2017-09-25

Sept 25th - In the horological gardens : function vs. form


In the horological gardens : function vs. form


The sundial stands in a patch of grass:
that is a wabe -- as C.S.Lewis
assigned the name, but it is not

the wabe that makes the dial into
a sundial.  The plinth of this one carved
with summer sun and autumn leaves

and with today's bleak winter trees
but mere plinth is not sundial.  The gnomon,
all rough with verdigris except

where hands have worn it back to smooth
and bronze, also its leaching copper
has stained the dial, but though this wedge

and dial are necessary for
a sundial, they are not sufficient:
another thing's required. There's rain

upon the sundial all today,
the sky of grey has left my time
quite undefined: a dial undone. 



2017-09-24

Sept 24th - Making distinctions



Making distinctions


Some say
the gills are grey
beneath the fringe
and that is how you tell,

and snobs will claim
the acid-test remains
in how they hold their cup of tea.

Another thing that you might see
is if they feel the need
for any special clothing
or badges that propound a creed.

Landing with their wings spread:
is another popular sign,
but you must check the antennae ends
for knobs,

and finally, many swear
you can note the length
and parting in their hair, or the side
on which they wear an earring --
if they have one.



2017-09-22

Sept 22nd - In the horological gardens : ruderal moments




In the horological gardens : ruderal moments



you are
beneath a tree; the leaves
a semi-parasol; the sun
pleasantly hazed by high thin cloud; the blanket
slightly dusty/musty in your nose; the rain
was brief but left that hint of petrichor; the crowds
of toddlers are thinned now; the birds
make bird noise in the tree; the other
on the blanket rolls towards to you...


you are
on a bench; the clock
chimes in the tower beyond the wall; the seat
is cold beneath your bum; the dusk
is drawing on; the burger
gone, you lick your fingers optimistically; the plants
are brownish twigs; the steps
down to the path are lit: the lamp brightening; someone
walks through the pool of light...


you are
sitting and rolling in your chair; the nurse
pushes towards the tree; the sun
is hot today: we'll go in the shade; a pidgeon
is strutting by the bench; a woman
eats sandwiches; some dust
blows past your feet upon the rests; you're cool
within your buttoned coat; your mind
grasps at some moment, but it's gone




2017-09-21

Sept 21st - In the horological gardens : clock tree


In the horological gardens : clock tree


Autumn

The seconds peel from branches stuck
at five-to-midnight.  The second hand
slows, frost grinding in the mechanism.
The bobble hats stamp woolly gloves.

Winter

The pendulum is stilled and frosted
the clock glass shows no leaf or flower
or time.  Nobody walks the shade
(which is everywhere).  The trees endure.

Spring

Finally.  The sun warms sap, clock oil
becomes a fluid once again.
Behind the tall door in the trunk,
the weights pull down, buds green -- tick.

Summer

As, mechanical, a bird wings in
to peck at tiny insect cogs,
the balmy time escapement sings
too fast, the hands are edging vertical.


2017-09-20

Sept 20th - On brightness boulevard...

On brightness boulevard...


On brightness boulevard the sun leaves town
precisely in alignment with
the white line on the road.
The cats have lurked
all day

beneath Ms Wendy's battered 2CV.
We drank through all the afternoon,
and we saw everything;
ignored it all.
We laughed,

our understanding small, our care careless.
The Sun swung shadows underneath
the porch and Edward swore
and fanned his face.
Darkness

is on us now and Mrs Richardson,
the old man, Wendy and her son
point telescopes lamps
so far away:
Wendy

believes they may not now exist.  I'm tired.
I watch the old man load the car.
They all pile in.  The engine
shrugs with Gallic
aplomb,

then fires -- an air-cooled warp engine.  I run
out onto Brightness boulevard
as everyone I know,
except for Ed,
leaves town.

2017-09-19

Sept 19th - Firmness, commodity and delight...





Firmness, commodity and delight...


...was how Vitruvius put it, meaning buildings
should not fall apart, be useful, and be easy on the eye.
I gently unroll a loop and pull it up from buried
beneath the interface to right there in the UI code
where error codes can be ignored.  That's useful.
OK it's ugly, but it's how I'm fixing this.
On this I'm firm.

