Well, it’s been a long time. Apart from my natural laziness, it’s because nothing has happened. Oh, I know that in one sense lots of things have happened, and are continuing to happen: wars, natural disasters, man-made catastrophes, starvation, malnutrition. And those are on the global scale: on the national scale, in the UK, the nothing that continues to happen is a question of chronic inattention: nobody’s eye is on social welfare, care for the aged, revitalising deprived neighbourhoods, the poisonous effects of propaganda of all types.

What is being forgotten, or missed, or evaded, is any serious attempt to address the root cause of all this. I would say it’s capitalism; but lets not be ideological. Let’s say instead it’s inequality. Can any body seriously dispute that? OK. So how do we remedy inequality? By giving all an equal share in the products of their labour. It’s really simple.

Some will say, of course that some do not labour and therefore have no claim on the joint product of the state, or nation, or whatever. But this where the great rule of hospitality comes in. We owe a duty of care o the guest – every one of the world’s religions says it (interestingly, the most richly metaphorical account of hospitality is that of Islam). A simple dynamic: oppose greed with hospitality (as at, to take another example, the Last Supper).

Barry Hill, Andrew Bennett, Stephen Cheeke, Martin Rieser, John Wheway, Martin Pierce, Cato Pedder, Kate Rambridge, Marie Papier Knight, Liz Cashdan, Steph Codsi, Jane Shearer, Rosie Jackson, Lizzie Parker, Barbara Lloyd Smith, Jenny Roberts, Can Murphy, Jack Thacker, Pauline Sewards, Charles Thompson, Tim Burroughs, Richard Devereux – now, I’m not naming you because I expect you to agree with my views, but only because I have been told by more techno-savvy people than I that in some cases you may be keeping a watch out on your name. If this has meant that I’ve contacted you, then do please do take a look at my blog!

What has really happened since that last post is that I have become aware of the proximity of the last post. By this I do not mean Brexit: Brexit is merely a forlorn, hopeless cry in the wilderness. We shall not defeat capitalism through Brexit, any more than we could ever have defeated the EU through exposure of the multinational banking interests on which it was founded. Neither is the last post an apocalyptic thought; rather, it is strung between the global and the local – between on the one hand the mourning for civilisation that must attend on the current behaviour of the populations of western democracies, and on the other as I watch the dreary assortment of adverts and self-promotions that drops through my (postal) letter box each day in a steady drizzle of the unwanted.

And so is this, now, how we must post? With an awareness of the sinking of the mail-ship, with a simultaneous awareness of why sub-postmasters are being coerced, suborned, by business? Yes, I suppose so, but all this panoply of the post (post-modernism, post-colonialism, post-post-modernism, meta-post-modernism, post-apocalypticism, and so on and on into an apparently absent future) seems repeatedly to beg the question that nobody addresses – what about the ‘pre’? Yes, I suppose we might be in a pre-post-anthropocene condition, but foes this mean anything? Let us celebrate the ‘pre’, the prior, the impossibility of conceiving of beginnings; let us, with Bruna and my other late friends (my friends, I find, are increasingly always late), remember the Institute for Resistance to Contentment. No doubt some a nniversary is coming round, it always is; but to celebrate it would smack far too greatly of contentment.

It is never too late for subscriptions to the IRC, although in other ways it may seem to be many years too late; but in many case, money, as Marx said, is no object.

Stick with me here; this might be a difficult few months, and I have friends to rescue from a land to which nobody but me has the key (I understand my old comrade Yves Tanguy lost his skeleton some time ago).

I seem to have missed a beat. I wonder, what does that mean? It’s a phrase that crops up in all kinds of popular fiction, but has so many possible meanings. Obviously the most pointed would be to do with the heartbeat; next the musical beat … and so on. Beating time …

There was a rip. It was Celestina who heard it first; I saw her fur rise, her mandibles spread. At first I couldn’t see where it was, but then it became apparent; it covered what would otherwise have been a couple of yards of desert sand, an opening, shallow yet full – full of machinery, strange clankings and whirrings, wheels and cogs overlaid on each other, endlessly moving yet locked into a kind of stasis which, presumably, ensures the integrity of that appearance, that ‘show of things’ as Hardy puts it as he received the deathly wisdom of the yew tree which we rely on as we go about the hallucinatory business of what we cheerily call ‘daily life’. There can be no excuses; it was obvious that there was a way, a narrow companionway that led its way between hissing engines – Celestina pointed it out to me with one of her extraneous limbs – but I could not g inside. I thought I would be ground to a powder. Then I thought ofd things that might be worse.

Here is the poem with which I recently won the Poetry Prize at the Stroud Book Festival 2018:


We’ve got ’em bang to rights, the noisy screamers
and harbingers of our oceanic discontent;
Jonathan Livingston, George Barker, Chekhov,
fish and chips, snatched sandwiches, a certain
stink of half-remembered, half-digested fish.

