HARK AT HER (REVISED)

norman-cook-fatboyslim

 

In a pristine world I’d delete the previous incarnation of this post. This was never an immaculate accommodation. Really, I ought to quit on the poem. Is it even a poem? But, I was never that guy. I would rather be continually defeated than give up.

Like, when we were kids, somewhere in the region of ten year olds, we’d play this version of King of the Castle on the slide down the park. One gang would attempt to hold the summit against all-comers. It was pure violence. It was an important contest. Once, Stephen C*** instigated this new method of defence, he pissed on the attackers. Most dived for cover, but not me. I climbed the ladder of the slide, clang rung by clanking rung, with a lively weight of urine hitting my head until I was king. I was the soggy, stinking King of the Castle. I proved nothing, but my perverse resolve.

Here is another attempt at The Stool Pigeon. It’s a thin and flawed poem, but.


THE STOOL PIGEON

Hiya. I’m Norman Cook. My pseudonym is Fatboy Slim.
I’m one of them superstar DJ fellas,
it’s likely you have grooved to some tune I produced.
Yeah, I was in The Housemartins in the Nineteen Eighties
(we had a number one with Caravan of Love, yay).
Just now, I am the feature spread in this colour supplement.
That’s me, photographed there, posed on the stairs
of my home on Hove’s mega-expensive Western Esplanade.
They love me in Brighton, they fucking love me.

I’m looking up, out of this shining page into the face
of a nobody, a nonentity. Who are ya? Whom are ya?
He’s hungover-tousled and dewy. And he’s taking a shit.
I am hearing every reverberation caused by his sphincter
and each thump-splash. Has this to be the price of fame?
I guess so. He has torn me from the magazine rudely,
ripped me out and wiped his arse with my visage.
I am sinking in effluence. Mate, show a little respect,
purchase a roll of Andrex. Matey, I’m big-time famous,
I’m a talent. I am a someone. And all I wanted was
to make the everyday folk aware of the strain,
the burden that celebrity puts on me and my family.


HARK AT HER

norman-cook-fatboyslim

Don’t recall when I wrote this. Or why. It must’ve been one of those times at the keyboard when I want to write but there’s nothing purposeful occurring between my head and my fingers. I know the article referred to was something I experienced, maybe I just wrote down an experience. I’ve nothing against Fatboy Slim, I used to listen to his Big Beat. Anyway, I doubt I wasted too much time on this, it is what it is.


THE STOOL PIGEON

I am a broadsheet article. I am Norman Cook, I’m Fatboy Slim
and you have likely danced to something by me.
I am photographed, there, on the stairs of my Brighton home.
I am looking out, looking up at this hangover-tousled fella,
who is taking a godalmighty shit. I’m hearing every reverberation
caused by his sphincter and each thump-splash. Well, I guess,
that is the price of fame. And I am torn in half,
ripped from this feature on me, and I’m used to wipe
clean this nonentity’s arse (because the dull fuck
has forgot to purchase Andrex). Why is it I have to pay
for his dismal failings? Mate, I am a Chart-Topping DJ.
All I wanted was to make folk aware of the strain
celebrity has had on me and my family.


FOLK

abovebar

 

Here’s a revisitation, a poem from back in the day (reworked). The Above Bar in Above Bar is in Southampton where I used to live (years ago). It’s reportage, things stripped out from a trip into town (yeah, of course, it’s played out into something).


ABOVE BAR

There’s a bloke who won’t buy shoes for a girl (this weighty
not fat girl) of, what, ten or eleven. ‘Oi!’ the bloke hawks,
you best get your bitch arse back here now!’. But the girl, she deftly,
deathly, deafly turns about and walks. And the bloke,
he’s all rabid greyhound coursing after his daughter
(assuming she’s kin or something) and he’s got her
savage in the jaw of both hands and he’s tearing her
back through the air, shambolic with bad blood and shit.
I want to, I ought to punch this bloke in the mush. Yet,
I don’t (because you don’t, do you? I forget why).
A woman’s telling two women how she once nursed a bird
with a broken wing and when it was mended it returned
every year (well, it used to, she adds). The woman’s English
is rounded by a Nigerian accent, her laugh’s a Hammond organ.
I want to (should I?) kiss her loudly full on the lips (but you can’t,
can you). One of two lads says he needs a poo. ‘Shit, mate!
is the response of the other. ‘Naw, I’m for real, I’m totally turtling’.
A girl with evident Special Needs is telling her mum ‘mom,
I don’t mind, I really don’t mind, I don’t
’. It’s clear her mum minds.

