Life and War with Mikey Fatboy Delgado
Monday, October 09, 2017
excerpted from: Borges makes sense of Trump
excerpted from Borges makes sense of Trump
(The Collected Fiction of Jorge Luis Borges / reviewed unread by Kemoe Hopscotch)
When the circus came to town when we were kids, we wondered how they got the posters
advertising the circus onto the inside of the front windows and onto the inside of the glass
doors of the abandoned shops and the closed-down shops and the repossessed shops and the
bankrupt shops and every other empty shop in town.
All the mail and the flyers that had been delivered to the shops since they’d failed and closed
was still littering the floor. No footsteps could be seen in the dust that had accumulated on the
floors since the closures, but someone had somehow managed to get in and put these posters
up on the other side of the glass. We had a strange guy who used to hang around with us who
even then at that age had plenty of theories that he presented as fact. He said there was a circus
man who could float through keyholes. That was how it was done. He said the guy was called
The Wisp. Many years later I remembered, apropos of nothing, in the midst of a day, that that
kid’s home had three or four paintings by Chagall on the walls of different rooms.
Another kid I knew, a kid who in later life became fond of repeating that all that is solid melts
into air, disagreed. He said that the explanation was simpler, the explanation was that the circus
could get in anywhere it damn well liked when it came to town with its horses and horseshit, its
cages of drugged animals, its poisonous warmed-over interval snacks, its fat ladies and
bearded ladies, its clowns, its dwarfs, its colours and flags, its bully boys who stop you getting
in without a ticket, its man who tells big lies about the greatest show on earth and its woman
who tells big lies about the greatest show on earth. I wish I could tell you that on the walls
of his house there was some of Edward Hopper’s stuff. I don’t know though. I think I would
have remembered, even from then.
Friday, June 23, 2017
A bird, suddenly
The double glass reflects sky.
I expect you thought you'd fly
right through it, thinking to enter
the tunnel of the convex mirrored cloud
and blueness on the back wall.
When I describe you to myself,
to try to know that the world
hasn't yet sickened enough
to make all birds yearn to self destruct
through things that we've allowed,
I am describing you to myself
to try to soothe the sudden terror
in me. I say it became momentarily dark
and I thought a grey sack had been hurled
against the window with the force
of a spurned god. You were a sack of sorts,
a beautiful feathered case of expectations,
a cold bomb detonating against the glass.
Decentered and trembling, seeing
the glory of you with your stilled beauty
drained of all its motivation, broken
outside the window beneath the green canopy
of coreopsis, what could a coward do
but reach for the keyboard as a shield?
Saturday, June 10, 2017
And dadda’s sat there all through results night, tired in his chair,
and he says the sun went down and the sun came up and like in
that song the youth have bubbled up, just like a 7-up, and we
have brought dadda a red plant to put somewhere he can see it.
The posturing hag on the silenced screen is making noises.
Just noises. She is going to need new friends from the asylum
who understand noises they can’t hear. She can talk to them.
Dadda says he loves the red plant. It’s a plant I can be proud of,
he says. The first time for a long time. The posturing hag sent
someone to the door a few days ago with blue flowers for him
but dadda doesn’t care for cut flowers. He will only have plants
in the house, not cut flowers. He used to be a gardener and he
always says that in the end he couldn’t take the killing. He couldn’t
take the filling of orders for flowers. He didn’t like to watch them
cut and dying and rotting in vases of fetid water. Blue flowers in
such a vase are a perversion of aesthetics, says dadda, as if
suffocation and putrefaction might ever beautify a room. The job
made him think – he couldn’t say why – of Treblinka. Do you
remember, he says, when you were children, and we would go to the
woods, and we would go to the woods as friends of whatever was
there. We remember. We didn’t kill flowers to take them home to
learn their names. We’d bring a small book and head for the silver
birches by the sandy river and dadda used to say if we find your
name here we shall know you by it and if we don’t we will still call
you something in our dreams until we know better. And once when
we were old enough we debated what to call a red mushroom in a
language of our own.
Thursday, June 08, 2017
"citizen of the world, citizen of nowhere"
The subservient English troop off to wield the pencil in favour
of the thieves transferring the common wealth into their tax havens
and business schemes, muttering to their wives and husbands and
neighbours and to themselves the received infantile wisdoms that
they've gleaned from the broadsheets and tabloids of the billionaires.
The state broadcaster hides behind the thick black curtain and reports
what it can see from there. The grimacing hag dances on the blood
by the river. Children are herded into the crumbling classrooms of
their respective superstitions, giving the lie to the paean to shared values.
