Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Random Indie Bands' Thought For New Year's Eve

Time ain't gonna cure you honey; time don't give a shit.

happy last seven hours of 2008. try not to die. expect lists and reflections and shit in the first week of '09, when I'll have so much more perspective.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

These are the stories you won't tell the kids we never have

"Someone's bound to take offense, but you know, fuck 'em."--Ioan.

I'm pretty sure that could have been the theme of the night for everyone. The whole banner-tearing, sex-pistols singing, couple-swapping, crowd-surfing, public-snogging, tearful-confronting, goth-dancing, shot-taking, hey!-you're 86ed bit of it. And I got to watch.

Me and Punk John are shooting each other knowing looks across a Jess/John living room as crowded as I've ever seen it. Hi, thought I knew you, guess I did, but not as well as I could have.

In other news, apparently I have a thing for girls who still live with their ex-boyfriends with whom they are very good friends.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

I could sleep, I could sleep--when I lived alone-- is there a ghost in my house?

I find myself oversleeping on days when time is of the essence (like yesterday when I worked at 6:30pm and took that as a cue not to do anything beforehand), times (like today) when I could have had an insanely lazy lie-in, I wake up at 8am.

This is not interesting, or artistic, or particularly personal. I suppose it could have gone in the livejournal-I've-had-so-long-I-don't-bother-to-get-rid-of. But it goes here.

Likewise, the fact that in spite of myself I am compiling best/worst lists in my head and thinking through ideas to reviews I'll never write, theories as to why Fucked Up is representative of one of the both perpetually best and worst continuing trends in underground rock music, why It Might Be Okay Now to write poems Just to Read Aloud since its in a Different Context (yet why I'm already sick of my own Zombie Poem because I think I'm finally almost done with the nerd humour) and the Pretentious Use of Capitals to Symbolize a Much Longer Discussion.

Youtube: a cheap jukebox for the man without an i-pod and a disdain for constant myspace surfing. what's the difference? none. there is none.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

-- and I shout that you're all fakes,


the point came fast but it was too blunt to miss:
life handed us a paycheck, we said "we worked harder than this!!"

I have two readings in the next few weeks and don't know what I'm going to read. Probably drag out little red corvette (ie: the new like taking communion but without falling over and throwing microphones) and paintings of famous satanists (another new-school high-repetition favorite) and call it good. or maybe I'll try reaaaaal haaaaard and write some new things, fix some old things and make it "special."

at any rate, here's an old one that never got much play the first time around.

Dinner for One
She walks slow from oven to table
hands pressed firm against ceramic.
mits makeshifted from towels

someone once told her that you could
burn your fingerprints off
on simple kitchen appliances

she hung a "caution" sign above the stove
for anyone who might use it,
took the batteries out of the smoke detector.

a week later her tongs disappeared.
a few close calls with oven doors and apron strings,
untied hair and blender lids,

a few too many arm-burns on oven racks;
friends started telling her
she's got to be more careful.

she eats the pasta dispassionately,
roast with abandon,
half bottle of wine in.

a fork in one hand,
steaknife in the other,
gazing out the window
as she slices.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Ladytron live review, 19/11/08.

“You don’t really go for blondes, do you?” my sister accurately observed on her recent visit. With that in mind, I knew that going to see Ladytron play in Bristol wasn’t going to be a bad idea, any way you cut it. Plus, it’d been a few months since my last gig and I was ready to be icily electropopped so the idea of getting my arm-folded head-nod on was very appealing. Also, you know, I like the band. So I hopped in the almost van with Wood and Martin and we were off. Just like that. Like Magic. Light and Magic.

Gig was at the Carling Academy; venues built specifically with the idea that no matter what sort of music is being performed, it will all feel equally out of place. A look at upcoming shows confirms this; Opeth, Alkaline Trio, The Roots. . . ah well. Better than Sin City, at any rate, albeit with worse beer. Seriously, Carling?

The support act, Asobi Sesku was solid; very loud, very pretty, tight and propulsive. None of this quite won Martin over, whose look of “this is thoroughly unimpressive in every right” was evident even dimly lit and in profile view. Wood and I quite dug on them, though; the songs were all indebted to shoegaze, but were varied enough one has their options as to what-sort-of-mix-cd they’d go on. But doubtlessly a good band to scam on girls with cute haircuts with, or perhaps impress a friend with. Fact that she sings in Japanese is cred points plus plus, but unless you’re Swervedriver or Catherine Wheel (Shoegrunge!) no one pays much attention to the words; its all about the voice-as-instrument. Which, incidentally, is one of the few aesthetics shared by a whole generation of mopey brits and the guy from Pig Destroyer.

Ladytron took the stage with Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo right up front and the guys with questionable facial hair in the back. This is as it should be. You don’t play rhythm guitar for a band called “Ladytron” and expect an interview in Guitar Player Magazine; these guys know what side their bread is buttered on. The women of Ladytron maintained a cool reserve for most of the show as they rocketed through selections from their most recent album. It was all well and fine since that's the one I've got. A bit of a quibble as single “Ghost” felt slowed about a half-step, but “Deep Blue,” “Kletva” and “Forget the Day” were all aces.

The best moment of the show, undoubtedly, was “Seventeen,” when Marnie actually came alive and punched the air like she was at a socialist rally. Starting a revolution. Of angry 21 year olds and the men who empathise. Or something. There are many theories as to why this old, old song (for them) was the highlight of the night—possibly most credible being crowd reaction—but I’d theorise it’s easier to rock out a tune with fewer words. Plus if you fuck up the lyrics you just have to wait a few measures and you can throw down again; yeah!

The encore was a few more new ones and, of course, “Destroy Everything You Touch,” which has been stuck in my head the last couple of days. The show could have been a bit more switched-on energy wise (as demonstrated by a handful of the cuts that were) but all in all I left satisfied. After all, I was going to see a band called Ladytron.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Everyone Has Something

There’s a pterodactyl outside your bedroom window
claws like diamond cutters, eyes red slits.

You outran the sabertooth, left the tyrannosaurus in the
tarpit with a quick dash-and-roll, killed the raptor with your
bare hands but you haven’t been able to shake this one and
now it watches you sleep, head ducked between leather wings.

Close the curtains and hear it breathing, waiting.
The pizza places stopped delivering,
the neighbourhood pets have all disappeared.
Sometimes it leaves the heads of cats on
your doorstep, reminders that someday, it’ll be you.

For now, you bury your face.

In South Dakota a man carries bundles of firewood
through the snow, he’s got holes in his boots and his
wife no longer loves him. She stays because he’s the
only thing between her and the wolverine on the roof.

He’s not afraid of wolverines; he’s got an axe for that,
but he never leaves his bed ‘til sunrise; otherwise the wood
will splinter away, leave him pitching through an
endless stretch of dark.

You are certain of your floors and ceilings,
none of your doorknobs have ever come off in your hand.
You know you’re safe in alleys, don’t
worry about taxes, trolls or terrorists.

