Gorky Spat

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” Dostoyevsky

Under my suburban childhood –
then my laesie apprenticeships –
and away at my vacant universities
I openly embraced an older man –
Maxim Gorky – that Soviet rouser –
within a series of bent secondhand
Penguin Modern Classics – they said –
not knowing – not then – how Alexei’s
rabid hatred of all homosexuality
reduced him to another party fool –
whining of despair (re: Dostoyevsky)
He lived a rich man’s lie in old books

The Chair

My fumbled-for decision of whether
to sit in my reading chair with my back
to my slow-to-rotting bay windows
took rare time to work out –
to atone

Do you face out –
sit there on show?
Or settle –
reversed to that view
with a low sun on any held book

But then not ideal for bright screens

So besort my riposte in that still-hunt

Only read off unpowered paper –
take bright retreats –
stay offline –
turn your chair from poking eyes –
write unplugged from all devices –
and leave biscuit crumbs
on well-thumbed pages

My chair can swivel

Two Masterclasses

A.A. rebuked me –
Do not use ‘I’ –
that first person singularity
it’s not yours to rhyme –

It’s of the oppressed –
their turned-to-word –
for taking control of
that which is owed –

And – A.A. then said –
There’s too much ‘the’ – too –
‘The’ is a word
which only dead poets
should use

But J.G. had reproved me –
a short while back –
The ‘the’
is missing –
it makes your poetry slack


Professor Seagull

Joe Gould’s swag bags of pearls
were only bags of bags of bags –
they were his carried-out emptiness
of the never-written writer’s words –

but he could speak seagull fluently –
having learnt the dockside language
of New York’s scavenging finest –
taking their shrill wind-scatterings –
setting them to his Cherokee stomps

His claim to have written such a vastness –
ten times longer than the Bible
and then to carry around such a thing –
was this vagrant’s bagged possession