The Dark Ages – a poem

The Dark Ages

 

‘What were the Dark Ages, Dad?’

Dad looked thoughtful and sad.

‘A time of ignorance when things were bad.’

 

‘When did the Dark Ages end?’ she asked.

Dad looked at her with face aghast.

‘We don’t know how long they’ll last.’

 

Opher – 20.7.2019

 

 

We tend to look back at history and wonder how people could do such things, believe such things and behave so cruelly. We see them as primitive, foolish and brutal.

They are no different to us.

We live in the same ignorance and the same level of vicious depravity. We never learn.

I was looking at the butchery of the timid dolphins and porpoises in the Faroes and seeing the same vicious bloodlust and inhumanity. It’s still there unchanged. I look at ISIS, the Baptists from the Southern States, The Creationists, Boko Haram and all the others and see the same blind ignorance and belief in scriptures from barbaric times.

The Dark Ages – we’re still living them. Oh for a bit of light!

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Poetry – Winning to the End – a poem about experiencing life to the full and evaluating the worth.

Poetry – Winning to the End – a poem about experiencing life to the full and evaluating the worth.

It is good to reach an age when you can look back over a life and feel the wonder. There are many things that you might have done differently but then you would not have been where you are.

Experience gives you perspective and appreciation.

I have been fortunate to have lived through such times, times of peace, freedom and plenty, and to have found so much love and fulfilment.

There are not many times in history or places in the world that have offered such sanctuary, liberty and lack of mind control. It has enabled me to blossom.

There are many mountains I have not climbed and many more I hope to scale. I expect the views to be magnificent.

I hope my grandchildren will experience a world full of challenge but with opportunity and without the fetters that can narrow a young mind.

An imprisoned mind cannot savour the taste of such heady liquor as life brings.

Wining to the End

Last night I sat alone with my bottle of wine

And sipped the tiniest sip of the very last drops.

I swirled the red liquid around the bottom

And saw my reflection in the bottle.

I have loved the most beautiful women

Loved until nothing else mattered;

Wondered at the moon,

Fallen through the stars

Travelled to the worlds of new ideas,

And seen the best that men can do.

I have tried to make sense of galaxies and cathedrals,

Listened to men whose eyes glinted with passion

And experienced the greatest lusts.

I have read the most considered words

And wrestled with majestic ideas,

Found causes and ideals I would die for,

And seen the worst results

From men whose eyes were hard and selfish

Yet glowed with excitement.

I have considered heaven

And imagined hell,

The greatest minds

And the most depraved,

Drunk myself unconscious,

Opened my mind to wonder

Art, poems and stories,

Written, daubed and waffled.

I have despaired at fun

And empty lives

And sought meaning and fulfilment.

I discovered it in family, friends and sharing

And a thousand kind words.

I have travelled and marvelled

And taken so many sips and gulps

And now I am at peace savouring these

Last few,

For only in them is the flavour fully distilled.

 

Opher 24.3.01

Ian Dury – You’ll See Glimpses – wonderful idealistic lyrics.

Ian Dury – You’ll See Glimpses – wonderful idealistic lyrics.

Ian Dury is wonderful. He was a genius. I loved his poetry and philosophy even though he was meant to have been a cantankerous bastard.

I think this song really captures the dreams of an idealist. They all think I’m mad too. There’s almost a defeatist, listen to the band on the Titanic – it’s going to go down anyway. There’s nothing you can do. Might as well just have a good time and forget that the tycoons are strip-mining the wildernesses and chopping down the jungles, and slaughtering the animals, while the religious fanatics think that god will save the day or it doesn’t matter we’re all going to paradise.

I don’t believe that rubbish.

I’m looking out from the bows and pointing at the ice-berg. We can steer round it! It doesn’t have to end in disaster!

The answers to the world’s problems are all simple. There is nothing hard about it. We elect the psychopaths. We support the business men and bankers (and they are nearly all men) on their mad journey to increase their own pots of gold. We follow the religious nutters on their crusades, inquisitions and caliphates. We are always surprised when the inevitable happens.

Instead of growth lets think sustainable. Instead of nations lets think globally. Instead of worn out diatribes from long deceased superstitions let’s think United Nations charter of Rights. Instead of tribes and patriotism lets think brother and sisterhood. Instead of war, aggression and violence lets think peace, love and fraternity. Instead of homogeneity lets value the difference. Instead of hatred lets work on trust. Instead of destroying – let’s build.