But the fear always hits you in the
back of the knees when you get home and
that’s how you know you’re home.
Because It’s out there,
raising black wings, eyes of red,


this is an old one I found when I was ruffling through my papers. Jake might remember it but I only read it once anyway. Gave it a few edits. I like when I write this sort of thing and it feels like it actually is something. Probably bring it out at a couple of upcoming features. May consider it for the chapbook submission.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

, but I'm sure as hell not the walrus--

Lately I've not felt much like writing. I've been hanging out with Lailey and trying to figure out things like going to Ireland, when to visit family friends, how to pay for things when i don't work all the time and what to do with the stupid rest of my life.
Some asshole once said that "life is what happens when you're making other plans" so i'm trying to keep production rates rolling and keep casting my nets in moderately ambitious ways. No formal announcements but I am going to be downloading lots of goddamn paperwork in the near future.
I did write this one thing, though and why the hell not put it up here? I'm probably sending this to 3AM. If more people knew about this blog I wouldn't post poems I was going to submit up here any more, but they don't, so I still can.
Donkey Kong country

When they cut some poets open they find trees and rivers and mountains and whole cities of frozen warriors guarding aliens and rainbows. Others they find empty after empty of Jack Daniels and unfinished love letters drown in crusted over bile. When they cut this one-- and only one-- open all they found was an empty barrel marked “toxic waste” and a grand piano reading Kerouac. The Priest said a prayer but the Piano refused to close its eyes so he burst into flames. The Scientist adjusted her X-ray glasses and saw through the corpse to the bottom of the world and all her vision came back paralysed. The other poets wrote odes to the deceased, about pianos and anger and burning bright into the night sky like a million blazing rangers but before any could utter their last line the barrel rolled across the linoleum and into the hallway where it startled all the flirting interns and the Piano started playing Fats Domino at top volume.

Monday, 13 October 2008

I wish that I believed in fate, I wish I didn't sleep so late

So, its done. The whole thing, all 20,500 words plus essay, handed in to the secretary who raised her eyebrow when I had put the non-plagarism declaration on the wrong side of the title page. well, there you go. still got in.

much thanks to Howard (too fried to re-figure out link posting-- just go to already) for reading through my stories and making sure they weren't horrible messes of grammatical fuckup and narrative goop.

this means that while I'll still post poems here, it won't be as regular, probably. Or maybe more regular. But the Summer Writing Project is over and this will go back to being a bit more of a blog that people can read. I'll keep the livejournal (as I have) because there's many people that read it that I'd rather only deal with on there.

I was going to post a reflective on my Year In Swansea.
I decided not to. At least not right right right now. Instead, i'm posting an old poem I wrote, shortly before leaving Seattle. I expected to re-read it and not identify or think "oh, MAN things have changed" but maybe I'm not as different as I feel. Or maybe it was a moment of clarity. Anyways, it'll probably get posted elsewhere too, so don't get annoyed if you end up reading it more than once.

because it's really fucking long. It will get trimmed someday, but hasn't been touched since I got on the plane.

here you go.

I still owe gas money 9/13/07

Riding shotgun through highway nine past the chip-and-sweat
smelling garage I practically lived in the summer before I
cut my hair and all that meant,
I wonder if next time really will be the last time
we disagree on movies based on comics, if quoting you
back to you will still be funny in 17 years and a few more
pounds or if all the licorice has already gone
to our teeth
or if I’m all idle threats
and you’re all big-voiced drama
threatening a collapse when ten years later
will simply find us in a more spacious garage
cleaner clothes, better reasons for short hair

as highway nine’s forests are replaced with
gas stations, spacious estates and finally, condos

northgate way has long since been deforested
and ceased substantive change;
it wont always be northgate way
someday, it will be iced over or renamed by
a conquering nation with virus-shooting guns
but as is, in the car with my sister, past miles
of couches I’ve been sleeping on, I can’t help
but want nine years back, and a shower
--shower first

* * * *

stacking poems into “keep”
and “toss” piles in a rapidly emptying room
is a lot like picking the lint and pennies
off the carpet in preparation for vacuuming
is a lot like cleaning up your nostalgia,
filing it in boxes in storage spaces, bringing it
out again, primping for public consumption
sanding it down for maximum curves, photographing
with black and white film for the sort of
detatched, timeless
quality, is a lot like hanging those pictures up
sardonically captioned so everyone will know
you haven’t lost your edge.

my “toss” pile is immense.

* * * *
riding shotgun down I-5 has become customary
explaining the specific dynamics of today’s tired
--the long wear of a month of goodbyes, the universal
sigh of explaining the same things to everyone you meet,
the internal sturm and drang of making memories
for the sake of it—
versus yesterdays’ tired—too little sleep and
too much to do
is enough to keep me in conversation for a car ride
so much depends on the five dollar bills I
finger every time we pull up to a gas pump
whether it’s accepted or not

we are making the highways into lengths of rope
we can pull towards ourselves and bring the people with it
but you can’t drive across the atlantic.

we are making a point of having fun, of doing things we’ve
meant to, of it being normal, after all nothing’s going to change.

there’s echoes, though, of the joke
“this is probably the last time
you, me, lailey and ryan will walk down this street
holding books in our hands
on a Sunday.”

* * * *

my grandmother is downstairs on the couch
watching Dr. Phil, waiting for the painkillers to kick in

at 5:45, my father is taking her down the hill into town
for a haircut

in the mail today I received papers with information
regarding tuition, campus life, courses. the same that
they send everyone. there’s a separate, smaller paper
with tips for adjusting for overseas students

they assume I don’t speak english. probably safe.

I’m trying to decide if a thick glass of orange juice
will hold me until dinner, which percentage of
camera after disposable camera worth of pictures
I will want a couple thousand miles from here

There’s not room for the whole box, but I’ve
already thrown so much away, forced my nostalgia
back down my throat and tossed in the fire
that these decisions are inventing a new typeof tired
one only knows these things once they’ve seen
the wall they’ll be covering.

Before there, though, there are passenger seats
with people I want to see and people I don’t want to
see and the distinctions between the two are
blurring into the last month’s worth of slow bleed out
but bad shocks and jolting tires bring me back
for the handful of nights left, my eyes on the road
and the dripping down of questions I don’t have answers to
I am not leaving town; I am draining out of it

“Is there anything you want to do in Seattle before you go?”

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Beneath the Cathedral

beneath the cathedral-- 200+ years old
lie the white plastic tarps,
2+ weeks old by the look of it
with gnawed, holed trainers
sticking out from under,
and she, 24 years old
wants to poke it with a stick.

There are so many buildings here
older than my country, so many ghosts.
But the scariest thing I've seen
is a girl in black lipstick
clutching my arm and pulling me--
26 years old--
through weeds-ridden cobblestones

towards a tattered white plastic tarp
that doesn't seem to be moving.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Shiny New Diner

The wood all polished, varnished,
licenses and certificates hung on bright-
white walls, only two or three handprints
on the window.

The TVs in the corner showing top 40
music videos are flatscreens now. The
servers' uniforms are cleaner, blond
hair fluffier and I can even imagine
them smiling.

Morning eaters walk through, starved
looks on gaunt faces while I sip orange
juice and check the clock; all polished
wood, roman numerals and accuracy.

