other rooms, other offices, than the one I'm in. I don't approve of people who boast about their low intelligence as if nothing else were acceptable socially. I don't approve of people who vote Conservative. I don't approve of judgemental Christians putting down homosexuals. Can I make all of these illegal? Or must I own a suit before I get to foist my prejudices on the country and get to disguise the act as being for the public good?

New (wednesday a.m.)

wednesday a.m.

not much activity
on the lyric front:
waking to the sound of birds.

shellshocked, pouches
underneath the eyes,
black coffee thick
like marmite in the cup.

everybody's got to die.
even the weatherman
in the shiney tie.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

England, Death & the Void

I have so little interest in the England game tonight I have swapped a shift so I could work during the game, and be off tomorrow for the Summer Solstice--though again this year my plans for celebrating the Solstice properly have come to nothing: I was planning a trip to Stonehenge, as I have been planning to do for at least half a decade (and I've never made it yet). So much seems achievable when the old year turns into the new; and then six months have gone like sand falling through your fingers.
The death of my friend's friend has been one of the many unexpected obstacles to achieving my goals. It has depressed me deeply; and made me reflect on my predicament--and my life. To think that on the penultimate day of her life she worked a twelve hour shift in that place which she loathed so much, leaving at the end of the day with her mind in rags because of the tough nature of the work, the malicious workplace politics that made her last hurrah in the world an argument with someone who had heard something she was supposed to have said (really just people spreading gossip to cause hurt and discord for whatever reason). And then within 24 hours she was dead.
If you only had 24 hours to live wouldn't you want to spend it with the people you love? or in a comfortable chair listening to your favourite music, with sunlight streaming in through the window? or walking in the fields? or fulfilling every sexual fantasy you'd ever had? Certainly no one would want to spend it toiling at a job they hated to pay for a roof they wouldn't need before midnight the following day. And yet that is the predicament nearly all of us are in, the crisis that confronts us daily and which we ignore like dumb animals not recognising their own reflection in a pool of water.
"All composite things decay," as Buddha said. "Work out your salvation with diligence."
And in the meantime, we need to recognise the thousand problems that we face every day for what they are: temporary little squalls of rain that the local climate whips up, but which pass over as quickly as they arrive. The Void yelling insistently in our ear of emptiness.

What She Says

Her gospel is: trust no one; "everybody is in it for number one"; however real you think your friendships are, the person in whom you place your trust will happily do you down to advance their own cause. She tells you this daily. And if you let these words even an inch into your consciousness they undermine everything. You find that you can talk freely to no one; every smile seems false; every gesture seems calculated.
It is either, on her part, an instinctive control strategy--since if her gospel is believed every man is effectively isolated from every other man (or woman, of course)--or an unconscious admission of incredible hurt (or perhaps both). But the influence of the message is pernicious, like Margaret Thatcher's "There is no such thing as society." Each man sitting in his hole with guns trained, waiting: even in the depths of suicidal depression I've never viewed that as anything other than a recipe for disaster.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Something Equally Self-Indulgent: Kung Fu

After abusing my role as webmaster of the Suffolk Punch site to wish my father a happy Father's Day yesterday, I now wish to abuse it again by directing readers to a site about my favourite-ever television programme, "Kung Fu". Remember that? It's the one from the Seventies about the half-American/ half-Chinese Buddhist priest wandering 19th Century America after killing the nephew of the Chinese Emperor. It had an incredible impact on me as a boy and hovered over my adulthood--until the release of the dvds--like a memory of Shangri-La. And now I'm renewing my acquaintance, season by season, with the deepest-thinking, most tranquil and flat-out hard hero of any tv show, movie or comic book ever. Barefoot, in a room filled with Buddhas and burning incense. Yes. Maybe one day Warner will get their act together and release season 3 over here, because for some reason lost to me in the mists of time I didn't see most of it, and never got to watch the reunion of Caine, the hero, and his long lost brother Danny. And I understand, in the last episode, Caine apologises to a horse before riding it. Quite right too, since at some point along the line he had probably been one.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

I'd like to abuse my privilege as author of this site and wish my dad Martin a happy Father's Day. He's a talented writer and a good photographer, and he performed a trick that most of us are still puzzling over: he made money out of both of them. Wow. In my circles that practically qualifies you as a magician.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Saint Vitus Online

St. Vitus is now online and ready to view. Looks like a corker too, with some strong and vital poetry and prose. Congratulations to Todd and Theron Moore. Don't go out and buy a newspaper this morning, don't waste your time hopping around in the blogosphere, go to and find out what's really happening.

