Monday, 6 June 2022

"Argotist" Now in the Lexicon

Good to see that the name of The Argotist Online ("argotist") has now become part of the lexicon. It is a portmanteau word, created by the editor of the The Argotist Magazine, Nick Watson, in 1996. He said he had combined the word "argot" with the "ist" from the title of the 1914-1919 literary magazine The Egoist, which Ezra Pound was involved with. I don't recall it as a word existing before then. 

http://meaning127.com/en/a/argotist?fbclid=IwAR1wAIdOYTr-kyK9i1PvGPrLoG6EjF4UoBhZ7WuVdsRG4ChjQkkgJaqyI_Q

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Argotist Online Poetry Blog

I've started a poetry blog for The Argotist Online for people to submit poetry to. It's called Argotist Online Poetry:


The Argotist Online used to have a poetry section but due to technical problems I removed it.

If you are interested in submitting poems, send them to:

argotistonline AT gmail DOT com

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Old Poems 10

 WHERE YOUR LOVE BELONGED


I’m sitting here thinking 

of a time I could have been

love-friend to her 

about life


Pretty girl facing me 

from the corner of a room

forward stretching over it

my bridges burnt


She said never leave me

as if I ever could

that was just something 

in her mind


There were good days

and there were bad days

but the sun shone brightly

and the sky was blue



PRECIOUS REQUESTS


It was a Sunday morning.

And all the bells were ringing.

I work my fingers to the bone for you.


I want to buy you something new.

You can’t have that many things, 

even if I say so myself.


There’s plenty of time, and there’s work to do.

What you hear in the dark,

always repeat in the light.


There’s no gold or silver for your belt anymore.


I shall never forget these things.

Your mother knew about them.

Let your light shine on these special gifts here.


Don’t keep your treasures all that near.

You can’t take them with you too.

Your father knows you need them all.


Is there someone asleep in the doorway?

My legs won’t keep me up:

not in the house we stand in.


Your precious requests have not gone unnoticed.



THE CROSSING OF THE BRIDGE


Dimness is here

followed by regiments

recoiling from containment

armour in Europe

remembering fire-eaters

absorbing what was put down

with great trouble along the bridge

while the rain saturates everything

the enslaved more furiously

throughout fictions and incredulity.


I remember my friends on dry roads

and wagons coated in perfume

memories on the ferryboat

love that is the distance

and the eternal clock

democracy and earthquakes

and women for all the troubadours

shuddering hearts and brains 

that heat this world

and rulers furnished by other arts

when I was alone in Charleston.



OUT IN THE WORLD


No one sees the darkest hiss of rain

or the authority of selfish tears

in the rattle of liquid night

like timber packets


Alone hot struggles of kitchen fire 

that is her trade

driving her rampart

a woman unconsciously witnessed

with auburn hair low from time’s complexion

that nobody watched


The boatman passes like a gust

absently he comes scratching

cursing all the time 

always afraid

strolling to him feels like plunging


Mud errands high hair unmoving

flat time downriver from uninterrupted

books I came not to take employment

for the room had not changed


Able herself supported

she walked with undercut pride

or perhaps with something better


Admit the truth 

open the window

goodbye to houses and hello to farms

this is the way things are 

out in the world



I SUPPOSE WE’LL WORK SOMETHING OUT


Nature charms you 

outside the temple were things

will be understood though wrongly directed.


Unhappy idealists discover

doubts about principles or

otherwise confuse themselves.


Mansions bare the parched streets 

where visitors gather by 

statues with ironclad

stepping stone traps.


Accented people in the thin city

with frustrated friends

find destiny tumbles

in terror.


Deep in love like resentment 

dragons and hyperbolic death 

women remark that

men go out

on winter mornings habitually

balanced yet visible

in the way of the spent

room.


Gathering like the rest of society’s 

house bought off with chairs

and wine congratulations

and with barbaric modesty

cultivated in vapours

my teachers come to me.



GOING HOME 


“Looking in the mirror—


mirror


mirror


mirror


Tomorrow—bright light.


I will see God tonight.”


Thanks for running after that bus for me, Dad.




Old Poems 9

 TREES OF SORROW


The trees of sorrow

that hang over these graves,

mark the spot where you are hidden.


You flew away too soon.


And all the while I could not

see the larger picture.


Your hair used to breathe

like the autumn smoke.

And you let me keep the cherished

dreams that fed me.


All for the sake

of trying to satisfy the eternal yearning.


All for the sake

of feeling some warmth in the night.


All for the sake

of flying too close to the candle.


All for the sake

of swimming in the contagious sea.


Such futile joys 

we strove for, 

and which brought us both to grief—


me, in my glass-walled palace,

you on your barrier reef.


When the sensuous hand 

of destruction tempts and beguiles you, 

who is safe to touch?


Who is safe from the cuts that 

are too small to see?


Someone always comes forward to 

be the victim when 

the temptation is too much.


And is it just me, or is there someone, 

somewhere, always missing you?



GROVEL OF BABYLON 


She did appease my oblivion

and anxious hose, 

flailing with 

tongue seductions 

in the wreck of time.


Discarding chronicles 

like sail foam, 

data jobs, 

or managerial endings,

she was a true love of mine.


But now it’s come to sunshine

regimens, profile 

clouds, orphan windows and

nihilistic soundtracks. 


All like mighty 

wandering shadows, 

unexpectedly impaired,

somewhere in the night.


I still got a thing about you.