Forgetting how huge they are is one thing; worse
is forgetting how gull they are, how unlike
anything else in the many wild kingdoms we
pompously incline to regard as our home despite
the anarchy of mosquito, buzzard, lynx.

A white head endangered among rocks, scrabbling
claws spread to meet the gust, there is nothing
romantic about this unseasoned life, bare feed
and guano, profitless, enduring, cold
as midnight, we think, is cold; but always cold.

In moments we are gull, instances of dream,
flapping from the black precipice, swooning
in the down-draught, knowing no knowledge
except the squawking mouths, the endless need
revealed for a second in cowl of black and grey.

We progress, it seems, to the heart of the matter. We are a little late: Graham Greene and Russell Hoban, at least, are there before us, and although we evince the utmost respect for their prior engagements they do not seem inclined to respond with offers of, for example, camp-fire hospitality. And so we must fend for ourselves, but that requires a fresh assessment of how many we are. Fabor strewn across some endless mountain-top; Bruna the victim of her own peculiar and derisive desires. So who have we?

Well, Celestina is with me. She is not yet fully-grown, which is, on the whole, reassuring, for although se is yet small, she has a wide mouth full of teeth, and her utterances, although frequently urgent, are unclear. And we have a mysterious trio of killers who come, they tell me, from a film called ‘McCabe and `Mrs Miller’. It seems they were all slain, one after another, by Warren Beatty but they keep claiming their deaths were unfair and they want to try again. Beaver the hunter; Creed the tracker; Kid the punk. Yes indeed, I remember them well, very well indeed. In the end, as I recall, they were condemned by their own silence; they knew not what or where they were and thus the only sound to record their present absence was the report – in their case, the report of their own poorly aimed guns.

Bruna has gone. She was but an artefact, of my devising, although she would have hated to be termed so. Somebody, carried on the wind, is reading us an interminable poem, called ‘Michael Scott, the Magician’. I am not sure I can stand it. It appears to be in a vogue, which was stable on the planet X-Zog for about thirteen years, known as alt-antique-mod, which was rapidly succeeded by post-alt-antique-mod and therefore sank without trace. Anyway, it cannot seduce me from my terrors (they are, delightfully, all my own). Down the side of this endless gorge which we now approach, there seem to be some beasts descending, and as in all such cases, there are decisions to be taken. Shall I attempt to speak to them (Fabor tried that approach, and his bloodied bones remain still, as far as I am aware, on the mountainside); shall I suggest to them that I might shoot them with my toy rifle; or shall I invoke the powers of my mighty fathers, unknown of course to you, and dislodge the very stones upon which they prance?

To be honest, I thought the whole thing was far-flung; she was much too young, but the way she clung to me, the way I found I hung across her shoulder as though every step were a rung on the way to some profound shelter, as though we could escape from the dung of her father’s flaying fields and yet it was clearly that to which we clung, as though to some green lung from which otherwise there could be no respite, or as though we had otherwise sung of hope and fear and taken the mad risk of becoming unstrung, the lyre ceasing to respond, strung though it was to the best of our ability, including her with the lips bee-stung, and at this point who could dare mention the tongue. Who could mention the tongue. Who could mention the tongue …

It occurs to me now, reading through those final stanzas, that what I was trying to say – or even, perhaps, enact – was a perfectly, even banally, simple thought: namely, that an event is an event, and although we may cast about us for reasons and causes, none of these will undo the event. So it was, I suppose, to some with the crucifixion of Christ (and I was lost in wonder at the accidental effect obtained here when I translated some of the lower-case ‘h’s into upper-case); but so it also is (and there are plenty of contemporary novelists around to remind us of this, Don DeLillo to take but one example) with more mundane occurrences. Maybe it’s mundane, maybe it’s apocalyptic, I’m not sure, but I cannot shake off the effect produced on me by William Burroughs’s remark about ‘that terrible moment when we all see what’s on the end of everybody’s fork’. I don’t think Burroughs was an ecologist, and if he’d met one he’d probably have shot her/him; but that brutal condemnation of the irredeemable event (and reminder that all events, whatever they may say, are irredeemable) resonates for me with the – portrayed; fictionalised; traduced – image of MS; forever known, although there have been so many competitors for the appellation – only as ‘Michael Scott, the Magician’.


by prevention
from veneration by/words/by
the practice of prevention. Deceived
(among other things) by the circle of belief which
cannot fall
but is a small stone dropped
through the pitch abyss like
one’s own death falling
one’s own death falling and
prevention by crawling
under the eighth
small stone
the fall of death
which is deemed infallible
foreseen = prevented?


Not death is prevented death
Nor can be
except by practised divination of the book
which is prevented/which is not, but
on the festival of Corpus Domini
Michael Scott, the Magician
chose/was chosen
to fall when
he could have lowered/or not
his bare head