Friday, August 29, 2003


I watched one hundred tribes gather together to dance beneath the New Guinea sun. A man beside me, in cotton shirt and faded jeans, said it was a well-tested tool against the old ways of war. But the ancient costumes had not changed. Extravagant feathers still exploded in halo shapes around the men's heads. Ears and lips and noses were still pierced with horn and bone and shell. Vermillion, white and hot yellow pigments still caked and cracked on the black skin of their foreheads, mingled with sweat, and fell to rest in nostril creases. In their hands were the old tools: spears, shields, clubs. But there would be no lifeless bodies to dispose of at the end of the day. No trophies. No sweet meat. They danced.

The melanin level of my skin encouraged the sun to suck it dry of moisture. I became a walking red man, intoxicated with the thud of drums and the smells of muddy flesh. I wanted to dance. The crowds grew thick; people breathed each other's breath. Arms, legs, shoulders collided. The action peaked and broke; the warriors raised cans of Coke or weak beer to their exaggerated mouths.

On the sleek, shining bus that carried me back to my hotel, I was surrounded with the solid ghosts of lost civilisations. Headdress feathers worn by the man in front of me struck backwards as the wind from an open window caught them. I shifted in my seat to avoid being pierced. The rancid air was filled with words I could not understand, so I missed the review of the day's events; I missed the jokes. Their bared, laughing teeth looked strong and sound and their eyes were black pinpricks on the surface of blood-shot orbs.

The grounds of my hotel were fenced. Each evening the gates were padlocked shut and I was asked to be content with this protection. I waited for a plane to lift me away.


Preparations took three days. A crane fouled the air with visible plumes of exhaust in order to lift the trappings into place. Then, rain fell suddenly at noon on the opening day. As the sky cleared, the ground steamed. I approached the gate and bought an admission ticket.

Cooking fires, tickled with dripping grease, sent up clouds of smoke. A smell within the smoke reached me: the marinated raw fibres of flesh on bone heating to a different kind of tenderness, an edible kind. Banners bellied like sails in the wind off the lake. Each one named the-host-with-the-best-spareibs-in-town. A band's homage to rock and roll pumped out of black amplifiers the size of refrigerators.

At tables set up in soldierly lines, as in a cafeteria or prison dining room, five hundred people sat. Their fingers and lips dripped with red sauce. They gnawed at sequences of bones and remarked on the tastiness in a language I could understand. The hours went by; three days went by. The action was steadily choreographed. No one danced.

I went back to my unfenced house and waited for a plane to lift me away.

CDYork 2003

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Books could be written about The Key, a new 3-part serial by Donna Franceschild. Having attended a special preview at BAFTA last night, I believe it will become a classic of television drama. In her introduction the author congratulated the BBC on supporting this project. Somebody from the BBC contacted the author by phone and asked if she would like to do a young girl coming of age story. She responded by saying something to the effect of, "How about if I do a three-part series covering the social and political background and the history of the 20th century, that explains the factors leading up to the story of the girl and her situation?" The producer said, "Ok, leave it with me." (That was the author's jocular paraphrase of the conversation.) The four years consisted of one year to get the go-ahead, one year of research, one year of writing, and one year of production.

The Key is a brilliant portrayal of the effects of politics on ordinary families, and the effect that ordinary people can have on policy when they stand "the gither." That is the accompaniment, the obligado, the orchestra (and there is a beautiful score played by the BBC Concert Orchestra) but the melody is the personal journey of Jessie, one of the two granddaughters, and her sister, played by Ronni Ancona who is about to become a New Labour MP, and in the process is put under pressure to quite literally betray her own grandmother and everything she stood for. Jessie is writing a story called The Key, about her grandmother, who always wore a key as a pendant on her neck. You'll have to watch BBC2 this September to find out why.

The Key (press release - pdf)

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

There are two new poems by W. S. Merwin this month. I think these are wonderful. See what you think. I have never felt like linking any poems in the Atlantic Monthly until now.

To Smoke A poem by W. S. Merwin
To a Tortoiseshell Lyre A poem by W. S. Merwin

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

she just felt like it...
no ulterior motive
no demands
no extra curricular requirements
a feeling
an impulse
she was like that you see
anything different
or opposite me
she wrote cos she felt
an urge or a thought
a word or a sentence
convinced her she ought
to act on the impulse
the moment - the need
to carry the notion
in full to a deed.

she just felt like it.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

The cult of Write This has ended like the Solar Temple - mass suicide.