VENUS INDIGNANT


The ejaculatory 

life is 

the salvation 

meteor of 

futility or 

fidelity willingly 

false more 

by your 

leave during 

times of 

cultural tautologies

other destinations 

ready love 

in the 

breach always 

ambivalent mystery 

reality waiting 

to be 

defiled in 

the uninterrupted 

present wings 

will be 

effortless for 

aliens needy 

of platonic 

mist or 

evolutionary doubts 

in music 

pirate maidens


Old Poems 8

 SOMETIMES THINGS ARE HARD TO PUT DOWN


Be careful where you chew, 

as they’re looking 

for someone else 

who never lets it sleep.


Turning gears and sticks, 

she doesn’t know which 

way to go.


Now I measure all my 

leather, making sure it fits.


When I get the envelopes, 

I’ll look out for the slits.


She is on the lawn, 

looking up at the birds.


She can never be here, 

if you are always there.


I measure her up with 

my head, 

and I give her rifle,

and I give her bait.



THE SAMENESS OF DAYS


You hold the peasants at bay.

You have your work cut out.


You should make enough, as 

the winter is coming.


Your slivery tongue will get me down.

Same as it was yesterday.


I have diligently numbered the days

since I came west.


It was the only thing left to do,

while heading upriver.


Captain of my soul, now I know.

Good measuring has informed us.


The plains of the world were 

where the gold of happiness was.



THERE WAS A FEELING OF SYMPATHY BETWEEN US


Winter again 

drunk 

to shed 


ramble makes 

deeds 

sail well wash


action dies matted 

of a 

fist lens paint


swear foam 

bursts the 

goat 


midnight dog 

backs 

up shaking years 


radiation source 

fingers 

defence city loners 


death crosses 

mark network 

down


trench statues 

commingling with the 

dead


hotel gate presidents 

reserve shells 

and trench statues



YOU KNOW ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE


Her coat spreads 

power around 

elegance of 

compromise.


Second ridge 

ghosters

take the city 

and are grateful.


The no seen cars 

speed town 

borders vanish

fast control.


The weather 

was the 

first accident.



THERE ARE THOSE WHO REBEL AGAINST THE LIGHT


I’m alone and it’s spring.

If only you’d let me lie on you.


You’ve no dispensations or compensations.

You must let yourself go, that’s the only rule.


Who’s that woman over there?

I haven’t seen her before.

She’s up from the coast with her aunt.

She’s here for her health.


I found her in the morning when she was at her best.

I found it hard to walk away.

The hardness stayed with me all day.


I’ve got people on the streets.

You’re not wanted anymore.


There are reasons for me to suspect I’m mortal.

Raise me from the stranger’s grave.



I WON’T CHANGE FAWNGIRL FOR ANYTHING


On to Lincoln, Nebraska—

plumb in the middle of The Great Plains.


I wish I were back there again.


Tempests in the dark taunt  

our exhibited drunken selves,

placing fallen yellow graves at our feet,

and waves stretching back liberty’s possession,

hand-cuffed under female felt and passion, 

drift upon island animals and hidden 

rebellions emerging.


There are many ways to lie when good 

deeds and bad deeds follow you,

and you have everything you wanted.


Will you eventually be with me in that log cabin 

in San Juan Valley, Colorado?


I wonder about a good deal in dreams and 

dramas, half sick, half wounded, much around the 

world, on sea and land, down among the first 

arrivals while the worst was yet to come. 


Another paradise lost, 

but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


And I remember my old man, slaving away on 

that lemon ranch in California, staring 

across prairie land wandering 

what the end would be.


Don’t worry Rachel, 

I won’t change Fawngirl for anything.

Old Poems 7

 SNOW RANGES AND FAIR WOODS


Angers and failures:

my lads are not for reconciliation.


I alone drink accurately

on the uncertainty.


I drink for the occasion,

similarly impressed, to brakes, skies,

and ghosts.


Snow ranges and fair woods

have their stint.


Printed feasts of richness.

Thrushes that quote but do not sing.


Racing to the beginning where the

reed’s breath sums up heaven.


And yet the reed speaks of simplicity

while full motion reconciles earthly years.


Dread lurks in the forest.

Candle boys shine the rough men.

Safe are the spheres that are dried 

like the shells


The old ships cry fleetingly

under the moonshine.



PLASTER PIECE


The sky-blue plaster piece

you chose because I touched it,

you will always keep.

You like to spend the days with me.


The Sunday I first took you

on plastic with red button lens

you turned out well.

The air was cold, but it was shining.


And the round crowned church

held you in its circle

and calmed you at my side.


You take photos in the light.



SOMETIMES IT CAN TAKE A YEAR TO BE TRUE


It was inconceivable 

that the horizon 

could be ablated 

by the paving 

stones of anxiety 

foisted upon the 

gravelled stairway and 

ceramic triangles that 

we passed against.


Charlotte was a woman 

of  strange complexion whose

ambiance was that of 

a cat trapped in 

a fire escape of 

its own projected delusion. 


I knew her 

well that spring 

and June and 

on that Friday 

morn in blessed 

dawn she was 

the best thing 

that ever happened 

to her and

I cannot recall 

my problems at 

that state other

than to say 

we had a 

great time there.


The autumn leaves fell 

by the gate and 

slipped through the mist. 

Time has no meaning 

to fruit. Nothing bothers 

them so it seems.


I found a 

woman too I 

heard her say 

stop dreaming you 

lush we are 

not in May 

so have a 

drink on me 

if you believe 

in nothing he 

wrote can be 

heard but fleeced.

If I could just 

go back to that 

autumn week and all 

the tables and chairs 

that shone so brightly 

for her glorious madness 

and upbeat tortured serenity.



I NEED YOUR HYGIENE


You believe what 

you will. He 

got no one 

else to lie.

He had plans 


I never knew,

while listening to 

my sacrifice. The 

dust has you 

tight, and you 


don’t question it 

when it commands 

you in the 

night. I’m waiting 

for some of 


your time, and 

losing what I 

can’t find. You 

took me over 

your walls but 


only had your 

breathing to sell.

