Thursday, December 22, 2011

Love: after The Triumph of Death

Love may not exist, it may be
only a word, it may do nothing
useful.  To erase love
is easy, it forgets itself, its weapons
are bread and wine, it sings,
its hands are empty -
Still - it persists, like poetry,
idling on a tiny green lawn
as death marches its vast armies
through the deserts behind it.
The Triumph of Death, Breughel

Friday, December 16, 2011

Extract from BEOWULF: Fitts 21 & 22


Beowulf spoke, the son of Ecgetheow:
“Old man, don’t weep. It’s better to take
bitter revenge than to hide in sorrow.
Each of us must face his end
and the warrior grabs what glory he can
before death stops him. After his death,
that’s what remains. Arise, O King,
let’s study the trail of Grendel’s dam.
I swear to you that I’ll track her down.
No earthly cave nor mountain wood,
no ocean bed, will do to hide her.
Have patience now, endure your woe,
and be the man that I know you are.”

The old king leapt to feet and thanked
God for those words. He called for a horse,
and a handsome mount with braided mane
was swiftly bridled. He rode out shining,
his shield-bearers marching behind him.
The trampled track ran through the forest, 
plunging straight into murky moorland
where the monster had dragged the bloody corpse 
of Heorot’s champion. The thanes then scrambled 
up steep screes, trod single file 
through narrow cliff-ways where demon-haunted
waters tumbled far beneath them.
Beowulf went on with a few good scouts, 
and found by chance a stand of ash 
casting its shadow across grey stone, 
a dismal wood! The water beneath 
seethed with blood, and when they found
Aschere’s head by the edge of the cliff,
each man present felt his grief
break newly open. As they stared,
the flood welled ruddy with hot gore.
A battle horn sang, quickening pulses,
and the troop stood and watched the water.
Sea-snakes curled there and strange dragons
wove through its depths, and on the reefs
such water demons as wait their chance
to strike the ships on the sail-road.
Swollen with rage, the warriors ran
to the wailing horn and one of the Geats
lifted his bow and struck a monster
straight in the vitals, slowing its struggle
against the waves. They snagged it hard
on sharp-hooked boar pikes and dragged it out
of the noisome shallows, staring in wonder
at this strange wave-spawn.
   Fearless Beowulf
put on his armour, hand-braided mail
cunningly made. No grim malice
could pierce his bone-cage to harm his heart
or crush him in a deadly wrestle.
On his head was a royal helm
as bright as when the smiths first made it,
rimmed with boar-shapes, iron-encircled,
to break the bite of the bitterest brand.
Not the least was the ancient blade
lent by Unferth, Hrothgar’s spokesman,
to meet his need. Its name was Hrunting.
Edged with iron, tempered by blood,
pattern-welded and scored with runes,
this sword had never failed in battle
any who bore it, venturing far
into enemy strongholds on dark journeys.
It was well used to courage-work.
Surely that muscle-head forgot
how in his cups he had taunted Beowulf
when he gave his blade to the better swordsman.
He’d never dare to risk his life
under the waves, in the water’s tumult.
He lost his manhood then and all
his chance at glory. Not so Beowulf.