Action Blogging

You might (or you might not) be wondering about the apparently random changes of font size and colour on these pages. Listen, sometimes it's deliberate and sometimes, as with the previous entry, it's accidental. Computers are as mysterious to me as other people. But I leave them all in rather in the spirit of William Burroughs with his shotgun action painting, where he would fill balloons with paint, attach them to a door, then shoot at them and watch as the colours, exploding against the door, mixed in spontaneous new colours and patterns. This is action blogging; we find the form as we progress, using unconscious compulsions and atmospheric conditions--the electrical charge of the moment--as our guide.
Saves me actually having to come up with something attractive and original in advance.

Last Stop Chinatown

I was riding in a car yesterday with a friend of rising Northampton band Last Stop Chinatown, and got to hear some of their album. Being rather too hung up on things past and gone, I heard elements of early Nineties grunge bands like Stone Temple Pilots in their sound--though comparisons limit any creative work, of course, and the band should be listened to on their own merits. Check them out, as you hip young folk say, at: and see a review at

Friday, June 16, 2006


The ULA have published details of the Cleveland wingding. It will be called FILF (the ILF part stands for "Independent Literary Festival" I think), and it'll take place from July 6th-July 8th, with the participation of many ULA stalwarts, including Suffolk Punch favourite Mark Sonnenfeld. For your money you'll also see Cleveland hero C. Allen Rearick. Go to the link in the Reading Room to find out more. It sounds like it'll be a hoot.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Random Shots

BLUE FRED'S KITCHEN today presents bold new poetry by Norbert Blei and "beatlick" Joe Speer. Hit the button in the Reading Room to see what Wisconsin and New Mexico's finest are up to.

Speaking of the moustachioed Mr. Blei, he's the principal attraction at the Keweenaw Upper Peninsula Writers' Workshop at the Historic Vertin Building in Calumet, MI on September 16th this year. Tuition is $60, which ain't much when you consider you're getting exposure to a writer like Norb. "Convenient lodging is available," as the fancy flier charmingly informs us. To find out whether there are any places left, contact Ed Gray on 906-337-5970.

Sometime toward the end of this week/ the beginning of the next Todd Moore and his son Theron's new poetry magazine "St. Vitus" will be online. Todd says St Vitus will be "the premier outlaw poet's mag in America"--which, given Todd's status as the premier outlaw poet, can be taken without too much scepticism. The URL, when the magazine appears, will be . Check Saturday or Sunday/ Monday at the latest, and it'll be there for our stimulation and delight.

At the Press, I have decided--to encourage comments from readers of the blogs--not to answer anything left in the comments field below posts on Suffolk Punch and Blue Fred's Kitchen unless requested to by their author. From now on the comments field is where you have your say. You can argue with each other--in fact, I positively encourage it--but unless invited, I will stay out of it. So don't think I'm being rude, okay?

Buddhism, the Beats and Death

When Ginsberg talked to Chogyam Trungpa about his father Louis' death, Trungpa said (approximately), "I extend my thought that your father enter Dharmakaya. Please let him go, and continue your celebration."
An important part of Buddhist thinking, at least as I understand it, is that too much grieving can be distressing to the recently deceased, who's travelling in the bardo realms and hears everything that is said--feels everything that is felt--by his or her loved ones, only greatly magnified. And if they become distressed, it will affect their chances of a positive rebirth because they won't be able to follow the correct path towards the next life.
After Ginsberg's death, so Beat legend has it, Burroughs and some friends gathered for a Bardo burn in which all manner of mementoes of Allen were collected and burned to help free him from any lingering attachment to Allen Ginsberg, and go on to rebirth. But the latter idea is highly repugnant to Christian people--or so it seems. I have discussed it with people of a Christian persuasion and their discomfort at the idea of burning photographs, in particular, of the departed was obvious.
Well, I didn't have to test my Buddhist beliefs in this regard when my mother died (ten years ago, incredibly, on July 1st), because for some reason I've never been able to properly fathom, all of the photographs of my mother except one disappeared around that time, and have never resurfaced. Only one of your esteemed author as a child survived the inexplicable disappearance too--which sometimes makes me feel as if my life had been cut off at the knees. Now I return to the old days and the dead in dreams and flashbacks, and I am haunted by my inability to connect with them as real.
England play again today in the World Cup. The match against Trinidad & Tobago at Nuremberg--almost a literal stone's throw away from the site of some of Hitler's famous rallies, preserved as a warning for future generations--should be an easy one for England, but after their lacklustre opening against Paraguay, fans should probably take nothing for granted. This is England, remember: eleven great players, one middling team.
But my enthusiasm for the game has been blunted somewhat by events outside of football. A friend of a friend died suddenly on Monday; she lived alone (as I do) and wasn't found until Wednesday morning, when my worried friend went to check on her. So yesterday was a hard day, and football suddenly doesn't seem that important. Though in a sense--since life is so short and so cruel--the things and people we love are all that we should consider important. "Everything else, drunken dumbshow," as Allen Ginsberg says.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

saccharine situations

Here's a high quality poetry site that you might want to have a look at, all the writing comes from one talented hand (and head):


Norb Blei reports that following the publication of my inflammatory "Crime of Rhyme" essay on his Poetry Dispatch, one person wrote to say:

"Have you noticed that Hodder makes a habit of referring to editors who won't publish him?"

