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Posts Tagged ‘longing’

pier sunsetThe further away from home we look, the uglier the world we’ve built appears. More, our technology gives us a window on every corner of it, so we can top up each moment with the sheer misery of our collective suffering. It’s hard to avoid it.

It presents a dilemma for the writer. Do we tell it like we see it? Do we offer up the mess of the world for all to shudder at? Do we write stories in which our characters suffer and then die? Or do we look for the goodness, for the beauty? Do we write stories of cheerful outcome for our readers to escape into? Do we fashion for them fictional plots where everyone strives for happiness and everything works out fine?

By describing the suffering, do we help perpetuate it? By providing a pleasing escape, do we mislead our readers into underestimating the power of the forces of darkness? As self conscious individuals it’s hard to see how we can have any effect at all, but I’m beginning to think we are more influential than we know. I don’t mean as lone writers in isolation – that would be egotistical – but more together, collectively. So pick your side: light or dark, and write.

The Internet provides a voice for many an otherwise unknown scribe, like me for instance. Through blogging, and posting our stories online we find a readership and that has to be a good thing, but the Internet reveals also a darker side to us. We’re all shocked at how vicious it is, and the lesson of the last decade has been how influential it is as well. People take their lives because of the vile stuff that’s written on here. In the bear-pit of politics, elections are won and lost. Lies are spun into truths, truths smeared into lies. Entire groups are labelled as “undesirable” and showered with hate. But if the dark side can use this weird medium to such a powerfully nefarious effect, why can’t the light effect an opposite change in the Zeitgeist?

Darkness feeds off the suffering of others. That’s what sustains it. It’s what directs the darkness to inflict ever more suffering. The light is different. It doesn’t want to hurt anyone. It gains its energy from nowhere but the goodness of the heart, but is itself vulnerable to damage. In writing of the darkness then the light must take care not to be dimmed by it, and we must always offer the reader a way out.

I look at the comments on You Tube and, even though they are not aimed at me, I am deeply hurt by their depravity. This is the darkness breaking through, and all the fell creatures that dwell within us come out to create suffering, then feast on it. There seems little point countering such darkness by blogging cheerful poems about daffodils. Or bunny rabbits. Or the joys of spring. But if that’s what we of the light want to write then we should, because we’re all the light has got. Each of us with our own little lantern, we are the stars bringing light to an otherwise impenetrable firmament. We are the only thing making it worth while anyone lifting their eyes from the sorry earth at all.

I know, hate and fear-mongering go viral every day, while the light languishes unnoticed, but put pen to paper anyway. After all, it’s not like you have a choice, is it? And remember if you are not of the dark, then you are of the light. So be the light, and write.

May you stay safe, and healthy,

Graeme out.

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thumbnailOnline social media highlights and exploits our universal human vulnerability, that we all want to be someone. We all want to be recognised, liked, admired, and generally believed to be an awesome human being because we think that, in the acceptance of our awesomeness, we’ll find escape from the horror of anonymity and obscurity in the face of inevitable death. Of course it won’t work.

We are none of us really anybody in this narrow sense. Even those admired and cow-towed to are no different to anyone else. They have their own problems, their own duel with death, one they’ll eventually lose like the rest of us. Then they’ll be forgotten, and even so little as a hundred years from now, no one will care. Many a good and talented man has gone to his grave unknown. It’s a sobering realisation, one we must face and understand why an obscure life is not necessarily a wasted one.

One of the pictures I recently put up on Instagram got forty likes. Experience tells me it’ll not get many more. It’s a about my limit, and seems to be a function of the number of people you follow and the amount of time you’re willing to spend liking other stuff, or somehow gaming the system. But it’s no big deal. It is, after all, just a picture of a hat. Sure, pictures of other people’s hats can garner tens of thousands of likes, and how they do that remains a mystery to me, but it’s still just a picture of a hat and as such will never confer immortality.

My Instagram account leaks a few clicks over to the blog, which in turn leaks a few clicks over to my fiction, which is why I’m on Instagram in the first place. It’s also why I blog. They are both subtle lures to my fiction writings, coaxing readers now and them into my fictional worlds. But my stories are not important either, at least not as influential tools to shape the zeitgeist, nor even just to trumpet my awesomeness. I leave that to others, more savvy, sassy, whatever, and dare I say, more celebrated for their craft.

My thoughts are perhaps too convoluted for a sound-bite culture to make much sense of, and I’m conscious too my outlook, though sincere, may be no more than a mushy blend of pop-philosophy sweetened by archaic Romanticism. The importance of the work then lies only in what it teaches me, and I’m coming to the conclusion what it’s teaching me is how to recognise those useless egotistical compulsions and to rise above words, that the forms of thought we pursue so doggedly throughout our lives, are just shadows of something we will never grasp. It’s not a question of lacking intellect, more that the brain is altogether the wrong shape to accommodate what it is we crave.

