the convenient fictions
that constitute the truth
can carve intractable issues
that remain unresolved
during a lifetime
of kitchen sink dramas
for everyone you meet
will take a bite of you
but the world
will swallow you whole
I turned a new leaf
shed my skin
sloughed of my previous
and wiped the slate clean
the new and shiny
appeals to my ego
worldly still, but clean
sleek and natural
in mint condition
without the reproach
of my erstwhile peers
I discarded the things
that brought me only sorrow
but I just can’t forget
what’s foremost in my thoughts
that I’m still a fuckin’ leopard
even though I changed my spots
It is perhaps a measure
of my perversity
that I share no faith
nor take comfort in
the great hereafter
because facts are so very rare
and immutable in nature
whereas books are all fictitious
whatever their intentions
would the author
please come forward
to defend his words of stone
and provide just one eye witness
to confirm we’re not alone?
I confess I prayed at times
of quiet desperation
but held low expectations
of divine intervention
the tales of baby Jesus
the promise of resurrection
were made so long ago
and have suffered much revision
it’s always been this way
through revision and division
since men first conceived of gods
and devised the first religion
I don’t fancy yours
that’s not the worst of it
no one twisted my arm
I was hostage to opportunity
awakening in a stranger’s lair
there’s a sense of shudder
in these awkward instances
with guilty steps
and a vague feeling of failure
I left shallow footprints
in yet another world
The narrow bandwidth channels acting as conduits for the data colloquially referred to as knowledge have become irrelevant. However, it is deemed to be in the national interest to close down these channels permanently. Therefore steps will be taken to sanction service providers who facilitate the dissemination of this obsolete data. Cooperation in this matter is mandatory.
The proliferation of infotainment channels and customised news sites has saturated the market and provided unforeseen opportunities in social stratification. Engineers now estimate that by 2030 they will have devised programmes that could demonstrate a compliance ratio of ninety percent or over.
In recent times those devices approved by government block the frequencies preferred by the deviant and the curious in their research activities. They divert unhealthy enquiry to focus on approved messages known to assist in the development of balanced and contented personal schemas.
Operating under the understanding that knowledge is power and ignorance is bliss the authorities plan to erase one trillion bytes of information from the public sphere in an effort to spread happiness and contentment globally during the next decade. Through the selective erasure of dangerous and erroneous data government will engineer a new universal hegemony which will enhance social cohesion while reinforcing traditional patriotic ideals.
The war on terror was once conceived of as a battle for hearts and minds, but today we realise that it is in fact a question of data storage and retrieval. The synergy of imagination and commerce has fuelled a technological revolution that will see the entire population digitised by the year 2020 – when hindsight is scheduled to replace nostalgia. There is a clear distinction between the two – the first is salutary and the latter is merely a form of romanticism. Under the new system the past will be fixed in time and substance which will require the adjustment of millions of citizens to a synchronised collective experience. This revolutionary innovation will make us all safer because it entails the regulation of history through scientific management. For example, under the new system everyone will remember and share exactly where they were on 9/11 - establishing alibis for millions of people while exposing divergent memories in potential conspirators.
Law enforcement will be revolutionised when memories are shared in data clouds. This will necessitate the introduction of legislation making the intention to commit crime an offence – an innovation currently being tested in anti terror legislation across the globe. It’s projected that actual crime will be obsolete by 2030 and so will the police. Information sharing means that we shall in effect police ourselves. Concerned citizens will present themselves voluntarily to the department of corrections to have their data adjusted according to the degree of their deviance. After all no one wants to deviate as normative values are set by government to keep us happy and safe.
There will of course be a built in degree of permissible variance which will simulate individuality because the synthesis of individuality has always been a significant component in the generation of distinctive and unique identities. Of course even these parameters can be adjusted to benefit the integration of the individual into society, or in the interests of society as a whole.
It is projected that the greatest gain to be made from digitisation will come in industrial relations. The introduction of general collective bargaining will mean that deals are made at the national level and will apply to all. Data manipulation will ensure the greatest possible satisfaction with the outcomes of these negotiations. Issues such as pay and working conditions can be dealt with in a way which fosters mutual respect and good will while maintaining the highest possible profit margins.
