Monday, 27 October 2014

First thoughts, second part

I spent yesterday in a workshop exploring 'First Thoughts' i.e. Ginsberg's idea that the first thought is the best thought. So, there was a series of exercises and prompts to write poems very quickly - in 5 to 10 minutes generally - to ensure that there wasn't time to revisit the first thought and change it to the second, third fourth and so on. It was a follow-on from a previous workshop on the same topic, and like that one produced a number of genuinely outstanding pieces.

I'm working on a couple of ideas that sprung from the event, and here's one that I produced from the prompt 're-use a line from Long Days by Jean Follain' - I used "next to the worn-out animals" and the idea came from a recent online news story.


In Gaza zoo

In Gaza zoo,
the are no zebras;
the occupiers’ edicts
forbid the import of exotic species
and slowly, the exhibits
dwindle to taxidermy.
But even in Palestine,
kids know what should be on display;
to comply, keepers paint stripes on white donkeys
and children ride upon their backs,
a wire-fenced pleasure-beach,
parading until,
as the gates clang shut,
feral cats emerge
to yawn and stretch
next to the worn-out animals.

I'm quite happy with the story and imagery here, though I may rework it. On other occasions, inspiration let me no further than 'short and silly' as here, written in response to the prompt 'write a poem structured like one of the handouts' - I went with William Carlos Williams' As the Cat (not least because it's short and it was near the end of the day, but also I'm a cat-fan and enjoy sparse poetical structures once in a while). Enjoy... and if you fancy attending a workshop and can get to Southampton or Bournemouth, this is the place to look.

As the man

As Pavlov
rang his bell
and measured

canine salivation
the cat watched
sure-footed

pawing at
its collar-jingle
so the man

on hearing now
lifts his leg
and washes.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

C’mon guys, get over it

I've never really understood why so many men have a problem with women who hold and voice strong opinions – I mean, what do they think’s going to happen? Maybe this is how they think...

C’mon guys, get over it

Feminist, you’re ruthless and unyielding,
those are male traits,
so what are you thinking?
Half the world are girls, so really
women should be soft and touchy-feely
caring souls to make life easy
to a man.
Each time you express a strong-held feeling,
a real opinion,
it sends my sperm-count tumbling, reeling,
the swing of my pendulum limpens and stops,
my cock won’t crow
and I’ve lost two stones,
testosterone falls from the ceiling
to the floor and lies congealing,
then my toughened hide starts peeling.
Acknowledging your mind’s like queering,
my beer turns into weak darjeeling,
my beard’ll soon start disappearing
I’ll admire the songs of Ronan Keating,
so rage against the sexual healing.

Of course none of the above is true,
chaps, what is it that you’re fearing?
No, really, what’s the problem?
Over to you.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

NPD not-blues-but-confused

So, today is National Poetry Day and the theme is rememb...
hang on, what was I doing?
Stewing strong tea or Englishly queueing,
chewing on mischievous thoughts that are brewing,
eschewing Westminster edicts, pooh-poohing
them blue in the face, or crewing
the Good Ship 'Amnesia', post-it notes for renewing
library books, and that firewood needs hewing,
maybe scrapbook gluing for future reviewing
with synapses ruing the passage of time
and losing my m... when's national Poetry Day?

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Chrome poles and foxholes

With the West now bombing Isis, whatever good that will do, I couldn't help noticing that Southampton has a lap-dancing club of the same name, and so a little satire was born - currently a work-in-progress...

The day the West dropped bombs on Isis

Cash in the wasitband’s medieval,
objectifying, shallow – yes, but not evil,
seedy, that’s true, thoughts unclean,
small uprisings, some scenes are obscene,
barbaric acts need reprisals it seems
but such punishment’s too harsh, in extremis,
high explosives used on unarmed ecdysists,
the day the West dropped bombs on Isis.

Some general somewhere, deep in the Pentagon,
bullet-headed, a limited lexicon,
lost by long words, confused the terms
Terpsichore and terrorists,
gyrators and jihadists,
shaking their fundaments
doesn’t make them fundamentalists.

Military Intelligence didn’t check their facts,
planned the attack using Google Maps,
managed to mix up bunkers in Iraq
with a slightly cheesy city-centre strip-shack,
as dancers wiggled on laps and tables,
missiles were launched from a secret Naval
base, seconds later, dumb target’s struck,
one interrupted a private booth-fuck,
shenanigans costly, rude, uncouth,
the other hit the dancefloor via the roof
and exploded, scattering sequins and G-strings,
middle-aged men who seek releasings,
ripped by lip-gloss shrapnel, no more sleazing
at the go-go girls blown through the ceiling,

peeling off layers of lurex and rubber,
shredded epidermal cover,
no teasing rhythm to this stripping,
as club-beats are cut,
lust lies bleeding,
all gone Pete Tong, gold thongs
hang limp from rubble,
lager and worse dripping
from stag-night posses caught, gaping in fishnets
and rags of High Street smart-casual,
congealing as the dust settles, dead confetti,
flakes of foundation, orange as amaretti
no longer concealing crisped skin,
smoke black as Kate Moss’ caked mascara,
Rimmel’s London Blitz look,
billows from kitsch curtains
and pink satin pillows as they shrivel,
shrink like recreational dental-floss knickers

and the emergency light’s first tentative flicker
illuminates a lone perspex platform stiletto
lying on its side, still clasping something varnished,
chipped but glitter-sparkling,
part of a daughter of Isis,
goddess of slaves and sinners,
mother of Horus,
who could not be protected by doormen
or hands-by-your-sides no-touching rules,
all just damaged collateral,
another day in the death
of the War of Error,
mongered by fools.


Monday, 1 September 2014

And so my first poetry book is born

As pregnancies go, I don't think this one was too bad. A few false alarms but eventually I got it down to the themes I really wanted to put together. So, rather than the political material I'm probably best known for performing, I've chosen some more personal (occasionally very) autobiographical pieces; little vignettes of life if you like, plus some humour and a bit of experimental word-play. The process of selection has been a valuable one in itself. It felt like making a 1980s mix-tape but on paper.

I've re-evaluated the quality of many of my poems and then rewritten a few, discarded a few others, and in some pleasing cases, decided 'actually I'm pretty happy with that' and left those well alone. Some were written as page poems, others are performance pieces edited for the page. I hope you feel the urge to buy a copy (it's only £5, from here) and that you give in to that urge freely. I also hope you think it was worthwhile when Subduction Zone arrives on your doormat - after all, this is my first poetry collection, but it won't be my last...

....it's, sob... so.... beautiful...