Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Rainbow on a Carpet

Being very much a minority art-form since time immemorial, all one can hope for is to create well, that which appears, here and in the applications with which literature's delivered to a minimum six hundred million of us who speak, read and write the quarrel within ourself that is..this experience of a container and lens, mind and consciousness presenting itself: us in what we construct, demolish, taunt, jib, jibe, offend, turn on, woo, live and Love with via a 'technology of the intellect' - Language.

On the planet, are 1.8 billion speakers, readers and writers of varying proficiency, ability and talent for playing themselves in this Language. Just one percent of which, are 200 million potential customers with a sincere and (possibly) passionate interest in anything one presents that they believe 'good' enough to read, first - and then purchase because a spell compelling them to read again because it is poetry, enacts the charm of an author's native wit and nose for a real 'it' which cannot be solved nor analysed, only recognised and harnessed, understood not drily, static and detached, but passionately, full of life and actualized by - imbas: a Gaelic word meaning mental excitement within the imagination, a poetic fizz and inspiration one need possess when in the comas and throes of a compositional go. Writing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blunders given, again.

"Ireland had chances at Croke Park and in Paris but didn’t take them. France were there for the taking but Ireland never grabbed it – as usual. They were afraid of that next step and were mentally not strong enough. They can complain all they want. That is not going to change anything. France are going to the World Cup – get over it. They want sympathy as usual. It is the usual carry on and it is boring."

They'll bore you to death - Keano said. Seriously.

"Ireland had their chances in the two games [against France], and they never took them. But it's the usual FAI reaction - 'We've been robbed, the honesty of the game' - he said.

There was one match against Georgia where Ireland got a penalty and it was one of the worst decisions I've ever seen which changed the whole course of the game. I don't remember the FAI after the game saying we should give them a replay."


It's a game, for millionaire sports-people, (men really) who deserve our supplications before them as the 'we' they are who care enough to play fair at all times when lying through our back teeth about how appalling it all is, hey? - the neat fair square, as per status quo global luvvies living the dream - inside centre fullback, left and right tighthead prop and number eight, predestinating happenstance as a wheel of fortune spins - fly and scrum half.

One word stressed straight: it's a ninety minute experiment kicking toward the target, in a fortress not one's own. Unlocked and open to all paranoia and success, confined in a space slaying their faux try, from a loosehead prop, blindside flanker, our poetical eye, ay?

ha ha ha ha

hé res a goal guarded by yer one scoring the win away from home, citadel doors ajar - outside centre-cheat, 50/50 karma-prospect kismet serendipity and one's portion of free will, stars to come of our own volition, Choice of English, hatreds eeking the art away, what is written by the heavens, luck and death in one's horoscope as scorpio - low key container of obelisks bought with the obolus tenth or sixth Charon of the metrical measure, tracks in one's aura, site, constellation crumbling overhead as the sentence spent, terminates.


"I'd focus on why they didn't clear it. I'd be more annoyed with my defenders and my goalkeeper than Thierry Henry. How can you let the ball bounce in your six-yard box? How can you let Thierry Henry get goal-side of you? If the ball goes into the six-yard box, where the hell is my goalkeeper?"

So, these few frauds looking up to me,
all the colours of an opaque wit, in naked

blush; all the tones of a royal douche-bag
I have been thinking about, them people

blindly deluded that the boys in green, sad soccer knobs, were gonna pull off a miracle in Paris. And who are now in uproar because of an honest mistake they claim as the 'cheat', whose charge sheet contains instant admittance of the 'accident' instinct and the finer, noble qualities humankind exhibit, on and off both stage and pitch, as per the actor Henry, imagine that scene: it is reality - get over it - us not playing in the hallowed Shirt: not even in the stands - we will sell the volvo and fly to Nelson Mandela Bay, ask Santy to take us to where it aint gonna happen, because our sportspeople (men really) can't cut it at the highest level, in the real Premier and super, excellent league. Not on the international pitch as representatives of the Shirt they can't y'all.


I was listening to Marian Finucane, with Keano the focus of a mass outpouring of divided and highly incendiary craic: one fan and Irish person so incensed, called for diplomatic relations with France to be suspended until an honourable outcome for what is, perhaps, the human world's most shared cultural signifier and symbol of one's native National pride and spirituality. One memorable quote from the Times: 'we should call in the police' - as if anyone gives a toss about it.

I am glad they didn't get in, because if they did, it would be just another excuse to indulge in jingoistic self-congratulation about how great the Irish are, how friendly and loveable and all that rubbish stuff that flows out of a deep insecurity and colonial hangover, always blaming the 'other' for anything that goes wrong. Bastards.

It is telling, that the Irish who go to Britain, are welcomed and do well, taking over the airways with their funniness, but it's a one way street when their scion returns to where no brits from a similar platform: talk to every person in every county they know, to be a Shirt in every province, and the global success. And yet the official body, the FAI, who won't even acknowledge my e mails about a proposal for doing it on a shoestring of 400,000 a month - to make it happen and for us to go to the finals - are singing in the wind if they think FIFA will be in any way amenable to their begging chorus, we wuz robbed won't cut it in Durban and Port Elizabeth next year, when the group winners and runner-up winners will be proudly representing their Shirt in South Africa.

ha ha ha ha

Who cares?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fox Wins All Ireland Crown

Congratulations to Craigavon's Séamus Fox for securing the first prize winnings of 200 euro at last night's All Ireland Poetry Slam Championships, in the Crane Bar, Galway.

Second was Stephen Murray from Cork and now resident in Galway.

It was all good fun and more about the doing than the winning. Judging poetry and performance is an on-the-night lottery, and often the difference between first and fifth is zero: but someone had to win, and Séamus was as worthy a winner as any.

The Crane bar (above in the photograph) is like the Cobblestones pub in Dublin: centre of the traditional music scene in the city, and the poetry takes place upstairs.

It was a locked out night, run under the aegis of North Beach Poetry Nights, host to the most vibrant Slam scene in Ireland: John Walsh, the organiser of North Beach, had his hand firmly on the door once it kicked off around 9.15pm, keeping it closed and turning away a few punters for whom the physical limit of the fairly roomy space, was such that it was impossible to fit everyone who wanted to come, in.

Next year it is Leinster's turn to host the final, number four in the Series.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Along the flight-path of angels was a village called Poetry
where stir the artful dawn-dropped moments pictured

three floors above a flat centre of what green cold
sweat, threatening to tear out your eyes, as lust, bushelled

under a thick rain, pitch black, no flickering spotlight
in the earth's ceiling this morning:

"not the scars of your childhood and childbearing,
not the birthmarks and blemishes of your skin,
not the graying of your hair,

not even the weight of all my burdens upon you"
filled you with dread.

Afternoon lock-ins with bores and villains,
buying hooky gear just to fill the time

" liquid fire - the sun shone that morning,
it was beautiful" exemplary saint - mannequined,
muted and risen to perfection, ready to embrace

the halo from where we slept, still clasped in a watching
angel's palm "that spreads through the sky as my step-
by-step-ladder to say goodbye; for together

we're leaving at the first breath of day, and my love
is asleep and dreams love can be all of life, at best

death, a timely rest - for who yearns to stay the course ...


There was a village called Poetry
i beg you - hold this letter from my heart,

for life well lived: light now in the corner
where a month ago was dark

you who travel too swiftly for me to follow,
lovely poem. Taste the essence and define
what professors of English name sublime

resisting the impulse to slide again beneath
and mould myself to the contours of a body.

What else could we have done?
accomplished other than quietly ending
in sleepy self-embrace, or prayer
simple shadows of the window blinds
tattooed in my memory
by the orange ink of dawn?


There was a village called Poetry
Abode there with we who sing wind-sighs

so many "why's"

trees lining the street
as two recommended friends meet

mist-plumes of water we have sung - long ago
going back, when psychopomp sea-goddesses
with foamy hooves of light, an audience of pillars

in the night; talking till dawn on long golden
strands of Atlantic breakers, in muscular arms -
laid across a naked breast, hailed a cab and went
back to your place; lost the fey D'Arcy my darling,

the swift onset of dawn and dew that rent
my petticoat, its moistness leading to a chill

darling dearest, why must men quit me so?

The sweetest suitors dissipate before the first cock-
crow: a multitude of sins to bloody awareness with,
though it really doesn't matter now I can remember
wild hair and warm smiles,

remember how we sat for hours, affirming love
as true; though our hands were parted

still wedded through this pen to yearning aches,
to be as one with you again my darling.


The above piece is a write-through poem. Write-Through is a form very few poets exercise in. Probably because most will be unaware of the forms existence, but also because many will mistakenly believe it too challenging a form to return rewards; which is not necessarily the case.

