Category Archives: Poetry

My poetic works, inspiration and ideas.

Gate 11

To my right conspire and judge two generations of yellow haired magazine bison, grazing on celebrity woe.

‘Look! She looks like a boy now’
Insists the daughter thrusting a maliciously captured glossy square at her mother’s ravenous eyes.

‘She’ll never be happy.’
Proclaims the elder bison with a satisfying splurge of fabricated remorse, just as might react a human.

An apathetic harvest of shallow twisted fun.

‘And look at her nose; it was fine before she got that done.’

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Bari Inspritz

Here’s a collection I wrote while I was living and teaching in Bari (South Italy) It documents my journey as an individual adjusting to a new way of life and is somewhat of a reawakening in creativity after a period of dormancy. ‘Inspritz’ is some kind of concoction of  the word ‘inspiration’ and ‘spritz’ the bright orange tanginess they love to drink in Italy. It’s supposed to phonetically represent this resurgence in ideas and a new creative spark.

I have a tendency to fall easily into ruts. When I left on this venture I was certainly catapulting myself out of one that was getting seriously depressing. Inertia breeds inertia. Sometimes you have to grab motivation by throwing yourself into a different environment and embracing the lessons that come from that. This collection is layed out here in the same order it was written and so acts as a kind of creative journal to my journey. I wrote the first piece: 1. Shadow lying in bed in the dark, almost forcing myself to rediscover the creative energy I’d embodied at least to some extent before the rut. My time from then on in was pretty amazing. I taught people I got on like hell with and considered more my friends than my students. Work didn’t feel like work at all ,meandering across the road to teach an individual then going back home to write or eat or run along the sea front. I made a bunch of really free and like minded friends and weekends were always a blast; well, other than the continuous Saturday morning lesson with a girl whose only joy in life was The Hunger Games and maybe the chocolate biscuits allowed for Sunday morning breakfast. Italian kids from rich families tend not to have time for hobbies or a childhood for that matter.

About a month in one of my best friends over there decided to pick me up on his shoulders and ram me head first into a pole. This resulted in blinding pain, felt even through the haze of our drunken pub crawl, a massive lump and then a sense that something wasn’t quite right the next day. This progressed into a horrible concussion (post concussion??) I don’t know. It was confusing, baffling and damn right scary to be honest. I spent pretty much the whole Carnivale holiday in my room in the dark. Stewing in the dingy gloom of my ‘mushroom cave’ as dubbed by my less than fully comforting flatmate. What’s more, this concussion kicked in right about the time the PONs were starting. PON is a dreaded word in Bari. A PON is essentially a state school project funded by the government. Native English teachers like us were shipped out to local or sometimes not so local schools to teach 3 hour lessons to classes of mixed and random ability. Their organisation was generally poor and class size ranged from way too big to ridiculously massive. My world was quickly tipped upside down having to move from the safety of my one to one student friends to this unknown chaotic zone, bearing the mental affliction documented in. 5 Concussion box. 

The rest of the collection follows my recovery and return to normality, where despite a few lingering nagging symptoms, I was once again able to immerse myself in writing and use the beauty of the place and life around me as inspiration.

The final poem: 12. Subjective Hedonism for Beginners was written on the train as I left Bari for the last time. I tried to put together some sort of guide to life as I saw it, admittedly a far from omniscient one. There are two elements: firstly subjectivity, which refers mainly to the inner construction I feel we all neglect so much. We’re so fast to blame the objective world for all our failings and seldom spend time reflecting on what we really are and then becoming happy and in sync with whatever that is. Secondly, hedonism – a way of living where pleasure and happiness constitute the currency of the good. People can have their own currencies of fulfilment in life, but this one is mine and I try to become someone who embodies those things above all else.

Bari Inspritz

1. Shadow
2. Illuminating Monday
3. Grazie per L’insperazione
4. Bari Vex
5. Concussion Box
6. There Is There Are
7. Adolescent Haze
8. Vale La Pena
9. Secret Worlds
10. Crabs and Bulls
11. Crabs and Crabs
12. Subjective Hedonism for Beginners

 