25 minutes and I've still not received
my eggs on toast.
project update: now the question is-- is it easier to fix a 5,000 word story with lots going on, or to generate roughly 3,000 newer, better words?
I'm leaning towards the latter.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Claustrophobia (flash fiction)

Every morning was a race for Harold. As soon as his alarm went off the walls started closing in; the white plaster walls, the photograph of him and his mother at the Uni Graduation Ceremony. That seemed so long ago, now, he thought as it edged towards him steadily, while to his back the window and photograph he’d taken of ducks on a pond pushed his bed forward. On slow days he had to jump out the window to avoid being crushed between his bed and the wall. His bed was battered and bruised; the frame long ago splintered to bits and the mattress could bend in ways his bones could not. Every day he grabbed a tie and trousers from the floor beside his mattress and rushed to the door. Every night the room was back to its original size. He’d tried to sue his landlord for breach of contract but the claims adjuster told Harold that was clearly ridiculous.
So Harold had no choice but to save up for a better place. He was doing alright, working in a call center, but the hours were long and some mornings he barely made it out of the window, rolling in his pyjamas on to the garden before the room was pinched tight. One day he sprained his ankle jumping out and spent the next week crashing at his friend’s place until his foot recovered. No one believed him, but they humoured him because they liked his mustache. He got a promotion at his job and went out to celebrate, drinking shot after shot of gin. When he got home he was so drunk he forgot to set his alarm and was crushed to death the very next morning.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Its What We Writers Do

For Jen, on her return to the United States

I suspect I will spend
life watching my favourite people
get on planes
then writing about it.

We all have our themes.
It’s what we writers do.

When you go, you take a piece of Swansea with you.
Sure. You aren’t from here either.
But I see people as signifiers, metaphors;
chapters in a book I’ll write later.

Who else will remember the drunk old man
in the corner of Uplands Tav shouting about how
we were too young to know anything
and the volumes of eachothers poetry we
sliced up and re-sected ‘til they were done?

This won’t become a list of inside jokes
because that would be too easy, my
crooked grin at the look on your face as you
tell me I’m busted.

When you go I will write something;
its what we writers do.
And, after all,
there are airplanes involved
and I’ve gotta stick to my

When you go,
I’ll buy you a drink you don’t want,
Make a few jokes too many,
They’ll be pretty tasteless
And you’ll tell me
I’m busted.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

boots and jacket (i.m. Jimmy Henry)

Brown-red floors and piles of clothes
to either side, the 1990 Michael Bolton X-large T-shirt
Not for sale.
Beside the velvet embroidered Elvis and Jesus tapestries
The racks of jackets and button downs and ties and
Forties-era suit-coats he kept trying to get 19 year olds
To buy
“yeah, you don’t want anyofthisnewfangled hipster
Bullshit Madison avenue crap getsomethinwithclasss”

After he left town—some said England
Some San Francisco, some New York
And some said he never really left at all
just found an alley doorway and never came out-
The space was turned to a hiking and recreation
Supply store with tasteful cartoons of mountains
On its rounded side.

One time while I was looking for old t-shirts
Or something or other, Jimmy looked around quick
And said “yeah, you’reagoodboy. Watch the store while
I go get a sandwich.”

That day I found a pair of boots for twelve dollars
A couple of cowboy shirts and a dusty green jacket.

Best damn shirt, boots and jacket I ever bought.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Tarts and Vicars

a fine day for a de-frocking
the whole town agrees, reporters
got their notepads,
it’s bound to happen soon.
line up the priests line up style
karma for Salem, karma for Sunday School
you in those fishnets, me with my
first button undone all of us
ready to make a big show of it
throwing darts at the scapegoat dartboard,
excommunication by raffle ticket. a parade
of naughty nuns breathing fire into
judges’ ears, a two for one deal
at the county hanging.
and smokers
will be shot in the back in the new world
order, the only two things left that are
bad for you.
we cheer. laugh. dance. get woozy
and gropey, enough of us coming to
call it an orgy and you ask if I’ll take you
in your slit dress
right there on the altar and I’m thinking
that might still be a little bit far, drunk off
the wine from the ceremonial chalice
we go home, fuck
and piss blood

Monday, 1 September 2008

September First.

Summer may not end officially for a few weeks, but with the onset of September hopefully there will be less whinging about how it "doesn't feel like summer." Because it isn't.

Speaking of: The Summer Project Which Never Had an Awesome Name.
I think I'll continue this until I've turned in my dissertation or at least until I have to focus all my efforts on editing. The posting of poems here weekly has kept me at writing and has encouraged me to dig out and dust off a few pieces that I'm a lot happier with now. I've probably produced almost as many poems I'm satisfied with in this three month period as I did during the two terms of Poetry Class. This isn't a comment on the class- it was great- but I do think just now some of the things I learned are catching up with me. Or the groove is more consistent. Or perhaps in two months I'll hate everything I wrote here. Either way, it'll continue at least for another month or so. Thanks for the advice and encouragement I've got from those of you who've been reading.

As for my disseration: I've got some ideas, not as far into them as I'd like. What I have so far are the following finished stories (titles subject to change:
My Ugly Twin A first person account of a deteriorating relationship between identical twins. Lots of unreliable narration.
Seagulls Flash fiction I posted here about the guy and his hat.
Bob and Janet Beat the Light or Have You Tried the new FenTech Navigation System? A couple gets stuck at a red light for twelve hours. You learn lots of stuff about their relationship, blah blah, characterisation. This is the one my professor likes. At the end they die.
I'll Only Fuck You If You Keep Your Mouth Shut or I Was a Sexy Teenage Cannibal and All I Got Was a Bit Part in an Ed Wood Film The teenage son of the aforementioned Bob and Janet and his girlfriend are gonna, you know. Do it. But they can't, because the son is too bummed out that his parents are dead. Also because the last time they saw him was when they walked in on him and his girlfriend about to, you know. Do it.

Other stories I've got in mind: Letters from the Third Checkout Line A girl who works at Tesco and has one of those adopt-a-orphan things going on (through the mail) meets a friendly hippie who tries to get her to join his protest organisation. Comparing/contrasting different types of political action and personal responsibility. I also think the organisation ends up spurring the apocalypse in the final story entitled. . .
The World Can End Just Let Me Finish My Pint First A fairly weak, not very well organised group decides to initiate the apocalypse here in Swansea. You'd think they'd be easily stopped, but people really just can't be bothered. A few try, of course, but they're not getting paid for this, you know? Terror and destruction reign, but what you gonna do, innit?

Friday, 29 August 2008


They left their bags in the ice cave when
they were too weak to carry
they stuffed remaining foods in pockets
tried to trace where the compass had failed
and eventually starved
or froze, the rescue teams
couldn’t tell which.

Some of us die like heroes, or so go
the news reports.
A list of essential wilderness survival materials
is something every American boy has memorized
by nine years old and forgotten by eleven,
a lingering sense of what-if-I-had-to--

Some of us “do what we must” to survive, or
so go the narratives to countless westerns,
the excuses made by anti-heroes of my favourite films.

The man who hitchhikes across America with
just a knapsack, his thumb and a bottle of something
is an image that doesn’t
quite transfer overseas.
But the idea of a well-packed
bag does.
So when I say I left my bag up Constitution Hill,
it goes without saying I’ll be back up to get it;
leg-ache be damned.
There’s important stuff in there.

A good rucksack has what you
need to survive anything short of an apocalypse,
if you know how to pack it right.
My daily bag has a couple books, an in-progress
letter to my sister and my ipod.
I fear the apocalypse less than boredom, apparently
and should I ever get trapped in an elevator
I’ll have to resort to cannibalism.

this feels a few drafts away from completion, but I like what I've got so far.

Monday, 25 August 2008


aisles like trenches
my hair fanning out
like a bulbous helmet

turning corners under halogen
every stranger an unmet enemy
carrying baskets of rusty steel

put bread in the bag
don’t look up
at the enemy general

price-checking milk grenades
that will go off
before I use them

step shaky-footed out of
the trenches
watch rats scatter

Monday, 18 August 2008

cities that exist in movies

(10-31-07, revisited 8-18-08)

The rows of t-shirts in Primark in Swansea are all ideas--
Los Angeles, Miami, London. Anywhere-but-heres.

