“It’s been sometime since last I rubbed…”

This is a poem. It is not my opinion.
i am a little nervous posting it, because of its subject matter, i have however decided to post it, because i have thought a lot about why i should post it & that it is not unreasonable to do so. The ugly side of this poem is something i have heard said in similar contexts somewhere, but i can’t (much to my embarrassment) recall the source; it was a long time ago.
i don’t write poems wholly expressing my opinions on matters. My poems showcase society, environment, ideas, politics, ideology & more in their multifaceted subtleties & proclivities, from the ugly & improper to the morally correct & upstanding & as much as i can process in between & outside.
The world is a mess. This must be clear to anyone of sound judgement.
i do not aim to pull the wool over the ugly with the unquestionable beauty that manifests itself in such variety. That is not a poet’s task; it may be, but it is not how i see it. It is only by seeing the ugliness that beatitude is strengthened. Perfectibility is implausible to me, at this moment in time. i believe in constant change & the force of expression to be a vehicle of catharsis.
So if you are offended by this, you may be, i cannot staunch that emotion in you, in fact you should be, but it is society, ultimately, that you should be angry with, not me. i won’t take all that responsibility, only part of it, because i accept that we all allow ugliness to persist in some way or other, collectively.
This is a bleak admission. i do believe people are inherently good, but that we are pushed into our apathy & sometime cruelty. You only have to see the results of the Milgram or Zimbardo experiments to come to this conclusion. They haunt me in a way. We have a herd mentality. i am not extracting myself from this charge. Nor would i want to, for what would i be without my humanity?

“It’s been sometime since last I rubbed a banknote in my palm |
I quite forgot they smell of blood.”
Grave plots look tidier this time of year | nobody
can be arsed to clear the summer knot
grown wild with too much moisture in the roots.
You’d think | if God (“fictionally”) gave 2 figs
about us | he’d open up a hotline | an 0800 No | or
get himself some fibre optic Broadband | we’re
carbon-pylons our veins the cabling | brains the modem

—“utter guff! his silence has gone on long enough…
if he ain’t got a Twitter & Facebook page
this time next year i’m sending out a search party.”

& so the sexual predators think their unbiased
subscriptions to numerous porn sites |
is a sort of digital seraglio or seed-bank | they query
: “what will become of these women?
It would be like releasing farm animals back into the wild |
the eco-system would be over-burdened
with domesticated smut.” They are instantly struck
by heavy objects flung out the wind’s hand
with force enough to split their bone.
The collective sigh of demographics lowered
the oxygen content in the atmosphere…

“Asthma attacks were rampant | my boy…”

One woman refused to lift a finger
: to do so was to give the nonsense force.
“i should not have to babysit the mouths of men!”
Another woman became trapped in a feedback
loop of Ctrl + Alt + Del— Ctrl + Alt + Del
—Ctrl + Alt + Del— Ctrl + Alt + Del—Ctrl + Alt

+ Del … “eat!”…

34 thoughts on ““It’s been sometime since last I rubbed…”

      1. Agreed, but I think your preface indicating that you were posting it with apprehension speaks to your own sensitivity to its contents as well and lets readers know that it’s merely expression and that you aren’t condoning or suggesting what’s written. That’s my take.

  1. “It’s been sometime since last I rubbed a banknote in my palm | I quite forgot they smell of blood.” Quite profound.
    I often chastise myself after writing naughty poetry. But I think we get too wrapped in our own misgivings. This is obviously meant as a cynical view of the practice, not condoning it in the least. I think it was well worth posting. It gives added depth to your writing. The imagery is “spot on” as you British say.

    1. Yes, i was quite proud of that opening line. Its reach is pretty deep. i am very keen on an opening line being one of, if not the strongest line, to pull the reader in. A turn of phrase, in every poem, is my ultimate aim every time i write a poem.
      If the poet is aware that the poem is potentially “naughty” & can explain themselves, make their intention transparent, then i think it is important for poets to post morally challenging stuff. i don’t know if people will be as shocked as me, but i found that i could think something as horrible as a man who believes he is saving through farming, women in pornography through a “digital seraglio” so that the world is not burdened by “domesticated smut” a horrifying thing to think & as a possibility, terrifying. In our world of depravity & desensitivity, it is absolutely plausible that there is such a man out there.

      1. Something that has dampened my enthusiasm for film is the #metoo movement. Now when I see women playing provocative roles I wonder how much coercion was used to get them to comply with the direction. Bringing it up to the level of porn just makes any graphic sex in film seem almost criminal. From that angle, as a reader/interpreter, your poem could be viewed as an anti-exploitation message, especially with the “digital seraglio” reference.

