- Vol. 07
- Chapter 02
Interviewer: What is your party’s policy towards tackling the climate crisis?
Politician: We promise to turn it down, to turn down the heating of the climate.
Interviewer: How do you propose to do that?
Politician: With advertising. A huge, national advertising campaign that targets everyone.
Interviewer: With the message being…?
Politician: Stop polluting the climate with all your household rubbish.
Interviewer: Are you saying the public is to blame for the crisis?
Politician: Of course, through their mass consumption. So our advertising campaign will highlight this culture of waste by replacing fish with plastic bottles. Instead of fishing for fish, we’ll show people fishing for plastic bottles instead, because of all the plastic bottles in the oceans.
Interviewer: But plastic waste is obviously low down the list of human-induced carbon emitters. Surely the energy sector, as the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, is the much bigger problem?
Politician: No, I think you’ll find it’s the public who aren’t doing enough to lower their personal carbon footprints. That’s the real problem in this eco, green debate.
Interviewer: But some climate experts have suggested that the debate about plastics and recycling is actually a distraction from the much bigger crisis, to do with the accelerated burning of fossil fuels.Read more >
My great-great grandfather’s ivory shoehorn
sits with the jetsam of bills and keys –
of others I have only hints: Unity Flynn,
miner’s wife. Tuberculosis, Inchigeelagh.
But my great-aunt gave me sky,
home-made dresses, soup – her, impatient,
kneeling patiently to tug off my rain trousers;
afraid, soothed my wheezing panic.
For a child not hers and always hers –
could she love me now? She brought me the sea,
to the cup of cloud reflected there,
milky curls of froth on concrete
slicked sheer as ice with algae. Sewage
flowed thick and rich, gulls gathered,
oystercatchers, a kingfisher concealed
at the outflow speared flounder or mullet
feasting – this place of bounty. Moments when I knew
love in anemones, carrageen, razorbills, turnstones.
the milk revealing itself to be off in the morning is always a surprise
an alchemy of a thing
as heat makes roiling lumps from cream
I did remember it later when I was coming back from town which was
mainly because I was starting to get a headache
but my bag was so full
I had to hold the plastic bottle in my hand which was too cold
for winter with no gloves
the man sitting opposite me on the bus saw I had given it it’s own seat
and asked me what it was for
which felt such a personal question until he explained coffee or tea
not that it mattered what I said and he listed all of the milks he had tried
and why each one worked or didn’t
which is mainly a list of milks that all go well in coffee but not in tea
except for cow’s milk and goat’s but not sheep’s apparently
and I knew he was right particularly about the oat milk
because that’s why I had skipped tea this morning
because sometimes an oat milk back-up
with sinking oaty clouds is a bit much
and then my boyfriend rang me
Read more >
Heresy and hypocrisy hide in broad daylight
Become the red-capped soldiers
The thought police
Standing uniform beneath
They do not see, do not
Hear, do not speak
Blind obedience to the
Mantra bleated by sheep
Would you be a soldier, blind and mute
Unable to dispute, refute
Or speak your truth?
Would you be the one
To condemn the world to silence?
Not even the fact
of what you have witnessed
seems able to compel
you and your vision
into making the right assessment
of this picture.
You want pop. Ice cream.
You want to be beside the seaside,
not the torment of the oceans,
the bodies dumped like spent teabags,
the wet sky full of cotton wool
and surgical gauze.
You clean up, of course,
killing all known germs,
wanting everything aligned, tidy but
the rest, skittled again and again and again
by your truth, your truth, your truth
I awoke in my dream
the sky so blue
and never ending
wrapping beneath me
as solid ground.
I found a large fiery ball
in my hand
and plain, white milk bottles,
labels removed painstakingly,
stark, red caps the only other color,
stood erect, racked and ready.
I took a running stance,
flung the ball forward
and watched the tiny white cotton ball
clouds suspended on thin filament
The ball would never
connect but return,
back in my hand
my movements repeat
Sky, a perfect blue.
Clouds, the milkiest white.
We stand in formation,
Faceless in the light.
We seem solid, strong.
But we’re not, inside,
Where our liquid selves
Shift like the ocean’s tides.
Those milky clouds,
That stunning blue,
Our tight formation—
These seem true
But aren’t. They offer
Proffer a momentary
stay against confusion.
Look up at the clouds. What do you see?
Some people point out gloomy grey shapes,
heralds of the prevailing mood,
disaffection drifting round the atmosphere.
Some see hope, faces, laughter,
all reflected in the living shapes
and never settling too long to cause worry.
Some foresee the apocalypse,
not in the symbolism of dark, angry smoke,
but in the weather, in what it means.
Some see nothing at all,
don't look up and ask questions,
but keep their eyes tight on the pavement.
Some tell you there's nothing to see there.
Don't look. But if you do, it's all in your imagination.
The sky is a conspiracy.
it seemed modern and advanced once upon a time
this facsimile of skies and kind milk yield
now it sits beneath crystalled dome
museumed for posterity
reminders of lost worlds
and ways of being
any notion of restraint
pumped air with noxious gas
and waters with noisome toxic waste
today remainder humans long for life unplasticised
seek scant food from our doomed mother
Late at night in the chemical lab. Robots
move around freely. The whir of cameras
observe everything. Silence layered over
the bubbling of tubes containing all manner
of gurgling chemicals. There is a sterility to it all,
the never ending depth of it, and nothing else,
nothing human, no hint of anything but the product.
Ah, it must be a commercial for an as yet
unnamed entity, all red, white, and turquoise.
We could call it by the chemist’s call number,
or we could call it A Brand New Day, which will
include, free, the promise to fix what ails you.
Camel’s milk for the thirsty, paint that blends
and never peels for the aesthetic painter.
Cloudlike tufts of cotton hang from strings
like dishevelled tampons. There is no problem
this can’t solve. The wish, the demand for
cleanliness screams and the tri-dimensional
shadows give the impression of rows.
If I were a tuft of cotton I would want to be
bathed by the solution inside.
Indescribably, it is very attractive. White bottles
throw light shadows disguising what the contents
might be. Red caps signal caution or the closed haughty
lips of an opening. When the camera swerves out into
the periphery, we see the robots succumb, tipping
the flasks to sip as if were oil for their mechanical joints.
They smile, make click-like noises as the night wears on. Read more >
The Red Arrows loop a heart above us,
and I muse: nice, but it could be neater,
you know what I mean?
I like the colours, though, all for us, by the sea.
I am small and weary, got sunburnt
for the first time recently –
it stung, but hey, it is sunny here,
so I found a kind of comfort in its sense…
you know what I mean?
My kite keeps getting tangled. Dogs scare me.
I climbed right to the top of a lighthouse
with the weirdest tiny stairs,
but couldn’t manage the helter-skelter at the fair,
trotted back down, silent, to my family and
hoped they would know what I meant.
I could never be a Red Arrow, am not cut out
for curling up tight in a tiny machine
to hurtle all around and upside-down
but I want it, you know? That recognisable,
undeniable achievement, to be able to fly,
to carve a message into the sky,
and then reappear proudly at my mother’s side
having gone through with something –
you know what I mean?
mother’s milk came in bottles
a stinging freeze on the lip
an anonymous, generic
taste in shaped plastic
doll-like reassurance as if
a simulated mammary gland
cooled on melted ice
were close at hand
a genuine source to nourish
and sate a never-ending hunger
as we ever wish
for skies a kindergarten blue
laced with clouds spun sweet
to shield our bared skins
from ultraviolet violence
Once upon a time
the end of the world took forever
but not anymore.
Those days are long gone.
the end of the world comes quick.
Before you know it
it will be over.
Like a shooting star at 3am.
"There! There! There it goes!
WOW! The end of the world!"
Here’s a sweet little picture
Of plastic perfection
All the pieces aligned
In perspective precision
No: it portrays a problem
Caused by profiting powers
That’s prudently sidestepped
By corrupt politicians
I see legions advance
Of pale polymer soldiers
And predict our apocalypse
Because of their numbers
At this point so precarious –
Is there time to replay?
Plan a plastic-free future?
Or just ‘Last Post’... and pray?
It needed blue sky thinking
to get more of the white stuff
down the throats of Joe Public.
The scaremongers had panicked
consumers towards alternatives,
but the cows still needed milking.
Dairies were awash with the stuff,
farmers threatened pitchfork battles
if their livelihoods turned into silage.
The government made promises
while fields were ploughed for soy
by new-thinking farmers.
In the yard cows relieved of their calf
milk lumbered out into field unaware
their offerings were political.
It's all plain sailing until one notices
there isn’t a bin nearby to throw all this plastic away.
Save it and wear it like a jacket that was worn once –
no-one really liked it anyway.
That bottle there, that can here, are loathsome pieces.
They rattle about the place and carry a sort of weight,
a sort of weight that amounts to nothing.
Instead, the taciturn, corporatized, licensed item builds up
that isn’t seen in any reality
and builds contacts with lichens and irritants.