The current July/August edition of Chicago's Poetry Foundation's Poetry Magazine (read in full at the link) - was devoted to Flarf poetry, and in an article by Kenneth Goldsmith, Flarf is Dionysus. Conceptual Writing is Apollo, he informs us of:

..the great mass of free-floating language out there just begging to be grabbed, cut, pasted, processed, machined, honed, flattened, repurposed, regurgitated, and reframed - from what it is, into poetry. The radical presence and significant force in contemporary American poetry, asks:

Why atomize, shatter, and splay language into nonsensical shards when you can hoard, store, mold, squeeze, shovel, soil, scrub, package, and cram the stuff into towers of words and castles of language with a stroke of the keyboard?

Being reared and working in the British and Irish equivalent of American contemporary language poetry: in the Concrete school of doing things on the page, it is only chance I stumbled across this compositional method. Virtually all but a handful of cued in poets with a working background knowledge of the more inconsequential threads of contemporary practice, work in the Concrete poetry form, or know its lineage, peaks and troughs and relationships with American poetry as it is now.

I have written in depth elsewhere, of how I came to write in the write-through form.

Sometimes the finished piece will bear no resemblance to its original, because it has been altered at letter level, using the letters of the words, to create new words. The label Found, therefore, only applies when working at the level demonstrated above; which takes - more or less - full lines from a variety of found poems, all being culled from their original context and re-woven into this found-piece.

The poems came from this months guardian books blog Poster Poems thread, whose creator is the much neglected modernist and fellow middle aged radical reared in the linguistically innnovative branch of poetry, Billy Mills. The posters whose pieces I have stolen from, are pretty much all writing anonmyously and posting under the names: anytimefrances, creel, HenryLloydMoon, hic8ubique, Iamnothere, Leemar, Martianisms, OhGodNotHimAgain, Parisa, paulspen, pinkroom, reenimus, Stoneofsilence and UnpublishedWriter.

The only two I know of who are not anonymous, are class agitator CJ Underwood, and woman of international glamour, suzanabrams.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Grá seen PL Cubarta broom rat.


Sometimes, at night the same darkness shares the same table
we pull this swollen current across: this river, this stream and ocean
of memory where lines cast as if, not by you who keeps us barely
breathing at dawn, but this climate; always the same warm wind
by a river, and walking this river, or any river, whether the Rhine
or la Plata, a depth wisest in the widest dark of the world, closed
where only the dead can enter and not even untiring infinite time
label tame, and everything in silence life defines in symphonies
as the payment of attention to what differences between us refined
what belief we leave behind when the way in that is ours, in summer
at least, would inspire us into killing on the slightest pretext, humanity.

You and me from the bottom of the river’s race, our hands and face
fiercely tied, press into a serious curve and divertimento making nest
with our cheek touching the other raining flesh, dead mouths in body’s
night, breast and head, infecting with it; with propaganda - our touch
kept quietly in the night as if it were terror on earth, this other body
the reigning dead who move in oboe and violin, superb flute not hiding -

who’ll find, would we allow it, those coughing counts that fan in error;
themselves may be why friends in the election gang - nobody from
here: this country in orange rags at the age of four squatting, forever
in scream in a cave, cell, tent, cage sustaining any heart of any growing
bird, grass, afternoon, air, animal and siesta fate-cloud fallen with last
light along what rising edge a sighing wind that forgives our heart still,
barely ours, who care not to remember.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Gormless Gurning

Conceptualist Tony Gormley, a substantially subsidised intellectual ex-public schoolboy and deep thinking sculptor whose rusty works supply a metaphor for all that is (not) new, exciting, shared, (or) inclusive in Britain, and whose conceptually common experience of Britain mediated through the mind of an artist who can empathise with the average Briton so much they attract £140,000 of gambling tax to elevate pedestrians seven meters above Trafalqar Square for the incredibly creative removal from the common ground, (so) the body becomes a metaphor - has today been honoured for his contribution to the Culture of Foetry and Flarf, with an audience of compliant participants in stationary behaviour his genius has contextualized into generating Art whose Conceptual gravity and merit is wholly spurious, it has been alleged by Allegro Cortina, the grand-daughter of Conceptual Art founder Marcel Duchamp.

Ever since her grandfather's reverse-psychology upended the art world by prioritizing and framing ideas instead of material Creation, by the simple act of rotating a standard Bedfordshire urinal 90 degrees, giving it a title of Fountain and signing it "R. Mutt 1917" - the subsequent success of Conceptual art has been assured.

A success contingent not on the quality of the physical, but on the proclamation, promotion, propagandizing and publicity in the mass media organs, of whatever theory, idea and intellectual scaffold the artist can convince others to believe as, Reality.

R. Mutt (Duchamp) so signed this toilet 'sculpture', because he didn't want his fellow jurors on the selection commitee of the Society of Independent Artists - who had announced it would exhibit all submissions for their 1917 Exhibition - to know it was him submitting the 'sculpture'.

The only terms for inculsion to this show of a Society claiming itself Modern, was a six dollar fee, which generated $12,500 from 2,500 entries.

Duchamp, who had very wisely decided not to be a proxy murderer for a small bunch of closely related multi-millionaires who instigated the first mass-mechanised orgy of slaughter so their class of (so called) civilization could continue - on arriving in neutral New York, found himself already a celebrity with numerous (wealthy) art lovers offering him patronage.

He fell in with a group of anti-art surrealists and dadaists including Italian Futurist Joseph Stella, and Walter Arensberg, a wealthy American art collector and the son of a steel company president - who all rejected the 'reason' and 'logic' of bourgeois capitalist society, whose Ideology they believed had led to the insanity of the first world war.

The dadaists exhibited this in ways which appeared to embrace irrationality, and because the Modernism manifests in behaviour we have not experienced before, its conception and first becoming attracted global interest solely because of its novelty and Uniqueness - coupled to highly developed self-promotional abilities and the eloquence of a handful of artists.

Arensberg, Duchamp and Stella bought History when they attended J.L. Mott Iron Works on 118 Fifth Avenue, purchased a urinal, and at 33 West 67th Street:

"..took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view - (which) created a new thought for that object."

After much debate on the artistic legitimacy of Fountain by the commitee members (most of whom did not know R. Mutt was one of them) the toilet bowl was excluded from the catalogue and hidden from view during the show, with Duchamp and Arensberg resigning from the commitee after the exhibition and setting about stage 2 of the psychological heist.

In the second (and final) issue of their mag The Blind Man, poet Lousie Norton attached her name to an article on the 'disappearance without disussion' of Fountain (in which the quote above appears) - mocking the bourgeois aesthetic and proclivities of the jurors on the committee and obliquely referring to them as 'ornamental monkeys' - because the object was irrevocably associated in their atavistic minds with a certaion natural function of a secretive kind - (having a leak)

She began by likening humanity to the philosophers in Dante's Inferno, their heads set the wrong way on their shoulders. We walk forward looking backward, each with more of his predecessors personality than his own. Our eyes are not ours - the author wrote, before introducing a host of contemporary writers, paraphrasing the' sacred marriage of ideas' from La Dissociation des Idees, by a recently deceased French Symbolist poet and highly influential critic (when alive) Remy de Gourmont.

S/he claims someone likened Fountain to ladies legs in a Cezanne painting, introduces a counter quote by Montaigne 'the very "essence and motion of folly", followed by a rebuttal of this 16C French authority, before the wisdom of a now unread Gertrude Stein pops up along with a famously forgettable quote by schizophrenic Friedrich Nietzsche, and ending with the weight of the most recently cleverest deceased, de Gourmont.


The difficulty for those who follow them of course, is that conceptual Art is what American Poet Laureate Thomas Brady has noted - 'very professional, very protocoled Author Bio statements in the journals, Museum-performance brochures, and University of' - Gormley's (mission statement) "..of metaphor, the context of Trafalgar Square with its military, valedictory and male historical statues to specific individuals, elevation of everyday life to the" blah blah "elevation onto the plinth, and removal from the common ground..position formerly occupied by monumental reflect on the diversity, vulnerability and particularity of the individual in contemporary society": ie, you and ME, skint in a bedsit being a concept/reality.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Segais Omphalos

What is the Muse but Memory of a great tradition, Finnegas and Finn McCool speaking the meaning of *éces* - which the modern Irish word for poetry, *éigse* routes to.

Éces is an Old Irish word which the word *poetry* as we understand it today doesn’t really capture. In the most basic of sense it means the nuts and bolts of knowledge.


Mnemosyne, the original Greek muse, the etymology rooting to a house of the moon, its essential meaning is, Memory.

Her pool in Hades was the opposite of Lethe, which was a pool/river of forgetfulness the dead drank from so they would not remember their past life when being re-incarnated.

The Orphic Mystery rites had initiates drink from Mnemosyne’s pool so they would remember in order to acquire omniscience, and instead of being re-born on Earth, pass onto the Elysian Fields, which Hesiod in Works and Days refers to as the Isles of the Blessed, far to the west and which in Celtic Mythology are Tír na nÓg, (land of the ever young) the most popular of several Celtic otherworlds where happiness is found, similar to Avalon in Brythonic myth.

