Monday, May 25, 2015

lloyd charmers on the dials

u.k. pop reggae  

KEN BOOTHE: EVERYTHING I OWN from "Everything I Own b/w Drum Song" 7" 45 Trojan (TR.7920) (UK) 1974

siblingshot on the bleachers

hammersmith guerillas


THE CLASH: (WHITE MAN) IN HAMMERSMITH PALAIS from "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais b/w The Prisoner" 7" 45 CBS (S CBS 6383) (UK) 1978

no supper tonight

kick it over

THE CLASH: ARMAGIDEON TIME (VERSION) from "London Calling b/w Armagideon Time (Version)" 12" 45 CBS (CBS 12 8067) (UK) 1979
WILLIE WILLIAMS: ARMAGIDEON TIME from "Armagideon Time" LP Studio One (SOLP0131) (JA) 1979 • 1982

Sunday, May 24, 2015

people unite

fair deal studio session

Owen, Fox, Jennings, Ruffy
THE RUTS: IN A RUT from "In A Rut b/w H-Eyes" 45 People Unite (RUT 1A) (UK) 1979 • "In A Can" CD Harry May Record Company (CAN CAN 009) (UK) 2000
JOHN PEEL: BBC RADIO BROADCAST 1979 from "In A Can" CD Harry May Record Company (CAN CAN 009) (UK) 2000

two sevens clash

dread at the controls pt. 2


THE CLASH: ROBBER DUB from "Super Black Market Clash" CD Legacy (EK 53191) (UK) 1980 • 1993

juke box accelerator

foote in mout' dub


THE CLASH: CLASH CITY ROCKERS from "Clash City Rockers b/w Jail Guitar Doors" 7" 45 CBS (CBS 5834) (UK) 1978

year of the dragon

the man from shooter's hill


KEITH HUDSON: THE MAN FROM SHOOTER'S HILL from "Entering The Dragon" LP Magnet (MGT 007) (JA/UK) 1974

the wormer revisited

toasting mr. lee
prince jazzbo 

PRINCE JAZZBO: THE WORMER from "The Wormer b/w The Great Pablo" 7" 45 Attack (ATT 8122) (JA/UK) 1976

Saturday, May 23, 2015

try and try again

Hank Mizell, singer and writer of the international hit "Jungle Rock", was born on November 9, 1923 in Daytona Beach, Florida and died on December 23, 1992 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Erroneously credited on its initial release in 1958 to guitarist Jim Bobo - with whom Mizell collaborated between 1956 and 1962 -  a second pressing corrected the mistake but failed to dent the charts. 
     Primal and bursting with innuendo - despite its being clearly targeted at the novelty dance market - it was further issued on King Records (5236) but again did little to ignite consumer interest.
     Subsequently picked up by Frenchman Jean-Luc Young's specialist reissue label, Charly Records, some two decades later, it ultimately peaked at the #3 spot in the UK.

jungle rock


HANK MIZELL: JUNGLE ROCK from "Jungle Rock b/w When I'm In Your Arms" 7" 45 Eko Recording Corp. (No. 506) (US) 1958 • Charly Records (CS 1005) (UK) 1976

stars in dub

Engineered and mixed at King Tubby's, 18 Dromilly Avenue, Kingston 11.

twin tub sibling dub


TAPPER ZUKIE: TAPPA ZUKIE IN DUB from "Tapper Zukie In Dub" LP Stars (SR 1000) (JA) 1976
TAPPER ZUKIE: LOVING DUB from "Tapper Zukie In Dub" LP Stars (SR 1000) (JA) 1976

capillaceous dread


let the sun shine in
LIZZY & CORNELL CAMPBELL: AQUARIUS from "Joe Gibbs • Scorchers From The Early Years 1967-73" 2 x CD 17 North Parade (VP 4151) 2009

Friday, May 22, 2015

dub poltergeist

Additionally issued on 12", Black Ark International (ARK 007) in the UK, 1980.

contort yousel'


JUNIOR MURVIN: CROSS OVER from "Cross Over b/w Cross Over Dub" 7" 45 Upsetters (NONE) (JA) 197?

check the guy's track record

The god damn sun was shining again. The only problem was it was lighting up the wrong side of the street. I stepped out onto the verandah in the shadow of our 1950's built tenement and scowled at those bastards sunning themselves in deckchairs and makeshift loungers. Wished them all melanomas as I shrank inside my duffel coat. Even the air is different this side of the divide. Damp. Not humid. The residue of cold rain sandwiched into concrete. Settling in the marrow.
     The entire block and those surrounding it have little portholes built into kitchens overlooking the balcony outside. To remind everybody making tea that their lives are all at sea. That each new dawn flirts with sinking as the walls around subside.
     One side of the street sails the Bahamas through summer, its tenants smothered in sun screen. The other patrols the black Irish Sea. Life jackets on parade.
     Every passing cloud is a triumph.
     I stepped back indoors and bit into a burger to get my dose of Vitamin D.
     No news is good news. When the telephone rings it may be news that someone has died. When it doesn't ring it may mean that somebody has died, regardless. Should I feel the urge to keep abreast of hostilities I can always turn the dial on the radio. I prefer to hear it as unillustrated dirge. I tend to lean towards the World Service. Its echo of the colonies.
     I loiter too on the Shipping Forecast. Gale warnings. Ronald Binge. A woodwind arpeggio.
     Where jazz aficionados have their "Stormy Weather" to keep their boat afloat, this island provides beautifully manicured vowels and consonants.
     Bowed under by the weight of regional accents, we blindly gravitate towards them for instruction.
     Even here, north of the border - the dark end of the street - our ears remain tuned to the crisp rebuke.

hip dub priest
THE FALL: HIP PRIEST from "Hex Induction Hour" LP Kamera (KAM-005) (UK) 1982
THE FALL: BIG NEW PRINZ from "Big New Prinz b/w Wrong Place, Right Time" 7" 45 Beggars Banquet (FALL 4) (UK) 1988
THE FALL: BIG NEW PRIEST from "I Am Kurious Oranj" CD Beggars Banquet (BEGA 96CD ) (UK) 1988

