Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Little Chalk Dusting

Way back in 1995, I had what I came to realise was a kundalini awakening. For ever after it seems this strange, esoteric process, which is coming to a head, quite literally in this year of  2012 (my pineal gland is POPPING!), has been filtering into my writing and music in ways which are never quite satisfactory. Sometimes references are explicit, sometimes only implied; I've told stories about characters who resemble fake kundalini super-heroes, and written poems where the process is treated more autobiographically.

By far the most interesting way of depicting the awakening is through handwritten visual pieces, which are usually spontaneous and rough and probably quite shambolic, but that's why this mode interests me - it's direct, automatic, oftimes a great release of pent up psychic energy, because the process itself is frequently trying, traumatic even, but is, finally, one of new birth and creativity.

I solarised the above little sketch because it's really about being in the grip of something, being a subset of something, and so it kind of reminded me of schooling and that old chalkboard which has now disappeared from our classrooms. It's also about the shadow side of our existence, or what is hidden behind our eyes, behind the material world, behind the blackboard where the teacher keeps the chalk.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


left boob pops from

red shirt


thin & bent as a

willow bow;

sees face on

phone sound


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Poetry of Karma & Genetics

With this bold enquiry we take a tentative step into the world of multi-dimensional space-time, at least as I see it. What’s needed is a new perspective, a new view of the universe, not as a mechanistic beast composed of matter travelling along strands of linear time, but as a holistic organism, a huge field of mind energy where all time exists simultaneously, buoyant and overlapping, carefully filtered through fragile little physical packets.

It’s as if we have a multitude of lives going on at once, but what we experience is generally limited to a segment of time channelled by our bodies. Occasionally however, glimpses of those other lives break into consciousness and suggest a parallel existence elsewhere, in another segment of time stored in this great energy field. So since my childhood, images, dreams and chance acquaintances have suggested scenes of Nazi Germany to my mind, so insistently at times that I’m left contemplating my role, if any, in that bitter little segment of the cosmic puzzle. Hence the above poem, though not strictly about me.

There is a variety of scientific research in the fields of biology and physics into these things, but I’m not a scientist so I’ll only point you to one Rupert Sheldrake, Professor of Biology at Cambridge, whose theories of morphic fields and morphic resonance begin to provide a solid foundation for these poetic enquiries.

It becomes necessary to reinterpret traditional ideas about God when one goes down this route, but the more we explore the mind and these strange glimmers of alternative existence, the more it becomes evident that this energy field is composed of something like pure love, and God, at least from the time of Christ, has always been love.

One wonders too at how matter interacts with mind and how DNA and chemistry in general might be a link to some more fundamental life force contained within this field of love, which seems incidentally, to be both distinct and wholly one with our core being, bridged indeed by love; and at how DNA might be karmically encoded with the life we have set up for ourselves, here and now, as well as there and then.

It seems too there may be a multitude of energy fields within this one energy field, and that every city or family or community, every planet has its own field containing all the information from its past (as we would conceive of it), possibly even an infinite number of alternatives to that past. When you go to a city, see if you can’t slow your mind down and get below the surface boil and bustle, the constant flux, to a more subtle undercurrent of energy, which feeds and feeds off of the physical and chemical activity of its inhabitants. Strange things begin to happen when you do this – weird coincidences, synchronicity, purposeful encounters – the whole cityscape takes on a hallucinatory quality. But I’ve written about that elsewhere.

I’ve tried to create a few visual poems based on these rather blank, but still assertive poster poems (or statement poems!), none of which I’m entirely satisfied with, but which I present here because I probably won’t try to improve on them, and now, for the time being at least, in this one particular dimension of space time, the matter is swiftly and quietly drawing to a close.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Vital Source

For anyone interested in contemplative prayer or Christian spirituality, I've published, perhaps rather hastily given my technological incompetence, an ebook called Vital Source: Diary of an Urban Contemplative. It's part prayer journal, part spiritual autobiography. Formatting these things is a bit of a nightmare but I don't think the reading experience will be too diminished by the glitches. At any rate, if it's at all your thing, I hope you enjoy it. It's fairly cheap and Kindle friendly.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Review of Bobby Parker's "Comberton".

Some questions for you to ponder, or ignore, whichever you prefer:

Why are we born into the circumstances we are born into, given the parents we are given, brought up in one particular time or place as opposed to another? How can we deal with those circumstances, however difficult, in a way that allows us to make sense of them, make sense of ourselves? How can we emerge from these circumstances with a genuine and intact sense of Self, a truth and honesty in our Being which allows us to accept them and transcend them and find, well, a serious slice of inner contentment?