'Pessimist' has become a byword for
'socially adept', someone who wouldn’t know
if there was a plastic-free alternative,
or how to spell Pinocchio, the upper class would have one believe.
Is this what climate has become, a talking point?
A class war where bulk and impulse buys
have become a way of life,
where consumerism has to be compressed to a list.
It's all Black Friday sales instead of a ten-year plan
before the damage is irreversible,
and a next day delivery instead of being carbon neutral by 2050.
To the producers burning, casting, and melting away,
will you perhaps broker a contingency plan knowing that deep scars never really fade?
If you had to live your life
using only five colours,
which would you choose?
I’d pick mine
from the sky-blue sky,
and a milk-white cloud,
and that stop-light red
at the heart of the sun,
and that’s me done.
You want to see the other two?
I’m keeping those hid,
capped, under my hat.
I’m saving those up
for a rainy day.
I made a makeshift game of skittles,
at which the carefree clouds descended;
they viewed my neatly chevron’d bottles;
their mockery was all too candid.
A chorus issued from those vapours,
a jeering travesty of hope.
“Do you not mark the evening papers?
The time, they say, is overripe
to look and see things as they are –
to see beyond your carelessness.”
And as I stooped to bowl, I saw
a plastic-towered wilderness;
the skittled lane I’d made gave way
to London choked. As in a dream,
the wasted river throbbed; astray,
I stumbled from that toxic stream.
Perhaps I woke – I cannot tell –
but thick-aired day revealed the worst.
My plastic game went on while all
our innocents expired of thirst.
This is what all the posters blaring read,
Dingy-up the tube lines, plastered.
As if it is supposed to make them heed
Us, the young, when we asked them
About blue skies and futures new.
As if Venice wasn’t acqua alta – alta,
Already, the grey sea up dewing
The Tintorettos in the galleries.
As if you loved him like Ruskin did,
The shadows the crowded drapery,
On gesso and hope and katydids,
Tintoretto, that you could lately
Live for him, and him alone.
But look, this is Kentish Town,
The rain has inward blown
The tiled stairwell and the round
Red caps tempt on bleach bottles,
Bike throttles, throat catches all is.
A downed pill in perspectival mottles
White in a dark pit; but Haydn, Tallis!
The dirtier epigrams of Martial!
Looking westward we hope you see
That we ask you to live for what is partial,
Hoarded, lode-stones like steps in Galilee
When he roots in, open mouthed for latching, his cheeks smack my breasts
and his belly settles fat at my chest.
I am Hathor in motion, my nipples his new world umbilical.
The pump-time, pump-time, pump-time demand of my electric breastpump
churns out some distant relation of the milk that flows to his touch.
I bottle my breastmilk and leave it with him in the arms of my neighbour, Angela.
I drive to work, meeting a farmer hunting cattle on the way. ‘Get up the yard, ya bitch,’
he bellows at a round cow stopping to take a shit.
Her tail spatters shit around the road. My sister cow, separated from her newborn
calf, bays into the bleak. Clouds struggle through the March sky.
Seeing the five bottles, a flock of blunt geese, flying towards me in a V-formation, the sky a perfect Pop-Art blue, and their beaks filed to bottle-top smiles, thin underneath as skimmed milk; as if they knew all the while they could not escape, and this was Zeno's paradox in art, not life or philosophy; I drew a deep breath, amazed at what an image could do; and wondered at the character of clouds, children's cottonwool clouds, suspended on twine so fine it almost fragmented. And this was rapture, the "first, fine careless rapture" that some poets knew. But then I thought again, and wondered if each bottle were a bomb, filled with gelignite, and the blue were a cold climate, mute with the hate of those threatening shapes of white, not formless, but anonymous; and they descended, abseiling on floss strings, into my consciousness. And multiplied: first four, then eight, then twelve, then a countless number, an infinite series of white. Is this what it is to be dead? To be stripped of every feature you once had; and are the obsequies in red, but written in whose blood? I cannot decide. Maybe the image will speak, develop a mouth which opens on the screen, till I can see behind it, as if the shattered mirror held a secret. All the time, we attribute our thoughts to what we see, forgetting to look, and so pass by, on the other side of meaning, where everything resides except the truth. Ah, Freud, how you let the comet's tail stream out, forgetting that the head was empty space, and all the asteroids pursuing it hastened, only after a dream, with no more substance than the closing of the eyes.
The lone viewer awoke to a stark image of know-not-whatness. And behold— the blueness of the floor and the background and the sky above were one and the same for a wedge block of five members or a pentagram of sorts: five white thick plastic bottles with red caps but sans labels (with expiration dates et alia) and over them four small clouds of cotton suspended on strings: a 4/5 ratio. So, one might ask oneself, how to account for the imbalance (the discrepancy)? To which container does each swab correspond? Or is there a competition? And one might surmise that the caps will come off (with outside intervention?) and the cotton will descend into the assumed liquids within and absorb. They must all be milk alternatives, beverages made of pressed almonds, oats, rice, soy, hemp. But in this not-really-a-shell-game must one emerge untested as a default victor of a mysterious competition? Not necessarily the one bottle at the tip of triangular configuration for so much can happen between the uncapping one assumes must occur and the lowering of the white invaders and what if instead of healthy drink the units are empty?! Devoid of content. Indeed what if? what if? what if? what if? what if? ***** ..... -----.
It is the season for probiotics
to cheer up the good bacteria
and dispel the cotton-wool
in everybody’s Santa gut –
and there’s a glut of them.
Little white plastic bottles wash
up on a sea of rubbish
that ebbs and flows from year
to year, their merry tops
swallowed by marine creatures
unaware of the significance of red
or that probiotics will be their end.
Ears half in,
I'm afloat, undulating on the minute
For clouds strung pendulous,
lightness comes with a duty at the end of the noose.
What is a freefall
when not poisoned by a drop
As a spider squatting upside-down,
how will I bear the silken weight of the web?
The final poem comes
holding on to the eaving
breath in a susurrus
the only secret in a life
the sweetness of first milk hovers like a presence
among the various ominous aerial metaphors
for air-borne diseases like forgetting
if there was a choice, as if.
On the Second of December I gave to Visual Verse...
Twelve minutes thinking,
Eleven lines of nonsense,
Ten minutes wasted,
Nine pictured objects,
Eight failed ideas,
Seven lines rewritten,
Six words abandoned,
Five cold drinks,
Four fluffy clouds,
(Two minutes left)
And a title to round it all off.
Surgeons stand poised
over exposed deplorables,
while well-connected brokers
hold phones on sunny beaches.
The sky, a cloud, the sea.
Sucking chest wounds,
intestinal spills contained,
flak jackets and scalpels
jackals and other rascals
go, go, go, go
Antiseptic units operate,
blood spilled like milk.
Complex systems reign
over every f-ing bleep.
The sky, a cloud, the sea.
Bombed beyond their borders
oblivious to thundering mortars,
generals, drones, micro-chips,
red-crossed units operate.
go, go, go, go
Thoughts of home on hold,
suspended in theatres of the absurd
nurses swab to blot the wounds,
Mozart plays myths of Greeks.
The sky, a cloud, the sea. Read more >
I wondered, how many people standing on strand and cliff, have cast hopes, pleas, position or place to the sea. How many stood and watched their bottle drift away to be caught by a tide and swept out, until it was lost to sight.
How many have returned home to begin a waiting game, noting that day down in secret places.
What happened to those bottles, those messages, those lives.
The past is gone, innocence long lost to memory. All tales of the golden age mythologised, scorned by critics.
Until one day the tide returned those bottles, containing a message that failed the hopeful and the stranded.
No message in a bottle, the message was the bottle. White-bodied, red-topped, washed up on every shore seemingly overnight turning the strands of nations from fine ground stone to plastic.
Our actions, that equal and opposite had become a reaction. Our manifold gods and deities had returned the offerings. Choking under the volume of prayers beyond their ability to answer.
The weather on the day of the message bottles was the most perfect anyone could remember. Ominously perfect, it portrayed a world now lost.
Our future was plastic, is plastic. All reality, all nature, all life suffocated to silence. Scanned and replicated by machines in 3D forms.
The world now lives through a variety of screens, large and small. We have stopped looking outwards and instead build our reality inside our screens, we own our worlds. Filling our reality screens with plastic and cottonwool clouds. Within this landscape we play out our lives.
And the bottles, when did we notice them. Not it seems when the first arrived, not until the strands were clogged and rivers choked. Not in fact until we had to wade our way to work. The debate has begun, the future, that strange unknown country, is a place we are yet to discover.
I’m looking for the doorstep
where they should be standing
as bottles of milk always did.
I can see their shadows and reflections
but nothing solid beneath them.
It’s as if they’re suspended,
suspended like the cotton wool clouds
hanging above them
unable to abate the sun,
just melting in to air
as everything solid will do
under these bright blue blue skies.