Thursday, May 21, 2015

massive attack

general lee's dub
KING TUBBY & THE AGGROVATORS: LEE'S DUB from "Shalom Dub" LP Klik (KLP9002) (JA) 1975
KING TUBBY & THE AGGROVATORS: DON'T CUT OFF YOUR DUB from "Shalom Dub" CD Jamaican Recordings (JRCD038) (UK) 2010


upset the barber

bury the razor
see here boy
UPSETTERS: BURY THE RAZOR from "Bury The Razor b/w Cheat Weston Head" 7" 45 Upsetter (NONE) (JA) 1975

angola crisis

Recorded at Errol T Recording Studio. Engineered by Errol Thompson. Sound effects, arranged by Joe Gibbs. Produced by Errol Thompson and Joe Gibbs. Lyrics and vocal overdub by Althea Rose Forrest and Donna Marie Reid. The 45 was given heavy rotation by BBC Radio DJ, John Peel and was reissued on Lightning Records - a subsidiary of WEA - hitting the UK top spot in Feb 1978.

joe gibbs record globe


JOE GIBBS & THE PROFESSIONALS: ANGOLA CRISIS from "African Dub All-Mighty • Chapter Two" LP Joe Gibbs Record Globe (NONE) (JA) 1977
ALTHIA AND DONNA: UPTOWN TOP RANKING from "Uptown Top Ranking b/w Calico Suit" 7" 45 Joe Gibbs Record Globe (NONE) (JA) 1977

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

the roar behind the king

Recorded at Channel One, Kingston, Jamaica. Edited by Brad Osbourne and Douglas Levy at Bullwackie Studio. All rhythm tracks by Bunny Lee and the Ag[g]rovators (credited here individually). Mixed in the raw, the mellow, at 
King Tubby's and Joe Gibbs Recording Studio, Kingston, Jamaica. Mighty.
   
queued up at channel one

BUNNY LEE: KING ZION DUB from "King Of Dub" LP Clock Tower (CTLP 0101) 1978
BUNNY LEE: FANCY UP A DUB from "King Of Dub" LP Clock Tower (CTLP 0101) 1978

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

rudie can't fail

...on the route of the 19 bus
KING TUBBY AND FRIENDS: DUB IS MY OCCUPATION from "Dub Like Dirt" 2 x LP Blood & Fire (BAF 026) (JA) 1999

the man who would be king

Engineered and mixed some time between 1975 and 1977 at King Tubby's, 18 Dromilly Avenue, Kingston 11.
KING TUBBY AND FRIENDS: SLY WANT DUB from "Dub Like Dirt" 2 x LP Blood & Fire (BAF 026) (JA) 1999

Monday, May 18, 2015

wreck my body

Serious A-grade, X-rated vocal riffing around Katherine Kennicott Davis's 1941 X-mas standard, "The Little Drummer Boy". Paging uncle Joe to pass the dust.
THE SOUL SISTERS: WRECK A BUDDY 7" 45 Amalgamated Records (AMG 839) (JA) 1969

black ark vs joe gibbs

Perry's rather wonderful acrimonious parting shot to Joe Gibbs. Segueing here into Alcapone's overdub, itself issued three years later, back to back with Winston Wright's "Doctor Upsetter" on Pressure Beat. Perry dissolved his association with Amalgamated Records to establish his own (Upsetter) label in 1968. Exit Scratch, enter Winston "Niney The Observer" Holness at the dials.
LEE PERRY • DENNIS ALCAPONE: THE UPSETTER • UPSETTER VERSION 7" 45 Amalgamated Records (AMG 808) (JA) 1968 • Pressure Beat (NONE) (JA) 1971

Thursday, May 14, 2015

your host imbibes some more

toasting all siblings everywhere.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

pork loins

I am dreaming about tripping. I am tripping more explicitly than I have in years, though the ritual passage from one hand to the other by way of gift is somehow dimmed. At any rate, I am grateful.  The trip is in progress. Still accelerating when it is rudely interrupted by the fat man upstairs.
     I ought to be incandescent but I am not. The grey creeps in and out my lids as stitches. My vision adjusts. Calcifies. Ears tuned to the sound of a television racing engines. Cupid bubbles detonating. Hideous tiny wingspans calibrated on radiator shards.
    A fluttering of lungs.
    I sit on the edge of the sofa. Feet planted in a rug. Not so much antagonized as exhausted. Ashen. Gutted. Bitten.
    I open my mouth on a yawn.
    Slow dive down an aperture shrinking on an aqua hole.
    The last I remember is bra straps snapping. Swim suits. Polka dots. Betty Boop on steroids, kicking out a sushi arch.
     Lose one life.
     Snatch.
     It is not as if I have been getting any.
     Anyway. I sit there and consider my current predicament obliquely. Watch myself from somewhere in the vicinity of a ceiling rose vibrating. The walrus padding back and forth between armchair and set. Hoovering up filigreed leftovers with his snout.
     I fish a cigarette out its pack. Cough into the corner of my hand.
     "Fuck off!" the fat man sings.
     All manner of tenants locked in on themselves. Pulling on moustaches. Tie-dyed hair.
     "Prick."
     The fat man upstairs is much like those pallid anemones below. The same native tongue. The only thing separating one from the other is floorboards, my flesh between, stacked one on top of the other like the raw ingredients in a bologna sandwich. Gnawed at, chewed on, regurgitated. Served up to the bins.
     An oyster tattoo laced straight through the hambone.
     An inferior performer.
     I sit there. Acutely aware of my bulk. The unwashed smell on me.
     Well. My breathing is riven, the timbre inescapably jazz, post-op bop, lurking under the corner light, magus to the mild. I don't believe in original sin. The ubu frère is sanitized, gone, his blemished skins sparkling to the wind.
     I open my nose fully just to catch the faintest whiff of him and in return receive nothing. Not one jot. Every inch the liver spotted ghost exiled to the eaves. Hovering there intangible. Stitched in tissue silhouette about the cornicing, an overhanging in tablature. A weevil blown ice sculpture.
     "Bastard. Snidey fucking cunt."
     It is conjecture, of course, as to that which has brought the fat man to such a pass. What is certainty, however, is that he did not start out so thick around the ankle. The neck now gathered in a wattle.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

tǒrro
























Tǒrro!
Seizing the bull
by the horns
smacks of molestation
bestiality
me and mine
pissing
in the sawdust
the ring
nøstrils rusted
tearing
feints and salts
guacamole slants
toreador
fats
a smell of greasepaint
waxed
moustaches postachio
nuts
entertainment
the run
Tǒrro!