      2. It is interesting you saying this, as not long before the Weinstein revelations, i was beginning to question the value of Hollywood for other angles: the use of resources, which must put strains on the environment, & for something most people watch passively, usually once, & if it is a flop, then what use was all that energy? They also make huge amounts of money, insulting our intelligence & basically presenting us with dramatic firework displays, which we empty our pockets for, & admire their casts as if they were gods & in the process reduce our own valuation of ourselves with jealousy & impossible dreams. Now adding that it is probably full of pedophiles & rapists, it just doesn’t seem to be worth our time.

  2. I would have liked to have read this without the explanation. The explanation prepared me for the poem’s forcefulness, and thus softened it – I question whether that is helpful. I didn’t find it offensive, either way. “i should not have to babysit the mouths of men!” is a superb thought.

    I’m a feminist who has never regarded men as the enemy. They’re my brothers, and I can’t escape that. That goes for the worst of them. The moment that I lose sight of the fact that my making a better world for myself involves making a world that will somehow be better for them, I stop being a feminist and start being a femshevik*. Just saying. Apropos what, I don’t know – just my train of thought after reading your poem.

    *I have a habit of adding ‘-shevik’ to words or parts of words, to express the idea of someone who thinks that the problem of power will go away when they seize it. My most recent was ‘Trumpshevik’.

    1. i may not have put the preparatory statement beforehand if i hadn’t been targeted by a keyboard warrior before & heard stories from friends too. The thing is, if someone is going to target you, what then happens is they are hell bent on making you feel small & nothing you say is going to fix it & though i trust the community here to back me up, i just don’t want to ever have to deal, online, with someone like that. Of course in real life i’d just slap the crap out of them until they admit they see that i am right haha.
      i have to fess up that, the line you singled out was filched from a Dayna Tortorici article in the Guardian, i just thought it was an amazing thing to say & had to use it, as this poem was gestating & it just fit what i wanted. i originally just had the one woman pressing ctr alt del, but it seemed necessary to have another action, by a separate woman in there.
      i have been discussing women with male friends of mine. Which i have been told by women listening in is “refreshing” & “important”. My take on it is that with all the #me too, it is time for men to listen for a little while, an opportunity even for us to get better at, as we haven’t been, on the whole, all that good at it. So i am listening & i hope learning through my digestion.

      1. The only thing to do about keyboard warriors* is to ignore them. That is, unless what they say actually conveys a learning point. Some comments by keyboard warriors are worthless, and can simply be deleted. Some can be used by you to show your other readers what happens when someone totally gets the wrong end of the stick. I used an attack by a grammar warrior as an excuse to post the following essay:
        https://ladywotwrites.wordpress.com/2016/04/28/im-in-a-subjunctive-mood/
        and followed it up with this one:
        https://ladywotwrites.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/coming-down-the-road-i-saw-an-elephant/
        both of which might never have been written, had it not been for an attack by a myopic warrior.

        What I do try and avoid, however, is offering a reactive apologia. I don’t think it is a productive use of time and energy. You can’t shield yourself from a future keyboard ambush. I don’t think Tony Harrison offered one when he wrote ‘V’.

        I’ll forgive you for using the mots trouvés.

        *I have to confess that I get accused of being one myself, because of the forthright way I express my radical views.

  3. I very much enjoyed reading this, thank you for posting it. Often the things that are worth saying in literature are the things that have potential to shock or offend, or point out the attitudes we’d rather not see.

    1. i think you’re bang on C. i think of Nabokov writing Lolita, though i think his intent was less about bringing to public discussion the problem of pedophilia, & more about the challenge of creating such a disturbed individual as Humbert Humbert. Then of course, Ginsberg, which brought homosexuality to the fore of public attention. There are of course no doubt numerous other examples, & each time they start a dialogue & that dialogue advances, intensifies & becomes more complex.
      i can’t of course put my blogged poem in this category, but i hope that my choosing to write & post, at times, on difficult subjects, is at least part of the discussion, or the articulation.
      Do you believe poetry is a good medium for raising these topics, or can it sometimes leave the topic murky, due to poetry making meaning aloof?

      1. I think good poetry is about the way it affects the reader, not necessarily the intentions of the poet. A few skilled words evoke (sometimes juxtaposing) ideas, but it is what the reader brings to it himself that creates his meaning.

      2. You are of the same mind as a blogger here in the comments under the title Kvennarad, her name is Marie. She writes open poems that a reader should make their own. i am not quite willing to surrender my meanings to a reader, utterly, yet; however, i do accept people need to read from their own misprision & thus formulate meaning through their own method of reading, through their own analysis. Only when someone attempts this will i explain my intentions as i almost always have them, though on occasions something does appear out of nowhere, which i can’t explain, until sometime later & it reveals itself to me. i do believe in the impulse of the unconscious & like to think i have laid ground work with it to exert a certain amount of control & inflluence over me.

