Tag: Lucky Dip

I wonder lonely as a nail,
proud upon a camping chair.
While passing sirens howl and wail
I shelter from cold eastern air
here upon this low green hill
beside a bunch of daffodils.

Not Wordsworth’s thousands, dancing free,
but their brassy garden counterparts
pretending to act naturally
and, like tributes bought from supermarts
then rammed into this parkland soil,
they fool no-one – wasted toil.

I resent the space they take
where in my lunch break I would sit –
spring tinsel for the strollers’ sake
but, for my part, they look shit
and crowd right out the native flowers
that sometimes lighten my dark hours.

But, in fact, I can’t complain –
this is man-managed space
where all’s arranged and that is plain
as the manicured beard upon my face.
Where are all the wild flowers gone?
Gardeners stole them everyone.

rs 1.4.14

I know that Wilhelm got it right
and this is what bonds us together –
not the fear of law or might,
nor a marriage’s life-long tether.

Sex should be open, frequent, free
as it is with bonobos –
we are the smart third chimpanzee,
let’s bring this nightmare to a close.

Clothes are just to keep us warm
or to protect us from the sun –
fig leaves were a metaphor
to explain the ban on having fun.

This was imposed by patriarchs
to control their women, children too,
so they’d know there’d be no backdoor larks
and who their wealth was going to.

The family means the household slaves
of rich men and of their successors –
to make sure that they’d behave
needed this and other measures.

Insecurity works best,
with shame and fear of isolation –
never mind the inner mess
of one’s stiff-lipped, well-bred nation.

Hypocrisy is fine of course
for those in charge of this charade –
just make damn sure the lesser sort
don’t rise and piss on your parade.

Thus puritans and sadists co-evolve
to oversee that sick regime,
while cops and soldiers can resolve
situations more extreme.

Repression is a dangerous thing,
we’ve seen the damage it can cause –
torturing and castrating
and always endless bloody wars.

It hasn’t always been like this
four millenia or so –
we’ve been here half a million years,
so there are other ways to go.

There never was a golden age
or Eden where we might return,
but to escape this stinking cage
means we have got to start to learn ..

.. how to share out equally
what’s required for decent life
and regain our liberty
yet co-exist here without strife.

This is where orgasms fit
into the structure of our world –
releasing tensions that are built
up in our social whirl.

So let’s go out and fuck or wank
without the bullshit about sin
and know there’s no-one else to thank
but the partner who may join in.

rs 4-7.2.16

Wilhelm Reich, psychoanalyst and student of Freud, published ‘The Function of the Orgasm’ in 1927. However wrong he may have been, the questions he raised remain to be answered.

(thanks Mr Wyatt & M. Moitessier)

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Alone on this blue ocean,
further out than all the rest,
amongst the other jetsam
he’s slowly going west,

Tangled up in lostnets,
dragging all that weed,
a sense of some direction
is very much in need.

Listening for signals,
looking out for signs
at birds and clouds and fishies,
he’s running out of lines.

“It’s a rum old time without it,
it’s really very weird –
this wreck knows where it’s going
even though it’s hardly steered.”

“I s’pose I’d best stay with it,”
he mutters to himself,
“I’m not cut out to be stuck on
the continental shelf.”

“No reskuas are coming
the turns have all turned back,
Albert Ross is just the punchline
of some tired sad leatherback.”

“Out on my horizon
the seen rolls up ‘n leaves.
I’ll try just waving back at it
and see what that achieves.”

On this well red ocean
he is heading for the reefs,
but that can’t be much worse to meet
than all the other griefs.

rs 8.1.15

Outside there’s total cover like a sheet of lead –
though it’s, in fact, as turbulent as the tide
driven over sea walls by the gale,
or pouring off rain-curtained hills
to reclaim fields and towns from the control
of proud, colonising men.

Sitting naked in front of strangers,
I deconstruct the tight masonic codes
of this hapless Ulsterman,
with his description of bowler-hatted saints –
not the manifestant parachutists of Magritte,
but the elders of those apprentices of butchery
from King Billy’s deterministic band.

I look up from this distracting labour
and regard the table at my feet.
Despite its squareness and its plain design,
there’s not a straight line anywhere –
it’s obvious, without the need of rules or instruments –
all is rough and round approximation to the plan.

There are vanished histories in every mark and scar
upon the varnished faces of this otherwise
simple, solid and objective fact
which belie its unremarkable appearance
and the casual uses to which it’s put.
Little of its past can be deduced –
imagination is all that we have left.

Yet the deal of which it’s made can be identified;
the contours of the grain – phloem, xylem, all the structures
and the functions of the original may also be
named, explained, anatomised from the woody skeletons
now laid out in polished sections, as evidence
of former living cells within a tree.

We might say what kind of weather it experienced,
what accidents occurred to damage its integrity
or put limits on its growth.
But does this tell us how the forest looked,
what birds and other animals lodged there,
of its long love affair with sun and rain and soil
and the beauty they all shared?

We may even analyse the molecules of which it’s made –
the organism’s basic chemistry –
carbon, oxygen, hydrogen,
plus a few trace elements combined in ways
that are slowly being understood
in their complex cyclical cascades.

Then, when we take those particles of matter right apart,
there’s nothing left of substance but dancing energies,
a twisting of the shape of time and space –
something made of nothing that we are conscious of,
still less that we can know and comprehend
without wondering ‘What is grasping what and where,
when all is no more concrete than the air?’

Each thing we think we see is an infinity
of surfaces, connections, information, mystery,
emptinesses and dimensions – chaos
embraces every point of regularity.
How can anyone assume they’ve got it figured out
if reality is riddled with suspicion?

