A Book of Graves and Memorials

I found this self-help text stored on a mini SD card, the memory I removed from a dead smartphone. It had a cracked screen, a thin spiderweb of cracks spreading from a central point, as if it had been hit with an emergency hammer, one you might find on a bus in a small red box. It was in the bottom drawer of waste phones at my local dump. It is listed here due to elements of internal interest, but in the end perhaps it should have been left to decay in a landfill site, six feet down, among the plastic bags, the VHS tapes, and the compact discs, and trays and trays of silver-plated cutlery.

[…] – a grave marker indicates corrupted text.

The Manuscript

[…] to cope with the private nocturnal terrors I began to revel in them, to smile. To clasp my hands as if in prayer, in a simulation of an older time. I mean, it gave me something to do, which helped. And many years afterwards I began to design graves, in what may be another way of coping with certain facts of living. But what counts as coping?

That we are not here on a certain future date, does not mean we have no stake in what goes on with us. Of course there are many views on the function of grief and mourning and their socially emergent ceremonies. I don’t really mind about all that here. And don’t talk to me about grandiosity – that we are here at all is grandiose enough.

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Aphorisms XXIV

Can’t hear this suggestion to live among the dead, a la Machiavelli and Montaigne, without also taking into account that this was their way to relax after a day of politics, making it doubly twisted.


It’s such a human feeling, or feeling of the human, to have your brain scramble for excuses as to why you have failed, or why it is unjust that you should suffer like this. And you watch it like a toddler in tantrum, and when it stops for a moment you ask – are you done? And it screams NO! Or stops, tired out. There are good reasons to despair sometimes, but when this kind of thing happens, you know there are no good reasons involved.

If you fail in love, and feel everything crashing around you, and think, this is the end, I’ll never X again, this is an example of that grasping after straws. It is so hard to be your own parent, to pick up your toddler-brain and say – it’s okay, don’t worry, let’s go get something to eat and maybe you imagined it all, but even if you didn’t, you’ll definitely meet someone new.

This might all be a little harsh, but our world really encourages us not to care too much. Searching for someone who will be special and care for you like a breathing comfort blanket, this is all well and good. But we should be careful not to undervalue ourselves. Again, the base of this kind of despair must be a lack of self-confidence. (Insofar as there isn’t an economic or material side to love – but of course there very much can be.)

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A Knighthood

for Sir Anthony Blair

In the shops of Leith, cower
crowds fleeing from the power
of tornados flying o’er

When a mother, growing bolder
is buzzed and dies, once holder
of a sword held at a shoulder

And crouched there in the shade
of a darkness he has made –
the knight that was tapped by the blade.

His waist, forgotten, holds
a girdle of green and gold,
marked by blood, and cold.

So; The waste of kingly treasure
and holy life will measure
the sins of the aggressor.


I am the window into space –
The inconceivable clatters
through me, loud like a wood shutter
banging the pebbles from the walls

The window is dark and hangs there
over my bed like a dark bed
for ghosts, who hang invisible
eyes rotating until they see.

Over the forest of my form
flow duvet clouds, and I relax
as the warm envelops my feet
and my thoughts fall into rhythm

in the way that a ball falls in
to the slot on an old roulette
and spins until the crowd can tell
red or black. And then I can sleep.

On another day I see you
on a blue galactic background
pricked by a field of tiny green
stars. You hang there, over my bed

flow over me like clouds and I
relax. Your mouth holds me in place
your voice scatters me about like
smooth pebbles dashed from a bright wall