2017-09-18

Sept 18th - Midnight in the house of books

Midnight in the house of books


An infinity of clocks are chiming -- all
throughout the echo of the house.  Feet, cold
upon the hallway flagstones, roused from normal
somnolence are following a candle glow.

Dark unfolds ahead, flows past on either side
(pressed back against the shelves so hard it's squeezed
between the spines of books) and we're not looking
behind us but I'm sure the darkness folds

right back together perfectly.  You won't
see any joins between the chapters, and I
cannot see any holes within the plot.
We try to work it out a lot, all sat

around the battered kitchen table, mugs
steaming in front of us.  We're characters
each seeking our true roles and I consoled
young Eglantine today now she admits

that "action hero" never would have fit
her eleven year old frame.  Still, all the same,
we are all quite the same; all searching, for
some handle on the drama.  Me more than any...

which is why they're in bed
and I'm here with my candle.

2017-09-17

Sept 17th - Voyaging





Voyaging



The ocean of ships extends
all the way to the sunset, and even now
a valiant steam launch may be trying
to find out just how far that means;
bulling its way between kayaks in the sea of dreams
having skirted the American fleet
around tranquility base
so long ago
and headed into the ocean of night

porters.  There is no, probable, body at the front desk,
if it should even lie somewhere beyond
the point where the black and white floor tiles all merge
in formless grey.  If there was
some vessel to carry us that way:
you, me, the luggage and the parrot;
but the every wave now seems glassy:

the frontage of some cabinet
with dark varnished wooden frames
and in each one the little printed card,
which puts the content firmly in its place.
This ocean of wax polish somehow
free from real ships, even as
the possibility of shipness sails forever.




2017-09-12

Sept 12th - Communications strategy

Communications strategy


Did you hear them talking about it
when they thought we were not there?
About some evil star, some chance,
some future that's to come? Did you hear them

drag some expert from his paper-cluttered desk
to make a sage pronouncement on what we need to do?  And did you listen
or turn back to the carrots,

and think such things were not for you?
Well they are, but the road is winding, long
and narrow; and the voice
from out the speaker grill

will never ever mention
a thing you want to hear.
Did you chance to see that note they left
screwed up small beneath the chair,

forgetting, perhaps that we can read?
It is quite their style
to mither in the evening press
about some nonsense nothing

and leave us all to guess
such facts as these were in the case.
But if you sit back down again,
I shall write upon this blackboard

all seven things they ought to know,
which certainly we'll wipe before we go.



2017-09-11

Sept 11th - Fifty shades of lime


Fifty shades of lime


How can one lime-green balloon
hang so still,
in an otherwise empty sky?

How does Antonia still work
in the vegetarian cafeteria
with Lucy and George
when the only one working is Antonia
and George is with Lucy?

How can one lime
-- halved and squeezed --
make so much difference
to vodka and tonic?




2017-09-10

Sept 10th - One final question

One final question


But there was no information
and so we continued...
the mirror ball at the dance palace spun down,
the band with fewer members than it had.

But there was no information
and so we continued...
the hot food van beside the pier
grown sinister, although still drawing a queue.

But there was no information
and so we continued...
tracking in the chill predawn
along some farmyard track,
cows mourning fitfully on either side.

But there was no information
and so we continued...
footsore, into some market town
a slow milkman waving
his long forgotten cheer.

But there was no information
and so we continued...
trains coming, going --
a lottery of timetables.

But there was no information
and so we continued...
pulling in at noon to a city grown still
and filled with dust;
a single taxi blinks its "for hire" lamp.

But there was no information
and so we continued...
up onto the cold dry mountain roads, where,
the taxi, failing, is shoved
ungrieved into the scrub.

But there was no information
and so we continued...
the taxi man with convert's fervour,
trading for food
at broken airstream trailers.

But there was no information
and so we continued...
onto the high plateau,
the metal dishes still peering at the sky.

There is no information
and so I continue...
growing bleached and weather battered,
time taking me forward,
eating lizards, herding llamas,
salvaging parts and fuel
from empty villages.

A cold time I've had of it,
servant of one last machine,
searching with inhuman patience
day and day about, listening and calling out;
Hello, is anybody there?
Hello, hello -- we're lonely...