Beowulf spoke, the son of Edgetheow:
“Half Dane’s son, I am eager for battle.
Remember now your earlier pledge,
that if I die serving your need,
you would be a father to me. 
If I lose my life, beloved Hrothgar,
take in your care my young retainers
and send to Hygelac all the treasures
that you have given me.  Gazing on gold,
the lord of the Geats will know my deeds
found generous thanks from a good king. 
Let Unferth have my wave-edged sword, 
this ancient heirloom, to match his fame.
I’ll use Hrunting to forge my glory,
unless death takes me.”
   Waiting no answer,
he plunged into the surging waters.
Long he sank: a day passed by
before he glimpsed the floor of the mere
where she watched, wrathful and greedy,
ravenous ruler of the flood
for a hundred seasons. She knew at once
that an alien from the world of air
sounded her strange home. Groping upwards,
she seized the prince with savage hands,
crushing his body. The ringmail kept him
from deadly harm, her loathsome fingers
fumbled against the handlinked armour.
When she touched bottom, the she-wolf bore
him back to her lair. For all his courage,
Beowulf couldn’t wield his sword
as weird sea-beasts thronged about him
and tore at his mail with war-like tusks.
He found himself then in his enemy’s hall,
free of the water, its roof holding back
the snatch of currents. A bright fire blazed
and in its light he saw his foe,
the mighty mere-wife, cursed mistress
of the deeps. He hefted his sword,
swinging it down with all his strength,
and the ring-marked blade sang hungrily
for blood. But the stranger found 
that the battle-flame refused to bite,
its edge failed the noble lord
in his need. It had endured many
hand-to-hand combats, split the helms
of many doomed men, but for the first time
its glory dimmed.  Resolute still,
remembering fame, Hygelac’s kinsman
angrily hurled that precious sword 
to the ground, trusting his strength,
his mighty hands. So must a man act,
careless of life, if he wants to win
lasting fame in the fury of battle.

He grabbed her hair – keen for the insult –
and swollen with rage, the battle-hard man
flung Grendel’s mother down to the floor.
She quickly repaid him, holding him fast
against her hide in her wrathful grip, 
and then even that sturdy soldier,
the strongest of men, stumbled with weariness,
and fell. Sitting astride him,
she drew her dagger, deadly and edged,
to avenge her son, her only offspring.
His mailcoat saved him, barring the point
its bloody entry. He would have died there,
Edgetheow’s son, far underground,
but for that war-mesh. And holy God
who gives out victory decided easily 
whose was the win when Beowulf sprang
back to his feet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beowulf Unplugged

Being my translation of Beowulf put through paranoid dictation software


Jimmy I will come with this DJ 
has a claim can you please 
give more to glory and great D. 

Get some skilled Harry 
he's made this season hold  
face-to-face if you arrived here 
empty-handed he found finding 
ET waxing reach you guys
to meaning if he was on a free 
triathlon win Olympic patient 
could be a really good King 
Constantine the Great  
chance to heal the people 
at the language leaving the poor
and see for Paul came then 
things in the north 
of the great life-giving granted  
skills and on and on to say 
she's a young man what good deed
to his father show that you 
can send it doesn't but thanks for the old page  
will end him on his loyal companions 
his fiery D. wanted people and when
war comes buildings and trees.

When destiny call him still 
in his strength skill deposit 
on his last voyage search engine led me 
to Friday's kingdom his dearest friends  
Kerry campaign the safer way 
to Walter have to tell him when 
he's time we just wanted 
to let that fool a long friend 
of this can be.

Papa Ray KLA special 
IC came amid a wristed 
under the mom is my tea party 
morning the law was of love 
ring get around him a great Tricia's  
on him on ice, Tricia's tickets 
from sorrow land. The warlike you 
correctly pointed a soul to Google 
mail and on his birthday 
since the prices I have not said 
that if we take this shit
is interested into that he's grateful 
nation sent you more frankly 
he who I have been on the way 
the child they stood me in his hands 
and nothing else. Last a second 
golden hi about the least issue 
to the oceans we watching it 
when do the troubled hi hero 
who Weissman no one can say  
that after he's left fatherless 
to you for this building room teach  
people wisely and long for the half day 
3-D tennis can you teach  
people into special sky oh I.
And from the house 
during spring for children 
hey gab podcast good holiday 
and you say in my head 
is clean off the wall 
scope things on the listing 
me after him how to build it 
will cost 1,000,000x30 p.m.  
been screwed my cheek 
and see if you wanted to war.

