A carping forecast…

The goings on across England’s many Market Streets. Funny how few decent photos there are; this terrible photo is the best of a terrible lot. My guess as to why, is that English people have such a low opinion of our Market Streets, often described as “depressing” that they’d never think to photograph them; first thing i’ll do when i am next back.
Makes you laugh & cry how low our opinion of our country & yet we get all nationalistic over the footy when England play, or a vote like Brexit comes along.
i think the grimness has an aesthetic to it— this is England. The sheen of grey, the hopelessness of it.
Our low opinion is one reason why, a once renowned, proud nation of shop keepers has had to vacate the premises. Last time i was home, i was surprised how many buildings there were To Let. So sad. Couldn’t even find a decent bakery to buy an iced bun.

A carping forecast | stridently sounds from England’s
Market Streets | megaphoned with a klaxon accompaniment
outside Boots pharmacy | the bakery’s aroma from next door
& a gypsy selling The Big Issue outside W.H. Smith.
The church bells quiet | traffic filling the gaps.
: tomorrow is a coma brought on by your apathy.

Then tachycardia leading to arrest | reducing sight
—dogs & cats short of breath from patois.
New religions robed in silicon & preaching code.
The cordage of grammar soaked in gin | curfews
so long as everything whatsoever ceases to be defined
by the sun | without shadow | cause & effect.

“Where will all the ham-fisted monsters spawn
from— we’ve been desensitized by all that
Hollywood & Silicon Valley festinates | bamboozling
psychologists who’ve gone into prescription overload?”
these exact words I hear | conceived in the alcove of the skull.
Ulcers the size of burls | buboes lathered in milky emollient

—the hiccup lip service | neither government nor gods
escape stretches of timelessness— in short | a lot of weather…
—cut down by a coughing fit | he drops a clause.
There is a lot of weather today: started bright
with rain scheduled in the afternoon | the wind pacing
the corridors of the town— the north forecasts snow.

“Who’s the snower doing all the snowing?”
Needless to say nobody listened to the preach |
traipsing home with shopping bags tugging tendons.
A bicycle tire punctured by broken milk bottles.
“I don’t want to miss the next bus.”
Trying to right umbrella ribs the wind inverts.

Jotting down “so n’ so’s hen night Saturday…”
Police officers clench the strap of their batons
& smile that i-know-something-you-don’t smile
taking long chevron strides | on the beat.
The denouement of progress is more than we need
—we imagine our industries endangered species

: they update their facades | gizmos & motto voce.
& nutters keep balling their intel in a fist
& point us to the gates of hell | coming out the woodwork.

25 thoughts on “A carping forecast…

    1. While i realize that you mean well by this, i don’t like my poems seeming like lyrics, i think there is a great difference between lyrics & poems.
      But Bowie did use England thought in his lyrics, to good effect & he was a brilliant lyricist.

      1. It is hairsplitting to some, but i like things to stand on their own two feet. It’s the reason i don’t have time for ekphrasis nor poems put to music. i get people wanting to, almost, but as i said, “own two feet.”

      2. LOL! “… heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter”… I totally agree with you, though I personally would be interested in how you would put your literary talents towards an ekphrastic “review” of various works by Ornette Coleman, Frank Zappa, JAPAN’s live album “Oil On Canvas”, Sun Ra’s Space Is The Place soundtrack, and so on.

      3. i like to think i could do something, but i don’t, earnestly, think i am a good fit. i would be thinking about what i don’t want to do too much, whereas when i write i sort of know what i want to say, to write something about music i don’t know if i’d be able to find an exit out of cliche. It’s a toughy & i don’t think i am up for the challenge.

      4. I disagree. Having read your work, I’d bet 10 quid you would hear something in the music the rest of us musicians would miss because we would be so focused on other elements, kind of like Ellie in the sci fi film Contact where she says that they should have sent a poet to describe what she sees rather than a scientist like herself.

  1. I find it a little ironic that you write here “… Makes you laugh & cry how low our opinion of our country…” but elsewhere had one foot on the wagon of morris mockery (she said, tapping him lightly with her fool’s bladder). One thing that strikes me about Market Streets and High Streets is this: England has always been a small country with cramped towns. Not for England the spacious Haussmann boulevards, though they were made by the forced demolition of a medieval Paris we will never know. For England, the patchwork quilt, with a 15c half-timbered here, a Georgian facade there, a Victorian Gothic here, a 1950s utilitarian brick-built there, a brutalist multi-storey car-park here, a hi-tech glass-and-steel there, all gone to pot with butterfly-trees growing out of the rainwater-goods, To-Let-May-Sell signs above charity shops, uneven flags, dog-ends, pigeons, and Romanians playing Oh-How-We-Danced on cheap accordions. What’s not to set to music? What’s not to wax lyrical about? What’s not York? What’s not Shrewsbury? What’s not city walls one moment and H&M the next? What’s not a bloody, blissful cacophony?

