|Monday, June 27th, 2016|
ON A CRISIS
There is another dance. Knives fully drawn
They stand in line and click their booted feet
Swap compliments and wives. 'Her lips are sweet
But mine fucks like a ferret'. As the dawn
Breaks bloody. They all turn and take a bow
To us who watch. One carves another's spleen
Elegant bloodlessly. This all has been
Prelude to fast fierce murder. Starting now
Pattern dance ritual and politesse
Laws somehow though we do not see their sense
Payment for slights that no one sane resents
The dance floor sodden soiled shit guts blood mess
Dead all the dancers following those rules
Dead all who watch those bloody minded fools.
|Saturday, June 18th, 2016|
FOR JO COX
How did we get to here? We know full well
Each step along the way? Each curse each blow
Each shame unblushed for. This is how we go
Step stumble down the broad clear path to Hell.
Intending badly. Wanting others' death
Or just not caring that we save their life.
He shouted killed her with a gun or knife
So many drowned. We could have saved their breath.
She tried to. Never frightened to offend
The selfish hating put one country first
Above who starve bleed sweat and die of thirst.
Who pleased appeased still never sated. Friend
Remember her. She did much. Just enough
To die for decent kind and basic stuff.
|Monday, June 13th, 2016|
Hole star crack shatter in the mirrored glass
lights dimmed but not as mourning music still
plays as it played when he came into kill
not dance but reap with gun the living grass
young men and women mixed black brown and white
who breathed and danced and suddenly they bled
who lived and laughed until he left them dead
their pride love lasting more than that last night.
And when men came to wash the blood away
friends loves and parents love wailed like a choir
a hundred ringing phones. Killed for desire
concern past death. They will not fade to gray
in memory but speak. ' It was not fair
that I should die in pain for being there.'
Who look into the glass and see His Face
Bad angry father with a whip or gun
worship stroke beard where most would scream and run
think of their hatred as a sign of grace
limit unknowable to simple rules
know tiny fraction of what built the stars
bask favoured in large red and sharp-lined cars
grab wages from poor people they think fools
cast out the stranger, do not mourn the dead,
blame sickness and on prisons turn the key.
Wish worst misfortunes upon you and me
and have no loving thought within their head
Leave holy books unread on a high shelf
And hate their neighbour as they should themself
How can I speak or sing when not one word
Nor note can fill the silence that is left
When shots and screams are ended? We, bereft
Mourn do not even moan. Stunned. If a bird
Should chirrup, we would hush. Perhaps we dance
As they were dancing. Tango or pavane,
Solemn and sexual. Forget the man
Who shot. Forever. And those who preach prance
Before him after him. And do not hear
Their words malodorous and empty wind.
They have no place. Remember to be kind
For all the dead. And also bleed a tear.
My words are little more than adequate.
A scream of love confronting so much hate.
|Sunday, June 12th, 2016|
|I'm not a believer, but I once was...
... and I know what belief feels like and still have those feelings, just not attached to belief.
STAR OF THE SEA
for Aoife Assumpta Hart
We kindle at old sights as we come home.
The street sign, street lamp. Smell of rainfreshed grass
Of well-remembered lawns. And as we pass
On childhood paths, life now is foam
And evanescent. Lost in Her embrace.
Ocean is vast. We stretch and yawn and drown
Warm as our blood. She does not need a crown
Essential Queen. We always know her face
Welcome in dreams and giant as a cloud
Floats unconditional and healing balm
Held firm soft triangle of pillow arm
Accepted vast in glory never proud
We wake we leave and know we will return
Grace warmth praise love we never have to earn.
|Another NY poem
LOWER EAST SIDE
LIght rain. A cream cheese bagel. Salad stuff.
