WORMHOLES: as I learnt to tag and categorise my work I gradually noticed themes emerging from within the clouds – pressures and ‘bursts which I hadn’t fully noticed before – and what a refreshing view they gave. So I have set myself the task of charting the themes – walking through them and getting myself bracingly wet. (Totally refreshing, what a view – I may never come back down). I am creating wormholes that riddle my work from an ever-shifting “now” back through the stack. They are collected at the bottom of each post.
If you want to sky-walk a whole theme, click on the wormhole title (you can tell how extensive the wormhole is by the font-size of the title), then click on the first post in the list and follow the wormholes where they will.
20th century: I have lived in the 20th century, I was born in the 20th century, I found myself in the 20th century, I have found myself in the 20th century before I was born, I found myself in the build-up to the 20th century, I have been excited by the 20th century possibilities of being, I hate what the 20th century has become. In Europe, in America. Recently. I have a feeling I was around somewhere sometime during the Axial Age but some tragedy messed that all up. Another chance now, but I hope I can hold the tragedy off.
1964: had not a cloud in the sky but was eclipse-blue from horizon to apex
1967: on 2nd November I achieved my eighth birthday and my father left
1968: the first year of all the possibility of being ‘the man of the house’ for an eight year old in a world of stark cogniscence
1971: all of the possibility of wellingtons in mud
1972: all of the swirl of cheesecloth skirts with dangling bells with no ‘ching’
1973: of all the chirps and drums and guitar-‘chanks’ and heart-lilts that filtered through the cloth of radio up through the tidal static of my soundscape, it was finally ‘Life on Mars?’ by David Bowie which moved me to buy my first single to Have
1974: black-laquered piano, wicker, and large, waxy leaves
abandonment: … when you are young means that you miss what you hadn’t realised was there all along; and you don’t know why it’s gone; and you don’t know where to look for it to get it back
abdomen: everything moves through the abdomen as long as you keep your back straight whatever you think
acceptance: is letting go of whatever you didn’t have in the first place, and in doing so you expand powerful to its breadth
afternoon: sometimes the afternoon is a big orange ball shining low over the skyline and throwing a whole city, through the net curtains, against the wall; other times the wall is grey and defeated
air: works, simply and only, because it is constantly transforming; if it didn’t, everything would suffocate; air is best in Spring
allowing: is the most powerful doing
anxiety: the ever-pervasive feeling that all of the overlapping shards, planes and aspects, like a piled-up shattered mirror, don’t fit together, no matter how much they might almost and no matter how much you try to make yourself; familial to Sartre’s nausea
apricot: orange, with the finest down of hair in the nape of her neck
Ashdown Forest: is 6500 acres of heathland in the High Weald area of SE England; it has petrol-green perpendicular pines and corruscating horizontal skies of greys: between these two are deep breaths of distance and crest
attention: there are two types of attention – that which gathers and specifies like a squirrel, frantic and nimble, and that which knows where it stands, like an oak – only one of them ‘gets’ anywhere
awareness: is knowing the difference between the two types of attention (see above) and dwelling underneath them both a-committed
[Burt] Bacharach: when I was about 12/13 at school, our Art teacher – the redoubtable and elegant Mr. Geddes, hair combed back and above the head in a good idea, like Andre Breton – had piled a whole heap of stools haphazardly together in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows of the classroom, legs and seats jammed together in all sorts of arrangements: the lesson was to draw the spaces in between, not the stools; this is Burt Bacharch’s music
balance: the stillness of not lurching whenever greed, aversion and indifference have been put into abeyance by either compassion or blessing
bathroom: the combined flavour of white enamel and pink stone wall are the proper and open window to any new morning
Batman: without design or purpose Batman haunted the fibre and breath of my emergent childhood. He was the thrill of possible action and the immobility of grim tragedy, both rolled up in the same moment. I saw the shows on a neighbour’s tv, I read the b&w reprint books in trance, I placed the hues of blue in the jigsaw puzzles, I wore the costume to explore the possibility. Then I found the comics – imported, second hand, scattered numbers. A whole literature, a whole syntax, a whole lineage. A whole history deepened like a pocket – everything could be ‘read’ through history. I grew new emotion through Infantino’s skies and lines, I spoke discernment through Adam’s hands and brow, I smelt the docks of O’Neill’s scenes, I tipped the opportunities of Sprang’s angles.