1. Shadow

My fingers are suddenly withered and leathery
I dreamt I had lost thirty years to an exponential blaze of fleeting minutes
Lashing past me as I winced and hid in the shadows
There I found the abandoned child who once grasped lovingly at the world
Clinging to comfort like a cat propelled above a safe height
Clawing violently into terrain flesh without malice or spite
The longer you stay there the faster you wilt
The more the leathery creases line your fingers
Narrow ditches filled with blueprints of experience never instantiated
As ancient oak trees stand solemnly recounting helpless years rooted still
These fingers wallow in the dim glow seeking no apology
Expecting no empathy
Each word they jab out floats down autumnally
And settles on the child
Dragging him slowly and sleepily
Out of the dark and into the night
Over the threshold
Where self meets shadow

 

2. Illuminating Monday 

Two hours flash past illuminating Monday, electrifying our bleak afternoons
She sits opposite me, imitating my gestures as I copy hers
Together we laugh away thousands of moments
She fascinates me completely whilst uttering the most mundane of questions
I’ve heard these words a hundred times before yet somehow they are different
She flicks and twirls her frizzy hair around in a hypnotic circle
And giggles intensely at me through eyes that look no further than the enjoyment bouncing around behind them

She selects her examples
Illustrating grammar through Freudian expression
This intention is merely subconscious
Or so I pretend, preserving her charm
Which sleeps comfortably on a bed of her innocence
She is but an idealized sculpture
And I am to her what she is to me
We have neither need nor want to penetrate this bubble
As future and past exist not at present

This Monday like the last is void of boundary
The atmosphere of unchained possibility frazzles around us
We part ways in the smoldering aftermath
And as she trots off into the distance I stand not yet thinking
Injecting…just a drip of logic back into my veins
Just enough to get home
I consider running

And so I rush home to write
To capture the emotion before it fades into a series of ideas
And then to a paradigm held together by logical thoughts
As fire dies, beauty disintegrates into the code of memory
Preservation requires this ritual
Unless I can nurse the flame long enough to transform it
Keeping alive the sentiment and storing it unchanged
So that the rare times I feel the need to think of her
I won’t prescribe order to these perfectly chaotic Mondays
And devalue the feeling I cherish in that moment
It thus remains innate and intact
Intellect intrudes nowhere inventing no sober explanation
As she fades from my bloodstream I exhale with satisfaction
In the creation of a relic to this grey afternoon
And it’s unfiltered illumination

 

3. Grazie per L’inspirazione

To a friend who tears through life
Instantaneously erecting monuments to burn
Creating vortexes in his wake
Beautifying for beauty’s sake
A catalyst of enlightenment
But only for his surroundings
As by the time we hear the thunder
He’s nowhere to be seen
Lost in some new kind of wonder
Trapped inside a dream

 

4. Bari Vex

Conscientiously creating connections
Clutching caressing fingers interlock
Pouncing in protective purity
We watch them fade into the distance
And embrace the emergent energy

We first set out alone and bitter
Angry at a place so bleak and frightening
We hug scratchy misshapen blankets of security
And knit together shards of apparent necessity
Never experiencing truth
Dream infinitely and search wide
Scour the surface for scraps of perfection
Weld them into your fibre
Retain a piece of those you truly connect with
And eternalise the sparks you share

In a walking embrace we mould into one
I realise how long I’ve been alone
Wandering through the dark
The piazza gleams in the wet orange streetlight
Reflecting connection

 

5. Concussion Box

There are two worlds that I know of
One is frighteningly bright
A busy storm swirls around its atmosphere
Pulling me into the fray of social blur
There they try to integrate me with their generic words
Or whizz past occasionally stopping to stare through societally tinted spectacles
Their cores are sheathed and armoured while mine bulges out between bones
Craving to vomit its unrefined mess
But the bright lights and smooth patterned voices here forbid it
Pleasantries over coffee as I cut to the vulnerable chase
Your concern glimmers somewhere behind seven suits of armour
A tiny crumb of what I’m owed

Upstairs, children stare frightfully, piercing me with anticipation
At last I rant myself into a rhythm
Aware of an imposter, grabbing the inner reigns to steer me through
This haze which is thick and detaching
It tosses me in its unnerving bind
I land violently and scamper to the other world
To shut them all away

It’s calmer in here
The soothing parameters obscure my identity
Loops of half comfort bounce around the dark
Inner songs, chants, mantras, sighs, smiles, flailing attempts to mimic normality
The imposter dissipates as sleep approaches, no longer needed to fend off light
Black voices dart fluidly around, the instigators of nightmare
Plotting, planning, hallucinatory mischief

