Monday, 15 November 2010

A future that's worth not fighting for

(this is a poem by Andrew Bindon from the collection "Ecstatic union - our own fantasy in preference to someone else's" - 2nd Edition is out on Friday.
Here is a link to the text on PoetBay: A future that's worth not fighting for - On Remembrance Day
)

On Remembrance Day,
I remember the civilians who had bombs dropped on them
I remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki and napalm
I remember the children who lost their parents
and the parents who lost their children
I remember the justifications and lies told by politicians:
old lies, new lies,
from “dulce et decorum est” to “weapons of mass destruction”,
all flavours of lie, new lies for a new generation,
lies for every occasion,
whatever kind of lie takes your fancy.

On Remembrance Day,
I remember the courage of those who have refused to take up arms;
the courage to face up to the stigma of cowardice.
I remember the conscripts who were shot for refusing to kill or refusing to walk into a blood bath
I remember the stupidity of generals
the ulterior motives
the attempt to control of the world’s resources
the complicity of religious leaders,
I remember the profiteering of arms manufacturers
I remember the evil perpetrated by people who were
"only following orders",
or just doing their nine-to-five to feed their families.

On Remembrance Day,
I remember the pomp and circumstance that makes it all seem so glamorous.
I remember the foolishness of young men,
who bought the latest marketing for state sponsored killing and world domination,
who got sucked in by slogans like, “U.N. peace-keepers”,
“global policemen”, “preventing genocide and preventing ethnic cleansing”,
“standing up for the weak against the powerful” (failing to notice that it is us who are the powerful, and them who are the weak)

I remember the naivety of teenagers
who always wanted to drive a tank or a jet fighter and didn't think about what they might have to use it for,
who watched Top Gun too many times when they were kids,
who came from a military family and no one ever taught them any better,
who couldn't think of anything better to do with their lives than join up and suffered from an education system that failed to help them find anything,
who instinctively knew that uniform equals pussy.

On Remembrance Day,
I remember the future we could have
if we all simply refused to kill
if we all simply refused to take part in the killing
if we only ever played violent games with people who had consented to play them with us
if we gave up the option of using our superior military strength to dominate the world's flow of wealth and resources
if we refused to rise to the terrorists’ bait
and refused to fall to terrorists’ level
if we refused to waste our lives getting sucked into petty fights over who has the best ideology
or the best brand of mythic god,
or the most right to a particular plot of land,
if we stopped trying to make up for our laziness and boneheaded inability to innovate,
by stealing other countries oil and other natural resources,
which if we only would put our minds to it we could quite happily live without.

On Remembrance Day,
I remember the courage it takes to oppose the status quo:
That unquestioned social agreement that dying in horribly painful ways while obeying orders merits honour and respect and gratitude,
when actually it only merits sympathy or compassion;
the unquestioned assertion that I and my community benefit from “freedoms” that exist by virtue of the sacrifices the ones who have died made;
the courage it takes to refuse to honour or respect soldiering or terrorism of any kind and certainly not when it is voluntary.
I remember how that marks me out to be ostracised and derided;
how our society is oriented around the blind acceptance that war may be a dirty job, but someone has to do it, and they should be respected for that.

It does not require courage to fight;
it only requires our collective stupidity.
What requires courage is refusing to fight,
and refusing to honour people who do.
It requires courage to stand for the resolution of conflict
without recourse to violence,
when everyone around you is saying that is not possible.
Real courage requires facing up to the risk of vulnerability.
Real courage is something that the world is rarely witness to.
But every now and then
somebody, somewhere, adds their name
to the list of the truly courageous,
and puts their life on the line not to beat an enemy,
but to take a chance on the possibility of a new world.

So:

On Remembrance Day,
I remember what we could do with our lives if we lived in a world where violence only occurred between consenting adults.
I remember what could be possible if we used our creativity to make the world a better place.

And I remember a future that is worth not fighting for.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Dulce Et Decorum Est - Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!---An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Right and wrong

For a while you thought you were right.
But then you realized that you were wrong.
But then you realized that you were wrong to think that you were wrong.
And then you realized that you were wrong when you thought you were wrong to think that you were wrong.
These days you have no idea what to think.
But that’s alright.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Theory and Practice

When Arthur realised he could experimentally prove or disprove
Albert's theory (that space-time is bent by the gravitational field of objects that lie within it)
by photographing (during an eclipse)
the light from a distant star as it bends round the sun,
he set off to Príncipe – an island off the coast of Africa,
to take the pictures.

