- Vol. 05
- Chapter 06
Phones, homes and totem poles
One day, probably soon, every advert will look like this. Because they won’t even be adverts. Just reminders of where we sit in the metropolis, pedestalled above the mist, looking down, at our phones. After narcissism loses its saleability, after the self becomes banal, we’ll pan out to something wider, mid frame, positioning ourselves as a silhouette almost camouflaged in the skyline. A faint reminder that we’re still, you know, important, but, you know, small.
I think what I’m trying to say here is that they’ll have to find new ways of getting us to buy into ourselves. Animojis and studio lit selfies will only go so far. I mean, the script for World War 3 has arrived and these bad actors are actually giving it a read through, so mastery of a post apocalyptic realm might be the next hot sell. Higher than the high rises, jet black on rose gold. When the future finally looks old. When the whole world becomes a game of Don’t Touch the Lava, leaving you standing on a totem pole wondering when it’s time for dinner.
I read somewhere once that the top of the totem pole isn’t the most prominent position. Something about the bottom being the top because it’s the most foundational piece. Ok, full disclosure, I just googled it and yes, as I thought, the bottom piece is often the best carved - the low figure has the most value. Ok, real full disclosure, I didn't read that somewhere, I remember it from a lyric website in which some internet user somewhere explained that Jay Z was wrong to say he’s on top of the totem pole if he was trying to intimate that he’s more important than you are. The song in question is ‘Clique’ by Kanye West. Music might be on the ground floor of totem pole knowledge. I don't believe in low art. I wonder what's propping him up.
Where are you safe?where are you safe? is it where you sit
with your back to the wall
the room humming and clinking
at your beck and call
the entrance in view, cut glass in your hand
when danger strolls through the slow yawning door
the sweet on your tongue prickling away
how do you flee? is there a back way?
a car in the alley revving and ready
what if it’s a stranger spinning the wheel
watching you in the rear view
hand in a pocket, locks sliding home
buildings slip by a crushed velvet sky
exit the car, cue the next scene
it’s an empty road, no one in sight
hollow housing on the left
lots on the right
there on the corner under construction
someone might wait
camouflaged by concrete
smooth runs of slate
so many ways to crumble and stun
so many fewer to rear back and run
Today the sun was signalling its arrival by flooding the sky with graduated layers of orange as Martha rode the intercity to work. Dusky near the earth’s surface, getting lighter the higher her eye rose. She caught a glimpse of something startling. A figure, standing on top of the needle monument – a man, a silhouette, black against the glow, an outline like the skyscrapers behind him.
Evening. She’s alone in the apartment. She’s eaten her portion of the noodle salad she made with chillies, spring onion, and cashew nuts in front of the large-screen TV. She dozes before CNN.
The sound of the door wakes her. Dan walks in, shrugs off his shoulder bag, and opens the fridge. ‘There’s noodle salad,’ she says. ‘I ate at the bar.’ ‘I’ve forgotten who you were meeting.’ ‘I didn’t tell you. The Austrians. We did the deal this afternoon, all sealed.’ ‘What time is it?’ He doesn’t answer, but walks towards the bathroom, carrying a beer. She listens to him pissing, not washing his hands, coming back into the room. ‘Can I have a beer?’ she says. ‘No.’ They hold each other’s gaze. ‘This is the last one. You should’ve drunk it earlier.’ She continues to watch him. He continues to drink the beer. ‘I saw a strange thing this morning,’ she says. ‘There was a man on top of the needle monument. Just standing there… I wonder how he got there.’ Read more >
STANDING ON THE EDGE
Standing on the precipice Flying into the sun Wondering about my life When my days are done
Spiraling out in endless circles Like a stone cast upon a lake Images flash before my eyes Are they real or are they fake?
Once I cross that river And pay Charon his toll What will remain of my work When I am a wandering soul
Finally, I can see above the smog of Satan and glimpse the rose horizon, filtered and new. I am still marked by the long days below, silhouetted dark and bent, as I wait, brow furrowed, for the bright dawn of innocent, clean intent No more drunken, shrunken days – hidden in corners. My upright spine will stretch to the light source, and force my blinking, blinkered eyes to see the skies. I look across at towers, steeples, minarets erect and understand the need of human kind to rise above the dross and reach heavenwards, owning all the toss and turn of months to come.
if you head east on the pulaski, you’ll see for yourself what it means to be alive
it was right here i was standing when the moon came out from behind the door where it hid most of the night, and they say we are not automatons, that we have our own mind if which we're all aware and which guide us through this world, but some mornings it feels as though our greater fears might just be confirmed: we are only accidents with consciousness running through this existence giving life and taking life where our collective id demands… have you seen them, by any chance, the ones frozen for all time, the ones planted in the same, the tides overtaking them twice daily?… have you seen them, the ones aimed at the east so that it appears as though they're welcoming the dawn when, if you ever asked, they wouldn't really know why they were there?… oh, i think you have seen them, we've all seen them, it's just that at times our memory won't allow us to access what it knows might send us all over the edge for once and for all… but do you see how beautiful the colors, how busy the scenery? –do you see how it all distracts from the question implicit and yet so obvious, it's just a farce of a farce that we're all not struggling with it: our bodies disintegrate a little more every day, yet there's the biological imperative to make us think we'll live on through our children, in our bloodline… we die and there's nothing at all can be done about it, so look up at the moon that inches every more slowly out of orbit, that will one day be gone, but no worries because your children's children's children might just be where we are now and struggling with the same question of consciousness, of existence… and what might they discover that we could never in our own lifetime?…Read more >
Above It All
Sometimes I need to be out of the fray, above the drama and the darkness, look down on it all, be part of the scarlet sky and the jagged skyline. Sometimes I will climb so high that I'll have no way back, no wish to go back only to stay above it all.
BEFORE THE ALARM
I can’t talk about how to stand and stare from such a height that stomach flies up between lungs in shock and tongue halts in its tracks and fear is 350 degrees of air; there’s nothing to hold onto while thinking in overwhelming gasps that falling is death.
And yet the evidence of human existence in a waking world when dawn lights rooftops creating skyline, not war-torn, myriad forms mingling before breakfast side-by-side, tall and gangly looking down at smaller family checking to see if all is well in their world.
People use ta sit atop flagpoles didja hear about that granpa told me once said he saw it back I dunno years ago the twenties or something says he saw a guy just shimmy to the top a one and sit there for a week perched there like a little danged bird folks sending food and drink and such up along a rope and how did he bathroom but granpa didn't know thought maybe he did it at night when everyone was asleep like little danged birds do he said sometimes it was popular, yeah popular enough that he had a dream once where he got up to go to work and every pole he passed had a fella perched on top of it waving down at him and when he got to his job his desk had been moved to the top of a pole and he boss told him ya know what can you do that's how it's done now and you just can't fight it.
THE BIRTH OF SONG
there's something about feeling on top of the world especially when you get there even if your pinnacle is not quite the highest not quite totally above all the rest
of manmade detritus – each pillar its own point of no return to the murky ground far below where everything else is alleged to happen
while the main life decisions are here always about to happen as you poise yourself above it all at last – search in your mind for a jaunty tune
once well known – on the tip of your tongue – soon you will remember and begin to sing
Philippe Petit drew a string from one end of earth to another. Then he risked it all. To look down would leave him with nothing. Worse, it would take down hope, from the millions who look above, for little mercies. The New Yorker once profiled him: 'The wire is life', he said. 'All else is waiting...'
This is about the all else, the waiting. No strings attached, just the sheer drop from here to eternity, in a matter of seconds.
But what grace. To stay on top, with the calm of a mermaid in Copenhagen, perched above, made to wait for dawn before beginning afresh.