Marx saw it coming
but our eyes were closed.
Now they’re blinded by the light.
my wallet, I
had just gone to
I realized my pocket?
Empty. This cart
full of groceries
would go un
purchased, but, worse
where was my
where were my
plastic cards, my
little folded yellow
note card of the
day's tasks, had
someone stolen my
photo of my children?
Of course I found
it, of course it was
in another pocket,
but the card? Not
my name. The tasks?
It's a major league no-no from me —
Milk, cream, butter, cheese, yoghurt, dairy;
Fully cooked into a main meal not so bad,
But in raw form, unadulterated, very sad.
At school, foul full-fat milk, warm to touch/taste;
Hols, finest Orkney cheddar gone to waste;
Moussaka, quiche; buttery/creamy curry,
To toilet or sink basin made me scurry.
Over time it got worse, immuno-allergy
System working like saboteur against me.
Trifle, apple pie with cream; not a gleam
Of pleasure in my eyes; take one for the team,
Only to be violently sick later?
Dear reader, I became a dairy hater.
Pulchritudinous like you.
Projects your smile
Smells like chamomile.
With sunlight on your lips,
Sway your hair and your hips.
Your voice surrounds me,
Kisses me gently.
My mind flies.
I love you so high.
I will not make you cry.
Can we give it a try?
Milk like heavenly clouds
make white starry sounds
glowing sparkles inside
high above the blue tower sky
within the love of healthy nature
brings strong strings
with hymns and songs
that belong like Christmas decorations
to everyone that see's
watching like a cloud of museums
seeing good health so loud
so our colds go away in the winter.
Bowling in an azure sky
with clouds of cotton wafting by,
each hung by threads from up on high—
but do we wonder why?
White pins of plastic capped with red
are less elastic than the bed
of sky beneath and overhead—
does this portend some dread?
Is each one filled with toxic waste
we sent to heaven, far-displaced
from oceans which we’ve so defaced
that life on Earth’s erased?
Will each cloud-like cotton ball
absorb the leakage of their gall
which we can drop behind a wall
in hopes our fate will stall?
Of course, if there’s no bowling ball
to make its strike and shatter all,
perhaps they’ll float away, not fall,
and therefor save us all.
Can all our poisons be encased
so safely that we can’t be maced—
or better yet, their sources all traced,
each toxin be replaced?
“It’s freezing cold. What on earth are you doing out on the patio at this hour?” asked Tim, alarmed.
“Oh, my God!” I said, shivering. “You startled me. I nearly jumped out of my skin.”
“What is it honey?”
“Hurry,” I said, turning to my husband with tears raining from my eyes.
Blinded temporarily by my tears, I’d removed my glasses to wipe them away and pointed to the trees in our backyard.
“Look,” I burst out. “It’s raining lizards!”
“When temps take a nose dive and the Sunshine State freezes over, it wreaks havoc with the wildlife,” Tim explained matter of factly. “Iguanas climb up trees to roost at night. When iguanas freeze, they totally shut down, and can no longer hang on to the trees. As the saying goes, when it rains it pours, and so-called raining Kamikaze lizards are no longer an urban legend!”
Tim winked at me. “No worries, honey, when there’s a freezing spell, Floridians know to be on the lookout for dead as a doornail grey looking iguanas. The once bright green lizards do come around when it warms up and they catch the sun rays.”
I stared mesmerized at the frozen lizards.
“Oh, yeah, I should probably warn you,” Tim told me, “they’ve been known to bite, so best to leave these exotic critters alone.”Read more >
First, it was a teddy and a unicorn blanket. Then, a bottle. Then, older men. Now it’s Jamie, much younger, though, but I can’t help it. I attach myself to people and things easily. We fell in love by chance but when we look at each other, we see the one we were meant to be with.
The drowsy rain kept us inside last weekend, the milk-white haze having gulped down the last of the rooftops. I didn’t mind. Inside, the sky is blue with a few wispy clouds.
“You’re my baby,” he says, resting his head on my lap.
“I am, aren’t I?”
“You are, and we’re in for fine weather. Your voice is a breeze blowing from the sea, your breath the heat of the sun in my lungs. Your fingers feel like slim branches kissing the air, warm and fluffy like cotton candy. You spin me through minute holes for hours before letting me cool and re-solidify into fine strands. A rainbow in my cloud, that’s what you are, and I’m floating in the sky, forever lost in your starry eyes. When I’m with you, I get the urge to start running, and I would run faster, as far as my feet carried me, till the thrill of speed beats death itself.”
Jamie gets up, using his body weight to lean forward, but the moment he begins to run, I notice his shoulders slightly drooping as if after manual labor.
“Baby, are you alright? You look like you’re gonna pass out.”
“I relished a few days of calm, and will now enjoy the fall.”
His breathing is getting heavier, the clouds lower and thicker.Read more >
I close my eyes to see
a vast blue sky,
a clear blue sky.
As I try to focus at the zilch,
up comes a white fluffy haze.
White or Gray or perhaps
only a dot of my rotting imagination.
The blue starts to get darker.
And the White or Gray or whatever it is
begins to get heavier,
assembling itself into a large cloud.
The cloud turns into a duster
and begins to erase
My blue sky,
leaving behind traces of
black and Yellow light.
Light! From where has it
entered in the scene?
It was not there.
I try to switch it off, but
it turns itself into a firefly
and runs away from me,
farther and deeper into
the Blue sky.
As it shines and twinkles,
my sky gets Darker, making
the light more evident.
I don't like this.
Read more >
I can’t believe the world
around us is real
that impossibly blue
sky is a perfectly made
gaseous space – so spacious
possible without unnatural
must be held up by something, some
invisible or metaphorical cord
I saw Zeus in the morning and he was a bit of a mess with his hair cut off the chest with a blanket on his shoulder and a bit of a tear inside his shoulder bag and the gloves in his hand washed the hand inside the plastic jacket in his pocket.
His thunder was nowhere near as much as I thought of it just as the sun was dry on my knees knocked down a bit to pray for the first time in the morning. A couple of weeks ago I saw Hermes saddle on the road with a couple of inches of snow on his side waiting for a bus back to the airport to get a flight back to heaven.
The hurricane Aphrodite was tossing her hair across the gulf and her skirts whipped a huge wave over the Gold Coast some historic epitaph consumed in a single yawn and several million casual jackets and lovers vacationing on Lake Victoria hiking on the Himalayas hunting coconuts and seal skin the shoals bobbed their heads and dancing held hands and together found Atlantis or at least the debris of a civilization.
It would seem that the gods have vacated the whole thing and they will never have to worry about the long and short of our lives anymore we have no one to pray to and the winds have gone wild and rude with no captain to steer it from shore to shore no one to tell the sun to sleep or the moon to rise we are alone with our guns and plastic bags our oil and poison chemicals we can burn our lungs with smoke and crack open the door to the edge of the world
Yesterday I saw all the Orishas on a canoe in the lagoon paddling fast far far away from us their cowrie collared ankles thrown across the gleaming ripples as they washed their footprints from our door mouth. We are now free and like children we have poured powder on our heads vomit on the television and loud music at the rooftop.
Behold a flotilla of coffins, multi-coloured hearses.
The message is the bottle is the S.O.S. is the plea.
Don’t you get that I get really, really nervous
when I behold a flotilla of coffins, multi-coloured hearses?
Your healthy smoothies are giving me an unhealthy surface.
Next time you swig, have a think about the debris.
Behold a flotilla of coffins, multi-coloured hearses.
The message is the bottle is the SOS is the plea.
Drink your milk, proclaims the 1950s,
Starched smiles and skies too neatly
cerulean and white. no shades
of gray and black allowed
just drink your milk while Mother
smiles. even while she makes love to
the milkman in bars at night
and plans to run off
milk empty, booze replenished
drink your milk, cause that’ll help
defeat the Soviets and lechery
families dissolved bones beneath starched smirk
You come armed with a garbage bag, a knife, and a permanent marker. The boxes tower over you with unhelpful labels like "clothes" and "old school stuff." You don't know where to start or if it will ever end so you just start digging, taking down boxes to reveal trinkets covered in dust, old figure skates with rusted blades, a stack of random, mottled certificates boasting "good scissor work" and "always on time."
An old cardboard box diorama shoved in between a bowling trophy (Where did this come from? No one ever bowled) and a stack of puzzles. You pull it out, the blue cardboard sticking out the edges sparking a memory. Little cotton ball clouds hang from the top, and plastic milk bottles stand at wobbly attention. They are flecked in glue and bits of red cardboard, their clothes lost to the basement. You remember making this at some tiny age, some Olympic year. You liked soccer at the time, but not enough to remember to supply your team of milk bottles with a ball.
You made it together. You remember giggling as you tried to tie the cotton balls to pieces of string, your hands covered in glue, leaving wisps of cotton candy fingerprints on the clear sky.