After Milton, he 

became more treacherous,

and needed you 


for reasons you 

didn’t need him.

Now he’s got 

a chicken farm 

in Puerto Rico,


where he blows 

a horn all 

day. You have 

your hygiene which 

you carry well.



ROMAN SKY


Do you remember that walk?

That walk you called separation?

That walk you called independence?

That walk you called “being stronger”?


Did you really believe any of it?


Did you declare how you were

free and how 

you had no machine to

control your day?


Did you try to prove 

a point

while weeping into

your hands 

in the desert?


And did you find someone to

make the sky like

Rome for you?



CUTTING UP THAT CROP


Nobody knows 

what a nice 

day it 

is except me.


I came back 

to see you

while 

you were away.


You have 

spoken well,

if that’s what you feel.


We’ll make no 

more arrangements.

We carry on regardless, 

anyway.


I didn’t learn 

my lesson, 

and you 

didn’t learn the truth


Old Poems 6

 I CAN’T MAKE YOU WRONG NO MORE


I can still recall her 

nightmares and the sack 

that she wore, when she 

was then drinking and 

we danced in Baltimore.


When I’m out with many  

women, things are not 

that clear. I never had it 

like this before. Something 

always keeps me here.


She came here for a 

reason. I don’t care 

what she said. I need to 

see some people,

and bring it to a head


But I’ve got other 

things you still need 

to do. And I find 

things so hard that I’ve 

got to give it to you.


And out in the darkness

when there’s not 

much to share, I still rouse 

up new dissenters

lighter than the air.



THE NECESSITY TO ALWAYS LIVE IMMORTALLY


I’m going away I’ve 

found life again I’m sick 


of language everyone 

has found history 


and textbooks lying 

around all kinds of people 


on the ground while drunken 

in the entry or fighting in 


the war we always live 

immortally you made that 


plain and clear and even 

though I’m thinking this side 


of the sphere we never get 

what we want until it’s 


late in the year one day 

you’re here one day you’re


there it all vanishes like music and

footprints on the shore that 


wasn’t my intention when I came 

in through the door your mask 


shows nothing and your face 

shows nothing more



VIVIENNE DID HAVE HER OWN


Stop trials 

universe neat 

the disenchanted 

of clothes 

notebook out 

at an 

always when 

with look 

replacing but 

desperation with


him knows 

heartened the 

promised leave 

term somewhere

Greek now 

doctor’s sugar 

of around 

daughter air 

driving loose 

filmed permission 


Acropolis identified 

always but 

and beautiful 

most skinning

of barnacles

called causes 

or conditions

time 70% 

progesterone daily 

the culprits


half eccentric 

complicated sitting 

like get 

me want 

the look 

head eyes

of love 

just mourns 

each one

Honolulu baby



YOU COULD HEAR THEM CRUNCHING


Are we really so 

up and down the 

next I heard her 


say how have these

things happened anyway I 

need not hanker after 


comfort but now feel 

I must carry on 

for some nebulous end 


so I went out 

tonight and life was 

headed alone made nor 


stringent aspects ruling our 

days I’ll never know 

anyone else who’s been 


part of my life 

she said perhaps he 

hated maps or some 


such aspect of dragging 

out suitcases while screaming 

without considering the public 


I had the morning 

free and cut my 

moustache it’s better like 


that pulling plaster by 

the river listening about 

visitors scraping more than 


enough honest fundament history’s

hollow freedom yet immortal 

forebears numbering the crest



I TRIED FOR A DAY OUT


Apparently, she kicked 

in music night, able to 

regard the server as an 

approximation. But ordering 

chronologically was never 

my thing.


And as many times as 

you have, there can be 

no real step forward. It 

is much more than you think, 

because he calls her often,

sometimes. 


I don’t know why he 

does, though. He’s just 

desperate for a flush in 

Cuba. I think something could 

have happened, though. I knew 

his son.


Nobody left to regard 

you. So I came back 

upon the hog and found 

pleasure in renegade streams 

in this sector. Don’t expect any 

favours.


So much time is wasted.

Quantity is everything, it 

seems. Sometimes I’ve got 

money, so I’ve no need to tout.

You may hear of her soon, in

Baltimore.



I COULDN’T SEE IT COMING


He wanted to be in Montana, 

like he read

in that philosophy book. 


But it was impossible 

for him to get 

away from his doldrums. 


Time and again, his fate 

was to remain 

here, with a few pleasures. 


I was happy in the fields, 

not thinking 

about the present. 


Sometimes, I hear her 

calling me, 

after I begged her to stay.



I’M COUNTING ON YOUR LICKING


You have chosen wisely

the wrong man.

Don’t count your chickens

he hasn’t.


He has married before,

and controlled 

his birth.


No need for him 

to change his goals.



SUN IN MY HAIR


I've got too much 

sugar in my milk, and

the cathedral is moving in

front of the clouds.


And Venus

is coming close to me

and telling me of the

mansions in heaven.


I would tell her

that when I've got the sun

in my hair

I don't need her to

come around.


Others have told me

of the squeals they have lost

to unworthy competition.


They are learning

that when it's time you

save

you can never be a

slave.


But even in the sea

you can be thirsty.



I WANTED TO BE A PLANT


I loved you so I fell. 

I hurt my pride.

You tempered me 

while I attempted to swing you.


You sat behind paper all day. 

You weren’t paid much. 

You looked at times uptight.


You had a small room—

big in places. 

And your plants sucked in 

the air you breathed 

out.


I wanted to be a plant.


You helped every one, 

yet you gave nothing to me.


If I could find a mad girl 

like you in every 

bar and corner, 

I’d be lucky.


We both knew it 

back in Kathmandu.