The poetic Tradition of Gaelic poetry, is called *on coimgne* - which Kuno Meyer translated as *historical knowlege*. Meyer was an early 20C Celticist who, along with Rudolph Thurneyson, Osborn Bergin, D.A. Binchy (uncle of Maeve) and others, first translated Gaelic manuscript and were part of the Dublin milleau of Yeats and his cronies.

On Coimgne breaks down into 350 tales, 250 primary and 100 secondary. Secondary ones were never written down and only learned from grade four cano (whelp) up to seven ollamh (poetry professor), passed from lip to ear.

A list of 187 primary tales in 16 genres appear on folio 189b of the 12C Book of Leinster: Do nemthigud filed, -- Of the Qualifications of a Poet.

Destructions (9), and Preyings (11), and Courtships (14), and Battles (9), and Caves (11), and Navigations (7), and Tragedies (13), and Feats (17) and Sieges (9) and Adventures (14) and Elopements (12) and Massacres (38) and Eruptions (2) and Visions (7) and Expeditions (4), and Marches (13).

The maxim following this primer reads: “(s)he is no poet who does not synchronize and harmonize on coimgne” - the ancient knowledge.


Which brings us to the Muse of Gaelic tradition.

The otherworldly omphalos, the wet muse of Irish myth, is known by a variety of names: the Well of Segais, Sidhe Nechtan and Connla’s Well.

The mythology surrounding the well states it is a still-pool source of the Boyne river, and informs us how only Nechtan and his three cupbearers were allowed in the vicinity of the well, to perform magical rites, walking round it clockwise, chaunting incantations to invoke a supreme intelligence they hoped would deal favourably with their wants and wishes.
One day Nechtan’s wife Boand (who gave her name to the river Boyne) broke the taboo or *geisa* of not going near the well, and walked round it counter-clockwise, causing it to erupt in fury and bring the river Boyne into being, whilst scattering Boand’s limb and body parts in places whose toponyms etymologically route to her name and are recorded in another body of lore the poet need learn to qualify, the Dindsenchas.

The dindsenchas are 176 poems and prose commentaries which recount how places got their name. There is a 23 stanza poem of the dindsenchas which tells how the Boyne got hers.


The well is surrounded by nine hazel trees, and each nut contains total poetic wisdom, and these nuts are known as *the nuts of knowledge* — cnó coill hEolas which (according the Cauldron of Poesy, a 7C text laying out poetic principles):

“…cast themselves in great quantities like a ram’s fleece upon the ridges of the Boyne, moving against the stream swifter than racehorses driven in the middle-month on the magnificent day every seven years."


Unlike the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden, there is no sense of the forbidden about them, (indeed they are greatly prized if highly elusive) and the short-cut way to dispense with the 12 difficult years of training in the bardic curriculum, is to catch a Salmon of Knowledge who has fed on the nuts in the well and eat it, thereby ingesting the full of poetic wisdom seciond hand. The earliest name for the Salmon of wisodm/knowledge is eo fis and the modern name is bradán feasa.

A Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn son of Cumhaill) tale encapsulates this poetic of getting it all at once by eating the Salmon of Knowledge, which appears in the body of lore known as The Boyood Deeds of Finn McCool, found in the Fenian Cycle of Irish myth and which there is some debate as to the era the tales where set in, but in the centuries around the time of Christ, and these started getting written down in the 7C.

There are four cycles in Irish myth, the other three being:

2 - Mythological Cycle - detailing the pagan invasion mythology and featuring a cast
from six races of gods who fight amongst themselves for control of the island.

3 - Historical Cycle - cycle of kings detailing tales of legendary kings

4 - Ulster Cycle set ion the time of king Conchobar mac Nessa, in the time Pliny was writing around the time of Christ and detailing the adventures and battles of of the Uliad and their hero Cúchulainn, with ther rivals in Connacht, led by Maeve and the prime tale being Táin Bó Cúailnge - cattle raid of Cooley.


Finn McCool is the name of a person whose birth-name was Demne: (finn means *fair, bright, shining* and with a positive charge on fair) a poet-warrior who was the last chief of the fianna in Irish mythology. The fianna were independant aristocratic bands of young men who lived outside of society and were called upon by various petty kings in times of war to fight their battles amongst themselves, and who went raiding across the sea for thralls and spoil.

Finn’s father Cumhaill, was also a chief of the fianna, killed by his rival for the leadership, Goll mac Morna (goll meaning one eyed, an injusry sustained in his fight with Cool senior). The fight came about because Cool had abducted Muireann Muncháem (”beautiful neck”) the daughter of Kildare druid Tadg mac Nuadat (Tadg son of Nuada), who appealed to High King Conn Cétchathach (”Con of the Hundred Battles”) who outlawed mister Cool and gave his rivals the perfect excuse to do away with him.

But Muireann was already pregnant by Cool by the time they got her back, and her father didn’t want to know after this, so baby Finn — who, remember, at this time was known by his birth name of Demne - was put into the care of his father’s sister, the druidess Bodhmall, and her female warrior companion Liath Luachra, who raised him in the forests of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Offally and Laois (pron. leesh)

He got the nick-name of Finn in childhood by some boys seeing him swim in the river, because of his pale hair glinting in the sun.

He was brought up trained in the art of warriorship and druidry, andas a youth, entered the service of a number of local kings in the midlands incognito, but such was his skill his true identity was always discovered and he was sent packing because it was too politically sensitive for a minor king to be having the son of Cool in his camp.

At the age of 15, he fell into with Finn Éces, or Finnegas the druid, who had his nemeton (druidic grove) by the banks of the river Boyne, where he had set up hoping to catch a Salmon of Knowledge, and took Finn in as his pupil, teaching him in the poetic craft.

Finnegas is a cipher for bright, good, positive (finn) knowledge- Finn Éces, and Finnegas had been told a prophesy, that though he would indeed catch one of the fabled Salmon of Knowledge, but alas he (Finnegas) would not get to profit intellectually and from the magical nuts of knowledge the fish had feasted on at Segias, as another person, someone called Fionn, would instead.

Now, this tale already has two people called Finn, one of whom is going by a nom de plume and with a real name of Demne and Finn Éces being the original name of Finnegas.

One day after seven yrs waiting by the bank and practicing druidry whilst also instructing his pupil Demne, (seven years being the time it took to enter the ollamh zone) Finnegas caught the fabled fish and naturally, remembering the prophecy - that not he but a person called Finn would get his mind altered by it, recieving the source of all poetry — Finnegas would have no doubt had a look around, checking that no likely candidtae was about for the fish to fall into their hands. Giving the fish to Demne he told him to cook it, but on no account eat any of it, not even a crumb, as the s/he who had the first taste, got the poetic gift, all at once.

Demne/Finn was cooking it, and some fish fat accidently splashed onto his thumb, and instinctively sticking it in his mouth, the knowledge from the nuts of wisdom, instantly infused him and when Finnegas came back to the cooking area, could tell straight away by the look on Finn’s face, what had happened.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cerebral Lunatics

At five past

celebral lunatics
talking of relevance
on art boards
in cyberspace

gather sound

claiming to make
patterns of exchange
which create

a number of truths
that show their commitment
to concrete expression

by anchoring sense
in earth-bound images
within the context
of modernity.

She listens

by the weight
of voices

tests a theory
of how
to picture

by measuring
the relative
of each syllable

with its syntatic
of assonance
alliterative value
poet's breath.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mad Mad Knobheads

I just received an e mail which is both laughable and interesting as it raises a fundamental question about Freedom of Speech:

Dear Background Artist:

I just ran across your article entitled Guest Poet: CAD Laureate, posted on May 6, 2009,, and I would like to raise an issue that is of concern to Selling Power magazine, which is the use of our trademark.

The word "Selling Power" is sometimes erroneously used as a synonym for sales effectiveness. For example you wrote: “Duffy looks like she couldn't give a hoot about all that, and so could use her position to achieve her political thrills, whilst also elevating her own selling power sky high.” We do not condone such uses of our trademark.

As a practical matter, when you describe sales effectiveness, there are a wide range of terms available such as: sales excellence, sales savvy, sales mastery, sales acumen, sales efficiency, and many more.

The reason for this letter is to educate writers like yourself that we want to protect our trademark, since we don't want to risk Selling Power being declared by the courts a generic word. Therefore we ask you not to use Selling Power as a phrase since it is our legal trademark.

We would like to receive a written acknowledgment of this letter stating that you will in the future identify Selling Power as a trademark if you should write about our magazine, and not use Selling Power as a phrase. If we do not hear from you, we will need to take further action.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

All the best,

Gerhard Gschwandtner
Founder and Publisher
Selling Power
1140 International Parkway
Fredericksburg VA 22406
Office: 540-752-7000 Cell: 540-273-2555

P.S. Watch Selling Power videos online


Not only does Gschwandtner want to own the rights to two common words, but to stop others from using them in the normal course of speech, without paying him, and also to sell me stuff.

