NaPoWriMo 2023 - 8 (delayed) - A Fucktonne of Kafka...

A Fucktonne of Kafka...

...is, I think, the official terminology.
Waking up to find arseholes eulogising biology
for being a thing it never was, and installing
gene sequencers on all the toilet doors.

Rising in the early morning to hear the BBC
giving airtime to eugenicists for reasons of balance
and carefully not challenging absurdities
in case that gives offense...

...we used to understand some people should be offended,
because some people were wrong. It's possible
that something actually great is going on. It's possible
the prevalence of asshats on display

is just the way, when actually things are going
in the other--that is the right--direction
and the lamentable ones are only here
because they got depression

at seeing themselves losing everywhere
and, panicking, grabbing the nearest social medium
to have a rant. It's possible this is their last gasp
and the pointless pissant microminds

will melt away. Until then
it's heartily depressing
waking up to sewage from the national broadcaster;
it's waking up to discover

everyone else turned into a cockroach;
it's a fucktonne of Kafka.


With thanks to my friend Emilija for inspiring the title..


NaPoWriMo 2023 - 13 - A Study of Political Developments in Europe from 1945 to the Present Day.

I think I will have to admit I have missed a few days of NaPoWriMo now. This is ignoring all prompts and just turning the surreality dial way up...

A Study of Political Developments in Europe from 1945 to the Present Day.

Performance note: to be recited in one breath without hesitation, deviation or passing out.

For those watching in black and white I was standing on the ceiling of the Arc de Triomphe eating my usual which is banana and eggplant pizza with a side order of irreconcilable longing and if you're in America you probably believe you know what eggplant is but in Europe eggplant refers to the sensation of driving a rented removals van rapidly through a long-abandoned mountain tunnel with one eye on the road and one eye nervous on the fuel gauge and anyway I was standing in the basement of Nelson's Column eating my usual which is banana and eggplant pizza with a side order of irreconcilable longing and you probably think that Nelson's Column is military but in fact it celebrates the decisive victory of the British Public over the checkout queue in Marks and Spencer and I was standing on the ceiling of my local post office eating my usual which is banana and eggplant pizza and you probably feel that by now you understand the role of the removals van but for those watching in black and white a removals van is like a pantechnicon and for those watching in black and white a removals van is quite like a panel truck and for those watching in black and white I was standing on the ceiling of my local meteorological office and eating my usual and it was raining and it had always been raining and I felt a sensation of irreconcilable eggplant and it was raining and it was pizza and it was cold.


NaPoWriMo 2023 - 9 - Taking it under advisement

(I have not skipped a couple, I kept them private because they fell out kinda personal...)

Taking it under advisement

the first rule of dealing-with-the-particular-thing-
club, is we talk about it
that is the advice

at any rate,
that one sex blogger gives, documenting
how she's lived her life
radically reimagined
and somewhat exposed
these last five years

and been happier for it
who talks
about the dirty underside of her mind
the very not-talking being
what enabled
the "dirty" judgement to persist
and possibly it works for her

in some degree
because exhibitionism
which I so don't have

so I take the limited supply
of advice
as well intentioned but with a big
pinch of salt

and the advice I give is:

avoid magical thinking
--such as believing that the aforementioned
can fix everything--
because it always seems like
if we could only address WXYZ
then everything would be lovely
in the garden

but this
is a failure
of imagination
and the post-WXYZ world is still a world

(or garden)

still messy and dirty and filled
with human beings, complex,
and not all well intentioned
and there was no way
that merely sorting out the WXYZ
was going to fix that

no, my advice is:

walk on the grass
whether the sign says otherwise or no
our pleasures are limited
and none of us know
when we'll go

bare feet on damp grass
your father running the sprinkler
but that was then and now you are the father
with no sprinkler
because ecology

and in this newer world in theory
sometimes you want but think you should not have

a Bakewell tart for example

of the more industrial kind
with solid sugar icing to at least
a quarter of an inch
but you can

apart for those we choose ourselves
there are no rules.


NaPrWriMo 2023 - 6 - The Post-Industrial Research Assistant's Tale

This has been half-written in my pile for *ages*...