You fought over the uniforms. You wanted them to wear blue. It was your favourite colour. Everything had to be blue.
"That’s the colour of the sky," she said firmly. "If the uniforms are blue too, the players will disappear into the background."
You didn't know this was a option until now and started cutting out blue uniforms with a strange determination. You can still feel her eyes boring down on you, her mouth opening, wanting to say more but deciding it's best not to. You remember that she picked up some red, and wordlessly started cutting her own, opposing team.
The diorama, you decide, is the first thing to go.
"I will not fall in love with someone, who isn't vegan," he said.
How adorable. He believed that he could control his feelings, and he had some beliefs in life. I was sure he already gave up quite a few, only by downloading this dating app.
"The chance is small," he added.
How disappointing. He already figured that burning this bridge will make him full of himself but won't make anyone full of him next weekend. We only exchanged a few messages, but I could see him, sitting and eating soy yoghurt, not able to feed his soul with high expectations. I wondered, what kind of a child turns into a man who can't love any other man.
I imagined him in the second grade, attending a spelling bee. He probably got the 3rd prize, and it was the happiest day of his eight-year life. The smallest kid in class, with curly blonde hair, in an oversized sweatshirt, way too big for him but already too tight for his older brother. The smallest kid in the biggest sweatshirt wasn't the most popular one. But this was his day. He was asked to stand at the podium, and he had never been prouder of himself.
He stood there feeling strong, like on those rare occasions when his brother was sleeping at a friend's place, and the smallest kid in the class was becoming the only man in the house. He had a responsible job of making sure that mom didn't fall asleep with a lighted cigarette in her hand. He had to count the pills left in the bottles she kept in the nightstand. He knew the drill if he had found too few.Read more >
Under the early light of Dawn’s
shimmering saffron robe, sunrays
melt overcast condensation,
quail and pheasants scan and pick
disked furrows for loose grain
amid recently harvested wheat fields;
rumbling deceptive sounds herald
invisible skewbald gypsy caravans
hoovering high above, wooden
rolling cart wheels squealing
cheerfully across cerulean skies.
Cumulus, orographic, cirrus,
mammatus, and lenticular clouds
hang vertical, suspended by
rigid polyester kite strings from
the heavens like cotton billows
dangling below thick threads of
an ever-unraveling firmament, all
over a surreal dreamscape aligning
red cap milk bottle madness stacked
like 16 ounce translucent bowling pins
awaiting mother nature’s strike.
In my dreams, I recall dances with my children — babies of 4 and 5 years — on a tiny plot of green grass — we called our small slice of paradise — hidden amongst the looming buildings made of concrete and bullet proof glass — from dawn to dusk. We twirl, whirl, and bask under the warmth of the bright blue, sunlight sky. Icy cold bottles of fresh milk await, on a wooden table — with seats for one and all — that was gifted to us by kind neighbors — who asked for nothing more than for us to dance — quenching our collective, insatiable thirst for life, love, and liberty.
In my days, I dream of dancing with my children — who will be near adults — before I return to the tiny plot of green grass — we called our small slice of paradise — in a city drunk on fear, guns, and bullet proof glass. I scrub, plead, and bathe under the watchful eyes of guards — some know my name — most know my number — from dawn to dusk to dawn. Lukewarm bottles of sour milk that await, on the wooden table — with seats for some — but typically none — that was gifted to corrections by collectors — who asked for nothing because we have nothing to give — other than our alleged collective, insatiable thirst for expired claims and false rumors of lethargy, lawlessness, and laziness.
In my dreams there are no locks. No random loopholes. No self-loathing. No lethal fights. No litigious liars. No lies. No innocent lock-ups where a woman who loves to dance is taken from her dancing children and charged with a crime — lost loot found lying in their small patch of paradise — she never committed but for which she pleads guilty because she cannot use her remaining change — the money saved to purchase icy cold, fresh milk, food, and clothing for her sweet children — for a bail amount that is more than she makes in a month.Read more >
Beneath the clouds, bottles of milk sit on porches waiting to be taken inside. Fresh whole milk people use in their tea or coffee to give it that special hint of flavor, or a mother pouring it in her child’s bowl of cereal to give it that subtle crunch. Some prefer heating it on the stove or in a large glass, to gulp down, so that it cools the stomach when it hits bottom. These days are long gone. No more milk trucks dropping off bottles.
Only cartons and plastic containers in the nearest store.
Shouts obvious questions
At mute wisdom
Sell uber new
Useless to the
Not in rage
But muffled sobs
To deaf presidents
The clouds hang like stars in the sky—
white celestial beings hovering.
A row of milky sustenance—
your liquid light stands sentry.
Plastic outlines house so much.
Twist the top, turn it
round and round.
We spin towards what we cannot see.
The gravitational pull of fulfillment
We all fall down.
White pins in a bowling alley.
It is predictable—
With eyes blind to how high the wall is,
how far the door is,
how deep the mud is—
we link arms to form a garland chain
See how strong we are.
See how our feet touch,
our shoulders touch,
our souls touch.
This you cannot break, tether,
Read more >
I'll wait for you at the world's end,
where time loses meaning
and stars stand still to gaze at the land
which has sold its soul to the devil;
where the air blesses each breath
for the warmth it still retains;
and the sun takes over the moon
as the artist's muse for a change;
Where lost winters have found a way back home,
And the white beneath you feet
Is not the foam at the mouth of a dying lake.
Take one quart bleach, one quart petrified-sweat
Blend together to form a cloudy treacle,
Suck into a pipette and aim for the sky and every
obsidian cloud that hangs there daunting and
darkening the horizon, blinding your view,
Squirt with the zest of your muscles until you spray every inch of sky,
Watch as the clouds shrivel and melt,
See the turquoise canvas return,
Repeat when necessary
Dangling white clouds
with milk for tea
combination is thirst quenching
waiting for a rainbow
a wand of calcium
into our veins
to no pains
land of red bottle caps
pop in to drop
a white spot
to see and be free
with energy and sea.
Everyday a cloud becomes milk, froths.
Some rain drips acid vanilla tea.
Some rain drips acid vanilla tea
and gathers plastic bottle bearing crowds.
The plastic bottle bearing crowds sigh, sing
of natural disasters to come.
Disasters may be unnatural
but oh, to drink lightning-infused water!
Once I drank lightning's water which made me
grow monstrously strong of blood, bone, heart.
Bloody monster grows hearty and strong
when it is fed from someone else's share.
When it is fed from someone else's share
monster froths everyday, clouds, pains.
Four cumulus clouds
Suspended by floss strings
White against the blue
Above five red lidded bottles
Of something we cant understand
Which itself reflects in the blue
Five Shadows spread to the right
Lit from an invisible source
Enabling us to witness the
Equal indentations in the five
Billy Ray Cyrus, of “Achy Breaky Heart” and Miley fame,
clad in cowboy hat and milk mustache, aligns himself
with the American Heart Association (circa. 1995):
drink skim milk to reduce fat in your diet, and
it’s got all the same nutrients as whole, he says. But
he’s not standing in front of the fridge doors with my kids and me
at the grocery store having to pick between whole and skim.
He doesn’t have to answer questions as I reach for the jug o’ skim—
you see, I know about nutrients and other health benefits of the lesser milk—
questions like: But, Dad, doesn’t skim mean to gloss over?
Doesn’t skim mean to take a sneaky share off the top?
So, Dad, skim’s like cheating then, ain’t it?
So, if we go with the gallon of skim,
what message is that sending to the cows?
To us? They give me their sad puppy dog eyes.
I let go of the skim milk jug. I reach for the whole instead.
My kids smile then, knowing they’ve won this battle.
They’ve won the right to pour the thicker white stuff over
their heaping bowlfuls of sugary cereal. Don’t get me started.
I’m all alone on this.
And even if Billy Ray were standing there alongside me,
he’d be shaking his head in disappointment that I would choose
a lifetime of heart disease for my children.
Oh, their achy breaky hearts.
In the dawn's early light,
the crunch of the milkman's tires
on our gravel driveway.
Glass bottles of milk
wait on our front porch
to catch the gleam of the sun.
That was another world.
We were other people.
Behold, the milkman cometh.
My images dangle from the sky
like cotton candy in a puppet show.
Easy come, easy go.
My possessions stand safe,
in white plastic bottles capped
with bright red homogenized blood.
Verily, I've meat to eat
ye know not of, washed down
with the milk of human kindness.
The purity of snow
glistened in the sunlight.
A virgin untouched.
Snow covered mountains
below with red caps.
No footsteps mar the beauty.
Thoughts freeze in time
as life stands still.
The wind whips
up, the powder flies
into a whirlwind of white.
Sunlight melts the wonderland
leaving a crunchy top.
My footsteps leave tracks
that will soon turn to water.
She’s poor not only in money, but also
in dreams. Her fairy-tale world sports
clouds made of cotton balls attached
to the sky by a loose cotton string. Her
make believe sky does not transition
in hues of blue but is a continual shade
like the light blue paint on a child’s wall.