Dear Gerhard Gschwandtner

What planet are you on?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sven Hassel

The 14 psuedo-autobiographical second world war books of 91 year old Danish author Sven Hassel, (translated into 19 languages), stands up to numerous re-readings. Danish, he joined the German army, he claims, because it was easier than getting to England and joining the army there.

He deserted and when caught, was put in a penal tank regiment made up of "criminals and dissidents" and the material for his books is based on his time in the penal tank regiment. However, Hassel has one strong critic who claims he was in the SS and his wife really wrote the books. Whatever the truth is, they are compelling reading and like Frank Zappa, his work tilts towards inspiring culthood more than than fandom.

His books follow the experience of the cast of out-cast characters, the deserters, court-martialed soldiers, political prisoners and death row cadre of the (fictional) 27th (Penal) Panzer Regiment, the lowest form of military life, closest to the front line hells of the Second World War, who take us from Finland to the Russian Steppe, Normandy and Monte Cassino.

Hassel's novels transcend cultural and national boundries. There are no good guys or bad guys, merely the killed or not killed, pawns of death traded on the whims of those engineering the slaughter far from the front lines. The horror, terror and nihilism of this godless period is recounted with a dispassionate veracity in which the insignificant quotidian human events of daily existence, play out in the hearth of history's flame. The minor parts speaking for a human whole screeching of the authentic experience. His stories capture a banality of the acclimatised individual pawns resigned to fate, whose only loyalty is towards one another in a dog eat dog daily life.

The web of hatreds, tensions and fights between the members in the most expendable of regiments, rippling in a pool of human relationships history has ravelled these men in, are exposed in such a way as to offer a glimpse; a view into the real world behind a rhetoric of sanatised nightly war-news in which the emblems of order, parade ground, spotless uniforms, flags hoisted and draped in clean symetrical lines - disguise the truth of what we do not see and which Hassel's 14 books do not censor of flinch from describing. The characters are not pretty, nor nobel, but criminals and chancers killing men women and children, stealing from corpses and cracking the blackest of gags whilst doing so, infusing the narratives with a logicality of real experience.

We are brought in to see a birds-eye view of what hell on earth is really like, from the remote, safe distance of pseudo-autobiographical fiction-fact which can be re-read again and again. Like Flemming's Bond books in the sense of re-readability, but without the plasticity and veneer of wishful thinking and imperial self-congratulatory romance which idealises and makes attractive the notion that there is a natural order, morally on the right side of murder and killing. In Hassel, killing is a dirty business carried out by flesh and blood men and described without the patina of loyalty to a cause.

"After that he blessed the weapons with which we were to exterminate barbary, but I do not think it helped. For a miserable little priest to stand up and make the sign of the cross at a great tank can be scarcley very effective magic, even if you believe in magic, which I cannot. At the most you might imagine such a creature bewitching small arms. And anyway, they lost the war."

The reward of re-reading Hassel, is that he reminds us in the most graphic terms, what's possible when the world goes insane, and in the absence of affirmation in the good of man, we are rewarded with an almost religious sense - the firm conviction that we must remain vigilent to the truth of his fictions, to not be fooled that war is noble and that a cause not our own individual concern as a human being, in far flung lands - deserves our personal attention.

If the politicians want to go invade some far flung stone age place, why not settle any disputes as those they pay to kill on their behalf? One on one, man to man, bravely and for the cause their own actions wrought? Why ask others to do something we ourselves will not? Because we are needed more, our life more important?

There is no nobility in the face of mechanised and wholesale butchery, merely animal man at his most naked and primitive self.

"It is odd seeing a person lying or sitting or running or hobbling away right in front of you, and for you not to turn aside but drive straight on, over him. Odd. You do not feel anything. You are aware only that you cannot feel. Perhaps some other day, in a week, a month, a year, fifty years. But not just at that moment. There is no time for feeling; the whole business is just something that is happening, going on, pictures and noises, most acutely perceived and immediately shoved automatically to one side to be analysed later."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Flarf's Guardian

Rupert Brooke was dreadfull bore
who never wanted da de da more
de da de da de da de da da and
who wrote with a rubbish hand
de da de da de da because he
could not write for effin toffee

And now here he is held up high
To us the plebs, as high as sky
Just because he could rhyme
But not do enjament ever at all
Which even a ten year old can
de da de da de da da da da and
so we have him now as the man.


Dear Editor of Shagma Magazine

Please accept for consideration the above piece I wrote in a workshop I attend, run by the very prestigious Daryl Mann Fluffy, who won last years Backward Prize for poetic innovation and is the Creative Literature Professor of the award winning online college and centre of excellance with ten gold stars awarded by the Society of Higher Imaginative Technology in Barnsley, the premier portal for getting on in the industry.

The poem is part of a sequence which investigates the space between desire and objectification of the contemporary symbols which alert us to the act of definition and of post-avant ironizing the ineffable force which interrogates meaning in its most specific sense - in light of something different, urgent, pressing and which I hope is self-evident in the piece.

This poem came second in last years Totley Twitter Poetry Prize, garnering praise from the likes of Martin Ashberry who lectures at Bridlington College for Excellance and who said in the commendation:

"Flarf De Da has written a seminal work, taking the notion of banality and undercutting it with a wry comedic slant which undercuts and wrongfoots the reader, forcing is to question the material itself, using all the metrical and musical tools to effect this cross-graining of the material, in lines such as:

de da de da de da de da da

the first eight syllables dancing along with a metronomic regularity, and then the stunning surprise of da da, where we are expecting a de da. A simple, effective and hugely intelligent strategy which opens up the poem to a multiplicity of mappings. Never one for the tired and predictable, Flarf De Da is a name to watch."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Adam Rudden (Live from Temple Bar)


For Gillian

Decommissioned by sleep
I wrestle a dream’s surface tension
to near breaking point-

disarmed in her weightless arms.


Housed in a natural tilt
like an unstoppable river
looping through a slope’s eyelet;
my laced-up touch
skims her impalpable rush.


Her ghost-lips
meet and part
my transparency.


Adam Rudden was born in 1983 in London to Irish Parents. He has been living in Dublin since 1986 and has published two collections of poetry with Lapwing Publications: “Fallen Eyelashes” and “Braille Lips in the Dark,” in which the above poem appears.

His work has appeared in a number of journals. These include: Poetry Ireland Review, Cyphers, Electric Acorn, Jacobyte Poetry, Agenda and Horizons.

He studies at the Milltown Institute in Dublin, where he has earned a BA in Philosophy and Theology. He's currently studying for an MA in the academic study of Christian Spirituality.


I bumped into Adam on Friday, at his poetry reading in the foyer of the Temple Bar Information Centre on Essex Street and recorded him.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Guest Post: Rev. Ian Paisley (Reminisces)

I was never a rugby fan. I hated it. Rugby was a shite game for thickos.

The rules were more baffling than cricket. A load of fat fellas huddling into each other every two minutes, throwing in and lifting each other into the air and all in all, utter wank.

Then i got a number stewarding at Lansdowne Road when i was dossing in Dublin's premier homeless hostel.

It was a uniquely Irish set up. There were two types of steward, voluntary and paid. The vols were all Leinster Blackrock chaps who brought their own packed lunches and fruit, and worked in the stands showing (more pointing really) people to their seats.

They exuded an earnest and serious manner, there to cheer on the BOD (captain of the irish rugby team, brian o'driscoll) and the boys, a hint of blue sticking out of the standard issue orange flourescent jackets handed out at the start of the match to both sets of stewarding staff. These boys were not messing about. They were there for a civilised game of rugger, whilst doing their civic duty for the paying fans, mainly blokes and the odd stunner, from all over Europe and beyond who teemed in radiating well heeled and wealthy bonhomie, never leary and a sizable minority with painted faces and double scarves which displayed the name and colours of both teams - flogged outside the ground by the canny dub street traders for a tenner a pop.

A day out for the celtic successes spending two hundred quid at least, on watching 30 fellas throwing themselves into each other for no visible reward other than whatever cash it brought them, hearing 40,000 people roar them on and a chance of gaining immortality in the pantheon of sporting legends were the Irish greats gaze out in fading sepia tint from behind glass as young scangers size up the frame working out how best to have it away and sold to some dodgy nutter addicted to owning a piece of history.


The paid staff however, where a wholly different breed of stewarding professional. One could immediately apprehend by visual identification alone, whether an orange clad worker was paid or vol.

The paid blokes (for it was inevitably thus) stood by the step-entrances to the stands, within the grey concrete bowels of Lansdowne, making sure the tickets of the punters who had already shown them coming through the turnstiles, were in order (which they inevitably were) and our only view the jacks, burger vans and practice pitch (if we were lucky).