Look how she looks down, at the tremors below, at our little heartaches, in our little houses, when the beast is fast asleep, still a few more hours before it springs to life, on the street, inside the stock market, with its bustle and the manic bull runs
But for a moment, the sun too takes a pause, and wonders, with her, what makes the buildings stay where they are
and what makes us, all, all bones and spirit, move, a moment at a time, without any thought of eternity.
To the Apocalypse
Looking at the city from above, This isn’t how it was supposed to be. Living in half light, the place I love.
My home that I once felt unworthy of Is sinking now in mist, away from me. Looking at the city from above.
The shock comes hard at me, a boxing glove. Apocalypse that makes me want to flee. Living in half light, the place I love.
The buildings now may fall with slightest shove With orange carbon all that I can see: Looking at the city from above
A cataclysmic gloom that none speak of, Suffocating nature – every tree Living in half light, the place I love
If only we’d let fly the mournful dove, Made leaders listen to our desperate plea. Looking at the city from above Living in half light, the place I love.
When I used to pray, I imagined I held God's ear in the palms of my hands.
I hoped for a better world.
Later I saw my palmar crease as a telegraph line line to simian ancestry.
I prayed for better beginnings.
Now when I clasp my hands, I try to reach a future life to ask them/her/him,
Was I remembered, loved?
All he wants is the sound of a voice a hello, how are you, how is life in the city?
All he gets is unavailable, the chance to leave a voicemail message, he tries to make it witty.
He dials the house phone just to hear his mother’s voice, a recorded message in bitty
hesitant speech. It’s a comfort in this lonely place where there is no pity
for a new face trying to fit in. He is a silhouette, a needlepoint in the darkening towers, dizzy,
from it all and longing for contact, a voice from home to warm his chilly heart.
With a clear sky I can see for miles. I try to catch the bread and wine
thrown upwards as if the lobbers feel – once caught – all their prayers are answered.
What is it about folk who decide to be alone in caves, on mountains, on tall pillars,
cut themselves off from the nine-to-five, regular grind blistered in sun,
buffeted by gusts, hailstone pelted, rain sodden, bloodied by ice,
and oiled young bucks in gangs who wang stones to dislodge me from this precipice,
seethe at my chosen difference, see a hoity fella puts himself
above others, show off, poseur, while others try to tempt me
as if I'm in a desert, promise money, fleshly pleasures if only I come down
off my pedestal? Close my eyes, hear city hawkers and hustlers, ice-cream
vans musical wind up and down streets, prayer call of mosques, toll of iron bells.Read more >
Kissing the Pink
In the pink, on top of the world, Ma The shepherd’s sky is my delight And I can almost touch it, Reach out to pluck the rose Blooding the world As its petals drift down Confetti flakes congealing Into a blushing pillow Waiting for me to close my eyes And fall into that final sleep
It was not you but your pedestal that stalled me, foot on the pedal, knotted my tongue with flame
You above the city candles burning at your feet marble and smoke-smudged
It was not your arms but your inhalation that pulled me up above the purple mist, wingless
You in my arms without a safety net breath of oranges
and me afraid to exhale
I spent hours in front of your alter ego at the Kunsthalle, that hot summer in Hamburg, trying to see through the mist and to interpret those peaks one by one, and trying to imagine his expression: wonder, awe, concern, excitement, or mere relief, after the long and strenuous climb?
His light shades of grey and blue have turned red and black for you, his day is your sunset, he stands straight while you’re curved: tell me, urban wanderer, what is it you see in those peaks, through the sea of fog? Is it your past or your future? Hope or despair?
Two dark-cloaked wanderers above two misty seas— Neither will reveal what he thinks, or what he sees.
APRIL FOOL’S DAY
Who could have foreseen that the wilderness Would evolve into this metropolis? You know who. I stood here at the top of this pillar Thirty-seven years before I died. When I woke up in Heaven I found myself here, And the multitudes followed me, And believed in me, And they had to have somewhere to live, And one thing led to another In a linear causality. They worship their own reflections. All of their skyscrapers are like this pillar. All of their works are geared to my fixity. Now they have forgotten me, Though I tower over all they have done. I don’t know if this is wrong or right. I don’t know if this is dawn or sunset. I once believed in God; Now I believe only in standing here, My head bowed toward the abyss of the Machine. Vague ideas of souls grope in the darkness; My own soul lingers Like a mist that bewilders the city that never sleeps.
Déjà vu (You’ve heard it all before)
A dull lull ... The airborne copper chokes.
A slight green blip, you note, resists extinction. Throats and throttled heights cannot.
No superhero swings or swoops through town. No sirens summon help.
It’s your dry dream in which the gaze snags on a lofty silhouette,
appalled at what it sees: boomtown darkened. Humanity blacked out.
And yet how obvious it is: that aghast figure, and the rest.
You’ve had this dream before. you woke and watched your neighbour mow his lawn.
You woke (perhaps you’ve dreamt this much) and watched commuters sway and snore.
You’ve had this dream. You’ve had this dream already. Dreamt this stifled park.
You dreamt it all already, this arid scream in amber. So you call
the future: *déjà vu*. Somehow, it still sticks you to your plinth.
Carved out of stone?
He will not fall He is on the mantle of power, even if the city is oblivious, hidden under smog don't disturb him he wants to be left alone and take a bumpy ride on the cleft of the city if he does (fall) the morning rooster will signal otherwise sleep you city this is a man carved out of stone?
BALLAD OF A GAELIC PROPHET
In my brief time upon this earth I learnt of great things done and felt souls’ tendrils gather, swell at wonderful tales sung.
Through all the wanderings I breathed the air which The One spoke and, after each bejewelled night, supped of it when I woke.
But bickering came upon my kin so petty that I wept over which chief should be kingpin. I drew my cloak and slept.
My slumber broke upon this shore, stirred by malignant curse – watched wisdom and evil grow; world’s ears to truth averse.
But as I sadly walked the beach, I heard sea-shells chuckle. Beyond death their tan and peach still held beauty muckle.
I see as from the tallest pole a future without net where some will strive and some will fold beneath crimson sunset.
There Are No LilacsAfter 'The Waste Land' – TS Eliot
There are no lilacs. Lies, in April – forgetful ashfalls delay us.
Everywhere, elegies quicken in the dead land that I stand above.
My dull eyes in the ombre evening surprise me with neon.
Pinpricked, the towers are a horizon suffused with my vertigo.
Heap of broken images the last sun beats on.
I don’t read just words on screen, but the wind’s message: the ferrous tang.
I am the shadow on the red rock, rising. Hope of rain.Read more >
There are few blossoms in the city yet, save a misty cerise-tinged sunset; one can only imagine a haze of cherry flowers pinking up the skyline, defining sooty silhouettes. Who am I to criticise a city dweller who climbs high enough into the sky to smell the distant scent of the trees in my garden?
When you are ready to plunge into a new life in a new city you must:
surrender to the dread in your gut, now writing daily letters to your head outlining every single way in which this could go wrong
accept you will be lost far longer than it takes to know the streets around your rented room with the bold strokes of mould you were never introduced to when you viewed the place
reach for the rose-tinted glasses that will cloud your vision whenever the hell of that sketchy walk home or tourist-crammed train carriage slip over into physical torture
know, without reserve, that one day looking down from a high window or up from a grimy pavement floor you will look at this city and think "what on earth am I doing here?"
What There is to Lose
The man on top of the tower says he doesn't know how he got there. He's been there for as long as he can remember – all his life. His father and his father's father and his father's father's father before him each took up the post. The man on top of the tower complains of loneliness and tells us that we don't know how hard it is, that he never asked for this. But as he surveys the city and the world beyond it, the view is spectacular. All that is his, bathed in orange. Make no mistake, he'll stamp on as many fingers as necessary to preserve his spot. The thing is, from up there, he can admire the view, but he can't see the people below, on whom the sun is yet to rise. He can't see them or hear them or know them. And for a man in his position, surprises can be fatal.
