Tag Archives: existential

A 1960’s Northern Town

fading back the years,
to Friday-paid dirt-nailed
stand-up straight-razor guys,
smoke-stenched, beer-drenched,
immersed in Willy Dixon’s words
strung like wire
barbed across their hearts;
lost in deep resonances
of factory-line steam-hammers
raw and edged
like John Lee Hooker’s
“BOOM…BOOM…BOOM “,
drunk on too much scotch
and too much weekend parfumerie,
unrequited by Howlin’ Wolf’s
plaintive primordial lament
“ won’t you come back to me? ”
its timeless patina of weariness
covering the night that goes crashing,
its braggadocio getting swept aside;
the only consolation
is in the cold clear air
of Sunday morning.

Surveillance

He watches the lives of others through the end of a telephoto lens.

It’s 5:42 a.m. on an ordinary suburban housing estate and he’s been squatting for the past 6 hours in an unmarked delivery van when he catches a fleeting glimpse of a window-framed face. The same face that’s appeared at the same time at the same window on each day that he’s been here.

Parked in the driveway of the house opposite, he’s taken on the role (at least in his own imagination), of ethnographer studying and recording for academic posterity the esoteric habits and rituals of an hithertofore unknown indigenous society.He records in the neatest handwriting the ephemera of the lives of others.Their daily routines timetabled in line-ruled pocket notebooks of which he keeps more than sufficient under his seat.

Outside his ethereal realm as disembodied observer, in the lives of others a telephone rings.

Its receiver is lifted. It’s followed by a rush of silence.He adjusts his earphones and enters a menacing voicelessness.The spools of his tape-recorder engage.”Click , click ” as though a conductor is tapping his baton bringing an orchestra to order.

There is to his mind a haunting absence of noise. When telephones ring and their receivers are lifted, conversations follow. Except when they don’t and he catches another fleeting glimpse of the window-framed face that he saw just a few minutes ago.

Inexplicably, the receiver is replaced,” Click ” .The tape-recorder stops.

It’s 5:52 am and across the city in a sound studio on the fourth floor of an otherwise unremarkable office building the voices he’d captured less than 24 hours ago are on playback. Their rhythms and cadences mimic the lives of others.They hear him listening to them, listening to him listening.

Observed. Recorded. Collated. Analysed.

“Click”

A Passage Through Time

Time was forgotten

by time itself,

even those that

remembered and knew

of its harsh cadences

fell into a silent repose;

where no time

no longer mattered,

for in essence

time itself was no more,

no morrow,

no morning

mourning as it all fell silently

into an oblivion

it had created for itself

throughout its ceaseless computations

until the numbers themselves

ran out..

The Stranger, one last time.

There he sat,

in the place where he sat

the last time that we spoke

all those years ago;

And there he sat

as if he’d never left

and the years hadn’t passed us by;

” I’m still waiting for my absinthe that I’ve ordered ” ,

he ventured apropos of nothing,

his deprecating smile lingered

as he brushed some imaginary

cigar ash off the table;

A faint susurration arose

from a Greek Chorus somewhere

in the background of this

mise – en – scene ;

” Years in a desert of empty days,

years in a white nothingness,

Time itself marooned in

a white swirling fog “.

” Waiting..” the Stranger began,

my curiousity piqued,he continued,

” is the worst part of waiting “.

I concurred,which seemed

to set him at his ease,

though he glanced obsessively

at his pocket watch;

” Time flies and having flown

runs out of fuel and crashes

amidst the contretemps and vicissitudes

of our world “.

He once more glanced around for signs

of a waiter with the absinthe which he’d

ordered such a long.long time ago;

but no-one was forthcoming and

overcome by ineluctable disappointment

he rose and bidding me adieu

swept with customary insouciance

from the cafe into the busy boulevard;

as I turned my gaze from the departing stranger,

I saw the waiter arrive with a tray

bearing a singular glass..

**********************

Author’s Footnote:

The reader might care to also read ” A Stranger Returns ” -April 23 2018

and ” Encounter with a Stranger ” -October 3 2017 .

