Showing posts with label spies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spies. Show all posts


TINAG Sound Recording

To celebrate the appearance of my poem TINAG in Selcouth Station here is a recording of me reading it, with a few virtual co-conspirators keeping tabs on me from a safe distance...

If you are wondering where this poem comes from, I was thinking about the difference between "gaming the system" and living life.  People who treat everything as a game are often difficult or even dangerous people.  Military/security organisations will sometimes treat the whole world in an overly game-theoretic way, sometimes just for strategic insight, sometimes embracing horrific outcomes for minor tactical advantage.

On the other hand, however, you've got to have some theory of the world...  some framework within which to pick a move...  It's just important not to see the whole thing as a zero-sum game: where the only possible victory is somebody else's loss.  The universe is not like that, and if you are a little person, without a lot of brilliant solo moves available, then non-zero-sum cooperation is the only way to go.


Time core initiation in...

I won't post this poem's text, because it has fancy formatting, and also is available here: Streetcake Magazine, Issue 51 - part 1 

However to celebrate publishing that, I recorded a performance of the poem with some simple sound effects, and that came out pretty well.


Sept 29th - The agency...

The agency...

...reserves the right to terminate its staff
at any time.  The agency requires
your secret pocket phone upon your person,
turned on, and with the flex not tied in knots,
for twenty-four hours in the day.  We may
at our discretionsubject our personnel
to physicals or medicals or days
mysteriously missing from their week...

...because, the agency...

...henceforth known as The Agency, at will
may, without prejudice, amend your friends
to suit its needs, inserting random strangers:
have you met "Denise"; and rubbing out weird Joe
who once you were quite keen to know and who
still makes you laugh sometimes.  We will provide
a set of field-expedient manuals
with all the humour you require.  We are...

...the agency...

and may place items in your Twitter feed,
your shopping trolley, or your secret heart.
Dating co-workers is required, but please
check codewords every time you meet, and sex
must be according to the book.  Ask for:
(or F-dash-C for colour illustrations.)
For clarity, the sum of agents is...

...the agency...

...and we express no preference for gender,
creed or colour; so neither should you, either
for your self, nor for your special friends.  Agents
need to respect the social order only
for psychological profiling.  You are
a professional intelligence worker:
no t-shirts, beanie hats, or jeans.  Which means
when you are undercover you deny...

...the agency...

three times, or else you're violating our
dress code.  We are ISO 5000 accredited,
a best-in-class spy-service provider.  You...
are a suit with a badge.


NaPoWriMo - 2017 - April 17th - Of tea and politics

The challenge here was a poem about a closed door.  I've taken that figuratively again.  The real door in this poem is glass and the characters can easily see what's behind it.  What's unknown is the door of the future, but it's slowly creaking open on disturbing possibilities...

There is obviously nothing.  Nothing whatsoever.  In today's world that makes me feel like this.

Move on citizens.  Nothing to see here.

Of tea and politics

They have now hanged the suspect spy
just outside the door.  He's swinging
from the cast iron sign
shaped like a teapot.  It creaks alarmingly.
This afternoon is waxing quite complex.
The police chief's voice still thunders from the kitchen.
He's on to topics wide as loyalty, respect for law,
and macaroons, and fear.  I beckon the waitress near
and ask:
Could I just have another scone?
The afternoon moves on towards an evening,
which no-one present dares to guess.
The hanged man stills.
I shall bury him, he was my servant.


NaPoWriMo - 2017 - April 12th - Recital room on the edge of forever

Blatant cheating now, this isn't one I wrote for the occasion, but one I've had half finished in the pile forever.  So I dusted it off and forced it to reach some sort of conclusion.

This describes, pretty non-literally, an actual evening of Elizabethan music that we enjoyed some years ago.  The unlikely characters listed are caricatures of the people in the audience (including myself, guess which...)

The 'king' didn't actually die, but did fall asleep, and the time-machine wasn't visible but you could feel the possibility in the air.

Recital room on the edge of forever

I This is not historically accurate.

The time-machine is off.
The lighting dims.  The audience contains:
one child, adhesive with toffee, snot and cough;
one king, broken as veins in his nose;
one faerie princess, warlike, but with boots off currently;
one sister, handmaiden, or clone;
one disembodied mind, chilling;
and full supporting cast of students, spies,
more musicologists than mind can face, journalists,
and surely an assassin.

II Diagram not to scale.

