Night in a city that has licked its wounds
Two thousand years. And curls around its kits
Feeding and grooming heroes cowards wits
Lovers and killers. Always quiet sounds
As traffic purrs dim cat lights in the street.
Windows are dark in darkness curtains drawn
So many million. City I was born
In your warm heart my first breath to its beat
And hope to die according to your laws
Breathing your scented passioned poison air
Surrounds me chokes me black dust in my hair
I drink dark milk protected by your claws
Gog Magog Bran and dragons in the stone
You gave me all the words I write breathe own.
Sentience basks where crystals just reflect.
Blind kittens stretch and mew into the sun
Soft pressure on their skin. There's straight lines run
From us out to the Oort. And intellect
Is only part. The dance skin bits and dust
Dance beams in shutter sudden open rooms
The hopeless loss choke premature dark tombs
We yearn for its eye stroke. It is a lust
Lash feather kiss on cheek is just its shade
First and last thing controlling metaphor
Exploded monobloc no thing before
Fire of all green, virtue's discerning blade
We do not know it yet it is our world
Round it and time mind lies in comfort curled
LORENZO ON LANIAKEIA
A feather or a skeleton of leaf
A spiderweb that blows in breeze when torn
Out on the edge of nothing we are born
Blue void's close neighbour. Fragment of belief
In our significance what's certain is elsewhere
Some Great Attractor pulls ethereal tide
Towards it mighty structures wave and glide
Stars blink grow dim or glare.
Irrelevant that great strain swell stress
The music of the spheres a greater choir
Than we could hear. And all of our desire
Achievements loves hatreds and sordid mess
Less than we know. And yet our purblind eyes
Only perceiver as it swells and dies.
Her breathing on that last day soft and slow
A little troubled moments then to calm
And back to sleep. I reached and stroked her arm.
Was that we both were there something she'd know
Or had that passed ? Eyes flicked from side to side
Hearing two voices. Did she recognize
That I was there? She looks up and then tries
To wake a little. On the train I cried.
And I had said goodbye and so had Jane.
It was we did not know last of her days
There is the last word that a person says
They tire. Drugs sleep and death the end of pain.
Last glimpse her sleeping face closed eyes her skin
Against the bedding pale white paper thin.
To the ninth ditch they came. It smelled of blood
Bile feces brain smashed bone poured on the ground
And on they trudged in an eternal round
Effluents dripping into stinkclogged mud
Who stirred up strife loved war for its own sake
Turned love of god into a butcher's whore.
Profit from devil's paintbrush: it's a chore
To kill so many. Eyes cracked black opaque
Blind to their dearest enemy they mend
Their wounds nerve burn flesh knit and stretch of skin
To wholeness no remission of their sin
A demon with a great axe at the end
Halves them up, down. Tongueless they scream, 'I lied.
Spat poison. Kin church city and republic died.'
Lied sold betrayed his home his friend his kin
His city. And was taken judged and damned
Deep chillburned in eternal ice was rammed
A demon acts his part although the skin
Is seared and cracked from that corroding flame
And does not even bother with deceit
A whore fled screaming from the cloven feet
In rut protruded he pigsquealed and came
The unconvincing lies of demon scorn
Find fools enough. His lips seared from the cold
Whisper the feather reasons why he sold
Himself...and curse the day that he was born.
So many damned he taught to rape kill hate
Black crushing ice bears down with all their weight.
Dance in the dark, green shimmer, outstretched leg
Inspiring muse yet moll the toe tap beat
Ragtime and rivets, burning torch to greet
Strangers, dear tawdry land I will not beg
That you fulfil your promises, our dreams.
The best of hopes most nightmare of despairs
Shining and stained a fantasy of home
Pancakes and bacon mirrorshading chrome
Striped zootest suits that anybody wears
By of and for yet choking on bloodgold
I could not breathe there where was near first free
Twirled in your air you beat charmed ravished me.