ON THIS FATEFUL DAY AND BARREN LAND 


And on this fateful day

I sought some hours,

and escaped 

among

certain friendly trees.


I saw a rose upon the land,

half buried in the sand,

and held it 

all day,

in the breeze.


And I made some plans

for the Golden Lanka,

and wrote a note 

to a woman

and thanked her.


And in some fallen moment,

and some unknown kind 

of way, I managed 

to pass by 

this troubled day. 


Old Poems 5

 I CAN’T MAKE YOU WRONG NO MORE


I can still recall her 

nightmares and the sack 

that she wore, when she 

was then drinking and 

we danced in Baltimore.


When I’m out with many  

women, things are not 

that clear. I never had it 

like this before. Something 

always keeps me here.


She came here for a 

reason. I don’t care 

what she said. I need to 

see some people,

and bring it to a head


But I’ve got other 

things you still need 

to do. And I find 

things so hard that I’ve 

got to give it to you.


And out in the darkness

when there’s not 

much to share, I still rouse 

up new dissenters

lighter than the air.



THE NECESSITY TO ALWAYS LIVE IMMORTALLY


I’m going away I’ve 

found life again I’m sick 


of language everyone 

has found history 


and textbooks lying 

around all kinds of people 


on the ground while drunken 

in the entry or fighting in 


the war we always live 

immortally you made that 


plain and clear and even 

though I’m thinking this side 


of the sphere we never get 

what we want until it’s 


late in the year one day 

you’re here one day you’re


there it all vanishes like music and

footprints on the shore that 


wasn’t my intention when I came 

in through the door your mask 


shows nothing and your face 

shows nothing more



VIVIENNE DID HAVE HER OWN


Stop trials 

universe neat 

the disenchanted 

of clothes 

notebook out 

at an 

always when 

with look 

replacing but 

desperation with


him knows 

heartened the 

promised leave 

term somewhere

Greek now 

doctor’s sugar 

of around 

daughter air 

driving loose 

filmed permission 


Acropolis identified 

always but 

and beautiful 

most skinning

of barnacles

called causes 

or conditions

time 70% 

progesterone daily 

the culprits


half eccentric 

complicated sitting 

like get 

me want 

the look 

head eyes

of love 

just mourns 

each one

Honolulu baby



YOU COULD HEAR THEM CRUNCHING


Are we really so 

up and down the 

next I heard her 


say how have these

things happened anyway I 

need not hanker after 


comfort but now feel 

I must carry on 

for some nebulous end 


so I went out 

tonight and life was 

headed alone made nor 


stringent aspects ruling our 

days I’ll never know 

anyone else who’s been 


part of my life 

she said perhaps he 

hated maps or some 


such aspect of dragging 

out suitcases while screaming 

without considering the public 


I had the morning 

free and cut my 

moustache it’s better like 


that pulling plaster by 

the river listening about 

visitors scraping more than 


enough honest fundament history’s

hollow freedom yet immortal 

forebears numbering the crest



I TRIED FOR A DAY OUT


Apparently, she kicked 

in music night, able to 

regard the server as an 

approximation. But ordering 

chronologically was never 

my thing.


And as many times as 

you have, there can be 

no real step forward. It 

is much more than you think, 

because he calls her often,

sometimes. 


I don’t know why he 

does, though. He’s just 

desperate for a flush in 

Cuba. I think something could 

have happened, though. I knew 

his son.


Nobody left to regard 

you. So I came back 

upon the hog and found 

pleasure in renegade streams 

in this sector. Don’t expect any 

favours.


So much time is wasted.

Quantity is everything, it 

seems. Sometimes I’ve got 

money, so I’ve no need to tout.

You may hear of her soon, in

Baltimore.



I COULDN’T SEE IT COMING


He wanted to be in Montana, 

like he read

in that philosophy book. 


But it was impossible 

for him to get 

away from his doldrums. 


Time and again, his fate 

was to remain 

here, with a few pleasures. 


I was happy in the fields, 

not thinking 

about the present. 


Sometimes, I hear her 

calling me, 

after I begged her to stay.



I’M COUNTING ON YOUR LICKING


You have chosen wisely

the wrong man.

Don’t count your chickens

he hasn’t.


He has married before,

and controlled 

his birth.


No need for him 

to change his goals.



SUN IN MY HAIR


I've got too much 

sugar in my milk, and

the cathedral is moving in

front of the clouds.


And Venus

is coming close to me

and telling me of the

mansions in heaven.


I would tell her

that when I've got the sun

in my hair

I don't need her to

come around.


Others have told me

of the squeals they have lost

to unworthy competition.


They are learning

that when it's time you

save

you can never be a

slave.


But even in the sea

you can be thirsty.



I WANTED TO BE A PLANT


I loved you so I fell. 

I hurt my pride.

You tempered me 

while I attempted to swing you.


You sat behind paper all day. 

You weren’t paid much. 

You looked at times uptight.


You had a small room—

big in places. 

And your plants sucked in 

the air you breathed 

out.


I wanted to be a plant.


You helped every one, 

yet you gave nothing to me.


If I could find a mad girl 

like you in every 

bar and corner, 

I’d be lucky.


We both knew it 

back in Kathmandu.



ON THIS FATEFUL DAY AND BARREN LAND 


And on this fateful day

I sought some hours,

and escaped 

among

certain friendly trees.


I saw a rose upon the land,

half buried in the sand,

and held it 

all day,

in the breeze.


And I made some plans

for the Golden Lanka,

and wrote a note 

to a woman

and thanked her.


And in some fallen moment,

and some unknown kind 

of way, I managed 

to pass by 

this troubled day. 


Old Poems 4

 LIVINGSTON DRIVE


Oh my dearest darling

I have done you no wrong.

