Category: politics (Page 1 of 4)

DIESEL ON GRAVEL – 1986-1989 First Flash Fictions

Poems written in London and Oxfordshire. Published in early 1990s in Last Gasp pamphlets. Last Gasp was a poetry open mic I helped run with poets Giles Goodland and Bridget Kursheed in Oxford.

From 1986 I was heavily influenced by Raymond Carver and especially his book FIRES.  Indeed I attended his memorial readings event in London and saw Edmund White, Richard Ford and Salman Rushdie read in his honour.

I think this volume is the ‘lost volume’ as I was living at home in Didcot and totally cut off from literary world from 1988 until 1990.

I did do some readings through the Last Gasp group until I moved to Edinburgh in 1993.

None of these poems have been seen apart from in these hand made pamphlets.

Style note all hand written then typed on my mother’s old typewriter.

The last few pages of the document as pdf have originals and some uncollected poems.

The blue pen and line through a poem are from Giles Goodland when selecting for a pamphlet…I did not have second copies as everything had to be typed by hand …so here it is..

Diesel on Gravel…..1990

Diesel on Gravel PDF

Poetry in England Part 2: Poetry Flies

Damien Hurst cow’s head which by the way was FAKE too…..it is cast the flies hatched anyway from a container containing maggots and food in other half..a Barnum conjuring act

POETRY FLIES

I came from Oxford I didn’t go to Oxford
I visited Cambridge once I didn’t go to Cambridge
I do not have a nice tidy clique to accept my poetry
Even when I write nothing for thirty years

I didn’t keep writing when I should have
I didn’t stack chairs for the powers that be
Or fawn over some imperious drunk poets event
I didn’t give a fuck about academia

In fact I have no part of any club that would want me
I attack those who live their delusional poetic lives
Ever since I worked the counter at the Poetry Library
Where we used to call the acolytes and hanger’s on flies

This isn’t the news you wanted from nowhere is it
Telling you your half-baked pamphlet on birth pains is rubbish
Or that your fake working-class credentials can raise funding not talent
As the arts council analyses your diversity count and footfall

No the English Poetry world is a festering barrel of rotten apples
Oozing its bile over another generation of half-arsed creative writing graduates
Networking themselves to death for a pamphlet, a prize, a smile from above
Whilst the old guard from Oxford and Cambridge still hold the reins

Still decide where the research diversity shilling get poured like Maundy money
Down the throats of the deserving poor in their alms houses
Power resides in the quads and vestries the quiet places
Where no poet slams or wines, no poor sleep, no modernist cries

An era of fake poetry, fake careers, fake web-based literary magazines
A dance of the dispossessed and the affluent caressing their egos
Pretending that having a poem published is fighting evil
Glued to the bright fizzing screens like bluebottles in a butchers

Dropping, dropping like flies
on the cold marble slab of the publishers.

Emily Meyer the erosion cast of a severed cows head made for Damien Hirst’s ‘A thousand years’

Erosion molding/slip casting

The basic concept is that the subject is coated in a medium that captures the pelage, plumage, scales, hairs, etc. down to the surface of the skin, and all of the material not captured is allowed to rot away until completely removed. The hollow of the mold is washed thoroughly, and another medium is cast into it. The roots of the fur, feathers, hair, etc., that were once embedded in skin, are exposed inside the mold now that the skin has been rotted away. When the casting medium is poured into the mold, it grabs the exposed roots. The outer coating/mold, is then melted/dissolved/removed, leaving a perfect cast of the subject. The end result is a form of the animal, with every hair/feather in place as it was in life. It will resemble taxidermy, but it is far from it because the only material that remains is the hair/feathers and the medium that they are captured in. In theory (with lots of practice) this method can produce a result that is more accurate than taxidermy or freezedrying can ever produce, because it removes the variable of human error as far as anatomical accuracy goes. It also beautifully replaces the skin, which can be achieved with remarkably life-like results by using a flesh toned casting medium with the appropriate level of translucency.

An exceedingly good metaphor for the current state of the hollowed out dead body of English Poetry right now.