It’s all about a positive Zeitgeist. You’re all welcome.

People tell me it’s human nature; we can’t fight it.

I say bollocks. We’ve come a long way. We don’t burn people, use cat-o-nines, whip, torture, castrate and murder anymore – at least not in this country. We need a global mandate to prevent the pockets of uncivilised behaviour, like ISIS, from having too great an effect.

We don’t go bear-baiting, cock-fighting, dog-fighting or hang people from gibbets.

Human beings can progress and become civilised. We’ve come a long way.

I agree with Ian. I like his dream better than ISIS’s nightmare!

It’s a dream. I get glimpses of it. It could be real!

Unfortunately Ian ran out of birthdays.

You’ll See Glimpses

(All spoken)

You’ll see.

They think I’m off my crust as I creep about the caff.
But I’m really getting ready to surprise them all,
Because I’m busy sorting out the problems of the world.
And when I reveal all I may get a crinkly mouth.
I’ve given my all to the task at hand unstintingly.
When it’s all over I’ll rest on my laurels.

Here for a moment is a glimpse of my plan:
All the kids will be happy learning things.
The wind will smell of wild flowers.
Nobody will whack each other about with nasty things.
All the room in the world.

They take me for a mug because I smile.
They think I’m too out of tune to mind being patronised.
All in all, it’s been another phase in my chosen career,
And when my secrets are out they’ll bite their silly tongues.
All I want for my birthday is another birthday.
When skies are blue we all feel the benefit.

Glimpse Number 2 for the listener.
Everyone will feel useful in lovely ways.
Trees will be firmly rooted in town and country.
Illness and despair will be dispensed with.
All the room in the world.

They ask me if I’ve had the voices yet.
They don’t think I know any true answers.
It’s true that I haven’t quite finished yet.
When it all comes out in the wash they’ll eat their words.
I’ve got all their names and addresses.
Later on I’ll write them each a thank-you letter.

Before I stop, here’s a last glimpse into the general future.
Home rule will exist in each home, forever.
Every living thing will be another friend.
This wonderful state of affairs will last for always.

This has been got out by a friend.

Poetry – Without me – a surreal night of icy moon and reptilian clouds.

Poetry – Without me – a surreal night of icy moon and reptilian clouds.

Sometimes the world is unreal, like a stage-set. The lighting is too surreal. It bathes everything in its frigid glow and freezes it.

The moon was casting a bright, hard blue glow, creating sharp shadows and inky pools. It transformed the countryside into ice.

It seemed to rush across the sky yet it was the clouds streaming by. Those clouds were high and wispy and formed into the scales of some huge celestial fish that glowed with life; the life that the moon was sucking from the land.

I did not know what to look at;

The wondrous rushing panorama of the sky or the frozen ocean of the land. They were both as magnificent and unreal.

It was a story of vastness and mystique. The eye and mind were held by the spectacle. It felt like a performance, a living piece of Art, yet it was so cold and devoid of warmth. It was a tableau of beauty yet without life.

I felt as if I was the only person in the whole universe who was witnessing it. It was exhilarating yet it sent a tremor of fear through my spine.

I knew one day it would perform its similar tricks and no eyes would be there to marvel.

 

WITHOUT ME

The large Moon gliding through

The illuminated scales

Of some giant surreal fish

With icy-blue bitter light

Bathing the fields

With stark clarity.

As the fields rolled in eerie relief

Like a crystalline sea

I found it hard to imagine

That the scene could exist

Without me.

 

10.10.95

Poetry – Egg Poot Froth – A poem I wrote for Don Van Vliet – Captain Beefheart.

Poetry – Egg Poot Froth – A poem I wrote for Don Van Vliet – Captain Beefheart.

All this talk of Captain Beefheart took me back to this poem I wrote. It is an attempt to capture something of his inimitable style. So obviously it failed horribly as nobody can ever come close.

But it was fun. I visualised it as a performance piece. At one time I was discussing dressing up as a pantomime horse with my mate Rich, walking around Hull with me reciting this through the horses backside.

Somehow he wasn’t keen.

