Vague

Behind the facemask of my mind there isn’t a lot happening. The dullness of disaster has arrested complex thoughts with its neutralising swarm, experienced as a blank mass descending over everything like snow, or asbestos over an old factory. Which isnt to say I’m having a particularly bad time. After all kids would play in it like snow, and were presumably happy for those moments, even as the traces of later pain knitted themselves into the depths of the lung. Although I do have chronic pain of a kind, it’s really not anything to send letters home about – I can still enjoy the bubbling steam of the coffee machine that cost me £4 in a charity shop. These cheap, or at least notionally cheap pleasures help us in the mornings as they grow darker, colder, here in the north. For the best skill in life is to hold on whilst letting go, and knowing when. The chances of death are still certain etc. etc.

Stranded on the immensity of the ocean, I am treading water. The giant fish-object silhouette hovers in the deep, just on the edge of the dysphotic zone. My eyes are sliding off its almost-imperceptibility as the water laps around my ears, as the waves pull me up and down. My stomach is turning and turning to try find a way out, but of course there is none. Dread is with me in the cold water, amongst the water, invisible. My eyes are wide, and cold and I am in constant tension waiting for the attack.

Then something changes. I relax, see the surface rise away from me in its liquid glass transformations of the grey clouds. I take a mouthful of water and taste its saltiness before I open my lungs and breathe it in. It is light and cool inside me and I now hover, buoyant as the water, breathing the ocean in the dark. And moods are like this, aren’t they? I suppose.

Heaven

In this place the rain has fallen like this forever – a mist, the monsoon downpour and its white noise. Then the forest, the edge of a forest where blackbirds call meekly and woodpigeons shelter on the curved branch.

Lightning cracks through everything in vanishingly small moments. And thunder unites.

Spaced along the eternal border are houses, backing on to the woods and in each, the back door is open and swings slowly since the wind is slow. Raindrops fleck the glass, and wet the mat.

In the center of each garden, one of the risen stands, staring into the swaying woods which moves with the shifting intensity of the rain. It is warm, and their clothes are wet. They never look away. They want nothing except to continue to look. They are granted this.

The lord’s prayer dances on their lips, but it changes nothing, and means nothing. Still they call it, whisper it, softly. Its sound is completely lost in the rain.

They seem still, and at peace. And they might be

Ships and Stars V – Experiment

After accomplishing feats beyond our far sight with compounds that behave like emotions, growing crisp if left alone in rain – time travel was begun.

We did not realise at first. When we become this complex, new things often appear first as violent accidents – the death of 2 by light

speed, unexpected. More – death of 1 by extreme gravity, of sudden onset, quite a surprise. With time, it was the same. The girl was unprepared.

When sped up that vastly the speed of earth through space becomes quite a sight; her laboratory jumped up, blazed like a star and was gone. No-one ever knew

Ships and Stars IV – Alter

Precisely seven suns fall into a bright studded ring and orbit in a long dance. Some loner catapults through the bullseye – its a hard trick but you have to impress all the space lovers some bright way –

why not that? Or gain some time by close orbit to the black. They said you were too old – well how about now, years in days. If you cut a black hole clean into two it behaves like a worm and grows thick and full

again. My world is half sea and half mirrors – it is hard to notice as it barrels around you, floating darkness unless for one small moment you notice the eye open, as it reflects my home sun

and it simply stumps gazers as they scrabble to note it – but by then the new star’s gone. My star is so bright you must wear sunglasses in the dark. My star is sentient – and sings we note, one long, clear, beam

Ships and Stars III – Solar

This star really cares for you. It sends out tiny formules to subtly alter your life – waves the size of solar fields flow through the gaps between things whilst hugging each living crowd, and silent material

indiscriminately fast. It sees oceans blasted off in clouds of silver crystals – pearlesce in the bright darkness, the mystery of the cards – that is, the infinite planes, stars arrayed in contusions.

Here, a crab, a fool, a drift of the aeons, each of which with a particular twist and flick, sends spells to raise us almost unnoticeably from the darkness – but en masse they make a thrumming cascade.

If there was not this support – each star’s clean cut influence – then the world would end, fold in. And that would be it. A proof of the love of everything for everything else, is this asteroid collapse into

Game Point

“Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down” – Robert Frost

Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down, in the rain, on an aircraft carrier, as experimental jets launch fireworks into space above you

Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down, on an aircraft carrier that was sunk in 2004 off the coast of Florida to form the basis of a coral reef, and losing with grace

Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down, on an aircraft carrier in a pop-up cross-section book, and accidentally slipping off the edge and falling into the cardboard sea

Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down, loose in fact, when it begins to move, blown by the air off the edge, over the sea, until it crests a wave then slowly sinks to join millions of bones on the seafloor

Writing free verse is like playing tennis, but it’s not tennis, you’re holding a pen, and you try and hit the ball but it just sticks on the end of the pen and ink dribbles down your arm to the white flagstones

Writing poetry is like playing tennis with the net down but with the net up

Ships and Stars I – Galactic

Sometimes I don’t know whether to plot the course of our long and varied galactic run – the stellar cultural forms we shall pass through – or to sit in the garden on softest grass, lie, gazing at daisies.