A THINNESS





SHARPNESS OF DEW

there is a thinness
this wearing/worn thinness
that is not thin like a stalk of wild grass

(a stem of Meadow fescue wipes itself, oblique,
over the back of my hand as I pass,
and this startling, incisive lick of wetness
seems all that I am, for a second—
I am a sharpness of dew—an acuteness—
there is no thinness to it, no—
there’s only this cutting obesity)

but there is a thinness
such an apparent thinness
but it’s not thin like the green-milk reach of the bindweed

(those worming curls of new growth reaching out
from the chain-link fence, screwing upwards,
taking hold—a net of slow, slow elvers—
weedy tendons, ligatures of weft, garrottes—
so joyful is the bindweed’s strangulation
of everything within its reach
that, from the woodier stems, white flowers trumpet
and bunting its eked-out onslaught—
there is no thinness to its fibrous ambition,
the bindweed is a fat-suit about the chain-link)

there is
this
thinness

this wearing, worn out, weary thinness
that cannot be relied on
to ever again hold things together

but what is this thinness like?

it’s like
words conjoined without some glue of thought
it’s like
there has to exist some great, unadventurous distance
in between the very nearest things
it’s like
repetition is the truth, repetition is the truth
repetition is the truth, repetition is the truth
it’s like everything must be NEW
it’s like emotions are reliable
it’s like
we believe in nothing and in nothing we believe
it’s like

it’s like a thinness

it’s like there’s a thinness

a gnat’s cock, a cigarette paper, a smidgeon
keeping an immensity at bay.

THE JOY OF MELANCHOLY



Another Perry excursion. He is an effigy—sometimes, one to be burnt. He is a caricature. He abides in a black comedy, a life lived askant. I write of Perry as he writes of himself, blowing smoke in everyone’s eyes. There is reportage, yet it is fiction. Perry is no Everyman, he is painfully someone (who exists without the labour of breath or the glory of it). If anything, he is something.




WHAT PERRY HAS TO SAY
On the Subject of Melancholy


O, such an unhappy man.

A talc-sweet, spittle-bubbling baby
is cot inside, all incoherent limbs
and suckling eyes; a thing
of balsa wood afloat on the seas of what is.

Sir John Everett Millais’ Bubbles,
as wan and fretful a child,
is there, within, knowing his bubble
will be burst, that it cannot be kept.

There’s Gainsborough’s Blue Boy too
(as wet and assured, this watery slickness),
he’s standing, languishing, defiant with ennui,
dressed as some over-flamboyance of an adult.

There’s a Rebel Without a Cause,
A Tim Roth as Trevor in Made in Britain,
A Benjamin Braddock from The Graduate,
and a Johnny Darko corralled within.

O, such a very unhappy man:
so full of it: made up by it,
by this Grand Guignol of nought-ness,
something&nothingness, of slump.

Furled like a dog turd, he rafts on a futon
(an increasing flatness he rollers over
he can feel its ribs, the slats of the base),
he relishes the bloody business of going nowhere.

The window frames the close-by treetops,
shuddering, muttering with leaves,
and he wants to make-believe
he’s The Wildman of the Woods,

to emulate one Anthony Aloysius Hancock,
who forsakes tawdry society for self-reliance
on Hampstead Heath, who fails,
who cannot overcome himself.

O, once a happy-go-lucky fellow,
who would curl up into himself
like a diurnal plant at dusk
to listen to the lad himself (but,

things just seemed to go too wrong too many times).

The beeches puff, swell like iron drops
through milk, against the cloud:
he cultures an image of mould spotting
the protein gel in a Petri dish:

the pilose greyness of the fungal hyphae
spreading, merging, Venn diagrammatic:
those down-like spores breaking loose,
falling away, becoming drizzle.

O, such a miserable fucker.