Friday, April 24, 2015

heatwave

Zip-a-Dee-Fucking-Doo-Dah. The road stirs early. Caught unawares by three uninterrupted mornings of cloudless skies. Our "Song of the South". Scrabbling over what remains of the ramparts. Hadrian's Wall.
     There is some delay before I hurl back the curtains. Time enough to pad about in twilight still. Two cigarettes spinning a tarry veil. Pinned in tatters from the ceiling.
     The fat fuck upstairs has his television howling once again. Scenes of impending accident. Narration. The ominous machine gun vertigo on the top of the hour.
     I dance about in my undershorts and paw the switch on the kettle. At fifty it is the only thing I can be sure of turning on. Tarnished white goods. Electrical appliances faltering on the menopause, the plimsoll line, running low on juice.
    Scarcely enough to brown my bread.
    I splash water on my face and check my teeth. Junk mail drops through my letterbox. I step on my son's toy laser pistol and shoot myself in the foot.
    The telephone rings. Just as I am taking a shit.
    The missing part for my outstanding washing machine repair has arrived. Three weeks after the engineer has been and gone. I am less than elated.
    The air, when I finally step out in it, is unseasonably warm. I am accustomed to snow showers this time of year. On the tails of the Augusta Masters, its green jacket. Instead, I am decked out in t-shirt and cargo shorts. Every inch the caddy. My balls have wizened in their elastic casings. Their bounce has all but perished. I lack the drive to hit the fairway off the pin; the short game is all that is left to aspire to.
     The red bicycle has still not fucking moved.
     Its spoke are not spokes, I no longer believe, but cobwebs. Spiders its gears. It is not a bicycle, it is the mirage of the promise of movement. An optical illusion. The vestige of psychosis.
     The fat man upstairs, too, is an auditory hallucination. The neighbours below merely trolls.
     And I am not quite fifty. I went to sleep on a tab one night. I am still plumping up the pillow.
     When I sleep I do not soar or descend like a pterodactyl. I plummet into glass as a starling on Largactil. A mouse chewed up by Mandrax. I smear the sides of buildings, detonate on tiles to raise the slumbering. I am Syd. I am Sid. You better fucking believe it. Puck in engineer boots, bloated beyond recognition. Whipping this way and that on leather cuffs. Pricked full of needles, a crocheted shawl. An owl spitting thorny pellets.
     Oh well.
     All around they are dropping like flies. I do not care for eulogies.
     A verse here. A drone there. The best things in life are fleeting.
     "I am a fucking mad cunt," the mad cunt downstairs informs the house. "And I want my fucking jacket. Right now."
     I have no antidote.
     "You fucking belter!" he screams. His nag has come home.
     The mad cunt has started singing again. Off key, as always. Half out of the saddle. Jockeying for the note.
     He is so proud of the house which is not his own. It prompts him to file for divorce.
     "I don't care. I don't care," he stumbles. "This is a fucking bought house."
     I light a cigarette. I drain my glass. I belch and scratch out a new paragraph.
     I am only glad that I have enough cigarettes to see out the afternoon into the evening. Beyond. This is not a bought house. It is rented. The only house worth investing in is a lighthouse. Derelict. Aloof. Encircled by nothing save shipwrecks. Gulls. The detritus of bankrupted lords.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

hatchet

The sun is surely shining. If I lean out my window I can see it striking off the brick and glass across the street. A yellow phosphorous nagging. Marginally out of reach beyond that band of shadow dividing the road. The grass verge eaten into by chimney pots.
     I sit in the shade and digest my share of a pizza. Count out those cigarettes remaining in the pack.
     It is the tenement year.
     A scraping of violin. An unchaperoned burst of tuba. Nothing much to write home about.
     At five minutes past two in the afternoon our closest star is already in decline. The red bicycle still chained to the railing.
     Truant children whimper in the stairwell. Spilling soft drinks where hands stretch out to brace against a tumble. Clutching at knees.
     The phone rings. A woman in South Africa tries to sell me home insurance. Failing that, unlimited access to a sports channel. I am not interested. After three minutes of meaningless exchange she finally throws in the towel. I hang up and make myself a coffee. Smoke another cigarette. Watch a fly writhe and expire one inch below the lip of my cup.
    At a quarter past three I sit down at my desk and stroke some keys.
    Characters stutter and dance like an epileptic stepping off death row. A capital sentence commuted.
    I give up and smoke another cigarette. Hang out the bedroom window long enough to give myself a headache. Dragged under by the weight of elephants, I resolve to strike out for the corner shop to find a cure.
    Too much jazz pulls on the stem of my second glass. Clifford Brown. Max Roach.
    I hanker after the need to destroy nostalgia. To burn up the celluloid of a Fred Quimby animation, torture the tomcat over a paladin lamp.
    I turn up the music and listen mostly to the protests of my neighbours downstairs. Naked hostility radiates up through the floorboards. Someone has a joint going nicely. The pungent stink of it bleeds between the cracks. I don't begrudge them their high, of course, but their idiocy is another matter. I am an intolerant divorcé. A singular misanthrope. All day long they bitch and whine and cackle. It is impossible not to follow a conversation word for word unless one plugs in earbuds. Or wrestles catatonia. At night it is worse. Every imbecility amplified until one surrenders to sleep with their pipe still lit. If I owned a shotgun I'd blow every fucker away and face the consequences. The music, as they say. The music. That anyone can confront a life sentence devoid of song is something beyond me. Stripped of warbling. The need to bend sinister. I would sooner slit my throat than succumb to the unending dirge of the mentally impaired.
     I return to the bedroom window and see I have driven them out onto the back court.
     They are joined by my next door neighbour's thirty-three year old son. He has returned to reclaim his ancestral throne. To live once more with mother. His partner left him after he was bitten behind the ear by a hatchet. They say the next blow might fell him permanently. I am busy analysing the odds. He thinks this is his parish. He does not care for me, my presence here next door. I caught him one night. Peering through my kitchen window. I do not care for thieves. Although I do not mind his brothers.
     "Sure is a nice day," I say to my son.
     "What ?" he says. Closes the door on my face.
     I peek in on him two hours later and find him lost in music. The headphones stuffing up his ears.
     At a quarter past six precisely, I find I am still plumbed into the mainframe. I have all but wasted another day and nothing to show for it but this numbing woeful bilge on the bleachers. I go for a piss and see in the mirror my hair standing up on end like Travis Bickle. Uptight. Glued. It is time I got it cut. It is time I put away my toys and learned to live a little. It is time I got myself a dog.
    