      3. I like what you say about the unconscious – such a thrill to find hidden meanings for yourself in your own work as it develops! This is something I work with actively.

      4. My blog began as a vehicle for doing dream interpretation, back when i kept a meticulous dream journal. Due to zero interest & lots of work & study to write & interpret them, in a rather puerile act, i deleted them all & stopped blogging, until i had altered & improved my poetry quite considerably, then i started doing that.

      5. Dream interpretation is fascinating but very personal. I keep a diary on and off, and many of my paintings are an attempt to capture a mood from dreams. Your poetry is great though, you have a talent.

      6. i’ve been writing poetry for a while now. If you want to read about that process, the series of essays On Rhyme & Reason delve into that quite a bit. But in short i have been writing for over a decade, pretty intensely, being my own critic. It’s the only thing i am confident saying i am good at, but it is always nice to hear others say it, so i appreciate that.

      7. I’ve found writers like yourself and Daniel Marshall have helped me to see the validity of the stories that come from our unconscious—I think of it as the subconscious—and how relevant they can be to others. I often surprise myself with their hidden meanings, too.

      8. I am a fan of Jungian psychology, which has a lot to do with shared symbology beneath the surface and the idea of a collective unconscious. I try to explore it through my writing and painting.

        I’m glad it has some impact for you, Pablo, that certainly makes it worthwhile. Your work is fantastic too – it’s an enjoyable part of the process to interact with other creatives and let the inspiration bounce around between us 🙂

  4. On par with the opening line is “i should not have to babysit the mouths of men!” Grim stuff for sure, & I appreciated the prose intro as much as the poems; sometimes our poems shd have these, prose the skeleton linking the muscles of poetry. I remember as a kid when it was a shred of Playboy or something out of a catalogue it was a gift to leer, it was at least rare, now it’s all too easy, & too easy to just swim in it unknown to anybody else. Beyond the predators, many of the rest of us seem to have little idea how to treat each other offline—me included of course, echoing yr prose intro.

    1. Cheers fella. Yes, i was quite proud of the opening line, which was my own, but i filched the “mouths of men” from an article by a feminist writer. Dayna Tortorici.
      Y’know, we would have catalogues when i was lad & i’d look through the bra section for see through bras. Very dumb. The first thing most kids talked about when the internet became accessible was how much porn was on there. It wasn’t taken for granted then, it was a necessary exploration, so you could understand what all that sex business was, else you could end up being the butt of everyone’s jokes.
      i have no trouble with people offline, i didn’t fall prey to the internet as easily as others; i was de-flowered late— it took moving from every comfort & familiarity i knew, some 6000 or more miles, a whole day of travelling, to finally succumb to its enticements & then it was always for keeping in touch with important people & then absorption into a content rich medium, which made me a better writer & thinker, that being blogging.
      i actually still prefer to meet people face to face & that is why i am eager to meet some people that i met through blogging. i do wonder if this is naive of me to assume people are comfortable with this. Perhaps i have it all wrong. But it seems only natural to me, as i always thought sharing ideas & especially what you invest most of your time in, with others, inevitably creates a bond & that warrants contact other than through typing & mouse clicks. i may one day have to accept this as so, but i’m not ready to yet, i still like some of my internet naivety.

      1. Back when I helped run a small press it was fab to meet the people in real life finally, I remember one amazing dinner in New Orleans with a half dozen of em, all of us vastly different aside from our love of lit. Sometimes it feels like the internet has changed since then, only 15 yrs ago now, where even poets or bibliophiles just want to have their blog & be left alone, or left anonymous, or indeed they could be posing as somebody else entirely. I dunno, it seems to breed sometimes a loneliness that only requires digital interaction, so sometimes when I try to write someone directly there’s no response, like that’s against some kind of etiquette. I’m immensely grateful for openness wherever I find it.

      2. It’s to be expected, but still a bit sad for me anyway. ….the lines of the woman getting caught in the loop of ctrl alt dlt reminds me of Black Mirror- have you seen the new season? Not as good as the others I thought, but still better than so much else. This poem wd fit on one of its episodes I’d think.

      3. Technology is wired into my poems a lot these days. After reading Self’s Phone, i can’t get it out my head, an immense novel, the best i think i’ve ever read.
        i can stomach being the Black Mirror of poetry. i watched the other 3 seasons & will get to the 4th eventually.

  5. A powerful piece Daniel. I’ve heard it said the internet is just a reflection of who we are, moral and immoral, but, although there must be good, I think the disconnects it can create, the warping of realities, are made worse.

    1. i can’t quarrel with that Steve. It is a very odd phenomena & i am giving it a lot of though, some of the ambiguities & contradictions the Internet has created make for good subject matter. There is a lot of material for me to get through & transmutate.

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