Her dream continues with thoughts of milk cows
scattered across green fields. Her dollar store imagination
limits her mind to plastic containers of milk with no cows in sight. Simple. Plain. Fake. This is her dream of sky and land, but one day
soon, she’ll meet a new mom and dad. They
won’t be rich in money, but in love. Then
she’ll see blue skies in varying shades. Clouds
won’t hang from strings, plastic bottles won’t
replace milk cows, and cows will eat blades of grass
which will be of the truest green.
The day of antique values
when the wind shined more blue
Emily milked her own personal cow
wrote poems in her bedroom
of glistening words with sounds
on thick paper
got up with the sun of yellow dew
thinking of horses
how white her horse is
singing in the wind's bliss
giving us a poems kiss
being kind to all her friends
With her poems lighting the path's journey.
Once upon a time, there lived a family in a cottage on the edge of a forest...
'A single family!' Silas rolled his eyes in a full nine years of wisdom, and Isla giggled, a wheezy seven-year-old rattle of near disbelief.
Grandma called the stories history; the older children, who patrolled, called her stories lies.
'Listen,' Grandma said. She did not like it when she thought they showed her disrespect.
'You forget.' Silas shrugged.
'What's a forest?' Isla's eyes were as big as saucers.
'You remember the trees I told you about?'
'With leaves that changed colour in the cold and dropped off, but grew again in the sunshine.'
'Exactly, Isla. A forest was an area filled with trees.'
Silas shook his head silently. Isla liked to hear Grandma's stories, and he liked to see his sister smile.
'Every morning this particular family would receive a delivery of milk in glass bottles with foil tops; someone - usually a man - would leave milk bottles on the doorstep at the entrance to the cottage.'
Isla knew what glass was because Grandma had explained that bottles didn't used to all be made out of plastic, but foil as a lid sounded odd; silver that ripped.Read more >
people say it is light
when it comes to the white
did you ever think that
it can be this white as it is hiding
so much of the black?
Bottles are white, dilly, dilly
Bottles’ lids are red
Skies are so blue, dilly, dilly
are as soft as bed.
But it will end soon, dilly, dilly
There’s hole in Ozone, dilly, dilly
The skies will
Saving our Earth, dilly, dilly
We’ll save ourselves
Our planet’s just one, dilly, dilly
It can’t protect itself.
Second Friday last March
on Galata Bridge, east side
the four of us sat
from dusk to daybreak.
No clouds just stars
as the crescent glowed
on our anoraks and poly-blankets
keeping out Istanbul cold with
legs crossed, half awake
trotlines cast to the Haliç
en pursuit of the bream
or sea bass or anything
apart from cycle frames
rusted and warped
we brought up to the surface
after decades in the silt.
So we change our bait
to something more attractive
to fish in the Bosphorus
far from passing tankers.
We hook cotton wool balls
bought from a store off Taksim
onto to our trotlines then
throw them to the water but
Come in. Come in.
Get your tickets while you can.
Watch them step left.
Watch them step right.
The night they step a hair too far
could be tonight.
You don't want to miss that, boys.
And while you have that wallet out
upcoming shows will have
Four, four, four
Seventy-year-old, white ballerinas
to dance around your questions.
Buy your seat, support us, dream
of Grampa and his short cigar,
his smoke-filled rooms.
you dangle clouds of cotton wool before me
held only by cotton thread that could move
anytime at all blown in a slight or high wind
another fascination under a blue sky
that is just as real as can be with
perfect determination – you have the bottle
several bottles set up as if in a bowling alley
where you will smash their glass to keep a score
of how much milk is actually spilled
this is normally the intention with everyday
a variation on a similar theme
the intensity in a blue sky is greater after noon
Life can be a deceptive backstabber
just when you think you found some luck
she wakes you up with a piercing pinch
the bubble bursts, you come unstuck.
Happiness effortfully, sweatily reached
fleets as rapid as fleecy clouds
blue summer skies are badly short-lived.
Laughters wither and are blown away
like cherry blossoms in May
during a stormy day.
When you think you found the one at last
courting a new little dove
your sweetheart will be gone
grinding your budding hope
the moment you take down
your battered barricades.
Life is a grim teacher, an unapologetic master
eventually you learn your bitter lessons
or so you think!
but within a nano-wink
taking a wrong turn
you find yourself repeating
the same old mistakes
oh, how you wished
you thought and learned faster!
Never from mother’s breasts
that dried up after she gave birth.
Father made us taste it
right from the cow’s teat
warm and creamy,
milk tasting of grass.
I spat it out.
Give me milk from a box!
Children had to take their turn
in the separator room
at the back of the house.
Cream and milk in separate cans
bottled and delivered to other farms.
In boarding school
milk at every meal
during breaks and after sport,
separated and thinned with water
to a blueish colour.
Drink it fast, don’t make it last
white moustache on upper lip.
Oh! For the discovery of condensed milk,
Ideal Milk, milkshakes, flavoured milk.
Sugar poison in plastic containers,
wilful destruction of body and planet.
Humans in existential angst
rage about their future
rage at governments
forget to clean up after themselves—
Season of shades and solitudes,
Of shafts of pale left-over light;
With days that are mere interludes
In the grand theme of night.
Where have you packed the
promises of spring,
All summer’s loud and colourful
All that flight of fancy on the wing;
All that wanton willingness to be laid?
The Indian princess of autumn’s
You have fashioned into a reed:
To pipe up your dirge of
For all that mankind has ever decreed.
Yet I love you winter – cold, steadfast to duty:
A true affair that has endured past passion’s beauty.
no label, no logo
no list of ingredients
anything could be inside
still we drank
one a day for five days
each sip acid on our tongues
each swallow a knife in the stomach
still we drank
all that had been promised
our widest dreams made real
would come when the last was drained
so we drank, greedily
bodies wasting, breaths halting
we had been told of the pain to come
before the final victory
and still we drank
around me the others fell
lifeless, unable to continue
had we all been fooled?
yet still I drank
It’s white white.
I heard the milkman just before sunrise.
Thought of hauling myself out of bed.
Knew it was freezing outside, and sure
enough, the milk froze solid. Cream on top
swelling up. Rigid. Rising up the neck of
the bottle just like a razor clam I once saw,
all perky, as if waiting for the next wave.
Anyway, that cold column of cream popped
the gold foil cap right off the top of the bottle.
Now the trick is to rescue that bottle before
magpies can get at it. Those blingy-birds
love gold and silver foil tops. They’ll peck it
and steal off with it. A milkman told me
years ago: Never drink milk that a bird’s
been at – it’ll be swimming rife with them
salmonellas and all those et ceteras.
Anyway, I found the gold cap, it was intact,
and the cream column was untouched, too.
We won't hide
our wires from you,
nor reveal our
face (is this
trust?). run to us
in formation, we
welcome you with
acid held behind
our back, purify
we wait we will
purify we will pour
holes in your life, drink
from our cup, drown
in the waves we
crest with flesh
with your flesh, will
you live in our
sky palace, cloudfoam
we will purify
and pull the wires,
from white towers
we will purify.
The sky scrapes by like a xylophone
and we shake our bottles,
waiting for the sound of rice –
or rain, which when it came,
turned the world to poster paint
till only sealed flat blue remained.
Do you remember the taste of clouds?
They sung a capella, chasing
each other across clear days,
strung out like a necklace or a
Mackerel-backed stratus with a gold
taste of melting caramel at sunset.
Cumulonimbus, rolling round
like a gobstopper, filling the mouth
with kettledrums, dying our tongues black.
Nimbostratus, clichéd like candy floss,
popping along the airplane tracks.
Cirrocumulus, sherbet sheep
of fairy tales, blown away descant
like dandelion seeds.
Ancient cirrostratus, cold like an ice-pop,
line-drawing the airy sky with high notes.
The hieroglyphics of doom,
Although pleasing to the eye,
Carry misery in the womb,
Though bright looks the sky.
Omens in blue, white, and red:
The bottles don’t contain
Milk, clouds hanging by thread
Bear no tidings of rain.
The writing on the wall
Proclaims disaster and ruin;
Heed the wake-up call—
A deadly storm is brewing.
This is no land of milk and honey
Even if it’s pretty bright and sunny.
Plastic bottles, filled with milk,
White clouds above, soft as silk
Quite a peculiar sight to perceive
But not the hardest to believe
How did you get here, dear milk bottle?
Did you come by car, speed, full throttle?
Or were you flown here by a little bird?
Over landscapes, see the world?
Or a milkman, was that it?
Dropped off here, and here you sit
Your caps the very brightest red
I pick you up, nod my head
This milk will do for tea just fine
That that wonderful milkman of mine!
They placed you in my arms.
No, that’s not right.
They took you away,
drove you long miles
They fed you with milk,
pumped from my breasts.
sterilised in bottles,
poured down a plastic tube.
