Saturday, 3 December 2016

Ninety Grand: a poem about Jennifer Boyle




She says that she makes ninety grand a year
as if this makes her something more than flesh,
as if the woman serving her is less
by virtue of her lower hourly rate;
as if the ones who wait are willed to serve
by something more than just dumb fucking luck;
as if the force that wills the gap she claims
to shout across were anything like just.
She says that she makes ninety grand a year.
She claims to be the victim, claims to be
the target of some fantasy campaign.
She says the man she voted for has won,
so there. She says we should look at who won.
So there, she says. We should look at who won.
She says that she makes ninety grand a year.
She says the man she voted for has won,
attacks as traitors those who intervene,
rants tinnily from my computer screen,
while in another open tab I read
her previous employer say it's been
six months since she was sacked. Her social sites
name no employer currently. She says
the man she voted for has won; she claims
that she makes ninety grand a year.
By nine that night her LinkedIn site is down.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Trump Top #23

In The Wicker Man, Sergeant Howie's virginity consists not so much in his physically never having engaged in sexual congress as it does in his absolute horror of ever engaging in it. A celibate to a twisted, unhealthy extent, he recoils in fear at all displays of human sexuality.





Any student of human psychology, particularly that of the aging white male, will have discerned in Donald Trump's ridiculous attempts to impress other men with tales of his pussy-grabbing exploits EXACTLY the same fear of real sexuality, a fear which can manifest as much in juvenile boasting as in reflex disgust.



It is this fear, which Howie and Trump both share, which makes them both the perfect sacrificial victims. And like Howie, Donald Trump - who has arrived at the position he now occupies willingly; who comes before us with the power of a King; who recoils in the core of his being from the true joy of shared emotional ecstasy; and who now stands before us revealed most assuredly as a fool - may well spend his final moments on this Earth screaming in vain as he burns. This willing kingwise virgin fool may yet require sacrifice if the harvest of the human spirit is to flourish.


That, at least, is one way of looking at it.


(Yes, this is a kind of homage to the gee-whiz-thats-weird-cats work of hyperparanoid conspiracy nonsense King-Kill/33 by bizarre cult figure James Shelby Downard. I'm not sitting in a room with a giant chart on the wall and a bunch of strings leading all over the place right now. OR AM I [No. No, I am not.]?)

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Donald Trump Is Not As Other Men


It's true though. Mr Trump is not like other people.

Other people can take criticism without turning into a whining, petulant, idiot manchild.

Other men are not so desperate to impress other men that they'll giggle like a schoolgirl and start making up bullshit about 'grabbing pussies' when FRANKLY, Donald, any woman who takes one look at you knows you're the kind of overgrown BOY who needs to be falling-down drunk to get up the courage to fuck.

Other people are smart enough to know when they're in over their heads, and not blinded by literal self-love to the extent that they cannot acknowledge even the smallest vulnerability for fear of being unmasked as entirely impotent, with the result that they become hypersensitive to any slight and lash out feebly at the pettiest infraction.

Other people managed to watch The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover without forming the mistaken impression that Albert Spica was a model to be emulated.

Other people look LESS dignified when you photoshop them onto Baron Harkonnen or Jabba the Hutt.

Other people pay their taxes.

Other people give their lives in wars men like you start, despite your family's wealth protecting you from horror.
Other people suffer while you masturbate, giggling, atop your golden throne.

Mr Trump is not like other people. Not at all. Other people, you see, are only human.

And Mr Trump is so much less than that.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Dog Walking

I hated that spaniel: it yapped and it ran:
but when that fucker's Dobermann
decided to attack it, I reached down to something
deeper than the ground beneath my feet,
reached up to something higher
than the clouds above my head
and made a noise somewhere between
an animal growl and Apocalypse.

The attack dog retreated. And its owner cowered, too,
whimpering apologies in concert with his pet.
I told him where to go. And what would happen
if he didn't. Big Man didn't hang around.


Why tell the story now? Because Big Men
who put their faith in dogs, or guns, or
Presidential surrogates, will never reach
much deeper than the Astroturf they stand on,
or higher than the Gimme Caps they wear:
but we can reach the deep and molten rage
which scours the mountain clean with tears of fire
so new trees sprout in rich volcanic soil.
We can: we will. We know
that we can kill.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Jesmond Dene

The thing you need to know about this place
is this place is a beautiful wound:
that waterfall was blasted
out of rock and out of river
at the whim of some rich man. He's dead.
We still enjoy the view.

All things are wounds in time:
there's screaming at our birth,
and blood, and terror;
fear, shit and stink
at both ends of the line.

Rough beasts, who think their hour approaches,
have multiplied themselves in screen-lit rooms,
circle-sucking on each other's saccharine, caffeinated rage.
But wounds don't smell
as clean and sharp as cans of Mountain Dew.

Your shock, my learned traitor, was exquisite, when it came.


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

If it goes down as we fear it may tonight...