Closing shop, his eyes shut (each a bearded muscle),
he speaks to a God he doesn’t believe in,
to the psychiatrist he doesn’t have,
to those who will never care to hear, and he states

what is the sense of being awake when asleep we can dream.

O, unhappy man, how you so revel in your unhappy self! You twat.

PARALLAX

Cover Image, '55999 and other stories': Alan Perry (Castaway Press, 1979)

Cover Image, ’55999 and other stories’: Alan Perry (Castaway Press, 1979)


There is a parallel me, kind of. Until I was sixteen, I was Markus John Lloyd-Perry (that’s what’s on my birth certificate). I made the decision to be known as Markus Lloyd (there was a hot coal inside of me that I wanted to hold out like it was a torch, which is a teenage means of dealing with hurt). But, there is always this Markus Perry me: it brightly shadows me.

And—it was (Uncle) Alan (Perry) who established the notion of a literary alter-ego (a word-selfie) that I could utilise in extricating myself from myself (navel-gazing, confessional, too fully idiosyncratic shit). Alan writes stories about Perkins, who is autobiographical (as in a biography of a self) (collected in Days of the Comet – Moonstone Press 2007). I’ve a mode of self/else named Perry.

Perry occurs most often in first drafts, a means of negotiating the first person I’d use but I want to avoid using. Later, Perry falls away and a poem/thought will rely on the self/character of its voice (that is so often assumed to be that of the author—are all the personae in a play the playwright?). The voice of a poem is really that of the reader (it’s a puppet-voice, I guess).

Anyway, here’s a poem that purports to be one of Perry’s. And, of course, it is one of Perry’s poems.


 

WHAT PERRY HAS TO SAY
On the Subject of Nodding Off

Nighttime seems to resound
with a tidal chivvying
of pebbles and shingle:
only, it’s just the crepitus
of the dual carriageway,
so close and perpetual.

The night is a conch you hold to your ear.
And, though it’s a form of silence you hear
(lifeblood coursing, the indelible pulse
of everything at once), it’s good radio
worth listening to.

It’s like falling to sleep to Lou Reed’s
Metal Machine Music.
Or, it’s like an infants school teacher
telling a story with a voice as lull
as a respirator.

It’s never the same during the day:
though days are as tidal
and they slap at the shore
with far greater brutality
(a bone-crunching butchery
of stuff going on).

In daytime, most sounds are disentangled,
made distinct, they rear up at you,
white horses that spume GBH of the lugholes.
It’s all Shostakovich.

Days, sleep is a dirt track
potholed with the sudden application
of air brakes, tortuous with kids
(overexcited or traumatised by life),
overrun by dogs slavering distress.

Daytimes, sleep is an edifice of windows,
a glasshouse, and stones are thrown
(half bricks of street greetings, oi, oi!;
breeze blocks of drive-by subwoofer;
slingshots of police helicopter;
loads more, putting out the windows).

Yet, in the day, before you think to take sanctuary in a kip,
all you will have heard is what’s been spoken at you,
the soliloquy of tv, the pings and beeps of servile electronics,
people saying things you’re meant to want to know:
all the rest, the synchronous, the oceanic noise of it,
is filtered out. Days, you’re left alone, a solitary being.
Nights, you are reclaimed by the whole, by the sum of being.

WHO SAYS THERE’S NO GOING BACK

Crayon

So, there’s a shortcut to a folder named ‘Poetry for Site’ on my desktop (digital one). There’s a folder in my Documents named ‘POETRY’ – I like to SHOUT top level categories. Inside POETRY is a subfolder named ‘Archive’, which is a digi-version of a paper archive that fills the chest we use for a tv stand. The archive on my computer contains poetry going back to 2006 – some (once) thought finished poems and incomplete drafts and redrafts and scraps. Like I raid notebooks, I raid this folder when desperate or nostalgic or curious (about that former self they captured).

So, the other night I was compelled (by lack) to root about in ‘Archive’ and I decided it was time to revisit the bulk of leftovers it contains. See, I was thinking I ought to write something akin to a manifesto or excuse or something about why poetry?like, why do I write poetry? (And I intend to write that thing, eventually-soon.) But, then, I thought going back to this dead-pool of work and wrestling the before into after might present me with some actual proper understanding of what poetry is (to me)(by extension, what poetry is).

