INTIMACY AND STRANGENESS
After work, I ride the Circle Line down to Cannon Street. It takes, what, 15 minutes. I spend the time doing one of three things - re-reading William Carlos William’s Paterson, or gushing crude oil lines of poetry, or I nap that semiconcious, station-concious kip of a commuter. Every so often, I overshoot, get off at Mansion House, cross platforms and sneak back up the line - reading, writing or sleeping, all are causal.
Can’t see the wood for the trees. With poetry, it’s often ‘can’t see the words for the text’. The following ‘poem’ was heading for the sidelining of my tumblr, Piecemeal. It's a beached thing, a creature that shifts and stirs on the sands, but, really, it's just lifeless out of the water and it's incapable of returning. I’m just a callous beachcomer who pauses along the tideline to poke at it with a stick, making it flinch.
Sometimes I watch life like it’s tv. Stuff happening beyond my reach. And episodes repeat, the same thing over and over (remade, really). When I watch life like it’s tv, I am not a camera - I’ve no say in what I see. I will write down what I see: it’s not documentary, it’s not fiction. It’s a form of paraphrase. Things occur in black & white, I ‘audience’ that stuff, then write what I saw in colour.
No.2, back and sides. No.3 on top. First buzzcut I got, I was twelve. God knows why, I wanted a crewcut. Butcher Bates’ electric clippers swarmed this way and that, ticklish about the nape, harmonious behind the ears. It was a hair cut for touching, for stroking. All intimacy. The open air licked the exposed scalp. A keen style, unsentimental. How it staggered mam when she saw it. No.2. plus No.3 equals an effect (that is a rare achievement).
It's rare to write anything straight off, plop-there-it-is. Might happen, a poem drops, unexpected. Nah, it never occurs, there has to be impregnation (a collision of things) and gestation. Thought is continual frog spawn fertilised by life (yes, yes, it is frogs fucking). Myth says, a girl goes for a dump and she births a baby into the toilet bowl, she hadn't known she was pregnant. It might happen. Intent on making a shopping list, you shit out a poem. You're not always aware you are carrying.
The first murder I committed was of a bird, a sparrow. I fired from the hip. Phut, the air rifle spat. Phut, the little thing fell dead onto the pavement. Fuck, I was so elated. Such a sweet shot I thought. A Peckinpah of a shot, the kind we rejoiced in the Westerns we watched. We were hypocrites. We are hypocrites. The succulent violence of bullets balloon-bursting flesh that we sought in cinema, we don’t want for real.
There is me-an-dering to the thought behind the poem Sea Change. It was ‘for’ someone and it was about something, but that became inappropriate. Later, I thought it was becoming a fable thing. It wasn’t. It started to get so heavily allegorical. And, yes, it kind of still is, but. Now, it is this. I stuck with the one thing. The other thing/s formed an oxbow lake. The ‘she’ is still she because it was ‘for’ someone.
I bought this book Our Words, Guerrilla Poems from Latin America (trans. by Edward Dorn & Gordon Brotherston, Grossman Publishers, 1968). It’s secondhand, of course. For ages, weekend after weekend, we had attempted to get ourselves to Skoob, but we always got waylaid (mostly by pubs and restaurants); one Saturday, we managed to arrive, and I found this book pinched into Poetry. It’s an artefact of the political idealism and Pop iconography of the Sixities.