Maybe these questions aren’t important to you. Maybe the mere act of survival is enough. Maybe you just want to get from the cradle to the grave relatively unscathed. Or maybe you just want to escape these pesky circumstances, surround yourself with nice things and respectable people, wealth, learning, in a bid to protect yourself from the crazy filthy mess of the crazy filthy world. Fine. Lovely. But for me, and I’m guessing for someone like Bobby Parker, that just isn’t enough, because to ignore these questions doesn’t chime with a sense of who we actually are. Even in the midst of the crack blown shitstorm, Bobby says:

“I lived to score. It gave my life meaning.”

Simple. To the point. In actual fact, Bobby writes the way I thought I might like to write when I first started writing. I have a few early short stories which wander into Bobby Parker territory, but they don’t quite cut it, probably because the crazy filthy world they explore was only at the edge of my experience until my late teens, when I drifted into it in order to “find something other”, sheltered as I was in a happy homey Christian dream bubble (which I’m entirely grateful for now, btw). For Parker, however, this world has been internalised since day one, crystallised in a sensitive, honest mind, and poured out in some of the cleanest writing out there. Clean?



This, handwritten on a dirty post it note. It’s the honesty that’s clean, the straight-to-the-point directness. There’s no judgement. This is the world as it is without frill or pretty cover up. It’s like the Hindu tantrics who break all kinds of social and sexual taboos to find liberation. Parker and the characters who populate his prose poems and handwritten miniatures simply live, even embrace, their vice, perversion, habit, addiction, squalor, and by doing so, gain some control over their lives. Like Stabby Jim, who steals and wears soiled undergarments before masturbating into them, or Bobby and his friend who enjoy sparking up matches because:

“Every strike seemed to make sense, the flare and stink of them. Flicking them still lit into rubbish bins to start little fires. Something we could control.”

Control here is a form of liberation, a way of making meaning, sense. At other times the characters offer a poignant memory which gives life meaning:

“It seems that Liam’s crying filled my childhood just as much as much as the sound of church bells or ice cream vans.”

Or, sometimes, refuge from the pain:

“Until Gemma’s cool hands closed over my knuckles. Until her warm mouth touched my runny nose and called me sugar in the dark.”

Occasionally however, this sense of liberation becomes complete, reaching spiritual heights or moments of elevated consciousness, as in the post it note poem, scrawled and scored out before the declaration that:


I love how the “SOMETIMES” hangs at the end here before a final scrawled out word, this after harrowing prose poems about mental breakdown and an orgy involving his sisters-in-law. Parker isn’t using lyrical breaks in the down n dirty prose to evoke transcendence; it’s the handwritten scrawl, the score-out, the cartoon doodle portraying the shame, fear and humiliation of this existence that do so; emotions which become so heightened, so all consuming, that they themselves lead to moments of altered awareness, ecstasy even.

“For the first time since we moved here, I noticed how loud the fan on the bathroom ceiling was. How much it sounded like a voice.”

Or consider the poem where an intense emotional breakdown leads to the poignancy and heightened sentiment of intimate contact with his daughter:

“I nodded through the fear and held out my cartoon hands for the sunshine.”

Occasionally, the supernatural breaks through the fear and shame altogether, like the poem where Parker’s anxiety about his daughter’s birth is calmed by a ragged stranger with “eyes like snow globes” and a bus driver called Gabriel.

Make no mistake, the humiliation and guilt flattens him “like the consequences of a terrible lie”, he feels “like a clown with a virus”; but it’s precisely this humiliation and guilt, disappointment even, which, when it hits fever pitch, breaks into moments of complete realisation and transcendence:

“We stopped in the middle of our game and took turns blowing cigarette smoke into the sunbeam. Ghosts in the gold light. ‘Fucking beautiful . . .’ I whispered.”

Just like the tantrics.

I’m a big fan of Stanislav Grof’s perinatal theories, where he postulates that the child’s journey from the womb through the birth canal into the world forms a blueprint or frame of reference for our psychological journey through life. Don’t worry, I’m not going to psychoanalyse Bobby, and there’s a lot more to the theory than I can explain here, but I do see the experiences Parker describes as analogous to the traumatic journey to new birth. The book finishes with a dramatic explosion of light as our eyes see who we are or what we can really be:


Before this however we are faced with the emotional appeal:


I’m not sure where Bobby is in his journey and whether or not he’s heading out of the darkness towards the light. His writing about it is a way of liberating himself from the pain, which in itself suggests a way into something more precious. Wherever he is, I’m glad to be his companion along the way.