Well, of course!! My whole literary philosophy is based on jealousy and resentment. I am the king of sour grapes. Something wrong with that???

Monday, June 12, 2006


Photog Leo Kulinski Jr, whose "Whales & Wolves" site ( ) is one of the finest on the web, has ventured into print with a new mini-book, "Veronica The Red-Tailed Hawk". Veronica, a real hawk, has been living in the environs of the White Memorial Foundation in Litchfield, CT, USA since May 2004; this book collects some beautiful colour photographs of V. in the locality and presents them alongside facts, comments and even a haiku, about hawks. So, not unlike Leo's website, actually, but there's something more satisfying about holding the photos and related facts in your hands rather than staring at them on a flat screen. It gives them an added life and substance, showing just how good a photographer Leo is. How's he get a hawk to look mean/ bad tempered/ thoughtful/ funny? Answer: that's what all animals are like--a complicated mixture of contradictory states and emotions-- just like all human beings. But it takes a true artist and a thinker moreover, to see it.
Go to the site for details on how to purchase the book. And while you're there have a good poke around. Your day will be so much the better for it, I guarantee.


Is it me, or is the media habit of referring to the partners of the World Cup footballers as WAGS (wives and girlfriends), faintly sexist? Stop it, boys. Stop it.

John Peel Every Day

Now this site is a brilliant idea. It's a celebration of the life and work of John Peel, but as it should with that laudable remit, it tells us what's happening with--and what has happened to--all the bands and poets John promoted through the years. So the exhaustive search through the interesting underbelly of musical--and cultural--Britain (and the world), continues despite the passing of the bloke who initiated it. I was in a curious state of mourning as I approached the end of John and Sheila's book because I didn't want the Peel-related fun and creative stimulation to finish. Now it doesn't have to!

PS A moment of irony that Peel himself would have appreciated: just as I finished writing that I turned to see who was making all the noise on the tv behind me and there were TONY BLACKBURN and KEITH CHEGWIN doing an extremely unfunny comedy routine dressed up as the Blues Brothers. So little has changed. And this afternoon, since I have nowhere else I need to be (how civilised), I'll be switching on "Deal Or No Deal" with its recently resurrected and surprisingly lifelike host NOEL EDMONDS. That, John, I have to confess I like, though saying so doesn't feel quite right. And they're giving away £10,000. If I can win that (web entry is free), I'll be able to give up work and stay home reading poetry all day, at least until the money runs out.


Yesterday saw the circulation by Norb Blei of my "Crime of Rhyme" mini-essay from these hallowed pages. No reaction yet, but it's certainly not going to make me any friends.
Oh well! Opening the Poetry Dispatch file to read it through after it was delivered to my mailbox yesterday, I found myself wondering why I do things like that. Why do I write essays intended for the people on whom my own success depends and call them drones? Tell them they are uneducated swine and they're making me sick? Even Bukowski didn't do that as directly and arrogantly as I do.
Do I have a desire to wallow forever in self-righteous obscurity?
Well, no. I have no desire for anything, frankly, other than a good night's sleep and some way of drinking without getting even fatter than I am now.
I have done my share of networking. I have sucked up to writers with no talent to make myself seem important by association. I have published poets I didn't like because denying them publication might, in the internecine world of the small presses, close doors for me at some other point along the line. But I can't seem to do it anymore.
I spoke my mind somewhere, publically, though I don't remember when or where--maybe here on Suffolk Punch--and then things seemed to change. It was like I couldn't put the genie of dishonesty back in the bottle.
I tried; I really did. But I just couldn't do it. Suddenly I found I'd turned into a rather unappealing, grouchy version of that fellow in the movie "Liar, Liar", who has to tell the truth even though it's the last thing his profession requires him to do (he's a lawyer, which is a trade only marginally less founded in deceit than poetry). It has begun spilling over into other areas of my life too, though as I indicated in another post, I haven't yet found enough ass in my britches to tell my manager at work what I really think. Still, I'm close, considering five or six people at work have the SUFFOLK PUNCH link.
I will either become a minor legend because of this disturbing new habit of mine, or I will alienate the few remaining poets and editors who don't hate my guts and I'll die in complete obscurity. People come to poetry to discover what they already know--to relax in pleasant company--not to be ritually abused by some depressed freak with a machine gun for a typing finger.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Let's give the Idiot of the Week award (which is really not an award, idiot) to the Kommandant of Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay who described the suicides of three prisoners there as "acts of war". I'm sure the soldiers on the ground in Iraq--not to mention the poor sods who have to live there--really appreciated his babblingly heartless and inflammatory take on the last act of three desperate men: it plays right into the hands of Muslim extremists, who wish to further their own cause by portraying the US as a callous tyrant with no sympathy for--nor any understanding of-- anyone connected to Islam. A propaganda coup that will inevitably translate into more guns, more bombs, and more death-or-glory converts.
And forgetting briefly what it means for innocents abroad and at home in the beleaguered nation of Iraq (or the 51st state of the USA, as it might be called), think of what that statement reveals about the guy who made it. What a miserable, dark, rotten, festering soul you'd have to have to believe, as he genuinely appears to, that people he has incarcerated and tortured, and over whose heads he hangs the threat of military trial and possible execution, must have ended their lives just to get at him and his innocent unoffending government.
Find this comment unbalanced? lacking in objectivity? Tell it to the jury. At least you'll be lucky enough to get one.