It’s our time. We are trending. In that moment we own our city. We are explorers on the edge. The city is fast but the shutter speed is slow, pausing time to capture the illicit perspective, the discovery, the truth. Placing us in our version.
Every day the sun goes down and they choose to be in the dark. We show you the city in light refracted by particulate matter. Isn’t it beautiful? We are wide awake.
They take away our liberty and we take it back. The heart stopping height distils life into its purest form. We press up against the boundaries of freedom and become omniscient. We steal our agency but our children inhale the rose tinted view.
Tall Ship Tilting
In the sinking play pit Clutching tightly might be Might not be inevitable Path crack piss sinking pit sand Avoid steep drop Bulge rung empty ladder Self-inflicted perilous divinity Cherry-pick cherished thrills Sea thrilling infidelity Preferring shifting ground Totem obscurity to low tide Kite high fidelity precipitous Grasping clutching hills Vinegar piss waterfall
From where I stand Greed runs rampant in the streets Knocking on doors Stealing the joy of all it meets Careful, don't look it straight in the eyes The evil cold stare Will take your soul as its prize For it gives no thought to the pain it might cause The hungry mouths that cry out Sick children dying to live, filled full of outdated, overpriced drugs It cares not for inequalities: The poor become poorer The wealthy pocket what's left at the poor's expense As greed smiles sadistically, a blissful agonizer When will the people of the world see through its charade? They're signing deals with the devil Meanwhile, greed's got it made.
We woke to witness the second dawn after the collapse of the moon and felt the grit beneath our tongues of all that had once been.
We collected up each scattered part in chunks and pebbles and dust recognizing each fragment as grains of self only the dregs that remain.
We knew the earth would realign no less stable underfoot but seasonless, no turning tide and days raised like blisters on the palm.
We few survivors of the second day after the sky fell down must scratch our story on broken walls and go to ground in early graves.
MEASURE OF MAN
At the twilight hour, standing atop this fearful symmetry I contemplate the palaces of art and the stairway to heaven, feel the air’s buoyancy as I watch the traffic tail-lights three thousand feet below: this world, a miniature menagerie.
The forests have been decimated, no tigers roam there, the hawk is just an outdated fighter craft finding a corner in a museum basement. The naked shingles of the ocean is a distant sound. The dolphins call no more. Forsaken and desolate are the gardens. Only, cities catacomb end to end: towers, tunnels, bridges, roads, connecting nothing with nothing. People swarming, jostling, running, clenching, clinching, filling, pushing, shoving, tripping, falling, connecting nothing with nothing.
The vision is fed into an auto-run machine and locked. The brain, the nerves, the heart are scanned and wired and clocked. The future prognosticated and docked. In short, the clock chimes of nothing else but good times. Read more >
Each day begins with me standing high on my pedestal Looking down on shadowy morals murky ethics exotic mores foreign values questionable principles of so many others Small people in my mind Invisible in their worth My lofty ideals dwarf their being set me apart high in my own esteem and leave me standing all alone in solitary solidarity at each day’s end
Bad NewsWake early and veer
off the edge of a day
begun like retrospect:
a dawn of fresh
I already know it:
I've already seen myself
watching the city
form and collapse
at my feet:
while a sandstorm blows in light from a distance
All night long, after dainty dusks the city lights blink telling devious stories of handsome thieves and studious cab drivers who wonder absently which foreign language – uncurbed ambition, avarice – will enter their ears each time they pick a man standing listlessly by a crane which forms an elegant line of defence in the early morning skyline of their youth.
dance angel bird, dance
you can only dance so far on the head of a pin, right angel? fall closer to the left of the edge – the cusp of dawn's twilight won't be cradling you tonight – too many tongues are licking flames in this glow you only remember the long shadows of a tequila shot bleed your eyes pleading pale pink hibiscus tea tears stagging for staggering as your mouth stuttered itself into guppy "ohs" then shrieking, birding itself into a tinny siren wail "noooooo!"
now you find yourself twining to a mother-of-pearl translucence it has reversed itself like a wet t-shirt a second skin you can't peel away standing in thisonthis outpost feathering a tongue thick in your mouth in this scraped scrapped landscape – you don't know where you are for the vertigo high below, above down a shattered pocket mirror on the right edge silently screaming echoes to the forgotten dead preaching to the no one of yourself
there are too many nails here but first skin bleeds into a second coming scented with moss roses you'll dance with the only now you've got dive-inely clutching the promise of any . how time cracking itself open like a freshly laid egg coming to rest on a pin's head this sizzle cusp crust, before you fly away
Standing on the Patriarchal LensStanding on the patriarchal lens – day breaks. The tallest peak to conquer them all, the mist and fog that surrounds me as I'm blinded. What is below when the world is asleep and I'm awake. Awake to it all – the duality of existence as conflicting rivals never rest. The only light that shines is from below – it's on and ready. Ready to start capitalism and fueled, engine rev up. Where I stand, I see it all, the mist is all around me, foreboding, waking, early – it's safe here.
The Rising Fall
The high and the low Of the tiny Upgraded world – Swiping through the needles Of these sky towers; And jumping through the masses of Clustered apartments; It travels: Here and there. It moves: Forward back; And returns: To its origin. This huge dusky sky And the infinite dusty roads: Stand still – the humanity Rising and falling From dusk To Dust.
I was a child who could fly, a wisp of bone on the wind. Dreams delivered me into the clouds, weightless above the loneliness of coming in last and failing to be beautiful.
I was a teenager caught on a spark of emptiness, a witness to lives picked apart by disease. Nightmares crept under my skin and altered the rhythm of my pulse, as I watched the memory of laughter sink into the ground in a bruised casket.
I was 21 and stumbling into catastrophe, a rage of self-destruction in combat boots. Nights without sleep led me into the arms of strangers who fed me lies and shots of whiskey, elixir for mastering the art of forgetting.
I was 32 and going blind, chosen at random by a mutation passed like a dirty secret through the blood. Darkness crept quietly behind my eyes, slowly giving me the courage to see.
I was 41, a character in a love story I believed would never be written. Comfort soothed the ache of decades spent searching for fragments of myself, chipped away by the teeth of loss and grief. Read more >
Above All That
I know a boy who's magnetic. Steely. Has mettle. But he giggles at rocks. And stones. Sees the joke of them. In them.
Laughs his head off when he holds one.
Says you can suck water from a rock. From a stone, too. That made me laugh my head off. He says rocks and stones aren't the same thing.
It’s like toads and frogs. I refuse to suck either, but
that boy walks in our ankle-deep. With a shuffle. In what everyone thought was recyclable. Rubbish. Recyclable excrement, he calls it.
One person’s garbage is still a spreading stain.
Plastic. Cups. Bags. Straws. Combs and curlers. Pens and picture frames. Window casings. Radios. Watches that won’t tick and tock any more.
“I’m better than all this,” he said. The sky sighed, “I’m above all this.”Read more >
My grandfather barely left the ground. He stumbled his whole life, dragging knuckles, head bowed, his body a question mark, always asking, is this safe, is this prudent? Scrounging for the left-behinds, he worked the streets and fields of his hometown, a metal detector, ear to the ground, hoping for some indication that treasure lay under his feet if only he never looked up. He shuffled his shoes, scuffing the dirt, and before he knew it, his spine shrunk, each disc dissolving, floors flattened by earthquake. One year he stood tall, the next, a pile of rubble, though in all honesty, it was such gradual demolition, we hardly noticed the dust.
