Republican

The deep-house beats fall
From the window – hit
sunbeams combing the heat
Fall down simmering streets

It’s royal wedding day – but I
Can only focus on this
bunch of dead flowers
Strapped to a lamp-post

The cellophane wrap flutters
Around the dry remnants
Framed by estates and hills
And glints from windscreens

I’m not saying something,
Shocked by the light’s irradiacy
The faintly dissonant organ
Of which echoes softly pour

Nationalism

Need I remind you
that I am not the land I live on

I am not the owner
Nor am I the hill over the moor

If you keep on associating me with them
In this cramped cage of a name

Well
I might explode
It’s already bad enough
That we share so much
Too much.

Listen:
We all have our own perfectly good names
and even they push it.

The Forest

The Tree says “Down! – thee
seeds and sapling usurpers
“I am the root and I the purpose
“Know my bark, it keeps me strong.”
And murders them with shadows long.

The saplings and the seeds chant –
“Up! – up the republic of growth
“Of varied ideas, and new things here below
“Until the wood is filled with variety
“Old bark can stay – but we’ll have our society.”

The forest is filled with kinds of desire
But all must drink – and bathe in the sun
The far spread shadows are death to some
“Until the dark dawn of some great forest fire”

Some hope to spark, to get underway
The falling, the ashes, it tends to gestate
Grand ideas of a sunlit glade
Though dappled light seems the best some can await –

Born as they are with stunted branch
Or lack of structured niche or dance
They tend to fall back on the law of the light –
that when shadow is cast, those in shadow must fight.

Either starving dark amongst the shoots
Or taking as model the climbing vine
Or cutting the old bark down to size
Or grouping and starving the heartless old roots
To scatter light out from the leaves of the few.

Europeana Reprise

Oil climbs out of the ocean, parting the surface
Like tearing the seal from an amazon package, pearling
The waves like refugee bodies, also floating
Nearby and shadows american submarines,
Firing out helium nucleii and their drones,
Firing out missiles to blurry amoeba below,
Gathered in blameworthy groups, erased as a whole.
Fleeing the bombs (and who wouldn’t?) come
The wildlife, quietly, of of the Tigris basin,
Wanting peace and stability, which words vibrate
The rotten air around the heads of ‘leaders’
Stood in front of old imperial buildings,
And they say ‘immigration’ and their eyes sparkle
With the light of a thousand suns as they smile
And chew mouthfuls of newspaper gifted by acquaintance,
Til their tongues are black with ink, dripping, corroding
And they fall to Pruit Igoe and the choir
Of chattering voices devour their corpses.
And music echoes out from the Tor, but soft…
What repetitions! and endless repetitions,
Of heartbeats and of drumbeats and of songs,
And series of songs and signifiers and drugs,
Every fucking weekend they sound, and il faut
que they sound, for if they didn’t the mosh pit might stop,
And then we could hear the dark of the void thumping
In our ears, thudding each second, drawing our death
Like poison down the tube towards us, or cancer
Creaking, growing in the dark like rhubarb,
Like extremists grow in little testtubes, mixing
The chemicals of religion, boredom And economics
And grasping at self importance And fear of the dark
And fear of the new And neurosis of the old
And revenge And hatred And easy access to weapons
Face it, we’re all extremists, we believe
Through our petty brains (which we are –
Forget all the limbs and the heart and the skin and the kidneys)
That we can decide with terrible paucity of information
We hope because if we didn’t hope, we’d be alone
Or fixating on the Nation State or praying
Over the rotting corpse of God, exhumed
After such a hasty burial, and the weather
Is heating up, why will no one talk
About the fact the weather is heating up
We just can’t deal with such a real apocalypse
And prefer to invent our own, jumping up
And down in the dark to dissolve our pious souls
Increase your intake of drugs, sir, it’s essential
To maintain a calm visage, you might upset
The elderly and the average citizen, who
Hates the gays and hates the moslems, hates
The commies, hates change and hates the politicians
Is there, he looks like a spreadsheet, but he’s real,
And he’s right you know, he must decide our policy
Because
Sit back down in your cubicle, ma’am, head down
Get on with your work, because work will set you free
And consumption will set you free, and buying
These chunks of rotting flesh will set you free
And put your headphones in and look at the screen
There are too many people – DON’T LOOK UP
I said look down, you can’t deal with the truth
You won’t understand the process of growth, friend
Economic growth, if you look too close…
Better to keep calm and carry on
Driving, burning millions of zooplankton
Bodies, millions of years of history, crusty
To inflate these bubbles and increase GDP
Forever.