Wednesday, June 07, 2017
"my pitch is very simple"
The rubber-faced hag slugs up to the microphone and on another screen
a cartoon buffoon, an oily functionary straight from a sinister cloud in
trousers, earnestly tells lies to the faces of the hopeful youth, and on the
streets everywhere disaffection runs amok in kind or solicitous or murderous
ways, and snake oil is poured into wounds, and a beautiful girl is piped home
to her rest, and on every bridge the estuary breeze chills the blood, and in
our hearts resigned sobs, and all we find to savour are the anxieties our
ambitions stir in their fuckpads in the tax havens in the warm dead seas of
their doomed and corrupted world.
Monday, May 15, 2017
The readers of the Boston Evening Transcript
Sway in the wind like a field of ripe corn. - TS Eliot
Lucky them. My daughter’s madeleine
will be the smell of fine dust in the long tunnels,
and the perching seats in the bright carriages
where readers of newspapers stumble
like thrown sheep as the brakes are applied
in a flourish of stopping, and the train slows
into the thin tube of yellow platform light.
The doors slide and people tumble like bruised fruit
from burst boxes. Others take their places,
bewildered and dumb, done with duty, sleepwalking
to their stables and pens and batteries.
Cables are pulling us to pay-day,
to the early darkness of the suburbs,
to the dormitories above the paved over fields.
from Last Night's Dream Corrected
Monday, March 20, 2017
Luciano has passed away – sign on the café door.
Don’t close your eyes in Spring, even for a second.
So much happens. Just for a day I missed
the ornamental cherry where the paths meet
and now the fat baubles of blossom are gone,
laying as petals at the crosspath like pink-tinged snow
on the long-trumpet daffodils.
In the café the gardeners have made a gift of primroses.
Every table has one. They are for Luciano.
At the Gaggia machine which makes too-strong coffee
Lydia sees primroses everywhere she looks.
Her sadness is unrelenting. The counter
is a barrier to holding her.
It makes me ashamed to be happy
in front of her and the primroses
when I remember that Luciano has gone.
At the table I am composing a letter
to Ali in Mosul. I am saying Yes. Spring.
The lesser celandine, now it’s everywhere,
the big-starred and the little-starred.
While I walked in the woods today
I sent thoughts to you of blackbirds and robins.
As they flitted from tree to tree I imagined
orange and yellow tracer fire across the path.
But it was quiet there, not like war at all, just as loud
as the fluttering wings of birds on branches.
I am writing at the café table. In my arms
is my sweet baby who took her first steps
when I was looking the other way. I missed them.
She has soft brown hair and the sweetest nature.
People looking at her almond eyes
ask if there is any Chinese in the family.
They crowd around us, cooing about life
in the shadow of Lydia’s grief. Oh Lydia,
keep your sweet faith. Don’t die inside.
Saturday, February 04, 2017
Diagnosis / Prognosis
These things grind us to such a sharpened point -
the brightly-lit room, the gaunt sick faces,
the corridor and our feet constantly
shifting to give way, the recesses called
bays as if the grey men there have at last
a view of the sea, and where with stumbling
dread we feel sure the tips of our horror’s
honed blades will catch against the curtain and
cut it open to a vista of dread
and oblivion that will not be like
going to sleep – there will not be postponed
things to complete upon rising, or a
breaking of the fast, or rain, or sun or
a knock on the door and a returning
love, but in so bright a place memories
come flooding in – a man interrupting
an embrace says ‘you dropped your ticket, you
must be in love,’ – how true, the broken bed,
the stained sheet, the passionate protesting,
two arched backs and bodies fused at the hips
making a wishbone on its side, testing
its own strength – where is she now all these years
later? Has she gone on ahead herself?
Will word get to her that I’ve gone? These things
in the rain after diagnosis bring
such pain, such a flood of knowledge of what
a look may mean – in every face already
the November weather, the damp-filled air,
the terror, the fixed masks of a planet
of walking dead, the queued traffic as it
crawls up Pond Street, exhausting grey,
screaming to you 'accept no leaders, not
one of them, friend, is worthier than you'.
Who knows what happens in the lives of people
glimpsed from a train? As a train crosses
a viaduct, and far below one sees two cars
embraced in their splintered collision
and the lovers' arms gesticulate
towards each other and to heaven
and then are gone, and the train comes
to the kind of city where for minutes on end
it rolls through townscapes of shops
and vehicles queued at crossings,
and if not a man there restraining his sheep
from suicide then a man gone down
in the middle of the day, and around him
people have parted like the sea around a rock,
a circle of living coalesced around him,
observing the struggle they’ll all come to,
seeing that something about him is like a man
on a rope at the base of a tree in autumn,
frayed rope, weak hands, tired heart. An
ambulance arrives and no-one cries,
or cries aloud I have seen a man die
but inside, for the rest of the day, and now
and then for evermore when at the end
of another November leaves start to fall too early
or floodwater parts around a pile of leaves
or the book opens by chance at the page upon which
a poem struggles to talk about us,
some of us hear a voice calling ‘stand clear’
and see a body jolt, and the crossing gate opens
and we are past and the scene is gone
and has no prologue and no end like a page
of a story in an open magazine
in the doctor’s waiting room
to which one has returned
to hear what comes next.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Queen and Country / Letter
text from Last Night's Dream Corrected
Monday, January 02, 2017
At the teaching hospital
At the teaching hospital
(from November the
Psych ward poetry circle
meets at 4 pm.
