Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Lost Poem

I'm never going to be a great poet. I write reasonable poetry from time to time and that's all. The way it happens is, almost invariably, I find a word or phrases in my head, something that sounds nice, something that 'tastes' and this gestates (or not) into the desire to write a poem. Then I go to sleep. Or at least nearly always I lie in bed and form the word or phrase into an idea and more words or phrases - a baby poem - then I fall asleep. In the morning I write down what I came up with the night before and at some point work more formally on creating a poem. All of this is by-the-bye: what happened a couple of nights ago was that I had, by the time I went to sleep, at least two stanza of a 'baby poem' and I know it was going to be quite good. Then for the first time ever, I couldn't remember the first thing about it in the morning. This has disturbed me ever since. I don't know what the poem was about, what the words were I had found, what the images looked like. I just know there was a poem and now there is not. It's like knowing you have had a vivid dream but not being able to remember it...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Why I think R Should Be An Artist

I've been threatening to do this for a while and R is currently away being interviewed for more jobs that he doesn't really want. How do I motivate him to take his artistic talent in hand? Well, here's an idea!

These (poorly photographed) pieces are just some of the work I've found around our flat this evening. From the three large abstract canvasses through the b/w monoprints to the quirky animal pictures at the bottom - to be fair, the bear was painted for me when he was eighteen - but I love all of it.

If anyone reading this likes this stuff too then PLEASE leave a comment or email me (see right hand side of page) to say why you think R should pick up his paintbrushes again...

...before he insists I take this post down again...


When I was fifteen I remember going upstairs in the local library, a gallery ran around the first floor, it looked down on the shelves and reading areas and the hot, stale air of the books funnelled up into an oppressive heat. Unsurprisingly, it was used as a gallery - an art gallery. That one occasion an old woman - probably middle-aged - but old to me then was invigilating an exhibition; presumably some of the thick oil paint on the walls had been smeared by her brush. She asked me to sign the visitors book and I did. There was a soft sigh, a soft whisper of dry skin and I realised she had touched my hand. "You have such beautiful hands. Someone should draw your hands." My brain doesn't work very well with strangers at the best of times. I don't remember saying anything. I probably froze up inside my head. Now, I realise there was a subtle eroticism in that little scene, and I think not unintentional on her part. I thought nothing at the time - literally nothing. But ever since I realise a possibly lecherous old lady left me something of a gift... I've always had a special place in my erotic make-up for hands. I have always, since then, been pleased with my own hands. And there is nothing now which has so much frisson for me as the square, brittle wrists of adolescence, as mine were. The long-sinewed fingers, as mine were. And the disparity of size, like the paws of a dog, as mine were, too large on thin arms. The old woman gave another subtle overtone of narcissism to my erotic personality.

I don't remember her face now...

Just because the lady loves... Harry Clarke

That sweetie Alex remembered that I like Harry Clarke's illustrations (see below) and when he had to send me something for a project we're working on, he draws this, like it's nothing more than a doodle, on the back of an old brown paper bag... bless 'im.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

More words and phrases

Going through an old notebook I discovered a short list of words and phrases which I must have written down a million years ago simply because I liked them, or liked the sound of them.

cancelled eyes - William Burroughs
peristalsis - 'forcing onward by waves of contraction'
mewling kitten
decorticate -
'remove the bark, husk or peel - to remove cortex'
carny/carney -
'coax, wheedle, flatter'
peri - Persian mythology 'a fairy'
ka - Egyptian mythology 'a ghost or spirit'

Icons and reading between the lines...