When I told Ian my flight schedule he laughed at me.
“New York into London, listen to you.”

These aren’t real cities, his face was saying—you’re in
a movie now. These are cities that terrorists hold up,
big, three-ring crime circuses, each block has its own
accent, each building is a signifier razored into the
collective subconscious via 70 years of onscreen magic.

Why so many teenage girls fall in love with Paris
without ever going there.
Why the Hollywood walk of fame looked so much
smaller and dirtier in person.
Why I sometimes daydream about Chicago.

The smaller cities exist in smaller movies or are given
bit parts in the bigger picture.
Fargo. Sleepless in Seattle. Twin Town. The band was
from Manchester but Ian Curtis was originally from
Macclesfield, you know.

We all want something for our place, but most
would rather not give away too much; there’s some
thing to be said for finding the diners yourself
or a view of a town you’ve never seen pictures of.
Sometimes I want to ask the people in New York
sweatshirts what their New York restaurant is
--see if they say “Frankie and Bennys,” sometimes
I want to ask the kid in the too-small “Witchita Future
Farmers” T how to properly saddle a horse.

If you can know anything from a postcard
or well-lit panoramic skyscape.
Even Sleepless in Seattle was filmed in Vancouver BC.

regress report.

So you know that dissertation I'm working on? Well, it doesn't know you. At least not in a biblical sense. Nonetheless, here are the stats on it as of now:
I owe by October 20,000 words of Short Story. Well crafted, subtle, nuanced short story.
So far I am 10,000 words in. Most of these words couldn't accurately be adjectivised in the above manner, but I'm trying. I've gotten some fairly solid edits in on two of my stories and then have sorts of cluttered/sprawling messes of two other ones.
My professor seemed to like the progress I made on the Twin story, so that is good.

It is requiring levels of eyes-to-screen time that give a headache when I would really rather laze about, go out, do anything "fun" in a more widely-accepted sense (yes, you can insert the "this is what you want to do" speech here) after working however many hours at the bar.
pretty much perpetually tired and cranky with less attention span for people or things even than usual. but slowly eeking out some sorts of productivity and even some poems on the side. all this and I get to pour beer for money.

livin' the dream.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

New Poem For Old Plasters

"We don't talk about love,
we only want to get drunk."-- msp

so the Manics song—the one that could have been our story
if our story had been much longer—came on and I sat on my

underused balcony where you smoked in the rain and watched
Swansea’s skyline for the length of a song, long enough for a lump

to travel from my throat to my stomach and watched the august
mist-- it was November then-- and shook my head. it’s a shame, really.

that no one comes up here. It’s a good view but I need company to
enjoy it. so I've never quite done the deep-breath-in-and calm down

that a good view is supposed to give.

that’s what the cigarettes were supposed to do?
calm you down, right?
you went through so many packs in your yellow room with it’s

candles and liters of Strongbow I was happy to help you with but
ultimately the fags were on a long list of things that were going to

hurt you. I hesitate to put myself on that list; I wrote you a good
poem-- not this one-- and bought you breakfast and tried not to

ever let you see how scared I was, especially that night
when it was too late for nothing to happen and

we polished off two more cans and
you told me about the razors.

Saturday, 2 August 2008


Algaed water clings to the side of the
fishbowl, empty save for the plastic
castle, covered in wet grime.

The terrarium nearby holds the flaking
skin of a newly dead python, lying in
bits of tail and hair from the mice it'd
been fed.

scratchmarks from tiny claws on the side
of the glass.

on the desk lies a short shopping list,
dated two weeks back. fish food, water
purifyer, tropical heatlamp.

but the light burnt out and coldbloodedness
took over.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Seagulls (flash fiction)

It was like a scene out of “The Birds,” the Seagulls diving all at once, ripping his hat to shreds. A bowler cap, timeless and stylish. The wind blew it down Swansea Beach and into a discarded chip tray where the seagulls had destroyed it. In the days that followed, his head felt naked and exposed, despite the matte of prematurely greying hair that lay on his head like a sleeping dog.
His girlfriend was secretly relieved; she thought the hat was silly, so when he decided to search out a new one she accompanied him with great reluctance. He searched the charity shops first, but their aisles of cast-off clothes held nothing for him. His mood worsened; he told his girlfriend of the time his mother had lost her favourite brooch and how she brooded for months and it must run in the family. She nodded and made him tea. He searched the aisles of Debenhams and the racks at TK Maxx. He walked the beach and cursed the seagulls. He started noticing people’s hair and when he was with his mates he constantly compared. His best friend drove him to Cardiff where they ruffled through boutiques and found a few that fit in size and style but were too expensive—the last one had come to him cheaply, so should the next.
He stopped looking. He stopped combing his hair. He took to eating lots of sea food and bitterly cursing all men his age whose hair retained its youthful brownness. One day he stood in line at the market for an order of cod and saw the vendor a booth over wearing a stylish golfer’s cap, checked and full of life. He looked once, then twice. Mid-purchase, he dropped his fish, ran and made an offer.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Carmarthen Train # 1

Sheep like white dots on some sort of great
green blanket eat calmly like they know our
photographs depend on it.
These hills are inviting but never built for
tourists, the sides are slick today with
rain that shakes off any hangers on who
got past that castle other side of the water.

The train feels slow today, passing those
square-cut hedges, reminding me
to remind myself
I am a visitor.

Courtney sits accross from a woman
with glasses in friendly conversation.
Everyone on this train has looked
at each other at least once. Soon
Courtney will be on a long flight back
to the states, she is saying she'll miss it.

"Stay somewhere long enough and it becomes
a part of you."

I wonder if this is applicable to photographs
taken from train windows.
The teenage girls accross the aisle start
dancing to invisible music as we pull into
a town I've never been before and
isn't that what I'm after, always?

Saturday, 12 July 2008

too old to marry young

It doesn't gnaw at me any more,
just darts through my brain
taking pieces of me with it.

the what-ifs.

it's not to say I know exactly
what I'd go back and undo, it's just that
there are so many possibilities.

like what if I'd talked to the girl
reading CS Lewis in the cafeteria
that rainy tuesday in spring, or
what if I had the ability and inclination
to love any of those girls from
my youth that my Mom was sure I'd marry someday.

probably be a social worker in the
Greater Seattle Area and generally
less embarrassing at family reunions.

it's a twisted sort of nostalgia,
for things that didn't happen.

if I said I was sorry, that'd be
only half, no, a quarter of the story
and you know how sorry I'm capable of.

I'll just need a few more thinking years
to know what to do or undo, all while
passing girls reading CS Lewis without
saying anything,

lest I wake up and find myself a teacher,
Mom always said
I should work with kids.

_ - _ - _ - _

not too satisfied with that one.
today is bad with writer's block, so I'm just glad to get a shape of it posted. got some feedback from my professor on one of my stories. work continues.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

The cafe across from the train station

Everything here is a little crooked.
The booth backs.
The peas + faggots sign under the lamp.
The lamp.
The “Gent’s Bathroom” placard.
The vent above the coke machine.
The signed “Twin Town” poster.
My handwriting sitting here
on crooked cushions
and her smile as she hands me change.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Earl Grey

Mounting the snowcapped summit, muscles aching
from cold and effort, he unwrapped his face of wool,
let the scarf drop, brushed icicles from his beard.
His companion pulled a thermos from the pack,
then teacups and saucers.
Soon steaming liquid, stirred by spoon
while overhead, a mountain goat scuffs
at a cliff edge.
The two sit cross-legged, pinkies aloft.

camera zoom out.
In a distinctly American British Accent, the voiceover:

"Earl Grey. Bold. Beautiful. British."