You don’t need to write to reach the same conclusion. You just need to live your life as it was given to you, and develop a mindful approach to it. I’m not talking about that self-help-how-to-be-a-winner-in-life kind of mindfulness either. It’s more simply an awareness of our selves in life, and the way we react to situations, and how we can tell if those reactions are the right ones or not, if they contribute to a general transcendence of this fear we have of living, or dig us more firmly into the mire of it.

It might sound as if I’m some way along the path towards nihilism, but nihilism isn’t helpful, other than as a place to bounce back from. Yes, so much of what we are capable of seeing is indeed unimportant, but the world is also rich with a transcendent beauty we are equally capable of recognising, at least in its more lavish manifestations, say in the natural world. And perhaps progress in the right direction is simply our ability to find such transcendence in smaller and smaller places. Indeed perhaps the ultimate success in life, the ultimate awesomeness, is the attainment of absolute obscurity, and the ability to sit alone, quietly, to stare closely at your thumb nail and go:

WOW!

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slaidburn nov 2014

Dark Midnight of the soul awakes to weary dawn,
Pale lightbulb of a miserable morn illuminates the new,
While six-thirty fingers to the nadir point, and state,
Get up, you fool, you’re going to be late!

The house glows feeble in a tired beige,
Stunned by this outrageous wrench from rest,
Smells of mould, old breath, and bread.
Levered gently upright now we test,
Our limbs, joints, feet, for steadiness,
Then pee out our first long whimpering complaint,
And fart.

Breakfast ritual, drinking down the news,
Between heaped spoons of porridge,
Sweetened against habitual morning blues.
Yes, yes the news.
Finger flicking through brevatious blatherings,
Picking at sores until they bloom raw,
Yet festering of an incoherence vast,
So each day borrows vagueness of delineation,
From the last.

Same old, same old then,
We begin.

Thin half-light and a grey car glitters in a cold cocoon of dew,
Air stung by smoke of autumn burning wood,
Wipe the shivering glass to a lesser opaqueness,
Blow away the mist, with roaring fan,
Then drive.

The house shuts back its eyes at the parting gate,
Reverts to sleep, and mellow moldiness.
It remembers not,
Nor waits.

Thus I, into black face of morning, stare,
Continuing a slow meander,
Into the dreaming, wakeful blur,
A place,
That is not truly awake,
More these days a soft cushion occasionally spiked,
With the shards of old longing,
Rendered docile now across the years,
Like lost boys.

Dawn deepens to the soporific rumble of the road,
Leading more into delusions of the day’s crass light,
From which we turn our thoughts,
And pray haste our treasured teatime tryst to keep,
That therein we might once more escape,
This melancholic life of sleep.

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rbThe Graeme household is in disarray, our kitchen in the process of being refurbished, which means we’ve had no kitchen for two weeks now. I’m becoming irritable and unsettled, living off cold things and anything microwavable, every meal being a triumph of ingenuity over chaos as we camp out in the conservatory. Filling the kettle involves a trip outside to the garden tap. And so it was this morning, amid a fine shower of rain, I padded across the cold, wet patio in bare feet and pyjamas in order to kickstart my day. It was then, turning back, kettle in hand, I saw a deep blue late-September sky, slate-blue clouds scudding by, and a vivid rainbow.

The scene had a soft, watery sparkle about it and a sharp contrast to the colours, like an overblown photograph, more real than real. Stunning! It reminded me that for days now we’ve laboured under these stagnant grey skies and a deep overcast, one that’s longed to pour rain but has been held up somehow, frozen. The moon entered the dark last night, symbolic precursor for change. But it’s wise to do nothing, to make no use of the energies that emerge, not until that first sliver of moon returns, when hopefully one can see which way the land is lying – whether it be uphill or down. For now though we must shield our flame – well, perhaps not you, but certainly me. This is magical thinking of course, somewhat nouveau-pagan; I’m okay with that, it helps impose some sort of pattern on the chaos, and restore meaning when nonsense has become my daily bread.

It’s much cooler now, and has rained steadily all day, as it rained last night, perhaps setting the tone for this particular moon, which we must now ride to the cusp of winter. And still the memory of that rainbow! I was alone in seeing it, at least from my particular perspective, and it lasted such a short time too. But then transience can reinforce a memory, render it paradoxically more permanent in the mind, when it is so fleeting in reality. It was beautiful, yes, but as with much in creation that arrests the Romantic eye, there was something poignant in it too.

