Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Confluence

The end is something dark and undefined

like the edges of a cancerous mole,

and seated here I’m unable to tell

if it’s the water or the street that is moving,

draining away via dialysis between

this world and the next where light

from an energy-saving bulb brings

with it an old, slow, kind of knowledge;

not something we learn or are taught

but which is now almost an instinct, a fear

felt where heavy rain meets factory run-off

plus general urban filth, exhaust pipe excreta

and trace elements of infinite, rubber-soled feet

treading on uncertain ground that stifles all voices

except for the muffled, yellow plastic recitation of:

“Caution, wet floor.”

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Praktiki

Transmitters on top of the telephone exchange

Protrude above trees in the town centre

Like the tips of paper cracker crowns

That no one has bothered to put on.

Smudges of - is that ice cream or sick? –

Sputter and hiss in the heat like airlock bolts

As though the streets were flaying themselves

To reveal a gigantic intestinal Pacman machine.

Familiar as the scent of Old Spice or blood

Is the act of turning away from a photographer,

You claim it’s because you hate your own face

But don’t admit you’re afraid that everyone else will too.

And you will spend the rest of your life wishing

That there was an app to always tell you

To keep on ignoring news about those

For whom life leaves no time for favourites.

Hashtag

There is a man sitting with his wife,

A waifish woman with tubes up her nose

Who has paused to admire for a moment

Someone with healthier lungs.


Greedily, she eyes their breathing,

Like something she can’t afford

Seen in a new shop window and reflected

In her husband’s roving, milky eyes.


But I see something else and more

Not a weapon, but an extension

Of everything I’ll never have because

Their kind decided what I was not worth.

Birthday Message

Today is my 26th birthday. I was born in Orwell’s famous year; the year of The Battle of Orgreave. My family is, has been and always shall be working class. A fact that I hope I can be forgiven for being proud of, although even I am not sure why I am anymore. For the last ten years I have dedicated the vast majority of my time to examining and chronicling working class life in Britain and the causes and consequences of what happens when we are ignored.


Not a single word I have written has been motivated by anything other than a desire to see justice done for us. The fact my work remains unpublished is all the evidence I need that it strikes one too many nerves for certain people to accept. The ever-increasing dominance of Oxford and Cambridge graduates in the publishing industry as well as the media in general is a self-perpetuating, formulaic paradigm that I just cannot shift.


So after a decade of rejections I have decided for the moment to stop trying to be a professional writer in any form or genre. It is just a waste of paper, postage stamps and more importantly, time. But there is something else, something not as innocuous as fatigue, behind my acceptance of failure.


Up until now I have been able to ignore, or at least sideline, my awareness of the elements of hypocrisy inherent in my work. But over the last year or so as the global economic crisis has deepened even further than most official commentators care to admit, I have found my ideological resolve wavering. More often than not my work now is driven just as much by guilt as it is rage. No matter how I look at it I cannot escape a sense of hatred for the incomprehensible privilege of being born in this country, and of how many of us so easily abuse that privilege.


Although by western standards I am relatively poor, living as I do from wage slip to wage slip, when I compare my living and working conditions to those of fellow proletarians overseas I feel nothing but overwhelming shame. The fact that I am free to write my work and you are free to read it, implicates us in crimes against humanity. Even though our involvement is entirely accidental, a mere consequence of our birth, we all share a burden of guilt by association. Our ceaseless demands for new phones, new clothes, new televisions, new cars, new toys and so on serve only as proof of our unintentional participation in a cycle of socio-economic oppression, and worse still of our intentional ignorance of the violence-by-proxy we inflict on human beings we will never meet.


Even now as I write this, millions upon millions of our comrades are forced to live and work in conditions that you or I could not even imagine let alone endure. They are the men, women and children who live in chains so we can pretend to be free. There is nothing I, or any of us, can do to change that fact. At least, not yet. I know that does not make the sorrow any easier to withstand, but I have come to realise it is not our fault and tormenting myself about it is only going to make me more miserable. My work may not be brilliant, but at least it is honest. Particularly now, maybe honesty is enough.


Thank you for your time and I hope that those few of you who visit this blog continue to enjoy reading my work as much as I enjoy writing it.


Wishing you all the best,


C.J.