Like that time in the morning

I fell in love with you.

Your father was a good man.

He loved me like a son.

And now you are absent evermore.


What have you done to me

with your words that are now gone?

I loved you like a saviour

in this world you can’t forsake.

My lover of the starry eyes,

I loved you long ago.

And now you are absent evermore.


I only came upon your arms

when I called that afternoon.

And I saw a woman in the forest

who was calling out to you.

Her picture was like the one 

you showed me hidden in your room.

And now you are absent evermore.



SOMETHING THAT WAS NOT FRAGMENTED 


I contemplate a part of 

your beauty that is 

like having a new key, or 

like holding a snake that 

has had its venom emasculated. 


The battle with that serpent is 

almost over, and the 

joys of the fruit will soon 

be settled. 


You are the designer of 

my limitations. You are the 

root of my fervour, and 

I am caught in your days. 


I spent too much time on 

the reckoning and not 

enough on the shoreline—or 

so it was mentioned to me.


You knew the sea would 

cure me, though, but not 

for how long. 



HARMONY FROM DAMAGES


I have heard a good deal most 

difficult I would not presume to 

dispute the thinking eye or why we 

do not recall past lives. 


Now the chief god of the Olympians

the moon and witness to genesis in 

1980 a group met putting aside a 

need to revive the dead.


O my God forgive these angels

seeking some sport in the sun.

Do not remember my madness

and the pain you know I must bleed.


My daughter went within a man

once the viceroy of Egypt. A man of 

empty hands I warned about talking to

himself beneath his visions.



DARK DREAM ENVELOPES


You dispel invisible improbability 

in the rain and 

ignominious expectancy as we 

seduce damp noses near 

the uniform vortex shrieks

and your vessels entomb


impersonally undisciplined but sack 

crash riders terrified define

perforated perfection sleeplessly all

over the sky overflows 

deliberate enticement hypocritical concubine 

looks drolly vestigial dreams 


vibrant balmily undesirable degeneration 

envelops unholy perfunctorily agnostics 

upright condescension burns carelessly

plastic dolls immortally forceful

sharp craves foul peel

fall abruptly dangerously all 


beneath the virgin coma 

sighs be luminous the 

lust dies blankly narcissistic 

streets mark complete vowels 

yet ensnare sticky witches 

at the stoops dimly 

body nourishes thinly boastful 

chivalry capitulates dazzlingly travelled  

wile the evil rider 

defers dark weird and 

quaking about the seaweed 

reduces night scared unsafe 


lost in broad radiance 

an unreliable map for 

whose sake the guest 

makes his way and 

misses his turning so 

glittering on the mist 


we condone mammoth rubies 

before the god of 

life comes again so 

sensuous above the slime 

we prod transparent delusions 

the spirits way cool 


the vision is going 

strange and hot the 

sea you eat desirous 

eyes among the towers 

beware the night is 

good shadowed and hopeful 



THE OTHER HALF OF HER


It was a beautiful evening 

Neptune slingshots to another world 

should seven in the womb 

be made earthlings outside the 


passage to carry down faint 

signals and solar system answers 

when I last visited the 

contessa amid dust storm evidence 


I had warned my wife 

of lake basins and riverbed 

landings earth creatures mixing hominids 

I can make fate good 


and bad don’t hold back 

your light I saw you 

walking through like they thought 

I was mad explaining it 


or something as we arrived 

through the smoulder fifty percent 

of that is mine when 

she sat under the tree 


what fancy stockings so much 

studied and findings applied like 

aspects of the entwined serpent 

now I feel so sick



THERE COMES AN END TO EVERY GOOD DEED


On the hills 

of summit visible 

where the relentless 

women hate all 

aristocrats after 


we’d spent some 

time with them 

after the marriage 

an enormous expression 

of personality 


and the sense 

he’d been around 

after the split 

she and my 

son Jim 


were around the 

same age she 

produced from under 

her dress a 

crest with 


country roots or 

something some of 

the angels sided

with her qualities 

and profits 


shall encompass the 

city and the 

walls collapse a  

most tragic lament 

with jumping


as I walked 

he really looked 

bad to the 

island or the 

Red Sea 


but the modern 

man must dominate

then submit and 

she remains undaunted 

in France


Old Poems 3

 SKETCHES OF THE SMALL TOWN 


Over provided to the 

small point. Stop or water. 


The highest touches are by the 

snowdrifts. 


But towards the waters 

all sides are to the sea. 


Moist flight south, 

and valleys, more 

finally, 

become lovelier. 


World looking,

listening. 


Gone, distant happiness.



WHEN THE AIR WAS STILL


We were together and she fell.

Her name I could never spell.


When morning came the trees then shaded

a sunlit spot in forest gladed.


I came upon a table polished.

God is love but who is nourished?


A single anchor hanging down.

A ritual without a sound.


The rivers of youth and death

are now awake where they once crept.


I tamed a serpent in my hand

and buried a woman in the sand.


Prester John has come again,

although he never left us then.


Animals now cough at night.

And clarity seems recondite.


The clouds made shadows on her chest

as she prepared for final rest.


I was born to forget my death.

I was born to count my breath.


A paper bag lived in the breeze

while my love died of a new disease.


I mourned her when the air was still,

and lay on her grave in the morning chill. 



WHAT DO THE FRENCH QUOTE?


She loved to sit and listen 

to me sing as she held me 

against her rings while 

the worm destroyed her.


The caves to the east can 

be followed by the sun.


And she travelled there 

among the strangers 

from the sea.


Like the bubble-islands in 

my bath she never stayed the 

same. And when she 

woke she saw no one.


She kept me warm with company. 

And we would 

whisper for hours about the 

books she’d bought.