My friend Betsy considers herself a bit of a tea expert;
I used to accompany herself and her fiance to Capitol Hill
tea dens where they would always order for me,
at least after the time I scratched my head and asked:

"Do you have any rasberry?"


Over brit-side, you needn't be an expert to know good tea from bad,
the important thing is that there be tea, period.
The offer requires no occasion— rather, occasions require IT,
celebration or consolation, "pour you a cuppa?"
being the universal comforter;
healthier than
"want a cigarrette"

but perhaps more indulgent than
"What you need to do is go for a run."

Its new to me.
Coming from coffee-capitol where we run fast and refuel faster,
it can't be coincidence that I'm now finally learning the
importance of calm, sip by sip, each afternoon, the therapy
inherent to stirring sugar in the face of a crisis.

This may be the one thing I take with me, whether or not
I scale any mountains or ever become an expert.
The moments while you wait for the bag to steep.
The way the milk swirls in. I may never be an expert
but perhaps that, too is something I’ll take from this.

And at least now I know not to ask for rasberry.

So I finished a draft of a story today. The story's called "My Ugly Twin" and it rose out of a prompt Becca gave while her, Shane and I were writing at the St. George Pub (yes, I'm already nostalgic for their visit) and it's a first-person account of two brothers falling out.

The above poem/spoken word was originally written sometime late Spring and I'd intended to clean it up a bit and see how it flies. May still suffer some tweaking.
In the interest of catching up, I'll post more stuff on Friday or Saturday.

Friday, 27 June 2008

. . . or can I get you another sloe gin. . . fizzzzz?

So I'm one month in and already behind. I have three rough mental sketches for stories to be completed this month. But I do not have three rough drafts.
Still, in about three minutes I'm heading out with Shane and Becca to write poetry in some secluded corner of town much like Shane and I have been doing whenever we can for the last ten years of our life.

In lieu of progress, I'll post some of the things I write with Shane because those almost always rule.

my previously hinted at 'thusiasm for 12 Angry Months hasn't ebbed, btw. Now I just need some girl to break my heart so I can really "feel" it. Er, or something.

Friday, 20 June 2008

This would be a great Slam Piece---

if it didn't require a solid knowledge of both 1) the bible and 2) the smashing pumpkins. still, it was fun to write.
you can thank Ryan Johnson for the inspiration; the prompt he gave me was "if My Body Goes, to Hell With My Soul." And this is what I came up with.

enough with the cape already

billy corgan likes to think he knows,
but he doesn’t get jokes.
guitar-stance heroics pave over going bald early;
the severe pain of the electric razor,
figuring out how to throw your guts as far
as you can once you’re no longer pretty.
perhaps this is why he invokes Job;
another who had his flocks taken from
him by an act of God
or public favor.

poet types under thirty adjectivize.
words like “beautiful” or “dirty”
or “heartbroken” or “tragic”--

It’s a pre-emptive mustering of guts, saving it up
for when words alone will have to get us laid.

Then there's Job (in the desert or wherever)
his friends visiting him, even though he had
festering sores and all that. these were the types
who bought "Machina" at full price.

at some point, you just have to point
the finger and say "look; the shaved head was fine,
the eyeliner we could deal with, but enough with the
fucking cape already."
probably sounded something like Bildad the Shuhite's lectures
on sin and retribution, how Job had definitely Done
Something to Deserve It.

The lessons I take from both (besides
Don't Get the Devil's Attention)
run something like: "go ahead and whine.
but do it in style."

"beautiful, dirty, heartbroken, tragic."

Or could look at Job and reminisce on the model of endurance and
grace in the face of ridiculous suffering; I think I could have

taken the loss of my kids and my flocks but once the
blisters broke out I would have had a hard time with it;
my most depressing days are the ones on which I feel ugly.
in his shoes,

I probably would have listened to my wife
when she said “curse God and die,” because if my body’s
already gone I’ve lost my better half and my guess is
that she was under thirty
and a poet.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Genus, Species and Flavor--

(a poem with pieces missing)

I sit in the park when it is too hot for walking.
Watch the girls pass in their sundresses. Still.
I’ve always prided myself on not being one of those guys
who sits in parks.

Hard pressed to note the differences between
Jackals and Hyenas; thinking hard I remember that
Jackals are part of the dog family, distant cousins
of something you might keep in your house and Hyenas
have the menacing laugh.

Either would scavenge my corpse.

Bulbous, round and pink,
she eats her hot dog as if
giving head.
She even licks the mustard off
with the tip of her tongue, a
girlish giggle and hand over
her mouth, as if to say "little ole me?”

Still, she puts a lot of teeth into it.

I don’t know the difference between Mammoths and
Mastodons. Genus and species?
Which would fell easier
under pre-dawn man’s spears?
which would feed
a family and for how long?
Did they use mammoth meat for romantic dinners
or did they have smaller animals for that?

Depending how much you believe Al Gore,
the ice caps are melting pretty damn fast.
Depending how much you believe Robert Frost,
this could be the perfect apocalyptic compromise.

I personally can’t wait for the thaw.
I want to see whose bones were trapped
in there, all that time.

3.141 . . .
Late winter
in my darkened room
I photo collage.
Some times I forget how pretty you were,


this is one I'm still working on. this is version 1.5. it might seem like the pieces are in random order (a la the numbers) but it's actually quite on purpose. I almost cut the last stanza entirely, but decided it worked strong as an ending.
Drastic changes or improvements will be posted once I'm a little happier with them.

Had a meeting with Stevie today. Basically she told me to keep writing and send her stuff when I had it. Approved my idea (which I stole from Sarah) for a loosely-linked series of shorts. Progress still needs to be made in a serious way if I'm to meet June goals for short story writing.

Friday, 6 June 2008

pieces of energy/direction (revised poem)

here's the piece I wrote on monday, in final-first draft form. I did two revisions, the first while listening to Burning Brides (not the rewarding experience it used to be) and then while listening to The Smiths. Hmmm. I lost some of the cool lines from the first version and the meaning is changed a bit, but I think as a whole this is a better version.

6/6/08 Pieces of Energy
some days I wake up with the pounding
in the back of my head saying “hey. hey. hey.
aren’t you glad you get to do this over again?”
and I think about the writers who’ve famously let their

writer clichés clasp to their ankles and drag them
over the edges of bridges or deep into tunnels,
stark, silent twilights where the weight of all that
heartbreak and expectation crushed their fingers.

knocked out their teeth; they suck their vices through
straws now. I think about this, rollover, face-into-
pillow and demand more sleep. Dream about re-directing
that ankle-dragging energy, upbraiding clichés with action,

maybe winning an award. I practice acceptance speeches
in my sleep, softly chewing the edge of my pillow until
I’m jolted awake by the mid-morning fire alarm.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

progress report #1.

I am 1,250 words into the first story of my collection. Tenatively titled "seagulls," so far it's about a guy who loses his hat and can't find one to replace it.
It may or may not have him being stalked by birds, losing his girlfriend and/or comitting acts of violence. I am realising that in order for this to be an effective collection, not every story can have acts of violence or slightly surreal nature-interfering-with-man stuff.

I'll revise and post the new version of the poem tommorrow.