To secure this role of immense responsibility, it was necessary at first to go and que up outside the portacabins with the rest of the casual drop-ins and drinkers who congregated there before the match to secure a few hours work.

A bit like the old dockers' pens, the whiff of ale present, the faces betraying what our primary interest was. The lads.

The difference between us and them, the paid and the vols, was obvious, plain to see. We were the baggy, craggy faced pissheads, and they, ones who could have been playing on the pitch if things had been different: if the gods of sport had smiled more kindly and not put them out of contention in the final year at Blackrock. The docks versus D4.

And also almost to a man, we couldn't give a toss about rugby. The motivating reason for our attendance, 45 quid, cash in hand at the end of the match, which meant a night on the lash in town straight after coming from the game a whole nation of sport nuts would have sold their least favourite granny's ghost for being at.

The first game was Wales Ireland, and a very strange thing happened, because a fellow (welsh) steward who was a rugby fan, as the action was happening, gave me the low down on why they were stopping, throwing in, scrumming and all the rest of it. And though little of it stuck, enough of the bare bones were dilineated to make it comprehensible.

Interesting, but still, i wasn't getting stiff watching the cream of Irish talent and fantasy objects in a fair few wet dreams, tossing the ball about in tight shorts.

But at the end of the match, we all had to assemble in a cordon on the pitch for the final few minutes, theoretically to repel any attempt at invading it, which never happened, and so more of a ritual than serious activity.

And it was then, being close up, feet away from the physical action, the beauty of it all hit me and I got to see what all the other nutters were wetting their nickers about.

There was grace, great skill and athleticism, a benign trace of the old cattle raiding spirit, something alive, something from the ancient yore of long ago still present. As though the men on the pitch were the thoroughbred inheritors of some sporting celtic flame which had once possessed Cúchulain and Ferdiad at the ford, or Finn McCool on the slopes of Ben Bullen.

Live, close up, I saw the soul in rugby and fell for it hook line and sinker. At least, enough to watch it now on the TV and remain interested. Strange, before never, now, i caught the second half of Leinster Glasgow at the RDS, and witnessed some of the best passing game ever. No long balls, all flow and physical running skill.


The most memorable game was Munster Leinster in the European cup semi final, the one before last. A day the gods of sport laughed at Leinster Blackrock public schoolboys of D4 as the dockers of Limerick grabbed the game by its scruff of the neck and stuffed the opposition from the off.

The sun itself had conspired against the East coast team, as the bulk of their fans were housed in the West stand on a freezing cold late spring day, sunny and warm in the East Stand were the Munster lunatics had gathered, and yet sub-zero the shade of the West stand were the huddled and cold mass of blue turned the colour of their shirts as the Munster riot-squad let rip.

Led by a man (i will never forget) singing The Fields of Athenry through an electric megaphone, at the edge of the hardest of an already infeasabley harcore bunch of red painted bodhrán wielders in full vocal frenzy, and then turning to the tier above and motioning them by way of swinging his full body and free arm upward into the air, as if punching the head off a paedophile in his child's playpen, and roaring they adopt his behaviour as a template for their own.

I had been drawn away from my station at the bottom of the steps, because on hearing this very tinny yet abnormally loud voice singing The Fields of Athenry, i was at a sheer loss to work out what it was, until spotting the ringleading cheerleader.

And as I was taking this short scene in, the voluntary Leinster-fan steward responsible for maintaining peacable order in that section of the East stand, his freshly scrubbed glowing healthy non-smoking, un-alcoholic face, had composed itself into one which clearly signalled displeasure and on the verge of vomitting disgust.

He was glaring at Munster's most intelligent fan, with all the ferocity of Mary Harney or Rosanna D, being asked for a quick ham-shandy in the cubicle of the East wing bogs, and it was at this point I decided to pledge my support to the red team, as being a plastic whose loyalties are 3/4 far west Mayo and 1/4 deepest Desmond Munster, i too had caught the buzz of the clearly most passionate bunch.

Ah, happy daze..

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Guest Poet: CAD Laureate.

We love the English, Irish
and Welsh
but not the Briton
preaching imperialism.
Trevor the Tramp

Carol Anne Duffy is a much cannier choice for Poet Laureate of Britain than the previous incumbent.

A red brick gal, more or less polytechnic class, who knows how to parry and jab; how to stick the stilleto in and make herself the centre of things with a few choice words her supporters in the press, eager to publish any of her musings and goo themselves silly over no matter what the quality - will hotline to the front page.

Once the tories get in and Duffy's no longer in a scenario of having to go head to head with her natural political pals, she may well prove herself a potent weapon. A realist - unlike Motion who we can legitimately suspect really fancied the royal bit - Duffy looks like she (hopefully) couldn't give a hoot about all that, and so could use the position to achieve her political thrills, whilst also elevating her own selling power sky high.

It's like the Kate Moss cocaine picture furore, the more outspoken she is, the more success she'll draw. So instead of going for the unobtainable removal of the monarchy from politics, she'll limit herself (i am guessing) to sticking the boot into the freshly scrubbed toffs of the all male tory cabinet, and all they'll have to defend them is Boris. Heady days ahead, and fair play to her.

She is the type of talent to make a man go dizzy with envy, but at the end of it all, a straight goer, and potentially one of the best ever. She has the passion for it, i suspect and being an honorary sister myself, committed to the Feminist cause, i will be rooting for her to do the smug tory automatics whose version of England and Britain will be far removed from Duffy's, who for all her weaknesses in the past, of CBE and OBE, in the long-game, could prove to be the biggest noise yet.


Being human and a mass of contradicting and polysemic realities all vying for expression in an age where distraction and ephemera, the one minute of fame telescoped into a bewildering array of format and potential which can spin one's focus dizzy and lead to poetic shallows more than the depths -- I was a victim and perpetrator of prejudice against this talented poet.

I fell prey to behaving in the very same way we rail against as self-appointed moral guardians of our fellow humanity, and it was only on hearing her speak this weekend that the appallingly sloppy and misinformed manner i had exhibited in relation to her, fully hit home.

Until then, I had decided on the basis of ignorance and jealousy, to cast her as a wicked witch, based on nought but double standards, heresay and the tittle tattle of commentators with a comedic bent, swimming in seas of misanthropy and sexism dressed up as the gauche longueur of world weary Larkinesque figures who claim verbal ability can legitimise what harm their self-expression may cause, seeking to negate any psychological impact by excusing it through their wholly male genius.

I had damned her on the basis of gender and talent, attempting to disguise it as something noble and in the public interest to rant against her poetry, on the simple basis of begrudgery. But her appointement set me free and brought into focus the similarities, comedically outweighing any miniscule differences my theoretical speculative discourse aiming to demob the house of Windsor might effect in existential reality. A shouter on the boards, unheard and ignored until the truer note appeared, slowly emerging and finally freeing into song on the appointment of the new laureate.

Reading back the po-faced pose of the narrator/s in those experimental apprentice works of prose, I see them now for what they are - the seperating of substance from what is soulless and unworking. A different route, wholly new, understandably so, the online method of practice for the purpose of poetic attainment being an impossible reality prior to Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau creating a world wide web reality out of thin air 20 years ago.

Duffy's appointment is a good day for Poetry.


She is just like me, a private person with a clear poetic focus and desire to spread the gospel in order to materially improve the inward and outward lives of they for whom poetry is capable of doing so.

She started out, like me, at Liverpool's Dead Good Poets, in the Everyman Playhouse Bistro basement. Bestrode the same floor, saw the same faces, cut her creative teeth in the same no-frills plain speaking scouse milleau where humanity and horror, comedy and heartbreak founded the local culture there. The one place in Britain where soccer is the sole religion, all there was and is to cleave to when everything else fell away and poverty forced people to pool together in communal bond.

The Liverpool Echo is the voice of the city, and poems appear there sincerely written on the death of loved ones, which the more sophisticated, better spoken, will openly snigger and dismiss as being not pukker English, as though the English *we* is but seven or so people in the South East whose speaking voice cuts the air with inbred class. By comparison, scousers have the hardest uphill fight to verbal gravity, because they have so many strikes against them from birth. Born in Toxteth or one of the identikit swathe of project housing, the city's inhabitants are overwhelmingly working class, a deep substrata and cultural flux on which the sing-song mix of Lancashire Welsh and Irish, combine into the uniquely Liverpool accent whose borders are firmly fixed, ending at Maghul in the North, Halewood to the South and Prescot in the East.

A strictly defined band beyond which accent marks one out as wollyback outsider, the unmistakeable voice itself proof of status, belonging, religion and cult of being a scouser. A hard tough, lovable place with planetary potential for any artist working in the area of social change by words orated in a musical grace that is very difficult to imitate convincingly, and still to this day, a long and double edged shadow of the Fab Four hanging o'er any prospective balladeer and songsmith, poet and person seeking to inhabit that space the mop tops got by natural wit and ability to connect.