This week please bring a haiku,
or tanka, if you prefer.)
At the teaching hospital, he says,
in the late afternoon
the light has almost
but not quite gone. It isn’t now
that most people draw their curtains
but it’s time here to not see
any more people passing the window,
or hear the thoughts they have,
or see them going wherever they are going to,
to do whatever it is they are going to do.
It’s too much.
And the bird on the ledge on the other side of the curtain –
there is a life in that too.He says he doesn’t want
to always be thinking why that is a bird
and why he is what he is
and how easily he might have been a starling,
or some other thing that lives outside
with no-one to medicate his pain.
He has wondered these last few minutes
if it can be time yet.
Does he hear voices?
Only when he notices himself
saying to himself
“oh fuck off”
as he shuts the day out,
or when the hemiplegic tries to rise,
asking, “Did Mallarmé ever say
Is he frightened? Now?
Only when he notices
that he can see himself from above
like a camera
or when the camera sees him in the dark
illuminated by blue screenlight in the still house.
Or in bed, when he will be asleep
when nothing is moving but the dust and the house itself,
and him laid out with everything that is him
departed from its case.
“I am afraid,” he says,
“that there are not-quite-people
gathered around the bed,
observing my sleep,
watching the blankets rise and fall.
They never speak.
They listen, gasp, shudder.”
“The collective is drawn to purpose
like the atoms of a shoelace
through an eyelet,” he says.
“These rooms are groups of lines we hide among.”
A female student, he thinks,
knows she can’t do this work.
She goes home each evening smelling of hospitals.
She sees the emptied dead wheeled past the ward.
She fears to think of herself as a cabinet of bric-a-brac.
The sociopath with vertigo is the first to rise.
“You man! Beans? Si, Art, grassy arse.
Pay Li-wee, con template, says the O.”
What is this? Pay him with a template?
You speak Italian? Chinese?
He is besieged.
“My walls may fall.”
We can help. If you co-operate. You must.
“I can’t. I will lose myself.”
Sunday, January 01, 2017
excerpted from Bartholomew John
For a while, before Rosita and I had ever met, I lived in Luxor. Finally, I set
out from there, intending to make my way to India. A friend had sent an
aerogramme from the ashram of Sathya Sai Baba near Bangalore. She had
addressed the letter to an old lodging of mine in Beaujeu and the letter had
chased me for several months across Europe and the Levant and down into
Upper Egypt. People at successive former addresses had forwarded it and
finally it had caught up with me at the Hotel Phillippe, next to the morning
watermelon market in Luxor. The letter simply said
Dear Alfredo [for that is the name by which I had been known to her]
There is one religion, the religion of love. Please come.
That same evening I met up as usual with Abu Nasr, the poet whom I speak
about at some length in Mule. He had befriended me and offered his services
as a guide on my first trip on the ferry across the Nile from Luxor to the
villages and tombs in the valleys of West Thebes. Since then he had
accompanied me four or five times a week for an hour each evening at
sunset to the terrace of one or other of the hotels on the corniche along the
eastern bank of the Nile. There we would sit and drink Turkish coffee or mint
tea and watch the hills on the other side of that tremendous river turn purple
as the sun set over the western desert. From time to time we would teach
one another the name for something that had caught our eye in our
respective languages which we thought may be of interest to the other.
That particular evening on the terrace of the Winter Palace Hotel I spread a
map across the table between myself and Abu Nasr. We chatted about what
we knew of the countries and landscapes through which I was plotting a
route to Bangalore. Afterwards we strolled in the hotel’s gardens and an
example of the shame I have mentioned before, the shame of what we fail to
do in our pre-occupation and our cowardice, remains with me from that walk.
In those gardens, as some of you will no doubt know, there was a cage
constructed from wood and wire mesh. The cage housed a crazed monkey.