Then he compared the same part of the night sky
when the sun was not there.

The greatest experimental physicist of his day
proving the theory of the greatest theoretician.

Practice and theory,
coming perfectly together.

So: that she
wants to get married in a balloon,
although I am terrified of heights,
makes complete sense to me.

After all it is closer to the stars
from which the key ingredients of our viability came
and from which comes most of the energy on our thin planet.

When 14 billion years ago the universe started,
it was either because there wasn't anything better to do,
or because it couldn’t help it,
or for some other reason or absence of reason.

But now 14 billion years later
her and me are up in a balloon,
the fat pair of us, a couple of random lives,
considering whether to promise to love each other until death.

I would love her until death anyway,
but previously you only had my word for that, whereas up here in the balloon,
you also have the evidence that I face my greatest fears
(that massive objects really do bend space-time),
in order to prove or disprove the theory of our love.

The light of a star,
the heat of a burner,
the weight of a sun,
the strength of a basket,
the shadow of a moon,
theory and practice,
Arthur and Albert,
her and me.

At the turning point where the light from a distant star,
passes around the sun,
there is a moment of complete stillness
where all these things hang in balance,
waiting to be proved or disproved,
while light decides whether to go along with General Relativity,
or stick to Newtonian Mechanics.

But just maybe,
once in a lifetime,
if you are very, very lucky,
and you just happen to be on an African island that lies under the moon’s shadow,
the universe will conspire in your favour,
space-time will decide that she does like being curved after-all,
and she will say “I do”.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Maybe

Not merely being
a person but being a
particular person.
That is the extraordinary thing.

But now, one of my sentences is missing;
I used to have a thought
or a phrase
or at least there was a word,
(I’m sure of it).
There was a word that used to live:
between here …
and here.

Now there is only silence.

In a leap of faith
I attempt to refill the gap in my thoughts.

Sometimes
when you step out onto nothingness,
the ground beneath your feet
is created by your stepping.

And here as I step out onto the silence
I discover the word that I have forgotten.

A god-like word above all others:
a use-mention un-mistake:
it is the word: “maybe”.

Not just living in a universe,
but living in a particular universe.
That is the extraordinary thing.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Games of chance

The love of my life
broke up with me on Friday
then on Monday I won back her heart
in a game of dice.

You see, we like games of chance,
she and I.
And sometimes when we have had intractable arguments
we have settled them with “Pass The Pigs”.

She was playing to be rid of me,
I was playing to keep her.
She played terribly badly; I beat her three games to nothing.
Although I have to admit that luck was not on her side.

It always did seem to me,
that she is far more than I deserve:
I guess sometimes in life
you just get lucky.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Let's make god tonight!

What could god be?
If you were going to choose something for the word “god” to mean,
what would you choose?

What if “god” was a kind of relationship
that we could have with each other?
A kind of ecstatic union?

It may turn out to be the case that
making love
is more a work of art
than it is a work of science or philosophy.
Or at least as much art
as it is science.

I mean making love in the sense of:
making god.
I mean making god in the sense of:
“Lets make god tonight!”

When we make god,
when you and I make god with each other,
we become one with each other
we become as one with everything

This is why
despite how some philosopher’s like to tease us about it:
people like me tend to say that
god doesn’t exist until we make her
in our relationships.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Silenced

If you do what you’re meant to do
That is to say: if you have children
(I don’t mean that you’re Really Meant to have children obviously)
(or not obviously)
(because "Who says" what you're Meant to do ET CETERA nonsense)
(but really we know Who Says)
(they all everyone they all do)
(so we know that although you can say that and be nice, we know you're lying)
(we know what we're meant to do)
(just like we know we're not meant to be FAT)
(even though it's supposed to be "ok" or ET CETERA)