Liverpool's too small and even its poets have these four to thank for what happened to them. The centre of gravity there makes it difficult to break away into one's own note and only now, nearly fifty years hence, does a dreamy bluffer stand any chance of
wearing a different brand of rainement. Ditch the curly wig and lightwight nasal yer know there lah abhorrence middle class comedians foisted on the city before their routine of cod-socialist imposters proved exactly that. Elton and Enfield no more for the people of Liverpool than Motion will be rapping with Tupac.

Up the republic of Poetry !

Monday, May 04, 2009

Guest Post: Norbrit Pesky.

Rooms. Writing-rooms writers reconnoitre and delve into, in search of some spine-tingling inspiration begotten by chancing upon notebooks, draft manuscripts, pens and even the clothes of everyday wear our scriptural gods and goddeses wore as they peered through inward windows contemporary literate polity rotates out from and into. Revealing day to day around this business of being human we all share regardless of our capacity for reading - some spirit-spun sentience and psychological insight on the animus homosapien.

In a writer's case, they are also recorders of what manifestation of reality appears before them - spooling reel upon reel of fantasy, fiction and fact: wheeling page after page onto paper and electronic composition the reading-world has for its joy and woe. And from which we charge-in or stand-back, silently saying nothing. Silence itself investing rational animal civilization on which we measure ourselves itself as one species, with gravity.

Released to a literate mind via the eyes and aural ear: us placating in the charge of light, love, happiness and despair, their finely calibrated intelligences weighted and freighting forth into what's fought over and for; before being ultimately lost in a final breath. Forever spumes of Literature, serving whomsoever belongs in the gazing of such things, once and for all, for evermore - so we fantasize.

The exploratory telling deemed to inform, confuse, trick, whisk off to an island where nothing happens beyond the border of a skull - fulfilling what promise of the intellect and imagination, harnessed to Dickinson, Emerson, Fitzgerald, Greer, Hollingsworth, Imlah, Joyce, KKK, Lordan or Molière - names the name upon named entities in the act of live prayer. Evil backward mouthing a litany and list of authorial deities the addicted tick off in the activity of sayer-spotting.

Julian Barnes writes marvelously on his own obsessive hobby of perusing and owning all sorts of material objects and off-cuts from the lives of once living writers. A form of ghost-chase, habit and communing with spirits who inspire his own divination (divinare - to be inspired by a god), speaking for the ultimate author. Silence, prior to its forming into words.

The energy, implication and force before articulation shatters its one True meaning, silence understood by all of us has the silence of ultimate literacy, visually communicated. Pictures.

The pictures of writing-spaces. A modern IKEA lamp on smooth pearl gray panel, spotless, hi-tech, arranged beforehand to reflect a message, subtle, speaking a thousand words: This is Writer X - Invest.


I read an account by the English poet Desmond Swords going to a Yeats exhibition at the National Library of Ireland on Kildare Street, in the political district of the city, next door to the daily business of government - and on seeing Yeats' tattwas and other magical documents, carefully and methodically created and laid out by the author and the museum staff - had felt some Yeatsean force of immense silence pass through him and disable the mind, freezing it momentarily as though invaded by an alien form of far greater intelligence than our own.

Swords was mesmorised for several hours in the environment of this evocative Georgian building. Unlike the usual writer's objects he had witnessed and (ocassionaly) handled in person at the writers' houses he'd visited over the years - an acute sensation of being overcome by an alertness of some alien sapience whose intelligence rendered his own "but a speck on the mottled canvas of ink-veined brilliant night beneath the Aurora Borealis."

The experience, he said, could have been a milisecond or an eternity; but that wasn't the point. The point was, he'd connected to something which had come from without; from the mind of a dead writer whose magical and paranormal interests and research had led to Controllers becoming a prime source of mystical commune with those in the anima mundi who guided his intelligence and creativity to two poles in convergence, embodied in the initiation oath Yeats took on 3 March 1890, at 17 Fitzroy Street London.

Demon Est Deus Inversus, where good and evil neuter in an exapanse of nothingness. Becalmed silence and balancing cosmic fate of the universe Yeats mirrored in poetry of stone and sky, earth and sea - primary symbols of his fascination with Spirit Worlds in which he composed in the oppositional dead-centre of life's storm.

The pin-drop informational store of True knowledge for this esoteric Order he became Adeptus Exemptus (7=4) in during 1916, on reaching the eighth grade of the Golden Dawn's Inner Order.

"We are weighed down by the blood & the heavy weight of the bones
We are bound by flowers, & our feet are entangled in the green
and there is deceit in the singing of birds
It is time to be done with it all
The stars call & all the planets
and the purging fire of the moon
and yonder in the cold silence of cleansing night
may the dawn break & gates of day be set wide open"

Friday, May 01, 2009

Birds and Poetry

Birds, the symbol of our souls and deeply embedded in myth and mystical literature the world over, represent the ultimate freedom a poet can attain upon qualifying after their course yields - in original voice long imitative study and practice sets free to sing in its own note -- a spread of wings spanning the spectrum of skill and artistry needed to swim out amongst one's peers and capture the public imagination.

The 4500 line Persian poem منطق الطیر, Mantiq at-Tayr, (The Conference of the Birds) composed in 1177 by Sufi herbalist Farid ud-Din Attar is perhaps, besides being an exquisite example of Persian poetry - one of the most sublime and moving of anagogic texts of the Medieval Middle East.

The world's avian race, led by a leader in the form of the brightly coloured hoopoe, set out on a journey seeking the land of Simorgh.

Simorgh is the benevolent, female phoenix-like creature with the body of a peacock, claws of a lion and human head, large enough to carry off a whale and who roosts in the mythical Gaokerena tree (trans. ox-horn), or Tree of Life in Persian legend - with the juice of its fruit being an elixir of immortality in both Vedic and Zoroastrian tradition.
Rigveda (8.48.3, tr. Griffith) states:

"We have drunk Soma and become immortal;
we have attained the light, the Gods discovered.

Now what may foeman's malice do to harm us?
What, O Immortal, mortal man's deception?"

This being was a messenger between earth and sky and symbol of fertility and purification. So old it was said to have witnessed the destruction of the world three times, and every 1700 years, cast itself into flames and was reborn.

The birds of the world were seeking out the land of Simorgh and the name of the poem hinges on a very clever bit of wordplay, as simorgh also in Persian, means "thirty birds."

They travel through seven variously named valleys, each one bringing trials and tribulations, and one by one the birds drop out until thirty of them arrive at the fabled destination, and on doing so, discover that there is no mythical bird, only their own reflections in a lake, and this point attain transcendence on the realisation that the seed of enlightenment leading to the highest spiritual plane of understanding and acceptance, comes from within and is a process of drawing out. That we are merely a reflection of the Creator and cosmic pattern.

A super allegory.


Bird symbols are present throughout the poetries of the world and can represent many different aspects of civilisation and culture, as the image of flight can be used to depict anything the poet is capable of rendering it to. Birds of peace and of war.

The Tuatha Dé Danann triumvirate of war-goddess crows and ravens in Galeic legend, Badb, Macha and Nemain, daughters of Ernmas and apsects of the Mórrígan - all appear in numerous poetic narratives and reflect the opposite of peace and acceptance.

Scavengers of the battlefield who took on supernatural motifs in the pan-European Celtic culture prior to its eradication by Rome - Cúchulainn encounters the Mórrígan in both the Táin Bó Regamna (The Cattle Raid of Regamain) and the Táin Bó Cuailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley).
In the first cattle tale, she appears as a woman driving a heifer from Ulster and Cúchulainn, not realising her true identity, insults her and she retorts with threats and prophecying a coming battle in which he will be killed. Her final words:

"I guard your death."

In the Cooley narrative, four times during the intervals in the bouts of single-combat he is engaged in with Maeb of Connacht's various championswith at river fords, she appears in various forms. The first time as a young woman offering herself to him and which he refuses, then as an eel who trips him up: next as a wolf leading cattle to stampede across the ford, as a red heiffer leading the stampede and finally as an old woman milking a cow, bearing the scars he inflicted in her prior guises. She gives him a drink of milk and he blesses her wounds, healing them.

When his death comes, after being wounded in battle, he ties himself to a pillar of stone so he can die standing up, and it is only after the Mórrígan in raven form has landed on his shoulder, those present are brave enough to approach him, knowing he must be dead.


These are just two ways that birds in two of the most ancient poetic cultures, can appear in their respective traditions, and which embody and illustrate the inherent freedom of poetic expression such avian symbols are capable of effecting within our imaginations.

Another powerful bird, particularly in the bardic tradition, is the cuckoo, whose first sound at Beltane in May, signalled the end of another six month semester which had begun at Samhain, and the various grades of students, from focloc through to anruth, would put away the Auraicept na n-éces (learning methods of the knowing ones) on which the basis of their art was founded, and set forth to sing out of the woods.