Okay. You think you're a risk-taker? Here's the Robin Hood of the British arts scene with the best of his famous street works on display in great high res photos. But don't try to communicate with him. Banksy must remain anonymous for the good of us all.


Tonight's Question: what has happened to the avant-garde? where are the experiments with language and form being made that will take us into the next phase of poetry? That is two questions, of course, but I'm hoping you won't object to the intrusion of the second question. I've been discussing the avant-garde with poet Norbert Blei after taking for publication two poems by him assembled from the spam that crowds his computer's mailbox.
Most poetry being published works within well-established forms, including my own; we post-Beats like to think we're at the cutting edge of poetical development, but actually the innovations we use are 80/ 90/ maybe even 100 years old. Which is fine--the slavish quest for innovation can be a sign that one is, actually, Square and craven and really just one of the crowd (I will explain that one day, but not tonight). But we should not kid ourselves that the whole history of written poetry was directed towards the ultimate goal of poets learning to say ordinary things to ordinary people in ordinary language, and that now we've achieved it the art will be enthralling and crackling with life forever. That would be something like travelling for three thousand years to get to Northampton, putting your bags down and declaring, "Well, it doesn't get any better than here."
So if any readers know of any hives of avant-garde activity they can point me to so I can reassure myself that someone is looking ahead to the next age (while I burrow around in the recent past), please email me or leave directions here. And if any poets of an experimental bent want to submit to ANGEL HEAD, do it! As I have to say often, I love Kerouac and Ginsberg and all that stuff, but the magazine is NOT the Beat Generation preserved in aspic with no interest in anything that comes afterwards. Aside from everything else, that would be so boring.
You can send poems to or .No attachments please.
Come on, ye soldiers of the next wave, wake us all up.

What Is Suffolk Punch Anyway?

Readers may be starting to wonder exactly what kind of site this is, now football has had extensive coverage on top of the usual crazed mixture of topics. The Reading Room links suggest mainly poetry and music; and I imagine that's what readers are mostly expecting to find when they come here--though it's usually the politics or the bad-tempered perorations on everything being stupid that get people stirred up enough to leave comments or email me. But I'm just passing on whatever interests or irritates me in the hope that it will do the same to you (hey, that's rather funny). And I don't know about the other writers, but my mind ranges over ten completely opposing subjects in a day--most of them seeming, on the surface, to have nothing at all to do with poetry. Poetry is the mode of expression. Everything else is the material: football, drinking bouts, music, the back country, love, loss, the curse of memory. SUFFOLK PUNCH shows the mind of the poet chewing over the material that goes, directly or otherwise, into the poetry. It's an act of self-exposure that has no benefit for the poet or the reader, and it cannot be remotely justified by any intellectual argument. But since I would keep a journal anyway--and have done since the mid-80s-- I figure I might as well use modern technology to ensure that somebody, somewhere, has a chance of reading it. Those paper journals'll probably be tossed into a skip by a guy doing the house clearance after I die, and end up rotting in a landfill site under dog food and tin cans and banana skins and seagull shit. DESPITE the earth-shattering wisdom writing that glows inside them like messages from Heaven.