As I was saying
IF
You do what you’re Meant To Do
And Have Children
Then you don’t need to worry, do you!
God isn’t going to forsake you for following your biological imperative, now is she!
(I don’t really mean God obviously, because I don’t believe in God)
(or not obviously)
But anyway
As I was saying
IFFFFF
You do what you’re Meant To Do
And Have Children
(not Really what you’re meant to do but what our biological imperative requires of us)
(but if that isn’t what you’re meant to do then what is?)
(after all if your parents hadn’t done their duty then you wouldn’t even have the choice)
(not Really duty obviously, because how could love ever be a duty)
(or not obviously)
THEN
You don’t need to worry do you:

Although Having Children may not be the right thing to do
It is certainly not the wrong thing to do:
No God in her right mind (not that she exists) is going to burn you in hell for eternity
(not that hell exists)
For following your biological imperative
And anyway you are leaving a legacy in the lives of your descendants,
so you can die happy.
You die, but They Survive.
So you can die happy.
Can’t you!
Yes!
You can.
Well done.

My point is that
IF
You do what you’re Meant To Do
And Have Children
THEN
You have the Smart Money on your side
Because Having Children is the Greased Shoot.
Why take that risk!
Why not just go ahead and do it!
Then you’re covered either way!
Either it doesn’t matter, in which case no problem.
Or it does matter, in which case you did What You Were Meant To Do.

It is those of us who Don’t Have Children who are the ones taking the risk
with their health and sanity and legacy.
They are the ones who really need to have their philosophy well worked out.
They are the ones who need Robust Philosophy,
because they are the ones who are swimming against the crowd.
No one is ever going to ask you to justify Having Children.
They will only ask you to justify Not Having Children.
So its the people who don't have them who need the Robust Philosophy.
See what I mean?

Because they are standing up against their biological imperative
(or else they are just Really Unattractive)
And refusing to breed
And what possible good reason is there for doing that!
I mean I ask you!
What possible reason could anyone have for Not Having Children!

Exactly.
Ok, yes, some of us just simply Are Really Unattractive,
And they should be forgiven – it’s not their fault, you see
But anyone who just isn’t breeding when they jolly well could be breeding
Is well
Is er
Is er well
What are they?
Remind me, can you?
What are they?

They are soon be become Silenced.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Restaurant notice board (haiku)

Thanks for lying and
saying the food was good. My
boss says I must ask.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

I hope I may be

I hope I may be
a poet. Probably I
am delusional.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Always the same poem

Although from time to time in my life,
I have told people I am a poet,
Whenever I have tried to write,
I only ever came up with One poem.

Its always the same poem,
same wretched poem,
same damned awful boring poem,
won’t leave me alone.

Says I haven’t got it right yet,
Needs another retelling,
Another new translation,
Into a different language.

Why it picked on me, I don’t know.
I hate it; I bare a lasting resentment.
Probably I should get counselling so the two of us can be reconciled.

I have a hunch I looked like an easy target,
When I was young, and all loved up.

It’s a stupid poem about everything, so no good for passing poetry exams:
They (the big they) always want poems about something:
S.T. in particular, S.T. very specific, as specific as possible, if not more so.
If you write about everything,

they never give you any gigs or prizes or slam trophies,
or readings on Radio 4 poetry please with Roger MgCough.
It’s a bit like life;
It starts with a dream, and ends with a choice.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Everything is (not) waiting for you

I was going to reproduce a poem by David Whyte and link to his web site, but then I saw on his web site that he would want to charge me $50 for doing so. (A poem or even an excerpt is $50.)

What the great man is! Oh well.

Not content with making thousands from his business lectures and poetry tours, he expects cash for even as much as a paragraph.

So if you want to read the David Whyte poem I was going to post (and it is worth at least $50), I would just go somewhere like here:
http://www.panhala.net/Archive/Everything_is_Waiting.html

Or in the mean time you can enjoy this completely free paragraph instead:

Everything is (not) waiting for you.

The price of our meeting
(not so much as a handshake):

fifty dollars.

Friday, 25 June 2010

There must be something

There must be something that is good about me;
no other explanation makes any sense;

it just doesn’t make any sense that I’m a complete waste of space.

Why would the universe go to all the bother of making me in the first place,
if there wasn’t something that I’m useful for?

… How to find out what it is?

Friday, 18 June 2010

I think that might be a pussy cat

I think that might be a pussy cat
sitting on the grass in the sunshine two thirds of the way up the lawn with its back to me
but then again it might be a bucket
(my eyesight is not so good these days).