Monday, 2 June 2008

For lack of a better title

Today marks the beginning of Summer '08 Writing Project. In the interest of spurring myself onward I've set myself a few personal goals. Then, in the midst of reflection (some people call it self-berating) I realised how often I lapse on personal goals of all shapes and sizes. So.
I'm making this writing project (semi) open to public scrutiny. It's my goal, over the summer to do the following:
Weekly: one new poem, having undergone at least one revision session. I may take notes or chicken scratchings I've previously done and develop them or I may come up with something new.
I'll be posting the new poems weekly when they've been completed, each Friday or Saturday, along with how many revisions it took, what music I was listening to (if any) what authors I'd been just reading or purposefully aping and any personal notes on the piece.
Occasionally I'll post pieces in various states of completion.

Monthly: Three short stories a month in June, July and August. September I'll use to edit, sort out and lengthen the pieces I want to use for my dissertation. I'll probably not post the short stories here, though I may post synopses, clips or writing notes.

The purpose of this is to formally structure my writing time and to ensure that I'm actually producing content throughout the summer. Part of it's also to keep me in writing poetry-- I like poetry, even if I'm (officially) better at other things.

This blog will still host more typical blog or picture entries, but for the summer it will be largely devoted to "_____kickass title here_____" project. Some of the pieces I'm most happy about I'll post in my poetry myspace blog or maybe even my livejournal.

here's today's poem, unedited so far. On friday you'll see a finished version.

Pieces, directing energy( 6/1/08. poem project #1. music: pickwick.)

the papers, in their cluttered mass
clasp to my ankle and keep me dragging my feet
sometimes I have to walk long enough
away to drink or drag it on out
wake up happy to be
waking up. the pounding voice in
the back of my head saying
“this is the rest of your life right now.”
but it’s hard to re-direct the energy.
to put the pieces in files; instinct
and cliché say writers don’t have to do
that, can keep going on nothing but
heartache and a universal contempt
for formality and normality, embracing
the ankle shackles that famously drag people
off the edges of bridges or into stark, silent
twilights, while people wonder where the
brilliance went, or if it’s all just the way that writers fool us.
So. I’m trying to put things in their place without turning into
an accountant. to take the days and keep them from turning
to waste. upbraid clichés with action.
Let my fingers become a funnel for my mind
avoid high places and sharp objects.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

I know this song so well it seeps inside my brain

Finally delivering on long-ago made promises to people on both this and the other side of the atlantic, I've been spending my afternoon burning Jazz Records For Sale by Police Teeth; only I'm not sure my I-tunes is working properly on the burning front. Neither the mixes I sent to Lailey or to Bethany worked for them, so there are many a question mark as to whether this will work.

This has facilitated listening to the album again, which I haven't in a while. It doesn't have the same Bellingham-memory quotient that a lot of stuff does, partially because I actually got the masters copy mailed me here. It's still good and I'm sure that, should I finally wrangle the truth out of my laptop, my friends over here (the ones who like, you know, music) will enjoy it.

the pub that I work at looks like this:
except that it doesn't lie on it's side.

it only lies on it's side in blog entries when I have
trouble figuring out how to edit newly uploaded pictures on my laptop.

I suggest turning your monitor on it's side for
maximum viewing pleasure.
anyway, yes. That's what it looks like. I'll be
there tonight reading out the questions to the
Pub Quiz and making many reference to the way
that my accent makes understanding me an
impediment and apologizing for my "clumsy
american tongue." Extrapolate the innuendoes if you must.
This is fine, save for the fact that it means I'm missing my supervisor (and previously mentioned/pictured Dave Beer) play in his band "A Kid Called Power," wherein they perform songs about "There Will Be Blood" and cover the Jesus Lizard.

If you've received paper corrospondences from me, chances are at least a portion of them were written from Mozart's, which accurately plays as a speakeasy, coffee shop, local pub and daytime cafe. I went in today for a delicious breakfast sandwich. Breakfast sandwiches are something I have a weakness for.

Tommorrow night Howard Webb is coming to town and crashing at my humble abode. This will facilitate a lot of cleaning on my part. Probably we'll see the insides of both pubs I've posted on here, as that seems to be the way. Close shop at the Rhyd and if one of us wants to Moz, pretty much all of us will.

"Hello. You have been invaded by the staff of a vastly inferior pub."-- Kieran.

Either way, it will be good to see Howard's smiling face.

I got a group e-mail from T. Keller to pretty much everyone who's been writing for Buddyhead as of late (there's not that many of us) talking about a site re-launch and re-organization. Asking basically "who's in?" More than that I probably can't say, but there's a good chance I'll be having musicky things to write about soon. I think this is good. And it not being a local thing would be good too--

too many nights could end up looking like this:

Monday, 12 May 2008

If she says we partied, well I'm pretty sure we partied

Nick Cave's rock show was one of the best I've ever seen.
I'm working lots and working on working on non-work things during the day.
Social selectivity kicking back in both by circumstance and by choice.
Looking forward to later this week when I'll have new money and a chance to maybe buy clothes, put some in the bank and drink a pint or two.
The Hold Steady's first album also kicks ass, putting them solidly in my "favorites" category-- but I'm highly suspicious of their upcoming "stay positive." maturity is often just a code for getting boring.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

The McEwans was trickiest.

So last night I worked my first shift at The Rhyddings Hotel Pub. I think it used to be a hotel proper, now it's a pub/restaurant located in the Brynmill/Rhyddings Terrace area of Swansea close to the school.
One of my new co-workers didn't show up, so I ended up covering the lounge half largely by myself. I made a couple of new-guy mistakes, but I didn't freak out and by the end of the night I was feeling fairly confident. The owners of the place were pretty impressed and complimented me.
So now I'm working Sam's (the no-show) shifts tonight and thursday as well as friday and saturday (which is a Mighty Boosh-themed night). In addition to finishing up my portfolios. So, busy week.
After cleaning up, Dave and I (he on his bike, me near-jogging beside) trolled around downtown "in search of scraps," as he put it. The only place open was SO bar and their Karaoke Night. Dave went up to the mc/dj and requested to sing a song, the man said "you can only sing if you do Elvis."

So Dave did "Suspicious Minds" and we grabbed kebabs at Oasis where there was a very blonde girl being extremely rude to the proprietors. I'd like to think my voice of reason was part of the reason there wasn't fisticuffs or food-spitting.

Monday, 21 April 2008

A brief briefing of faces you should know, or at least can now picture when I reference in future blogs

Whereas I just got back from a bit of a stroll/write/stroll, the internet fails to live up to it's mighty promise and I don't quite feel like uploading pics from Easter, here's a few pictures of my life here in Swansea and the people it contains. You know. For reference.

This is myself and Adell Bridges, shooting tequila at three p.m. in the Uplands Tavern. Adell being a girl from my course, originally from the south U.S. but now quite living in the U.K. Moved from Scotch boys to Welsh boys. Writes a mean Terza Rhima.

Jen Johnson (terrible, by my own admission, picture of her) and Dave Jones. Jen (along with Courtney, not pictured here) went to St. Andrews in North Carolina. Dave is Welsh but sounds English.

Myself and Dave Beer at the train station in Cardiff, coming back from the Ida Maria show. DB is too many differing individual quotes to phrase up in one caption, so I won't try.

Jess and John. Often referred to as "punk John" or "the punk." They are quite engaged and, as you may guess, very cute. Jess is on my course as well, John is doing a PHD in a very specialised history I forget at the moment. We're going to see Nick Cave in May. They often host movie nights in their upstairs bedroom, beer, the odd joint and various types of cookies floating around the room.