EGG POOT FROTH

Egg poot froth

Egg poot froth

Masticated in magenta mandibles

Egg poot froth

Migrating magnificently

Nowhere

 

Tooth drip spew

          Tooth drip spew

Grips the tortured trebles

Tooth drip spew

Tangibly trembling

In the air

 

Egg poot     Tooth drip

 

While the tragic hobo jungle bum

Constructs the new day

And rambles on his way

Egg poot froth

Egg poot froth

 

Egg poot

Tooth drip

Froth spew

While the hobo bum

Creates the day anew

 

Gypsy Queen Princess

Illuminates the new day

Dancing through magenta dawn

To where the hoboes play

 

Egg poot froth

Egg poot froth

 

She chooses wisely

As the magic hoboes pose

Evades the tooth and spew

That every pooter knows

 

Tooth drip spew

 

Maxillae clatter

And labia vibrate

Hoboes spurt

Pooters can’t wait

 

Egg poot froth                         Egg poot froth

 

Young dudes rush and prance

While claw and tooth cleave

Old jungle bums

Reap the day and leave

 

Tooth drip            Spew

 

The Gypsy Queen Princess

Discards her froth and poots

Another day is born

Another pooter shoots

 

Egg poot froth

Egg poot froth

That’s all there is!

Egg poot froth

Evolution’s come to this!

 

Opher 12.7.00

Poetry – Vliet – A poem for Captain Beefheart.

Poetry – Vliet – A poem for Captain Beefheart.

I was entranced by Don Vliet the moment I heard him way back in 1967. Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band created some of the greatest music ever. That first album was just a taster. The live performance that year was probably the best I have ever seen.

Some find him discordant. But for me it gels together into the most original music ever recorded. His poetry was the same, that rich imagery and invented words.

Live the band were amazing. The Magic band still are but I can’t help but miss the Captain.

Way back in 1981 he gave the music up forever. He turned his attention to his other love – art, with equal brilliance.

His paintings from the deserts of California were carved from slabs of colour that sang with their own fluorescence. I could lose myself in those paintings in the same way I did the music.

It would have been good to sit out on the steps in the desert and watch that sun slowly sink towards the horizon. I can imagine it.

VLIET

Looking through Vliet’s eyes at scrawny black crows

Perched on jagged cactus vantage points

Before daubed hills and scrawled figures

Carved with sweeping strikes of thick textured colour

On a timeless backdrop of infinity.

 

Staring at distorted garish dreams of reality

Timelessly floating towards forever ……………forever……….

Along the tides of an invisible desert sea

And wishing we were caught within the waters of his eyes

In neon magic,

Breathing the ocean bottom together,

As we watched the sun slowly set

And sipped a beer.

 

 

Opher 4.10.97

Millionaires – Phat Bollard – A Protest Song with humour – for now!

Eddie Bewsher  put me on to this great protest song from this busking band – full of humour and laced with truth.

I thought it was brilliant. I wish it was on CD!!

Oh – it is available on CD – or streaming – you can get it from here:

https://phatbollard.bandcamp.com/

Millionaires – Phat Bollard

I don’t give to the big issue seller cause he’s probably on heroin
I walk past him with a grin and if I can I kick his dog
No, I don’t give to the busker
He’s talentless and lazy
He’s ruining the country
I think he should get a job
Instead, I give my money to:
Walmart for its tax evasion
Primark for its child labor
Texaco for the next invasion
I don’t give a fuck about you
I give my money to the millionaires (x2)
I give all my money to the millionaires and I don’t give a fuck about you
No, I don’t give to the beggar
That’s what I pay my taxes for
The government should shove him through the door, of a prison cell or a hospital
I don’t give to the homeless pisshead
He’ll blow it all on booze instead
Such a waster, doesn’t deserve a bed
What do you mean? “Welfare is dead “
Because I give my money to:
Walmart for its tax evasion
Primark for its child labor
Texaco for the next invasion
Don’t give a fuck about you
I give my money to the millionaires (x2)
I give all my money to the millionaires that don’t give a fuck about you
I give my money to Starbucks in case they get hard up
BP cause making a living ain’t easy
Barclays cause they look after me and I don’t give a fuck about you
I give my money to the millionaires (x2)
I give all my money to the millionaires and I don’t give a fuck about you

There – you can sing along!!!

Poetry – I’m White – a poem about my species and stupidity.

Poetry – I’m White – a poem about my species and stupidity.

Somewhere out there are a bunch of blinkered white supremacists.

Somewhere out there are a bunch of blinkered black supremacists.

Somewhere out there are a bunch of blinkered brown, red, pink, orange, yellow and green supremacists.

The Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same god and kill each other for it. Seemingly she delights in giving different commandments to different cliques. She probably is a bit disturbed and enjoys watching the terror it causes.