I fight the gravity of any situation. There's nothing beneath me worth more than the satisfaction of climbing to heights that appear to be just out of reach. I'll defy every harness, all glue and weight meant to affix and tamp me down. As long as I fight the insistent pull, I have sway over my life. I ascend, climb, refuse to look down until I reach the top. Read more >
After the Big Storm
People walk on tip-toes after the electrical storm enveloped this city built on volcanoes in rose-colored smoke.
A man who’s not from the city climbs a high concrete spire and stands with rounded shoulders, watching the entrance road –
No lights, no cars, no one sane seeks entry. Only old skyscrapers breathe this kind of toxic air. Their bony fingers reach through the dust; claw the sky’s eyes.
Sometimes he tells the lookie loos that he’s searching for his lost dog, sometimes, his wife, sometimes, his lost life.
this is where i met you. this city. remember how the pink clouds fluffed out like cotton candy and along these empty streets do you remember listening – click click click – we could hear our breath settling in amongst the morning’s dawning. you could call it a chorus of cold water noises; the sound of other people’s voices rising as we padded past all the little shops and temples and houses with only our bare feet and open faces, past narrow narrow roads.
i’d suggested tokyo you’d said no – i want to go to shanghai. oh. oh, well then... in rome i’d liked the river most – there were far fewer tourists just the hot bodies of the homeless and large, unscalable walls. it doesn’t sound nice at all but it was quiet it was something it was just the city was too small too crowded but in china somehow i let myself go. i didn’t mind a crowd. china is allowed to be very very busy, all of my geography lessons since childhood will prove it
when you live amongst so so many people moments of silence are liquid gold you hear them in the morning, early, if you press yourself up against your bedposts with both of your ears against flat stones. i did that often, when you were sleeping, or pretending to sleep but texting other friends. i kept them under my bed, specially selected for the purpose – and a nice snug fit for each of my ears. my mother always used to tell me – richard, you are naturally profoundly sensitive. (if a word is in italics your tongue must bend it around your ears. but then again, i do not want to get side-tracked by ears)
the fact of it is this is where i fell in love with you – my mood for the whole time was paper thin, paper thin and open it’s disgusting really, it’s really something else. i remember so much stress amongst the mess of open cities – i grew up on a farm. Read more >
Shanghai smog surrounds precariously perched bystander. Daring if reckless camera stunt; telegraph pole top he surmounts – illusion of overtopping Centre Tower. Still humid, broiling, sticky heat sunset. – Peaceful interlude; CBD cacophony. Unperturbed by impending darkness, 'Telegraph Pole Man' stares into abyss above the stresses of pulsing city life. Zen meditation, concentration...oblivion.
Cutting the ropes was easy They were frail anyway: Not free, not terrified. Having to pull the words like milk teeth from a child's gum was so much harder, My scream became a whimper. The light was weak though, No one could read the stories carved into my skin when I crushed the raw words with both hands. Like this frightening city I am calm and empty now. Waiting for my words to grow back I smile toothless into the foggy dawn.
Things to work on
It could be any city. Maybe one of the buildings should be recognisable to me; maybe it is a mishmash of cities. Who knows. I probably should, as an aspiring pub quiz champion, but I need to work on that, along with the many things I have to work on to try and find my place here.
To me the image is Manchester. It is the sunset behind the Whitworth, that one stripe of pink that people always stop to photograph, that greets me as I walk to get pizza from Dominoes on a Saturday night after an unproductive day. It is my totem.
I wish I could stand above the city, find a post, a perch. I have considered going up Beetham many a time, doing the whole standing-on-the-glass-overhang thing, staring at the nothingness beneath me. I say I don't know the logistics of it. Maybe in reality I am afraid. Until I try it I will probably never know.
There are times, height or no height, when I do dare to wonder whether I own the city. Sometimes, at night, as I stand under the rainbow chains of lights in Canal Street, admire the red and orange fountains at Piccadilly, I breathe in and out and feel a community, feel home.
I have fought so hard for belonging. I was not born here. I have been hopping in and out of the country all of my degree, dancing off to the south of France to smell lavender and jasmine, and to the green hills of northern Spain. Still, I want Manchester to be mine. I want to be a part of it, to offer something and be given something. Shelter, protection. Fun. Love, I guess.
A load of flower shops have suddenly appeared out of nowhere, three or four along Oxford Road. I bought myself a trio of white hyacinth bulbs and some purple things I later found out were gentians. Read more >
Clear the film
Baked into the layers of life, we are caught and held in stripes – graveyard troughs, cesspits of the poor, wealthy smog, golden belief.
Elevated and windowed from Lowry crowds, and noise, and disease, our brains are still peopled, the silence still pocked:
we are bruised weight, abused, dragged through despair and strangled in strings of stress, knotted in nets. We have been gouged and patched. Infected.
Confined, we crane; where is the clean air, the escape?Read more >
I stood here burning in the dark, Staring at this world enshrouded by memories of sanguine indelible stains impairing my innocence and purity
In my head— I try to cremate the deaths with no justice, I try to heal the maladies with no cure, I try to be a predator hunting the killer residing within our bones
But instead, I became a sentinel Watching the Earth as it perishes
I am chained by these miseries and tragedies growing from the imprisoned faith beneath my soiled skin, They tell me to cut it like grasses and roses When they can only see the edge of it— the roots are always deeper than it seems
At twelve, I have accepted the so-called fate of life My body is history, (full of hidden stories) I have lived with death by my side And I'm not scared, I'm not scared anymore I'd offer myself, a votive light— Just to see you alive.
I lived on the edge of a vast and nameless expanse of dark water that stretched as far as the eye could see.
Sometimes in the pink mists that rolled over the water, morning and evening, I thought I could see the tops of spires and towers beginning to emerge. But there was never any substance to these imaginings, just the stories that I'd heard since I was a boy. Tales of buildings hundreds of storeys high. One of the tallest had had a blue pool on the top in the shape of a scallop shell. So they said. But the fire and the flood had come and everyone had left and gone to the hills, beyond the reach of the rising waters. There were just a few who had stayed close to the water's edge and my parents were among them. They were adventuring people, but they were never foolhardy. They told me that the dark waters were too dangerous to swim in. All the plastics from the drowned city were down there. They had choked the fish that had come to the waters and they would kill me too, if I were to dive down.
In winter the waters froze and we would skate for miles. Sometimes I lay down on the ice and listened to the noises below, rumblings and groanings. There were stories about those too but they didn't frighten me. I knew I could make my own future in the world as it was. Each Spring it took longer for the ice to melt, but when it eventually did I would launch the old boat and push out to a calm place where I'd lie back and – trailing my fingers in the water – dream of other possibilities.
This had gone on for all the years of my growing and now, my parents buried on the hillside, I was alone in the house near the water's edge. I trapped rabbits, grew potatoes, gathered wild herbs. I needed nothing more. But one Spring the waters began to tell me of a change, something moving below. At first it was just an eddying. Then the first buildings began to emerge. Read more >
Click click. Another life under the lens. Another paycheck. Another person who never looks up. Pause, wait. Look down through the brown cloud where the figures are veiled, as lens fights smog for clarity. Up here, there is a smile, curling and unseen. The wind shifts, staggering, strong and unfiltered up here by stacks of buildings, stacks of lives. Click click... click. Not your wife. Never your wife. Never discreet either. Glance left, glance right. A classic failing, horizontal thinking. Maybe someday one of you will learn. Click click click… gone. Deep breath. Deep exhale. Savor that good air. Toe the edge. Revel in that brief fantasy of flight. To step into that clear atmosphere and not come crashing down. The wind welcoming, the wind buoyant... Stop. Both feet back on the edge, arms down. Come back to earth, do not come crashing down.
Bowed in distraction, perched atop pole, above buildings drenched in the peach haze of sundown, you stand in silhouette.