beach: the edges between the known and the weary and the not-yet-known and the opening
beauty: there is not much beauty to be found but in the gasp of the be-finder, unexpected, unsurmised; beauty often reveals itself through oddity or shock dependant on the extent of openess the find allows (and the extent of naïve that the finder practises); and, of course, there is no ugliness other than certainty makes it so
bedroom: the wide field between hypnagogia and hypnopompia is always a twilight with either grey-lemon bolts of mist, or a darkening blue-lemon sky; and there is a tree, there is always a tree
beige: is almost as portentious as grey, but is the particular gestation of the transition between sunlight-whetted stone and fibrous existence conducive to manufacture the walls and texture of experience
bench: very convenient public places that serve as places to recoup awareness of the place you are in and allow a little time for the realisation to stop sniffing around and catch up with you
black bat: the first series of bubblegum cards issued by Topps in 1966 on the back of the success of the Batman television series; there were 55 of them known as the Black Bat series (because they were numbered and titled on a Black Bat insignia on the card; many of them were illustrated by a Norman Saunders painting of the Batman in some sort of colourful, oily situation which dropped like a seed into my young unconscious and emerged is primal, colourful vignettes in my writing over the succeeding decades
blue bat: the third series of bubblegum cards issued by Topps in 1966 on the back of the success of the Batman television series; there were 44 of them known as the Blue Bat series (because they were numbered and titled on a Blue Bat insignia on the card; many of them were illustrated by a Norman Saunders painting of the Batman in some sort of colourful, oily situation which dropped like a seed into my young unconscious and emerged is primal, colourful vignettes in my writing over the succeeding decades
bookshop: bookshops are organic; they have shelves and cases and even rooms which dig further back and deep into the fabric of ground to find the seed not quite yet opened and branching
breeze: breezes are opportunities – much more so than gusts or wind – because they are mostly not there. And then they are here. And when they are there they will sometimes turn. And because they creep up on you, they often take you with them. For a turn. Without you fully noticing. And all of a sudden you are travelling a completely different road, noticing completely new things which were there all the time. But, wha’…?
childhood: eight years in a Vague trying reluctantly to put words and necessity to a world of things which I suspected didn’t mean the former and didn’t have the latter. Snapshots and breaths and the discovery of colours. My personal childhood ended when my Dad left.
chimney: chimneys also only become delineated against the sky which is why they are so provocative of perspective when you find yourself amid rooftops through window or skywalk, through comic-frame or lens
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche:
coffee … shop: Here we go. Inexorably and inevitably a blog with poems is going to find itself, with clatter and comfort, with notebook and a table – facing out or facing in – and slightly music, traffic and people in just the right blend – busy or quiet – in a 21st century, most leisurely of requiescence, corporate-proliferated, perfectly-formed environment coffee shop. Oh, the ignominy, the ignominy ‘… they’ve all got it in for me’. And yet – clnk, chnk, clnck!
colour: respective colours are huge huge spaceships which press into this world here and there where it is thin. The world is at its thinnest when you are looking at something other than what you are seeing – that’s where the colour is: wHHmph! For colours, see their respective name-wormholes.