This piece originally appeared on the Guardian Books Blog on Monday, in response to a blog about Poetry and Birds - but was deleted within hours of being posted under the username Senachie.

LOADSA TV (Live from Cassidy's)

The day begins at dawn
Just before the rush of pure cut chit chit chattin
gets surround sound switch on boiling into life.

They’re talking on the sofa
Tripping out celebritelly voices and whipping up instructions
that are pointing all directions

sending out to the brainwave central space
behold no loss or trace in space because
because; the tv told us so
to listen watch and have a go
at knocking up some cupboards
and cooking back to back on the milk spill chilled out chow mein show
with real life Zen presenters hookin’ up the gods above
and there
beyond the tube that place we’ll never go.

So ho ho ho

Santa Claus is comin skatin’ through the stars on invisible reindeer
dancing prancing
kicking in to life the cool dudes in the jungle
and sellin souls by bagloads down the tube chip chimney

squeezing tight the hard core stack of good good goodies
right bang on for year round always primetime Christmas floor show
with aunty Joan
Uncle Pat
Brother Ken and
chimin in
alzeim’ old timer Grandpa
givin in the loose talk on long gone no more yesterdays,

because; it’s gotta be here to spark in now and raise that roof to cloud burst shoutin loud
comin at yer
comin in yer
comin straight right through to lose what’s left before the goins getting good and gone

whistlin’ up the wishin’ slippy image
flickin ‘n frolerckin’
fast paced
livin in the corner box space
drippin’ intravenous and suckin’ leccy like there’s no tommorow

only this
only now
never then
coz; how's that gonna work?

Aint no chance of pullin’ round the sun before the settin’s settled down and done today;
switched dates
pumpin up the numbers
stretchin them the time
one by one
bye bye

go buy another one
five four three two one left off what’s not no longer on the outside
coz insides livin’ lifesize
spending daily bit by bit by byte wise
striking up the magic onscreen constant two four seven three six five forever

till TV trip out buckle up the wheel goin’ round down town;
and blowin in litter
so’s looking like a lotta trash’s gonna be goin’ head to head
thrashin’ out whose best by pollin’ mobile textin’ vote

cheap beep beatin’ numbers
breakin’ down the door spoken in the voice of god.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Americans in Dublin.

There are so many great American poets working, and so few reliable recommenders to know who they are who champion them.

I chanced across three very different ones in the last week, all with distinct reading styles.

Tonight it was Jane Hirshfield, who appeared at 15 Usher's Island on the South side of Dublin Quays, reading with Irish poet's John O'Donnell and Dennis O’Driscoll, marking the 40'th anniversary of the founding of The independent legal rights organisation, FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centre).

This is the house Joyce's aunt lived in when it was a tenament, and the current owner is involved in a voluntary restoration project. The whole house was lit by candle-light, with the room where his short story: The Dead, takes place, on the first floor of the house, set exactly as it appears in the tale. A set table next to the hearth of a fire-place. The room next door was full of food and drink which we partook in after the reading.

Hirshfield reads with a very precise, almost verbal staccato delivery, softened by an exact music which reaches towards song whilst never falling conspicuously into it. Uniquely American and very distinctive. Her chimes and rhymes not clanging, are very deft and her poems not spoken in the more sing-song lyrical mode which Irish-Americans Lynch and O'Callaghan's do. This is not to say either is better or worse, merely uniquely themselves.

A treat to hear this fundamental difference between the European and American English poetic by one of the best.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Noel Sweeney (Live from Kilmainham)

Woke early this morning

To the sounds of you leaving
Clipping the wings
Of a new day dawning.

I grieve-like, then cleave
To space in bed
Where an angel used to be.

Ah ! faint form - like breathing
The ghost: tasting it wholly

As it hovers in, on, around,
Under the bed-cover - only
A memory.

To discover, I turn again
To sleep, eat dreams, sweet
Dreams fed to the soul

While spirit-like
On a silver thread, it's you
Inside my head.

As I lay in solace on a half-
Empty bed
You creep-like, come flirting

With the shadows, born
Again in traces of R - E - M.

Five Tombs Told

Dún Fhearghusa (Newgrange) on a bend in the Boyne valley, 5000 years old and restored by Prof. Michael J. O’Kelly, from the Department of Archaeology, University College, Cork; was originally a tomb and its corbeled roof has never leaked since it was built in 3000BC.


Highgate cemetry, Karl Marx, i think i saw once, or perhaps not. If i did it was a singularly uninspiring experience.


Keats in Hampstead Parish Church is different, as there is a marvelous John Keats memorial bench in the small cemetery attached to what is perhaps, the most pukka parish in the entire Kingdom of England, tucked away behind foliage and used only by junkies and various classes of working people on a break.

Here is a sense of peace; as it is “the first memorial to the poet John Keats on English ground” - as the Westminster Gazzette reported it in 1894, when Edmund Gosse took possession of a marble bust from the pioneering poet Bret Harte (1836-1902).

Harte was born in Albany New York and moved to California in 1853 at the age of seventeen during the gold rush, taking up various jobs until finding one as a printer's helper in San Francisco, where he turned his hand to writing and journalism. He shot to fame in 1868, when the editor of Californian periodical, Overland Review, with a story called The Luck of Roaring Camp, a tale of miners in the Californian gold rush.

In the latter half of 1870 his poem Plain Language from Truthful James - a satire on the racism shown by Irish labourers in North California to the Chinese competing for the same work, was unfortunately read by the middle class readers straight, as a legitimate object of cultural-criticism-as-art, to justify their own prejudices against the Chinese. He later called the poem *trash* and “the worst poem I ever wrote, possibly the worst poem anyone ever wrote.”


Harte is an interesting figure in American letters, at one time Mark Twains chief literary rival, whose early works lead him to syndicated fame across the American West, (with the poem above that gained a common title: The Chinese Heathen). In 1871 he returned to Boston and signed an unprecedented $10,000 a year contract to write for the Atlantic Monthly. By by the end of 1872 however, Harte had fallen out of favour and was reduced to lecturing on the gold rush and selling jingle-ads to a soap company.

He ended up a diplomat and intertwined with the men of letters who in his time, united under the aegis of Harvard historian and prof. Charles Eliot Norton; son of a Harvard professor of Scared Literature and the man most credited with accelerating the college into what Harvard is today.

Harte died in 1902 and is buried in St Peter’s Church, Frimley, Surrey, England, and Keats remains in the Protestant cemetery in Rome, (his legacy the largest collection of papers at Harvard), the hero *snuffed out by an article* as Shelly wrote.


Shelley's heart is interred in a grave next to Mary Shelly’s in St. Peters Church Bournemouth, and the funary votive rites of poet and audience conferred in the level of vitriolic abuse forerunners from the then avant-garde of a Romantic-vatic lot of heavy boozing transgressors - set off in crazee mixed up mad-heads - their contemporary trolls here online, making me a shakey laureate who roars of tombs in which dead ghosts drawing sustenance of shadowy substantive proofs of the heavier sort, sail into steep ascent, blowing across the top of a nunatuk someplace - Slievemore, or Croaghaun cliffs perhaps (pictured) on Achill island, where the Hawk of Time swirls above the sod.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reading and Writing: Part One

Every Saturday and Sunday, three second-hand bookstalls appear in Dublin's Temple Bar Square, a stones-throw from the river Liffey. One in particular is run by a chap (sat down with his back to us in the photo) who is the moustachioed, fez-wearing shopkeeper to my Mister Ben - (from the children's TV series of that name, whose secret doorway and portal to the otherworldly adventures was a changing room in a fancy dress shop) - and it is (partly) for this reason i call his foldaway cart: The Magic Bookstall.

There is (what feels like at least), a supernatural element and aroma surrounding the whole business of purchasing books from this man. My small library of books, is founded on the foundational stock from his wooden crate boxes.

Several years ago, I began buying books from him. Every weekend I would wander into the Square and acquire those books whose titles and content seemed most apt; with the act of buying, seeming like serendipity itself - as the process of selection was entirely extemporanous and never deciding prior to spotting the book but knowing intuitively: that book is the next one i must get.

Every book delivered by the gods of Fate, and i learnt to trust in a seemingly chaotic and random princple as the moment of satisfation and intellectual succor connected ultimately to some higher, empyreal calling and essentially, a celebratory inward event: like scoring a spiritual goal in a game-with-self and saying "ye hey, the old magic's alive and well."

And it was a few months ago that I instinctively understood the first phase of my relationship with the Magic Bookstall, had ended after the cart was emptied of the stock, ordered for me it seemed, from Heaven itself.

Until that weekend a few months ago, every Saturday or Sunday saw me ferrying away at least one and often four and five volumes, and it felt as though the stall would never run dry of magic titles i had to have in order to found reality as an intellectually creative observer and painter of verbal shapes seeking a stay against the calamity of Dublin life.