    “Police officers clench the strap of their batons
    & smile that i-know-something-you-don’t smile”

    Terrific couplet – wish I’d written it! As it stands, all I have to offer today is another snarky burst, written to order, for a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade throw. https://spacewalk101.wordpress.com/2018/01/27/melange/

    1. Ouch.

      In my estimation, as an Englishman, i’d say we’re not exactly consistent. i mean, i know plenty of blokes & women (my nan, bless her soul) who would often say without a second though “i ain’t a racist but i don’t like Pakis.” Or “i ain’t racist, but i don’t want ’em breeding next door.”
      i think it is quite sad that our high streets are being whittled away & transported to impersonal business parks. That’s what has happened in my town. We used to have some cracking bakeries. Good thick cut toast & proper butter. It didn’t have much, ever, but it had something. Now, at least last time i was home, it really was a sorry sight.. Not Primark or anything. Just empty. Still the pubs persist though they change their names, only Wetherspoon’s goes unchanged, solid.
      & i know part of the reason, because i was part of the problem. i too said these negative things as a child, even in my early 20s, because no one told me otherwise. i saw no aesthetic value in the high street, most people around me always called Cannock “a shit ‘ol.” It wasn’t until i brought my wife home & she was astonished how beautiful everything was, she was taking pictures of the High Street. It had a charm for her we didn’t see. The Georgian & even Victorian architecture, & yes the multistorey from the 50s. It changed how i see. i agree with you about “blissful cacophony” Jeju & Korea has the same feel about it, but intensified by an odd town planning, where buildings really seem to have been plonked any place. It makes for an interesting mangle.
      Actually i think, personally, that there has only ever been one, pure, consistent, good & fair minded Englishman in the whole of English history (bold, i know, i said personally), that would be William Blake. i have yet to read of a man with a purer character than Blake.

      Glad you found a line you liked. Bit of an odd one. i wonder why this couplet?

      & lastly, how many blogs do you have?

      1. I came across a bizarre ref. the other day to the lifestyle of the average English person in the reign of Edward IV was a couple or three storeys above that of the average French person (in a radio adaptation of Josephine Tey’s ‘The Daughter of Time’, as it happens). The English are (meant kindly) a mongrel nation, and thus I guess their inconsistency is only to be expected. So I see what you mean about Blake, dead on.

        That couplet – I don’t know, I guess I get that way with poems sometimes, by which I mean a turn of phrase will grab me. I know, I know, it’s annoying, because any poet wants their poem to be appreciated as a whole. The Police, however, are a phenomena. “Excuse me [rocks forward on toes]… ‘Sir’…” Yes, you can hear the quotation marks round ‘Sir’ when they come up to someone doing something they think he shouldn’t. It’s a different gameh fitba here in Scoatlen, of course. [I’m sorry, my head is still in a very weird place.]

        My web presence, since you ask: One web site, three active blogs (horses for courses, because I like to keep stuff separate), two dormant blogs, and one defunct blog kept for archive purposes.

      2. i am a sucker for a turn of phrase, i think every poem should have one. It doesn’t detract from the poem being enjoyed as a whole, not for me at least. Everything around it, informs the stand out line in some way. The line alone, without the surrounding text, would not impact in the same was as the anticipation leading to it & the rolling off it into the volta.

  2. this poem’s a rocket of straight genius fella, each stanza perfect & not letting up. & reading the Blake bio, it’s hard not to see some of his prophetic & angry mood in here a bit, esp the last line. wasn’t sure how you could properly end it, but you sure do. I dunno if it’s something you’d want to do, but it feels like a poem we shd hear, & I’ve love to hear you read it. …..probably the best use of festinates I’ve ever seen; a great swirling panorama of some street, wonderful rhythm & jumble of voices. it’s funny, because until the last line of the first stanza, that stanza was something I could sort of remember from my trips to UK, & it made me nostalgic, I’m thinking of a street just like this about a mile away from Highgate Cemetery, a good walk to the busstop & pretty much you’d see this. before even reading the poem I just saw the photo & thought What a great photo!, not a happy one no, but a real & accurate one, not BBC or Hollywood version of grit or on-the-street-ness, but just a real streetcorner. …this one & “a green finch” have to be among my favorites from you this month.