Could you be texting a friend? "Hey, Dude, I'm literally on top of the world!" The screen's mesmeric glow has captured
your gaze, but there's still time― sunset's moment has not yet passed... When we're willing to remove technology's
hold, to see that looking outward, upward, and around us maximizes our perspective, we become open to the natural glow
of discovery, to the pink-sweep of sunrise, the luminescence of stars, the multi-colored arc of a rainbow, and to the captivating haze of a cityscape at sundown.
Extreme Adventure Dude
On a Sunday morning in early April, crowds of tourists are milling around the base of the massive 500-foot marble art-covered spire which towers into a hazy peach sky. The 200-step winding staircase to the observation platform offers a bald eagle-eye view of the city’s streets and parks awash in a sea of pink and white cherry blossoms celebrating the arrival of spring.
At the viewing platform, the tourists are not pointing at the stunningly beautiful cherry blossoms, but at the 100-foot concrete pillar at a nearby construction site. A disheveled man stands by the pillar’s lightning rods posing for a flying selfie camera drone. Hearing thunder in the distance, he looks up at the sky, no longer smiling, and rapidly texts pals for help.
Taking an aerial selfie to a new insane level to up the game, the extreme adventure dude and pals are clueless. Even with rooftop lightning rods, lightning can strike the same structure twice. Case in point, Seattle’s iconic landmark, the Space Needle, has 24 lightning rods on its roof and has caught sizzling lightning strikes twice during a thunder-snowstorm.
In the pinkish hue of a foggy dawn urban skeletal structures rise up to touch the sky, a modern day amphitheater, akin to the Colosseum.
You may wonder how I got here. Did I crawl, fly, shimmy up this thin antiquated structure? Was I lowered from above? Never mind, in a few minutes, deeper questions may emerge. Besides there is no way down, no stairs and no rope. I may be a wingnut, but I have no wings.
Up here the air is thin and I can see for as far as the fog will let me. I’m at ease, nonchalant, standing here at the top of a narrow platform, overlooking the early bird ants down below. Where I stand, there is only room enough for one.
From this vantage point, and at this hour, I have never felt so alone. It is like being on top of the world, all sexed up, but with no one to touch or be touched by. Never mind, there is no going back. Read more >
I’ve grown tired of roofs, my life Uncertain as the color pink in a dawn Of shifting hues. Earlier, a little after The witching hour until a little before Sunup, I played and played The Devil’s Trill Sonata, with The signature mistiness of my Improvisations, snapping two stings. Penniless, I couldn’t replace those Strings, so I gave my violin to the Vagabond who flashed me his Black-toothed grin. I climbed to be On top of this pole and, yearning For the moon, I felt myself to be The sacramental wafer, the pavement Below like a tongue yearning for Communion.
i am amongst you as i am above you / which is the traditional claim any god makes i know / but bear with me here – / just because something is repeated / in bible and blueprint doesn’t make it boring or false / how will you know when i am close? / a light will arrive Mountbatten pink in hue, Baker-Miller pink in intensity / royal in the flush it gives you as you / realise this is it – not the rapture but one of several / i give out every single second / which you would know if you cracked your carapace a little / don’t be all hotsy-totsy that i am not hotsy-totsy for you / yes i know being a human is hard / but omnipotence ain’t great shakes either / and while i’d ask you up here / you’d kvetch about not being ready yet / and so miss out on that feeling you get when you watch Wings of Desire / which with me you’d have all the time / no messing
an absence of chaos
There was something fateful about early morning walking, a liberation from Time and its constructs. There was no such concept of Routine, of two cups of coffee and a cereal bar, of squeezing oneself first into a pencil skirt and then into a train carriage. The solitude was comforting, an isolated individual enveloped in the blushing smog. There was still the edge of apprehension that women feel when alone in that liminal period, a buzz that she’d get stabbed or mugged or raped, but she was mad as hell and she wasn’t going to take this any more. That’s what she wanted to scream as she – now running, thudding shoes – seamed through the streets. A deliberate break in the stillness, a change, uprising, revolution, more than a new leader or political party or lifestyle. Damn mindfulness, damn hygge, damn it all. She didn’t want – or need – to be taught how to breathe. A rejection of serenity, the morning air and endorphins were getting to her, stopping only to bend double and gasp. Straightening up, ready to run and keep running, she observed the city. It crept alive reluctantly, hands reaching out from under covers to silence alarms and children and dogs. The silence was not so much shattered, but systematically broken as the public moved logically from bedrooms to bathrooms and kitchens. No chaos, just regularity. Regulation. Omniscient, she fancifully bowed again to the metropolis – an archaic mark of respect to the mass – and ran again. She didn’t know if she was running to, or running from. She didn’t know if it mattered. She still corrupted the daybreak, and took pleasure from it.
If we look at it from another angle, we might wonder what the fuss was all about. Another jumper climbs the Empire State Building. One more suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge. A body, added to the police statistics, curled inside a dumpster in a Chicago alley. We rush to get away, to get from here to there, to be anywhere as long as we manage to be not where we are. The irrupting shrills and bellows on ground level yearn to orchestrate themselves, ache for a jazzy counterpoint, and wait for random chaos to fall, like tumblers in a lock, into order. It is too much to stand in the human metropolis, on the corner of an intersection, mesmerized under the blinking icons of a stoplight, buffeted and pulled by the contrail of pedestrian currents. We might as well be talking bird. Can anyone listen when everyone speaks? Putting us to shame, speckled pigeons wax eloquent in their cooing walk-about, bobbing and pecking at our grimy scraps. It might be tempting to lie down, to rest, on the sidewalk, one’s cheek pressed in pocked concrete, to marvel at their three-toed ballet or to watch muddy hubcaps spiral by. Is that why we stand in awe of skyscrapers, why we submit to frostbite and snow blindness to reach the summit of the highest peaks of the highest mountain ranges, why we climb on the backs of our fellows to reach the parapet and to stand on the wall of our prisons? The din of our mutual dis-ease does not reach the pinnacles above. The sounds fall back upon themselves to dissolve in oily puddles. If we climb high enough to perch on one foot and peer down on eagles’ nests and satellite dishes, only lights and patterns emerge beneath us. From here, above it all, we can forget the splattered blood on the sidewalk, the floating corpse in the bay, the body bag on its way to the morgue.
Sometimes when I close my eyes I imagine myself high up. I am a silhouette amongst a great city backdrop. My world becomes a play where I am at the centre but not under the spotlight. Instead, the light evades me and I am left to watch what is unfolding around me, caught up in the middle, remaining ignored. Maybe I stand up so high in my thoughts because I want to be noticed, yet I am still far away enough that I’m not consumed. Then I open my eyes and I am back on the ground, though I stay as this silhouette. Just a figure in a crowd, indistinguishable from a sea of faces when unfamiliar eyes glance my way. A tap on a shoulder. The features of my appearance mould back into form, colour flows back into my skin. I am me once more. A simple friendly “hello” or a smile breaks the solidarity of standing on the precipice. It may be a brief encounter, but for that short time the spotlight was on me. Flowers tend to bloom the brightest when they are cared for.
From this pinnacle of years distance resolves all in fog and shadow– indistinct, unremarkable triumph and defeat blurred and softened no longer sharp enough to cut or carry pride to wound or stir up wild intoxication– So quiet now, so kind this dawning light still dim and rosy comforts without argument and tastes like sweet relief– all my dark sins fading into the rising bright
When I gazed upon what I had built, the cities I razed and the blood I spilt, I did not feel shame. I did not feel guilt.
No, I did not take pride in fratricide – it was merely a necessary step to win the stubborn people to my side.
When my brother tried to defy the wolf hiding inside, I silenced him and blamed my crime on the very same tribe who came
to my aid. Now, placed above the city in the morning haze of pink-tinted smog, I play God, or at least a lesser god.