Traffic was heavy and sluggish this morning: roadworks in several places along the commute, stretching the journey out from forty minutes to an hour. Same on the return this evening. Wearying. Brain and bone sappingly tedious, my journeys to and from work seem these days. Grumpy crawled along without complaining, dull beast of burden he’s become, and proxy for my darker emotions. I promised him a wash at the weekend to cheer him up but he didn’t believe me, and I don’t blame him; the only time I lavish attention on him is when the MOT is due.

Meanwhile an army of tradesmen suck their teeth and pour scorn upon the idiosyncrasies of chez Graeme. Duff wiring, duff plumbing, duff plastering, and the whole lot set to come crashing down around our ears, if you believe them, yet I presume it was a previous generation of teeth sucking tradesmen who put it all together in the first place – well, except for that plastering. I own up to that one, but take all their insults personally whilst paying through the nose for the pleasure. I smile through gritted teeth at their complaints, while wishing they would simply finish up and fuck off (apologies). At this rate we might have a kitchen sink by weekend, and running water, but there are as yet, alas, no promises. I cut the days short with early nights – I’ve been gone by eight thirty every night this week bar this one, head on the pillow, ears rendered deaf by industrial defenders to the peregrinations of my largely nocturnal offspring.

I’ve been getting ten hours a night, instead of the usual, and marginally insufficient, seven. And the dreams go deeper the longer one is permitted to sleep. They are more colourful and strange. Last night, I sought healing for my ills and paid comfort from a lady of easy virtue. (Blushes). She was beautiful, like the rainbow this morning, and watery soft to touch, but wept silently when she came to me.

The memory has proved an unsettling undercurrent to my day.

Thanks for listening.

Graeme out.

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lines of lightAnd so the world turns,
But that it is still mad,
Bodes ill,
Speaks not of progress,
But the eternal turmoil,
Of the heart.

No slow assimilation
Of wisdom,
But the same mistakes.
Each generation born again,
To darkness and desire.

Hardness at every turn,
And hardening still,
We petrify,
Shatter at the lightest touch,
Brittleness turning back to dust,
Stained black with blood,
Spilled always in the name
Of greatest good.

Love sullied,
Reduced to fear and shame,
Mistook for lust.
Stones plucked from a barren shore,
Revealing each
Only the hollow underneath,
And which the foamy tide,
Turns back to level plane,
Denying knowledge of the shapes we seek,
Even by what they are not.

Only the formless longing
Of the heart,
GrantsĀ grace.
Spun upon the wind,
Its face unknown, unnamed,
We hear it in the song of birds,
And mirrored sweet in loneliness,
A shadow slipping by at dusk.

And so the world turns

_______

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loveliness

 

How sudden-keen am I aware,
And never as before,
Of a radiance arising,
To shine from every pore.

Your breath alone, I’d long to feel
Its tingle on my skin,
While visions of your tenderness,
Turn butterflies within.

You are the very best I’m sure,
A man could aspire to.
No, there’s never been another,
Quite as beautiful as you.

They all shall fade to shadows now,
Insignificant and plain.
How perfect would my life then be,
If you only knew my name.

How joyful and how rich at last,
My days would then become.
If you would only turn and look at me,
I’d feel I had begun.

I’d sense a movement in the air,
That all was not the same,
That the world was not so empty,
As it was before you came.

Was it not the world that gifted me,
This simple heart to crave?
Why then must I feel its pity,
Carved in verse upon my grave?

I want the world to know me,
As I think I have been made,
As a man whose love for loveliness,
Cannot bide long in the shade.

So look at me and speak my name,
And know that I am yours,
Or shall you pass me by again,
And let slam shut the door?

And slamming shut, loud let it ring,
Then how long shall it be,
Before I can accept at last,
You were not meant for me?

MG

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dunlinThey were dunlins I think,
A great cloud,
Like a ponderous comet,
Come to graze the marsh,
Far beyond the reach of men.

There seemed a million birds at once,
All wheeling in the pale blue
Of a spring morning.
Slow, sinuous waves,
Curling.
Waves within waves,
Black as smoke,
Then peeling to silver,
As they traced the contours,
Of the hidden world.

Each was the pixel part,
Of a greater being.
Each pair of eyes,
Shared host to a second sight.
And as I watched I felt a yearning,
Haunting and formless,
As if for a lost love,
Whose name I could not recall.

Meanwhile, behind me roared the road,
As the day warmed,
And the shops opened,
And the empty fast food cartons,
Scraped their drunken paths,
Along the promenade.

I bought new jeans and a hat,
And entering my code into the machine,
Became one pixel part,
Of another kind of being,
Also greater than myself,
But void of insight,
And a mere shadow,
Of the dunlins’ finer dance.

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