Then I would watch her

automatic hand land and turn

the pages of some thin volume 

asking what the 

French would quote.


She asked about the river, 

and whether ’twas true 

that glass never smashed there. 


I said it was so when I left.



FOOLISHNESS ON A WINDY NIGHT


I would find a room and sit 

looking at the back of my eyelids 

for many hours.

But no blindness could be found there. 

No corners could be turned. 

And no chairs heard.


We went fleeing in the forest 

between the trees that were dead 

and the counted skeletons 

that had turned red.


There was no one about to tell 

us to go so we stayed 

and smelt the smoke of wood-fire shade 

and pre-Raphaelite heat.


The shade then began to get light 

and I acted like a foolish man.


We married on a windy night when the 

cathedral sign was still on.



ON HOT SUMMER NIGHTS


I declared my love to her

and she turned herself away.

But I will surely offer it

again to her someday.


She lived on her own

near to where I was born.

And though I never told her

to her I was sworn.


On hot summer nights

when trapped in my flat

I’d wander out to see her

wherever it was that she sat.


But she was with another

who went there for to hide.

And many distances he had travelled

to lay his baggage at her side.



IF I HIDE THE STARS AT NIGHT


O Joy, you’re really not this mad.

You’ve tasted everything I’ve ever had.

I would wander in your night 

if you’d give me back my right 

to make you see that you just play games 

with yourself while you wait to claim the dust. 

And you speak as though 

you’ve got every detail sussed. 

And reading all the books you sent to me, 

I could never be this free.

If I’m gone were would your mind be?


O Joy, you know that you are wrong.

I don’t have to be the one that’s gone.

If I hide the stars at night 

will you give up on your fight? 

And we’ll pretend that we share this roof, 

these walls, this table and that chair.

I could be someone else for you 

if you really must compare.

And I’d see the old cathedral fly.

And the mountains passing by.

And your nose turned up towards the sky.


Old Poems 2

VOICES IN THE LIGHT 


Sometimes voices 

in the light 

will call me back to 

them. 


Back out of this 

place where 

I have spoken 

from. 


And then I will turn 

my 

back on you, 

and on 

the storm-bled sea. 


And even 

on the sleeping faces 

that will 

never 

wake for me. 


I will find myself 

expanded 

out of limitations 

plight. 


And no 

earthly cause 

or battle 

will keep 

me in this fight. 


And what will 

seem like 

nothingness to 

those 

that have remained,


to me will seem like 

childhood 

when in 

the time of May. 



SHE WAS AS TALL AS THE EIFFEL 


On the journey back, 

riding on a lonely track 

beat-up.


My memories of you 

are packed deep inside 

a sack. 

I never knew your mouth 

or your soil. I never 

knew your fingering. 


Begging 

lonely men you begged 

me, and I gave you 

something then. 


I can't remember 

which or what 

or when. 

Or if it was 

something I once sent. 


But is it time? 

You left them 

abruptly. 


And is it true about 

the merchant? 



CAN’T TALK ANYMORE IN THE OLD WAY


On the days I'd go to visit. 

I knew 

she would be free. 


In the mornings she'd do 

the Sun Salute, 

and in 

the evenings 

make peppermint tea. 


I first caught sight of 

her in the designer sea, 

when she was captive in her 

swim suit 

and the water beckoned me. 


On crowded nights she'd 

calm me down 

with all I expected and without 

any sound.


And on days 

like this, when the coast is clear, 

I'd travel 

up to see her there.

Then back at 

dawn to my place, here, 

by morning I would repair. 


On days like this I'd visit her, 

when her lover was 

elsewhere. 


And into the darkness I would slip, 

until she ceased 

to care. 



WHEN YOU WERE TEMPERED WITH DELIGHT


When you were tempered 

with delight

your virtues were taken 

down and forests 

that you passed through 

were not finite. 


When you were 

tempered with delight 

you kept the 

saddest oceans, 

you kept 

the proudest streams. 

And wild pens 

would 

not strain your sight. 


When you were tempered 

with delight 

you carried sand 

upon your necklace and 

cream upon your 

lips. And you 

never made the journey

through the park.

 

When you were 

tempered with delight 

you were 

consumed by bikers in the 

light and 

nurses in the dark. 

And taut strings 

pulled 

on you forever. 


When you were tempered 

by delight 

strong bars were 

held around your 

fortress 

and strong men 

could never kiss the 

wound you 

would always hide. 



THE SEEDS WITHIN ME 


The seeds within me 

formed my shape 

and sorrows 

long before I knew them. 


Like some inevitable 

punishment I'm 

blind to 

they cause predictions 

to be true 

and disasters to be 

just right. 


They stopped me 

climbing in the fields 

and falling on the 

slopes that 

framed the lake. 


They made me like a 

fallen tree whose 

rings can be counted 

and whose memory 

can be read. 



BOOKS THAT SOOTHE THE DYING 


The humming sounds 

like the 

primrose singing. 

New across your gaze 

whole pillars torment you 

between journeys. 


Everywhere longings 

that occurred gradually 

finally overflow you. 


And intently felt irony 

is like bread 

to the sentence of 

imagination. 


Also, sitting appears 

doubtful 

even while the wakeful 

man 

goes straight in 

the parlour. 

 

Old Poems 1

 GOLDENROD 


I watched you gather goldenrod in the fields.

I watched you swimming in the forest.

And I watched you keeping your hands 

upon your knees.


You breathe like a scientist. And your breath 

becomes the count of dreams. You smell 

as sweet as the second-hand books you 

throw away.


And the caverns in the earth are not singing.

And I cannot walk around the laboratory.

And I cannot rest my fingers.

And I cannot stay in when the sun is out.


I used to think you were a gift to the 

experimenters. I used to think you were a gift 

to the men fighting for their home.