It’s lonely at the top
What drove you to seek that height? Were you fed up with the daily grind? Or was it some quest or lust for light? Did you get what you sought to find?
Did setback in love or deadly Thanatos Rouse you to mount the perilous peak? Was it some hurt, a matter of gain or loss? Life’s seldom sunlit, on the whole bleak
Why on earth did you climb so high? Was it to escape the rotten rat race? Or was there more than meets the eye? Did you find what you sought to chase?
You are the monarch of all you survey, In breathless awe, my heart missed a beat But it is always lonely at the top, they say Though you hold the world at your feet
Dark is the city where hope gathers to shoot up night terrors of locked doors.
Forced to live dodging underpasses and unlit stairwells with broken faces hooded and hidden.
Drop your blades, empty the pocket. Rise up to seek a new manor with no river divide, no passing bullet.
No need for pedestals for trophy gangs, above colour and gender labelling.
In your cities of tall, thin buildings I travel. I do not walk-travel or even fly-travel, but still I travel.
My tied tunic, my hood, my breeches and my slippers will give me away to those of you with keen from-the-ground eyesight. But for those without, let me tell you that the soles of my slippers are permanently coated with gum arabic, from which you could date my origins, should you so wish.
I travel only as the sun sets which, you might think, would not be for very long. But I can travel a long way in the time it takes the sun to set. Height concentrates my mind, as does the distance between the tops of your tall, thin buildings (between which I travel). And when my mind is concentrated, when it is, shall we say, fixed upon its constituent parts, I jump. It is no physical jump, it is a mind-jump but, as I am certain you will know, body-travel always succeeds mind-travel. And so it is that I travel between the tops of the tall, thin buildings of one of your cities every night, as the sun sets.
And if you have not already guessed, let me tell you that I do this so that the sun will not remain set in perpetuity. So that the sun travels between your cities of tall, thin buildings, without cease, without, you could say, coming unstuck.
Perched at the top but still looking down with those eyes seeking love and solace gazing from emptiness to nothing I'm the single soul left in this metropolis where I can see every one but everyone is blind to see me
Those crimson tinge skies carrying the smell of the dusk laced with the dancing specks of dust in the wee hours of the morning I stand here alone connected and yet disconnected to the world all around me
They all said "rush to the top" for all the bleared eyes to see blinded by my desires and on my fours like a lizard I rose to the top gasping for breath moved hurriedlyRead more >
She was a fixation for me for a while, that girl in the sky.
When traipsing those city streets, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there was nothing but the haze of the filthy smog if ever you felt the urge to crane your neck upward. Not many people did. They were more likely to peer down and certainly not at each other. But if you were in the right place at the right time, a shape could be seen in the distance. The shape was like a person, a girl – a woman. She stood atop a slim pillar, which, like its guest, stood separately from everything else. She served as a reminder that there was still sky, still something there outside of this city where dreams came to die, or – if you were born here – probably never existed at all. Truth be told, I hadn’t looked up in quite a while before I first saw her.
One day, a simple long-forgotten head movement changed everything when, with a start, I noticed her there and wondered. I wondered about her a lot.
I hadn’t wondered so much about anything in years. What was she doing up there? How did she get up there? Was she there to jump or was she simply there to observe? She was barely visible, so I wondered if she could really see a whole lot of what was happening down here. Maybe that distance combined with that amount of camouflage actually made city life palatable. I wondered if I should try it too. I wondered if she was hungry, if I should bring her food; but how would I reach her? It became like a game, this wondering. I wondered every day, until finally it became too much.
I wanted to know.
I asked some people, a few friends. Some didn’t see her. I don’t think they wanted to see her. They promptly forgot. The people who did see all joined my game of wonder.Read more >
Angels and SquidsOverlooking the city,
A golden angel stands
On top of a marbled column.
Highlighted amongst the pale peach mist.
He watches time down below,
Running down the pavement,
Before it disappears inside a drain.
Like squids sliding into a quicksand.
The moon kisses his back,
Gently pushing him towards the edge
Of the architectural abyss.
He holds on to the sharp borders
Of the tall romanesque column.
He is a sculpture made of white cold stone,
Paralysed between flight and fall.
Suspended like the tiny droplets of water...
Only a step away from ending it all.
The city looks up through the street lights,
Breathing the night under the silver new moon,
Unaware of angels and squids
And so, life goes on…
Humdrum, every day work, Same time, same place, same pace, Shut away from sunlight’s gift of hope, A cavernous existence, No room to stretch your imagination, Crushed, By the weight of ‘must do’, ‘must do now’, The treadmill of survival turns, And yet the desire to fly remains, The desire to soar free above polluted minds and cities, To observe the glow of sunrise and watch as night washes away the debris of the working day; Cleanses minds clogged with cumbersome and valueless facts, figures and lists that stretch to eternity. A chance to view for just a few brief seconds the whole picture, To see every tiny misshapen piece fitting into Life’s jigsaw.
How many false dawns rosefaded into the horizon before you fall? Heart-stop Man, always pushing the boundaries cresting the peaks plumbing the depths taking upon yourself the mantle of the Almighty. Trust me, a hushed hubris is tumbriling its inexorable way towards you; so, go on, caper careless on your column pirouette on a plinth of your own making; the smoking pyre will engulf even you, the beast of your inhumanity to man will seek you out in the ruins and turn the cliché of your crouched charm to dust
Pink Sun Air Guitar
Look at them, beneath the smog and sawdust of the city. They’re all racing to be the first.
The first to read the latest novel — hot and damp off the press. The first to try that new restaurant. To Instagram plates of perfectly coiffured food. I see them drinking overpriced coffee from undersized cups. Working overlong hours at underpaid jobs.
It’s no wonder they look down.
They look down at their feet, at their hands. They look down to avoid each other’s eyes. I wonder when they last saw the sun set. Or saw it rise.
I stand here, and I too, look down. Look down on their treadmill, rabbitcaged lives. And I sigh. I wish they’d look up. I know if they could hear the sky’s music, they’d feel compelled to dance.
So I stand here and play air guitar for them as the pink sun rises.
Lead Singer from ‘Simon and the Stylites’ Believes His Own HypeAh Simon. Simon, Simon Simon.
What are we going to do with you?
I've been meaning to have a word-
it's this thing with towers. It has to stop.
When you started the band
it rhymed with 'nights' not 'nighties'
We were meant to be The Stylites,
Not the Stylites.
I didn't ask for this pedestal, you say.
From up here I see the reflection of eyes
like a string of Christmas lights
feel rain stinging like shards of glass
or being caught in a pin storm
My eyes sift through the myriad perfection
of shells, turrets, minarets, jewellery boxes enameled
for an ancient sea Czar guarded by
cut throat razors and marbled snow peaks.
I am searching for blue glass, bristol blue
but not only ship shape, any shape
those little chunks of shattered sky
and pottery, crackled and painted
made new by its destruction,
broken but complete.
Sunset SilhouetteEach royal night arrives
In shadowy layers.
The leader crawls along streets
Looking for accolades
While citizens sleep.
No one cheers in the dark.
He has achieved nothing.
He has harmed many.
He climbs above what he’s created,
Overlooks the crumbling landscape,
His talons clutching the edge
Of a lonely podium
He hasn’t wings to escape.
Nowhere ElseEven that god,
fleeing a burning heaven,
sheets of fiery air,
paused for a moment,
The skies he had made
for birds and dreams and
the echo of temple bells
were scarred by the breath
of death laden wings
and the sounds of children falling.
Even that god
looking down at what was left
of truth, of earth,
of life, of the living,
he had nowhere
else to go.
