Saturday, October 27, 2007


In a just society (which ours isn't), all workplaces would be unionised as a matter of law. And the power of bosses and unions would be mediated by some kind of outside agency.

In post-Thatcher Britain the power has swung back so far in favour of the bosses, we're close to replicating the insanity of Victorian workplaces, where the employee was more or less owned by the company, a commodity to be used and abused as the company saw fit.

And what do people do about it? Meet in the kitchen or by the water fountain at work and agree how unfair everything is. Then insert their tongue into the manager's rectal passage the moment he or she or it walks in.


Because they are scared.

Because they feel the odds are stacked against them (which they are).

Because they have a puritanical addiction to suffering.

Because they have been rendered too fucking stupid by the education system to understand exactly what's going on or how to fix it.

Education needs to go back to philosophy--psychology--sociology--religious studies--the literary classics--language!--and eschew all this vocational bollocks. You can't send the man out into the world before you have made the man.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Stuff at Da Beatnik

BEATNIK has some good new stuff on it for you to view, should you be inclined in the literary direction. New poems by t.kilgore splake, Rob Plath and Mark Witucke, and an essay by Mark Witucke called "Toward A Method of Composition". Sound dry? Stop watching so many films with explosions and superheroes and turning your brains to oatmeal listening to shitty music on your ipod, then.

(Oops, where did that come from?)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

new one: MRS HEMMINGS 1973

mrs. hemmings 1973

stopping suddenly
at the bottom of the road
to chide one straggling
hemmings boy
thick black-rimmed glasses
black back-combed hair
like thelma in "the likely lads"
on tv
but much scarier
as usual cross
as usual late for something
in six months she'd be dead

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New One: LUCKY

New Poem: Lucky
I wrote this poem this morning. I thought, when I'd finished it, how funny it would be if I posted it on the internet, then stepped outside and got hit by a truck. But maybe my sense of humour is a little weird.


It occurs to me today that I am lucky.
Lucky to have cold winter mornings
to wake into with aching back and neck.
Lucky opening the curtains
seeing condensation on my bedroom window,
the giant sheriff's car outside choking
as the skinny English owner tries to start it.
Lucky I can have a morning shit,
some people can't, and how I'd miss
that spring-cleaned feeling in my bowels
just before I pull my trousers up.
I'm lucky.
Lucky somebody invented instant coffee.
Lucky Monica Dickens wrote "One Pair of Feet"
in 1942, I'm reading it engrossed
back underneath my duvet.
Lucky I have friends,
people I can call or email later
whose eccentricities I can wonder at.
Lucky, even, that I have a job to go to,
the streets are damn cold this time of year.
I'm lucky, yeah,
outside I hear a paramedic's siren,
some poor bastard's time is up for sure.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Words From The Father/ Words For The Father

Allow me this. Indulge me this.

I've had praise and I've had criticism. These days, at last, they seem to be arriving in fairly equal measure. The brickbats are no longer winning.

But the best praise I've ever had came today from my father, a writer of considerable ability himself, who told me in an email that he respected me for not giving up, despite all the failures and the setbacks associated with this poet's game.

He's right, I did get stubborn perseverance from him. And whatever small gift I might have, though he hasn't laid claim to that one.

Cheers, Pop. I know the sentimentality of this post will probably make you gag, but there you go.

You're a geezer. And I'll email back next time I'm at the pc.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ted Hughes & The Meaning Of Poetry

I heard on the radio the other night that Ted Hughes thought he'd got cancer because writing too much prose instead of poetry had lowered his resistance to illness. He thought poetry had this protective, even healing power that transformed those who practise it and those who are exposed to it.

It's partly, by all accounts, why he took the Laureateship. He thought he might be able to contribute to the healing of poor old England.

Who knows. Some might think it's a demented idea. Others might admire it as an expression of a romance in his nature that didn't always come over in his writing. But at the least you have to admire his commitment to his craft. To believe that he would actually get a terminal illness because he didn't practise it as dedicatedly as he should have done! How many of us believe in poetry to that extent?

My own view is probably closer to Allen Ginsberg's, when, discussing the significance of poetry as a means of effecting social change, he said, "In the long term, it may have an ameliorating effect on the spirit." Which is really enough in this sad, sick world.

The Mail Strike

The posties went back to work today. I know because I got a First Direct statement through my door. (Can anybody tell me, by the way, whether it's normal for a bank to take £10 out of your account for "bank charges"? What the hell are they? I've never really looked closely at a bank statement before.)

