Sunday, 31 May 2020

Two Chins

Two Chins (Emily Maitliss and Dominic Cummings)

Or nature, if you don’t believe,
Gave us a talent to perceive
The character of fellow men
Within their eyes. Yet eyes alone
Are not enough, 
For others’ eyes, at times, deceive.

And if others’ eyes 
Deceive, then ours
Deceive likewise. 
We have our sulks and sullen glowers,
And passing anger which is shown
A signal, that it might be known,
And understood by every being,
Who, not being blind, 
Knows the art to read the mind
And comprehends the usefulness of seeing. 

If human character we seek to know,
We needs must concentrate,
Subtly, for one must not be thought, by others, rude, 
Upon the place where nature clearly shows its state,
And does not alter with each passing mood,
Not on the eyes, therefore,
Or hair or skin,
But on what is so well spelled out 
About the jib, or human chin.

And here are two such chins we might compare,
And truly they’re a really well matched pair,
Deserving, in some ways, each of the other.
Bossy sister, rather brutal brother.
For though these two might strive, contrive,
To keep some pleasant lies alive
Which tell some kinder tales about themselves, their jibs,
The cut thereof is plain.
So learn this lesson, there is much to gain:
They’re both pugnacious and determination,
Is spoken loudly, shouted there,
They never tire from venting their frustration,
Are prone to bullying manipulation,
And like to instil fear.
So should you meet them try and steer clear,
Or if you must be near them, 
Learn to live with constant strain.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Formica is not Sad

Formica topped tables are not sad.
Don’t let that false notion into your head.
They may fill you with nostalgia
Because there was one at home
When you were a little lad,
But it was full of good cheer
And probably red,
With contemporary legs.
It was full of post war optimism
And a practical idea.
It hosted glass milk bottles
And boxes of speckled eggs
And tinned peaches and Carnation,
And the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book
With its beautiful illustrations
Of women, in clean kitchens,
With hair in turbans, wearing neat aprons.
It allowed itself to be wiped clean
With Jaycloths,
That “got you out of sticky situations”.
And was never mean
About hot cups without saucers,
Though it drew the mark at hot pans.
It went with the jolly, abstract patterned lino
Laid over the old, rough, cold stone flags,
And it admired the toughness of Pyrex
Encouraging the making of casseroles.
It held up the pamphlet for ‘Singing Together’
And ‘Listened, With Mother’.

Monday, 25 May 2020

When Loyalty’s Betrayed

When man has pledged his loyalty then found
His faith has been almost at once betrayed, 
He does not always act as if the ground
Has shifted.  He feels betrayal as a blade
Embedded in his back, yet with temper frayed
He lashes out at those who speak their shared, profound
Sense of regret, mad that it is publicly displayed.
When man has pledged his loyalty then found
It was misplaced, he needs must loudly sound
A call to arms for the false cause, to show that he has made
A better pledge: to loyalty itself. He needs to heal the wound,
His faith has been almost at once betrayed,
But he cannot live without his faith, so he has weighed
His old, false cause pound for pound
Against the true idea of loyalty. Afraid,
He does not always act as if the ground
Has shifted, he acts instead as if hidebound
Incapable of change. He wants to be portrayed
A loyal man. All, in one bound,
Has shifted.  He feels betrayal as a blade
Between the shoulder blades, and yet he hasn’t strayed
He is as rock, not shifting sand, does not explain, expound,
Seeks only to restore his self esteem and to stockade
His loyalty.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Life Considered An Absolute Value

Public discourse is highly moralized. Looking for someone to blame, individuals are exposed as “super-spreaders” responsible for the rising number of cases. On social media, “lockdown warriors” accuse citizens of lack of patriotism and failure to “do their duty” in the face of danger. In this highly moralized public discourse, life is considered an absolute value that can justify almost every form of disciplinary intervention in the name of health.  Carlo Caduff

The public discourse, highly moralised,
Must always seek out someone who’s to blame.
And individuals, criminalised,
Humiliated, made to feel great shame,
Must great responsibility then bear.
The “lockdown warriors” all love to twitch
Their virtual net curtains and to snitch
On neighbours, whom they hate. They do not care
To love their neighbours as themselves, nor how
One needs must ‘walk a mile in someone’s shoes’
To understand their actions, here and now,
Might come from some old pressing need. Why use
This notion: life as value absolute
In order to engage in this pursuit
Of discipline and blunt state intervention
All in the name of health or death prevention?