Monday, April 13, 2015

pornography

The lesbians across the street are not pretty. They appear to be happy enough, embracing each other by way of greeting. Exchanging goodbyes. On the veranda just outside their front door; the balcony, if one is given to theatrical bent.
     Some time ago the smaller woman's brother attempted to hurl her over the ledge in the dead of the night. Their screams woke me on the sofa. I did not immediately rush to the window, but lay there smoking a cigarette. Listening to the invective through acts one to three. What sounded like a shoe bouncing off the roof of a parked car.
     The next morning, a neighbour filled me in on the detail. Bagging the last of the rolls in the corner shop while I waited in line for cigarettes.
     There is nothing to beat the Scottish morning roll. Where English baps are sweet and unsavoury, their breakfast counterpart north of the border is something altogether more substantial. The Scottish roll demands one's full attention. A firm grip, should the mouth be built on dentures.
     "He'll not be back," my neighbour informed me.
     He was back with a suitcase two days later. A plastic sack full of 12oz cans.
     Blood is thicker than water. Piss. The Scottish family, the clan, is robust as its roll, enfolding all manner of mortification. Forgoing admission of guilt.
     I do not like it living here on the second floor. I can't see the river. The sky. Back and front, I am confronted with windows set in brick. The flinching of bodies under surveillance. Straying too close to the glass.
     This city was built on tobacco. The sweat of slaves.
     Cancer is its legacy.
     I do not subscribe to the concept of original sin. I began smoking out of boredom. Like all junkies I am a slave to the fix.
     Apples are for fruits.
     The fat man up the stairs rouses at four in the morning and sets his television to a blare. By nine he is back in bed. His routine is unfaltering. The floorboards wince and shriek under his weight. The ceiling all but bulges. He does not smoke. He does not appear to drink excessively. The soundtrack to his slow demise is constructed around reruns from the decade which oversaw the collapse of the shipyards. The music in him died the year the needle broke on its arm. He wears a Led Zeppelin t-shirt when he ventures out on the stair, but his ear is bludgeoned and misshapen from its diet of ersatz fodder. He no longer possesses a turntable on which to exorcise his ghosts. His father is all but eaten up by Alzheimer's. He has not been the same since senility came cold calling. Before they took him away his mind scampered here and there like infant mice.
      The family below do not like music either but are drawn to hectoring one another in bullish tones. Bickering incessantly as Scottish families will. The endless droning sets what remains of my teeth on edge. It follows me from room to room. Drilling into my skull like a wood boring beetle.
      "Cokeheads." Another neighbour chimes in.
      The soundproofing is deplorable.
      I like the noise of the rain when it comes. Sweeping onto the windows. Spitting under the eaves.
      On days when it is especially bad, I stand erect as Noah. Stripped of oilskin. The will to preserve. Protect. Let it come down, I demand.
      Sentinel in socks.
      Oh, where have you been, my one true love? Riding on your truncheon.
      At fifty, I am too old to be a father comfortably to a four-year-old. His face unmarred yet by accident, his confidence undented. I am missing those attributes I think of as prerequisite. I am abashed by my inadequacy.
     Well. It was not always like this. At least I still nurse a sense of humour. Under the scabs. The brown paper bag. The glare of white light which passes for summer. It is not as if I have entirely misplaced my marbles. Too bad I could not keep it together long enough to drive out the crow.
     The hangover.
     My ex-wife shows me where her teeth were whitened. I have no inclination to congratulate her.
     Not that the bird is all bad, you understand, it is just the dribbling jaundice which pulls at the space vacated by heart. That cavity presided over by gulls. I no longer see what I hope to achieve by my persistent lurking on the bleachers.
      The space from my front door to the highest seat of learning measures no more than two miles. It is all but unbridgeable. I have burnt them all down. If I possessed a working gun, the elemental sophistry of a Burroughs or Thompson, I might have eaten the barrel years ago. Fortunately, I loiter under the elastic tension of a slingshot merely. The impotency of a projectile launched at midget Goliaths.
     I am listening right now to the chatter of cretins scratching out a life sentence. The fucking inanity of imbeciles dressing up for high tea. Stop me if you've heard this one before. One pornographer to another.