So, here’s No. 1 of this thing I’m doing now. [BTW this wasn't a difficult transaction, I saw me now (filled with this premise I'm blathering on about) quite obviously in the original].




A
is for
B
is for
C
is for

A Blue Crayon

A scrawl being scrawled opposite the bathroom door on the landing wall (behind this scrawl: wallpaper; finishing, brown and scratch coat plaster; brick; and cavity, only broken by wall ties)(no spray foam insulation, it’s only nineteen sixty nine, it hasn’t caught on)(a cold-sweat of air drawls through the void that quilts the house (a down of emptiness between inner and outer walls), a cavity of draft-weeds of dust and fibres snagged and held)(pavilions of cobweb)(electricity mains cable; mains gas; mains water)(harvest incursions by field mice, the hard, sharp pencil lead dot-dash of rodent feet, the bucktoothed jaw-jaw of them on stuff) the skin of English Bond that holds in what is home (in nineteen sixty nine to a three year child (who’s voice has become wax and says the bulk expanse of this, this chill surface against the motion and trace of this colouring fist is IT, the whole ABC of things

and the child goes on to scribble life, a life,
living ABC, a blue crayon for a mind.

XYZed.


SYNONYM

IMG_1493 - Version 2


[SYNONYM]

Tell you what, there’re things you’ll never know,
you can never know. Not the redacted stuff,
the blacked-out or the struck-through,
that stuff’s dumb, a hollering mutism,
and always found out. There are unknowable things.
Nothing to do with mysteries, they have ring pulls
(often these cans of pop are over-shaken and burst
all by themselves). It’s stuff I know that you can’t
and it’s stuff you know that we don’t.
I am confined by all the thing you will never know
as you (all) are confined by things I will never know.
Still, we must attempt to be understanding,
try to understand everything.

*

Yeah, what occurs in this street at night
dumbfounds the streetlights
and they gawp and then appalled they fail.
So what occurs late at night in the street here
happens in hushed tones of moonlight,
words that nobody asks to hear carry
and sometimes they pinch out the stars
with spit-wetted fingertips, such words.
What occurs in this street at night I don’t know,
it happens and words are said and it’s dark.


THE OTHER COUNTRY

instamatic

The Other Country is the past. But, here, the Other Country is the country. The country is a chunk of my past. The following poem is extant of that past. It was ‘commenced’ way back, part of a sequence of poems featuring John. I’m still revisiting these works, some already published, others struggling for ‘finish’. Recently, one of these poems became an element of From Notations Made On a Single Page included in the post Navigating Absence

The wrestling match that’s the continuing redrafting, attempted resolution of this poem is one of ‘self-understanding’. That’s my learning what I’m kneading towards with the knocking back (and fore) of the piece and the unearthing John’s reliance on photographs (as a mode of self-knowledge, of confirmed identity). Something like that, as vague/confused as that.

This is the most recent visitation I’ve made on the subject (nebulous subject).



KEEPERS

John seems to need photographic evidence of me working.
He has a Kodak Instamatic he still uses. ‘Hold it!’
John says as I’m about to land a blow on a fencepost.
‘Hold it’ he restates. ‘Jesus Christ, John!’ I plead,
the sledgehammer stuttering, wrenching at my shoulder.

John has his photo taken with every piece of equipment he buys.
So, there’s John lumberjack’ing with his precious Stihl chainsaw.
There’s John playing at falconer with a plastic decoy of a hawk.
There’s John with long-handled lopping shears cropping back
a branch that overhangs the pen. Each time, he will spittle-slick
his gun-blue hair and stand buoyant with ownership, but unsmiling.

John always wants photographs of the two of us together.
He’ll wedge the camera someplace, set its timer
and capture us (amidst a foam of pheasants
or strimming ground elder or stacking logs, whatever).
John stares into the lens and he is deadpan, red-eyed
from the flash in all the prints that Boots return.

John has a set of photographs of his father taken for Country Life
before the last World War. The Gaffer’s won a Keeper’s Cup
for shooting. One image shows the Gaffer’s exemplary stance
as he takes aim at a bird out of frame. Another image
is of the Gaffer receiving his trophy from King George VI,
both looking serious-minded (behind them a crowd is cheering).