Or the men who cry on the heaths and moors.

Or the men who fall in the underground.

Or the men who wait for us when the clock stops.


I watched you gather goldenrod in the fields.

The sun was escaping from your hair 

and your feet were deep in the wet grass.


And your arms were filled with goldenrod.



SHE LEFT WITHOUT DELAY 


I mark the time when I fly high. 

I'll be landing very soon. 

I cannot relocate my genes. 

I cannot fix the balloon. 


When suspicion is in your heart 

the innocent are hurt too. 

My ambitions are paved with 

thoughts of a nature aimed at you. 


I'll take you off that man one day. 

I'll take you at your word. 

I'll take you very far away 

to somewhere you preferred. 


I need you in this room dead soon.

I need you in the air. 

I need you on the moon in June. 

I need you everywhere. 


I knew someone who looked like you. 

She haunts me to this day.

She was a screamer too. 

She left without delay. 



JULIET 


Wearing the Earth 

like a robe, 

I flew across the world 

today. 


I could see 

the buried memories 

hidden 

in the trees, 


and I could find 

no one 

to hurt

the two of us outside of 

you and me. 


I knew you when 

you were nothing. 


And then 

I knew you when you were 

something. 


And then I met you 

as you were 

passed 

from friend to friend. 


Each one leaving you 

alone

to weep in the 

desert. 


You had that look 

in your eyes 

that said tonight was 

the day. 


And I wish you had known me 

when the sun was bright. 



GREENHEYS ROAD 


The vessels of love crowd in. 

Their traumas hidden 

among the reeds.

 

No love is lost or given to them 

as they clutter the minds 

of thieves. 


Strong, sober and drunk 

I come to you. 

My weakness revealed 

in my glee. 


And book-like I pray on 

your need 

to comfort — sometimes. 


Now there is light. 

And now there is dark. 

And that is the way that you 

can pay 

the charity you give 

to men like me. 



B BLOCK 


You keep your 

services for them.

You keep 

the church they know.


And they make 

donations regularly

with 

one hand on your head.


They lean you 

down towards 

the cup.

You sip the overflow.


You lick your lips

and move your fingers 

far apart.


You have no town 

inside you 

now.

You have no 

travellers there.


Did you send them 

home again?

Or did they leave for 

better fare?


I was the one who 

landed upon 

your 

lessened wing.


You had me

and then you had 

your king.


I came to you a 

broken ring. I danced 

inside 

your mouth.

I gave you all my 


money

before you let me 

in.

I couldn’t be a 

saviour now. I couldn’t 

be a queen.

I keep looking around 

for things 

I haven’t seen.


I seldom wandered in 

your night.

I seldom took 

the fall.


Now deep inside 

I know

there’s no 

one else to call.

Friday, 31 December 2021

'So What's Going on Now?' by Peter Philpott

I just came across this piece by Peter Philpott, which is a summary of the various changes and trends in British Innovative Poetry in the last 15 years or so. Very illuminating. Especially the details about the demise of the UK Poetry listserv.

'So What's Going on Now?' by Peter Philpott:

http://www.modernpoetry.org.uk/swgon.html

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Odds and Ends: Essays, Blogs, Internet Discussions, Interviews and Miscellany

Here is a collection of my essays, blogs, internet discussions I've taken part in, interviews I've had, and miscellany, from 2005-2020.

https://www.argotistonline.co.uk/ODDS%20AND%20ENDS.pdf


Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Lawrence Upton RIP

A few days ago, I was saddened to hear that the poet and director of Writers Forum, Lawrence Upton, had died on the 16th February 2020. For about a year early in the last decade, I corresponded with him via email, discussing many things relating to the UK avantgarde poetry scene, and also about his association with the poet and founder of Writers Forum, Bob Cobbing, with whom he collaborated on a number of projects.

Around the time of our email correspondence, I published his Commentaries on Bob Cobbing as an ebook with Argotist Ebooks, which can be found here:


I also published a poetic work of his, Memory Fictions, which can be found here:


He said he wanted to also write an article for The Argotist Online about a (then) fracas concerning Writers Forum, in which he felt that certain people involved with Writers Forum were attempting to remove him as its director. He’d written about this on Writers Forum’s blog but felt that a formal and detailed article by him concerning the situation would better advertise the unfairness of his treatment. And that as The Argotist Online reached a wider readership than Writers Forum’s blog did, it would be the best place for his case to be heard.

I said that I’d be interested to read anything he wrote, and would likely publish it once the aforementioned ebooks had been published. Unfortunately, after they had been published he changed his mind about writing the article. I think by then he might have had a rapprochement with the various parties involved.

Here is his Writers Forum blog post about the situation:

http://www.wfuk.org.uk/blog/?cat=8

And just in case that link becomes redundant at some stage in the future, here is a link to a PDF of the blog post:


I belatedly found out about Lawrence’s death from a post on the British and Irish Poets Listserve, which I only occasionally log into these days. One other subscriber to that list, the poet Cris Cheek, posted the following regarding Lawrence:

‘Please help bring pressure to bear so that Lawrence Upton's papers and collections do not become landfill fodder. The situation is precarious. Lawrence has no next-of-kin (as far as we know) and might have died intestate. We need to gain access to the building to ascertain if there is a will and to begin to assess the condition of the mountain of materials inside his house. It is currently boarded up by the police for security and possibly in danger of being declared a public health and safety hazard by the coroner's office. Time is in short supply. This petition seeks to demonstrate the importance of his materials for future research by scholars and practitioners:


I echo his sentiments and urge people to sign this petition.



Wednesday, 22 January 2020

An Old Poem I Wrote

Here's an old poem by me that I just came across again after many years. I wrote it around 1991. It's never been published.