comics: : four-colour envelopes of possible texture carefully filed into a thick life of bookshelves; wait for the KAZAMmmmmmmmmPOW!; oh, the opportunity! In no particular order – as they were found in neat little stacks along the back wall of Bonus Books – a cascade of whole worlds within which to turn the page and smell the print: the cape which wrapped the contemplation, the hand which made the point, of Adam’s Batman; RG’s landings and stair-carpet world of Tintin; when gods walked the earth and tried milkshakes and love of Kirby’s Thor; when Ditko’s Dr Strange talked with Eternity from within the Sanctum Sanctorum on the street in Greenwich Village; when Colan’s Daredevil swung past Brownstone windows; the deepest secrets in every alley of Romita’s Spider Man; when Sprang’s Batman tipped worlds and balconies at 23.5˚; Buscema’s Avengers in the Corporate World; Kirby’s gods over the street in the Fantastic Four; when Trimpe’s Hulk lifted a shard of cliff to prove his point; the purple and green skies of Infantino’s Batman; Iron Man with the vest that holds his heart as he fought the corporate enemy within; Gerber’s Howard wise and cracking in a preposterous world not of his own making; Graham’s Black Panther perched on the edge of a grand piano in a clearing in the jungle; the sun through the venetian blinds of Kaluta’s Shadow; Gerber on the floorboards writing the Man-Thing; Starlin’s universe-in-the-letters-let-alone-the-words Captain Marvel; the Spectre – justice of the victim leviathon-huge; machinery as visceral as a body, humans as push-button as machines in Steranko’s SHIELD
cranes: reach far beyond themselves, impossibly, grotesquely and beautifully
divorce: what happens when a mile-long whale swims past and just catches you with its fin
Eglinton Hill: the rooms and landings and stairwells, the cupboards, cellars and pediments of a gestation; 1963-1971
Genesta Road: the peeling paper and clay garden from which adolescence … crept; 1971-1979
ghosts: what is rendered when the society of control is exercised for the sake of common endowment of right, freedom and privilege, on the private unfurling of a sense of self and possession
[Allen] Ginsberg: had the breakdown and candour to let the beauty of being out, every so often, that rendered his many faults … lovable
girls: have a habit of being both slightly before and after
glass: is the medium of the sense of self which copies and mimics like a monkey in such a cute and beguiling way that we want to own it like a pet and end up looking through it at the world through which we swing and the branches on which we perch
glasses: the fulcrum through which an evanescent self looks into the torpid void and defines itself particular to the chaos for the sake of restrictive survival; I prefer the French word for glasses ‘les lunettes‘ because it has the word ‘lune‘ (‘moon’)in it and so it could be understood that ‘lunettes’ i-lune-imate what is to be seen by the light of the moon, during the time of night when definition is playful and wondrous rather than functional and prescriptive; especially during that time when the day is failing and losing its identity and creativity can abound in the green-wet evening, leaping and crepuscular
grass: individual reaches so abundant as to be real-enough to walk on, almost
grey: is not a colour, it is a portal; it exists, certainly, between the extremities of black and white – way too stretched to be anywhere – and best functioning when juxtaposed with any of the colours of the rainbow where it serves to liberate the colour from simple vibration into the eighth dimension: colour (alright, I made that up, but if I’ve stumbled on something – I CLAIM IT (c); actually while I’m on it, I claim the seventh dimension to be: WORD)
guitar: when you hold a guitar and you run the notes and quiff that you wanted to (but were, at the same time, a little bit of a surprise), a guitar neck isn’t long, it folds obliquely at a right-angle into space and disappears into the sweet note of silence; here we go (in no particular order and with quite a lot of argy-bargy): Jeff Beck, Joe Walsh, Ritchie Blackmore, Mick Ronson, Jimi Hendrix, Django Reinhardt, Jeff Baxter, Dave Gilmore, Rory Gallagher
hair: finishes off a movement like a copperplate cross-stroke flourish above a capital ‘T’
hands: finish off an expression like the fringe around the base of an old-fashioned armchair in which one solves murder cases in the 1930s
Have: the painful world in which we grow. The opposite of ‘be’ is ‘Have’
Haywards Heath: smallish town in East Sussex, developed during the 1930s, heading into the fields on which it was always built
hedge: I have never quite understood the need for natural walls in the open air without ceilings
hills: are important for developing calf muscles as you walk through life – a second heart
Hillside: 1988-1996 a beautiful, semi-detached Victorian, side-entrance, narrow transverse stairwell, bay-windowed-fronted (top and bottom), upper corridor, leaky-roofed home where Charlotte was born in 1989, which she can hardly remember
history: “Past and future can’t exist without now. Otherwise, without the criterion of now, they cease to be past and future. / Now is all the time, and it is choiceless. There is always now, always now. The forms and memories of the past are always in relation to now. The future also is a situation relative to now. There’s always this precision of now, which is there all the time and which helps us relate with the past and the future.” Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, Work Sex Money: Real Life on the Path of Mindfulness (P.75)
London: the urban architecture of a childhood; the traffic of an adolescence …
Mum: of all motherhood, a particular mother; Jean Marguerete Redford, born September 14th 1933, south London, married, two boys, divorced nisi 1969, worked in shipping offices in London and Barking for almost thirty years, brought up her boys, cared for her mother, paid off her mortgage, died March 26th, 1999. She was young and silly, her life made her serious. But she smiled and laughed infectiously between anxiety. And she never wavered, even when she doubted, even through injustice, even when she died.