The ensemble assemble and arrive.
They sit, to some applause, the lutenist,
recorder player, countertenor, viol...
as archaic arrangement as ever was desired.
The needle on the time-machine is hard
against the twenty-first century, but now
they start to playThe lutenist perspires.  Flow my Tears,
as Dowland said and maybe they can flow
into some place where Queen Bess isn't dead
so much as lost around some corner neither mind
nor eye can see.  Perhaps we hear a hint,
musically, of a place that time misplaced.

III There is no history.

The King is dead,
the music must move on, journalists
mutter into phones, and recorders:
descant, tenor, piccolo flow smoothly
through musicians' hands.  Everyone
counts strings on the lute.  Students,
spies, and surely the assassin are flown
back to some safer, more-familiar timezone
and the needle on the time-machine
without seeming to have moved
is clear of the end-stop.


NaPoWriMo - 2017 - April 6th - You need to have a plan

You need to have a plan

You need to have a plan and its first part
must say the cutting edge of the state of the art
can't hold a candle to you.  Investors love
that short of thing.  Secondly, say you'll move
the goalposts, redefine the market, break
the paradigm, already have the stake-
holders saluting ducks all in a row
and never show your working.  Although, you know

that faking rumours of a prototype
can rocket-boost the most slothful share price
and drive your competition into fits
so that is when you sell off all the bits
then make some sort of statement in the press:
how federal regulation caused the mess.


Numbers station

A Numbers Station is a Cold War artefact.  A weird short-wave radio station that transmits nothing but some distinctive sounds (often low quality music) punctuated by uninterpretable sequences of spoken numbers.

Clearly the whole point is that it won't mean anything, except to the very few lucky people who've been given the key.  It's a cheap and very private way of sending simple messages to Your Man in Halifax.  Nowadays one just emails; via encrypted channels, of course.

None of which stops the numbers stations from having a cult following, a bizarre style of their very own, and hoard of conspiracy theorists who stalk them.

Pulsars are relatively mundane in comparison.  They're neutron stars: single atomic nuclei the size of small industrial cities; the remnants of dead stars that weren't quite large enough to form black holes; spinning spheres with surfaces moving at sizeable fractions of the speed of light; powerful radio beacons "chirping" so precisely they were originally labelled "LGM" for "Little Green Men"—which they aren't, of course.

So nothing to write home about, really.

Numbers station

A song of distant, static-abraded numbers
the mechanism unwindsmonotonic and discrete.
It had an edge once, but not now
so neat as the mind recalls it.  There's a gap...

...around the days she faked, in faking lived
and now has left behind.  Don't think about the boy
and forget the laughter pastedcrudelybetween the mind
and the point, too far to guess, where a neutron star spun...

...down, the definitive direction: empires, cricket balls,
angels tumble from the blue, and in doing so
draw nearer.  The man reached for her once; unknowing,
implored some sweaty comfort for the fall... pass the time, she builds a short-wave radio
from wreckage in the tracking station.
She turns the dial to sample languages; shrapnel
of news and song; the soul of the pulsar chirps...

...for a moment, and a tiny, tinny voice chants:
two, seven, five
two, seven, five
zero, zero, zero.
She grabs the code pad...

...which isn't there.
Something has ended,
she doesn't know what
those days are over.


Another perfect day in the paradise of spies

A spy, earlier to today...

An old one to kick us off.  I've always had quite fond memories of this one, plus I was watching James Bond last night.

This is quite a common approach to a poem for me, where I have taken a particular genre and am playing with its characters, tropes and clichés—in this case I'm not straying too far from the canon, but then it doesn't do to mock the people with access to sniper rifles...

Returning to this to add a SoundCloud recording.  My contact would only agree to this if we recorded him through a voice distorter...

Another perfect day in the paradise of spies

We are now in situation burgundy.

It can only be the opposition. A sweep crew,
specifically trained to keep me out in the cold rain
as I peer in some confusion through a telephoto lens.
Now he's left the room. I could never stand the boredom
if I did not have you ghosting later into town.

I am implementing "Brunswick."

In this emergency I break glass, clamber through
and make a pass across his desk. Nothing. The subject
too careful to be truebut his friends assist security,
sustain obscurity, grease eminences and slit throats
in the shadows of his back story.

The sparrows have all flown.

The documents are gone. I check-out from the roof. There's less
burden of proof in a case like this compared to any court
of law. I can afford no indecision, the industrialist
whom you'd think above suspicionis the only one
who knew. Check gun. Night-sight's loose. Tighten screw.

The package is lost.

I should have recognised the car parked, jet-black and evil,
in a shadow opposite the hotel. It was there when we stumbled in.
The lobby bright, our cover of drunken love, not entirely feigned.
There are no flies as yet; the sweat has not even cooled
upon your perfect body.