The Consolation of Imaginary Fear.

“This pandemic is not just about health, it is about fear, and the objects that are singled out and then made the ground and motivation of systematic thought and action. To be afraid has become an obligation, a responsibility, a duty. People are afraid not just because of what they experience but because they are told to be afraid and encouraged to inhabit the world with fear of “foreign bodies” and “invisible enemies.” Carlo Caduff

“Pandemics” of this sort, concern not health
They are concerned much more with public fear
And the objects which are singled out, made clear,
Are then made ground for spending public wealth.
They’re targeted made ground and motivation
For systematic thought and focused action
To be frightened is an obligation,
A duty and a cause of satisfaction.
And patriotic sentiments eliminate
Feelings of embarrassment and cowardice
And caring about money is just avarice,
So learn to nod along and learn to sublimate.
You’re complex, feel the complicated horror,
Of the consolation of imaginary terror.

A Necropolitics of Inequality

“The lockdown is a political mechanism not simply for the prevention but for the redistribution of negative effects. Lockdowns shift negative effects away from hotspots of public attention to places where they are less visible and presumably less serious. In this way, they are part and parcel of a necropolitics of inequality.“

Carlo Caduff

To lock the population down (or up)
A choice political, I am afraid,
A mechanism, of which use was made,
By someone with a black, half empty cup,
It seems had negative effects, severe,
It did not lead to their prevention, no,
It added to them, yet in doing so
It caused redistribution, it is clear,
Of illness and depression, to such places
Where misery can’t easily be seen
Where death occurs obscurely and no scene
Descriptive of state failings in shared spaces
Can be publicly observed. Polity,
This necropolitics of inequality?

Monday, 18 May 2020

Imaginary Friends

I do it all for you darlings,
My bike rides, my running,
My hiking, I record it on an app.
I’m that sort of chap.
So you can see that I am holding myself 
To a high standard and not giving up
On my routine. 
It would seem mean
To deprive others
Of the ability to compare
Their times against mine,
Over a given route.
It’s amazing how these things can trace
You every step of the way,
Wherever you are in an open space.
I would never dream of not being
In competition with myself,
It would lower my self esteem.
I’m in great shape now,
Adonis like, stunning.
Even when I walk the dog,
I would never turn back
When I was tired, or the dog was lame,
That’s not my game.
I always walk to the same place
And touch the gate post
Before retracing my tracks,
Counting my steps,
Till the journey ends,
I never cut myself any slack. 
I do it all for you, my friends.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Overture to Tannhäuser

The Overture to Tannhäuser on Radio 3
Makes the day seem less than it should be.
The sun should be bursting through the grey,
There should be things to shout about.
I shouldn’t be here in this crumpled mess,
Of stale sheets and tawdriness.
The Venusburg demands something greater,
But while curled together, the dog and I
And staring blankly at the sky,
I see a whizzing ballet passing by,
A diminishing motif
Which cascades while ascending
Is danced to by swifts, in a whirl, never ending.