Sometimes I dream
of cotton wool clouds
and bottled milk.
Sometimes I dream of you.
As I put the finishing touches on my display, I heard Sophie approach me from behind. I could always tell when it was her, more than anyone else in the commune. She had a distinctive certainty to her step. I knew she wouldn’t like my latest project (she didn’t like any of my projects). I didn’t mind. On the contrary, it was refreshing in comparison to her peers; their knitted brows and voices dripping with false reverence. I know how they really feel about all of us older folk and our art projects.
If you’re going to disrespect me and my work, I would much rather you do it to my face. Like Sophie did.
“And what have we here?”
I turned to face the young woman. Her freckled face was lit up with amusement.
“It’s the sky,” I said.
“The sky?” she repeated, eyebrows arched, thoroughly unconvinced.
I observed her closely as her eyes scanned the piece: the blue card; the hanging clouds constructed from used dental floss and bleached cotton wool; and the vintage single-use plastic milk bottles standing proudly below, exuding the kind of confidence only immortals can. She wasn’t impressed.
“What’s with the plastic bottles though? I get the rest, but what are they supposed to be? People?”
“I don’t know,” I said, affecting the mysterious tone I knew she hated. “What do you think?”Read more >
They shuffle forward, decked in milky robes. Ceremonial red caps donned, they process into the azure blue. Only these five may enter, may worship The Casein.
The floor is high-polished, slippery under them. They must be tentative, do not want to trip, to sprawl before the deities.
Later, they will prostrate themselves but not yet – not in such an uncouth fashion, arse over tip. Too shameful. Too downright dangerous.
The gods are fluffy cotton-wool, silky cocoons. For now. But anger them and they will show true shapes, true natures. These are just the dangling bits of bait. They wait to reel you in. They’ll scurry and they’ll spin, wind you in thread, bind you with dread. You’ll not last long.
So stay upright, pinion arms to sides, make neck rigid, keep close together. It can be done, you can get through unscathed, can reach that wide blue beyond them.
i thought us in breakfast
drawing on egg shells sky blue
toast crumbs on the table,
the sun intermittent. we could do boring
400 lux strolling banbury
on a sunday after bandwork.
conducting now, orange juice in hand,
i watch your god
pass thru you like a radio
this batch too absorbing you once more;
my teeth grinding, my elton speeding
and all my traffic signs like toys.
but this was the way
was it not.
milk cartons emptying, devouring the
medialunas. we could do fast,
retracing our steps
back to amsterdam
back home through your thames
leaving the current take us again
some unexpected place
like it has done before; only this time
out of a misplaced wish to feel
chapter 1 on chapter 12 and taunt my god.
I couldn’t open the containers we had a house full of plastic, white bottles, red twist-off lids. I couldn’t move. I was Gulliver in sun-glasses, pinned to the blue sky. Too bright. Another migraine. I needed to close the sky. The windows had no curtains. And I was a mannequin suspended. I was a marionette on wheels. Blue sky blue sky blue sky. Where else but in the magazine – caching – would you see such a blue sky. Smell and touch of bliss. Smell and touch. Of perfumed pulp and paper. But it's dark here. It rains. The sky is perpetually grey. Swollen and low. A room full of beds. Bunk beds for those who do not mind sleeping one above, one below. We are on a ship. We are rooms at a harbour. We are an old city. I stand shivering and shaking coughing in the foyer of a bank draft. I stand in the bank draft foyer smell a breakfast nook. There is a breakfast nook. I open containers of Kefir. Milk. Harmonious sky decorations falling down like a victory parade. I manage my way into the tablecloth arena. I manage myself instead of hiring you to do it for me. I arrange and manage the mangled array of possibilities for illusion. The illusion is the lesion issue. Bone white no whiter. Pure blue white red. The red white and blue seeping, bleeding suppurating burning eyelets on buttons of tranquility. The buttons of tranquility. The waterfall of purpose. Purloined letter text and cache we kept in store to stoke the flames of glory. Crawling on the laminate floor. Such illusions. Such illustrative purposeful wonder. Like dipping our hands inside the mirror. The water mirror. Lake mirror. So Victorian. Lake of sunlight. Paddling too brightly oars into weapons. Tossed to the side of the road. Tossed away. Knock offs. Beautifully photographed harbours of the obscene. Coughing into obsession. Obsessive renunciation of repetition and the ardour of order. Stop. Point and shoot. Aviaries. Airplane hangers. To play heaven strings. 100 musicians syrupy sweet. All taut entertainers. This ground-zero of contradictions. Behind the scrim. Behind the rolodex. Behind the Timex watches. Behind the hairy wrists. Behind corporate. Read more >
Some pictures seem so bland at first sight, nothing to see, like the smooth metallic sheen of a bus that isn’t yours, so of no interest. Move along, move along. The crowd jostles so you move along and stand entranced in front of an intricacy of cogs and wheels and painted abstractions of cogs and cognisance in the dark charcoals of despair and industrial murk. You feel you are on the brink of understanding, but the next exhibit with its pulleys of old bits of string and a magazine picture of a piece of steak leaves you perplexed and wanting to wash your hands and have a drink.
You leave the gallery and stand in the sun, staring at the sky beyond the electricity wires and hurtling pigeons dreaming they are doves, and you step into the street where rubbish bins disgorge their plastic innards and wait for the familiar shiny red bus to take you home.
Later, you leaf through the catalogue, the plates of charcoal industrial murk, the planes of abstraction, seas of depressions, the sharp-angled obscurity and the rag-tag collages of torn newspaper and crisp packets that make you feel dirty just looking at the photo, and you bemoan your limited understanding.
Later, at night, you dream of that smooth metallic blue of a sleek bus that drives you away through artificial clouds to a synthetic paradise. Understanding is like pigeons. Or doves, if you like.
This is a Party Political Election Broadcast from the Vegetarian Party:
Abraham Lincoln once said, and these are wise words from a wise man: 'Vote yourself a farm and horses.' I ask you to do the same, dear voters – to make the same informed choice and vote for me, your favourite and current representative: Binlittle Milk (Trademark)
During my time as MP this year, I have provided and safe-guarded your health and the health of your loved ones with a particular focus on protecting the lives of the innocent animals. Sparrow shooting is now at a minimum, fox laundering is at an all time low and badger tossing is thankfully a thing of the past.
Don't keep your issues bottled up – visit my office and talk about the things that matter. If I am elected again, I will make a solemn promise not to milk the system, unlike other past candidates in the county; Sly Winton (Cons) and his 'Debonair Deliveries' – we know how that ended! Dee Deviant Mitten (Lib Dem) – her scheme for road widening reduced the Minton Housing Estate to a mouse hole. Greengage Laimont (Green Party) whose unrealistic idea of 'Buttons for Gluttons' managed to disenfranchise the local Weight Watchers group; non-one wanted to see middle-aged men without shirts on. Skip Witty (Ind) was never to serve an extra term with the idea of the county 'Knitting for Victory' – RSI injuries went up 600%.
I am committed to your welfare, whether it be in the matter of schooling, ecological issues, farming or the workforce. None of my policies are pie in the sky, all come from tried and tested formulas, keeping always the constituents in mind.Read more >
Taxi-men swerving as pebbled muck-balls hit windscreens, slamming on their brakes to save a life;
venting at junior ruffian quickly quitting scene
challenged by chest-beating sire, backed by doting wife.
Empty bottles smashed against our neighbour’s panes last night,
frightening the tiny child within.
Crossing to my window, saw small figure taking flight:
raging six-year-old – girlfriend inside had dropped him.
Tightly squeezed snowballs pummeled the harmless tied-up dog –
vicious roaming free were left alone.
Drag numbed minds from the sentimental milk-and-cookie fog.
Children must be TAUGHT how to nurture every home.
They had devastated a hundred planets, a full half of those in the system inhabited by plant and animal life-forms, before the Gestalt collected enough information to deduce that they would eat themselves to starvation if something extraordinary was not implemented. Another score of planets died in waste as they mulled it over.
If space travel had proved problematic, the finite nature of resources would have presented earlier. They might have developed some sort of organic telescope which indicated the relative sparseness of life-bearing planets the further removed from the systems core. But the creatures were transphasic by nature. Their chitinous bodies excited their molecules to coast the tachyons as easily as cuttlefish excited their cells to pulse light and colour. Only the actual encounter of dead and empty planets alerted them to their possibility, and the Gestalt was bemused at their undeniable existence. What were they for?
They saw no ‘chance’ in living: only that their extended environment existed for them to feed and propagate. They hadn’t noted the diversity of the life forms they devoured en masse, only the calorific and nutrient variances, to which only one of the triumvirates – which made up the Gestalt –had even given a passing consideration.
