Friday, September 14, 2012

Three Evernote pieces

Lines chosen randomly from my clippings files on Evernote.  Only one of these lines comes from something I originally wrote, but like the rest, it has a rhythm that remained undiscovered until combined with these other lines.  No two lines come from the same article, and where lines appear to run on, this is just something that happened during the sorting process.  

Three Evernote pieces


a blur of toxic, squirming bullshit
a lengthy pizzicato section that's all at odds 
a once-prized jewel in the crown that’s been mangled
many unannotated games and a record of his playing

a writer's style is determined by one sentence
any hole you dig is the hole you'll have to climb out of
help the plot function and jazz it up a bit
recruit words like postillion or tardigrades to get an idea across


take fortuitous resemblances among us to be actual likeness
thrash out problems and hunt for oversights 
we fail more than once in spite of experience or skill

the initial deluge of messages was evenly divided
lean forward and dunk a biscuit in them 
life can be sublime amid the charitable endeavours 

my attention deficit disorder medicates itself
no nation can succeed without at least one thriving urban anchor 

old-school publishing houses will almost certainly endure 
oblivious to the hype machine and the cycle of endless promo, 
seemingly pdfs are supposed to be indexed


crucifixion seems like a losing strategy
it was plain, at whim: not to teach, not to criticize
isn’t quite ubiquitous yet but there are plenty of browsers

the ones lost are known in our church families
upon truth, and not in the quicksand of opinion
the painful demonstration of truth in the midst of untruth

those bald facts are five years of internecine warfare
the hammer of war drums beating in a jungle
prefiguring its devolution into bobby-socks

teach them about gravity without getting mean-spirited about it
the greatest result of this geographical proximity 
slumped earthward, believing his inheritance had gone up in acrid smoke a blur 

Three Older Poems

Three poems that have been around for a good while: the first two date back two or three decades; the last is a little younger. 

Dali-Magritte - poem written on the back of my will
 If you have ears…then listen.
There was a cat in the corner:
I know - I saw its tail twitch.

A mouse slid across the floor:
don't tell me it's only leaf shadows
flaying at windows.

Three dogs sit outside the café
drinking lattes -
I don't care if you can't see them.

A horse marches into the traffic:
why shouldn't drivers blare their horns?

Hermaphrodite elephants
impregnate each other,
struggling worms under the soil -
have you no ears?

If bottom-dwelling slugs
walked, or shrugged their shoulders,
men would cry out:
"Mountains fall on us!"
You walk as though the
moon never woke.

I know some person
dreams my dreams -
am I not in them?
will he wake?

We need poems when we...
a blind man point his white stick at a magazine stand,
an old lady walk against the lights while five cars grumble;

the mention of worms in the ears of fish,
an empty building's bellow when a hammer drops four floors;

a week-dead fish in the refrigerator,
a hessian-skirted church tower,
a dead tree in a public square's brick planter;

an icecream in the mind of a child,
sharp-cornered knee-height coffee tables,
two minds at one table unaware,
space between a pillar and a window where no child can squeeze;

an untouched swinging lightbulb-cord,
toilets beneath the street down bleach-cleaned steps,
a boy concealed in clothes three sizes too big;

literacy is for the spiritually-impaired.

learn our inability to walk in another man's shoes,
taste another man's wife's cooking,
wait for a blind date who doesn't show,
thrust too many oranges into a paper bag,
know the inability of the human hand to encompass a banana,
wear black clothes without a funeral,
find concrete block motels with orange plastic cups and tasselled bedspreads.

Lying still

Lying still,
winding down from making love,
I heard the room - for the first time - 
And realised it was not
cold, insensate,
knew it knew me
knew me naked,                                                                     
in intimacy:
in getting up and dressing,
ferreting in the dark for underpants,
slipping trousers on,
undressing, lying down,
swapping shoes for slippers,
lying buff in summer,
in winter pyjama-ed.

All walls have ears, eyes –
this room smells me, is tender towards
me, feels me in itself where
love is most hard to make
and simplest. 