Finally, i came to know that a plateau had been reached, from where one first becomes conscious, can gaze across and clarify in a comprehensible manner, thesteps of the journey to where we are at present - on a firm inner ground paved by pages from the Magic Bookstall - and also Chapters vast second hand floor in their new premises on Parnell Street opposite Lidl, in the Moore Street district where the call and cry of an inimitable inner city Dublin accent selling fruit and flowers, ring as clear and fluted now, as it has done for generations.

There is powerful magic there also, but one yet to be harnessed. It is not the supernal mist invoked by the most unique profession of Dublin flower sellers that is the subject of this blog-post - but of a different, felicitous and befitting, otherworldly aspect surrounding the appropriation and appropriateness of the books to hand upon the shelves of my small library. One which began life in libraires vast and small from (conceivably) all across the planet, and which came to rest, finally, several yards from the Heavenly Cafe, where i would (and still to this very day), decant to read and watch society's fabric spin and yarn from distaff and spindle, to create a prosaic picture with all the awkward bits left in. Flawed yes, accurate - perhaps.

Inscriptions I have found in many of the books an other, ultimately inexplicable force led me to hook and slope off home with after a few pleasant hours perusal and coffee, gazing at the traffic hithering and tithering to and fro about the square - usually with live music of various description and ability wafting across from the corners of the six or so streets which converge into the quad where anything can happen, any book yield itself up in the vendors cart-like contraption holding the boxes in which the cargo stares, inviting us to take them home.

A copy of James Michie's English translations of Horace's Odes, purchased pretty much at the begining of my affair with the otherworldly aspect of poetic life several years ago,

"Ingest and become as one with the Muse

much love, Patrick"


The identity of the dedicator and the person who the volume is dedicated to, no one knows, yet the warmth and cordiality of the platonic love, is evident. Often-times i think it Patrick Kavanagh dedicating to Seamus Heaney, or another less well known Patrick sending it forward to someone else. It could be anyone. It could even have been a relative or freind of my parents or grandparents perhaps, i wonder now and again as I gaze longingly at the perfectly executed copper-plate script, day dreaming and lost in inventions of pretense, fabricating histories and lineages on the strength of eleven words in fading red ink.

Ah !

Friday, April 10, 2009

James Kelly. Good Friday?

Good Friday?

Grant me sleep
Even in this raw shaking spring -
And a new bird in a tree. Fill me
With your
Good news,
Or mould me
In your red

Spend a million years
In the hunger of my hands,
When every tree waved
And every shadow grew.

Passion was
A profane clause to unite the lonely
Blood that spilled into me.
From the intrique
Of flesh and lust.
And lies of lust.
And love and
Lies of love.

Where I've waited to be chosen,
I'm being fashioned for whoredom,
Born in the breast
And I beg
To feel
The beauty that you see
In the rustle of the brown
Green tree.


I bumped into James Kelly on Grafton street and secured a copy of his new chapbook. I have just invested in an audio recorder, with the intention of capturing live poetry events, and so recorded him reading his poem: Good Friday?

On Monday I will be at Ó Bhéal's Second Anniversary in Cork to record:

...the celebration of 100 nights of poetry with the launches of How the Light Gets in … and Five Words - Volume II.

How the Light Gets in … is the fourth in a series of Irish & Canadian anthologies of poetry edited by poet John Ennis. The volume is dedicated solely to Canadian verse and is illuminated by the works of established artists as well as by new talent from both sides of the Atlantic. This launch will feature a number of poems in the anthology, read by poets John Ennis, Tom McCarthy, Patrick Cotter, Billy Ramsell, Leanne O’Sullivan and Paul Casey.

With the occasion of Ó Bhéal’s second Anniversary comes the launch of Five Words - Volume II, the second collection of poems selected from poetry challenges, held before our weekly guests and open-mic sessions during the last year. Poets published in this volume who are present on the evening will read from their entries.

Readings will last between 30-45 minutes after which there will be the usual open-mic session. The night begins with a Poetry Challenge starting around 9.00pm. Guest poets begin between 9.30pm and 10.00pm.

Venue: the Hayloft, upstairs at The Long Valley, Winthrop St, Cork
Time: 9.00 pm
Admission: Free

T: 085 712 6299

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Time (Live from Kilmainham)

Remember when we laughed at life square on
in days existing now as only memories held inside,
distanced from this moment
by rotation measured time
we'll never halt
or with any words define?

Words will conjure images
and spark all sorts of trains of thought
careering through the mind,
like kaleidoscopic pictures,
but these we only glimpse upon in passing
with internal eyes
that swiftly frame in wordless abstract
any meaning they divine.

Some things lay beyond
where conscious grasp can't reach,
for time, like truth, is each our own,
unfurls unique to one and all
and lives are lived as days have gone,
no two the same
beyond the passing of horizons by the sun.

And should the echoes of our laughter then return,
when suns now set
outweigh the ones for rising,
will they live with those we leave behind,
when our stream of time no longer flows
and lips of life cease smiling?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Doo Wap: Fashion.

The obvious tenet on which the concept of Fashion is founded, is the principle of the fewer the more fashionable, achieved through either exhorbitant prices or extremely sophisticated (good?) taste.

As a life long fashion no-go area sartorially, I cannot begin to pretend to speak with authority on fashion; but as a younger chap, remember it well. Lime green kecks (pants) at the barn dance. The very memorable goon of dropping a full cup of hot chocolate over myself at nine ten am on the first day of sixth form, where I had appeared in white canvas trousers, spending the rest of the day unable to compete.

Echo and the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes and Wah! (with the exclamation mark) LP's in the fifth-form dinner break when the final year had access to a record player - clutched and paraded with the covers out. Wedge haircuts, reversable parkers (blue and yellow) - kicker boots, la coste, fruit of the loom, watching Not the Nine O'Clock news before everyone else and cottoning on first to the next big thing; like listening to Boy: U2.

All these activities, I was a failure at getting right and didn't even try, drawn as I was to Elvis and the Wolfe Tones instead of the Liverpool lips and rock gods, still going, like JCC, exactly the same, still ranting about the working class not getting a break and stuck in a time warp, John Cooper Clarke's brain and fashion sense trapped in 1983. Groundhog Day. God Save the Queen. Sid and Nancy: nothing changed, everything remains the same the more change happens.

Fashion: turn to the left (1997). Fashion: turn to the right (2010) - perhaps, when Dave (Cameron) becomes the new Tone (Blair) as squats and general poverty get trendy again: perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Day and Hudson, Rock and Doris, drainpipes and quiffs, long hair and skins, swings and rondabouts, men and women, the impelling desire for love and nothingness held in equipoise between head and heart, between the legs and ears, always fashion steers us along to what we become - and on the cobbles its distressing for a fee: ripped jeans jack and sean and Johnnie G, auld ear air sings free, hears above the cocophony toing and froing about the table: benevolence or sneer on the blank and empty canvas.

Fashion what's within to be, original and uniquely wee ewe eyes of blinding night's epiphany and scream for moi, moi moi before the stock's all gone and nothing's left but God fashioning us.


barks the word verification.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Philip L's Fetish for Spank Mags

We are all stars, but some of us are gazing in the gutter - ha ha ha.

Are we not clever dearest fops, in a fallen age of awfully logical angelic buttercups praying to a yellow cob of sun - ho ho ho: aren't we so dainty with our hair so flopped and fingernails manicured to mirror the transulence of rain in a verbal storm of moi moi moi - ha ha ha ha.

oh ! Oscar, darling, Lord Sloames is driving to Hyde Park in his hanson, would you like a lift?

I always find being transported in tradesperson's carriages, rather distatestful - it's like asking one's butcher for advice on interior furnishings.

ho ho ha, yes my dear boy, but have you not heard, asking one's butcher for advice on interior decor, is not unlike drinking champagne with one's footman - perfectly acceptable as long as one of you know where the sausages go.

ho ho ha, but Bunty dearest chum, knowing where the footman's sausage goes, is not unlike inquiring of a harlot at St Pauls cathedral, supremely tasteless unless the vicar's an actress and everything's onstage at the Clarion and the audience is occupied with the pieties of the common fawns, alright for holidays in Brixham, but not for bollockings of cocksmen - ha ha ha ha ha - and then, after turning into a politically correct puff - of air - ha ha ha - so wickedly, we should be strung up by the new artists of the post-millenium age.

Oh really Oscar my darling, and why so, pray tell?

Well, because have you not heard, everything's absurdly amusing as long as we stick to a script in which one affects the ticks and tricks of aristocratic micks.

You can't say mick, only that the sausages are thick - ha ha ha - Oscar you nob, deserving to tread that mill for all the teen rents you despoiled, and your memory can rot in that tent square peg for all we care, coz we are sick - sick of the spank-mags, mogs and boons, the wolly nogs and fools who say we've to hide our real thoughts on you bleddy bog trotting mockers of the one true grace, behind a consumate laureate bending in the breeze.


God save the Queen


Larkin abaaahhhhht..