music: the world between the beat, the wait and the first note; the skylines and pavements, the meadows and woodland hills. The adrenalin of a breeze; the shift of a key; the holding of an exclamation. Engineers: David Bowie, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, the Beatles, Eno, ani difranco, Led Zeppelin, Joe Walsh, Jeff Beck, Paul Simon, Jaco Pastorius, Yes, Radiohead
Nan: 1906-1989; born into a family of 8 or 9 surviving brothers and sisters, named Gladys, married Charlie, one daughter (my mum), worked in an electronics factory, widowed early, moved in with her daughter into Eglinton Hill; helped her daughter bring up her boys when her husband failed. She walked right across Woolwich to get meat a ha’penny cheaper, she peeled parsnips and prepared cabbage leaves, she drank tea even when she went to bed and rolled her own ciggies even when she tried to give up; she got on with painting the skirting boards and window frames before we had even finished the decision. Her gift to our worlds was an uncanny combination of unquestioning acceptance and get-on-and-do-it. She was my first kalyanamitra.
oak: the job of oaks is to take in all of the time in the air – right into the creases and cracks of their bark – and release back out the five-fold generation of memory which enables us to inhale deeply into our own identity far deeper than the boundaries of our life
passing: the most solid experiences are those which crest and fade the moment they have been noticed and start turning brittle
portrait: people are most fully themselves – people are their most beautiful – when they are not trying to be themselves
promenade: where the brass bands play / “Tiddely-om-pom-pom!”; the borderland – the high ridge buried deep for protection – between the beeps, the traffic and the silent windows of hotels on the one side and the both-wide-and-deep unknown on the other, along which you can stroll teasing the interface
publishing: both an offering and a vanity / a sharing and a proffer / out of love and coquetry / through rhetorical-interrogative / giving space and restriction / opening heart and pleading / singing blues and ringing jingles / letting naked and being exquisitly parfumed / swirling any colour in water, and grey skies / both the response and the call / the birdsong and the bird-walk / the ‘I love you’ and the silent ‘do you love me?’