This is Ioan. One of the funniest human beings I have ever met. Also very Welsh in probably all the best ways. Also tends to be a good listener on the odd occasion when I've had it up. to. fucking. here. with some of my friends (coughcoughcougcourtneycoughcougcough) and just involuntarily explode a little bit. Can usually be found at a pub, drinking really good beer. Also too many quotes for just one.

and finally:

Myself and Roy "the handsome one" Williams. In Cardiff at the Ida Maria show. He's a great bloke, Swansea native, Replacements fan and ladies. . . he's single.

Monday, 14 April 2008

"You took my Pretenders album. . . you know, the one with 'Kid."

I'm five tracks into the new Local H album "12 Angry Months" (thank you, internet!) and while it's too soon to tell about lasting effects, I'm thinking they might have actually made "their album. . ."

or conversely, lost all their longtime fans. So far I've heard keyboards, slide guitar, multiple-drummer freakouts, oh, there just went some violin.

you can expect more on this, doubtlessly.

and it's such a tragedy, it's almost greek.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Beck House Block D 3

Saturday morning. In lieu of television, there's youtube and you can be however old you want. Today I am five, watching Masters of the Universe. My parents were never too thrilled on that one, with it's near-overt occult references and (retrospectively) inappropriately sexy characters. I do not change out of pajamas for this.

"Now it's time to unleash my army of demons!"

The kitchen. Where we gather by accident, linger over tea and biscuits. Paula's stay here nears completion. She is always in her pajamas when not in her nurses uniform, always hacked about the mingin' weather. She might go back to her boyfriend in Scotland or she might move to Carlisle. It's the beginning of attrition. The slow emptying of the hall that happens over holidays, but for good.

I'll be here all summer.

I share my balcony with a man I never see. Save for when he smokes and nods through the open curtains. The view we maintain is one of tilting rooftops trailing towards the atlantic, a few leafless trees rustling and the same crane that's been there since september, hovering over perpetual construction.

I wonder if he knows I'm watching cartoons.

Basim and Dupet are arguing about God. Or he is trying to wind her up, finding great success. "I was born. . . in Bethelehem. I am. . . the new Jesus." She challenges his Muslim heritage. "Basim-- Islam is a religion of peace and love, no?" He shrugs and nods. "So is Christianity." They recite the FATYA in arabic together. I am washing my tea-mug in hot soapy water. Dupet asks if I'll be going home when I'm done, what with how "bad things are in the states." I hope not. Not yet. The rooms here are small but I have not yet filled mine with things, the weather is bad but it's bad back home and here at least

there is always He-Man and his magic sword, here to vanquish the forces of Skeletor.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Something for the weekend

So I just sent out, via e-mail five poems for submission to a new Swansea poetry magazine that's yet to put out it's first issue. I'm crossing my fingers.
I sent out: Communion 2: Repetetive Motion Sickness
"I Can See My House From Here"
Rugby '08

This is probably the most diverse batch of submissions I've sent out; usually I send a bunch of fairly similar in "type" poems, often shorter, less rambly stuff. But "communion 2" is probably the longest thing I've written since coming here (and a slightly more philosophical sequel to my arguably most (in?)'famous' piece) and "ellie" is a standard-length prosey reminiscence on a crush, while Rugby '08 and "I can see my house. . ." are both shorter, quieter, more "poetic" pieces and 82p doesn't contain a full sentence throughout (maybe a first for me.)

I record this largely for my own records as I don't have anything to write on right now-- I know: fired!-- and I want to avoid double-submissions. I've still got a few out to Roundyhouse and the Cardiff International Poetry Competition.

* * * * * *

today for breakfast I had a Brains SA. I will doubtlessly use that as an anecdote in the future to try to convey a sense of badassness that is probably inaccurate. This afternoon I'm heading to Cardiff to see Ida Maria sing. It's a trip organized by Dave Beer and Roy Williams based on the fact that while the songs are good and the voice is pretty, the woman herself surpasses both so obviously we should go see her perform live.
Then friday I take a trip up to Banbury to see Kamarie Chapman and her roving band of theatrical performers. I'll stay up there a few days, come back to Swansea listening to the IPOD Doprav gave me that still has his music on it (I've been really into Life's Rich Paegant and The Collected Works of Billy Bragg and, er, Green Day) and possibly write more poems that involve travelling or being in Wales and historical/debatable "Welshness". . . yes, I'll pimp my current situation for relevance and publishability.

don't judge me.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Interesting turns of phrase and corners

If it had been as sunny a few hours ago on my (short) walk home from church as it is now, with me curled with reading and writing material and just happy to let my windows become magnifying glasses and myself the ant, well, I probably would still be on a long walk.

but. God or the Weather or Caleb the Cloud Formation didn't see it fit, so here I am.

interesting turns: Matt, Jen and Courtney's friend has been in from NC. Every time he says "Chapell Hill" I want to mention Archers of Loaf, but I don't. We do talk about old cartoons and comics. His presence has facilitated a lot more out-on-the-town in one week than I usually, but maybe we made up for it by everyone piling in Jen's room all day watching disney movies.

amidst which a somewhat sudden but quite consistent flirtation with one Susie Wild (actual name) that I suppose started in earnest last friday at an art show/gig in the back of skate-clothes store. so far it's real vague and if I have the situation pegged right, is likely to remain that way. which is fine; count me intrigued but not worried. interesting people are interesting and that's welcome.
plus, she's one of those folks who seems to know everyone around and one of the guys who runs the Elysium Gallery wants me to send him some poems to print in their general-arts newsletter (a mix of news and, yeah, art.) the introduction went something like: "this is John. He's a great artist. This is Graham. He's a great poet. You guys should get along."

of course, these are also the sorts of conversations artists have late at night over belle and sebastian and johnny cash, cheap tequila and expensive cider. grains of salt are often in order

Monday, 3 March 2008


This year is moving too fast. It already being March was not in my plans. The impending homelessness come September is another thing. I was going to continue with this blog entry but I think that perhaps listing off the things I have not yet accomplished that will be necessary for sustenance in the next month wouldn't help much. somehow the whole "it'll be alright, just one thing at a time" has always worked for me in the past, but always just barely.

I guess it's not "barely" time yet. but there's also little to no support system for actually getting through the practical parts of life.

radio silence, etc.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

because it is nearing the end of february

That means that if I post my "favorite records of 2007" list, I'll still be ahead of schedule for my stated "you can't really know until June" stance. But the list of '07 releases I want to check out keeps expanding in bands, genres and albums, so it's not going to get any easier. Some of this is a result of de-kneejerking reactions to critically acclaimed bits, some of it's the result of randomly hearing things I haven't had the time to check out yet and some of it has to do with the fact that a lot of albums I would be putting on my list are hard to come by over here and I don't have the quid to do so anyways. Come by them, that is. Yeah. It's been a couple years since I actually wrote a list like this, but it's really fun to do, and especially if you haven't in a while. I'd do one for movies, but I seriously didn't see enough movies to say what was good and what wasn't.

In rough, but by no means any sort of exact order, 2007.

Albums I Overplayed Because it is my Sincere Belief that they are Awesome

Liars-- Liars This is a group I've always enjoyed, but this is the first record I went out and bought, partly because I wanted something to take to Wales that wouldn't remind me of the last six months in Bellingham. It doesn't. The great thing about it isn't the fact that they combine droney drumloop-and-noise numbers with junk-funk, jerky dance rock and even some vaguely elephant-6 sounding pop, it's that they do it in a way that makes sense sonically for one to follow the other.