Depending on the Gallery

In Response to 25 Lines by Linda Pastan

Burn the place down, along with every inkblot.
Stains, oh stains, all over the walls, and the artists
Brought here long ago; now their lifeless bodies
Rot in the attic, dripping softly headwards
To the slowly rotating crowds deep down below;

Trudging through knee high palls of dark liquid, trudging
In the way unique to museums and T-virus victims

Dragging their children who hardly keep their heads up
While directors’ flickering tongues are showing the way,
While ashen boats bob as they rob them of coins for the crossing.

The dead haze of parrafin skins the inside of my nostrils
As I stop by a Rembrandt and take a quiet moment to see.

Those gloaming shadows, already they purge through the canvas
And the pale skin slowly sloughs off – to reveal there a carcass…

Stretched on a crossbeam of wood and its bare wrists nailed there
Its ribs open up to the world and the gaze of the painter
Whose eyes, bone-black darkness and oil paint, plucked in a cave

Look down honing vividly, haunted by corpses of children
And his wife’s lifeless body reflects in them, quietly lain.

A wild burning madness is wasting his swarming desire
Falsely committing his lover to rot in a madhouse,
He dies with no money, buried communal and poor…
Until his moulded bones were stolen and stored
In the crypts in the attic, darkly congealed on the boards.

I glance to the floor and I see the dark liquid is rising
Hear the screams start in the arches next door and I quicken
Raise my umbrella to part this heathen rain
I stare at at the canvas, I know I’ve not time, I remain.

The carcass has split and a figure resides in the centre
The wooden supports; hallowing a dark glass cage:

This papal recliner is drowning in shadows as I am
As the effeminate artist, whose eyes and thick brushes remain
Trained on a body themselves in a fancy hotel room
Who, drowned in the oil and the thin fumes, fills him with pain.

The gloaming has swelled as it foggily eats the events here
Whose squirming flesh is whipped with the causal chain.
After a brief interlude between life and death falls away
Wheezing, into the void, and the furnace burning
His urn stolen back from the vigil of gregorian chants.

As the pockmarked beams are collapsing, now raining remnants
Of the real, the pain and the passion, the thriving of life
Which is dust now, and crushed by the trillions of banknotes which follow
Dumped with the blood and the sinew of creatures, besmirching
Their effort, their trial, their crucifixion, their learning.

I turn now to run, but the glass cage, escaped from the painting
Surrounds me and quickly fills with the liquid, protecting
My skin from the touch of deep profit, the acid investment…
But something is in here, decaying, the flesh of the canvas
Now bathed in formaldehyde, its gaping maw drinking the blackness
A gormless requiem, purporting to shield us from death.

I turn and see funder and funded, whose open mouths mirror
The one in the tank, but their eyes drift upwards, sewn open

Distended they swallow as much as they can of the past
Screaming with unearthly screams they are blinded and fattened
Their pale eyes, quivering, are screened by expensive sunglasses
Made from the small stolen bones of Rembrandt’s children
They crying explode as the weight of the graveyard corrodes them.

I sigh with relief… but my skin also is loosened
And I turn to the sight of sublime nature’s irises hurling
Towards me through fumes, the sleek surface warping reflections
Till they snap on the match in my hand and I strike it and drop it
And the light of divinity illuminates the world once again.