Angel Stain

Within the organ loft above the rest,
Beside my daughter bringing harmony
With hands and feet and graceful dexterity,
To farmers and their wives, doing their best
To praise the Lord, whom they all believe 
Is glad, their singing to receive
And lost in thought through formal praise
And Nicene creed,
And watching play of light on white washed walls,
I gradually perceive
An angel stain, a fitting thing indeed.
She kneels in supplication and her wing
Rises behind her brown and ochre halo.
And not through ritual, but at this sight
My mind is calmed sufficiently to bring
About a fitting state for prayer.
Until, that is, I start to turn the experience
Into poetry,
And remember that the only word that rhymes
With the one describing the light around an angel,
Is the Composer, Ola Gjelo

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Nobody Who's Anyone

Nobody, who’s anyone, is funny anymore,
The people one respects aren’t raving perverts,
They don’t drink gin all day, 
And they only write to bore,
Nor are they Roman Catholic converts.
Nobody, who’s anyone, is loony anymore,
Oh wherefore art thou shaggers and fighters?
Nobody, it seems, is very much like Evelyn Waugh,
Nobody, it seems, has anything to say.
Peter Hitchens makes predictions,
But has no fruity predilections,
Oh where are the creators who find living is a chore,
So spice it up with wild addictions?
Why do I feel it is best to ignore
The witterings and twitterings 
Of modern day writers?

(Peter Hitchens’ Predictions) 

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Singing Hymns For My Own Funeral (I’m not dying I was just in a gothic mood)

Today I recorded some hymns, SATB,
For my own funeral, lest no one should attend.
Of course it was a rather ragged, barber shop affair,
Since I myself sang all the different parts 
And I couldn’t sing the mens’ all an octave lower.
I recorded it on an app I’d downloaded.

Today I whipped myself up into madness
And ended in tears and sadness
When the pent up frustration exploded.

I once thought life couldn’t get any slower,
Now it speeds up and drags in fits and starts,
I make myself laugh out loud and weep, in despair.

But mood waves and sound waves combined in the end
Into a hymn of Him who died, for me.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Life Affirmed

Today, I saw a tab end on the footpath,
A thing I felt I hadn’t seen for years,
A filter tip, which filtered out nostalgia,
And left it here condensed among the fears
Of people scared of dying from infection
Caught by walking in the open air.
Today, I saw a strange kind of protection,
A bloody minded, two fingered salute,
To hysteria and economic ruin,
And other crazy health fads, to boot.
Today, I saw a fag end on the footpath,
Not the fag end of my hope, but a rejection
Of the notion that we live so we don’t die,
A reminder of our fleshly resurrection
And other life affirming ideas.

On the Edge of Sleep

The only places known to be affected
Are the places made entirely of words,
But since these must exist within the mind
And on the page, 
They are easily divided into thirds.
And once split into three
They can be dealt with 
And the dreariest of scenes can be cut out,
So that what is left is better than expected
And nobody can tell what it’s about.
But one thing is for certain
I have known it,
Time and time again, to be the case 
That the places made of words
Are quite unchanging,
And the mind can always spot a dreary space
Made up of odds and ends of poor description,
Which makes these landscapes out of tiny fractions
And shies away from writing scenic fiction
Because it thinks it loves a man whose actions
Appeal to rugged types as well as nerds.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Statistics Ruin May

Pale primrose, Frühlingsgold, sweet scented May,
but such beauty stained by our frustration
bird song sounding, green and iris coloured day, 
ruined by useless misinformation:
freedom’s dead, here’s the codification
of rules based on what statisticians say.
Look, here’s lovely random probability distribution,
pale primrose, Frühlingsgold, sweet scented May,
ceanothuses, peonies’, bright display
stochastic plantings add beautification
to alliums amongst the herbaceous disarray.
But such beauty stained by our frustration,
at the exponential multiplication
of potential harm and death. Who are they,
to dictate, or fill with irritation 
bird song sounding, green and iris coloured day
after sky blue day, turning each one grey?
Who are they to enforce isolation,
our Liberté and now Fraternité
ruined by useless misinformation,
ruined by deliberate disinformation,
ruined by arrogance which won’t betray
its ideological foundation?
Yet perhaps, they are done, I can sense the decay,
sweet scented.