V.116

I sit at the table, half-lit
by the weakening autumn sun,
applying for jobs, oh my lord,
what have I done? The tea is hot

and hearing faint but crisp alarms
(there must have been a powercut)
– or is that just my tinnitus)
I am steeped in apocalypse –

I am confident in using
Microsoft word, oh old my lord
I thought people were born that way
– just for today, far poverty –

I am giving up videogames.
A dog would be easier trained
– more visible – for I can’t see
myself, oh my lord, to see wrong.

The orange leaves glow so cutely.
Something terrible has happened –
I have met someone who just might
make me get my act together –

I scrape myself with shards of pot
and pour ashes on my head, and
I can use Excel with all haste, lord
my shortcuts are so sharp, so keen

V.115

I am sorry, for not being
strong enough, when it counted.
The moments of this world whir in
an unstoppable black fountain

My eyes are blurry and ears, blocked, my jaw is tightened and grinding
Looking back has turned me to salt
but the distant light is brightening

All of our acts will be redeemed
if we accept this grace – the world
is void of magic, but still seems
to glow in air. Red flag unfurled:

May we fight side by side on walls
where inhuman hordes throng – and see
a grey wizard rise and fall
down the hills like a rattling stream

May we stand side by side and hold
the hope of some lost child in hand
presiding on a field of bone
when the horns sound, and the last man

arrives, having settled accounts
at sunrise, hallowed light in form
of a prelude, thunder of mounts
hooves on the plain, be eagle-borne

Aphorisms XXII

Ontotheology always wants balance, completion, perfection. But here is no reason to believe in any of these things on a metaphysical level. That pain would balance pleasure, the stronger the pain, the greater the pleasure, that a life cannot be judged before its completion, and that perfection in general is a positive quality things posses rather than a lack of desire for more…

*

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V.113 Bond

There was an empire here – therefore
pain is caked into statues lost
on the sea bed. Time is so scarce –
gas dissolves, sinks in the water…

Missiles built with economies
scatter like graphs of a world-crash
and it is beautiful, foxglove
of nuclear Armageddon

The new war is begun because
certain things cannot now be stopped –
aesthetic laws demand of us
complete dedication. Agents

look into the heart of the state
and it looks like a cup of clear
water with boiled flowers – drink me,
says the label, and grow smaller.

He stares upwards, blue eyes cancelled
by the roaring fusion of things
There is no crack team coming, no
hope for a future for the old

Are we ready to lose these hopes?
Denied redemption, what remains
but death? Are we not better than
the worst of the things we have done?

V.112

I want you to be the first one
I talk to on my birthday
gliding over the clouds in space
in a glass dodecahedron,

our little pile of cool blankets
and when I can’t sleep due to things,
I will whisper to your earrings
that I want you to be the first

person I talk to on that day
(and I will caption the footage
with star and heart emojis)
that’s when we watch it back, my dear

(me and the orbit habitat
attendant) I will tell them how
I want you to be the first one
I speak to on my birthday – yes

I don’t know what words I would use
Maybe I would express anger
at how you mistrust my judgement
‘how dare you!!’ I would say, ‘morning –

by the way. You are beautiful
the way that shadows of nimbus
are elegant, on their cloud bed
from our glass ship, it’s my birthday’

V.111

After a propagating night
on the space ship, the undulate
light and ambient bleeps and bloops
punctuated by our moaning –

A faint smile came up behind me
I engaged my boosters. Fleeing,
but the smile was fast. It could swing
across clouds on its curved wing-span

I used all the scant resources
of my mind to avoid it, first
thinking of everything I’d done
and nebulas of betterness

Then, just dwelling with the panic.
It wasn’t enough. The smile hit
and my dark vessel exploded
with an unassuming shockwave

and a cloud of steam and glitter
(gold glitter, with small silver hearts)
erupted, and I was falling –
the landscape of the alien

calmness reached across horizons
as the smile consumed me, fodder
for the ancient and bitter god
that wants me to be happy. damn

V.110

I’m stood in front of a hedge maze –
there are three doors and each is locked
with a different kind of black lock
whose keys aren’t quite biting the pins

There are thirty keys, so varied
in shape and their material –
the silver key seemed right but snapped
ejecting a tiny blank scroll.

I knew that here, invisible
was the map to find the lost key –
but I tried to heat it and see,
a lemon juice script darkening,

when the whole scroll just exploded
into a tart lavender dust
(I’m sure I can see lavender
through one of the keyholes. But which?)

I bend down to look again, then
lean unthinking on a handle
and its door swings sweetly open
with the sound of a barnyard latch

I step through quickly and so, fall
through a trapdoor into a pit
and that’s what loving you is like
goddammit! I must brush my teeth

V.109

Sylvia lies on oil-cool sheets
She breathes in shudders, (or smoothness?)
Her lover ponders with no heart
the burnt out sun of her bedroom

Their children are playing downstairs –
he gave them journals for burning
They tear out pages and watch them
shreds that jump up into the sky

This one says “I was loved and then
my lover’s brain smoothed quite over”
and the embers crawl along it
a gold wave that doesn’t come back

but just keeps going and going,
or like an event horizon
He knows that by sealing her mouth
with a sweaty palm, a quiet

encloses his act in reasons –
how could it have been otherwise
with a man that covers the tracks
to the death with an ashen snow

Who spends evenings in the city
learning new sex techniques, to try
and recover something, sad crow.
But marriage does not live in the past

Aphorisms XXI

Nothing on this earth scares me more than the past that we have forgotten. Accepting that past is like a particularly sneaky part of accepting mortality.

*

You can play a game as a past-time, like I would dabble in chess, or enjoy a board game. But then there’s playing a competitive game in such a way that it starts to shape your mind, quieten other pathways, reinforce and enlarge or complicate the shape that develops and queries the game-problems. You lose the spark associated with other parts of your life, you dream about the game. You shrink. To play a game well, it almost demands this total dedication in a race to the bottom amongst those who play it. It drains that elusive, bare kind of joyful ‘fun’ out of the game, leaving yourself with just angry bemusal when you fail – how can I put so much into something only to fail? You play to say ‘yes, yes, I behaved adequately there.’ Not to say, I had a great time. Or the great time becomes that crunchy moment when your team manages to overcome the adequate challenge. No wonder people fall into toxicity where hate drives their performance. There are entire ethics around competition in the Olympics, and a culture of admiration of the athlete. Videogames lack this, and the moments of humour are all that serve to outweigh the hate speech that infuses all the higher ranks of performance.

Game design tries to encourage this intense engagement, as determined by the capitalist drive to squeeze the player base and keep them playing. But there are signs of a better ethic somewhere. The anonymous player is harder to tame than the cultural agent engaged in a sport or IRL game. But with online community and ‘community engagement’ there is a better world to come.

*

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