Ramsden Heath: let me introduce you to Michael J Redford who lived at Ramsden Heath from the early 60s until 2007; he was my uncle; he lived so plainly and alive through the hedgerows, eaves and grey skies of his life that he showed me a devastating hope and beauty through the very act of breathing; he served in Kenya, he worked on a farm, he painted and wrote, he ran a picture-framing business, he looked after his Mum, he researched his family genealogy; he died in his house under the night of a landlord who wanted to develop the tied cottage; but his landscapes have conjealed into the village like brushes of oil-paint dried proud of the canvas
reading: the Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger; La Porte Etroite, Andre Gide; the Plague, Albert Camus; the Roads to Freedom, Jean Paul Sartre; William Carlos Williams poems; Seymour: an Introduction, JD Salinger; Roger McGough poems; Franny & Zooey, JD Salinger; the Way of Zen, Alan Watts; the Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac; the Religious Experience of Mankind, Ninian Smart; the Occult, Colin Wilson; Allen Ginsberg poems; Sylvia Plath poems …
red bat: the second series of bubblegum cards issued by Topps in 1966 on the back of the success of the Batman television series; there were 44 of them known as the Red Bat series (because they were numbered and titled on a Red Bat insignia on the card; many of them were illustrated by a Norman Saunders painting of the Batman in some sort of colourful, oily situation which dropped like a seed into my young unconscious and emerged is primal, colourful vignettes in my writing over the succeeding decades
Roan School for Boys:
‘scapes: exercises in just experiencing; land’, room’, garden’, music’, speech’; when they are noticed ‘scapes are panoramic mirrors of the mind in all their colour, poise, shift and vista – when they are not noticed then the mind is lost and anxious and working desparately hard to find ground; ‘scapes would be photographs if I had a camera; ‘scapes are found and created at the same time
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi:
sitting: the ancient ancient practice, as multifarious as life in its application, as simple as stopping in its act; just sitting while sitting is shikantaza (anything more is included) (in sitting), sitting while living is breathing (anything less is finding perpetual corner and edge in a fog); locally, it has been in a constant state of bequeath by the zen traditions; my particular inheritance came through Suzuki Roshi who cracked one of my favourite jokes – the spirit of zen is summed up in two words: not always so
sky: sky is under which all can be defined; without sky everything would be evolvement and chaotic; it is necessary always to refer to the sky before even thinking to think; after the first discernment (of light and dark) there was the potential of movement, the second possibility was to create the vault in which to let it happen ‘good’; the Tibetans liken the sky to the unlimited potential of the mind in its own clarity which can only be covered by clouds but which can never loose its own purity
tag cloud poem:
talking to myself: … because no one else will bloody well listen to me; I am sorry: I need to re-find these lessons again and again in the litter of my attention through a hundred lost journeys and a thousand trips before I even begin to remember to listen before I embark. Maybe you might listen more quickly …
teaching: a modern tragedy; the mean-ness and the ends
trees: the dialectic between earth and sky; a surge from the ground which calms itself as it accommodates the space it finds; they stand noble but petrified when rising from the ground, but when studied before the sky the sky, they are in constant dialogue adjustment and shift
tv: Cheers, Scrubs, Roseanne, the Simpsons, Blackadder, Star Trek, the Waltons, M*A*S*H, Hill Street Blues, the Avengers, Morecambe & Wise, Lost in Space, Dr Who, the Old Grey Whistle Test, Parkinson, the Magic Roundabout, Film 74/75/76, Tom & Jerry, the Saint, Starsky & Hutch, the Monkees, Batman, Dad’s Army, the Prisoner, the Persuaders, the Man from UNCLE
Ulverston: small town, south Lakeland, Cumbria, birthplace of Stan Laurel, stone walls, pebble-dash housing
university: READY, STEADY, G – oh; what happens after the whistle blows
[William Carlos] Williams:
windows: today windows are the eyes of our soul; the gateway between ‘me’ and the ‘world’; the means through which I see what there is in the world to act on and react to; the filter through which I allow bits of the world into me. And when windows are open they are pure stabs of insight.
writing [and being] = breathing; there is a marvellous alchemy that takes place when the word is invoked on the [inner or outer] breath, whether it is written or sung ‘makes no difference; the word coagulates the reality like a culture in yogurt (‘in the beginning was the word …’); to be ‘inspired’ – etymologically – is to breathe in the smoke of the offerings to gods; I started writing when JD Salinger offered me a blooming bunch of parentheses, when Steve Englehart included me as integral to the climax of Dr Strange #9 (Aug 1975), when Basho’s frog jumped into the old pond, when Allen Ginsberg showed me what it meant to be angel-headed in utter candour; these eminences showed me that there was an immanence in words which I could explore … which I could be; later (… rather, eventually) I began to sit and found that the being that I sought to am [sic] was the very words I wrote to see sometimes, when it came together (when it stayed on the spot) and I didn’t blow it all by trying too hard to write
years: all sorts of wrappings shapes and colours – and each of them different on the inside as well