A national agreement shall be drafted and the agreement committee will arbitrate in all disputes and negotiations. This solution is only made possible through large scale data manipulation. The Data Manipulation Act provides agencies with the widest possible remit to alter facts in the national interest. In this way the spectre of industrial action shall be consigned to a place in history where strikes and workplace disputes have never existed in the first place.
The thorny issue of intellectual property rights shall be resolved by digitisation. Intellectual activity will no longer be the province of the individual, but shall belong to the collective under the guardianship of the service provider. These and other measures will facilitate the efficient management of individuality, weeding out deviance and encouraging the collective mindset. Social engineers predict that by the middle of the century excessive individuality will be repugnant to most right thinking people. By that time, however, medical science will have developed more effective treatments for egocentric and eccentric deviance making such instances increasingly rare.
As with the introduction of any new technology the science of data manipulation shall throw up challenges and opportunities as yet unforeseen. There may be novel and innovative applications in the military, for example, which will protect our fledgling utopia from foreign powers, or terrorist organisations hostile to our way of life. We know that other nations are researching the possibilities of data manipulation for nefarious purposes of their own. That is why we must forge ahead with our plans – adjusting the data of misinformed objectors – in order to protect the interests of all our citizens and the welfare of the nation for generations to come.
Perhaps I was reckless, but it was one of those fight or flight situations and I don’t run too well these days. I smelled trouble; he filled the room with its stench. Men like that don’t take prisoners – they measure their worth by the power of their fists and treat violence as a sport. Yes, I struck the first blow and I struck the last one too. There is no Christian in me – I don’t turn my cheek just to get it hit and I don’t wait to see what will happen when I sense danger.
You say I’m a savage and maybe you are right, but there is a time and place for savagery and it’s self preservation that motivates mine. I’ve heard self defence described as a noble art, but my concerns are more practical. I’ve seen what men like that can do to defenceless chumps and long ago decided that it would not happen to me. I’ve never hit a chump, but I’ve never been one either. I’ll run from a fight if that is the safest option; only a fool fights for pride. But I’ll stand my ground when cornered and there is no other way out. I did not invent violence and I do not condone it, but I won’t have it inflicted on me if I can prevent it. This world is full of savages and that is just a fact. I’d rather you considered me one of them than become one of their victims.
In my youth blood tainted carrion birds stole my grub stake and poisoned my prized ambitions with unrefined cynicism. I would have turned the other cheek given the opportunity, but they had forestalled that option through brute ignorance. So I weighed in with my best restricted codec and they took flight before my grievous demeanour. I gave those fucking vultures a piece of my mind, something I could ill afford at the time. Those cut price scavengers thought I was crazy, but that diagnosis had been revised years before. I’m not crazy – I just have alternative thoughts. There is only one degree of separation between you and I. That’s the depth of a mirror and the exact angle of its reflection. That’s why I know that you’ll recognise the truth behind what I’m about to tell you – because every word of it is true if you only put a little imagination into its discovery.
I recall a man I met in China many years ago. I was immediately suspicious of his energy, he was radiating some awkward vibrations and his eyes lit up all Confucius when he first spied me. He told me I’d travelled far – a less than inspired guess as far as I was concerned – after all I’m not Chinese and I had to come from somewhere. I told him not to worry because I had a return ticket.
“That’s what you think” he replied.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.
“Everything changes and we never return to the same place we left behind” he explained.
“Leave me alone” I said, as I tried to squeeze past him.
“You are alone.” he replied smiling.
“Who are you?” I demanded.
“My name is of no consequence” he answered.
“That’s a strange name” I quipped all smug like.
“These are strange times” he answered.
He explained that he was a holy man and that despite appearances he was very, very old. He had, he claimed, travelled the world for many years in his quest for enlightenment. However, on his return to China he discovered that everyone he had ever known was dead. It was only then, when he was utterly alone that he had his great epiphany and the true nature of the universe was revealed to him.