Monday, August 11, 2003

add a link to my blog your bastard.

I am sucking down this cigarette as furiously as I can. For me, a random smoker it tingles the back of my throat and warms my lungs. How much tar did I just put in there? Not enough. Not nearly enough.

It isn't the fact that I think this woman is beautiful and obviously out of my league it is the fact that she is. If I died right here outside of this cafe right now I would have better luck of having a person I didn't know five minutes ago put his or her lips on mine in some feeble attempt to rescue me than I would trying to talk to perfect fucking strangers in some far flung hope of romance. I give up. I want another cigarette.

I can't smoke in the cafe. Fuck the cafe. Fuck the beautiful woman with the light blue dress that is nearly form fitting. Not in some hooker come fuck me way, but that goddamn elegant way that says "Hi, I'm college educated and I play tennis on the weekends" way. I didn't want to drink another chai anyway. I am sick with sweet things in my life. I am sick with pretending to fit in to be this or be that. I am sick with desperately trying to stay somewhat connected with fashion trends and hip places. And yet I cannot commit myself to hang out with fashion-retarded people with horrible breath and bad foot wear. I am stuck in some nether world alone.

What now? Should I travel to the art museum and look at more wonderful things, inspiring things and try to muster all of intelligence into seeing what the artist was seeing? Understanding Art Movements for me is studying the absurd and ridiculous. I saw a red square not centered on a white background. It had the title of something like "Peasant woman represented by red square." Oh. Is that what the fuck that was! I thought it was a goddamn bullshark represented by the red square. Nothing is beautiful and simple and easy to hold anymore. Fuck me. I am going to need a new pack. I think I am swallowing this shit.

You know I had this dream the other night. It was about you and me. Fucking fantastic shit right? You don't think I dream about you but I do. First off you think I don't even notice you, or certainly wouldn't write about you but I do notice and I am writing about you. I understand you have a certain distrust for what I say to you and you have some feeling perhaps unsaid feeling that I don't like you or at least that I may not like you as much as you think you might like me. Of course that isn't true. I have a mysterious way of playing against intuition. I have done this my whole life. It is the way I pause when I speak and the way I construct my sentence and the way I look at you when you are not looking at me.

I am writing this all for you right now as I walk around the city. I will of course type it later. I want you to know what I think about you and about me and us and all that stuff. Listen I don't do a good job of this, so this will be all kind of confusing and vague I guess because I just don't want to be hurt.

I had a dream about you. It was maybe two nights ago. We haven't emailed or communicated in any other fashion in some time. I thought once we were having a good start at a great relationship but things have sort of slipped away. Maybe it was me, maybe it was just the way things were but you know...things have drifted. I am babbling. I am an idiot and I should have never started this, but I have made commitments now and I have to see them through. I want to be remembered as a man who lived with some convictions you know.

Listen I just come right out and say that the dream was kind of sexual in nature. But don't think it was just some sort of sex fantasy thing. It wasn't like that. I am not like that. Sure, I look at porn sometimes. God, what am I saying? I just mean to say it wasn't like just sex. It wasn't me and you and a hotel room.

It was laughing. There was laughing and man did that feel great. Do you know how long it has been since I have laughed with a woman? Sometimes during our instant messages I would laugh and I guess I really thought we could laugh together. I dreamed that you would tilt your head back sometimes and bring your right hand up towards your mouth. Maybe you are shy about your mouth, but you have a lovely smile. It was bright in my dream. We were light and moved like clouds. We were in a town then a park. Have you been to Alaska? I haven't but I dreamt we could be there with smiles and an umbrella. It rained but we only had one umbrella so we shared. I made sure you were covered but it was coming down hard and I just wanted to be close.

