Conjuring

(for WB)

the secret order of things apparently dictates that
the folds in the firmament will never hold true
that crucibles are a waste of energy
and that the stone people
cannot tell you anything

today however
I absolve you of the need to construct proofs
because the pylons are dividers of two different realms
and the service station is suffused with angelic light

I see your signal now, the way the future you fear approaches
like a rickety milk-cart driving across the testing range

And yet I sing to you
To reconstitute the dynamited mosaic
To renovate the old dreamery

So strange that the sea
can be an unmade bed
the sky, a cracked stucco ceiling
trees, matches aflame in a different spectrum

everybody is a sometime genius
with a limitless capacity to transform what they see
into something else
mostly we exist
as a silent prototype of sound
letting others prise our visions open

Build a maybe tower
out of trick bricks
with see-through cranes
to browse through the rubble

one does not need planning permission
for such an edifice
it moves in and out of existence
with the phases of the moon
the spire divides, branching out
a monument to the impossibility
of anything happening
the same way twice

ideas do not supersede one another
but rather grow simultaneously
from an imperceptible source

a burning forest
a face drawn in condensation
a conclave of cats
the only light switched on in a grey towerblock
dew trembling in the illuminated web

there is something happening
outside of history’s neatly raked piles
a ping-pong ball with a question mark printed on it
bouncing around a bare room

time moves at different speeds
the further you get from the centre
the faster it seems
the less comprehensible the remembrance
of your clockwork dreams

interconnectivity witnessed in the mesh
of shared experience
a dog carrying a stick
which is longer than its body
the raw “is” of these moments
before we think ourselves too far into them

language fights for mastery of the void
and comes up with the phrase
“this page is intentionally left blank”
new words ripen:
the hard rind of consonants
the soft pulp of vowels
they convey the immutable fact
that on equals off
lifting up the specimen jars
to unpin each soul’s moth

blindfolded we pull imaginary descriptions
from the deepest top hat
each conjured vision
standing before the entrance to our world
muscles tensed:

waiting to jump

Catalogue

This is my response to two things:

1. A commission from my friend Nes who provided me with amazing stimuli in the form of footage of a decrepit botanical garden in Lisbon.

2. Elizabeth Kolbert’s sobering and terrifying reflection on the anthropocene era The Sixth Extinction.

I’m shit-scared about the fate of the planet at the moment and I don’t know what to do with it all. I’m hoping to get more involved with 350.org. I’m also planning to stop banging out apocalypse porn in poetry form sometime soon.

 

 

Catalogue

A catalogue of the things which were lost
This was lost also
A reflexive index of
Self-husking kernels

Redundant taxonomies abound in this abundance
The tropical world connects to our own through the tiniest aperture
We have to train lizards to be our eyes and ears
They dart through the corroded ambitions of architects

Roads become monuments, spanning distances between random points
Yellowed phrasebooks have no purpose
Each word a miniscule drop in the ether
A sleepy wasp twitching its stinger

The stacked future topples its structure
The underhand surgeon unravels the suture
Sensory system formed by microbeads tasting the rotting coral
The sharp tang of oil at the heart of it all

Latticework of hydrocarbons
Misremembered animals and sentient trash
The internet of former things
Objects revealed by the retreating glacier

An incrementally boiled frog waves from the saucepan
The festering hydra thrashes in murky water
Buffalo are killed by dronestrike
Malware riddles the seedbank

Divining scenarios from blasted trees
Or working backwards from rusting farm machinery, partially buried in mud
To reinvent the sickle which swipes at the sheaf
The celebrated food surplus which powered this thought

And we are a yeast which briefly flourished
A butterfly stuck in a corrupted chrysalis
Cataclysm greasers, ceremonial scuffers of lines in the sand
Grappling with a rapidly declining razzmatazz quotient

Slurp! and our system gulps down all possible futures
Gone! The Romans, the landscape features
Empty the heart, and empty the granaries
Press our final flowering in the book of ages

the carousel spins around the volcano
the rituals of wolves are translated for the last time
everything which is capable of being recreated
will become the exact opposite of itself

the prairie is blocked off: a total no-go area
poly-tunnels rear in the wind like unruly dragons
the rockpools will be trapped in
endlessly gnashing teeth of granite

every form will lapse into incoherence
there will be winters without witnesses
when our witless shadows rub themselves out
Out epitaph reads “they paid as they went”

A series of images from my online dating profile


I am jumping into the water. What a guy.