2017-09-09

Sept 9th - An antithesis for every thesis

An antithesis for every thesis


We drove through Wombleton this afternoon,
and I am sure that cute and furry
Wimbles were, hidden in the bushes, decrying
the scarcity of ornamental trash,
the shortage of old newspapers, the lack
of plastic bags flapping wildly in the gaps
in chain-link fencing and I imagine
Uncle Etruria would charge the gang
to, after the everyday people are gone,
get out there with their bags and barrows, scattering
some crisp packets and tins and KFC
gnawed bones, to pretty the environment
and generally to give the place some tone.

2017-09-08

Sept 8th - Who cares for the lichen?

Some lichen,
earlier this year...


Who cares for the lichen?

Who folds its laundry, warm from the machine?

Who keeps its kitchen clean and spits upon
a cloth to scrub behind its ears?  Who calms
the sorts of fears a lichen feels, insists
the environment is full of rough faced rock
and trees with sensually craggy bark?
Who monitors air quality between
those trees?  Who sees where a Vibram walkers sole
has gashed a divot from the matted growth
and gently smooths it back?  Who stacks dry stones
to form a wall where lichen fragments drifting
in the breeze drop into place?  Who meanders like
a tardigrade between the hyphae, pushing
eight legged from strand to strand?  Who stands to shade
it from high summer sun?  Who splashes dew
on it?  Who carves the hydrogen from water
using sunlight as a blade?  Who captures carbon
from the air and rearanges atoms into rings
of sugar, which leak through cell membranes to feed
their symbiotic partner in the dance?
Who leaches micro nutrients from stone?
Who lives, happily together alone, on any
handy outside surface?

Who cares for the lichen?

2017-09-07

Sept 7th - When there's a murder in an old, old movie...

When there's a murder in an old, old movie...


Please try to keep sand off the body!
The SOCO shouts
for the seventeenth time.
However, with great solemnity,

and at one quarter speed
Wilson, Kepple and Betty continue dancing
the sand dance just outside the crime-scene tape.
Oy you!  Screams DI Blenkinsop,

I saw you hook that glove up with your cane,

Chaplin!  He fumes.  Let's have more happy/sad
clowning from you, and less sneaking off with clues
to check out in your own time.

In fact
, he concludes, why don't you go
find Laurel and Hardy
and ask what's taking them so long

fetching me a stepladder...




2017-09-06

On discovering one's new doctor is a girl...

There are certain global roles which are more important than run of the mill A-list celebrities and international leaders.

One of these roles was recently reassigned...  That's not the right word, what is it they say? "Appointed?" — No.  "Elected?" — No!  What do they say?  Oh yes...

"Regenerated"


The Doctor is an imaginary hero, and imaginary heroes are singularly important people.

Firstly because they are heroes.  Mere Presidents, Leaders of the Opposition, and Secretary Generals of the UN fade into insignificance beside heroes.  Leaders can only tell you what to do, but a hero can show you who to be.

But imaginary heroes outrank even real heroes because real heroes are only human, and consequently flawed.  It is a pity we're psychologically incapable of accepting that somebody can be a hero and a bastard simultaneously, or even a villain and a very nice guy (1).

But a fictional hero can be superhuman, transhuman, or even not human at all. Furthermore, they can face problems cunningly constructed to parallel awkward moral corners and demonstrate how a suitably progressed nature overcomes all challenges.

So if real heroes show us who who to be, then imaginary heroes give us aspirations for who we would be in the best of all possible worlds.  They show us what things could be like after we've sorted all this irritating mundane crap.

Imaginary heroes give us something to aim for, something in fact, to aim the whole World at (2).

So now The Doctor is going to be a woman and what could be better than that?  You wouldn't want to steer a World ignoring half of the passengers, would you?







On discovering one's new doctor is a girl...


I - which part of
fiction did you not understand?

The writers write and can write what they like:
make him an accountant, make him a fraud;
they could have Ian Chesterton wake up,
in January nineteen sixty four,
and call the whole damn thing a dream, a trip
more psychedelic than extraterrestrial

and the TARDIS only bigger inside his head.


II - which part of
science fiction did you not understand?

I mean, really, have you read the literature?
Forget the tiny part that gets to film,
because Sci-fi is at core about the different

the unusual, the strange. We've had hero robots
hero ghosts, heroes who were nobody,
we've had heroes who were toast

and brought back from the dead, irreligiously.