England Versuzzz Paraguay: Snoozefest in the German Sun

How amusingly ironic that after all the build-up, all the hype about England having the best chance to win the World Cup since they actually won it forty years ago, we managed to lay on the most unconvincing and--frankly--boring game of the tournament so far in our pallid 1-0 win over Paraguay this afternoon. I was looking at the pictures in "Margrave of the Marshes" just before the end of the first half; and by the end of the second half I was nearly asleep. I hope I'm at work when the next game happens if it's anything like that one.
The interest factor wasn't helped by the manager's decision to take off Michael Owen, the second striker, after 55 minutes, and replace him with a midfielder. That left only dancing Peter Crouch up front, and his main function, though he is developing other skills, has always been to dominate the air in the opponent's goal area and head on to skilled ground dwellers like Owen. So who was he supposed to head the ball to without his partner on the field? Not that the ball came his way very often anyway, for some reason those more tactically-minded than I will be able to explain.
Sven, who will soon be leaving us, has always known the right players to call up, more or less, despite the debate over the Walcott selection--the squad that has evolved in his reign is the most exciting of any I've ever seen (though I faintly remember the last days of Moore and Charlton, who history tells us weren't bad)--but he has never known what to do with the players once he's selected them. I could make better substitutions to accommodate the evolving tactical realities of a game than he does, and I still don't know what "the holding role" is supposed to be. Let's hope we survive until the second stage of the tournament so Rooney can return, and the team will be sufficiently complete to save Sven the headache of picking it.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Unconscious Plagiarism

You do it all the time without noticing. I do, anyway. Certain ideas or images rise in your mind when you're in mid-flow with pen in hand--or writing finger rigid over keyboard--and believing you have been a lightning rod for heavenly inspiration, you use whatever "you" have come up with and sit back to wait for the plaudits, or the contract from Bloodaxe. And then you remember.

Do it for the mud, spit and cum
in the Thames ~ Bruce Hodder, yesterday.

...clean ceramic
over the scum & spit & come of quarter century

~Allen Ginsberg, "Memory Gardens", 1969.

Fascinating, as Mr. Spock would say.

Friday, June 09, 2006




Do it for Bobby Moore
Do it for Pickles the Dog
Do it for Fred Garnham
standing on the terraces
at Ipswich for fifty years
Do it for John Peel's ghost
Do it for the twin towers
at the old Wembley Stadium
Do it for red phone boxes
Do it to the tune of
"God Save The Queen"
Do it for Chris Torrance's beard
Do it for blazing near-summer
days at Westfield School in the Seventies
Do it for Kenneth Wolstenholme
Do it for the choruses
of "What a load of rubbish"
that sang you off the pitch
in darker days as I lay listening
to the radio on top of my bed
Do it for the pigeons
Do it for streets strewn with dropped
kebabs on a Sunday morning
Do it for the mud, spit and cum
in the Thames
Do it for all the blokes
who love you enough to look
that dumb waving the flag of St George
Do it for the poetry of a wonderful goal
scored in impossible circumstances
when you're right at the edge of your
own endurance
Do it for the sudden breaks, the mad crosses
upfield that find the boot of their man
when nobody even knew he was there
Do it for bravery, do it for style
Do it not to be like Prime Minister Blair
with his strange lack of grandeur
and the suggestion of an impotent rage
in him
Do it Do it so I can get out of my body
look over the mountain a moment
and taste immortality before
tumbling back into the world.

John Peel Tells The Story of Onan

...To cut a long story short, the Lord was displeased with Er, by now a married man, and smote him. And not content with this, He told Onan to go in unto Er's wife and lie with her. Onan, being a decent sort of chap by all accounts, thought this was a bit tough on the widow and, not to put too fine a point on it, spilled his seed upon the ground rather than in his brother's wife. For this refinement of feeling, he too was smitten. So Onan, whatever you may have believed hitherto, was, in fact, a thoroughly moral man and not the wanker everyone thinks he was.
~Margrave of the Marshes, Bantam Press 2005

