Wednesday, 23 May 2007

The Future is Unwritten

Watching the Joe Strummer documentary by Julien Temple made me realise what an amateurish, art school, melodramatic director the latter is and what a beautiful person Strummer actually was. I guess at least Temple got that across, between putting bizarre vaguely racist images of belly-dancers when it emerges Strummer once lived in Turkey during his early years, or putting weird animal cartoons in some subversive link they may have been saying about authority.

What was a joy was sitting there with a true Clash fan and a fan of the man Joe Strummer, so much so he has his face tattooed on his shoulder and the 'London Calling' album sleeve on his left arm. To see the unpeeling of Strummer before our eyes was a unique experience because it seemed to question the roles we were playing in society the more Strummer was exposed on the screen. Here was a man totally selfish, but totally selfish with seeing a greater future, maybe knowing he couldn't change it. The merge between 'punk' and Strummer was a strange one at times and was completely manufactured in the forming of The Clash by wanting to be this attitude, this stench in the air in the 70's, which at the time was The Sex Pistols. It's a weird contradiction but punk was never the spikey hair, the gobbing or pogo-ing, it was the belief to try and make something happen regardless of your social standing.

I'm not sure he even called for a revolution. It was more of a personal, single-minded revolution. I'm pretty sure he never believed he could change the world, he may have wanted to on some level but his journey was seeing how far he could go in reinvention, the constant test of oneself to test the boundaries. That's why he let The Clash get so famous, because what is playing underground venues or bleeting on about something to a small audience. That's why their songs are pop songs, angry pop songs, with lyrics almost hidden away under his groanful slur. That is 'punk' for me. Taking this shitty genre that has no disconcerable meaning and making people think they like 'punk,' they are 'punk,' when they are just really listening to a popular culture. It's laughable but shouldn't be lost.

Music's just music no matter how you dress it up.

He liked the infamy of people thinking he was doing something important. When that started to crack though, that's when his story started to become sad. The Clash became a parody at the end, members leaving/sacked etc etc and they became a huge punk cliche. What you saw after the split was a man broken and desperate for that importance he once held. I guess you could denounce it as sad, but to reach a point where no-one regards your ideals as the gospel and to venture into the distopia that was the capitalist 80's and 90's, must have been a shock. He was this old 'punk' doing the odd shitty movie appearance. His single mindedness had not moved with the Thatcher/Conservative era, an era which must've angered him more.

How do you reinvent yourself when nobody is really that angry at anything. How can you preach when nobody is following your church? He found peace in the end in the world, not as a fight against it. I think he may have realised how important he was to a generation and to one generation was enough to plant his seed for a future that is unwritten, but he could maybe, in passing CD's or conversation, influence.

I did cry a bit when him and Mick Jones played at the fireman's benefit. You think maybe they could've gone against every grain in left-ist idealism by getting back together, but I think it got raped enough at the end of its existence to try and reinvent The Clash. To do it off the cusp, as Jones said 'an inspirational moment,' made it thoroughly moving.

Temple's choice of celebrity Strummer endorsers made me feel a bit sick though. Yeah Bono's a cunt, has been ripping The Clash off for years while selling U2 to every organisation going for a few quid, but what the fuck were two of the Chilli Pepper's doing on it? 'They've made us progress and challenge people with our music' Flea said. Such cornerstones of challenging music, while having Hyde Park gigs for £50 a ticket? I guess that's how you sell films too though.

'Punk' for me isn't an attitude, a two fingered salute or a way of dressing, it's a strive to test the boundaries of personal authority and the challenge of invisible sysyems. It's an expression of talent, a way to force whatever you think is your opinion or art onto someone or something. It's just that maybe you need a so called 'punk' band to do it.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Unplanted Daffodils

The Daddy could hear the screams
but couldn’t quite place the fuss at first,
his hands between a traffic of new daffodil bulbs
unsure of their growth in this damn spring weather.
Then those hands at the banisters,
at the chipped paint of the baby’s door,
at the Mummy crazy above the cot
shaking the Blue Anna
with her own busy fingers,
trying to push her cries
into the tiny lungs
or swallow the Blue Anna back within the womb,
to start this mess again
ten months before.

The Blue Anna,
too delicate to wake,
ignorant of all this excitement –
the way the Mummy’s panic
made purple her arms,
the way the Daddy lit up, momentarily,
thinking maybe he could turn her on outside,
cradle her alive like the Mummy’s fickle fingers could not.