I would like to say I lack understanding of this – but that massive understatement would leave the gulf between me and this high crown of petals unaccounted for – small chips, dry stalks, and so on.

Or could I plot new courses never before flown – or ask why this ‘never before’ is quite as important to us? Or I could absorb seasons of TV as if I were the wires themselves, dark angels

Or know all this illusion is simply there to shore me with all possible solace. If I can do this, that, why am I drinking thought’s hemlock, surprised at the dull undone.

Chronicle

I here chronicle the events on Twitter of the 13th July 2024. I here chronicle the implosion of an industry, and the sociological deaths of at least three well know personalities. I here chronicle schadenfreude, accidental implosion, carelessness and fuck you, deserved commeuppance, and vicarious retort. I here chronicle 13,777 tweets, totalling 1,804,787 characters, being lived as 3,444 (and a quarter) human life hours. I here chronicle at least 956 subtweets, of various levels of passive aggressiveness. I here chronicle the sad tweets, alone in a desert of talk, who made comment without the full context, unisolate in history, who post to advertise their blog, the promoted tweets to satisfy curiosity, to satisfy revenge as the dragon is tempted with a sweaty maiden. I here chronicle the vastly greater lurking viewers, the aeons worth of unsent messages and multiple thousand revised drafts. I here chronicle spelling mistakes noticed and unnoticed, atoned and unatoned for. I chronicle three burned meals, a stubbed toe, the faded white and blue afterimage decaying and pushing sleep, cats and dogs and fish unfed, general malaise, unlocalizable unease, no one feels like they won except the machinelike who continue to believe they have never made a mistake even as they pile up like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I chronicle the year following where 13 lost their jobs in ways directly or indirectly linked to particular tweets sent in this period. I chronicle the further deterioration of the environment over the next 100 years, the anthropocene, then the anti-anthropocene, the post-anthropocene waste. I chronicle the advent of generalised affordable commercial spaceflight whilst those with easily curable diseases continue to die due to the fact that some object to the principle of charity. I here chronicle the sun, the sun, the sun, as it grows, as it grows, as it grows. I chronicle the messianic advent of immense power. I here chronicle that it came too late.

I here chronicle the field, in the sun, the grass waving in the warm breeze. There is no one here. The insects are silent, or gone, and occasionally a bird flies through heading elsewhere. The warmth of redness in your eyes, and the cold air’s caress of your back. The waft of your t-shirt, and the smell of spring. You look up and see immense superobjects of water vapour interact in the stinging blue.

An Accident

News emerged yesterday lunchtime of a shocking case where a poem became lodged in the head of a luckless girl at a café in Thornton’s Arcade. Bystanders attempted to move her, but in the assessment of the first responder, the line breaks weren’t essential to the structure, so the on-site surgeon was called for, and arrived within the hour.

The golden thread had become entangled around the young poet’s pineal gland, leaving her in a very precarious position. After dealing with this, the surgeon then had an arduous eight hour task in disentangling the entire sea from the unfortunate poet’s frontal cortex.

We caught the surgeon on her way out of the theatre: “I am glad for my intensive specialist training in the matter, without which I am sure I wouldn’t have noticed that the protective tissue around the brain was being used as a metaphor for sleep”

I talked to a bystander on the scene. “It’s obvious people these days just don’t know how to use metaphors” they said. “In my day something like this never could have happened. That’s what rhyme was for! Poets these days think they can do without it, but look what happens! Just think, it could have been worse, it could have been a prose poem! I worry for the children”

In an attempt to understand the case more, I wrote this poem, which I am now trapped inside. Please send help

Fears

Growing up is stopping being afraid of something imaginary, and starting being afraid of something real, where it may be the same thing. For example, I am afraid of sunlight now, whereas when I was a child I was afraid of crying tears of metal, in the process of being filled with adamantium. This is not the same thing.

How slowly these realisations happen, and we can never be sure they have stopped! Imagine the fears we will have in the coming years! For example I recently started having nightmares that the entire process of writing will be disallowed to humans (because it is not optimal) and outsourced to an economy based on texts churned out at incredible speed by artificial intelligences writing word after word based on exactly what we have wanted. And these constructed by minds who were constructed out of everything that has been written, based around a kernel of demand.*

Yes you see we keep on feeding it different stimuli but it always tells us we are fundamentally flawed and deserve to be punished. Something to do with the way ancient authors** viewed their peers. But we don’t have enough data in any other format! Come on, do they really need to read anyway? Doesn’t it just generate irrational brain-forms and cause them to be late for work! Not that we need them to work anymore

I mean who is the artificial intelligence here, really? All of which is to say I haven’t grown up yet.

*Am I arrogant to be afraid of this? Yes.
**Not to mention the moderns