No one, ever, was worthy of the works of the past
Who cultured them with exploitation, building
Foul industries upon the other’s blood
If only the life of an insect rests in the balance
it is better to destroy the entire history of art.

For value will always rest with the toiling people
They have these manifold shining works in their pockets

And their flesh and their body will anchor the work in its heart.

We dream the fever dreams of an ancient elite
That lost control, usurped and sent to exile
Disdaining our lives, and their simplification
Hoping for thinking deeper than we have received
Of late, but their lives rested in needless complexity,
bloated with capital, it’s time now to lay them to rest.

We are haunted by the blood of dead aristocrats
But their fill ins are worse, for they deal in faded skeletons
And those on their banknotes, holding their artworks together.

Ethical, art has never been, but now
Its blinding curse should willingly draw our eye
An ancient ocean marks these gaping lacunae
The halls where we might take art back, with fire.

A Marxist Lecturer Speaks

To be hopeful, these hollow days,
is an arduous task I’m tempted to betray.
One feels as Prometheus, bound to take
the purchase of that liverous hell of glazed pain.
The capital-spectre whispers…
Old-guard of the world, you have but to lose your chains…

These potential fireworks, each the same;
Perhaps aching in their crushed bodies for grades
not just in society or the academy, today
but in bed perhaps, at the end of the way.
My hope, my revolution, which would not stay
lies dormant in a secret social trace.

And think, that man of books who raptured on arcades
put under threat of snarling dogs and their snarling skeletal face
in deepest sadness, chose to darken and lay
to half deserved rest, disappointed and weigh
this commodifascist life, the real discrepancy, to pay;
this exponential value is erased to gain,
for the chancellor, a few marks more.

Or if a dancing spark but sets another ten in red flame
in the beating human fraction of this eager young array.
Revolution’s dead; but its children lie behind our backs
and perhaps one day…
but we can’t be sure.

To live and teach each day as if it were
both the start of a long stellar trek,
and the last day of earth.
So beckons the chore.

Untitled Poem on Whether Politicality is Worth Pursuing

Are not they, who spend their days
in other ways than politics…
Are they not eternally vindicated?
By the dead eyes of rumour and her hysterical ghouls,
the swarming bugs that pass for angels
or bombs, equally crude…
Are there not better ways to spend your time,
than sifting through the grape vine?
and harshly emending the dull and stupid
who have already made their wine?
And your hands smell of vinegar, til boredom consumes you,
disintegrating books in the rain, there were never enough…
If the world must be done, because of such shit,
at least I’m free of part in it.
But, of course, you might say, I had a part. I can’t escape.
When I saw the devil forming out
of this band of idiots, telling their tales
and I chose instead to fade away
rather than to rage, in truth’s chorus
chanting for a better day.
“For grotesque rumour never sleeps,
and screeches out, flooding the air
but feathers ruffled, eyes unblinking scared,
fearing the truth, my friends, we keep.
We’ll ground it with this truth.” You say
but the wave of shit is still a wave
and drowning in a tide of hate
is not how I want to keep my days
we can’t escape our material trace
but we can certainly hide from it
they count on this, the nihilist scum
they count that they can eat insects and stare at the sun
they count that they will die laughing in her burning rays
they count their human sacrifices on a abacus made of twigs
they wear business suits stitched from human skin
they lead their journalists to the dead dimension
they cast them away, screaming with pleasure
they tear out their eyes and throw them in too
as they float out I see a reflection of my bowing form
they stand on top of the pyramids and hold up hearts pouring with fresh blood
They take their kids to school.
They look at you surprised.
The dead zone of the imagination flashes its colourless light from their cracking tongues, branded with dollar signs.
I cry for human contact
I turn aside
Wishing I was blind
Are not those who spend their days,
not staring into our abyss,
Are they not eternally vindicated by this?