A bird digs noisily for worms,
inconsiderate but for the season’s schedule.
The patter of rain
as loud in the mud as
the Daddy’s handfuls of silence.

I Think I'm a Father

Leave in womb for 8 ½ months
at gas mark seven and remove.
Wrap in towel, add pink bow with
a twist of talcum powder and
serve with constant screaming and shitty nappies.

You are screaming as I’m writing this.

Eyes search like twin lighthouses
gunning for attention, lighting a
face full of odd numbers -
a pencil sharpener for a nose.
A fat undercooked puff pastry head,
dried in a light mane of cobwebs
a big hole for a mouth cut so endless,
only an idiot may fill.
Kicking in panic a fallen ladybird,
a bee I must have just pulled the wings off.
And why don’t you smile at me?
For you smile for my lover, your mother, your brother.
I talked of names when you were still dressed in lover’s womb,
still plugged in via umbilical cord,
but not one resembles your genderless bag of red blood cells.
You love the mother.
She can bring you happiness from her swollen B-cup that
no bottle bond can replicate.
She can clone more of you if I pass tomorrow,
I can’t if she hangs next week.
Even the toys get your smile!
Mr Bear can be your father.
I’ll bring him the adoption papers.
Six-pound skin wrapped microphone!
I click my fingers but no response.
I tell my lover you must have aspergers, a
dollop of autism or the obese midwife dropped you on
your fat head at birth.
Lover says it will pass.
The walkie-talkies hiss and spit steering me
unconscious in a drunken night train.
Even when they don’t we check
to ensure no cot death.
This cot laced with low flying suicide aeroplanes
and dream catchers of barbwire that trap you like a
prisoner of war porcelain doll,
scared to kiss as you might fracture and drown.
I’m a clumsy fool.
Lover says you have my eyes,
well you can keep them, as they are red and sighing.
Lover says you have her lips and if so,
‘bastard’ will be your first word.

Haiku

To wrap you up in
cotton wool would be to kill
too many good sheep

Lewisham

I place a key between my knuckles,
curse the moon for turning on my race –

‘Whitey’ I hear from the crowd at the corner shop,
like time in the night,

shocking eyes with tick tock numbers.
The moon lays a carpet over pavement,

for my feet to see the broken bottles, shit
and needles, to show me the homeless I go blind to

in light,
but tonight,

I pass the estate where a fifteen-year old
has just been dismembered, she,

from my old school, raped, cut into pieces,
opposite the hospital of my birth, where

they still send Nan for shock therapy, where
they’ll take me hours before my hearse.

The mosque stands out like a sore fruit now,
a dull building of brick and little colour,

but it isn’t the architecture that dawns, but
the five letter word ‘ISLAM’ high above,

next to the petrol station, a war at peace in
Lewisham, because somebody needs to take

money from the religion of car.
Kebab shops Mecca the hungry drunk,

a Weatherspoon’s pub turns into an arena,
a coffee shop sells branded insomnia

where guns used to be sold,
legally, illegally, who cared?

We’re in South East London,
a bruise the size of a crater,

uncared for, un-plastered,
fists of skinheads canvas the old cinema,

spouting swastikas, listening to rap –
they breed noisily in this austere bone.

The key rests in my palm now like a stolen gem.
I’m nearly home – past the burnt-down estate,

Peter Pan’s Pond and artificial
lamps that dance,

buzz on and off,
more than the pylon-choked stars –

so burn this graveyard. This cemetery of heritage
is on its deathbed – 22 years and never one more.

Tide your Puberty

I hid my body in the back,
between the gutted skin of a coat,
under the oversized white shirt
that curled at my knees: ‘You’ll grow.’
Behind the shadows of gym doors.

Others watered their bud aloud,
proud to display patchwork secrets,
nervous hands cupping their age –
the ‘Queer!’ in a caught eye,
the sharp slap of a wet towel,
the chase with an erect penis.

Behind nature’s timetable,
I’d hide from those eyes.
Cower invisible in corners,
quiet in rehearsed dress,
muddy knees in trousers noisy in smell,
the stains from deodorant
sliding off sweat.

Sometimes the slow were culled,
the ones who couldn’t shield their
bald bodies with practice,
pathetic shapes discovered,
then stripped of their cotton blindness –
pulled into showers to view
border-less torso.
To understand why we knelt at night,

to wake with hair beneath our arms.