Even that god.
post-human existentialismdwarfed by the self-made
cathedrals of siliceous wings
no sky to get hooked up to, no
earth to put my feet on,
i stare down on my zion
where birds don’t fly
the ether-way of aerosols
and all my innocent kins
gassed and fried in our carbon
manifolds. sky no longer smiles with
the warm shades of blue,
and all the atlantes have capsized
to the bottom of saline deaths.
i am not supposed to feel this way,
i know. but i never felt
i am a half-cyborg; half-oblivious
looking to meet my doctor soon
to upscale my
techno-analytic subroutines. May algorithms
have mercy on our nano-chips.
The city that abandoned us.I have seen the best
views in this city.
Head in the clouds.
(Don't look down!)
So much beauty in a
place that has forsaken
us. (Mother and I.)
She does her best to get by.
Raised me mostly on her own
and it shows in her tired eyes
I will do what it takes for
her to hear the ocean roaring
below blue skies at three a.m.
instead of the sirens that haunt us.
NownessI dare to stand here
but I dare not look down
if I look up, look out
who knows what I might see?
These views, these skies
have been requisitioned
and I am neither rich man
nor bird of prey.
I have forgotten the seasons.
The different times of day
subsumed by LED street glare
and the blue screen glow
with its empty promise:
we are never alone
down in the city where there is
no Off Switch.
Morning CallI’m choosing sunrise
and I’m already worrying
for his mother
as he stands there
normal as a morning bird
in his indifferent pink sky.
I watch him
as if he was real
(as if I am real)
between the equal pull
of God and gravity.
They say those angels
never did dance
on the head of a pin.
But he has not climbed.
He has alighted
in this holy place
(all places are sacred
and is absorbed
Old Father TimeHi, I'm standing on the edge of the world as usual,
Dog tired almost broken,
The weight of responsibility
For Mankind's ills is so pressing
That they built me a little plinth to stand on.
You see me here staring
at my own reflection in a mirror.
Sometimes I can hardly believe the face
I'm looking at - it looks so old
Eventually they'll turn the power off
I'll settle down for a good night's sleep.
Good night everybody, sleep well.
Changes in PerspectiveI see the sunrise – you see the sunset.
I see tall proud buildings – you see arrogant edifices of greed.
I see anarchy on the ground – you see eyes looking skyward.
I see you looking down – you see me running for cover.
I see a car veering into my path – you see me lying there.
I see utter nothingness – you see my soul float heavenward.
I see the knife coming – you see the boy hesitating.
I see my life disappearing – you see his redemption.
I see people shouting – you see the boy crying for his mother.
I see the homeless man – you see his troubled past.
I see his hopelessness – you see his salvation.
I see his life fading – you see his guardian angel descending.
I see the tired field hospital – you see recovery.
I see the burials – you see people saving lives.
I see the burning eyes of children – you see their future.
I see the rose tinted city – you see where it will all end.
I see the greed and despair – you see compassion.
I see the sunrise – you see the sunset.
Life full – Life half empty – Resurrection or Destruction.
The Sky is PiDown there
I add myself up
so that I always equal something
some days a big number,
some days small,
some days a minus.
I cannot count.
The sky takes my smallish numbers,
they frizzle and float away from
The sky is Pi
and I one of its numbers
DatasphereThe city cannot swallow me
If I don't exist;
The pulsing roads
carve out my outline [With no remorse]
Spitting my data into hotspots
Littering with idle thoughts.
Point clouds of doubt, joy and sorrow
Settle into the fog soaked foundations
Of the place I once
No EscapeThey will find you–
they always do;
the market analyzers,
phone trackers, cookies, recorders, videos
breaching and pinging your life’s data
into billions of bytes
of information, everything about you–
a flattery of sorts.
Like Winston’s ubiquitous Brother
there are eyes all about,
in doorways, street corners, highways,
sending signals by sonar, radar
satellites and drones.
To be anonymous is a myth,
yet, to be known an even greater one,
Your face in the crowd merely
a pixel on a pinhead.
RED DOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PHOTORed dot red dot. Are you supposed to be?
Winking like the Terminator’s damaged eye
Winking like the night taillight
Winking like the road not taken
A glitch in the digital veil
On the highway I would follow you and take heart
A wormhole, you grow and grow
Magritte’s apple in a room
A rupture in the cityscape
A way through
Red dot, so still when all around you is
The man is frozen, his statue hands
But you have the fortitude.
84 Heads84 heads,
Up on the parapet.
At us, looking up to death.
Them? Or do I mean us?
Strings loosed, one by one, lost.
I lose language, terrified by the sight,
We lose each other, terrified by suicide.
Women and children first, they cried.
Did more men drown that terrible night?
Is it a war between who dies right?
We tear at the threads instead of gripping tight.
Hold fast to your nearest,
And even to your furthest.
We are all we ever have,
In trench and cage and camp -
Count on me, as I count on you,
Count on your brother, father, son -
Look to me, as I look to you,
To tell the truth we communally won -
Are better than one.
Morning CallI’m choosing sunrise
and I’m already worrying
for his mother
as he stands there
normal as a morning bird
in his indifferent pink sky.
I watch him
as if he was real
(as if I am real)
between the equal pull
of God and gravity.
They say those angels
never did dance
on the head of a pin.
But he has not climbed.
He has alighted
in this holy place
(all places are holy
and is absorbed
The CellDo you ever feel like time keeps pushing on but your mind stays stuck? The clock keeps ticking with the world that grows and it’s persistent hand forces your being on and pushes you up as it all develops. Yet the internal walls that isolate your mind leave you an outsider to the wonders of it. You are imprisoned in the dark, surviving, staring at the colours of life that are just out of your reach.
Your toes loiter at the edge where your confinement ends and the entrance to freedom patiently waits. Everything is hazy. You see the sun rise and you see it set, yet in your cell the dark days never end and the new days never begin.
A Cry For Down ThereFrom the night sky the Sun had begun to creep through a parting formed by the clouds, a palette of blue began to absorb its light tones and a mixture of pink and purple was born There I stood, enveloped by the light, above all the noise, the cars and the people, above the city I called my home, and in my palms I held a question
My arms began to tense, and I gazed down at the culprit that had burdened me with this weight, I looked up, desperation in my eyes, hoping that something up there may be able to rid me of my uncertainty
‘Will it ever get better?’ I whispered
The question came from a deep root of wonder, sadness, pain, anger and loss
I wondered and had wondered for a long time if it would ever get better
I wondered if the sound of sirens that shook the walls and rung inside my ears would ever dim, or if the red that flashed would ever come to mean the same thing it did for others, help instead of danger
I wondered if the bodies who had come to call the streets their home, who’s beings occupied the corners and cracks of the country would ever lessen or if they would ever be able to have a home made of bricks, cement and glass, just like myself
I wondered if the girls and women that walked quickly in the darkness, fists clenching keys and eyes on fire would ever be able to feel safe again, if the length of their skirt would soon not echo the amount of respect they were owed, or if their bodies would ever be viewed as THEIR bodies
I wondered if I would live to see the day when I could walk into a room and not feel like a minority, under represented or un equal, if I or others like me would ever be judged for their personality before the colour of their skin, gender, body or sexual orientation
Read more >
IN A DREAM
Searching for you searching everywhere at once
The end of the world of the life we knew?
Where do I turn when vision is unclear?
Turning, searching words caught in my throat.
Screaming out your name only inside my mind.
Smoky vision the only truth but knowing deep inside
The end of the world will not be the end of us!
Fight through the burning fog no rest until our hands touch.
Cityscape betraying what we're told is real.
Heartbeat pounding out message of our path back to life.
Looking up, always up to hope, to a vision of you.Read more >
The Philosopher’s Delight in Moon Light
This is the Age of Industrialization The long and tall towering dreams Above the dark clouds and black colour The mystical magical Prospero's night out
A gloomy fog and darkness above eyes Looking for Light and Road towards paradise Lost in the daydream of night I just want to be on time
Eternal light and building bright Cannot hide in the foggy night The Philosopher's delight in moon light Appropriate sight and imaginative flight
I have seen what the angels see. The patchwork grid of city streets spreads out before me, containing an infinite number of individuals. Each soul gleams a bright yellow, leaving the city as dazzling and blinding as a gem in the sun.