Monday, April 6, 2015

a bank holiday

The bank holiday view from the living room window just two floors up converges on a red bicycle. It has been chained to the railing for the past three weeks. Nothing much changes from hour to hour this close to the ground.
     Garbage stacked tidily on the pavement drifts out of position only according to the weather. The vagaries of northerly winds. Booted feet scuffling after a runaway ball.
     The old neighbourhood was different.
     Another twenty tiers on the cake dramatically affects what the eye detects.
     Delivers cinéma vérité where pizza peddlers fear to tread, snapping gang fight to amorous clinch and all manner of collisions in between. The buoyancy of REM sleep. While those same winds gust and pluck on the glass like a suction cup on contact lenses. Elevated to gales.
     My city is the capital of knife crime. Often, swords are preferred. Machetes.
     Here and now, the walls hem one in. Out. The act of walking to the corner shop for cigarettes is stepping into a narrowed artery more claustrophobic than high rise living. One goes where the blood coagulates, where the air is sucked out the fats. Only venturing that far hand in hand with my young son seems to raise my spirit. Of course, I am a contrary motherfucker. Easily given to nostalgia. Maudlin in my cups.
     The old neighbourhood had its disadvantages.
     I waited in this morning for a washing machine repair while my boxer shorts stank up the drum. The bearings had not gone. Though I might well have lost mine. The older I get, the shorter the sentences. The grammar has always been suspect.
     The washing machine has ruptured on its cycle. The fast spin. While I am covered, and the cost of a new drum exceeds that of a brand new machine, they will sooner repair it than replace it. Well. It has been a good machine all those years. Reliable. I can not grudge it shelter under the sink.
     My next door neighbour has already lost her toes. She will not stop smoking either, electing instead to play out her hand with taciturn defiance. The odds favour Osborne. Death by a thousand cuts. Austere, in the end, as a bonfire fanned by an Afghan rabble.
     The doctors dispense minor repairs while sharpening stainless steel blades.
     We are all of us short on breath. The eloquent river dried up several general elections ago. Blistering in puddles. We talk on in staccato extracts from the past, abridged to the point of severing all definition. Wincing through it like yellow cats soaking up the nicotine. Pissing away identity while successive governments reinvent entire populations bereft of skills.
     My city is the murder capital of what remains the United Kingdom. Sadly. Harking back to old contested family ties.
     Do not get me wrong. It is a bank holiday. That is still something.
     A reason to uncork a bottle. Unscrew the cap, if one has insufficient means. A reason to get pissed without the attendant Presbyterian guilt of the regular working week, the clocking on and off of the respectably pious. One may even start on a bottle with the curtains flung wide open. Inebriation is the norm.
     Later, conceivably, I may sashay forth from my domicile. I will navigate dog turds to sniff out some bank holiday sunshine. A dose of vitamin D to counteract the toxins. I might even make it so far as the park. To look on young women exercising animals off the leash, a handful of more elderly persons working their way to a close through the proverbial afternoon tipple. A litter of bottles and cans in plastic bags. I will smoke a cigarette or two and carefully dispose of the butts. Like the decent motherfucker I am.
     And I will return in time to hanker after living in a basement as I did decades before. The 22nd floor not so long ago. All the while grieving after my failing gums; the muscle turned to lard. Stronger than dirt.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

remembering farkhunda


Farkhunda. Farkhunda was her name.
     Some news stories are so odious, so heinous, that the stain of their airing lingers. Festers for weeks.
     It is raining here as I type.
     Eight days ago, outside the Shah-Du-Shamshaira mosque and shrine, set in the heart of Afghanistan’s reformed capital, Kabul - a short distance from the Presidential Palace - the law was found wanting. A young woman was accused of inciting a fever in verse. A fever which smouldered. Erupted in flame. Feeding on the word as law.
     No person less exalted than this central mosque's mullah, it seems, accused Farkhunda of burning the Quran.
     Though no one saw her commit any such act, word quickly spread throughout the maze of streets and lanes. Dancing on the rooftops. Igniting in mouths. An assembly of townspeople gathered at the shrine.
     It is unclear whether Farkhunda sought shelter in the mosque.
     Initial reports on the BBC's World Service spoke of banging on the doors, of rocks the size of fists hurled at windows.
     What is certain is that the young woman was caught up in the mob. Punched and kicked by outraged teenage boys and men. Folded through the gates.
     One of them closest to her struck her in the face with a stick. Another knocked her to the ground.
     The district's police were alerted. Accounts have it that the division station is situated less than one kilometer from the shrine. Police were certainly present.
     Emboldened by the screams of righteous men and women, a curtain of blood obscuring her face where her veil was stripped away, she was stamped on repeatedly. Trampled on by scores of feet.
     The weight of tendons. Bone. Pulsating hearts.
     A car.
     Farkhunda was driven over and dragged by a rope for several yards. Someone produced a canister of petrol and fuel was poured over the hapless woman. Someone else produced a match. Farkhunda was set alight.
     The police stood well back and did nothing to protect her. Their attempts to disperse or contain the mob were enervated at best. Makeshift cudgels and debris rained down on her. A blanket was thrown over her prone body to assist in the burning.
     A woman, not much older than the victim, spat in the direction of the blaze and jeered. Others, still, celebrated by punching the air. All of this recorded on cellphone, and distributed on Facebook.
     Later, rumours persisted that Farkhunda was still alive when they dumped her body in the river. The apparatus of the law appeared to have lost its voice. The imam made no comment.
     Several arrests were made after tempers cooled.
     It took two hours to murder her. 120 minutes. To rub her out. To annihilate a voice of reason forever.
     Her family issued a statement to the effect that their daughter had been mentally unstable for a number of years. It transpired this statement was in fact concocted by the chief of police, allegedly to safeguard Farkhunda's immediate family from reprisals.
     The truth simply beggars belief.
     Ultra-conservative in her faith, according to her father - a studious undergraduate in religious studies, a volunteer at her local school, where she taught the Quran to children - witnesses have it  that the 27-year-old quarreled publicly with mullahs over their practice of encouraging impoverished local women to squander their money on tavees - charms - and of preying on superstition. Their argument escalated to the point where she was denounced not just as a heretic, but falsely condemned for burning the Quran: a crime punishable by death under Muslim law.
      Just a few weeks after the capital's celebrating International Women’s Day, on March 8, with a number of events sponsored by the many international agencies working for Afghan women and human rights, such a despicable turn of events could scarcely have come at a worse time.
     A policeman who witnessed the incident from its outset, Sayed Habid Shah, said Farkhunda had denied the mullah's accusations.
     "She said I am a Muslim and Muslims do not burn the Quran."
     Official investigators corroborated her claim.
     Following international and domestic pressures, police purport to have detained some eighteen individuals connected to the incident, in addition to suspending thirteen policemen for dereliction of duty. It remains unclear, however, as to whether criminal charges supplement this suspension.
     It would appear, too, that the mullah responsible for inciting Farkhunda's murder remains immune to prosecution.
     Uniquely, in a very public splinter from tradition, women's rights activists bore Farkhunda's coffin at her funeral.