The sun shining off its back (cat or bucket) is almost dazzling.

The tail of the cat, or handle of the bucket (as case may be)
curls round contentedly.
Not surprising if the bucket is in fact a cat,
but curious if the cat is in fact a bucket.

Either the cat or the bucket is sitting up straight,
which I suppose for a bucket is not extraordinary,
and for a cat not uncommon either.

The bucket, if it is a bucket, has an artifact,
in just the place that a cat (if it is a cat) might have an ear.
And of course, if in fact the bucket is a cat,
it is not surprising that the cat has an ear in that place.

In conclusion,
either the cat looks like a bucket,
or the bucket looks like a cat,
or the sunshine is dazzling,
or the garden is beautiful,
or my eyesight is a tragedy.

But does it matter if the cat is a bucket,
or the bucket is a cat?

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Death

In the moments before death
I wanted to say the truth
but I did not know what it was

How can we say goodbye
to this extraordinary
unasked for mystery
that pretends itself
into every ordinary
crevice of experience?

The un-asked-for gift
is now asked for back

Death standing over me with a scythe
and a clipboard
looking slightly apologetic
"Erm… excuse me…
would you mind going now?"

I look up into his deep blue eyes
I lean towards him and put my arms around his broad shoulders
He winces slightly
Then I whisper softly with my cheek pressed against his:
"In the moments before death
I want to tell you the truth
but I do not know what it is"

Monday, 17 May 2010

Comment about a comment

Its curious how we bare resentments
I mean its curious how I bare resentments
(and don’t expect I’m that unusual)

For example,
for example
there must be thousands of people just like “him”,
All over the country
All over the world
With their beautiful wives and beautiful children
And looking back on a life time as successful whatever
Having had 3 or 4 successful careers in 3 or 4 glamorous professions
And having done all this great stuff for the betterment of humanity
And
And
And

And I don’t hate any of those other thousands because
Because
Because
Because
Because I don’t know any of the those other thousands
I only knew him
And that was a long time ago

Like the English hate the French
And the Mancs hate the Scousers
And brothers are jealous of brothers
But not jealous of blokes they never met
Even though the blokes they never met
Had everything they ever wanted and didn’t get
(and more than their brothers did by far)
And so on
And so on
We despise the people we were closest to
I mean I despise the people I was closest to
(and I don’t expect I’m that unusual)

And here he is
Showing up on my facebook
A friend of a friend of a friend
Making a comment about a comment about a comment

Friday, 19 March 2010

The emperor's new tent

"Marketing is the quintessential art-form of the 21st Century." (Germaine Greer)

She … says … she’s … made … Two
"seminal" works: one a tent,
the other a bed.

Perhaps I should just leave it at that?

If I left it at that it would save me from getting in too much trouble.
Then again… (I lick my lips and wonder if I may say out loud what I’m thinking).

Well…
IT’S BOLLOCKS, isn’t it.
Well isn’t it?
I mean, isn’t it?
No, seriously, isn’t it?

The "seminal" she is talking about
spurt out of figurative bollocks.

Probably I don’t need to worry.
Probably no one’s listening anyway.

But just perhaps
This Poem could save our naked emperor of art
from showing his cock in public
(although I know you like seeing it)
(as well as his bollocks)

You see now how this
text could be: a seminal
work of poetry?

(Brackets … Because it’s also Bollocks!)

If a work of art can be invented just by saying it is one,
maybe it can be destroyed just by saying it isn’t one?

We all just slipped and fell into a paradigm hole.
Like a rift in the fabric of space and time.
But then we realized.
We woke up.
We came up for breath and realized that actually
we had momentarily lost our ability to distinguish
our arses from holes in the ground.

The current cultural agreement says that:
it all depends on who is doing the saying.
You and I (the regular cnts in the street):
we don’t get to say.
What ever I write in a poem,
there is nothing I can say that will dethrone Tracey
from her "seminal works" of art.

You and I (the regular cnts in the street)
we don’t get a vote,
or if we did get a vote,
the people with the money and the power,
would use their money and power to subtly alter our minds by means of
"public relations" / propaganda / marketing / the next big thing,
to vote for
[whatever it is that
will have them continue to stay in control over
as much money and power as they can manage to].