Fog slinks across the horizon, enveloping the edges of the city in a blanket of sulphuric gas. The souls begin to wink out one by one. Beyond the city is a solid wall of pale pink-colored vapor reflected off the sunless sky above.
Some would say that this is the end of the world. I believe this is the beginning. Who is to say what will happen once our souls are extinguished? Will our pulse-less bodies continue their daily routine as the skin falls away from the bones? Will our consciousness ascend to the next plane as beams of light zipping across the universe? If there are no people, will the Earth continue to spin, or will it crumble to nothing?
As the fog creeps steadily closer, I climb back down the telephone pole, placing one foot at a time on the metal rungs stuck out of the wood.
People stream along the sidewalks, cars flow down the streets, but everything is silent. No one speaks, the birds don't sing. They feel the change in the air. Death approaches. I can taste it on the wind.
I plant both feet on the ground and lean my head back to look up at the sky. My eyes search for the angels, but they hide from my view. I know they are up there somewhere.
Afraid of Heights
He has no idea how he's gotten up here, Or now it is morning, how to get down, With a lump in his throat he surveys the view, Regretting his trip into town.
He hopes and prays there is help on the way, He's afraid of heights, he can't even look down, He swears that if he gets home in one piece, He'll stop drinking and playing the clown.
birth non birth
It is a vision An immaculate being A sight unseen It is intense It is potent The most important It seeks to exist But doesn’t it already Since it’s been conceived? It is but a vision High, mighty, on the top Looking out into the temporal Fearing itself muddied Clouded Wrecked, misinterpreted In translation From the ideal to the material Limited by the meek Inconsequential Mind, body, whatever Screwed, fucked over It is now only a stain Shame What a shame It was beautiful In a language Beyond Language? If it so disgusts Do I trust you? Read more >
Hey there! No, no, no. Hold your breath and please wait. Nope. It is not suicide but about a life.
Bleak air stirred my care now from here, down the line, on a busy road, a red little spot provides some scope. In this gauzy whirl I find myself on the top of the world.
Elated they were witnessing life everywhere forgetting fatigue tending to new bend. Covering a hundred miles uncovering endless tales.
Alas! Towering were the listeners having stoney ears, and no mercy or tears. Read more >
The Rising Fall
The high and the low Of the tiny Upgraded world – Swiping through the needles Of these sky towers; And jumping through the masses of Clustered apartments; It travels: Here and there. It moves: Forward back; And returns: To its origin. This huge dusky sky And the infinite dusty roads: Stand still – the humanity Rising and falling From dusk To Dust.
Most of the city had fallen, The earth so brutal it shook. The buildings cried and wailed as they fell. Their ashes then rose like dust. Day was now night, Sunshine was shadow. The bustling city went silent.
He searched for her. He searched. She was his life, his lover, his best friend. He held her for the last time. Her warmth had gone. The sky tinted, and darkness would come. He was ready.
He had climbed and climbed, This man who survived. All he could feel was despair. I am my beloved and my beloved is mine. He bowed his head with tears. No more tomorrows, no more bright days, Then he shook and he cried and he wailed as he fell.
City: Beloved scar
This city is like the skin of a love witness of tears and kisses that's why I walk away.
I fear that the ancient scars of the city will turn into bleeding wounds.
I look at the city, as I look at the skin of a forbidden love and I can feel the tense calm, the voracious hunger, the altered pulse.
I fear that the urban beat responds to me with violence. How can I touch the city without first showing my own scars?
Rising from the muck, fog ascending, He stands tall, finally surpassing the ultimate heights.
Gazing below to the incompetent structures, failing in their upward climb, he lauds it over the skyline he has become a part of.
Silhouetted, he celebrates his victory over the mundane, his darkness embellished by the pink.
He peers into the bowels of oblivion below, savoring his moment of glory. When shall he rise again to these heights? Alas, he must return to the sludge.
He will stay as long as the world allows, as long as he is triumphant. As long as his silhouette is visible to the world questioning his sanity.
But who are the truly insane? Those in the trenches who fear their rise and huddle in the security of darkness?Read more >
As I stand on top of the utility pole, my eyes scan over the city. The buildings that I walk past every day catch my eye. They appear mammoth and from this angle the sun beams on them distorting their natural shape. Birds soar above my head chirping as the wind blows my hair into my face. Below, people go about their business as usual, hustling to work, while cars speed past the stop signs and get honked at by other vehicles.
“Hey, you, the man on the utility pole, get down from there, you, idiot!” a man yells.
In a daring attempt I jump. To my surprise, I land on both feet and walk past the dumbfounded man who yelled.
It’s Lonely at the Top
Billy split the band to strike out on his own, go solo, take back control and all that other BS. He'd smelled success and liked it; he wanted to be (in his words) “more famouser” and that wasn't going to happen if he had to drag three deadbeats along with him. The deadbeats were mortified, they'd been together since school, raising the band from nothing to a credible force over the years – all that hard work... Billy was above that now.
At the end of the group's farewell gig, Billy launched himself off the stage and into the arms of the fans who carried him adoringly out of the sweaty venue and off to pastures new where the pop star relaunched himself as a serious artist; the thoughtful poet standing out in the crowd. Billy wore impossible clothes, read difficult books, spouted meaningless slogans and danced like a minger. Someone in the music industry uttered the word 'pretentious'.
By contrast, The Deadbeats kept the name and kept the attitude, playing upbeat songs to down-trodden audiences at low-key venues. They kept it real, they kept it simple, they kept it honest. Exciting. Billy, now 'William', said they were “boring”.
Forsaking music altogether, William released his first fragrance 'Alone', instead. One of the critic's reviews referred to the old (disputed) Icelandic proverb: “Every man likes the smell of his own farts”. The fans agreed. They put William on a pedestal, a high one where he stood well above the crowd, his head firmly in the clouds and where, thankfully, no one could hear him any more. William should've known: it's lonely at the top.
City: Fog at Dawn
A rose sfumato softens the edges of downtown. The founder over- sees the sunrise from his perch on the monolithic plinth. His head like yours is bent over the results of his efforts. Does he frown, like you, at what has emerged?
Or does he peek slyly from under the tops of his lids at the fog veiling this city, once his, now ours and the dawn’s.Read more >
A Matter of Perspective
Freddie This wasn’t a decision we made lightly. We knew what had been asked of us by our Elders and we knew better than to disappoint them. We spoke in hushed tones, grimaces replacing smiles. Lana, Mabel and I all had to go our separate ways and judge the situation objectively. If we didn’t like what we saw then we had to make a stand. I had already made my decision before our final meeting but the Elders insisted on reflection. There was so much tragedy in the world already, so much hunger and poverty, thievery and murder; and society lived the same days over and over again, never changing, never questioning the possibility of another existence. So with a heavy heart I made my way to the plinth, the horizon a swathe of honeyed apricot and climbed the steps to the top.
Lana I knew Freddie had already made up his mind before he left. His face was a mask of grim resignation. It seemed society really couldn’t help itself or learn from their routine mistakes. I hate to admit it but Freddie was right. History was set to repeat itself. I stayed out until the early hours of the morning watching the drunks and the whores stumble out of darkened alleyways, the women sporting bruises of every imaginable colour, the men wiping vomit from their filthy mouths. One woman was knocked to her knees, her hair an ebony tangle, screaming something inaudible to the invisible Elders who watched with sorrow in their eyes. Disgusted, I turned away and tried to erase the image from my memory.Read more >