It came from consideration of how a university department is, like most small communities, pseudo-independent of the larger world in which is embedded.  Concerns of the dept. are not necessarily concerns of the wider world, but every inhabitant of the dept. is also an inhabitant of the world in general, and brings all that baggage with them.

In this poem, society has (semi) fallen apart but the department keeps on keeping on in a slightly revised way, ignoring to some extent the turmoil in the street...

The Post-Industrial Research Assistant's Tale

I wake and follow my routine
every window in the department has it's crop
tomatoes, cucumbers, French beans
and I go round with my basket
and watering can. It's a trade
I like to think I plants aren't enslaved
but rather there's a meaningful exchanging
of water fertilizer and well-lit, sheltered positions
for produce: veg and fruit --
and we may as well admit to weed
since there are no University authorities anymore.

I've found I can grow
almost anything as I have learned
to be slow and patient so I don't tire
of watering, or picking out the weeds
I have no problem germinating seeds
as I can set their perfect temperature
on the incubator salvaged from biophysics
and later move them round, between window ledges
the break room table
and half a dozen other sunny spots
as suits their thirst for light. But today
is shopping day,

so I take my basket and go
into the town to do the deals
that spin the wheels of life.
I exit the quad
via the turnstile at the rear
because there's fewer people forcing leaflets
in your hand
although I still get ones
for transcendental cyber-feminism
and The Church of Happy Nihilism
which apparently is off Brewer Street
and I make a note to avoid that route on
-- check the leaflet -- Thursday evenings

The High Street is, from the sound of it,
in its usual disorder--
two Parties of National Unity
(don't ask me which)
are trading insults and half bricks
which means I cannot get to Tesco's
which all-in-all is good
because although I do keep flogging
that particular horse corpse,
the repeated mental pain
of going round the empty shelves again
and occasionally giving the checkout assistant
a tomato
so hungry does she look,
is not a happy morning in my book.

But High Street is out today
so I make my rather more cheerful way
to the Anarchist's Market
where the great thing is
to a mind like mine
that the sellers cannot legitimately say
the trade I offer
is less than fair in any way
and so they just obliquely opine
that for their part they feel
I ought to offer more
and I never tire
of this semi-comic back and forth
as we circle round the deal.

As usual I can get corned beef
and not for the first time wonder
does their supply chain extend all the way
via cliques and communes
and counterculture shipping lines
to South America?
Who knows, but corned beef comes
and fresh veg goes
and life goes on and so...

I return,
via the caretaker's garden
to leave a cucumber in the honesty box
and take a handful of new potatoes
which you cannot grow on windowsills.

All of which leads me to conclude
that it's corned beef hash again
and thus I keep the department fed and they, in turn,
add me to their published papers
but now I brew tea in the break room
where Maria and George are frowning at output
from the quark telescope array
Oh no! I joke,
don't tell me that far out in space
the Wolf's Star Faction have turned this way?

There is a slightly embarrassed pause...


NaPoWriMo 2023 - 5 - now and then

now and then

it is an effort
continual, to press himself against the moment
the universe ticking
ineffable clocks
and him, obliged to tick with it
as close as he can
hurrying along behind
the infinite

stream of moments
while his thoughts/glands/heartbeats
strain to keep up

and if we were
a lifeform more stone
than water
a thing which might truly pause
turn itself off and know
with the certainty which humans lack
it will be back

powering up again to dawn
in some discontinuous tomorrow
we are not
he dies
stops processing

security critical updates come out
and he doesn't apply them
new mornings come
fresh moments come downstream
and the mourners leave
to possibly move on

while the dead go into the past


NaPoWriMo 2023 - 4 - Your life need not make sense


Your life need not make sense

Origin story

We are foam on the surface
of the boil of evolution, and you
are fitted, crudely, into
survival-of-the-fittest-shaped holes.
And although
so many armchair Fascists suggest
this means your only valid role
is to beat, subdue and rape
this is not the case.
You need not be a wolf
(who are not like that anyway.)

Fittest never meant most buff or supreme conqueror,
Darwin and consequent theorists
have always meant most suited to the day
and when the afternoon is spent
building box forts for grandchildren, then...

Why Grandma, what strong genes you have...