In a weird way, a grim way, I'm kind of prepared for Trump to win. If he does, that means we have to accept the way we do democracy in the West is broken, dead and buried. It means that between the 2015 General Election, Brexit, and Trump, our masters have no mandate, our nations no legitimacy. From here no lines are drawn, to quote Tori Amos' song about the 9/11 attacks, I Can't See New York. From here, no lands are owned.


I think history will judge the election of Trump, if it happens, as a catastrophe on the same scale as the attacks of September 11th, of which earlier enormity Trump's political career, his resistible rise, is the grotesque result. How sickening has it been to see New York City's '9/11 Mayor', Rudolph Giuliani, shilling for this sub-mobster, this comedy tycoon from Central Casting? Yet there he is, little Rudy, the Grover Dill to Trump's Scut Farkus, cheering on the American Empire's nigh-inevitable Caligula. Who knew on that bright late summer day when dust bloomed through the intersections and he toured the wreckage - with Hillary Clinton! - who knew, then, that in fifteen years this assclown, this malevolent dingleberry, would weep, in his dank and secret heart, weep wishing for another 9/11, another chance to stand tall and have dignity. Well. You got your new disaster, chum: but it's left you with less dignity than Salacious Crumb.


You maybe got your new disaster, chum. Who knows? Clinton  - I prefer to follow the convention when writing about Presidential candidates and use her surname, rather than reducing her to the chummier 'Hillary' - may swing it. If women, LGBT people, people of colour, Latinxs, Muslims and others opposed to Trump turn out in huge numbers, if progressives turn out for her the way they turned out for Obama, then Trump hasn't got a hope, and his candidacy, and the reserves of White Fear it drew on, are a force being forced to the margins of US politics, not before time. In fact, even a Trump victory is arguably a rearguard action on the part of that declining species, the ignorant straight white cisgender male (and those pathetic people who, though fortunate enough to not share at least one characteristic with this lummox, insist on impersonating and toadying up to him, in the craven hope that closeness to the bully will mean taking fewer blows).


If. If, if, if, if...If wishes were horses...But the problem is that, in the past couple of years, I've learnt to see the evil side of every if I'm shown, and I'm endlessly proved right. I was a fiery spoken word activist once: but that was before I saw how deeply the claws of misogyny and rape culture were sunk into the scene I held so dear. You can only hear that so many rising stars aren't safe in taxis for so long. And I've noticed the gender thing, chaps: how mediocre male feature acts can guarantee packed rooms, but more talented women artists will struggle for audience. Even the most supposedly progressive scene, if you're a woman, can leave you feeling useless and surrounded. Men, even allegedly progressive men, will turn up for their bros in ways they don't for women. And that worries me. Maybe the much-bruited 'Bernie Bros' who would rather Trump than the first woman to win the Democratic party nomination were motivated as much, or more, by bad grace than misogyny: but still, they worry me. I fear that men won't turn out for Clinton; fear that, worse, some supposedly progressive men might, in the privacy of the voting booth, turn out to be Shy Trumpists. It's happened before.

I don't know. All I know is that I really hope, for once, democracy doesn't let us down. But if it has...Well, there's a reason I've been leaning on the 9/11 comparisons rather heavily in this piece. It's because I'm currently at work on the sequel to Incidents of Trespass, and parts of that story take place in flashback to 2001, to the weeks and months following the attacks. When I write about a time or a place, I naturally reconnect with my memories of that time and place and use them to colour the writing. And one of the chief memories I have of the period after September 11th 2001 was of a sort of awful excitement. 

There's a grim thrill to be had from the discovery that one's own relatively mundane life has been thrown into sharp relief by the malignant contingency of history. It's a thrill which, in all its nausea and giddiness, we Brits have felt since Brexit: as brittle, brief and brutal as a nitrous oxide high. But a high we can ride, for a time, as we've learned, if you hold your nerve. We might even, somehow, survive. 

That, and this - which I hope is more of a dark fantasia than a prophecy - are the best I have to offer. 



Trumpimandias

I met a traveller from an antic land
who said: 'A solitary baseball cap
lies in the crater. Near it, on the ground,
the wreckage of a portrait lies, whose frown,
absurdist wig and perma-blasted tan
show that its painter caught well how grotesque
life has become, when such unlifelike things,
mocked as they were, beguiled us to elect
this squamous filth which fattens on our fear.
The psychopath we welcomed as our King
brought ruin to his kingdom in a year,
and with it went the world. No things remain:
on every side the line of sight lies bare.
Look on our works, ye mighty, and despair.'

Monday, 17 October 2016

Feuilleton

When I listen to Inuit throat-singing I think about the arrogance of the Eurocentric mind (which is still, it must be said, in these terrible times, itself bigger and yet humbler than the Anglocentric mind).

I listen to dogs and for all the variety of pleasant noises they can make I know science has measured and concluded dogs can make only 14 distinct vocal sounds.

I listen to the colloquy of cats and understand that science has concluded they can make ten times as many.

'How sophisticated!' I say. 'And by comparison how superior am I, who can make so many, many more!'

Then I watch throat-singing videos on YouTube, and feel ashamed to have wasted so much of the noise I could make on speaking - or, at best, shouting or whispering - only words.