Strange how many small connections there are from of one part of life to another. I am currently editing a small volume of poems - of which more another time - in which the image of a young man with antlers recurs. It's an image I find unnacountably sexy and it put me in mind of an icon I saw many years ago, and indeed which I bought and still have somewhere. It's called 'Lord of the Dance' by a modern iconographer called Robert Lentz. I was shown a catalogue many years ago by an American seminarian, a woman of intense liberality and a really strong heart, for the icons distributed by Bridge Building Images. On the whole I'm never really struck by new-age Christianity and to be honest, that is a fair description of much of the work that was in that catalogue, but the Lentz icons did resonate. Much of his work at the time dealt with the hidden gay subtexts in Christian history - as you can see from the images posted here. But there was an obvious skill and attention to the traditions of iconography which lifted his work above that of the new-age mire. In truth I came across them at a time when I needed to make real connections between sex and spirituality and they helped enormously.

So I went looking for a picture of 'The Lord of the Dance' to post here. It soon became apparent that Bridge Building Images no longer stocked Lentz's icons and their stock seems a pale imitation of what it used to be all those years ago - sentiment and average-ness drowning out the one or two artists they still stock who have a bit of originality. I had to google Lentz and discovered his images at Trinity Stores. More intriguingly still, his images are separated out. There are ten images which treat of gay and/or pagan themes, these are on a separate page with the following terse quote from Lentz:

In deference to the criticism of Michael Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe, these ten images will no longer be distributed by the Order of Friars Minor through Trinity Stores. Trinity Stores will continue to sell these images until the inventory has been depleted.

to be fair to the title of this post - I suppose there's not much reading between the lines to be done really...

A Strange Thing Happened...

Some years ago I was in a phase of writing poetry and sending it off around the place to magazines. This resulted in a lot of rejection letters and a lot more silence. I also went, at the time, on a few occasions, to the Open Mike night at London's Poetry Cafe. There I met a couple of young guys who were selling and soliciting submissions for a ' new and up-and-coming' poetry magazine called The Wolf. I bought one. A few weeks later I submitted a few poems. Silence...

Years later, i.e. a month ago, I was aimlessly surfing the web and found The Wolf's website, discovering to my astonishment, that I had in fact had a poem published in this now 'established and up-and-coming' magazine... in the Summer 2003 (No. 4) issue. Up till now my published works have been a number of short erotic pieces in American anthologies, feature articles for the gay and national UK press, and various editorial and reference book pieces written as a guest 'expert' on various subjects. My first 'non-erotic' fiction is to be published later in the year in Dennis Cooper's anthology, Userlands. That was exciting enough but a poem...! Am I allowed to call myself a published poet now... on the back of a few meagre stanzas?

The poem in question came from a period when I OD'ed on R. S. Thomas. Like Haagen Daz ice-cream, bubble-wrap and sex (not necessarily combined) it is possible to overdo a good thing and ruin it forever. This, I fear, I might have with Thomas as when I went back to read some recently I discover it doesn't get to me quite the way it used to. Thomas wrote a much better poem on a similar theme. Mine isn't entirely about Christ.

As Wolf 4 is now unavailable and the text isn't on their website, here is the poem:

Father to Son

It will be hard, under
the cobalt clear sky of
desert nights, being born,

when before, that vastness
was, in your iris, no
more than a reflection;

a sky becoming space
becoming cosmos then
light to dance in your eyes.

Hard too their assumptions
because their ripest fruit
is that molecule of

your breath that they call life;
framing your sacrifice
as hanging from a tree.

In fact, your skin will split
because it is too small
for you. What you gave up
they will not comprehend.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Just because...

...shamelessly stolen from someone else's blog - and can't even remember where - this fantastic picture of a shop window display - a computer shop in the Phillipines...!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Word Museum

Someone last Christmas gave me a book called The Word Museum. The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten. Some I like:

Blutterbunged Confounded, overcome by surprise. Lincolnshire.

Quackle To interrupt breathing, to choke; from the noise uttered by a person in the act of being choked. Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire.

Gallywow A man destitute of the power of begetting children. Cornwall.

Maw-wallap A filthy, ill-cooked mess of victuals.

Jimp Dainty, well-formed, well-fitting.

Chaser A ram that has only one testicle.

Whiffinger A vagabond.

Thinnify To make thin.

Pussyvan A flurry, temper.

Flarting Mocking, jeering.

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