I heard the stories that your victims told
And yet your better angel at your ear
To save, while it's your demons we all fear.
ON KINSHIP PROBLEMS IN THE BACCHAE
The gods so much our kin and so unkind
Our snobbish cousins worse than we can dream
Bitch at them even slightly we blaspheme
And then are torn to bits or wake up blind.
They rape us father us. Don’t criticise
Your greatgrandchildren will meet awful fates
Meet unknown mothers on the worst of dates
Have siblingchildren cause plague pluck out eyes.
Not just the Greeks. Job lost his sons and herd
Over some stupid bet. And crucified
To pay for fruit God's son poor Jesus died.
Sure fine, in the beginning was the Word,
Abstract incomprehensible and wholly writ.
God that is not our flesh less of a shit.
THE MYSTERIOUS PEDLAR
Mum's cousin Jean had cheekbones like sharp knives,
And eyes dark passion brown as the old song.
We often get these speculations wrong
But bits of us get passed down through their lives
The ancestors of whom we hardly heard.
He was a pedlar who got sick and died
My great great grandma kneeling at his side
Who nursed him. And we don't know what occurred.
Nose aquiline and cheekbones in my blood
Irish potato face grandfather's height
My aunt's imagination these things might
Explain me. We aren't made of sun-baked mud
But generations handed flesh and bone
Remembered family and those unknown.
We're made from ancestors. Also from friends.
Jokes. Hugs. Rebukes. The books they made us read.
They made us weep. Sometimes they made us bleed.
Violent desires have sometimes violent ends
Or wither. Friendship twines about the heart
A subtle bindweed. Can't eradicate
Mostly you don't remember place or date
Acquaintance changes and new friendshps start
Each way the fondness never quite the same
Balance of power shifts and then moves around
Differences gentle sometimes quite profound
That make us bless curse half-forget their name
Still written on our bones. A thing we find
Most when they're dead and we are left behind.
Technically Mike Dickinson was my oldest friend because apparently we had play dates when we were very tiny.
We actually met in Leeds in the 70s when he was running, part-time, the sf shelves in the local Left bookstore, and stayed in touch when I moved to London. He dragged me into SF fandom by getting me to bring the Leeds group food supplies at the 75 Heathrow Eastercon. When he was doing fanzines and editing Vector, he chivvied me into writing my first reviews. As one of the organisers of various Yorcons, he helped create a space where I felt safe in fandom post-transition and where Geoff Ryman and I had our first LGBT fandom party. And it's through him and Jackie Gresham indirectly that I met my partner. He was a significant reader for Gollancz.
He was a beefy, funny, well-read, folk-singing...He was a talented teacher and a good man.
We saw less of each other in recent years. He and Jackie had elder care responsibilities and his health declined. He died after a short illness on Friday, suddenly, in his sleep.
I have missed him and always will.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER AND DIE
And in the meantime comfort all your friends
Who weep and fear and bleed. And know we may
Each dawn have that and no more of a day
Than dawn. Perhaps life, world in moments ends.
Each second then in love fierce joy and rage
Be worthy of the dawn your friend your self
Hope is a broken toy placed on high shelf
For future healing. When you turn a page
No corner turned and leave the margin blank
You read. You learn. You finish. Then the book
Is what it was. There is no second look.
It is the moment friend the dawn you thank.
Hopeless you know this is your paradise
Nature word love reflected in friends' eyes
Traitors were thrown from the Tarpeian Rock.
And parricides were drowned sewn in a sack
With ape snake cock. In deepest dungeon black
State enemies were strangled. It's a shock
To know how seriously they took such things.
Romans who'd kill such men not shed their blood
Whose death was needed for the public good.
Until the death that down the ages rings.
He lay head covered on the Senate floor.
Red stain white marble utterly pollutes
Republic done. Tall men in polished boots
Hail death their friend. Your face is pounded raw
Centuries long by treason boots and lies.
At least we know the day that freedom dies.