I dreamt you’d had three children, static and trapped in a flash of living
Their expressions hopeless as if aware the end was near
You wept with her, your senses of loss and devastation fusing harmoniously
Your pupils dilating on stretching faces, deformed and chaotic in deranged sadness
Terror bombards my sleeping brain, pounding on the walls
Once again calling forth the battered imposter and his silly lyrical loops
As I stir, the darkness swallows its way towards me
Disorientating me in my own cave
The metallic hum rings in my ears and his desolate sickly tune runs in circles
The universe spins miscellaneously
This world is no escape from the last

I join the light once more and from above I witness it tear me apart
I wander upon the crust, zombified and scared
They study me
Mopping up their dribbles of selfish curiosity
I want no part of this cruel rhythmic place
But it demands a part of me that no longer exists
So it claws at me
Scraping on my door
Urging me to burn once again in the fray
Still I hide away
Unable to rationalize the shift within

Finally we speak
And as I’d hoped, she dims the glare
I taste warm empathy, deep enough to tame the storm
Unconditional love can penetrate even this thick sickly mist
Confused, changed, broken and insane
I regain just a little awareness
And suddenly see the shape of the box containing not me, but this replica
Convincing to all but my closest allies
I realise that somewhere there must lie an exit
A pathway back to the self from before
And sadly there he waits, concerned and impatient to regain control
He taps anxiously on his suits of plate mail
A shell without a core
Hungry, brash and brave
Fearless in the glare of reality
Calm inside the cave

There are two worlds that I know of
One is frighteningly bright
The other’s filled with gloomy demons
Trundling through the night

 

6. There is/There are

There’s a certain kind of feeling that accompanies a dusk lit train ride
Through unfamiliar landscapes
Dull green pastures replace disorderly armies of undead trees
Arid and skeletal, erratic in shape
Organic wastelands blossom behind crumbling stone borders

Below a thin road trickles under a glowing archway
Following the procession of green on brown on green on brown
Dusk flickers only briefly here
In the crumbling void between village and town

And soon it all fades to midnight blue
The road sidles up with a smile
And races us through the newborn night

 

7. Adolescent Haze

A land where every spark’s a fire
And every fire thrills
Outlets into which they pour wonder and suck adventure
Their little worlds unexplored jungles
Their faces fresh and ready
Life looms enticingly
Casting curious shadowy shapes

I stand above them on my ledge of bravado
Jealous thoughts kept dutifully at bay by a sense of empty situational power

To jump down and frolic amongst them
To rediscover
The blind thirsty ways of this magical haze
Recruit me
And render me blank

 

8. Vale La Pena

A ship rolls off towards a thin crisp mistless horizon
On board I mentally stash away a crate of worry
And watch this destructive and aimless cargo drift off for a land far from my lonely lookout

Inner reflection must dictate all we realize externally
Life goes in such a way, but always with a cost
Heightened consciousness renders immersion irresistibly impossible
Yet perfectly proclaims its essentiality

Some drunken philosophy she recalls
Spouted in the clumsy babbling beauty of my so called second language
She recounts my sincerity
Marrying proud iron rejection with a hidden glimpse of spongy admiration

The thrill outweighs the cost
Embrace it lest it’s lost
Vale sempre la pena

 

9. Secret Worlds

Secret worlds collide
Expanding minds inflate towards each other
Lapping at one another in the objective canyon of shared knowledge
Though their spheres expand, they explode into meaning only upon contact
Gratifying in this middle ground the mental toil and strife enjoyed by the thirsty brain
Sponging and sapping in a brave attempt to tie together the shards of life

They laze around in a sandy circle
Cooing out their subjective takes on reality
Bonding in a molten mesh of ideas
That shines a beacon onto the placid sea
Where the ever looming specter of loneliness bides her time
She who thrives within the divide between type identical thoughts never brought together
Remaining separate tokens of some would be harmony

 

10. Crabs and Bulls

This is known as crabs and bulls
Because you like my introductions
Life it comes without instructions
Thanks for guiding me

Soothed by the sea I settle
Into a mental rhythm
Thoughts cascading outwards
Alone I’m safe and free

So let it rock and ripple
Almost waves they trickle
I sense there’s not a hurry
To describe this harmony

A quartet stroll behind me
Allora, forse, quindi
Words that still remind me
I’m where I’m meant to be

You’re poised to make connection
When brimming with affection
It’s suddenly so simple
To grasp and find a friend

Us crabs we’re natural hiders
To truly see inside us
You’ve got to smash a friendly hole
In that cursed protective shell

But will we snap or smile back
Will out stretched arms or claws attack
It hinges on the seeker
How real they are inside