In Huntington Beach and my SQL
a high cable past 12 get back 
at the gift giving me the making 
a novel to tell them in hereafter
many people submit the letter 
with cold came to be built despite 
cold and it lasted fully finished 
the highest of houses. Named a hero 
whole of the Royal stag and royalty
D. Raincity ceases he  
had promised the full cool fire pages 
on cable before aged malice  
broke the blood bond it's due time.
Where do we were laughing
the whole talk to some type 
of one such a learning outside 
in the night and easy cutting 
the doctor gave him a nice woodcraft 
told the site is the best man 
in the world making.

Have a great one will be a shining 
claims we will check in 
from the Simon leaving leaving 
Islam I learned violence.
His name is Grendel 
stoker launches morph same way 
to make it vanish team released 
line 15. If a key nuclear 
father of monsters 
when McCain made it his brother 
Abel going drinking deep 
into the deep reaches 
five from his side.
I'm from him sprang amongst races 
Vegas hotels underworld spirits  
and agree giants to date 
to strive for golf. Doug 
that would've been a tease.


I'm the night covered window 
cracked up to the high hole 
where the ring games let's test 
to see the sun rose 5 
from dreaming minds they need 
nothing to men's ministry. 
Greenman 3-D Grendel 
and his inchoate sleep. 
Fishy things just like his hunger 
and hurry time send this body 
pressing plans. He hurry bed time
body cavities come before 
the sun could show he can't reach them 
and discovered love you doing 
banquet. Last thinking place 
is doing much to lower the session 
side of morning. His main living 
besides the glut state tax 
too late to correct. Manchester nice 
facility continued my name is playing 
if he told me that the court and so do I. 
The house today T. Telling me 
it was billed glad 12 inches long 
beach at English heritage hostage 
came to tell him when the Swingos 
case back into Danish language 
was made peace was possible 
that recompense tinted up 
for much more than 40. 
My man status big steak 
and I'll be more sleep 
and don't let it to be endless 
night fishing you smash the old 
and young men cannot night  
with the Phillies going to school 
like it's a secret. Dismal store 
kinda lame and hey check it 
three times he ruled and he lost 
an interview before the gift 
find no new with love say 
was half his spirit broken off 
in the empty center 
counsel pondering plans against  
the hard but off the bed 
praise to the wrong college.
Such is the price in height 
if he can play today to kiss 
and leads his ignorance
like this isn't just today 
but trusting souls in the file  
and I really come full today.
HSA him too on his big day 
seeks to know each contestant 
and is fined and his father’s times.


Simon Hochstein greeted I'm sorry 
wise and strong lady and then I hate  
to strong distrust, too cool too constant 
to hit it after these people.
You send me feeling the night 
with Tara Sennheiser like saying love 
to think he is going to see you.
Is the strongest man who once he ordered  
a good she said he would select sale 
this one so I can bring his warriors 
just walking dog as he wants them. 
No one can give him 
my text size is being studied 
the uneven and HTC.
On from the geeks people  
he changed campaigns and 15 together 
related down to the way for us.
It's sure under the faith-based sleep sheep 
way to wait current copacetic 
and send to see skilled punches pulled 
a dictation stick to its trial. 

Into the breast of April driveway 
where you want you can trust that.  
You will appreciate he gets attention 
to win taking. I was the way 
on the second day to see fairies 
for when gauging man send me 
dead as if the claim.
Shining sea cliff and white hate plans
thanking God for smooth crossing
safely the more is more than she,
talk to land their name shit sprinkling. 
From his secret solstice buildings
warden bears anthrax books.
You and I hope you haven’t 
been playing and wanted to.
Last you would be me.

He writes to the Scholle showcase theater 
and see if we have an informal way. 
What manner of men on you man
where you at your pool cue up
to the way this way come.
What is your business?

He was the CEO. I need to watch Manny’s
landed on seeming goodnight
to message you. 
Visit before you know my time.
If I think she’ll be a wasteland
with Lisca I will play it tonight
but would believe that I won’t make it.
Nor have I seen in my Shia mood
what the new sound man he stands  
before me. He's gonna chill just stopping fine, 
Macy's looks like its nature.
Now I can mind to hear your name 
and/or the beach where you will be  
labeled spies. Strangers he is
playing to type up.