Future of the Left-- Curses Of course the new record from Andy Falkous (McLusky) is going to be somewhere on this list, but even I couldn't have guessed it'd be so high up. FOTL is less noisy and they bring in some damaged keyboards to replace guitars a few times, but it all works. Falco is still as twisted and brilliant a lyricist as he's ever been and his melodic pallette has expanded as well.

Spoon-- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Of the Big Indie Rock Albums of '07, this is the only one I can sit through the entirety of without rolling my eyes even once, let alone think every track is killer. Not as flashily catchy or dancy as their last one, but I think it holds up better on repeated listens.

Super Furry Animals-- Hey Venus! Their current respectable U.S. following notwithstanding, I'm convinced that if SFA had Englishy accents that people were used to consuming instead of their very-Welsh lilts, they'd be much bigger. But the Welshness, honestly is part of it in the same way that Blur was so very English. And this record is full of great shimmery pop with humor and heart.

Clockcleaner-- Babylon Rules After writing a sentence like "great shimmery pop with humor and heart" I have to recommend this album, which runs like a smarter version of early Butthole Surfers and perhaps slightly more melodic Scratch Acid and contains lyrics like "when my ship comes in/will you still let me fill you with children?"

Aesop Rock-- None Shall Pass Aesop Rock seems intent on getting more and less accessible at once. Here though, he shifts away from some of the battle-rap affectations of his last record and tells stories, funny, sad and largely surreal narratives; it's only appropriate that John Darnielle (mountain goats) guests on the last track.

Shellac-- An Excellent Italian Greyhound Shellac are one of those bands that people (including myself) tend to pay lip service too more than listen. This album I've listened to a lot, however; maybe I get Albini's humor better now, or maybe the slightly almost pretty bits prove the "spoonful of sugar" theory. Either way, I actually think this record is better than most on my list before it, but in the interest of listening-disclosure I won't pretend I haven't jammed out to FOTL or Liars more.

Black Kids-- Wizard of Ahhhs EP I'm already preparing my backlash rant for when these precocious youngster's Cure-plays-the-oldies schtick can't carry a full album any more than "No Cars Go" could sustain the rest of Neon Bible. But for now, damn.

The White Stripes-- Icky Thump I probably wouldn't have guessed that The White Stripes and Queens of the Stone Age would release albums in the same year and that the Stripes' album would be heavier and trippier.

The National-- Boxer I resisted this record for a long time but discovered it late in the year when it rained for about two months straight and suddenly the acoustic-electric thing wasn't so annoying and hey-- these songs are pretty melodic and hey-- this guy can write lyrics. Really, really understated-but-still devastating lyrics.

Big Business-- Here Come the Waterworks These guys joined the Melvins, and the Melvins made their best album in about fifteen years. Kicker is, Big Business' album is even better. Heavy-approaching-metal, minimalist but melodic, and Phil Ek's production just brings out all the band's strengths. Their first release that equals the sonic gut-punch of their live shows.

Radiohead-- In Rainbows This is at the bottom not because it's not my favorite, but because it almost came out in 2008, really. Either way, I've been listening to this band long enough that they wouldn't have to be at top form for me to enjoy it (as Hail to the Thief proved) but I'd say that right here they're at top form. They're comfortable tweaking their sound instead of re-inventing it, and it's probably the highest concentration of memorable Radiohead songs since OK Computer.

that's the list I allow myself. There were other albums I meant to hear more fully-- Wu Tang, Lupe Fiasco, Cave Singers, AA Bondy, Feist, A Place to Bury Strangers, Andrew Bird, High on Fire, Feral Children, etc-- and so on. I think with moving out of Bellingham* and no longer feeling the compulsion to document or immerse myself in regional sounds it's like my music-radar is beeping full blast again, ironically while I've less means of procuring it.
*The fact that no Bellingham/Seattle bands are included on my list isn't because there was no music from there I listened to, but at some point when your friends make a killer record it's hard to tell if it's rad because it's rad, or because it's your friends. At least for me. Some folks differentiate a lot better. Suffice to say, I did have Police Teeth, Patience Please, The Russians and Cicadas on the long version.
I was gonna do more lists about other things (albums that bummed me out-- two gallants, arcade fire or albums that bummed other people out but I thought were fine-- new pornographers, modest mouse) but I need to go back to writing my short story, which is about a man who decides to live in a tree while continuing to work at an office downtown. There are lots of thoughts that swirl around late at night when I'm blogging and many things I could talk about, but I chose to write about music instead.

story of my life, I guess.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

"call it."

Just saw No Country For Old Men. That'll do ya.

afterwards John and I arrived at Gerald and Jess had started The Virgin Suicides. Given what I'd just seen and a few other factors, I wasn't up to a soft-focus romantic look at suicide, so I hung out for a little while, but left before everyone was dead.

I think "leaving before everyone is dead" is a pretty good policy I'll try to stick to.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

coming together in relative ways

It's the first sunny morning in over a month. I'm in my pajamas catching up on the day's internet, listening to one of my favorite albums of all time. The day is completely free of scheduled events, but I have things I can get done, and will. Tuesday I was walking downtown in the rain when Thom from Framework Social caught up with me. . . "Graham. . . the poet, right?" So I've got a gig in February. Tommorrow I'm going to Cardiff and the oldest independent record store in the world. Last night Courtney and I talked about God. Wood and I talked about Julian Cope. Yesterday I made up a CV. I'm awake, refreshed and anticipatory. Not a lot of days start like this and I think it's worth noting.

Here's to looking ahead, unironically.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

In lieu of staking out the pub with a sketchpad

I am sitting at my laptop with a fresh hot cup of (instant) coffee, not because I need coffee to be awake at 5pm, but because the image of the writer at his computer with a cup of coffee is about as ingrained and romanticized for me as the image of the writer in the corner of a wood-paneled bar drinking whisky and staring grimly at a notebook. All those times I went to Caps with my journal and a pen and sat at the counter or in the corner? Yeah, the night might have ended with me at table with two to several others of various acquaintance and myself a few more drinks in and dollars out than I intended at the start. But I really only did go to write, and maybe just as important, feel like I was writing. The rest started out bonus and ended up an expected (sometimes regrettable) part of the routine.

A week into 2008 and I'm working on working on setting new routines. I'm a creature of habit but I get restless quickly. Kat told me I shouldn't worry about in October living in a not-my-home country without a job or place to live and a still fairly useless degree, pointing out that I crave the instability. Also, that it's only January and I always seem to skate right under the razor's edge in these sorts of situations.

The three weeks before courses resumes I have an extensive list of accomplishments to enact, ranging from general cleanup of my room to looking for work to getting some financial stuff sorted out with loan companies to sending off submissions of poetry and criticism to various publications. It's not a list of entirely crucial things, but it is entirely crucial I get at least some of it done.

I put too much sugar in my coffee. I think part of the romantic image has the coffee black. I can see why.

It'll be another week or so until everyone not-from-Swansea is in town again post-break. I'm not sure there's enough regular routine leftover from Sep-Dec to fall into, but there's the possibility of resuming friendships that were just starting come break. Re-orient myself to be a little more here-focused, a little less letters-from-home focused.

Most of the time I've got that Tom Petty feeling (the future is wiiiiide open) but there are days when I feel like October can't come fast enough so I can skate back into something familiar, wish I was doing so much more, and not have to deal with the pressures of actually doing it.