Opening a morning window
it sings me to the world. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gresham Church

Gresham Church – reminder from a photograph

So thick-sturdy is the tower that a thousand years from its building
I could pluck a stone from its thousand stones without it crumbling.

The church attached belongs to a much later time, while the
porch and the chancel have much in common with each other,

and they plainly aren’t kin to the church, which is not, as is
common in these parts, built of pebbles from Sheringham beach.

The church proper is something that’s replaced a forebear – who knows when? 
The porch and the chancel are pebbled with beach stones, as though the

waves had washed up against the building and left their mark in a
stonewall offensive; the stones in the tower are altogether different:

dragged perhaps to the site by the Normans, in carts, and then formed into a
round tower, rounder somehow in diameter at the bottom than at the

top.  And of course on the top is that typical castle turret – you expect
flags to be flying, or archers hiding in waiting (though they’d have to be

dwarves to hide up there).  The roof of the church is slate, while the
chancel is tile.  God alone knows what’s on the roof of the tower.

The stones in the tower aren’t round; they’re rough stones somehow
formed to roundness.  The stones on the porch and the chancel are

roundly round, as the pebbles from Sheringham always are:
big, fat, hard under the feet pebbles, that chock and chuckle against each

other when the waves come and try, day by day, to shift them.  Only a
storm such as old fishermen know will shift them; the young men have only

heard of such storms, have only seen in the Museum the lifeguard boats that
risked every fisherman’s life for the sake of one single fisherman.  The tower is

far from the pebbles, the stones, the beach, the fishermen, the
rescues.  Such storms as it’s known it’s survived for a thousand years while its

brethren, the porch and the chancel and the newish church have been added and
contracted and remodeled and removed and are even now in yet another process of

renovation.   What has stood a thousand years deserves such generous attention,
even when the congregation, or the parish, or the diocese, or the whole of the

Anglican world can’t afford it, paying as it is for a thousand other such
churches, each with changes and improvements and histories of a dozen

different ages soaked into their walls.  Out in the green sward – what else can it be
called? – are gravestones, some managing to keep their hold on the vertical, but only

just; some precarious at an angle that threatens toppling at any moment, though toppling
isn’t what these stones do in public; some flattened by time, and becoming

themselves buried beneath the grass, until it becomes a regular nightmare for the
mower to mow his way safely amongst them.  Once it was a concern that a grave might be

disturbed.  Now the only disturbance is a fine wind cutting through the ancient trees, a
once-in-a-blue-moon stone falling from its place in the tower, a gravestone flatlining, and

some new person, newly dead, fitting themselves in amongst those who have long since
sighed their last sigh. Barbara, Edna, Geofrey George – Gresham is your earthly home,

though a place much more homely is yours in some measure eternal that

can’t be fathomed this side of the midwinter, bright, and piercing sky. 

My wife in front of Gresham Church in 2007.  Her parents, George and Edna, have been buried there for some years, and in 2012, the ashes of the younger of her two older sisters were interred there. Various other Goodson ancestors are also buried in this churchyard.


'To be a Zwischenmensch is to feel at home everywhere and nowhere simultaneously.' Chaim Potok

I’m between persons just now.
I’m a Zwischenmensch.
To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m
between or betwixt; I’m just
swishing that way and this, which is
why I mention it. 

I’m a between-person, a
Zwischenmensch.  I don’t know if
I belong there or here, if I’m part of
that culture or this, hot or cool or
not so much of any school. Still, I
have to mention it. 

To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m
being between or between a being, or
even if I’ve been between;
Zwischenmensch gets you like that. 
It leaves you kind of
flat, as if that was your natural
state, which is why I mention it.

Not to be or to be: like
Hamlet I don’t really have a choice. 
Dazwischen und wischen, I’m wishing
I could be fishing in a place no one
knows; trailing, like the line, my
toes in the water, a fine occupation for
one of my kind, a Fischermensch between
fishes, swishing this way and that.

I have to mention it.