Football Summer Scenes

Summer has come early. Well, it has come. England has been simmering in the high twenties for a week now and it looks set to continue, albeit with the obligatory rain showers and thunder storms.
And the seasonal weather, for some reason, adds to the occasion of the World Cup, which starts today but kicks off in earnest tomorrow with England's first game~it's almost as if it had been laid on as a special backdrop for the tournament. How striking is the imagery that the combination of football fervour and summer heat provides~like walking to the bus station through the town last night in the illuminated blue-darkness, my shirt open to reveal the vest beneath, and that car coming by at speed with the Cross of St George flags flapping noisily in the slipstream, all the car windows open, four men inside shouting, drunk and joyful; or stepping off the bus in Wilby, a giant St George draped over the front wall of the Horseshoe pub, all the doors and windows open, a big crowd inside drinking and chattering under mini-St. Georges hanging from every beam and in a line over the heads of the people at the bar. Every scene's a painting; every eye-blink catches a haiku.
But Lord how deflated the country is going to be if England crash and burn, as they have done in every international tournament for the last forty years.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Today, according to an item on the tv, is National Tell The Truth Day. Everybody is encouraged to quit their lying ways for one day and tell it like it is.
Hmm. Most human intercourse is based on lies and b***s***. That's why I prefer the company of animals and birds.
If I told the truth I would lose my job this afternoon, and there would be nobody to save me as I lost my house and descended into penury and homelessness. Because do you know what poets and poet friends? I hate my goddamn job. The work bores me two footsteps shy of suicide, and I wouldn't trust 96% of my colleagues as far as I could throw them. And my manager is a uncouth bully whose voice alone grates so fantastically on my nerves, I have to have a packet of paracetamol handy every time we're in the building together for more than twenty consecutive minutes.
That is the truth.
You might say why not just get another job if I hate it so much. I agree with you. And I have been trying to do that for a while now (so far without success). But the truth is, I don't want to work at all. I know it's inevitable in this rotten, ridiculous, spiritually- and morally-bankrupt system we labour under, but I don't care. I still don't want to do it.
Trying telling that to a future employer. Why do you want this job, Mr. Hodder? I DON'T want the job; I'd rather soak my own head in a bucket full of maneating fish than do this job, but I need money.
What people really want to hear is THEIR truth reflected back at them. When you do that you'll find yourself regarded with great respect, and love.

Appreciate These Men While You Have Them (II)

On sale now: Bryn Fortey's new collection "The Jazz Files: Fiction Poetry Comment", which collects, as you would imagine, jazz-related poetry and prose Bryn has published in various magazines and anthologies including CONNECTIONS, GLOBAL TAPESTRY JOURNAL and MINESHAFT (who were always rude and off-hand with me). You can get it for a mere £3 from 212 Caerleon Road, Newport, South Wales NP19 7GQ, UK.
I'm not going to review it because Bryn was always my biggest supporter in the poetry community--a few times his continued interest stopped me from quitting the public side of the game altogether (I could no more stop writing than I could give up blinking). So anything I say is going to be biased and any shortcomings I might detect I'll pretend I haven't seen. What I will tell you is that Bryn has been a giant on the UK small press scene for a VERY long time, and latterly the premier selecter/ promoter of sharp creative underground poetry in the UK. I have learned from him, but I don't have his radical ear. Something of the edge has gone forever now he has stepped out of the publishing game.

Todd Moore

Word (from the poet himself) has it that Todd Moore's London readings were a big success. Or to use Oscar Wilde's criteria, the crowd who came along to watch them were a success: Todd's poetry was great already! I'm hoping that a picture or two from the trip or the readings themselves will follow, to give S.P. readers a better flavour of what happened.
On related Moore-matters, Todd's poetry magazine "St Vitus" will be online soon. I make one of my rare forays out of the Blue Fred village to appear, but I'm sure there'll be greater delights on offer. I'll let you all know when it's ready for viewing.


I'm reading the aborted autobiography of dj John Peel "Margrave of the Marshes". Belatedly, you might say, given that it came out last year, but I waited until it appeared in the library.
They say "Margrave" was the favourite Christmas gift to give a middle-aged man this Christmas past. Understandable, given that middle-age encompasses, roughly, 40 to 55, which means those of us who are middle-aged now were teenagers in the Sixties and Seventies, when John was rising to fame as the purveyor of quality raw-boned independent music, first from the hippie era and then from punk.
A lot of b***s*** has been written about him since he died, a lot of overly sentimental, dewey-eyed rubbish that John would have found acutely embarrassing; but it did seem that he was always there, even if most of the time you didn't listen to him--a touchstone of integrity and stubborn guardianship of vision in a world where everything is inclined to compromise. I remember checking the radio schedules periodically through the years in whimsical coffee moments just to see that he was still there, at 10 pm on any given evening, keeping Radio One on the righteous path, ready to break the new rock wood for the betterment of everybody.
It's probably fatuous to say "We shall not see his like again" --his like are undoubtedly with us already, only in some form unrecognisable to me. But John is not, with his particular ear, his wit, his language, his artistic vision. He looked like fun. This book at least preserves a fraction of that fun for future generations.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

New Poem (suppositions)

Suppositions On A Book And Splake
Jim Harrison, "Theory & Practice of Rivers"
a gift from tks this morning

published in 1986
hard covers and pages
stiff with age.
some stains on front
and back--they look
like coffee dropped
at table reading sessions,
the demon bean
pushing splake on
through a midnight tussle
with his emerging
newest self--.
phone numbers written
on the plain white cover.
$8.95 mysteriously
boxed low down, a
declaration in huge
pen hand, ROBINS
IN TOWN and something
unreadable beneath--
he wrote it fast, perhaps
while on the telephone--
no scratch pad, no free
hand to stop the book
from wobbling with
his pen hand's pushing
inside, passages
of harrison underlined
in yellow magic marker,
and last page, notes
on meditation practice,
which i didn't know
he ever tried,
with wise reflection:
"past doesn't/ propel
present/ unless alibi."
that's true! these moments
of the great evolver
caught forever, at least
until this book turns
to dust, preserved
like the footprints left
by me in unset concrete
on the Estate where i
grew up, still visible
today, though everyone
who belonged to that
world, including me,
died many years ago.