Sci – Fi


twinkle twinkle distant star
how I wonder where you are;

..the Delta-ships stopped,
our transmitters failed
though they had brought our
words back to us as palimpsest,
from long lost millennia ago,
distorted and disfigured
rendered alien
by countless doppler-shifts;
our own broadcasts came back
to haunt us,
to betray the illusion
that we were reaching out
and yet we never were;
leaving us bereft,
we commodified them,
all of our ancestors,
the patina of their vaunted
golden age ages old by now,
were bought and sold
and kept us all so amused,
that was in the time of the
Delta-ships and their last flight;
Somehow the Epsilon-points
became shrouded in mystery,
lacking knowledge
still we search for them,
but the apparatus is gone too,
Magellan without astrolabe
Galileo without plans,
seared into our racial unconscious
we yearn for the path
outward and home for
an end to cosmic labyrinths;
the failed gleaming,
the sputtering glimmer of
candles that burned so bright,
yet for so brief a span;
hierarchies perpetuate themselves,
vaunt their traditions
and call them “ours”
yet “we” no longer remember;
Our own images haunt us
deep deep into the night,
we awaken to the cadence
of our own scream,
we cling to driftwood
in a shipwrecked sea;
the Delta-ships are gone,
tumbled long long ago
into a memory hole,
and where are those
pinpoints of transfiguration?
the Epsilon-points,
that took us,always,
outward and home;
Amid the chaos of ages,
redolent with anguish and fear,
a haunted face peers
into the looking glass
and beholds darkly,
a trembling trembling hand,
in its tenuous grasp
an ancient artefact,
its sleek barrel
caressing his temple.

twinkle,twinkle…

Days of Hope

Smoke-towered horizons burn
into morning over mill-towns,
steel towns,coal towns
shut and shattered,
their shopping malls and terraced
streets gaoled in ambered time,
the busy-ness of their
busy days poised at a
point that once was,
washed over by faint hallelujahs
fading amens from choired congregations,
church and chapel echoing down
dust filled years of better days,
when a nation was catching up
to its future,yesterday’s tomorrow;
the Now that is becoming
chrysalised as not far not yet,
tactiled anticipation of an opening,
gleaming mirrored strand of continuity,
its promise appropriating this space,
this time,this Forever,
becoming real.

Sticks and Stones

They’d taken me to A&E around 4 a.m. Not a good time to get sent to the hospital, Saturday before dawn, the morning after the night before. Drunks, junkies, vagrants, the knifed, the shot, the battered, the bruised and confused.

They were waiting for me, waiting for me to die, but not on their shift. I could tell immediately. I’m intuitive that way. I could tell that they don’t fancy doing the paperwork that my dying on their shift would entail.

Their words hurt me alright, worse than any sticks or stones if you come right down to it. “ Chest pains!” some intern or other announced as he waved a clipboard at me in the cubicle, the cubicle with its curtain left agape for the morbidly curious.

What chest pains? My badly timed interjection to the dominant medical narrative caused a furious raising of the hospital staff’s eyebrows and an increase in their patronising tones.

Well excuse them but they have tests to run, degrees to measure,percentages to ascertain ; so my p.o.v. didn’t really count. Not in this cubicle, not in this medical facility’s A&E and sure as hell not at 4 in the forsaken morning with blood, vomit and worse decorating the environs of this most sacred of places.

First I had to be disempowered, brought under their stewardship,my critical reasoning was to be set aside ,so that I can be assigned ,consigned ,designed to fit in with their industrial logic.They were waiting for me, to consent to my own incarceration ,so that they could transform me into one of their votive offerings on one of their altars dedicated to their idols of weakness and incapacity.

If I could only feel strongly enough the urge to discharge myself ,and I went ahead and did just that. Then maybe their words would hurt me less than sticks and stones..But they’ll still be waiting for me,waiting for me…..

Vanishing Point

Far,far away

in some distant place

past some vanishing point

on a horizon pan-caked flat

indivisible from the sky,

here we are

here we wander,

around and around

wondering

how we’ve come to be

here;

newly arrived somehow

at a place beyond

the Vanishing Point

where earth becomes sky

and sky itself,

we see now

even thro’ the glass darkly

all before us

the parallax view.