Your hair smelled wonderful. Your finger traced the scar on my left cheek. The rain kept coming and we lowered the umbrella in a movement that seemed to take days. I bit your bottom lip and you smiled. My lips traveled just barely missing your skin until I came to your ear. Now your mouth was near my ear and I felt you breathe. The warm air crashed into my ear and butterflies filled my stomach. Raindrops pelted us. My tongue deftly moved your ear lobe to my teeth. Your nails began to dig into my arms as you inhaled sharply. I smiled and let lose a small laugh and moved to see your eyes. Wild filled I wished to dominate you and your eyes spoke of a desire to be dominated. I grabbed your hair violently and my teeth meet the flesh of your neck your hands and nails tore into me.

What happened to our clothes I cannot say but we were there now on the ground with rain coming down on our naked bodies. You were lying on your back and my mouth moved to discover you. My left hand clenched your right hand tightly as my right hand moved to part your legs. First I passed over you with my lips separated and you felt my breath on you. My tongue then slowly came out and then back in, my lips touched yours and you tensed your body. Suddenly my tongue came out with a passionate rage and your body jerked. My arms were curled under your legs and my hands grabbed your upped thigh firmly. You were mine there.

That was my dream. It was only a dream but it was more than that. I think I wanted to have a connection with you. But I do not know how to say so, to do so. I am, you know, alone in this world. Despite the thousands of other lonely people who live probably just miles away from me it is you who I want to see and I don’t know. I guess I am some kind of pathetic loser.

These cigarettes are not doing it fast enough for me. And now that I have confessed and squared myself to best of my ability with this place, I just don’t think there is anything more for me to do. I am not for this world. I cannot bear to be alone anymore. I cannot bear the sadness of waking up after dreams where I am not alone. I will not suffer anymore. I have enough GHB to end this.

I will dream of you forever now. I hope you live a happy life.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

The Ballad of Lord Archer

Air: Lord Franklin

Lord Archer bade his whore depart
With pounds two thousand for her fare
Not knowing that the hacks were smart
They trapped Lord Archer in their snare

Before the court next day he stood
And swore his chastity for life
His mate an alibi proved good
The Judge admired his fragrant wife

Five hundred grand against the Press
You'll pay to slight his Lordship's name
The whore not fragrant so we guess
A liar and charlatan put to shame

To follow Whittington then essayed
Lord Archer to be London's mayor
But the mate his friendship ill repaid
And revoked his alibi unfair

Four years hard labour you deserve
Lord Archer now a prisoner wan
Four years in open prison serve
In stripes and shackles noble con

Sunday, August 03, 2003

I Shoulda had a Sea Monkey

This afternoon about half past four or a quarter thereof
I had a moment of epiphany -
one of those eurekas when the universe makes a burp
and suddenly sense oozes through the membrane
and I knew what was missing,
the which I had been seeking through folly or desperation
for what has proven so far to be the rest of my life.

I never had a Sea Monkey.

I never saw a Sea Monkey.

I never knew personally, first hand, up close and tall, anyone who ever grew a Sea Monkey.

I never learned if they really came to life
when you added water
and if they swam
and if when you took them from the water
their tiny bodies wiggled with form and substance;
if you could squish them through your fingers
and feel the slimy life within,

and if they had a heartbeat.

I saw the advertisements in the back of treasured comics
promising to send inert and crystallized
a package of living creatures that would come to life
in a drinking glass on my kitchen table
with the addition pure and simple of ordinary water
from the tap.

It was Fantastic Four I liked the most,
collected for a while. Not the usual for a girl, I suppose,
but what is usual?
I was looking for a hero just like all the others.

I had been a Lulu Tubby fan, cutting dolls from old socks
drawing faces with colored crayons
sewing clothing to match the comic strip,
before moving right along to Archie and Veronica
and the blonde Betty who I never could tell was she his lover or his friend,
and I still can’t seem to get that right.

I try to make some sense of this
by putting things in order,
which would be easier if I had a momentous event

like the birth of Sea Monkeys

to mark the calendar, but instead I remember
this was after the honeysuckle oak tree sidewalk scene
and before the little sister came to be,

but on reflection was about the time of her father
with his baby soft skin that had no hair, he said,
because he was part Native American,
but was the fattest Indian with the whitest skin I had ever seen,
being only and most loosely familiar with Tonto from TV.

And that was long before he was shot in a barroom brawl.
Or so I heard.
And had to tell my little sister.

I think if I had used my babysitting money
to order some of those Sea Monkeys
all the other questions would be smaller to consider.