THE FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER METHOD

Frankenstein's_monster_(Boris_Karloff)

So, this poem is a Frankenstein’s Monster. It’s called Elementary because it’s made up of bits and bobs, scratches of poetry. The greater parts were detritus from bus journey’s about Sarf London, so that’s the syrup that catches flies of other stuff. It’ll stumble about for a time and start to fall apart, limb by limb. It has very little battery-life. But, it’s a means to bind what I don’t want lost.


 

[ELEMENTARY]

 

Here is all, the whole lot of it:
here and there and elsewhere,
that’s you and me included.

Here’s all of it, the complete whatever.
And, aw gawd, there’s shit-loads

There’s all these bared knees and bared shins,
and clench/unclenching calves of bodies
ascending to the upper deck of the 180 bus
to Belvedere (Industrial Area) that mean
come Sparta Street we are jammed to capacity.

And it’s deep July and ‘man, it’s well too hot’,
that’s what someone iterates, and such thinnesses
and absences of fabric can’t help but spew out
every idiosyncrasy of flesh to writhe and slap
and tickle and ruck about us:
we’re an orgy of sardines in brine in a sardine can:
and all as vivid (as one) as the Halal Meat & Fish City
back there in Lewisham (with all of its sheen
and guts and pimples: those lively handshaking smells:
its near abattoir-ness) and

There’s a preschool kid and her head is searing,
an eye-watering flare comes violent off her sequinned cap
and she is blinding almost everyone to almost everything
with a brilliant carelessness, she is phosphene,
this itty-little sun right in amongst us. And there’s a boy
who is cheating on his Ramadan fast with a box of Maltesers:
the Marlon Brando-as-Don Corleone of (stuffed cheeked) non-observance:
a Maze-style ‘dirty protest’, his chops, mitts and jubbah shitty
with melted chocolate and.

All of it is putty in the grip of everything,
and this ticklish succulence is extruded
between the fingers of a forming fist
(closing tight as a pit stone)
(snug in the pulp of it all packed about).

Grrr. GRR-UH! this man gravels, his hands murderous
(they are startled rooks outburst from bosky cover)
and knifing, throttling, eviscerating the air about.
He’s a blood-splattering frenzy of gesticulation.
Grrr-RAH! Same sharp-suck sourness of an electrical shock
that’s said to be discharged by someone’s dance steps
on the topsoil of your final resting place. GARR-RAH!

Going down along the Woolwich Road, what’s out there
that hasn’t yet been collapsed for dust, buildings-wise,
is a scrubland of (an indeterminacy of) weeds (of brick
and of concrete), decades of light industrial units
infilled with homes (left for dead, dead flies on a windowsill),
there’s an extant Victorian pub and a 1930s shopfront
and the granite-deadpan of a block of 1950s flats and,
beyond, just beyond, it’s all termites and termite mounds,
development (Bugsby’s Way), all super-superstores and outlets
battling subtly like Godzilla versus Mothra versus Gamera
versus all the other Kaiju and

All of it talk resounding about like the Thames, tidal and ripe
in its ebb and flow, rollicking and singsong, and
‘I will tell you how it’s going to be: same as it has always been’
is something said by some somebody, and ‘Oi, oi!’ is called
(it’s called and interjected and pointed) intermittently

‘You know, the spaceman in a tin can:
too young to remember him, I bet:
What’s his chops and the Spiders from Mars:
he wrote that song (it’s a god-awful small affair
to the girl with the mousy hair), he wrote that
on the bus from Beckenham into Lewisham
on the way to buy himself a shirt.

Now, Pat Roach was aloof, impossible to get to.
Big Daddy, Dennis, Brian, the Crabtrees,
they were just fine. and Mick McManus.
and Jackie Pellow. Brian Glover,
he was a funny fellow. They all wrestled
there at Lewisham Town Hall.
And The Spangles. And Judge Dread.

Naw, never a Mod but a Rocker.
First music video ever, you know what it was.
it was Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen.
Galileo, Galileo, fandango. Poor boy,
rich family. Pulled the trigger, now he’s dead.’