Saturday, December 3, 2011


So where do you end up when your eyes are finally working
so well you can hardly see in front of you instead you look
inside out you feel the acid in your brain
working through to the page as pitiless as economists
adding up zeros you live in this world it opens its arms
exactly what you feared it is worse than your dreams
shutting your eyes to find the tortured boy printed
on your retina the hole in his cheek the slashed
arms bloodless now the cigarette burns how did they
and the big stupid money fracking the laws of mercy
all the connections obvious and obscene and still you dream
of linoleum in kitchens that years have demolished
into hygienic visions mothers in aprons squawking for decades
of migraines and butter or bending over shining ovens
in their Good Housekeeping skirts their hair in scarves
their perfectly polished children executive husbands televisions
you murdered them all you stood in high heels and vomited blood
better than madness your sister’s eyes turned in to policemen coming
to slash her to ribbons her visions of Lear her naked pain
poetry you never saved me but there was the rail
of words that promised a fake redemption you knew
it was fake but out of the dream stepped those ample summers
as real as the camellias opening outside your window
red as your fingers red as your newborn babies beautiful vaginas
speaking the possible here in this same world
where chemical nightmares scour the skin from children
o poetry who stepped down and clapped her manacles 
speaking her legislations knowing the sentence is life
its fluid chains its solitary rooms its knives of ice and blood
opening inside you like forgiveness you think
of your mother’s will where she ministers justice your sisters
and you laid out in columns neat and shy and obedient 
scrub the skirtings weed the roses death will visit at last
and run his finger along the shelves and find us wanting
but he can go to hell him and his little brothers
all those feminine lessons I flung on the fire of my ego
refusing death although I invited him in with every word
every cigarette every failure poetry you never lied to me

Friday, December 2, 2011

A History of Rain


I marvelled at the squid’s mantel,
The sloth’s curled hook,
The magenta lips of orchids.

Behind me barbed feathers
Tore air to turbulence
And then were still.

The soluble sky thickened
As grief heats an eye
To astonished blindness.


You who love me best,
    Have you traced my pulse
       Through city walls?
I was lost already, I retched
    As oil plumed through my blood.

The clouds are still falling
    Huge and angry wounds.
Your heart is an executive
    Who remembers nothing.     

My face is the face of a man
    Who looks down amazed 
       At the murdered thing
His stained hands
       Open like hunger.


It will not lack colour – 
consider the intricate brachiation of silica,
pale spicules green with cyanide algae – 
conifer needles in snow, their colours
unaccountably reversed – 
or the butterfly lustre of sulphur lakes.

Will your eyes blur at this beauty
so unlike you? No, you have long dissolved, 
you, your reflections, your aqueous desires,
into the flame-coloured sky.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I will stop writing

I will stop writing and walk out, and in the clamour of commerce I will consider the value of truth.

When I return, the evening light will be yellow and the bird that whistled all day will have fallen silent.

Once again I will discover that I have nothing to say. Perhaps a bright instrument may flash then, in my empty hands.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Good Friday

it was the sound of a bird
startled from sleep its wings hurting the air

it was a sound like shame
since then I have not slept

my ears multiplied I heard the hammers
ringing down the cries of men and women

the wing of sorrow
beating louder and louder

words betray the delicacies
which hide in each freckle of each face

each gesture each strand of hair each voice
calling its own call like no other

it is the shadow of love
kicked bleeding from the garden

whose hands burn
through barricades of flame

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Visitor

On whom should we meditate as the visitor? Which of the many is she? Is she that by which we smite, retain, caress, hoodwink, abide, separate the blind mole from the horse piss?

Or is she that other, living in the mind or the intellect as deformation, harmony, diligence, modesty, mischief, mortification, delight, vigilance, flattery, amazement, barnacles, villainy, traffic, innocence, metal, corn, wine or oil: all names for those many intelligences?

