they say that pain subsides
the way old buildings do
to sink slowly from the memory
and disappear from view
they say that time’s a healer
but that isn’t always true
and I wanted you to know
that I’ve not forgotten you
here’s to those louche lounge lizards
and licentious feline derelicts
who propped me up to dip my pockets
and barfly angels who furnished me with flesh
but were blameless in my corruption
nothing appealed to me like everything
and having everything I wanted more
because every pleasure seems attainable
when you’re a drunkard and a whore
was that real enough for you?
I can still taste the blood
is there anything better than that?
I should fuckin’ well hope so
so you think you’ve had enough?
who was that cat on the cross?
I make a point of never knowing
that cunt had some moves
he was immaculate, so he was
I’m glad I got to see him
before the lights went out
I’m not running from anything
I’ve outdistanced my regrets
and there are no dark secrets
that I’m trying to forget
I don’t drink to remember
I drink for the effect
but this shit ain’t for everyone
it should say so on the bottle
it might not heal your yesterdays
but erase all your tomorrows
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