Let’s climb upon our podium
Above the walls that cage them in
And in this open air we’re sane
Confident aloof unchained

The churning days are full of cages
Middle finger pointing rages
But thanks for being a refuge
And a simple source of love

And not in a distorted sense
No kaleidoscopic contact lens
You’re translucently inviting
Should I put the claws away

And in the hectic madness here
The shell it seems to disappear
Within the natural comfort dim
That soft like-minded creatures bring

The sky hangs pink like candyfloss
My minds a happy melted broth
In which there floats a happy thought
For you and all the truth you’ve brought

So don’t stop charging mad and free
Never change or cease to be
The girl who made me realize
The shell just hides the real prize

And if I grow a little bored
I’ll crawl out of the hole you gored
And flash a look that’s vague and strange
For you to decipher in our little game

Next time you see that brooding grin
Remember it’s because I’ve let you in

 

11. Crabs and Crabs

E difficile per me
To banish all from thought
When all I crave to do
Is share this day I’ve got

Right now twenty six degrees of radiance soothe my salty dripping back as I lie blissfully flat upon a gigantic slate by the whispering sea

Wavettes slosh and slap against the narrow crevices between rocks in which scuttle clusters of miniature black and green crabs
Nipping and burrowing away from the sun’s omniscient glare

They care not for the fact that these wavettes wash them wearily off their perches in an inevitable continuous procession

Instead they let go
Flowing with the current deeper down into their havens before resuming their grand journeys
Across the soggy square stone
You can tell their meant to thrive here
Wet happy and alone

One has clambered valiantly and reached a dizzy height
Before arrives the gentle sea to whisk him back inside
He doesn’t seem to grumble as he’s floating mad and free
I almost hear him whisper “La vita va cosi”

I had this moment void of static noise
My head submerged knowing only the tranquil roar of the vast ocean
Then I sat half buried in water on a slimy green rock harboring purple brillo-pad weed
And there I dug up treasures
Glistening slimy boulders with oceanic drilled holes
I thought I sensed some movement and brought it close to see
A pincer bravely poking out in defiance
Of human curiosity

 

12. Subjective Hedonism for Beginners

Warning: The following is some kind of concoction of weird hippy shit and arrogant philosophy student wanker exuberance.

It’s not meant from a wiser perch
No parcels of secure life advice do I strive to make collide with your current path
For that path must be followed
It’s yours alone to forge

And so now I’ve defensively disclaimed away one obvious interpretation of my stance
Let me define it more clearly and rant away with love

There is an external reality which transfixes us daily
We claw at it frantically seeking to melt and mould it as we see fit
We carve, chop and slash off chunks and weld them to our precious lives
As if the soul were simply some blank canvass only flammable to the paint of the world
But there’s another reality worthy of equal if not greater lust
That climbing frame of ideas laced together in collision with what they call reality
The brain a slave to the worlds paint which flies maddeningly around
Scattering erratically sometimes in all the wrong places

The frail mental mesh can both ingrain and drain the light of the world, depending on the day
Move forward like a hungry ghost in life, learning, discovering and pursuing what seems to mean the most
In this finite blip no more relatively important than those crashes of silent lightening we watched blast through the distant sea
If you build your inner mesh into something meaningful and respected by yourself
You remove the need for objectivity to fit perfectly with your preconceptions
Which in turn douses the illusion that you are being deluded
Instead you can sit back and pluck out that which soothes and complements the soul
Leaving the rest to the rest to munch hungrily down in vain
While you continue your journey of purity

My nectar is pleasure my poison pain
It’s simply really inside my brain
You follow that old hedonistic code
You suck the former while the latter erodes
Though life is like a cliff that crumbles
There’s always time to slip and stumble
Onto a pool of happiness
Enjoy it while it offers bliss
And don’t despair or crave perfection
You’ll never grow without reflection
The world it owes you not a thing
So don’t expect it to take you in

Instead start off with some misty inner pondering
Discovering, wandering from dream to dream
Hazy and frightening at first but gradually clarifying as you go
There are flaws in all external things
If perfection’s truly what you crave
The battle’s won inside the cave

Don’t grasp out for natural matches
Gleam and learn for love attaches
Extra fibres to the soul
It helps you love yourself and grow

Create your own image of inner utopia and absorb with bliss the paint to create it
Or else it’s but a pointless thirsty struggle through a desert to nowhere
Non c’e bisogno d’un mondo perfetto
L’interno rende cose meglio