There are some with so much they can afford to sponsor wars while others cry because they haven’t got a mouthful to feed their children.

Politics, religion, skin colour, ear-lobe shape, gender, height, eye-colour, nose shape, breasts – it doesn’t take much to start a war.

I’m White

I’m white in the light

But I’m black at night.

For a genus so bright

It  seems we rarely get it right.

Now I don’t mean to be facetious

But I’m not proud of my species.

 

Geologically we’re new

Though we think we know it all.

We take in the view

But before the sky we’re small.

 

We may share all the genes

But don’t know what that means,

Worship Gods, Kings and Queens

And still want to steal the scenes

 

Now I don’t want to be facetious………

 

I see air-head studs

Posing on the beach

Of the apocalypse

For dead-brain bitches

With fake tits

Smacking their lips.

 

I guess that while there’s still air to suck

We’ll find a way to fuck it up.

 

 

Opher  5.4.98

Roy Harper’s First Album

Roy’s First Album

I’ve just spent the afternoon reacquainting myself with Roy’s first album ‘Sophisticated Beggar’ which was released in 1966 (although I did not get my hands on it until 1967).

It is quite a remarkable album in many ways and brought back many memories.

In some ways Roy was part of the Les Cousins Folk Scene. He was a resident at the club and part of the contemporary British Folk Scene that had blossomed in the wake the huge success of Dylan and Donovan; though this scene was quite different to either that of the Greenwich Village movement or the more commercial area that Donovan moved in. The heart of Contemporary British Folk was to be found in the likes of Davy Graham, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. These were consummate acoustic guitarist virtuosos who took the art to new heights.

I was lucky because in 1965 I had a couple of friends who were greatly into this new burgeoning folk genre. Neil introduced me to Davy, Bert and John – all of whom had produced ground breaking albums in that year, while Robert introduced me to the wonderful Jackson C Frank. Back then I was sixteen and open to anything. I was soaking up the Beat music in the charts along with authentic Blues, Woody Guthrie, Dylan as well as good old Rock ‘n’ Roll. Music was central to my life in a way that my parents and teachers would have liked my studies to have been. I was reading Jack Kerouac and liked the more authentic uncommercial nature of both the folk and blues. So, by the time I stumbled across Roy in 1967 I was already well immersed.

That first album of Roy’s was a genuine Garage album. The talk was that the Strike label was little more than a money laundering enterprise. I don’t know if that was true but it is amusing to think that Roy’s career might have been ignited by the mafia. The story was that these shady characters were looking for a suitable candidate from the Folk Scene to unload some money on and Jo Lustig, Roy’s manager, secured him the gig. The studio was a very make-shift affair with Pierre Tubbs as the recording engineer. This was hardly the state of the art recording studio – but they did have a revox tape machine and the results sounded great to me.

There was no publicity or marketing and Roy did a ‘do-it-yourself’ job on it, straight out of his street hustling days, busking round Europe; he produced flyers and touted it round at gigs. Not too many albums were produced and sold but it got his foot in the door.

By the time I’d arrived in 1967 Roy had just sold the last one but he lent me his own remaining copy! I bet there are not too many people that would have done that are there? I remember he’d augmented the cover with a bit of black felt-tip.

The first time I’d seen Roy was at Les Cousins sandwiched in between Bert and John and he’d played three songs off that first album – one was definitely Blackpool and I’m pretty sure one of the others was Goldfish. So I was eager to hear it. I could not wait to get that album on my turntable and hear what he was about.

Most people put Roy in the Folk section – man with an acoustic guitar who played the Folk circuit – but even a cursory listen to that first album shows that he was much more than that. Roy has never been limited to any one type of style. There was the customary guitar virtuoso track with ‘Blackpool’. Roy was an excellent guitarist and at that time everybody was trying to catch up with Davy Graham who had brought that array of Eastern chords and eclectic jazz to contemporary folk. What struck me though was the scope of the album. Roy was putting his poetry to music and experimenting with all manner of styles. This was the sixties. Anything went. Roy was at the cutting edge of all that.