“And what is the true nature of the universe?” I reluctantly enquired.
“The universe is indifferent” he answered.
“No shit” I responded.
“No shit” he confirmed – still smiling.
I gave him twenty bucks and bid him good afternoon before making my exit, but not before he told me that one day I would truly fly – just as the birds fly.
“But first you must find your wings my friend – first you must find your wings”
I paid little heed to what he had said. He was obviously just another vulture out to fleece unwitting tourists. So I simply carried on with the mundane and the inconsequential giving no thought to such flights of fancy. But as the years went on I grew ever more dissatisfied with my lot in life. I longed for adventure and new experiences. I remembered what the ‘holy man’ had said about flying and I started to wonder where I might find my wings.
I began by observing birds and trying to assess what size and shape of wing a man might require for flight. I made a few drawings, but did most of the work in my head. I built a workshop in my mind where I would go in private moments to labour on my secret project. Like Daedalus before me I would build models of my designs and test them against the wind. I would assess which wings gave better lift, or greater manoeuvrability, or allowed me to glide for longer. I simulated test flights and trials through which I devised instruments and control surfaces to help keep me in the air. By this time I was flying regularly, but only for short periods of time. I discovered that the flying is surprisingly easy – it’s the landings you have to worry about.
Eventually, through much trial and error, I found the ideal wings for me. The moment I put them on I knew that at last I had the apparatus which would see me conquer gravity to fly like a bird. The beauty of flight is indescribable and the freedom it affords immeasurable. I am a great Albatross combing the oceans – I’m a Swallow dancing acrobatically through the air – I’m a Falcon racing towards the ground in a killing stoop – I’m a Condor soaring high above the Andes.
Some might say that I’m running away from the realities of life on the surface of the Earth – and they would be right. Existence on terra firma seems tedious and uninteresting compared to a life lived on the wing. Now more bird than man I’ve thrown off the shackles of gravity for the euphoria of flight and the freedom of the sky. I urge the reader to ditch the humdrum and the banal to find their own wings and join me there.
Back in the day punters flocked to sample our merchandise; such was the purity of the kit we were peddling. Much money was made, but many lives were lost in the game of dragons. Those were exciting and desperate days and while it was a swell time for some, it was less so for others. They say that nature is magnificent and beautiful, but it’s also ugly and cruel. We were predators and parasites who killed for profit and felt no shame; for we were tainted with death and steeped in our own ignorance. Our mantra was ‘buyer beware’ and we disavowed the consequences of our actions, blaming the victims for our crimes. What else could we do? For us self knowledge demanded a coin too sharp to bear.
They say that every action is the cause of an equal and opposite reaction, and that this is a law of nature which is fixed and immutable. Some call it karma and assert that what goes around eventually returns to bite us on the arse. This could explain why so many players find themselves hoisted by their own petards. Those who pursue the dragon often find themselves devoured in its flames. I’ve seen so many wise guys reduced to beggars by the crystalline or through liquid fire. No one is impervious – we each carry the seeds of our own destruction.
I myself am not immune to the edicts of causation. My own pathological indolence seems to stem from an apathy born of failure. It appears that everything I have set my hand to had some unforeseen consequence and consequently turned to shit. I have turned over new leafs only to find corruption concealed within; familiar themes expressed in novel patterns, mistakes written large on the pages of my life. I know the story and I know it well. I can’t erase the past any more than I can ignore it and I don’t know that I’d want to. The final word – the most damning indictment – is that given the opportunity I know full well that I’d do it all again.