jack denied fatherhood
of a whole generation
of longhaired
sensitive seekers,
as well as one
beauty of a talented
he was just that sort
of absent dad, i'm afraid


Poet Norbert Blei has reminded me, via the excellent "Poetry Dispatch", that today is the tenth anniversary of the death of Kerouac's daughter Jan, who passed away in New Mexico in 1996 (three weeks before my own mother, oddly).
Jan wasn't acknowledged by Kerouac in his lifetime,despite a paternity test proving fatherhood–though I've always felt there was a tacit admission of parenthood in his granting of permission, during their second and only meeting, for Jan to use the Kerouac name in her books– and she continued to be denied the keys to the kingdom by the Estate after his death, even in the face of a legal challenge supported by Jack's only serious biographer Gerald Nicosia. One glimpse of father and daughter, when separate photographs are set side by side, makes obvious the absurdity of Jack's claim that there was no familial connection. Why the courts didn't stop there, will or no will (I believe I'm right in saying a contested will was the principle means of Jan's exclusion), and give her the recognition--and financial support--she deserved is a madness even Jonathan Swift couldn't have done justice.
But there it is. Unsavoury things happen in families, and downright vile things happen when money's involved. Let us remember Jan as a writer and poet of talent, and finally allow her into the hallowed halls of Beat study and scholarship, where she should have been all along--beginning on this day when she passed from the world ten years ago, aged only 44. There is a gross injustice here that needs to be put right, and we are the ones who can do it.
(published in The Beat in a slightly different form).


"The Basque beret has become deformed through the years in my dresser drawer. It has given up on me, I'm afraid. It has suffered in my forgetfulness for over eight years. This morning I put it on to type its history and I can feel it perched somewhere above me like a broken nest, laughing" ~ Norbert Blei, The Second Novel (December Press 1978).


The hit song doing the rounds at the moment is "I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair)" by Sandi Thom. I keep hearing it everywhere and musing on its meaning. The singer links 1969 and 1977 as comparable years culturally, and then opines, "I was born too late to a world that doesn't care."
Interesting thing for a young artist to say--though she comes across as a kind of young-old person found by a record company and aimed straight at older listeners. (Or very young ones--I can't work it out.)
I was there in '77. What was good about it was that it was against all manifestations of conservatism. In fact, it acknowledged no other world than its own. It tended towards the terminally dumb, of course, because it was anti-intellectual--which, thinking about it, is a form of conservatism in itself--but it demanded vitality and expected integrity, and it was resolutely against all of the assumptions and prejudices that enslaved the generations before it (and since). But it burned itself up in less than a year, as something that pure might have been expected to, and it left surprisingly little great music behind.
By the way Sandi (and if this sounds patronising forgive me: it's my natural tone), very little that was any good came out in 1969. Flower power as a vital and radical movement was over by '67, and most of the true solid-gold stone classics of the era came out in '66. By '69 everything was getting heavy musically, socially and politically, and the real creative powers were heading out to farms and cottages on windy moors to wreck their minds on LSD. I know many of these fine folks and they look back on the end of the decade with bitter regret.
But perhaps I'm taking the song too seriously.

Monday, June 05, 2006


A slow, almost indolent day today-- like so many before it. Hot sun outside, my neighbour splitting stones with a pick, sudden rain showers, Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on doors and me answering bleary, wild-haired, reeking of beer, saying "Sorry, I'm really busy", them seeing me through the window moments later watching tv and giving mouth-to-mouth to a can of Carlsberg. Lost in a haze of lazy melancholy, I was, watching the breezes fluttering the ivy that covers most of my garden fence, listening to the voices of people passing, regretting my loneliness, sad for the transitory nature of the scenes that we live in--the happy moment of a young man and woman together, her heels scuffing the pavement, his hand in her jeans pocket,
both thrillingly alive not seeing the grave loom. So many universes I've got to carry around in my head under this greying hair, so much that is gone, but I waste days lying around waiting--for what? Are these drunken days lying in the light as inert as a compost bag going to be a sufficient exchange for my youth, when Death comes calling, as soon he will have to? But where's there to go? What do? Why go anywhere sight-seeing when you can see through the buildings? How can you be happy when there's no you to be anything? "no one in the chair/ no one in the rain/ sure as shit" as Kerouac says.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Appreciate These Men While You Have Them