for farkhunda


PAUL BOWLES: THE GARDEN from "The Voice of Paul Bowles" cassette TELLUS (#23) (US) 1989

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

feek and feck

Feek and Feck were lovers. Rolling off the tongue as sailors swaggering on shore leave, sewn up in cunnilingus, eating out on on calamari.
     Feck was the blushing damson. Feek the bruised and butch one. Together they ripened as one fruit, conjoined, no one could come between them. Their bliss was slow cooked. Try as he might, the padre could not contain them.
     A wise man visited the barracks. All the way from Quebec. He made a gift of several bulbs of garlic to Feek and Feck, expressing no interest in what the padre had to show him. The larger work. Those priceless illuminated manuscripts. The ribbons and garters.
     Feek was delighted. Feck, no less enamoured. They stole the bulbs to bed that same night, the bunk which burned so bright. Such a creaking was never heard: penetrating the deepest pockets of the dormitory; puncturing the wound in Jesus's side.
     The padre was furious. Their bunkmates merely intrigued.
     In the morning it was found that the cross on the wall was rent. A great tear running the length of the sleeping Nazarene. A few nails just, preventing Our Saviour from climbing down off his lot.
     The padre immediately denounced it as blasphemy. Feek and Feck as heretics.
     So discharged, our pair had no choice but to haunt the waterfront as wharf rats, scratching what existence they might among the whores and pilots rudely coming and going, pawning all but the wise man's gift, itself a string grown soft and atrophied. And so, in time, was born a not so secret order.
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law."
     And, of course, the law was corrupt.
     And savages continued to protest to hear the word of God the loudest. And the impoverished of soul continued to proselytise.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

colours

It was raining. Not a tidy deluge, nesting its own rhythm, but the vilest of drizzles. Flurrying up into the face and ears. Fizzing on the end of one's nose.
     A celtic rain.
     Birds settle in trees and eaves to escape it. Those mistiming it wheel back on the wing as if struck by a leading left hook.
     So goes Pablo. One hand curled tight around his son's. Steering him clear of the most threatening of puddles. A broken chair. The mattress left out to soak.
     Fucker, fucker, fucker, he thinks.
     Chin crouched this way and that.
     Ha. Ha. Ha. The child goes. Drinking it down.
     The pavement ritually bathes. Never in the sun. Its gutters are muddied, inches deep in stagnant water when it stalls; detritus racing by to stick up a storm drain when it floods. What fool architect unfurls his plans in the shade? The legacy of an era when white people recoiled from a window set ablaze. Suspicious of colour, loitering in obscurity. Sheltering a smile in the most fashionable of moustaches.
     Pablo misses the glaze of summer. Flowering plants laid out on the sill.
     The book he resides in is bent.
     They get to the nursery and there are cars parked everywhere. Right around the corner. Black lotuses, blossoming straight out of potholes in the asphalt. The odd red. A blue.
     Mothers make a dash for it. Between kerb and intercom. The playground is a lake they must negotiate. He catches the fire door before it closes, and they step inside a hothouse of finger paintings. Coats on pegs. A jumble of wet footwear underpinning benches.
     Motherfucker, he thinks. Glad no one can hear him.
     He helps his son step out of his jacket and hangs it up to drip. Switches shoes for Plimsolls.
     Ha. Ha. Ha.
     His boy and a little girl trade feints and jabs. The girl is dressed as Spiderman from the waist up. Her face is flushed as if she has just come from the beach. A thousand miles away. He separates them with an anxious flutter and shepherds his son to the classroom. Signs his name on the sheet attached to the wall. Purple. Yellow. Green. Each little group carefully colour coordinated.
      A woman comes to the door and opens it. The matronly type. They exchange pleasantries but, it seems to Pablo, they might as well be chewing on bubblegum.
      Pop. Pop. Pop.
      Ha. Ha. Ha.
      He is reminded that the school is collecting for charity, and dutifully purchases a cookie wrapped in brown paper. It will be a miracle if it survives the weather.
      No, no, he declines when offered some coins as change. Ha. Ha. Ha.
      He waves to his son through the glass panel on the door and smiles at the young couple who materialize at his elbow. Waiting their turn to sign the sheet. Returning his grin falteringly as he all but throws his hands in the air and steps away from the wall.
      Motherfucker.
          

Monday, March 9, 2015

one minute poem

There is nothing
quite like tossing and turning
in one's quilt
one foot caught in the tear
to beat
a trip to the laundromat
or sewing
the cat in the bag to hurl
in the torrent
of one's own worst nightmare

Sunday, March 8, 2015

fagin, retiring

Overcome by the coughing, tins of beans rattling against my knees, I danced into the side street. Opened my mouth on a wad of phlegm.
     It leaped into the gutter.
     I paused to catch my wind. Convinced my heart would stop.
     "What a horrible old man."
     The bile wafted down from a tenement window. I glanced up, trying to attach a face.
     All there was were curtains hanging. Balloons. The unseen celebrating
one more birthday.