Down the hatch
Great draughts of liquid corruption
Have burned my gullet
And scourged my brain pan
It’s a lethal anaesthetic
And a poor substitute for euphoria
I should be so lucky
I doubt that I’d manage
With my degree of spin
My companion crashed out
a couple of hours ago
I think she drinks too much
but that’s no business of mine
No oblivion for me tonight
I’ll see this one out alone
The bottle in front of me
Will soon join the one behind
And I will greet the dawn
With four sheets to the wind
And more drink on my mind
they frolicked in the warmth of the sun
until they shone like children
then they struck out for the summit
and beckoned me to join them
but I simply could not follow
no, not with my feet
I’ve got my tourist face on
all curious confusion
and hopeful mistrust
the world is tilting south
so I strike a jaunty angle
by way of compensation
I must look like a drunk
not too far from the truth
I’m fairly close to home
but my surroundings are foreign
I’m a prospective alien
in my own home town
the carbon sky bleeds grey
the deluge tumbles down
and ink is now streaming
from my dubious credentials
my identity is in doubt
and confidence is waning
the bus is two hours late
and my welcome’s running out
I met my morning with a lithium flush
the crew preferred the traditional libations
we stood unfurled in our own skins
before an unscheduled eclipse
and stumbled blindly in the dark
our confusion fuelled by hard liquor
and assorted oriental confections
I tried for the great indoors
but my inside was out
as my doors had been confiscated
during the last epic iconoclast
doors are bourgeois affectations
and privacy has been banished
here in the electric society
we are mere avatars for the combine
we do our shit and eat our bread
then watch the highlights on TV
that’s where we’re at now
nothing is real unless it’s been on TV
the tube has seared our minds
so we turn to moonshine and jimson weed
to enhance our perverse new benedictions
consequently many have been struck down
with the dread psycho reflux
but no-one cares for the stricken
no-one feeds their beasts or tills their soil
while they are lost to the great no no
for a man must make his own meat
to earn his fraction from the combine
That rat faced fucker is slicker than deer guts on a door knob. They say he’s making decent money pimping refugees and extorting pennies from the homeless. From what I know of him he’d steal his grandma’s teeth if she had any. I’m told he has a sentimental side and is good to his dear old mum, but so was Harold Shipman and that turned out well.
I knew Richard back when he was steaming a living from other people’s envelopes. Being a congenital idiot he was soon caught and they sentenced him to hard knocks for fucking with the mail. They tried to rehabilitate him, but he came out of jail even more devious than when he went in. The new Richard had no moral boundaries and an avaricious hunger that would never be satisfied.
Looking back it’s hard to see how anybody could be taken in by his patter, but he seemed a plausible cunt and many were. I used to lay him on deals which we’d settle on a weekly basis. Everything went swimmingly until he ticked a weight from me and did not return. I had to go fishing for him and he was a slippery fucker to catch. We settled up eventually, but then we parted company. I have no time for thieves – they see everyone else as chumps and you’d be a fool to trust one twice.
Richard formed a habit that’s hard to beat. They say he has a jones that costs him a grand a week. That’s a lot of corn to filch and one fuck off greedy monkey to be feeding. He’ll never dig himself out from under that; that’s a life sentence with no chance of parole.
I saw him the other day there and he dingied me. Maybe he thinks he still owes me money. He was a hundred years old and his rodent features were even more pronounced. It seems form follows function and you become what you do through time. The vagaries of intent are both capricious and complex and we seldom get what we want; but sometimes we get what we deserve. Everything has its price and those dues will be paid. So while greed might fill your wallet one day, it could cost you dear the next.
I seen them on my spectrum analyser. Those cats who vary their accounts with worn tongues and righteous jowls. I never fixed a device to sift their broken promises. I just rode the punches and waited my turn. I’m told that liars never prosper and that goodness is its own reward, but I’ll cash my chips in now please – I have no faith in karmic law.
Justice broke her ankle on her way to my tribunal. I was out of town recouping my losses, so they hanged me in absentia for crimes that don’t exist. I still bear the scars invisible from that faulty jurisprudence. When rumour becomes evidence the truth dies a grisly death. That first stone cast is as lethal as the last. Only your friends could hone their instruments with such precision and it’s their judgements that draw the most blood. Who cares for the pronouncements of strangers? It’s those you love who deliver the killer blows.
I’m satisfied with the life I’ve led and I’m convinced that my sins are no more grievous than the next man’s. Whatever crimes I actually committed are a matter for my conscience to resolve and not some court of popular opinion. I opt for the mantle of any free man - to learn from my mistakes free from the judgement of my peers.