So a female hero should not be a stretch, especially
as "different", "unusual" and "strange" need not apply.

So perhaps the problem is the other side
of the equation, because Sci-fi is secretly about the day
in which it's written: the doomsday weapon fifties,

the cyberpunk eighties -- you get the idea...
So maybe an effortlessly superior, hyper-intelligent
witty, humane and technologically supported woman

is too close to the knuckle, for the average office drone?
Well get over it.



III - Which part of
alien did you not understand?

It's infeasibly lucky for Time Lord's to have hands
that the slightly vulnerable, yet gutsy, cute
and sometimes awestruck companion can hold.

Bilateral symmetry, being less
than one mile in diameter, a smooth
and spike-free outer skin, non-radioactive

a working temperature below one thousand degrees --
there's none of these we have a right to assume,
but every time we've thrown the dice and looked

at page two-six-four-one-three of the DM's guide
and the regeneration table, we've always rolled
not even a funky Klingon forehead.

You never quibbled at a pair of hearts
why so much trouble with a pair of breasts?


IV - It's not political.

I have heard otherwise well-meaning people say...
Hell yes it is! This is a choice made
before the public gaze. This is us when we say

we do not need the word "heroine". This is
the very best of Dr Who: grandstanding
and soliloquising all the way up to someone else's line

drawn in the sand and, when
the whole room is focussing on her,
rubbing out the line with the toe of one sensible shoe

before stepping across and strolling off
into the future that should already be.



(1) If we understood intellectually that we're all flawed, and therefore did not (for example) expect politicians to keep their trousers on, or policemen to be inhumanly incorruptible, patient, disinterested, perfect observers and the peak of physical fitness then the World would be a happier and simpler place.

(2) Which is why I do not grumble on rare occasions when the somebody needs picking up in the middle of night — it's the closest I can get to materializing in a magical blue box at to save the day...



Sept 6th - Contrary to previous reports...


Contrary to previous reports...


...the revolution is being televised.
Sue has two leading revolutionaries
on the sofa; and in a while, Tony, our man
in the line of fire, will be reporting from

an ambush, somewhere outside the city.
The revolution is being televised,
remember that you saw it first on Yay-
Today!  The station with the sparkle

and an improvised explosive trap.  Talking
of which, later Wendy will show you how
to do one for yourself and detonate
by phone -- please get permission from whoever

pays the bills.  This evening we'll have live debate
between El Generalissimo himself
and, most secret of the rebel leaders, The Fox,
who's just become the media director

for the revolution... but now here's Bob with today's
civilian damage and casualty news.


2017-09-05

Sept 5th - No man

No man

I don't see people any more,
they're all atoms and tissues and fresh
angles on psychology and neurology
and social roles made flesh.

I shan't see people any more,
I feel I have already seen
every option bulk mankind can offer me,
everything you could have ever been.

I won't see people any more,
I hear them distantly, muttering of thoughts,
perhaps their needs, I do not heed,
won't stand before that juggernaut.

I haven't seen people for years,
their tears or fear.  Oh, I see their tracks
and desperate graffitos on the walls
but human contact, I do not feel the lack.

I can't see people any more,
I do not have the eyes
so if I seem to look past you, or through you,
forgive me, I am a victim of solipsistic philosophy


.

2017-09-04

Sept 4th - Coming apart

A sonnet on the subject of: "quit", "exit", "farewell", "give up", "depart", "parting", "drop out", "get out", "go out", "go away", "leave behind", "throw in", "chuck up the sponge", "leave of absence", "leave-taking", "go forth", "throw in the towel"...

...and also: "keep", "preclude", "forbid", "forestall".



Coming apart


They say, they say, they say you've gone away
and that there's nothing I can do or tell
to change the fact of absence.  I shall not play
this game by other people's rules, not dwell
upon impossibility.  There must
be something, somehow that a man can do
and I'm the one to do this.  I need to trust
in me; to find what route your 'plane takes through

the travails of whateverness. I shall pin
a patch to physics to let me fold the sky;
I'll bowl a curve-ball; find the true McGuffin;
whatever is the exit strategy
to let me say exit's not happening.
Please take my callI can't see why you'd leave.