Every eye, feeler, and spiracle relayed the information available in the immediate environment, while a third of the system’s population were cannibalized to slow the resource-gobbling to allow more time to process that information.Read more >
Clouds look so pure
When the sun’s through
Not yet a hint of rain
I took the train this morning
I read the weather forecast
I brought along with me
Lipstick and a jacket
And if it rains we’ll run
Like children not yet so
We’ll seek shelter under eaves
We’ll stand close
Like a human bouquet
In a silent vigil
With only our breaths
To tell of our hearts
Until the drops that caught us drip
On our tied shoelaces and cases
Until I look through my handbag
And open the zipped pocket
And apply the carmine
We shall stand waiting
For the rain to pass
Full cream city
dirty gains of a
red stop shop.
Dangling dreams of
in a shocking sky of blue…
stockings of blue
last time lost time.
Sticky red lips
in a full cream city -
A barrier to possibility.
of real pretension.
Wisps and tendrils, violin
strings to the sky
the universe of stars
beyond reach when we’re
to the fleshy floor
beneath the red top rules of a full cream city.
Innocuous, insignificant, inconsequential,
They stand, an army
In helmets of red
Innovative, ingenious, indispensable,
Permeating our psyche
Invincible, indomitable, indestructible
A polythene curse
The World must endure
Inevitable, inescapable, inexorable.
An ocean of plastic
Engulfing the Earth
Intensity, intention, inclination
To vanquish the threat from
These red-hatted men
An infant dreams, asks questions such as
will the world be
a bed of softness,
of heaven reaching to an infinity
of warm milk,
and gentle blues?
Or do red bottle tops
betoken sealed places,
How may I reckon
of my dream?
I am not yet born.
Remember when the milkman had a truck? / He'd stop / leave bottles of milk outside front doors / you and me knew who got chocolate milk / remember? / You and me / making sure no one sees / snatching the bottles by the neck and / running / running fast / to the garage / to drink them to the last drop. / And the funniest part was / remember? / you and me / filling them up with water / putting them back. / It went on all summer until / everyone stopped ordering chocolate milk / and that was the end of it.
I'm sure we found other things / I can't remember what they were / I thought I had forgotten this / then saw a picture in a magazine / bottles of milk / and it made me think / back at the time when / remember? / we were allowed to be free / to some extend at least / because there were no scares on TV / and the only menace in the streets / was us kids.
graphite trails across pristine canvas
birth an inkling touch the stars
hang in the inky sky
delight in Xanadu’s mysteries
seen not touched
dreamt not realised
of a higher better brighter star-lit future
but not mine to have
hold on to a plastic dream set against a bright blue sky
perfect form shrink-wrapped for hygiene
for safe-keeping for preservation for posterity
see don’t touch
along with the glare
“You can't milk the clouds.”
“I'm not sure I follow.”
“They rain when they're good and ready.”
“Do you not think I'm ready?”
“I don't see any tears.”
As if those are the marker, I think, as I sit in front of the last person I should have embarked on this discussion with. But warped decisions are what come of immense pressure.
It is after this that the clouds only serve to tease me. To remind me that I am incapable. And I can't escape them. On particularly grey days, I find it hard to bear their weight. Even when the sky is blue, it is my fate to ruminate on the inevitability of their gathering. When they do, and it eventually does rain, I cannot but recall my inability to let go in that way.
“You're bottling it up. You shouldn't do that.”
“I can't help it.”
“What do you think would happen to the clouds if they didn't release all that pent up moisture? It has to go somewhere.”
Someone else now. Someone better. But I still can't do what is needed.
It is true that the caps on my particular bottles are red from the effort to contain. Red with a fury I'm now too exhausted to feel. With an ire that is not of my own making, but which I have sustained to breaking point.
But I can't seem to open them. To release the contents. I have thought about shaking them so hard that they'll just explode. Maybe then I'll be free, I think. But what of the destruction?Read more >
Back in my blue sky childhood, when clouds were little balls of fluff, we got free school milk. It came in thick glass bottles, a third of a pint, capped with shiny foil, to be drunk just before playtime. Warm, rich and creamy (no-one thought of semi-skimmed back then), it was food more than hydration. The Milk Monitor – a position hotly contested, and awarded on criteria that seemed unfair to my six year old eyes – would hand out bottles one at a time. Sitting at our desks, mustering whatever patience we could, we sent a silent command to speed up.
Nancy was the worst. A plump child, with glasses whose lenses echoed the base of the milk bottles, she was slow, slow, slow. Each bottle carried in both hands, intense concentration creasing her forehead, she made her ponderous way down the line of desks. Finally escaped to the playground, we would taunt her:
Need ants in your pantsy.
Need ants in your pantsy!”
Did the teacher know, or care, that the privilege of being milk monitor would lead to this bullying? Was the selection of Nancy a reward or punishment for her? Or was it a punishment for us, the rest of the class? Nobody knew. Teachers' minds were opaque, but adult ways were constant mysteries.
There was Norman, the strange caretaker, with his glass eye and scarred arms. Parental whispers of POW camps in the far east passed over my head. Some of the boys would jump out from behind the shed to laugh at him cowering, covering his head with his arms. I had no taste for that sport: I was scared by his muttering and sudden jerky movements.Read more >
These days my nights are
earmarked by surreal dreams
where the cerulean skies are not kissed
by the rain-bearing clouds
where the deep vastness of the skies
are not reflected in the swirls of your eyes
where the azure shades of the days
are not a welcome sight
for my parched heart anymore
Now everything is artificial and simulated
like my surreal dreams
days are elongated
twisted and morphed
for us to gulp this artificial reality
when the blue skies are nothing
but a thin tarp of cerulean shade
suspended over our heads
and those cumulus clouds are nothing
but soft blobs of cotton suspended
with a thin wire
those bottles with sharp red caps
are nothing but poison in the oceans
Cotton clouds suspended
on fishing line against painted cardboard sky
over bottles cleverly white-washed on inside,
capped with bright red warnings—all is not
as it seems.
What hell of advertising created this array?
Is it that hard to photograph real clouds?
Real milk? Real sky?
Or is it an alternate universe where unreal is real?
Or is it our world where now what is wholly artifice
is preferred to the truth of what is real?
smokestacks sit like five-pin bowling targets taunting
reactive coverstock on rigid clumps of climate concernists
poisonous particulates vent vertically to dance with foreign
dust and debris creating a cerulean landscape skies
punctuated with tufted cotton toxins which belie corrosive
history of intentions reflected best on opaque waters
blue bordering on black
Anchored by a broken world
I milk a cloud, it is my ceiling.
Supine through the Autumn haze
I felt the warmth of six flames
and dreamt of cake, I smiled.
There is no dither or delay, just one
principled judgement. One urgent
question, one meaningful vote.
One rain-filled cloud is always
someone's darkest day. It does not
just serve the interest of this house.
One level playing field.
The clouds hang from the sky
like cottony puppets,
manipulated by a celestial puppeteer,
engineering our universe.
The engineer creates
a changing picture overhead,
hanging the yellow sun during the day,
the silvery moon at night,
and the cluster of stars in the black sky.
The universe is her canvas
that she designs with pride.
She does it with the hope
that the busy humans on the ground
will stop, and look up
every now and then.
Oh yes, it’s all the rage – the new thing on the block – Cloud Juice. Literally liquid cloud, light, fluffy, but will fill you up. It’s the answer to feeding the world, it really is.
We don’t have a logo, we don’t need one, people just flock to buy our Cloud Juice.
It tastes of blue skies, warm days and cool evenings. It promises to take you away from it all.
Of course, it makes you think about the old days when you could actually see blue sky and white fluffy clouds. You can’t do that now. The oldies keep going on about how wonderful it was, but I’m sure it’s just their imagination. It couldn’t have been that good. I mean if it had been that good, they wouldn’t have buggered it all up would they?
What does it mean, Miss?
What do you think it means, Neville?
Is it five soldiers paddling in the sea?
Perhaps it is, Neville. Yes, Bryony, what do you think?
Miss, the clouds where the soldiers are paddling are held up by string. Is God holding the strings, like puppets?
Maybe he is, Bryony, although he may be too busy to hold up four clouds.
Now that God’s made everything, he hasn’t got anything to do so perhaps he wouldn’t mind holding the strings.
Mmm, maybe. Yes, Mary?
There are lots and lots and lots of clouds in the sky. I don’t think he could do it all by himself.
What about all the dead people who go to heaven? They could help hold the strings.
Derek’s being silly, Miss. When people are dead, they can’t do anything.
Miss, my dad says there isn’t a god.
Well, Malcolm, I think you had better ask him who is holding up all the clouds.
Once upon a time,
Before plastic bottles and synthetic clouds,
There was a world where people reused anything and everything,
Nothing was wasted,
The word ‘rubbish’ didn’t exist, because there wasn’t any,
And no one had heard the word ‘smog’,
The sun and the wind were used to dry people’s hair and clothes,
Drinks didn’t come in cans,
Vegetables came encrusted in the soil they’d been nourished in,
Anything that was broken was repaired,
Most people shared what they could,
But there were some who were selfish, mean and wanted more,
More things that made then feel ‘good’, worthwhile and better than anyone else.