There's a brilliant music blog that readers might want to have a look at it. It's all about one of the last of the giants, Neil Young, though it strays off into related fields from time to time. Features particularly great photographs too. You can find it at:-

New Poem (sunday in england)

sunday in england, summer

with full baskets
standing in the checkout line
the sunday shoppers.
the hairy kid behind
the till
keeps checking his
it's 9.57 in
2006, and god
won't let you buy
your dead meat
and lager
until bang on
ten, or his agents
the coppers
will get you.

such beauty--the long
wide highway burning
in heat, empty
but for one car just
coming over the hill
into view, you
crossing below
with three bags of shopping.

he's at one of the benches
with a lager in front of him
under the parasol supping
and staring, lost in a
probably-not-particular dream,
while the landlord surveys
the front of the building
with someone official,
both in their shirt sleeves
this second near-tropical day.

England's New National Hero

He's 6' 7". He will probably not become a poster boy for the fashion industry. He's not even that great a footballer at international level (though yesterday's hat trick in the 6-0 thrashing of Jamaica and some extremely well-taken goals of late show that international experience is improving him beyond expectations). But when Peter Crouch unveiled his robot dance to celebrate the goal against Hungary last week--and did it again yesterday, for at least two of his three goals (I missed the third so I don't know)--he danced his way into the hearts of every football lover and every World Cup-fearing observer in the nation. At last! A footballer who's less cool than you or me! A footballer who's so true to his own quirky nature he doesn't mind looking an idiot in front of the entire nation! Until Crouch we didn't realise how fed up we were of the Beckham model of ultra-glamorous sportsmen destined for the billboards of the world. They are yesterday's heroes. The heroes of today don't reinforce our fear and self-consciousness, they release us to be ourselves without apology. It's like Nobby Stiles all over again--only much, much bigger...

d.a.levy Event Coming To A Cleveland Near You

Those appalling malcontents at the ULA have announced a summer event in Cleveland, home of America's least appreciated great poet d.a.levy. Details aren't available yet--if it's anything like the "Howl" event things will happen spontaneously, however specific the advanced planning might be--but it will all definitely be centred around levy and the unrivalled body of great work he left behind in little mimeographed magazines the day he decided to end it all in the mid-Sixties.
What was it Pasternak said about Mayakovsky's suicide? Something about the pistol shot echoing through the foothills of cowardice? levy's pistol shot echoed through the foothills of bad poetry and whistled around the gables of herd-following editors. The ULA won't be able to get him the attention he deserves--levy should be sold in every bookstore alongside Kerouac--but it will get him more attention than he's had so far.

The Way of the World

You shouldn't have! I didn't! You did! I didn't! You DID! I BLOODY DIDN'T! Are you saying I did? If the cap fits! How DARE you say I did? Well you started it! How immature (smack)! Punch! Kick! Gunfire! *Nuclear war*

oh give me my cabin
lord deep in the woods

All of our problems as human beings, at State and at personal levels, are caused by the infantile delusion that we have a separate self to protect and promote. See Buddha for further notes on this subject.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

New Poem


listening to Neil Young's "Ragged Glory"

out of the baser realm
of action
i have moved, since
the sun's arrival,
into sound--all
i want to do
is play music, and
interact with it
on conscious
and unconscious planes
while heat vibrates
the summer air.
writing seems
too thin a pleasure

Tipping the Velvet

Norb Blei reports, after the publication of my poem "Power Cut" in his Poetry Dispatch (# 76, I believe), that one correspondent (a woman, I hasten to add) thought it was more the sort of poem a woman would write because the narrator is baking pies and longing for love. Sounds an absurd claim at first hearing, but I know what she means: creativity and yearning, especially on the domestic front, aren't elements we usually find in male poetry.
Hmm, hmm, as splake says. It's amusing, though, that a poem of mine would be considered female in outlook given the number of times I've been accused of misogyny.
I'm no misogynist, for the record. I don't like to discriminate. I'm a full-on card-carrying hardcore misanthrope, and proud of it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Costa Take Over The Whitbread Prize...Oh Goody!

The Guardian (who don't answer my emails), report today that the Costa coffee chain is going to be the new sponsor of the soon-to-be-erstwhile Whitbread literary prize. Well, that should certainly strike a blow for experimentation, innovation, eccentricity. Every high street in England is identical thanks to the proliferation of these (and other) homogeneous weirdly-1980s coffee franchises that the average shopper seems to consider so diverting and sophisticated. To me they're like spooky facsimiles of real life conjured up by the tormented minds of the dying.