Friday, March 6, 2015

chops

Not in the best of tempers, I was reflecting on the demise of the music weblog, the nature of those snide terrorists conspiring to plague all with DMCA takedown notices, when it struck me that those last throes may not be quite so premature after all.
     --------, for instance, that obsequious jockeying motherfucker in his Jimmy Olsen hat. Something of an ephialtes, certainly. Wheezing in and out on a dry stick dolled up as a theremin.
     Please god, put me to sleep.
     Playing the game on the last roll of the dice; comparing a not so warm voice in the ear to "a cognac in front of a fireplace". That uptight cocksucker always got right on my tits.
     Exposing the disfigured unwashed as grand farce. The drive by one percenter as Neanderthal clown.
     Whatever.
     I prefer my meat carved clean.
     Not dragged onto my plate like a nag bound for the glue factory.
     I opened my bowels this morning and passed a stool the size of Africa. There is only so much shit that one must feel compelled to swallow. I miss Buk. I miss the doctor. I miss the collective howl of the self medicated rabble. I miss the fucking sting of slings and pygmy blowdarts, BB guns. The scream from the balcony, the veranda, the fall.
     I miss the inflamed dribbling nib of Gonzo.
     Thank Christ there are a few scripts still. Pushing what the Feds proscribe.
     And then there is Fuckbook.
     The sheer inanity of the like button to render idiocy superfluous. Fingers drawn to stab at that icon with the conviction of a gnat.
     Fuck me. I'll save you the trouble of searching for that nonexistent button. Fuck me.
     Feel free to trade punches.
     Better still, let's resort to elbows and feet. Boots. Open razors. Anything to mitigate the sheer mind-numbing torpidity of the effluent which passes for vim. Eloquence. And the assumption that shooting for it is the province of the timid. Let's just go at it like drunks.
    Duke it out motherfuckers.
    Let's get it on. It is always the dullard who assumes himself to be the righteous man of the people. The brain damaged seeking out the ever more imbecilic to hector and cajole. Let me confirm it for you. Take a jab at me, and I'll bite your fucking ear off. Bad teeth or not.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

the package

I should not have answered the door.
     It was late in the afternoon, and I assumed it was safe. I was working on my second glass of the day when I heard the summons. Deliberating on just how expensive it used to be to operate a typewriter. You know. The paper; those ribbons. It all added up. I have a printer, but it is forever out of ink. I seldom use it. Better just to bang away at the keyboard one fingered and send it out into the ether. The costs are marginal. And no need either for indented paragraphs, since no pulp is involved. Chainsaws. A damn sight easier on the eye these days. Unless one is especially anal and hankers after tradition.
     Anyway. There I was, doing nothing much in particular when I heard a persistent knocking. I don't have a bell, I can't abide the Pavlovian ring to it. If I still possessed a manual typewriter, an electric one even, I might never have heard the sound of bare knuckles on wood. Not over the relentless hammering these old machines served up when stroked.
     I stopped typing and made up my mind to answer it. I might just as easily have ignored it, you understand, but there I found myself, in front of my own front door, my fingers already on the key, turning it, and that - as they say - was that. Done fucking deal.
     The parcel courier could not have grinned any wider if he'd tried. It split his face ear to ear. One more wound in a weathered face. Rained on by hatchets. Inured to the fortune cookie. Had I ignored his knock, as expected, he would have been forced to drag his package back down the stairs unclaimed.
     "Can you take this parcel for your neighbour, buddy," he rasped.
     "Which one ?"
     "3/2. Morrison."
     "Oh, well," I hesitated. "I suppose so. I hardly know her, you know. Just to nod to. In passing."
     "You'd be doing her a favour."
     Fucker. He had me and he knew it.
     "I'll put a card through her door."
     Calculating the return trip upstairs to be worth the trouble.
     The old bastard sounded worse than me. A three pack a day habit. Two at the very least.
     The stairs are a killer.
     "Oh, all right," I conceded. And scrawled my name where prompted.
     Lol. He looked like a Lom, as in Herbert. In full makeup.
     I closed the door and took a long cold look at that package. It was big, though not especially heavy. A millstone around my fucking neck.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

circles

The thing with circles, first and finally, is they have an innate tendency to run into obstacles. To collide with other circles. Squares even. Any number of geometries.
     And the circuits they traverse seldom run true.
     This goes for alliances. Writer's circles. Revolutions.
     Circles are tricky. Often times prickly.
     Stick one with a fork, and nine times out of ten it will collapse, in spite of all defences. Folding in on itself like a punctured lung. It's just a matter of time. Of course, sometimes circles will absorb one another too. Creating even bigger versions of themselves. Swelling like balloons until they rupture without warning.
     Other times simply dissolving.
     Circles are often pleasing to the eye. A polka dot, for example. But when they do burst, inevitably, they are sure to cause a mess. A spot, a zit, a pimple.
     Leaving behind just one more angry infected blister.
     These are the very worst kind of circles. Especially when they gather into a rash. Taking over the face. Uncontrolled. A blitzkrieg. A cancer.
May the circle be unbroken.
     Whoever so wished it was either an optimist or some kind of fool.

   

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

southpaw

There is no such fucking thing
as a mystery
mysteries are for halfwit children
A jigsaw puzzle here
a conundrum there
all there is are misplaced nouns
Verbs
a clouded adjective
the purgatory of a leading left

Monday, February 23, 2015

monk's gift


Out of the mouth of the pious
a working man
the wallet jumped edge straight
a temple, upstanding,
from pocket crease to pavement
impervious to even the shabbiest
fingers
rifling stitched corners