The current answer to which seems to be the lovely Tracey.

I know she sat in her tent for six months and whatever.
I don’t know, maybe it even is art.
I mean: live and let live.

But I have to earn a living too.
And (let’s say – just let’s say) I’m a poet.
(I know we can argue about that one too, but just for now let’s say: I’m a poet.)
So how about:
Just by saying so,
This Poem is the antibiotic to the cultural meme virus known as "Tracey"
and the bloke with the formaldehyde whose name I can’t remember.
(Tracey the meme, not lovely Tracey the person, who I’m sure Is lovely
… I’d love to share a flask of tea with her … in her tent… )

I’m not saying I’m not jealous.

But when Bollocks itself
becomes the medium of your art,
you have got to work really hard
to distinguish the part of art
which isn’t Bollocks.

In the same way that Edvard
liked to leave his paintings "unfinished"
I would like to do the same with my poem.

The only trouble is:
how can you tell whether a poem Is unfinished?
Perhaps this Is what finished Is?

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The universe is designed to be taken for granted

Last time we tested light, it behaved in the same way.
Last time we tested gravity, the apple still fell.
Maybe next time will be different,
but I doubt it.
The universe is designed so as to be taken for granted.

If it could not be taken for granted in this way,
every thing would be
so much harder
or that is to say: softer.

Nothing would be predictable.
Some things might get easier, just by luck.
Like if gravity had momentary lapses
at times of plane crashes.

But you'd have to really schedule it precisely
or very locally for that to work,
because otherwise you would save a plane load of people
while the other 7 billion of us
drifted poetically off into space.

When you think about,
gravity has it's balancing aspects.

And I rather suspect that it will turn out to be
Convenient (I'm not saying it was designed, only Convenient)
that light behaves in these ways that physicists don't as yet
entirely understand
(and reliably so),
because
if it did not,

the consequences would not all be so good.

When I speak about god, I am not meaning to suggest that she exists

When I speak about
god, I am not meaning to
suggest that (he,) she (or it) exists

Anymore than when I speak about love
I am meaning to suggest that I could hold love in my hand
and pass it to you

Or point love out in a police line-up

God isn't something less than everything
and if you need to see how hard it is to point to everything
or hold everything in the palm of your hand
you only have to try it

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Do NOT read this!

Do NOT read this!

Or if you must
make absolutely certain
that you destroy the evidence.

Yes it's true -
we like to mix our metaphors -
penetrate innocence
with some small piece of flesh
(perhaps grey matter)
that has no business being
stuck into places
such as those that
we like to stick it

But then what are we to do?

Living in a world where
new thought-crimes
are being invented every day

The guilt-ridden parent-fixated psychoses
of the ruling classes
mixed together with a resurgence
of medieval, mythic, and magic:
solidified into
a nightmare of regulations
as to what words you are permitted to use
and what order you are allowed to put them in.

Rules about what thoughts you can have,
which of those you are allowed to say out loud,
which you may be permitted to write down,
which ones you can publish,
the direction in which you are allowed to cast your gaze,
whether you are allowed to remember what you saw when you looked in that direction,
the view of yourself that you are allowed to present to others.

All of these things now belong to someone else.

In a community where thought became property,
where words and symbols and pictures and sounds
have more value than land,
a new kind of oppression is needed to ensure the domination
of the haves over the have-nots.

Long after we are gone
our universe will still be here
remembering every choice
we ever made

or else our universe will
not
still be here.

We do not need rules
for anything else.

This poem
will not
self-destruct
in five seconds.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Prayer - Carol Anne Duffy

Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.


Carol Anne Duffy, Britain's twentieth poet laureate,
and the first woman to be appointed to the position.

Carol Anne Duffy on Wikipedia

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

I would rather be popular than be good

I would rather be
popular than be good. But
I am not either.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Last of the mortals

What pathos is this!
To be here dying,
in the company of those who are the first humans to not die;
or else they live so long that death is merely
the last thing that they haven’t tried yet.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Pronouns

You and I are both
pronouns. Both of us stand in
the place of a noun.

I wish grammar would
allow us to be verbs. Then
we could fly away.

Maybe if we thought
softly enough, grammar would
treat us more kindly.


There is a second draft of this poem here: 2nd draft