Friday, 9 May 2014

Punk God Rowing Towards God

The Punk God Rowing Toward Prayer
6th floor Mordovia, I’m being moved, don’t know where.
All I see is hospital lights. The glare above.
Blood trickling down my left leg.
This isn’t what happens.
Somewhere between me and the lights are two guards,
one smoking, dropping ash that I cannot feel as it burns away my clothes.
“Dad? Dad?”
My grandmother appears with an icebox.
“This is God’s, love, he might need it back.”
I try to reach up for it. What would He need it for? I don’t ask. She’s always right.
Rasping, writhing, reaching up for the divine icebox.
“Not good for PR this”
I’m being moved, and I don’t know where.
I don’t know where and I don’t know who knows.
My legs are stained – blood - more is coming.
The hospital lights have intensified and Grandma’s gone.
The baby’s dissolving, they say; whatever you took worked.
I didn’t take anything.
It wasn’t there yesterday.
The dog gave us fire.  Some of us feed our families by the flame and others feed
our families to God.
6th floor Mordovia, the screaming one has gone.
Lying on a hospital bed, drip leads,
icebox at the end of the bed.
I’m being moved and I don’t know where.
Lists of the persecuted, found all over the world. Monuments built.
But we keep on burning.
The prison hygiene room is overflowing with the flood water.
All have been moved to the sixth floor.
No feet to get wet!
They can’t cope with the disease.
Tight budgets.
A woman with her fingers sewn together and buttons for eyes
smiles down at me. Her over-locked fingers playing a tune, it’s hard to catch every note she strikes when there is no piano.
 “Prometheus’s hygiene isn’t up for question,
when he’s free, he’ll light the cod fish that
jump in his face with his teeth, spilling angry red blood.”
My love, my love, my love.
Song singing somewhere.
The hygiene room is closed, so none of us are hygienic.
We all stand in the 6th floor corridor waiting to be fed.
If the floods keep rising we’ll have to move to the 8th. There is no 7th.
It got washed away.              
My legs are blood-stained in the hospital.
No one bothers to clean them.                       
Nausea strains against this swaddling coyote skin.
Why won’t they wash me?
            Give the fire back dog! Or I’ll tell God what you’ve done.
They don’t know what I mean.
They’ve hidden it.
The guard says, “There never was no baby!”
He’s dissolved. They took my freedom and now they’ve taken the baby!
“You just take that Icebox, lovey, and we’ll see what happens”
Grandma wearing her
Youth cap. “It’s the Fire-god month.” She sings, words drizzling from her bloated mouth.
The screaming one has gone again.
I’m in the trenches with the soldiers. The freezing soldiers,
wrapped in thinning issue blankets. They’re waiting for the Germans.
I can see how their livers are puckered with alcohol and frostbite.
I can see their burned-out boiled egg hearts, melting with the fire-snow.
One of them shouts at me, snow in his moustache.
“No women, no women!”
You can’t hide in the memorials, they can still see you from every which-way angle.
The prisoners are dancing in the corridors, their sewn-through fingers moving lithely, intertwined
with the hidden music. They’re wearing rabbit masks
and they’re happy. Happy, like when we picked through all the
mouldy potatoes and had to scratch the starch out from under our skin. Our rabbit faces
bleeding into our gruel.
                                                                                    The rabbit didn’t catch the fire, it set
                                                                                    its tail on fire.
                                                            That’s why its tip is frazzled.
          .                                That’s what Grandma said anyway, through a mouth full of pins.   
“Here, have this,” says the pin-mouthed demon, “It’s your baby.”
I cradle my leg and weep for joy.
The rabbit faces all gathering around and cooing.
“It’s your baby, it’s your baby.” They moon chant.
Little longing; my leg swathed in the amputee’s bloodied cloth.
The Guards push through the rabbit faces who complain in quiet whispers and disappear holding their noses, frightened, shamed, off to their flooded burrows.                        
Dad died with a rabbit face too.
His body all crinkled with fear and pain, all the life in him swollen and still.
Limp whiskers. God for God. Boiling labour.
They stripped him naked and threw him in the burrow.
Is that the way the baby died too?                                                                

The first three stanzas appeared in With 21, edited by Rupert Loydell

Monday, 5 May 2014

Inside the Cacophany

In an academic environment increasingly dependent on the goodwill of a reluctant government I couldn't help feeling it was apt to share this extract from Charles Bernstein's The Consequence of Innovation. The chapter is on the nature of poetics and is an interesting read. Even if it's not something you want to do a degree in,  liberal arts and humanities are likely to be something that you have at some point in your life actively engaged in. They allow us to explore beyond our material self, think critically and engage with the world and become part of a universal discourse. Successive governments haven't wanted the majority to be a part of that discourse so they have done their best to cripple arts funding and teaching. 

 “The greatest benefit of the university is not that it trains students for anything in particular, nor that it imbues in them a particular set of ideas, but that it is a place for open-ended research that can just as well lead nowhere as somewhere, that is wasteful and inefficient by short­ term socioeconomic standards but is practically a steal as a long-term research and development investment in democracy, freedom, and creativity – without which we won't have much of an economic future or the one we have won't be worth the flesh it's imprinted on... We cannot make education more efficient without making it more deficient.” ~ Charles Bernstein, The Consequence of Innovation p. 53

Graffiti on the wall of a bus stop in Penryn, Cornwall.