I am in a third world country singlehandedly rebuilding the burned-out orphanage, projecting an aura which combines rugged practicality and affable altruism. I am tanned, buff and shirtless. A photogenic child is tugging upon my goatee.

I am at the festival having all of the fun. Look at it! Look at the fun I am having! It is controlled fun occurring within tightly defined parameters, and definitely not messy or destabilising. I’m covered from head to toe in glitter and sporting an outsized sombrero. It is the magic hour and everything crackles with possibility. Lense flare burst through the gauze of my fairy wings as I delicately pluck my ukulele. I am Dionysius incarnate and my companions gaze upon me with love and all-too evident arousal.

Face square to the camera, half in shadow. A mysterious look flickers across my face. I am absently petting a panther.

I am practicing embroidery in the drawing room, demure and yet somehow slightly coquettish. The lid on the ornately decorated harpsichord which dominates the room is invitingly open, a fiendishly difficult piece by Rameau on the music stand.

Reaction shot: the snowglobe is falling from Charles Foster Kane’s fingers on the conspicuously large plasma screen. A single tear has squeezed its way through the underside of my impeccably stylish half-moon glasses. A liveried servant waits for the film to finish, an urgent communique addressed to “Herr Doktor” in his gloved right hand.

“Yet another photo of Machu fucking Picchu” you think, before gasping with stunned incomprehension at the miraculous restoration of the city to its former glory. I am striding purposefully over the mountain top towards the silhouetted figure of an Incan emissary, the burnished gold of his face mask aflame with the first rays of the sunrise.

I am smiling insouciantly, heedless of pain whilst the tattooist completes his task. My macbook is perched precariously on my lap, work on a forthcoming TED talk presentation clearly underway. The needle dances around a partially inked photorealistic image of a stunningly beautiful face. It is your face, my love.

I am in front of a temple on a mountaintop with my sturdy yet svelte legs wrapped behind my head in an eye-watering yoga position. Shaven-headed acolytes have gathered and are clearly mesmerised by my absolute serenity. The various depth fields within the image combine to create an impossibly pulsating mandala which begins to burrow its way out of your computer screen, slowly sucking the rest of the room into its writhing depths. A gong chimes in your mind. You suddenly notice the gap between my knees and the ground. There is no computer in front of you and there never was. You are a monk in Tang dynasty China and you have just achieved enlightenment.

The portal made of pure light is opening above my head as I survey your reality for the last time. I have learned so much about human love during my brief sojourn in this realm. I am to be uploaded into a timeless emerald capsule buried deep within the vast nothingness which existed before the universe began, thus removing a plethora of possible romantic permutations from the multiverse in a scrupulously planned potentiality harvest, the purpose of which is frustratingly opaque to your limited perceptions. I am still looking for my partner in crime.

The teachings of Schmudda

My good friend Nicky Palmer and I invented a religion a few years back and this poem is my attempt to encapsulate it in verse. She is of course the head of worldwide Schmuddism (the Dalai Palmer). I’m a bit annoyed about the dalek meditation thing that’s been going around recently because it’s totally stolen my thunder. Buy anyhoo, crack out the scented candles, fondle your crystals and prepare for my dulcet tones helping you to JUST FUCKING RELAX.

This one is really a performance piece, so please have a listen. And if anyone wants to make me an amazing video to go with it so that we can achieve viral notoriety together and retire on our vast earnings, please get in touch.

 

The Teachings of Schmudda

there are seven steps to a complete meltdown
I want you to focus on that hard kernal of stress and death-fear deep within you which
occasionally surfaces at three in the morning
now just fix in your mind the triumphal expression on your brother’s face after he has just forced you to slap yourself whilst pinning you down completely
it is very important that you breathe as shallowly as possible
imagine breathing in the reek of cat piss on newly laundered sheets
OK…it is time to tap into the seething resentment caused by successive occasions of
being overlooked for promotion
you are a spreadsheet
your conditional formatting is signalling something awry and all of your cells are slowly turning red
visualise your limitations…they are very real and all-encompassing
you are barely capable of rational thought let alone stunning insight
your mind is a piece of broken plasterboard in the rusting skip of the cosmos

these phrases from the masters will help you
“he started it”
“you can only do what you can do”
“if you’d only let me finish”
“I’m bored”
remember the parable of the twisted arm
the instructive fable of the lazy cuckoo

say sayonara to samsara with new schmudda spray!

