Sunday, September 23, 2012

485. Jumpers

We live in a world of make-believe
day after day after day after day.

I raise a tired fist and feebly say
Hello, hello. It seems that things
are getting out of hand. Herodotus said

a number of interesting things, he pings
on the Ancient World, the BC bit,
long before the AD slice we live in,

being a dangerous man for opinions
altogether. So-o-o-o hard to decide whether
he’d be telling the truth. In a booth

not far from Birmingham I met a man
living in a world of make-believe
who told me something I still remember:

Listen to Herodotus, ya prick,
So I, being young and thick

listened to the man coming over the airwaves,
fading in and out from 350 BC.

It didn’t help or relieve, just sought to heave
the same old problems around, to shunt the cunts
as it were: was Melpomene your suffering mother?

She was young, you know, in the early Nazi days
and thought it was all very fine. Berlin in the sunlight.
Her summer frock. Bathing on the Wannsee with SS boys,
No notion the Fuehrer was out of his mind.

I wish you would go away,
no longer linger no longer stay:
your language is offensive!

Listen to Herodotus.

The defensive part is not the art
that wins a War: toujours, toujours l’audace
lands you dead or else a cripple.

Yes, I enjoy a little tipple
now and again with friends, it makes amends
for the other crap I end up doing.

I have had my fill of war.
You don’t know what you’re fighting for
after the first year runs into the second.

A fecund lady has always been my dream,
broad hips, big tits, something to grab hold of,
but I always end up with slight little girls,

little waifs who slit their wrists, have problems,
who arouse my protective instincts, and who,
if you get that far, are not a very good fuck.

I need a blonde beaming girl who doesn’t read books,
who doesn’t speak in connected sentences,
who understands money .... !

Girlfriends are one thing, wives are another!
I was told that by my mother: she said, may God
direct you to the Right Woman, young idiot, etc.

My little Chinese girl has left me. Of course she has.
She was so cute and young and smart and elegant:
no doddering chav is allowed these things …

if but only for a while

and so my creaking heart still sings. Dangerously.
I smile. A sunny smile. I know, I know it is all a game
and other sweet girls will flutter along

like moths to murder in the flame. They want
a certain something. And so, dear God, do I.
Herodotus was saying, before you interrupted

that different people behave in different ways
and he was fascinated by this: he writes, whenever
the Persians had something seriously to decide
they went about it twice. Initially, they were quite
sober and rational, questioning, very very open to advice,
but then they went off and got totally drunk or stoned
and listened to no-one, to see if feelings would coincide.
As I stare, as I glare at my iPhone 5 today
this still makes sense in every way.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

484. Some Random Thoughts on the English Language

When you think, I think,
you don’t want to think too hard:
step lightly over the earth, skip over it,
because there are quicksands and tarpits
and yawning manholes, never mind the landmines,
scattered here and there and everywhere
going by names we have learned to trust,
such as love and loyalty, honour and family,
a collection of abstract, uncountable nouns.

For those who speak only one language,
a sense of false confidence conceals the danger
inherent in the missing abyss of comparison;
why do you go to “the” store instead of “a” store?
What difference does that make? Only the same
as when you love “the” woman instead of “a” woman,
or when you look to “the” future instead of “a” future.
These are such small little things, inconsequential,
unless you start to think about them. But never

think too hard, it wears out the brain, makes you weary,
takes away the jolt and taste of your morning coffee.
(Now where the hell did that word ‘coffee’ come from?)
Paddling your canoe in your khaki shorts past a bamboo grove
you are using four words borrowed from other languages.
But the nouns, oh the nouns, are not the real problem!
It’s the verbs. Those goddam verbs! Descriptions of time
must exist in all languages, and are either smooth or clunky:
if I had but known what he had been thinking of proposing

I should quite possibly not have been quite so willing as I was.
This is the beauty of pidgin, crossover languages, border talk:
He talk smooth-smooth. I say OK. Later I say fuck you.
You can’t argue with the meaning, although it’s not Jane Austen,
nor Dickens or Trollope or Thackeray. Also, it’s not the brutal
vernacular most of us would choose to speak in. Yet it works.
This is the thing about language all around this globe we live in.
It’s no use raising your voice and bellowing at foreigners.
It really really doesn’t act as an aid to understanding. It don’t.

Ain’t that a shame? Please God, finally, let everyone speak English
so we don’t have to bother with learning all their foreign tongues,
and the world will all be One. If you actually believe that, pal,
you are living in La-la Land. Never happen. Everyone changes it.
When the Irish had to learn English or starve they fuckin hated it,
what a stupid thick-arsed language, they thought, and immediately
set out to improve it, adding rhythms and colours and tone to this …
this black-and-white atrocity. All over the world, in Jamaica, in Singapore,
in Kenya, in India and Pakistan, Fiji and Samoa, people do the same!