Any time anyone came walking by, the poor demented animal would throw
itself against the mesh with incredible force, howling the most anguished
of screams I had ever heard, from man or beast. As we know, memory is a
poor utility to rely on to recall events in our past and I expect that my own
memory may have heightened the blazing brightness of the yellow and
black of the monkey’s eyes, but even at this distance I believe that my
memory doesn’t invent the extent of the animal’s rage, nor the certainty
that if it had managed to escape from its prison it would surely have torn
the first living thing it encountered limb from limb as a means of
concentrating on something other than its own horror and despair at the
existence it was enduring.
I have berated myself over the years for not getting the animal help. Instead
I just felt great fear as I contemplated it hurling itself with such anguish
against the restraint of its cage. And I have often thought of the cleansing
release of vindictiveness and tension that I experienced when I shot Ardeshir
in the Tito Hostel in Beograd, and I have considered my shame for leaving
that far worthier creature in its cage to live in that desperate torment when I
could have come to its aid and at least shown it mercy with a release of pure
love, and parted it from its horror.
And so it was against the background of that encounter that Abu Nasr and I
parted for the last time on the corniche outside of the hotel. Both of us were
subdued and shamed by the extremity of that creature’s suffering and by our
own inaction in the face of it. Earlier, as I had marked a route on the map,
up to Cairo and on to Kantara and the Suez Canal, and up into the Sinai
desert, he had spoken of the Ramadan War in which he had served as a
tank commander in that desert. He had spoken of how he had seen young
men burning like torches, screaming and running in circles hundreds of miles
from their homes and those they loved, running until their own men shot them
out of mercy, or they buckled and fell to the sand, burning and dead. From
the street as we embraced we could still hear the howls of the monkey and
Abu Nasr turned on his heels, with his eyes filling, and I think we were
both still thinking of those burning men in other men's wars…My god,
called out the poet, he is carrying all of our pain. I will make a poem for you
in which he is a little flower.
I tell you this to make the link to the woman writer in München whom I had
encountered less than half a day before the events I described at the beginning
of the narrative in Mule. The link can be explained in part here…the evening
after my last meeting with Abu Nasr I was at Luxor railway station
waiting for the arrival from Aswan of the overnight train to Cairo. I was
reading a writer who was writing about another writer. That second writer
had written about ideas which Pound had expounded…Artists are the antennae
of the race…Poets are the registering instruments, and if they falsify their
reports there is no measure to the harm that they do. Pound of course later
went on to make radio broadcasts in support of the Axis powers in the Second
World War. Maybe he hadn’t felt that he was falsifying reports by doing so,
or, if he had, that there were advantageous ends to be derived from the means.
As I was considering that thought I remembered the woman in München who
had spoken to me after she had been witness to the police arresting me, and
I suddenly remembered that the wallet in which I kept the silver medallion of
St Therese of Lisieux which she had given me that day - to guard over you -
was still on the bedside table in the Hotel Phillippe.
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Riot Felice (evidence store)
justin dandy, pj courchemeyer, and unknown conspirator en route
to the extraordinary plenum of the Riot Felice AgitProp Commando
Friday, December 09, 2016
a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork
distantly tethered by emails like the one I just got from a friend: ‘i feel like he is making
everyone sick, and bipolar./i feel like I am so incredibly ill-equipped to deal with any of
this./i’m taking blind advice from all comers without feeling like anything is remotely
adequate./ i feel nostalgic for all of life before Nov 8, 2016.’ Music helps and hurts. In a
college classroom I played Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘Winter in America’, stirring up my old
Nixon-era sense of abjection, and cried in front of my students.
The rest is here
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
The woman skating - Somerset House
The woman skating reminds us of the white dust
somehow, of the powdered bones in the rutted field.
When the trainee dentists practise on dead heads
from the morgue they release gas from the gaping
dead mouths’ sockets. This corpse is in a suit,
his head is clamped; the black hole of his quiet mouth
is caged open. The boy’s mirror glitters inside it.
It is her studied grace perhaps. Her graceful turns
spray showers of powdered water, like the moment
the road-builder’s hammer splinters the bones of skeletons.
Dust flies up, less frozen, almost warm, white.
The drilled dust of teeth is grey like the road
home from Waterloo. The pure new snow decays
under the first tyres as it would have
under the wagons of 1917 when the bones
were pushed into the rutted tracks under the new road.
She looks as if she may have skated everywhere,
been admired everywhere. Her flights launch flights
in the viewer. Someone must be kissing her.
She launches, twists, lands, slides away in reverse.
On the terrace by the river, on the bridge over the river,
in suburban homes, it is her rising from the ice
with frost on her breath, and men and women
wanting her, that helps us love the vast lit-up city.
The vast lit-up city, seen from Waterloo Bridge:
if that was my camera flashing in the London Eye
my photograph from there looking towards St Mary Axe
would have her in it, and soldiers on the bridge.