Outside squatting a bench a mad trombone
Chunters and whines off key. A sort of drone
Never quite musical but dour enough
To be communication. 'Screw your art,
You pretty people with flamingo hair,
Baristas, poets. I was sitting there
Just there with an expresso when my heart
Jumped slightly. I saw failure as the bride
Who sought me out. I blow this horn to tell
Her tatters black and veil seek you as well'
And as he blew his sorry tale he cried
In tears as dark as coffee. And we knew
For most of us it was our tale he blew.
|Written in NY
His fights were dance and force. The sheen of sweat
On muscle. Wit in eyes. Sharp angry tongue.
He was so beautiful when he was young.
Still so when he had started to forget
And faced his maimed old age with equal grace
As on his day in court great to refuse
A war a name his people did not choose.
His art was punching people in the face.
And being punched. The insults to his brain
Accumulate. We watch we can admire
An energy destruction brilliance fire
And hope we never see his like again.
The greatest and the best his vicious skill.
But greatest when he said he would not kill.
|Friday, May 20th, 2016|
Some leave so early. We just get a taste
Of who they would have been. Perhaps a song
Or a novella. They were not here long
Enough to write much, scrawled it down in haste
A breath behind their ear a warning twinge
Death teeth at neck a shudder in short hair
A bat so small that it could tangle there
A squeak that might have been an unoiled hinge
But was not. Maybe pledged themselves to die
By hunger needles love or evil chance
Tore from our arms into black ragged dance
Yet not. Romantic imagery's a lie.
No consolation. Just the brutal fact
They're gone.No time for metaphor or tact.
|Sunday, May 15th, 2016|
|There was a story about using computers to check the likely date of one of her poems
SAPPHO AMONG THE ASTRONOMERS
Each day we know more. Knowledge in the net
And fish and random wood. Alone she slept
She doesn't say so we don't know she wept.
The moon was down. The Pleiades had set.
We count the stars roll backwards in their flight.
We've known her words speak truth about the heart
Of how love ends or tears and headaches start
We ascertain the week perhaps the night
She slept alone. Which makes it no more true
But somehow satisfies and warms the mind
With tiny certainties. I leave behind
Precise notations of my love for you.
Critics trust her nor me and speculate
A metaphor behind each lying date.
|Tuesday, May 10th, 2016|
|There's this weird clip on YouTube
In that last film he's nothing but a glare
face locked fools gold where once those brilliant eyes
torn paper folded brow was once so wise.
His own abyss looks out in that blank stare.
Something was not quite working in his brain
one day. He'd hardly noticed it before.
Thoughts burn to sudden chaos and his jaw
so slightly twitches. Nothing. No great pain
says why. Throws arms around a weeping horse
whipped in the street. So much he cannot save.
Perhaps it's kinder would be brave.
Where do they come from anger and remorse?
Lost in himself he never laughed or cried.
Was dionysus lord the crucified.
|And an older one that I never posted because it was too raw at the time
Godlike he holds her hand. She smiles. Salt tears
Headhearthurts. So you write it in a song.
They're dead. You too. The poem lasts so long
I'm yelling at you from three thousand years.
She's smart. She doesn't shriek your name aloud
at awkard moments. Sometimes quotes your verse.
He asks about you. Her replies are terse.
Smiles thinking he's not looking smiles are proud.
He sort of gets it. That first night he caught
your glance, your swift departure. Treats her kind;
comparisons are always on his mind.
you're competition still. If jealous thought
caroms around your brain like iron wheels,
You're fucking Sappho, bitch. Think how he feels.
FOR PATTI SMITH
She goes on living working. On her skin
age verse grief love write complex telling lines
beauty transmutes remains deceiving signs
laughter's own creases change them. And within
she feels sixteen but tired. Late night sweat
lust for his ashes to regenerate
wishes to sleep aches it's so very late
her flight's at dawn. Wants several minutes yet
of memory of muscle at her back
arm curve that gave a backbeat to a song
so young she has been singing it so long
crow caws pearl note. But no one hears the lack
she hears it mourns it welcomes every loss.
Art the skilled throw the hazard wily toss.
All writers are imaginary friends
who whisper in my ear, throw shady looks
over my verse and prose. And move dark rooks
castle my lines with unexpected ends.
Each other's muses when the muses sleep
engaged in sly erotics of shared soul.