They wanted sparkly things and plastic flowers perfumed with chemical scents.
And so today, dear children, we can only hope that before the end of our story we will have the chance to use our own magic hands and minds to make amends.
Look at you in your blue-sky photo-shoot
Simple, young, original and fresh
Flawless, snowy white, no wrinkles, no scars
A pop of red "Because you’re worth it".
Everybody wants you, you’re all the rage
You’re the flavour of the month
Oat, Soy, Rice, Almond and Coconut
But what becomes of you when they’ve had their fill
Once the lust for niche and new is over?
We will find you in some lay by, field, tube station or pond.
Stained, lidless, crumpled, lifeless, grey skies – landfill.
The classroom full of cotton wool
pretending to be clouds.
Yoghurt pots, plastic milk –
not red tops of my childhood step –
but parents’ fresh recycle dump.
Handwritten, on the pin-board fixed,
creative weekly scripts,
grammar, spelling ignored,
(complaint not split infinitives) –
so passing heads drink in the words.
But “I’d of” evicting “I’d have”
is thought permissible –
red biro stunts their growth.
Yet eyes that see, in bolls, the sky,
frame freely, but not what rules write.
Application forms, interviews,
ask rarely, string the vault,
play game of ten-pin bowls –
this employment entails far more,
right spelling only enters here.
Red carpet of self-dignity
lies path around the door.
Red chit to the exit,
I would, more obvious, of thought;
please me too, bind, to learn, unsplit.
On our second date, after we’d finished our main course and before we’d even ordered dessert (I know), he started on the laws of thermodynamics. I was still finding him attractive (I know), so I pretended to pay attention. When we got back to his flat, he opened a cupboard and all these empty cartons fell out (I know). I said I would make coffee, at which point he took my right hand and started tracing a line on my palm with his left index finger, which was was ridiculously erotic (I know, I know).
When I got home, alone (I know!), I looked up thermodynamics and entropy. You can find anything online and when I put my mind to something I can be very determined. I refused a third date with him until I had collected five empty cartons myself (heck, I know). This took a while, and I could tell he was excited by the wait (I know, I know, I know).
These irreversible processes increase entropy. I took his hands in mine, both of them on the third date, looked him in the eyes, his blue eyes (I KNOW) and told him this. Very gently. He looked, as I’d hoped, quite crestfallen.
‘No future, then?’ he asked.
‘None,’ I said. ‘Unless–’
But he didn’t wait to hear the rest.
Today we will think about whiteness.
People who have their photos taken with the president.
Things like that.
Your future bones are in this milk.
Tell the child that.
Something as neutral as the body.
Something as pretend-neutral as the body.
The child points to the president and asks.
The teacher stares at the clouds and thinks
a long time before speaking,
as if she climbed a beanstalk in her mind,
up into them.
She is holding a funny, mental axe.
Axe, teacher, axe.
The president is pointing.
Point, president, point.
His finger is a white gun.
People cheer until they are white noise.
A gun is designed to shoot t-shirts
into the white noise.
That's all it takes to make history.
White noise is over the heads, more important
than the heads themselves.
The crowd cheers and catches the white softness.
It will mold to their bodies,
mold their children's bodies
Read more >
I’m trying a new raindrop in my lips
Now the reggae sounds better in my ears
I hire a composition of hate and love
Which one will win my heart in the end
Inception of a new collision above the mind sky
The radiant is relieved by the radiation
A refraction in the thought patterns
Reverberating in mind snare
My pain and felicity are rinsed in the same river
In the river of equilibrium where the
New sky is pouring her tears
I’m here with own hands to welcome them
To cleanse my poor fragrance
Uplifting my sorrow and complacence
To introduce the battle, I hear a new sound
The reggae that I heard a long time ago
A long before my birth, a long before my death.
Milk bottles rise like bowling pins. In strong stance,
midst blue skies, they align as if kindred,
as though Minnesota tribe. It’s 1964, the air is warm
as Chevy heads east. Bales line where silos define
Arcadian settings. Holstein, Jersey, Brown Swiss
stipple slopes, enliven landscape, find nourishment
in rolling serenity. From backseat window, she cups
the breeze — it caresses her hand, nourishes
her spirit, as her chubby fingers weave back and forth.
Keep bowling for blue, continue to rise like bottles,
remember the countryside, where your essence lifts —
behold fields, flourish of clover, yield to gentle voice
of fertile Earth. After all, you can’t deny nor dislike
what’s shaped you, for there’s abundance in both clouds
and blue sky.
At a compact steel bureau in the corner of an empty warehouse,
Through the clashing aluminum blinds, I witness a glorious sunset.
A ray of light reflects off the nose cone of a taxiing jet.
At a defunct amusement park on a clear autumn day, I spy the same jet
cruising over a field of blue – solitary, silent. The blue is the acrylic blue
She used for winter skies in her paintings that line the walls of the big house.
At the pond’s edge, I can make out his face. The darkness of dusk dredges
our bodies, our fishing rods, and our tackle, until only our souls glow,
bearing into the past memories of glory, memories of solitude.
He carries the crate to the door, slogan to the fore.
He bends and rings the bell, a couple of times.
The door hung with a Christmas wreath opens.
“Are you Mrs Monaghan?”
“I didn’t realise there were going to be all these people.”
There’s a clicking of cameras as if Kate was in view.
Debbie’s barefoot in her loungewear.
“I wish I’d put my make-up on now.”
She calls her husband. “Matt, Matt!”
He steps forward, shakes the milkman’s hand.
“Thank you for all these lovely things.”
"There’s chocolate milk, orange juice, washing-up liquid, mince pies."
“I hope the washing-up liquid is eco-friendly."
“It’s all eco-friendly, no plastic."
“That’s why we do it now.”
She turns to her child, hiding behind her.
“Say bye, bye Amelia.”
Turning to the milkman.
“This is the future.”
“We’re going to build her a better future.”
“That’s all we want.”Read more >
Above and beyond,
Like time, always passing me by…
Wild clouds tearing the blue inked sky.
Expanding into mushroom shapes,
Cauliflower bushes pushing the earth,
White bears holding onto plastic icebergs,
Floating foams in a bubble bath.
You twirl and spin,
Emerging above the sunset,
Life is high and low,
Your shapes filled with liquid droplets and frozen crystals,
Encounters and goodbyes.
Cotton wool scattered along the sky,
Sometimes in perfect lines,
Letting through a river of light (the milk way)
Vast and infinite,
No beginning or end,
No destination or starting line.
Curls of light playing on the wave's crest,
Flying angels in slow-motion,
With open wings,
Read more >
Plastic red and Plastic white on Plastic blue in Plastic light
Plastic sky is Plastic ground is Plastic world is Plastic found
Plastic clouds on Plastic strings to Plastic mounts of Plastic things
Plastic rims on Plastic pins of Plastic whims of Plastic sins
Plastic smell of Plastic feel of Plastic spawn of Plastic zeal-
Working in the university was a privilege granted to droids who’d excelled at the game “animal, vegetable, mineral”. Identifying ancient archaic puzzles guaranteed the advancement toward life re-creation. Each time connections were made, the data-bank of living matter was upgraded to help us understand how to sustain life and pinpoint the reasons behind global extinction. As androids, the concept of flesh and fluid had become abhorrent, especially to those who had succeeded in tasks of empathy and ethics.
The apprentice socio-historic-archaeologists jostled into the department. We’d been chosen for our extraordinary “out of the box” neural connectivity, akin to the creative curiosity of left brain thinking. Our individual uniqueness was valued and as cogs within the singularity, we assumed that our projects would be uploaded to the hive mind.
However, at this stage, as sparks of individual genius were sought, we were on our own. Each of us isolated from the main frame. Each of us with personality anomalies that formed fascinatingly unique, synaptic firing sequences. Out in the wider robot community disagreements pointed to hardware malfunction. Whilst each of us had learned to stay quiet for fear of being re-wired and down graded. In the university we secretly knew that our pathways were evolving precariously close to sentience.
We arranged ourselves in a semi-circle. Fragile, the blue based model teetered upon the cabinet. Our professor hovered forward to examine the label. A faint whirring was followed by a stream of data. Alpha-numeric codes, dancing with cyber significance, appeared between the work bench and the class of droids. The craftwork steadied as networked information poured into our receptors. We no longer used the artisanal skill of reading. Instant automated communication had been perfected.Read more >
It's not just ordinary plastics
But bottles for babies milk
glue to their lips
Tongues young and red
Brains smart and sharp
Body booty and chubby
They are young ones
bath with flesh blood
They grew from their milk teeth
With their little feet
Crawled to the giant tables
Where big people feed
There found a way
To make a change
With their balmy bodies
Possessed by change
the body stumble, stimulates
The weather reason
In high hopes
In high esteem
The making of dreams.