Error crept in, as error tends to do.
The orthodoxy was not well maintained.
The young did not understand the older knowledge;
They needed it simplified, and so more easily explained.
Exegesis became accepted as doctrinal,
And doctrine was in turn rendered arcane.
Drawing closer, drawing tighter
Ever nearer, ever warmer
Look how cozy; look how precious
Have an eggnog; have another
Wrapped in blankets, wrapped in tinsel
Wrapped in stockings, wrapped in paper
What if there were a machine, such that hasn’t ever yet been built,
that if you, no matter if you were an expert, or no matter how unskill’d,
if you pointed it at a tree: a giant oak, or a young sycamore, or even, say, a spruce,
this machine would, by magic or mechanically, take that tree, and convert it into a house?
How would this device change the world? Be careful now, we have to get this right.
I don’t aspire to moralising. I don’t want, in any way, to be trite,
and talk of how we’d change the forest into slums, because a lone house in the woods fills us with dread,
and what we daren’t look at, and what we do instead.
It rose, real as anything, from the roiling sea
A continent created by Neptune’s cunning
Fully formed, with free-flowing rivers overrunning
And blessed with black soil, bounteous and free
In the depths of the Atlantic, in darkness he’d delved
Surrounded by squid-workers, with sharks as sentries
In the annals of engineering they etched a new entry
With great plains and grand mountains and gallantly shelved
Atlantis, newly made by the noble Lord Neptune
A present perpetual from Poseidon to the world
Forged at the ocean’s foundation, was finally unfurled
Rich in minerals and ready to receive its fortune
Would it be possible – does any of you out there think – to sue the entire capitalist class for fraud?
I am a republican, constitutionalist, small-C conservative, and democrat, a Disraeli-ite at heart, a believer above all in the majesty of Common Law.
Is there a mechanism; can we all just sue them, or get them charged with negligent homicide?
I am searching for a precedent, perhaps a hallowed decision under the Roman Hadrian, or a distant, un-repealed article of Norman law
Rick Ratter was a semi-professional referee
Non-league, but nationally ranked: nearly there
He travelled in his Transit van, or via train
Across most the North, even to Merseyside, from Middlesbrough
In the van’s front seat would sit his friend Ffion
Or curled up by his kit on the carriage floor
She was a white-and-black Welsh sheepdog
Devoted, daft, and always well-deported
Each day at noon the naked nabobs met
The bigwigs brayed and bellowed their commands
The Clotheless Convocation of Capitalists
Held their hearings in the house that shared a wall with mine.
Their servants screamed out ‘stocks! Stocks for sale!’
While their masters whipped them, raising welts
The clang and clatter of their chains was cacaphonic
Their uses – pleasure, pain and profit – ran together.
“Mercifully Short” was the newsman’s review
“I didn’t like it one bit
“The main character sniffed a banana like glue
“And the ‘sage’ was a braying young git
“The advertised whimsy I failed to discover
“But I found certain parts very strange
“In the kitchen scene the kettle did hover
“And the shopkeeper juggled his change.”
‘The god of the gaps’ is a term that’s used to describe the retreating Abrahamic deity who is forced, for those who don’t reflexively deny science, increasingly far from everyday lives and events. He doesn’t perform miracles, which have rational explanations. He doesn’t live in the human heart, because we’ve pulled it apart and found no god living there. He might be begrudged to have set the universe on its present course and then left it at that. He is left to fill in the gaps that are, so far, unexplainable by science. This is pretty weak sauce for an almighty divinity.
One response to the advancing forces of science is to stick with Him, out of faith. But faith is illogical, morally questionable, and provides little in terms of aesthetic enjoyment. What sagas could we tell about a faceless, removed, absent ‘spark initiator’? How would we paint Him?
Our view is of a vast and varied, frozen field.
Furrows fill it, and it’s flanked by deep ditches full of water.
Stubble sticks up, remnants of the last good crop still visible.
Close by, a pile of rotten produce, there, a polluted pond,
further, the detectorists’ pewter teapot.
At the far end a hillock erupts and,
as if aware of the mood, sits, barren and unmotivated.
Everywhere, the cold earth is clumped in clods, undiggable.
Marceline Ford is an interesting woman. There are some critics who argue that she is not an author, that her art is nothing but a gimmick, and that it is undignified to include reviews of her work, that of a ‘self-published’ writer, in the nation’s most prestigious literary magazines. Others retreat to technicality: she is not an author but a modern artist; her works belong not in English Literature classes but in galleries. Neither of these criticisms has any merit.