We can only guess how all this came about,
without inventing some creator whose totality
would be the more amazing, coming, as is said,
before existence in itself existed
and the universe was void and waiting to be formed.
It’s not so bad – we can get by, so long as we accept
our certainties are merely comfortable positions.

The class is done, I can relax,
shift my focus, cover up.
I’ve ceased to be the object of their scrutiny.
Decline to check their efforts to record,
with order, balance, harmony and faithfulness,
the phenomenon that they perceive.

These studies are not portraiture,
my character is surplus to requirements –
that suits me fine, I’m easily embarrassed anyway
but, though I tried not to project, I could not empty myself
wholly to become a model human being.
Apparently I was quite still – unnaturally for me –
it’s just as well the storm did not beat louder on the walls.

rs 12-13.6.93

[* From ‘Symbolum’ by Tom Paulin, which, in turn, was his response to a poem by Goethe with the same title about Freemasons.]

The flesh is churned up with the mud,
remains of walls and roofs are painted with their blood,
the guns are doing all the talking,
taking each one made to suffer or to perish
as hostages for history to cherish.

The obscene ritual of reports
from these butchers’ blocks, where sadists hold their sports,
make us accomplices to slaughter
of children, women, men who do the same as us,
if our neighbours’ fear had burst like pus.

The mortars spit out vicious hate,
announcing that for dozens more it’s now too late
to ever save their son or daughter.
Are you going to sit there fumbling for some sense
while bombs hang the playground on the fence?

rs 17.4.93

Is how my shit smells nowadays
and how I smell myself it seems
in this phase of my hormone disaster
and medics’ needling remedies
to even up the ballast of my chemical distress –
a changed demographic of gut flora,
a Nantucket sleigh-ride of the senses,
endless steroid PMT.

We all are casseroles of proteins,
controlled by clever little lumps of flesh –
those complex tissues called our glands,
on-board computers, naturally.
I wonder at their interaction
and how subtly they converse –
fantastic when in harmony,
and, when not, a whole lot worse.

If I should have a transplant for my sick one
from some stiff who’s not like me,
would I take on their persona
in a horror film reprise?
Are we only meat stew that’s been fooled
into believing we are free
or do our histories stand against
these mood-dictating factories?

rs 12-14.5.13

City of snipers, this time it’s cops
who’re dead, not presidents,
not black people, for a change,
who don’t react fast enough to commands,
or don’t hear them, or don’t get them
in the first place –
just the bullets.

I could say, ‘Its about time’.
I could say, ‘It was just a matter of time’.
I will say, it’s no surprise
that rage turns to retribution,
that someone was going to start
shooting back
to even up the score.

It’s said that violence solves nothing –
a naïve point of view –
read your history again.
Is revenge a form of justice?
Maybe not, but it’s what we have instead.
Did the right ones die?
Who knows? Not I.

Across the states flags fly half mast
not the first time, nor the last,
but did they for those innocents
shot down by cops in ‘self defence’?
Protected by a uniform,
firepower long has been the norm.
Why should they bother to reform?

Until we make the world a fairer place,
until we think just ‘human race’,
until we give the poor the wealth we stole,
until we see ourselves as whole,
until we change the way it’s run,
there’ll be no end of killings done –
it’s just easier with a gun.

rs 8.7.16

(thanks to Jo Bell)

I wasn’t ever good with tools
so it was by pure chance I ended up with steel,
my native mettle,
albeit this was Wales and not where I was born,
another city furnaced, hammered, turned
with iron tongues – at least it was.

Passed through many hands,
my spanners would still work,
or just about –
the boxes stretched, the handles smooth,
despite a thousand dents –
to check that nuts still moved.

And then my mates insisted that I try
my hand at fixing,
start to learn the mysteries of how
tight to turn the screw,
of what goes where and when,
of making all secure.

So I became a chancer,
an improver then, officially,
I could tell with just my fingers
seven-sixteenths from half an inch,
and more or less by sight or weight
how long the tubes I held.

These were mainly ferrous black,
all pitted and worn down,
slipped through your hands
like polished wood and years,
or else still grey and galvanised,
zinc crystal glyphs all round.

They come in all lengths, as required,
from one-foot butts to twenty-ones,
two-inch diameter, four mil thick.
When topping out a long one,
with eighteen feet balanced overhead,
if you lose it, let it go.

Fittings I’ve sung about elsewhere –
doubles, singles – wrap-over and bivalve –
swivels, spigots, sleeves
and SGB’s in cumbersome two parts,
each with their different uses
and making do when right one can’t be found.

Grip the bolts between your fingers
and you can carry ten or more,
chuck them underarm, don’t bowl,
but never catch them coming down
and, when they’re too high up to throw,
use a bucket, gin wheel, rope.

And let’s not forget the decking –
boards of every length to fit the span,
mostly thirteen foot but sixteen’s possible at times.
The shorter ones were sawn, or broken when no saw –
use the spade end of a putlock
to chop a line of dents then break its back.

The newer kind are clean and wholesome
though rougher on the skin,
the old ones stained and greasy
are easiest to slide
but when they’re really almost past it,
look out for splinters going in.

It’s dirty manual work, but bracing
when everything is going as it should,
we use so many different tools when needed
or, when we haven’t got one, improvise –
two spanners, bubble and tape measure
are the ones that mark us out on site.

It never cured me of my fear
of heights, of making a mistake,
I wasn’t what you’d call a good one,
or one who got the hardest jobs,
but learned to cope despite that mostly
and managed to survive until today.

I got the callouses to prove it,
along with blisters, bruises and some scars.
My hands are smooth now, except for shadows
of where those hard materials once passed.
As that poet said “Even chafing is a kind of touch”
so I’m glad that I can say as much.

rs 19-20.6.16

* From ‘The Slow Machine’, her verse memoir of living on a narrow boat, broadcast today on BBC Radio 4.