When I put it on I played it through a few times to get the feel of it. Roy had foolishly given me his telephone number and was very long-suffering as this over-enthusiastic youth, with a head full of questions, persisted in ringing him up. He indulged me. So I rang him up and had a long conversation about the songs (as we had no phone I had to go to the phone box and feed it with threepenny bits). I was pleased to hear that ‘My Friend’ was about Jackson C Frank. Roy and he had been good friends and I really rated Jackson. His album was one of the best. I can’t remember what else he told me apart from the fact that he’d written ‘Goldfish’ for Nick, who was a baby back then. So I went back and played it some more.

‘China Girl’ was amazing. Psychedelia was taking off in 1967 but here was Harper in 1966 with phasing and a psychedelic willow pattern harking back to a beautiful Chinese girl Roy had seen around Soho. Syd Barrett would have been proud.

‘Committed’ went back to his electroshock treatment in the mental institute but it was a real rock out of madness and hysteria with Roy forgetting the words and ad-libbing. Ritchie Blackmore was in there! This wasn’t Folk. You wouldn’t catch Bert or John doing something like that would you?

‘Sophisticated Beggar’ was autobiographical and more poetic, with its inspiration back to his busking days. The view of society was already coming through strongly on tracks like this and ‘Big Fat Silver Aeroplane’ (with all its drug references of joints, spliffs, medal sucker (purple hearts)).

I felt that ‘Legend’ was one of the strongest songs, the poetry most developed and the song very different to anything I’d heard before. There were a few themes in here that Roy would come back to – ‘of landmarks in the desert wastes of multi-coloured crime’ – a bit of philosophy, dissolving snowflakes and everything’s just everything because everything just is.’ I could hear this song in future songs like ‘McGoohan’s Blues and ‘Same Old Rock’.

I thought ‘Black Clouds’ sounded very Janschish and ‘October the Twelfth’ started that antitheist theme that keeps cropping up in Roy’s catalogue. Roy told me he wrote the song on a bad day. You can feel the anger as he hit out at the mindlessness that surrounded him – but in the end he turned it on himself.

Then ‘Mr Station Master’, another autobiographical song with social overtones, complete with organ and rocky backing, was different again.

‘Forever’ was the most beautiful love song I’d ever heard. I told Roy that, and he sang it to me and my woman in Kingston in 1970. I still remember. It was special.

It was obvious that this album, with its different chords, guitar sound and varied styles, its poetry and rebellious vibes, was something out of the ordinary. I loved the sound of it and thought Pierre Tubbs had done a good job. He’d captured Roy – though by 1967 Roy had already moved on.

It wasn’t until Roy finally got the tapes from Pierre Tubbs (or was it Jo Lustig?) in the late nineties that I was able to hear a bit more of those sessions. There were a few interesting songs in those outtakes. Roy eventually brought them out on ‘Today is Yesterday’.

That first album was a great start. Roy was to take those themes and develop them further throughout his extensive career, but that first foray onto vinyl was something special to me.

Having said that, no sooner had I discovered it, than Roy had moved on to be snapped up by CBS as a star of the future, been given Shel Talmy to give him that star quality, and had moved on to record ‘Come Out Fighting Ghenghis Smith’.

I bought that the day it came out. But that’s another story.

50 Years since the Moon Landing – Gil Scott Heron – Whitey’s On The Moon

Gil makes some valid points here. There’s always enough money for political projects – like the space race, war or creating billionaires, but there’s never enough to deal with poverty, healthcare, education, or to clean up the ghettos.

We still have racial inequality, soup kitchens, people sleeping under flyovers and innocents being bombed.

Perhaps they should find some money to deal with these things too!

“Whitey On The Moon”

A rat done bit my sister Nell
With Whitey on the moon
Her face and arms began to swell
And Whitey’s on the moonI can’t pay no doctor bills
But Whitey’s on the moon
Ten years from now I’ll be paying still
While Whitey’s on the moon

You know, the man just upped my rent last night
Cause Whitey’s on the moon
No hot water, no toilets, no lights
But Whitey’s on the moon

I wonder why he’s uppin’ me?
Cause Whitey’s on the moon?
Well i was already given him fifty a week
And now Whitey’s on the moon

Taxes takin’ my whole damn check
The junkies make me a nervous wreck
The price of food is goin up
And if all that crap wasn’t enough
A rat done bit my sister Nell
With Whitey on the moon

Her face and arms began to swell
And Whitey’s on the moon

With all that money i made last year
For Whitey on the moon
How come I ain’t got no money here?
Hmm, Whitey’s on the moon

You know I just about had my fill
Of Whitey on the moon
I think I’ll send these doctor bills
airmail special
(To Whitey on the moon)