Ford is an author. In fact, it would be an extreme and unfair understatement to describe her as the premier author of her generation. Ford’s genius is so startling, so acute and warm, that her peers are better counted as the J writer and the Gawain poet, Langland and Homer: men whose works have survived all biography bar their names.
The Marshal of the demon force called up his mighty horde.
His vassals heard the buccina’s call, and dropped their chisels and staves.
In throngs they mustered at shire oaks, and each villain brought a sword.
They were red and grey, full-scaled and hot, and most were very brave.
In columns each brigade assembled, and they marched towards our land.
They were disciplined and well-supplied: a fiery, gruesome sight.
What hope had we, we righteous few, to oppose this devilish band?
Within a week they’d pontooned a river, whose bank was ours by right.
“The Surgeon’s Palace”, it was discreetly called
The place where men went in and tarried long
Its portcullis spat divinely their echoed song
And it was girdled round by delicately tiled walls.
Each eave betrayed gargoyled inspiration
Each roof tile bore the mark of godly hand
All un-beautiful things, within the grounds, were banned
And everywhere stood urns of contemplation.
To Greg Mankiw’s assertion that “consumption smoothing” makes it worse for a rich child to lose their inheritance than for a poor child to remain poor
The rich feel more sweeter pain than we
It sugars their sublime fresh misery
A pinch to them is like the sweetest flowers
Not dull and torpid, like long workman’s hours
And we’ll dance a quadrille on the graves of the lance-corpora
We’ll sing praise to the foolish commands of the centuriones and majori
Lord, how we love a slaughter.
-Lucifer, in De Selby’s one-act play ‘The Devils and the Little Green Men’
In the play, Lucifer, unaware that the main purpose of the Armageddon is the release of a ‘soothing vapour’ which will allow mushrooms and lichens to escape their stunted forms and become a host of angels, teams up with God against Satan (a separate devil) and Adam, who each have their own reasons for preserving the Earth.
What did they tell you when you gave it all away?
Did they tell you it was theirs already,
And threaten you with rocks?
Did they say it was the only way
To keep out the tooth and claw?
Did they tell you that the common goats
Had destroyed the common land?
Did you really believe them?
Did you even understand?
Did they tell you you’d grow richer,
Have a navy, rule the world?
Was that even what you wanted,
And how did it turn out?
Grant me succour; I am yearning.
Grant me balm, as I am aching.
Give me nepenthe, kind nepenthe;
I am needful of nepenthe.
Give me nepenthe made by Carlsberg;
Give me nepenthe mixed with brandy.
Quaff, oh quaff,
oh quaff, oh quaff!
And forget this lost…
Las hormigas azules,
buscando la brisa en la hierba oscura,
y en el piso del arbol,
tienen miedo de los leones
Allí el márbol de la luna;
allí el alma de la cuchilla;
allí los pobres judíos,
cantando en gritos,
que no conocen al Cristo.
I am from America, but not the America of now. I am from the America 200, 400 years from now. A once-proud once-republic. A nation that remembers its imperial glory not in living memory but in history books: chewed over, softened by familiarity. A rather arch America, aware of its sophistication, ruefully envious of brashness and power, but also superior to them. Once we built machines, great dams— here, here in a small room you can see them!
reconstructed, for ten renminbi.
It appears, unbidden, from the fog,
a bulbous, corpulent, looming form,
with tiny hands and tiny legs,
and wearing a bowler hat.
It desperately wants to be your friend;
it can make so many introductions.
Ignore —ignore!— the murmurings,
and the yellow slime
The clear ice cracks as Clarence treads across it
Drowned grass defies its doom
Blades break through from below the frozen limen
The puddle that importunely interrupted this prim park
Is now covered in a crystalline crust
The sycamores that surround the park are skeletal
But robust hollies hide hibernating mammals
And the fir needles are bifurcated: green below, barren white above
Place aux jeunes, granny
Place aux jeunes!
Don’t you know you’re wrinkled?
Don’t you know you’re old?
Don’t you know the sight of you
makes our libidos cold?
See, green slime covers the Earth,
a mile deep.
Ten thousand years pass.
an arm emerges from the mire,
bends at the elbow,
checks its watch.
My parents will turn 60 this year.
They’ll be officially venerable,
and very nearly pensionable.
I’d have thought,
when I was twelve,
that the seventh decade was practically unmentionable.
But now that I’m more than halfway there,
it seems eminently manageable
and even —almost— inevitable.