Die maybe done or not. The bells that toll
new measure of how reputations leap
to classic or remaindered as obscure
and then return allusions make us smile
echoes that linger. Always for a while
long life perhaps but deathless is unsure
My mortal colleagues voices in my head
may I too linger somewhere when I'm dead.
|Thursday, March 31st, 2016|
|MY TDOV POST
In August 1979, when I definitively transitioned, I made a decision to be entirely open about being trans. This was not particularly about being virtuous - I reasoned that at 6 ft 4 I was always liable to be read and that if I wanted to write and review and write reports on novels and television scripts, I was always liable to run into people who had known me at Oxford or at Yorkshire Television.
It also meant that I could write about being trans - this became almost immediately relevant because of the publication of Janice Raymond's book.
It was consistent with the liberationist politics I had held during my GLF days and with how some of my older friends like Rachel Pollack had chosen to live their lives.
I did not intend it as a rebuke to those of my friends who wanted to live in stealth or who had been chivvied into stealth by their GICs; I was lucky to have a psychiatrist who accepted that my reasoning about my career was valid.
I have never regretted being either trans or visible. Generally, I have the level of acceptance as a woman who happens to be trans that I am comfortable with - occasional idiocies aside...
Plenty of trans people do not have the level of privilege I had and have; you do what life lets you do.
|Saturday, March 19th, 2016|
|And a poem prompted by knowing I was going to see REBEL DYKES OF THE 1980s a few hours later
Belltime black spark.Joints passed on iron stair
Red smear kiss quick in mirror broken glass
Love sudden random hand deep on your arse
Splashed stale smoke lager sweat in short blonde hair
Mandala painted leather. Broken zips
Open to breast dark armpit sudden heft
Hand clutches. Know who made love when they left
Who sweated lonely, memory on lips
Which did not follow through. Until next week.
Two years we cycled through and lust around
Went love hate glory pain. The things we found
And then the music. Memory's a tweak
Pinches old scars. We danced there for a while
Now gone to weep the tears that make us smile
|A sort of meditation on talent, and genius, and self-assurance. Prompted by Mapplethorpe
Fame spurs magnetic gravity dark pull
Scorpion whip stings poison gets us high.
Goal glimpsed revolves in mineshaft or the sky
Strings nerve to Braggart knowing never fool.
You know them when you see them. Glitter dust
Features in eyes before their work is done
Chosen beloved be Mused. Not everyone
Who does good work. Theirs is the work we trust
That we see coming fated as a train
On iron tracks that rushes swift as light
Of rocket starshower. Burns out? It might.
Leave gold ash glory. Something will remain
Envy bite this. Work's good but theirs is more.
Rest cannot know we last but they are sure
|I've started going to BFI FLARE and there will be reports, but not yet. In the meantime...
ON VIEWING 'MAPPLETHORPE' at BFI FLARE
When we cry for the dead, it is ourselves
We cry for. Images in black and white
Flicker through tears. Sharp bone pale
In the night
Across the years. His memory on shelves
Refrigerated so that it might last
So that the silver printing cannot fade.
Sweat stank on leather each time he got laid
Penis like tender orchid curve carved mast
He celebrated fame and flower and fuck
Worked as a demon with dark angel hair
Love sex chose models and they are all there
Ambition art cash checkerboarded luck.
Faustfisted bargain passion love and fame
Boiled monkey skull will always call its claim.
|Sunday, February 28th, 2016|
|An election poem written in compassion
We have become the thing that we abhorred.
We did worse things that they might not do worst.
Vile things they planned to say we uttered first.
And wounded all our friends with blunted sword.
That they might think us bought we took their cash.
To gain respect from killers blooded hands.
We hang and torture while the gallows stands.
To tear it down too soon would be too rash.
While murder smiles and prays and thirsts for blood
Beloved of many we must match his pace
And hide regret behind a smiling face.
Dissimulate that one day we'll do good.
We have not earned and yet we ask your trust.
Believe us bad, they're worse. Be wise. You must.