Saturday, February 21, 2015

the haircut

The poetry, the racking up of words like so many reds and blacks, was making me sick. Mostly I was pocketing the lower register. Yellows. The occasional brown. And my cheek stung from the double kiss.
     I collected my young son from nursery and decided what I needed most was a haircut. Some judicious barbering.
     On refection, this made miserable sense. The boy was clearly overexcited. Riding a sugar rush straight from a party for three-year-olds, glazed and flushed as a fruit machine wrestling a pay out, one arm cartwheeling as I fought to stuff both into the sleeves of a seemingly undersized coat.
     The frigid late afternoon did little to contain him. I seized his hand in mine and did my best to steer him safely through light traffic. The two of us lurching like drunks.
     We arrived at the barbershop and stepped inside. It could have been worse. Just one customer perched already under the sheet, eyes fixed on the mirror. The scissors did not pause as Anthony turned to acknowledge us. His mouth a tiny downturned slit. Saying nothing.
     "Hey."
     I hung both our jackets on the coat stand and sat down to wait. Anthony's client did not look to be a difficult customer. Silently watching the scissors dance an inch above his skull.
     I motioned for Milo to sit beside me. Of course, he went straight to the window and parked himself on the ledge. Pulled an unopened box of crayons from his pocket and proceeded to count them out. It was then, I think, he produced the little carton of milk.
     "Milo. Later"
     He put the straw in his mouth and worked on it.
     "I love you, dad."
     "I love you too."
     Smiling the brittle smile of the indulging parent who has declared it for the eleventh time since noon.
     The barber and his client said nothing. The scissors performed their magic.
     The carton slid to the floor, bleeding milk over laminate.
     At this juncture I expected Anthony to put on a little show and tell him off. Just to establish ownership.
     But. Nothing.
     I got up and walked to the little staff toilet to get something to mop it up. Put the wadded tissue carefully in the bin. The carton too.
     In abject silence I sat back down.
     Nobody met my eyes. Not directly. Not in the mirror. No one. Except my son, grinning and oblivious.
     The door to the shop swung on its hinges. Another customer stepped inside. Still nothing. Not one word. I looked at my watch. An hour had passed. The original customer was almost completely bald. The scissors could not shear any closer.
     "Not too much off around the temples," he said.
     Leaves fell from trees. Winter fell. Anthony quietly snipped away.
     Somewhere a shotgun shell detonated and one more species ebbed its last.
     And Milo slid along the floor behind the chair like a puppy which has soiled itself and can not be scolded.
     Of course, I could just have surrendered and collected our coats. I am not immune to calling it a day. I cracked my knuckles. I sucked on my teeth. I brushed imaginary crumbs from my lapel.
     "Perfect."
     Anthony fetched a hand held mirror and held it to the back of the client's head. Stirred briskly at his neck with a little grooming tool.
     A sliver of a smile tickled the corner of the customer's mouth.
     "Superb."
     The faintest outline of the last of the Mohicans.
     The young man rose and stepped out the chair. Glancing in my direction as he shook out his shirt.
     "Whose next ?"

I make sure my son is not about to kick out the window and climb into the chair. Anthony does not spread the sheet over my shoulders, but flicks behind my ears with his comb.
     "I don't know what you want me to do," he says. "You've been cutting at it yourself."
     "Just do what you can," I say. Thinking, I've been waiting for nearly two hours now and what I need is a haircut, not a lecture.
     "Your hair is bogging," he says. "I can't cut it like that."
     "What ?" I manage.
      His face is curled up like he is sucking on a fart. Without anything more he wheels about and steps out onto the street. I am left sitting there. Two minutes later I am on my feet and a girl enters the shop. Apparently, she is the manageress from the salon next door.
     "Look. What the hell is going on here. All I want is a haircut. I have no idea why Anthony is acting like this, he's cut my hair many times before."
     She doesn't say much. Except that maybe he is just having a bad day. Over her shoulder, I can see my part-time barber babbling into a mobile phone. Through the glass door. Another customer enters, a teenager. There are now three generations or more in the shop. Presently, she leaves without resolving a thing and Anthony bowls back in. Chin first. The shadow of a smirk tucked inside his collar.
     "I can't cut your hair," he goes again.
     "You're shitting me. Just what is your problem ?"
     I am boring down into his atrophied soul through a recently cultivated beard. His teeth are a lot healthier looking than mine, the gums juicy, plump, but he has twenty years or so the jump on me. It's to be expected.
     "Get out of my face, you fat dick," he says. "Walking around my shop like you own it, your damn kid tearing up the place and me with scissors."
     I look down at the counter on my left and see grooming product. Jars and plastic tubs. An open razor.
     "You fuck!"
     The razor is in my hand before I can stop myself. He is looking at me strangely, a fish, and he is wearing what appears to be a scarlet apron. I see french fries gathered at his throat and register that they are in fact fingers.
     He is making peculiar gurgling noises.
     The razor continues to whip back and forth like a windscreen wiper.
     "First off, this is not your shop! You just fucking work here!"
     "Daddy ? Dad ?"
     I am thinking. I am thinking. The fist tugging on my pants leg. The wet tingling on my brow which is not quite sweat, nor tears in the hollows between eye and cheekbone. There is nothing quite like a decent haircut. This side of a shave. The smell of hot towels. Shooting the shit. There is no friend like a good barber. The Turks are the best.
     "Let's get your coat. We're leaving."

Friday, February 20, 2015

the poet

So there he sits
the dunce, the dullard
the toerag
the eternal glowing optimist
cigarette drooling
on unscored paper, what kind
of fool is that ?
This white man deserving
of nothing
but contempt
waiting on a line or two
to drop into his lap
as ash
without the sense of timing even
to call it quits
what kind of truant is that ?

His poems, should he promise any
ought to go unanswered
breakfast for the institutionalized
the terminally sedated
God help us
they replace pistons, rods
with processors
so he may perch steeped in wanking
a bona fide effrontery
what kind of damned idiot is that
anyway
where are his credentials ?
who encouraged him in the first
instance
to sit all day hatching piles
while leftovers
stink up the place unattended to
and people come knocking
just to ensure
that he has not done us all a favour

what kind of a waste is that ?


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

brujería

Just when I get to
climbing down out of my ass
I remind myself
that they removed his prostate
Now that is some
powerful fucking Brujería
to pin on his tail

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

in the clinic

They sent me for this Cat-Scan
to see just what the trouble was
why i had been coughing
blood
as regular as a terminal TB case brewing

As I waited my turn
to ride the machine
a nurse gave me a little cup of water
to drink on down

It was far less desperate off the page
this wait, the bag of rags between the knees,
I appeared to be the only patient there
yet to receive
a diagnosis
All the rest bowled over on Chemo
brittle as vases
nodding occasionally like sunflowers
in spite of it all
the cheerless expanse of wall

They sat across from me sipping
as though the simple act of swallowing
was something unfathomable

And the machine
itself
older now like the best of us
chipped around the edges
a fairground jalopy for catatonics,
cosmonauts,
listing this way
and that

injecting iodine for the simple
ballpoint reason of it

Well, I have squandered less memorable moments
and called it fun

The results
came back
a few weeks sooner than anticipated
The respiratory
scan was miraculously unblemished
but shadows
laboured in orbit

The clinician
made it clear
that this was something far from that
a trip to the moon, the unwritten side

beyond that
it was not his field

I remind myself of this
as I tear the cellophane
on my second pack of cigarettes
of the day
The picture on the reverse
is of a row of irreparably damaged teeth
it appalls me
how one is compelled to pay look on it