The Threshold of Jove’s Court

I told them to enter
and see the lamenter
who was a repenter
and became an assenter
to fall to the centre
and become a consenter
and be a frequenter
noble dissenter
and upset tormenter
and bookish augmenter
to make the restrictions
and get the convictions
to cause the new frictions
to burn the sad fictions
like Los's predictions
and all his old dictions
and Ida's depictions
and Milton's inflictions
and Beulah's conflictions
she turned to transfixtions
as she came to the confidante
who showed her the miscreant
who made her feel elegant
with the power of lubricant
and the eyes of the vigilant
and the thoughts of the postulant
and the cowardice of the reverent
and the diplomacy of the celebrant
and the hatefulness of the ignorant
and the safety of the inhabitant
and the words that are blighted
and mediocrity knighted
or the men who are not righted
or the women who are frighted
and soft voices that are spited
with the opinions that are slighted
and the warnings that are lighted
to the ones who feel plighted
as the stalkers who are sighted
turn out to be heighted
for the simple publicity
that crowns our great city
with its glass walled cubicity
and its sky bound toxicity


Friday, 25 October 2019

Review of Christopher Plummer's Memoirs

Christopher Plummer's In Spite of Myself is one of the best showbiz memoirs I've read. It's very long (over 600 pages) but never boring, largely due to Plummer's narrative skill, wit and charm.

A large part of the book reads like a Who's Who of the American and British theatre of the 1950s and 1960s, with Plummer having worked with most major theatrical figures of those decades, from Elia Kazan to Peter Hall. And his friendships have also ranged widely, including figures such as Noël Coward, Rex Harrison, Laurence Olivier, Katharine Hepburn, Raymond Massey and Jason Robards. He is always generous towards everyone he mentions, even to those who have treated him unfairly, either professionally or personally; and he is always self-deprecating.

He is, perhaps, better known for his film work (particularly in The Sound of Music) but a major part of his career has been in the theatre, on both sides of the Atlantic. In the 1960s, he was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, living in Britain for a large part of that decade. And amongst the major theatrical classical roles he's played throughout his career are Hamlet, Macbeth, Henry V, Richard III and King Lear.

The book is also full of interesting detail about Plummer's more personal life: his visits to different countries (he's extremely well travelled), his favourite hotels and restaurants, his house moving adventures, and movingly about the deaths of his pet dogs, which he kept in the 1980s and 1990s.

As you can imagine for a 600-plus-page book, there is far more in it than I have been able to touch on here, so I highly recommend it—especially to anyone interested in theatre and film of the past 60 years.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Interview with me at The Wombwell Rainbow

Here is an interview with me at The Wombwell Rainbow:

https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2019/01/24/wombwell-rainbow-interviews-jeffrey-side/

The interview is part of a series of interviews with poets and writers about their approaches to and methods of writing.

Initiated by Paul Brookes, to date it is an ongoing series, and Paul is looking for more poets and writers to take part. So if anyone is interested you can contact him at:

paulbrookes07@gmail.com

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Monopolisation of Avant-garde Poetry

Here is an article by Tim Allen called ‘The Kiss of Life? The Kiss of Death? Some Thoughts on Linguistically Innovative Poetry and the Academy’:

http://www.argotistonline.co.uk/Allen%20essay.htm

Tim wrote it in connection to a feature at The Argotist Online concerning the relationship between academia and avant-garde poetry. The feature is several years old, and was an attempt to get a discussion going about what appears to be an increasing tendency within the English departments of some academic institutions in the US and the UK to monopolise the practice, discourse, dissemination and publication of avant-garde poetry, thus creating a sort of “gold standard” by which avant-garde poetry is to be measured, validated and approved as being “worthy” of academic interest.

I thought the best way to start this discussion was to do a feature about it for The Argotist Online, consisting of articles by US and UK academics responding to an article by Jake Berry that was critical of academic encroachment into the sphere of avant-garde poetry. The feature can be found here:

http://www.argotistonline.co.uk/The%20Academisation%20of%20Avant-Garde%20Poetry.htm

My original hope for the feature was to get responses to Berry’s article from academics closely involved in this monopolisation process. To that end, I approached many academics, both in the US and the UK, who were involved, to a greater of lesser extent, in this process. Few replied to me, and the majority of those that did, refused to take part in the feature. One or two did initially agree to take part but later changed their minds, for such reasons as having lack of time or having more pressing deadlines for other projects to meet. Consequently, without the involvement of these academics in the feature, the feature was ignored, and failed to garner any online interest, despite being viewed thousands of times within the first few hours of it being online.

Recently, Tim and I were discussing these issues via email, and I suggested to him that he formulate his opinions on the subject as an article, so that they could be accumulated in one place and read by others. He readily agreed, and consequently wrote the article mentioned above. 

My thanks to him for taking the time to write it.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A Survey of How Poetry Can Be Read and Written

I’ve just come across a feature I'm included in by Peter Philpott for his site Modern Poetry. It’s a survey of various ideas held or rehearsed by poets and academics about the reception and production of poetry. I'm included regarding various articles I’ve written that advocate reception theory as a useful tool for appreciating poetry. Others included are:

Matthew Caley, Will Rowe, Ian Davidson, Johan de Wit, J. H. Prynne, Joe Kennedy, Harriet Tarlo, Philip Terry, Lawrence Upton, Brian Kim Stefans, Sheila E. Murphy, Tim Love, Andrew Duncan, Willian Watkin, Peter Riley, Reginald Shepherd, Marianne Morris, Ira Lightman, Robin Purves, Sam Ladkin, Christopher Funkhouser and N. Katherine Hayles.

It can be found here:


My thanks to Peter Philpot for his generosity in including me in this line-up.