    1. Really glad you are making a habit of commenting, i really like to read your enthusiastic comments.
      i wouldn’t say my prophet here is Blakean, Blake is far more consistent a prophet & madman. My prophet is a hyperbole of a street preacher i used to pass in a town called Stafford, the next big town on from mine. i took that & modernized it, but i also made it a bit tricky, as some of what he says is gibberish & in the mire of gibberish is some nuggets of truth & maybe even wisdom.
      This poem should be read as a small town England poem, not the cities. Of course there, the high street is pretty solid, but small towns, rather than bring bigger business into the highstreet, prefer to build business parks on the outskirts, huge warehouse sized stores. They are vile places. No charm. The high street is left hollow. People mostly seem to have given up, apart from the betting shops, birthday card shops, mobile phone shops & pound stores, the barbers. It seems enough, but not really. There used to be good bakeries, & a tailor, real butcher shops & fruit & veg stalls. i’m not that old really & i remember that, but now, all gone. Which is ironic, considering the area has essentially grown because of the business park. This is pretty much the ending of the poem. The “updated facades & gizmos”

  3. indeed, it’s not easy to take pictures of the high street in england, but people’s expressions (quite grim mostly, i’m not really sure if that’s a resting grim face or actual grimness) can be quite fun to photograph to juxtapose with the surroundings. there’s a few photographers who specialise in the various facial expressions of people going about their business on the (sometimes dilapidated) high street, could be interesting

    1. i think you take pictures of London, which isn’t quite the same as the forgotten towns of the Midlands, such as my own beloved & besieged Cannock, haha.
      i think you’ve taken some successful high street snaps, but again, it’s London. The cities in general are better. i recall seeing street photographers roaming Manchester, a few even used to stop me to take my pictures, as i used to stick out due to my outrageous clothes— before hipsters were a thing. i have come to like good ol’ British grim. Korea has its own & there is just something real about it, especially when you learn that paradise is full of tourists & grief. haha.

      1. I suppose its only natural to get caught in the corridors of cities. There are challenges & plenty to see & use. I certainly don’t begrudge, but i imagine a photographer doesn’t invite bemusement. I can picture the look I’ll get from locals in my town if i took my camera down the high street , a look of “why the f&₩% y’wonna snap this sh%# tip?”

      2. yeah, that’s an interesting cultural thing – different places have different attitudes towards photographers. When I was in Hong Kong last year it’s open season, nearly everyone’s taking photos of something that no one cares even if you’re within a meter of them (not that I’m that brave!). Less free in London but still quite ordinary, but outside of large cities and it’s a curiosity landmine – funnily, someone said it may be a good idea to wear a hi-vis jacket outside of london or big cities so people think you’re doing some boring council job than photographing a random thing in the middle of nowhere.. lol

  4. I found it powerful and eloquent, and unrelenting, as if I was being made to look and really see. My background means it’s foreign to me in many ways, I only have some shallow knowledge from the media. Speaking of, I was interested in the discussion above about “mixed media.” 😜 I have to admit it all runs around in my head, and it’s not even that I find hidden things in art/music/lyrics. I borrow right left and centre (mostly not consciously I guess), but if it’s ever the Beatles, shoot me. Except for Golden Slumbers, that they “borrowed” from Thomas Dekker (1602). 😄

    1. Cheers Steve. i am trying to find a way to use England more. i am fighting a lot of conditioning to think otherwise than usefulness though. Where i come from is a place to escape, otherwise, you are trapped in a place with very little prospects & continual hope for something else. But isn’t that what we do regardless. i, according to many, live in paradise, but i have found paradise is full of tourists. Just awful, haha.
      i am sure i borrow much unconsciously, that is difficult to keep track of. But i don’t like to mix my media. i have stopped writing lyrics for the music i play for myself, i just create improvised pieces with perhaps a mantra type line just for additional rhythm more than anything meaningful. Sort of like what Jim O’ Rourke does in his solo stuff & his work with Loose Fur. Just interesting single lines he’ll repeat to create a melody running against the melody of the instrumentation. It isn’t easy music, but it is interesting. i listen to the great songwriters, but i am not interested in doing what they do or did. As for poems about music or art, especially verbal reproduction of the art or music, i am not a fan. i like as i say above, for art forms to stand on their own two feet. That to me takes nothing from them, they are strong enough with enough history behind them to do just that.

      1. It’s hard for me to relate viscerally to that need to escape, again just not familiar to me. But I’m sure paradise is not that terrible, Daniel. 😃 I’ve noticed that wherever I go I’m a tourist, I’ve become used to it.

        I know what you mean, and now I must get back to my Doctor Who Fanfiction. Joking. I think.

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