Anyway, back to the posties. I heard on the radio that Britain's business had been "thrown into chaos" or some such, by the action of the postal workers. Very possibly. I was inconvenienced too. Had a job application form winging its way to me and it still hasn't made it, though the closing date passed at the weekend.

But at the risk of sounding like a man of principle, God forbid, can I remind you all whose lives have really been inconvenienced by the strike?

Yeah, the postal workers. And their families. These people don't get paid very much anyway, and while they've been on strike they've been paid nothing. The way the media and the politicians and the average right-wing jerk-off in the street talk about it, you'd think the strike was an act of whimsy by old Lefties who just wanted to make life difficult for Gordon Brown and all those poor businessmen sitting in coffee houses at eleven a.m. eating expensive glazed pastries and drinking coffee with ice cream on top.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Lost Phone

Well, I have taken my recent penchant for losing things to new heights this weekend by losing my mobile phone. Which is fine in a way, because as I've written here before, mobiles are a nuisance, especially to those of us who remember life before them (old fart). Who wants to be contactible at all times, day and night, by anybody who feels like reaching into your life and pulling out your carefully constructed peace? But I have to have a mobile for the day job. And I have a few friends, deep and modest, who I don't see very often and rely on electronic means to contact them. Now I've lost my phone I don't even have their number to call them to give them MY new number.

Perhaps this will encourage me to develop a few friendships in real living human fleshy time rather than three times removed by distance and technology? We'll see.

Anyway, my apologies to anyone who's trying to contact me. You're probably going to reach whatever spotty, glue-sniffing, knuckle-dragging, white-trackie-bottomed, baseball-cap-wearing, scooter-riding illiterate picked the phone up, at least until Vodafone get the email I just sent and bar my SIM. Say hello for me.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

wellingborough flash

my buddy jimbo
doing his tough walk
on the way
to percy browns,
a hundred years
ago before life
destroyed him.
fifteen, cool as fuck

an explanation

if you say cheers
then i say thank you.
if you say thank you,
i say cheers.
i'm just a lonely old curmudgeon.
i've been the same
for years and years.

The Break-Up

I watched the Jennifer Aniston/ Vince Vaughan movie "The Break-Up" last night. I have had a thing for Jen ever since her chubby days in "Friends", but I have to say, this ain't one of her better films. She acts wonderfully and is as charming as always, but the film is so cliched and so badly written, I couldn't help feeling that the three pounds I spent renting it would have served me better with a cheap bottle of wine. I still love you, Jen, but you can do way better than that. You already proved it with "The Good Girl".

Thursday, October 04, 2007

New Poems

Two new poems by yours truly, ergo me, as well as a new one by Rob Plath at The Beatnik today.

Incidentally, here's an interesting question: Rob Plath studied poetry with Allen Ginsberg. He now writes fantastic poetry. Are there any other poets Allen taught who can write worth two shits in a cheap bucket?

I love old Ginzy, but in the interests of serious investigative literary journalism I have to ask.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


At t.k. splake's blog ( ), he recently presented his "Doomsday Book List". That is, the books he would preserve at world's end if he could only carry one sturdy rucksack with him into whatever existence waited on the other side of Armageddon (or however you spell that). It's only a parlour game--sort of like Desert Island Discs for those with bleaker minds--but in the absence of anything approximating poetic inspiration today, I thought I would pilfer the idea and present my list to you.

The first draft I made of my Doomsday List featured a lot of books that made me look very clever. When I took those out and inserted books for which I have a deep and abiding love, the list--and possibly the impression it made--was significantly different. Now we have a kind of mental autobiography of yours truly, for what that is worth, containing my loftier ambitions AND my sentimental corners.

What would you take with you in your Doomsday rucksack?

I wonder if there are any books that make it onto everybody's list?


"Visions of Cody" ~ Jack Kerouac
"Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" ~ James Agee
"In Watermelon Sugar" ~ Richard Brautigan
"Desert Solitaire" ~ Edward Abbey
"The Second Novel" ~ Norbert Blei
"A Draft Of XXX Cantos" ~ Ezra Pound
"Memoirs Of A Buccaneer" ~ Louis Le Golif
"Me Again: The Uncollected Writings Of" ~ Stevie Smith
"Keep The Aspidistra Flying" ~ George Orwell
"Puttering About In A Small Land" ~ Philip K. Dick
"Pilgrims Of The Wild" ~ Grey Owl
"Children Of Albion" ~ ed. Michael Horovitz
"Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews" ~ Allen Ginsberg