First she becomes the brine of the astrologer, which is light gathered from all the limbs of the ocean. She nourishes herself within herself as brine. When she injects that brine into a man, she herself is born. That is her first pearl.

The brine merges in the man's body. Because it becomes his body it does not harm him. He nourishes the eye of the woman within himself. Repulse him, for he is crediting the eye.

Before and after the drowning of the eye, she blesses the music, blesses herself. She lives in her music: that is her second pearl.

The visitor being the fool over again, carries the canker of the family, and the fool having completed her mischance, charms and and is cloven again. That is her third pearl.

The Sage said, when lying in the pool: I understood how the knaves twangled. They put me in that hundred-branched hundred-blossomed isle, but I flounced merrily, I flounced like a sparrow!

The Sage flew to the sea-marge, loved all that she troubled, attained the plot of peacocks, became a wager: yes, became a wager.

(Thanks to The Tempest and the Upanishads)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sonnet: Thoreau in Chernobyl

The woods were beautiful as always, but dry.
It seemed a subtle poison at the roots
drained them imperceptibly of life.
A want, or heightened colour, in each leaf
hinted profound disease, as if the rites
of generation faltered and withdrew
beyond emergencies of flood and fire
to deserts that no green could penetrate.
I shaped my stanzas, but the form seemed trite:
all metre euphemised a deepening flaw.
I heard no frog calls, and the birds were fewer
in species and in number.  I trod
ungodly glows, a covenant betrayed,
a humus rotting slowly into fear.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What I am saying

what I am saying is
assuming nothing
locate the perameters
sight hearing touch
what am I saying
cliché as violation
fear as unbeing
the voyeur flays
to aphasic wreckage
seduction is always
dishonest / therefore
liminal gestures 
dissolve in cities 
of representation
the joke of culture
an abstract capital
a smile perhaps
cheating the stockmarket
despite all that
a hesitant outline
drawn and withdrawn
something specific
in the peripheries
orchids budding
their luminous rhythms
what am I saying
what am I not saying

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


gently we are saved:
your body formed
from bodies so long grieved
by mine is warmed

the moment that you sleep
my mind awakes
I have nothing to keep
for our sakes

nothing to break or hold
nothing to lose
the generous powers fold
to emptiness

the nothing that we are
is all:
vulgar and opaque and rare
and mortal

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On the Death of God

In the age of barbed wire, they announced the death of God. Great men traced the flyspots on ancient walls and studied the mutations of stars. Never before was so much knowledge gathered together.

They forgot to examine the dirt at their feet which was, as it always has been, full of God. A vast emptiness winced at the core of things. They thought that if they stepped on the moon, the cancer would retreat. They thought that if they invented washing machines, the asylums would empty. They thought that if they grafted wings to books, the poor would levitate. Nothing worked.

They became more and more afraid, and ordered inventories of their armouries.

They wooed the drug barons of Burma and Mexico, the bankers of China, the executives of Somalia and the Balkans, the despots of Indonesia and Chile and Uzbekistan, the monarchs of America and the Middle East. Many were photogenic and drew huge ratings, and white opium clouds soothed the people. But still they had forgotten God.

In the East, where God had been banished forever, the Pope rose out of the stills of the dispossessed and boxed the ears of the Kremlin. He raised his hands and God stepped forward to the podium. As they watched, a giant crow landed on the steps of Congress and plucked out the eyes of onlookers. A dark cloud hovered over Persia.

They understood then that God had never gone away. His transactions passed all understanding. Not a sparrow fell, but He sold it. He suffered the little children to come to His wars, and His dogma belched from all the world’s leaders. His factories and powerstations obliterated borders and His mansions towered over the hovels of the unenlightened. The electronic nerves of every economy led to the bottomless abyss of His intelligence. They bowed and ate the dirt. Already it was too late.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Extracts from ANTIGONE


CHORUS  There is nothing stranger than man.
    As if he were a storm 
    he strides through the waves
    of the winter seas 
    and year after year
    he wears down the oldest god,
    earth herself, with his ploughshare.