2017-09-03

Sept 3rd - Engineering

Engineering

...come with me for there is much to do,
coils to degauss and pets to delouse and exoplanets
to scope and spectra to analyse
and there are needs
to edit out of the human psyche
and bugs in our genes and there are machines
to design and build and machines for planning
the mechanisms for other machines to construct
devices to make machines that fix
the faults in all our stars and all I ever wanted
was that big swivel chair with the screen
to show where we are going and one day
we'll play Thus Spake Zarathustra and one day
right there in easy reach
the big lever...







2017-09-02

Sept 2nd - Malmesbury

We went on holiday to stomp around our old stomping grounds near Bristol and Bath.

And we took advantage of being there to visit a few places that we'd never been before, such as Malmesbury.

All the time, while we were wandering around, little scenes kept presenting themselves to me, waving carefully inked placards that read:

"You ought to put me in a poem."

So I noted them down.  However, when I reviewed the list later, the sequence of random observations didn't seem to really add up to a poem about Malmesbury.  So the list languished in my backlog until this morning, when needing a poem for my poem-a-day, I dug it out, blew the dust off, and started again.

Today's new trick was not to write poem about Malmesbury, but rather about our visit.  So this is the experience we had.  This is, if you like, a poem about the notes themselves, or maybe about the process of taking them...

It is not, however, about the excellent free WiFi they had in the 7th century abbey.  That only appears here in these notes.



Malmesbury


Arriving

Badger giblets on the bypass
toast gently in late summer sun.

So many picturesque bridges
in the booklet and beneath our feet.
There's one out of this car park
or even three.

Parking is suspended for late night shopping
this midday,
while two blokes fix the roof.

A tiny pavement café
with pretensions of Paris,
however this morning,
seating is reserved for only jackdaws.


A light lunch


Most shops bustle, but this one's empty,
a dying spider plant in window;
it takes a lot to kill a spider plant
and this one's plastic.

Another café—inside this time—
there's paintings and a "Freedom" collage.

We drink tea while the owner discusses
"theory of café catering" with the waitress.
Everything is for sale.

In W.H.Smith we buy "easy tear" tape
to fix the lad's spectacles.


In the abbey

Norman in Norman in Norman, the Abbey door:
a medieval stab
at post-modern architecture.

Inside, a lost killer whale hydrogen balloon
presses against the vaulted roof
slightly West of centre.

Two floors up on the south wall
a security kiosk that some medieval abbot
had built to keep eye on pilgrims
round the relics.

Beneath my feet
three generations to the first brass plaque
and also with "also" on the second plaque,
wisely twice the size
another three generations
and an empty space...


And done

The sun shines all the day;
we wander after some time on our way
pausing only in the bypass supermarket
for wine for relatives
we're later dining with.

Badger giblets still
upon the bypass
—presumably—
we're on the other carriageway now.



2017-09-01

Sept 1st - Vampire Calculus

Vampire Calculus


Begin program "Vampire Calculus"

{I shall bite your daughters into something else.
I shall bite your sons into something else again...
I am omitted from your vision. I remain
a thought behind the wind,
a voice inside the rain:
whispering to your young folk
as they choose to upgrade
until all human weakness falls away
like the dry beech leaves faced with
a sudden sexy springtime.

I read their warm pink mechanisms
I write them out again
in grey, not of death or age,
but of mathematics: a symbol
for every part of the soul
and the whole wrapped up in the big square brackets
which say: this far, this far is human,
but no further...

at least until they say three times
they're ready to transcend.
I have seen the future and it's all transhuman fucking,
every millisecond
every imaginable way,

( ) businesses
that are also games,
and people
who are also art

but behind it all the simplest, most carnivorous algorithm:
One less of them;
One more of us;
Repeat, while not all upgraded.

} End program "Vampire Calculus"

Compile
Execute




Here we go again, this time in September

Autumn is coming...
Here we go again, this time in September

Apparently it is September.

(Just in case you also didn't know...)

There's another poem a day for a month going on and I've decided again to do it and post my efforts here as I go along.

I'll try to do something for every day, although I shan't promise to always deliver on the exact day because life does have a way of getting in the way  especially as I won't always be near the internet.

I am also reserving the right to cheat and sometimes dig out something old and finish it.  This is because I've discovered this to be a really useful way of digging through the mass of incomplete poetry and turning some of it into the good stuff.