Making a life

So you build a society
upon the froth and initially all you want
is edible roots and grains enough
for through the winter's bleak

but in a society people speak
or snub one another
and people start to own things
acquire that younger lover
on the side

and people hide
or worse take pride
in their tiny peccadillos
and before long
the heap is sorted
every person in their place
every foot
firmly in the face
of someone underneath
and you smile and say you are happy
with the boots
pressing down.

Making a buck

I will trade these beaver pelts
for an new iPhone, I have I think
a tonne of them
with a blockchain and stored
in an envelope which I keep
beneath the mattress

and I earn them, of course,
on the gig economy
where nothing is forever
or even for the day
and why would you want a pension plan
why would you believe that you
or your nation
would ever last that long?

Coherence is not required

...as we stroll along the shore
salt seaspray in our hair
and the five star hotel is still burning
over there
the currency we bought when we arrived
might now get us shot on sight
and who knows whether the street kitchen
we used for food tonight
will still exist tomorrow
or take my walking boots in payment

but this is a great holiday
axiom zero still holds
we exist
and what else did you want?


NaNoWriMo 2023 - 3 - "Vonk..."


...the bird on the duckpond calls
the other inhabitants disconcerted.
"Vonk.  Vonk!  Vonk!!!" this individual blurted
and it looks like a duck,
walks like a duck,
swims like a duck...

...it is just the quacking that's awry
and the other avians wonder why
this singular bird cannot conform.

They probably do not mean it harm;
they just would prefer, if it must "vonk"
it would do the decent thing
and keep it to itself.


NaPoWriMo 2023 - 2 - Fresh orange

Fresh orange

I - Orange is an emergency services
colour, and here in the soft drinks aisle
of twenty-four hour Tescos

and three a.m., that 'incident' feeling
is happening again,
the faint subliminal questions:

Was that a flicker
of strobing blue?
I hear distant

walky talky distorty voices
saying "Lima tango"
they're always going dancing

in South America, I don't know why--
"Lima Tango <crackle>
the <squelch> <squeal> respondingover"

II - And orange
is an electric Kool-Aid thing
distorting our perceptions

with not-so-subtle misdirections
here, where we're still in Tescos
and the really early morning,

and nothing is true
beneath these too fluorescent lights,
beyond the windows night

fills the car park and light
of a different quality floods from
overhead and neither of these lighting regimes

is wholly real.  Neither illuminates.
Reach out one finger and touch
a bottle of Robinsons no apostrophe double concentrate--

it has no temperature
it has no shadow
you clearly can't believe

reports from the outlying regions

III - and legions of people
have striven, without the intent
of building this precise experience.

They've designed the unreal light
for an unreal store, the murmur of the air-con,
the muted swish of automatic doors,

the weirdly dampened non-echoing
of staff restocking, bleeping and stacking,
their footsteps directionless

on synthetic floor and you...
you are still staring at seven thousand
near-identical brands of orange squash, have

IV -  no saffron-clad Tibetan monks at hand
to guide you with Zen aphorisms and show
how in fact you'll never ever know

the real from the unreal
the being from the imagining
and how

there's always a observer effect,
the viewer is not separate
from the film and the only way

to know the world is to live it
as part of the motley cavalcade,
who--like the most primitive sea creatures--

allow the ocean of experience
to wash right through their bodies
not separate from minds.

Just let your hand find any old bottle,
brave the bleep-synthetic-voice-how-many-bags,
and leave.  There is still time, outside,

V - you should be out in it.


NaPoWriMo 2023 - 1 - once we're cyborgs

once we're cyborgs

once we're cyborgs

I am standing outside my house, 

unable to release the door handle!

Just put me through to tech support...

once we're cyborgs

twenty thousand Japanese girls

wearing the same left arm

as their idol

once we're cyborgs

the preface to fucking requiring

some tech-savvy, negotiation:

if I configure myself like this...?

once we're cyborgs

as many forms for people

as there are ideas of people

the whale, the tree, the somebody-new-four-times-a-day

once we're cyborgs


something's always quietly beeping 

and you never know if it's you

once we're cyborgs

I don't know...

flexes arm at fitting room mirror

...is it a bit too "Bond villain"?

once we're cyborgs

virus scanners

and ad-blockers:

life and death

once we're cyborgs


your father crashed at the supermarket again

can you go in your truck and pick him up?