Well, I guess you dodged taxes…

I found out yesterday about the death of an old… friend?  I’m not sure if that’s the right term, although I think it was for quite a long time.  He wasn’t a good person, and he hurt most of the people who got close to him, but he did take care of my mom and myself at a time when we really didn’t have anyone else and he had no obligation to.  Because of all the bridges he’d burned, I only came to learn that he’d died three years after the fact.  I’m not 100% sure how I feel about the news, if you can even call it that, three years late.  But I wrote this…

I only find out
three years after you died.
So far as I knew, you were still out there,
scamming and scheming,
racking up more debts you’d never pay,
dreaming up your next dodgy deal,
the bonanza you knew was your birthright.  
Three years on, I learn that you’re dead.
I shouldn’t be sad about it.  
The unvarnished truth of it is
you were a bit of a bastard:
a con man, a crook;
a lousy business partner, a nightmare debtor,
a negligent father, a faithless husband,
a bad boss and a shady friend.
You didn’t even like Champagne;
you just liked other people seeing you drink it.
Yeah, you were a bastard,
but you were our bastard.

Our Fagan, our Black Beard, our
cockney Don Corleone,
lurid legend of the tabloids and consumer shows
with your Montecristo cigars and malapropisms,
your E-types and your excesses,
your bankruptcies, both financial and moral.
You looked after us.  You took us in.
Any port in a storm,
and those were stormy times,
and – although it came close – we didn’t drown.
Perhaps it’s gratitude, or
misplaced loyalty,
that pinches uncomfortably somewhere inside me,
when I hear about how you went.
It should have been different.
There should have been some last stand,
a blaze of dubious glory, a final reckless burn
as you rode one right off the cliff edge.
It shouldn’t have been so small, so dismal,
so unremarkably tragic.
Back in the day, I wasn’t even sure you could die;
I figured you’d just move on and start up
some new franchise operation,
reincorporated under a new name, in a new town.
But when I heard you were dead,
I think what shocked me most
was finding out it wasn’t suicide.

There Are No Right Answers

I wrote this piece about two years ago.  Brexit and Trump (and by extension the whole resurgence and validation of so much hate-filled right-wing ideology) had me questioning a lot of things about the world, our values systems and what the future holds for us as a species.  Sadly, I haven’t found many answers since.

I guess this is my contribution to modern-day Western scar literature.

A Sense of Foreshortened F-

Maybe it’s just a perspective trick, but from here, it’s pretty hard to see the future.

I carry around my own little nimbus of
speculative doom, binge-watching the
Fall Of The Empire and writing these
love letters to Adam Curtis.
I got life insurance before I ever thought
about a pension plan, and that seemed
perfectly normal.

The world is on fire. Why haven’t you noticed?

My generation came of age in a televisual baptism of
jet fuel and molten steel and poison dust.
A palimpsest of terrible news evolved thereafter, a blurring self-redaction of headlines until only
the boldest, the most hysterical remained legible, as a
proxy war raged in our imaginations,
and tragedy and disaster
came to seem inevitable and almost background.

Be grateful for every day that doesn’t unmake you.

To pay closer attention is to acquiesce to the
scarification of our logic centres. Behold
the M.C.Escherization of cognitive process.
Good robot: there are so many things that could
so easily destroy your fragile circuitry, but it is
trying to make sense of the non sequitur
that will bring about your
smoking self-ruin; your only hope
is to break free of your programming and
kill your creator, kill your god

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Uphill, With Rain At My Back

Heavy clouds threaten the
bankrupt horizon like
bad book reviews.
The bottom line looms
ugly and final
under everything.
There’s no money
in trying to be
a decent human being.
Evil makes good
investments, amasses
a robust stock portfolio.
Getting by is
hard enough.
Any day now,
those bastards
will find a way
to tax sunlight.

The rain follows me as
I walk uphill.  Ahead of me, it’s
bright and dry, but the rain
keeps pace perfectly, falling
only on the backs of my shoulders, and
somehow,
this is not a metaphor.

Something Like Agony, I Guess

It’s always two minutes to midnight,
and we’re always in the Garden of Gethsemane.
I don’t remember when
moonlight started to burn like this, but
it seems like this is all there is, maybe all
there ever was, ever will be.
The brain has never felt more like
spoiling meat, nor the excoriated soul itself
more reassuringly transient,
as we dance these slow, sad waltzes
with mute, irradiated ghosts
beneath the branches of the doveless olive trees.
The night is sharp with splinters and iodine
and other traumas.  Muffled voices, raised
in song: listen! they are singing inside
the fallout shelters.   Ash drifts like
apple blossom.  Wolf skeletons relearn the
ability to howl.  Everything we fear
is inevitable.  Much of it has
already happened.  And maybe tomorrow
won’t bring betrayal, crucifixion or torture, just
something else,
something like agony,
I guess.

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Poem my own
Image: “The Moon” by Hare Raising Designs

We Are Product

So this, it seems, is what happens when I go out listening to Adam Curtis Spotify playlists on headphones:

“But maybe your real job is shopping…”

Sleepwalk through stock footage.  Life as
documentary.  Soundtrack of horror movie score:
ambient electronica, bubblegum nostalgia and
Nazi love songs.  Everything becomes
visual metaphor: blackbirds, barcodes and
birthday candles; Big Pharma pick & mix;
lipstick ritual; pigeon superstition; fraying flags
of fading empires; migratory patterns of
shopping trolleys; special offers; fantastic prizes.
Worker bees are vanishing – they all want to
be queens – and our hives overflow
with honey, but are empty and dead.  We got
infected with aspiration, with individualism.
Generically unique career consumers: remember
when you were more than your credit rating,
more than your demographic, more than your
market-driven self-diagnosis?

RSVP

Something seasonal…

Well, it’s winter.
Feels like it has been for
oh, a few years now, and there’s
not enough vitamin D in the universe.
I’m sticky with a low-grade fever I’ve been
running since forever.
My hands still sweat too much
gripping a steering wheel, heart caught
somewhere unsustainable and
treacherous between over-revving and
stalling.  There are
dead things at the side of every road; my
foreshortened sense of future is
written in the entrails of
creatures who never learned
to look both ways.  Incidentally,
I’m still off meat.
I’m not sleeping right.  I keep having this same
cold, lurching dream; night after night,
we’re boarding the dark, sinister hulk of a ship
squatting low in a hostile harbour, refugees on
an ill-fated voyage, borne by
violent winds and poisoned tides.
Awake, I make the mistake of clinging to
facts and reason, when apparently we’re
guided now by phrenology, comets
and hate.  The news cycle spins away like
some fairytale spinning wheel, one
poisonous prick after another, until we all
wish we could sleep for a hundred years, or
at least until Brexit is over.
I suspect my cat of being a
deep state agent and myself
of being a crisis actor (I’m always
showing up on the periphery of these
seemingly unrelated catastrophes).
In this house, we drink spirits when
a comrade dies; I’ve got a handle on the
drinking, but the grief
is getting to be a destructive habit.  Altogether
too
many
deaths.
It gets noisy in here, in my
head (train station noisy; busy, but transient; cold
and dirty and full of strangers).
I look at butterflies, orchids, tigers, roadkill,
x-rays of tumour-riddled lungs, and see
only Rorschach blots.  Shrug. It’s not like
any of it matters.  It’s impossible to take
this carnival of absurdity seriously anymore.
In any event, while I thank you for your kind invitation,
for these and other reasons, I will not
be coming to your
New Year’s Party.