POETRY IN ENGLAND

wrote this many moons ago nothing changed
the description of Les Murray reading at the end is true

POETRY IN ENGLAND

There is something about poetry in England
That is awfully nay terribly Middle Class
Something not quite right in the hands of a worker
Sibilants dribbling like snot from the poor man’s nose

Wiping its sleeve on the tasteful tablecloth of power
Always waiting to be found out or at least held up
As an exemplar of the erudite working class chap
Even that Larkin fellow wasn’t a chav was he darling

Then the skirmishes with the Leftist proletarians
Or the Rightists in their towers quaffing champers
No never quite right, never accepted as kosher
Little piggy faces pressed to the literary crown jewels

In 1992 I gate-crashed an Oxford University poetry bash
Crept along corridors I had no right to be in
After another day serving the arrogant little sods
And after much prevarication finally made it in

Les Murray, sitting like an antipodean Buddha
Laughing like a Boeotian at the Athenian Temple
Then he slowly let rip with poems from Dog Fox Field
Words circling the pews like a fox in a henhouse

I walked up shook his hand said thank you

And skedaddled before they set the hounds loose

NORFOLK IN SPRING



The taste of salt on the tongue

Kids gone to uni now empty nester

Husband in marketing doing well


Always wanted to write

Met a small press woman

Now I got a pamphlet

Next year a prize

Discovering a new poet every day

over coffee in Waterstones

Elizabeth Bishop is amazing



I really struggled with words

But now I have so much free time

To devote to my passion

Words come easy

Over a prosecco in the garden


Wonderful thing is

There hundreds like me

It a real movement

Lovely to meet so many like me



Ever read Virginia Wolf?

She’s amazing

Never thought I could do it too

I voted for Brexit, regret it now.

New Poems: Dead Centre

POW camp and housing

DEAD CENTRE

If England was a target and you were looking at cross hairs
In the centre of the cross hairs would probably be Didcot
The most normal town in England according to the pollsters
The 11th worst place to live according to crap towns

My home town, the town my family still live in, die in
A town that should not really be there, a ghost town
Only there because the residents of Abingdon and Oxford
refused the nasty dirty mess that they called a railway

So Brunel bent the line through a village called Didcot
They been taking other people’s shit there ever since
First it was provisions for the railway and a huge depot
Logistics was invented there to provide fodder for horses

Didcot has been a place to move stuff through and to ever since
From the army barracks, to the brand new Tesco mega storerooms
Where my family froze in huge freezers as warehouse operatives
Work for people with nowhere to go or reaching the end of the line

It’s the town people joke about, Didcot Parkway, gets its mentions
A place to glide through on the way to better destinations
Poets and novelists mention it in passing never stopped there
Never ventured off the trains to actually see it, a place holder

A place fit for commuters and immigrants, CHAVs and drug dealers
No place that anybody wants to live in for long, or stay forever
M parents grave is situated 500 yards from their council house
Now partitioned and resold built on a prisoner of war camp.

Thousands of lifetimes wiped away now and brushed into the past
Like the post-war immigrants who found a home there that could last
From Poland and Italy, Germany, Slovakia and the death camps
They preferred the dead centre of everything to anywhere else

They escaped the cross hairs and started again.
Built new lives and blessed every day that was normal

Thrived and felt safe.
Normal. Ignored. No longer a target. Dead centre. 


FOSSILS: Dark Weather

The playgrounds were strewn with ash
Smoke still billowed from the underpass
Further out in the estuary steam rose
From the tanker now beached and rusting

Lights now only flickered around the estate
On every other day to conserve energy
Milk floats converted to run on steam
Carried bodies of those who froze

Up the icy streets to the crematorium
The one place left they still used gas
The old cylinder gas tanks long since
Deflated like punctured balloons

Horses and cattle roamed the empty fields
Looking for their owners and a bale of hay
But the engines that brought them
Had long since died and started to rust away

No-one now could remember how it started
One day there were fires everywhere
The pylons buzzed in the rain
Then it stopped, silent roads, empty skies

Hands scratching for fuel kept finding
Impressions of leaves and insects in the coal
For a while the neighbours chopped down trees
Built holes in their eco-house roofs

To let the newly built fire-places let out smoke
then the hard winter stopped that
By spring there was no firewood to be had
All the oil and gas had burnt out long ago

Slowly the bones started to appear
Bodies lying in the fields slowly
fading back into the chalky soil
Row upon row of chalky fossils.

GRASS CLOUDS : 20 years on the poetry bench.

Armitage has been run ragged at left back let’s see what the new boy can do…

I will be offering this as a free download from this evening as it Bastille day.
GRASS CLOUDS contains everything I have written as ‘poetry’ since I arrived in Nottingham in 2002 so about 20 years worth

Contains 80 poems and some illustrations. I will be reading from it on Tuesday August 2nd at the Organ Grinder Canning Circus with Neil Fulwood who celebrating his new Smokestack Press publication.

Includes the following pamphlets and projects:

Drifting Village Poems 2001-2011

Edwin Smith Commission 2014

Burning Books and Buying time 2017 – 2018

My Father’s Things (illustrated) 2019

At the Organ Grinder I shall also be reading from the new volume ‘Substitute’ which due in Fall 2023.





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