She gave me a semi
with just a wink
and a smile
that’s the most action
I’ve had in years
There was little chance I know
of her reciprocation
but I deployed my flirtation devices
in the slender hope of fornication
she had those curvaceous regions
that made me want to stand
I’d lick the crumbs
from underneath her table
I’d lay it on and stretch it out
just to prove that I’m still able
I’d squeeze her sweet spot endlessly
accept titbits from her hand
I’d minister to her tenderly
and beg and drool at her command
It takes one
to know one
and brother I know you
you’re the perpetual outsider
another square peg
stuffed into the wrong shoe
you’ve ascertained the facts
but still don’t have a clue
the universe is crammed
with the things you never knew
you once had lofty ambitions
they filled your prime time slot
you became a little smaller
when those dreams came to naught
I know the stuff is poison, but I neck it anyway. It’s a psychic shield against the vicissitudes of strife. What a happy delusion to carry around in my head. A soft and fuzzy lie I like to bathe in. Get me to my bed where I can adopt my cloak of dreams. I don’t care what shape the world is in – I don’t want it banging on my door 24/7. There’s a place I lay my head where I get the peace that grants me immunity from the combine.
What’s in a man’s blood that he offers himself for a slave? Is it some pernicious form of anaemia which thins him out and bleeds him sallow? Is it the herbivore instinct of curtain twitching quislings who endure a life of vicarious pleasures and shared disappointments? I’ve had to turn my back on the gut churning spectacle. The whole scene and its protagonists sicken me to my bones. I’m happy on the outside of that shit – even if the isolation sometimes drags me down. The undertow is strong in these latitudes and men have been known to drown in sentimentality. I have a cup for such occasions and it brims with heavy liquor.
She gave me everything
She gave me all her hopes and dreams
She shared all her crazy schemes
With her little girl lost routine
Yes, she gave me everything
Looking back it seems
I’d soon exhausted all those dreams
She still danced on my string
But I’d had my fill of everything
it’s a heavy arithmetic
that measures out the hours
and subtracts the days of our reckoning
time spent more in hope than knowledge
of a final destination at journey’s end
our rusted factory eyes lack lustre
they’re fixed on horizons far away
where our dreams now live in exile
and yesterday’s tomorrows accumulate decay
is it true what I heard you say?
you made a binding promise
that you would wait forever
for forever and a day
They say that hunger makes thieves of us all and that poverty lurks in slender pay packets. Many of us now live hand to mouth and day to day. Under competent governance poverty would be something to be ashamed of. In a poorly governed country it is wealth we should be ashamed of.
This nation of beggars steals garbage from supermarkets and panhandles for pennies in the high street. We slave on zero hours contracts and abide on the never never. The illusion of luxury piped into our domiciles on subtle carrier waves is enough to buy our good will for men of treasonous intent. While we are punished for the nameless crimes of our fathers - they inherit our souls by means of scientific management.
The inequality between rich and poor is an old and fatal ailment in all nations. Poverty is at the root of revolution, and revolution is the root of change. Revolution is more than the battle for power, it is an act of love, a struggle for the future of our children. The moment is fast approaching – the time for change is now.
I pulled the plug
the dividends were huge
I cut the chord
and learned how to breathe
I renounce violence
in its every dimension
I own my fear
if fear becomes me
When pricked I bleed
When so moved I cry
but celebrate life’s little gifts
In accordance with my temperament
and the precepts of universal love
They’re busing migrants to the border.
These huddled masses
draw their last free breath
beneath the statue of bigotry.
We’re building walls
and digging trenches.
Planting the seeds of our destruction
on our very own doorsteps.
We are as a people suicidal.
They say it’s written in the book.
That the signs are everywhere
if you care enough to look.
He looked like a big dog. He barked like a big dog. I was suitably unimpressed. I’d forgotten to be afraid. Somewhere along the road I’d shed my fear and the casual air of violence that once served to mask it. Strange how we forget our chains, only to recall their chaffing in the absent moment; how could I ever dismiss a lifetime of slavery?