    In his clever nets
    he captures whole nations
    of feather-headed birds 
    and the ocean’s salty brood.
    He masters the beasts
    that wander the open hills
    and yokes with his cunning
    the long-maned horse
    and the muscled mountain bull.

    He taught himself speech
    and the flight of thought
    and imagined the laws of the city.
    He shelters himself 
    from the hostile weather.
    He never meets the future
    without something in his hand.
    He has found a cure
    for every illness.
    Death alone baffles him.

    Skilful beyond imagining,
    subtle beyond hope,
    he can turn in his wilfulness
    to good or to evil.
    When he honours the laws
    of the city and the gods
    his standing is noble.
    But the man who betrays
    the laws of the city
    deserves no home.
    May one such as this
    never sit at my table.
    May a man like this
    never share my thoughts.

CREON   Hard wills are first to break.
    The smallest bridle
    tames the wildest horse.
    Those whose pride is bitter 
    are more shamed as slaves.
    This girl laughed in her insolence
    when she broke my law.
    Am I the King of Thebes
    or is she?
    She is my sister’s child
    but even if she were my daughter
    I’d take her life for this.
    I’ll trample all her pride
    under my law,
    she and her sister.
    Summon her:
    I saw her just now in the house,
    out of her wits with madness.

    Often the mind convicts itself
    when plotting darkness.
    But I hate more those who do evil
    and make a virtue of it.

ANTIGONE  Do you desire anything more than my death?

CREON   No more than that.
    Your death is everything.

ANTIGONE  Then what are you waiting for?
    You have nothing to say
    that can please me
    and I can say nothing
    that will charm your ear.
    What greater glory could I seek
    than to honour my brother?
    All men would say so
    if fear did not silence them.
    But you are a king
    and can do what you like.

CREON   You are alone among Thebans
    in thinking this.

ANTIGONE  They know it too
    but keep their mouths shut
    for fear of you.
CREON   Are you not ashamed
    for thinking differently?

ANTIGONE  I see no shame
    in loving my brother.

CREON   And wasn’t it a brother 
    who died opposing him?

ANTIGONE  Yes, a full brother, 
    born of the same parents.

CREON   Then is not your loyalty
    disloyal to that brother’s memory?

ANTIGONE  My brother would not say so.

CREON   He would if he were given
    the same honours as a traitor.

ANTIGONE  He was not a slave who died.
    He was our brother.

CREON   A brother who laid waste the land
    the other died defending.

ANTIGONE  In death all are equal.

CREON   There's no equality
    between this good man
    and that impious corpse.

ANTIGONE  Who knows what laws
    rule the land of the dead?

CREON   Even in death
    an enemy is an enemy.

ANTIGONE  My nature turns to those I love,
    not to my enemies.

CREON   Then love the dead
    when you walk with them
    in the world below.
    While I am king 
    no woman shall rule in Thebes. 


tonight a small boy is weeping in a forest
he misses the black dog which lay down beside him 
if he lives he'll shape his heart around a trigger
       tell it to the birds
       if any are left to sing of it

a man with ambitions sold him down the river
a woman with a microphone identified the price
a beggar on the riverbank knelt down and held him
       tell it to the birds
       if any are left to sing of it

what price a brain smoking in the mud?
what price a baby spitted like a piglet?
what price a cunt ripped open with a rifle?
       tell it to the birds
       if any are left to sing of it

the man in the bunker makes love to his money
the poor woman pulls a pebble from her pocket
and the face of a child rubbed pale as a dream 
       tell it to the birds
       if any are left to sing of it

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Great Aunts

great aunts are very swallowing and dangerous
they exist all their lives in broughams and monocles
sometimes they recite poetry to frighten you
I have spent whole months trembling for their assignations
I have heard them hooting in supermarkets at the full moon
when they rattle their clavicles entire cities come to a stop
even those constructed entirely of masonite and six inch nails
eventually I suppose they must die like everything else
but the spoons of imagination will not let me believe it