you are now ready to think about stuff
there is a terrifying amount of objects surrounding you and they are incredibly fucking real
think about the amount of cars which you saw this morning on your way to work
exactly how many extra strong mints are contained in all of the glove compartments
of all of those cars
I want you to think about shrink-wrapped coconuts, inaccurate models of Parisian landmarks and implements associated with dentistry
when I count to 10 nothing will happen
you will come to your senses exactly the same as you were before

you are not melting into the ether, there are immovable barriers which you will never transcend
you are the thing that will stop you becoming the thing that is not you
thing thing thing thing thing thing thing
I find that this is usually a good point to listen to Gabba and think about
finite resources

your mantra must be annoyingly unpronouncable and impossible to remember, containing at least 7 successive consonants, a hidden swearword, the chemical ingredients of a de-greasing agent and an alphabetical list of Welsh mining villages
try to say it as often as possible in a voice which is a composite of a magpie’s cackle and a horribly tranquilised newsreader

Schmudda skim-read the Wikipedia entry on Buddhism at least once to enable him to formulate these precepts
He thought about suffering and cracked one off
He ate all the rice, all the pies, the whole universe
He formulated the noble two-fold path, right good and right wrong ‘un

Let’s all be quiet for just a fucking minute and think about Schmudda.
Let us offer up the sacred slow handclap and think about the 6 thingies, the 7 whatsits, the 8 whatever they ares
Om Mani Paddy Power
Om Mani Paddy Power
Om Mani Paddy Power

 

Notre Dame

This new poem was inspired by the unease I felt after seeing fellow tourists recording worshippers’ private moments of prayer during a service at Notre Dame.


Notre Dame

a glorious hulk run aground in the Seine
the pierced hull allows
schools of phosphorescent phone-fish in
to swim around the drowned nave

buttressed bulkheads
in the nautical gothic style
failed to protect the transept
from sudden inundation

the worshippers are lashed to the pews
their watery prayers
seep through the depths
in homeopathic concentration

interrupted intercession
glimpsed through a view finder
silent conversations
with a drifting bell diver

Acorn

A very old poem which came from staring into a fire in a suitable frame of mind whilst camping many years ago.


Acorn

before the clutter clutched at the sun
and held it in an atomic prison
before the whispering engine
dreamed its own inception
before the vacillating powers
paid rent on a single molecule
when tears were crystal
lining the walls of our song
the burden of scale
the laughter locked in an icecap
before my mind saw itself
and realised

I see the embryonic state of the sleeping acorn
the dreams in its head
the philosophy of leaves
a voice says drink deeply of this sweet cup
it will help you forget faces
the merging corporations
are just bodies melting together
the fire contains its own future
no wonder the trees shiver

Click “like” to save the countryside

This is a fairly dense poem which came about from being given a carte blanche to try and make poetry out of the tics of Tourettes Hero (Jessica Thom). It was a tough commission because I’m not sure I can add anything to the existing poetic qualities of the tics (for example “Grandmas Back to Work Scheme, let them piece together the fucked up nation like it’s a four thousand piece jigsaw with a picture.”)

The tic “search for my soul on a database of hay” led to a piece which explores the madness of the economists who have colonised various environmental debates. Although well-meaning, I find their thinking pernicious and troubling…if you can attach a spurious economic value to an “Environmental Asset” then it can be bought. And I find it hard to acknowledge an idea which seeks to put pound signs against our raw experiences of nature. What price can you attach to the moment when you stumble across bluebells lining the floor of an ancient forest?

 

Click “Like” to save the countryside

search for my soul on a database made of hay
I’ve backed up my thoughts on an encrypted wasps nest
you can link to my profile, it encompasses everything
the trees are rife with possibilities for networking

the sunrise project had considerable overspend
the meadow technicians provided inadequate documentation
I’m measuring outcomes in the back of beyond
I’m tracking the secret vendettas of swans

I’m quite frankly staggered by all this free content
the pinecone meme, the opened attachments of burrs in my hair
the perfect lifecycle of warmed-up numbers
the futile attempt to monetize rivers

notify me when the seasons change
I will be muttering into a foxglove dictaphone
toggling tabs on a brackish browser
& tagging the trail of the forked path rambler