Short play: Wanted. Actor

 

Wanted: Actor

This short play was written while with Greenwich Arts and Media Project, June 1994. It was written for actors and the problems and injustices of the acting profession.

Some of the Actors: –

It’s best used as a framework and given over entirely to the creativity of the actors.
Cast: in order of appearance (and disappearance).
Actor 1 – Lazy one; Actor 2 (Angry one); Actor 3 (Sad one).
Job-searcher; Director; Writer; Jester; Supervisor; Panto-Horse

Some of the Actors: –

 


Scene 1

Actor 1; The theatre is so controlled and elitist
It’s hard to find work on the stage
The local theatre is dormant and defeatist
With the hollow ring of old forgotten plays

I’m only as good as my last part
Yes, my last part was my final stage
I’m on the last stage in my final part
Yes the final part on the last page

I am un-centralised, I have no purpose
I crumble like Macbeth in your hand
I drift like the wind in the auditorium
The applause comes from within dark land

Unemployed I used to sit
With a beer and stare
At the empty stage and desire
To stand up and perform there

Now I sleep in amnesiac dark
The prose of the dramatist in my head
The cry of the dodo in my heart
As the dodo died will the stage be dead

Unemployed I used to sit
With a beer and stare
At the empty stage everywhere
Empty stages sold to silence

I auditioned for the mousetrap
Eager for the part of Paul
I put on my best performance
But alas I was too small

I’ve so much anger trapped inside
I need encouragement, security, – love
To be accepted, to be able to give
But I’m on the streets unable to live

Supervisor (Haughtily)

You know the score, there are hundreds more
Can do what you do
Nothing special in this day and age
To play a character or two

Look at you now in your poor rags
On the street corner begging for food
People think you’re having them on
Acting the part of a down and out

 

Scene 2

Supervisor; Can you act?

Actor 2; Can I act, of course I can act

Supervisor; what have you done before?

Actor 2; I’ve done silent comedy for a dog’s home
I’ve played the gull in Richard III
I’ve played a corpse in Agatha Christie
I’m in the lineup in Limehouse Nick

Supervisor; O.K. Sign here
You’ll do a job seek once a year
To practice interview technique
Body language, Shakespeare, Latin and Greek

Actor 2; I’m angry, but it’s all trapped inside
The whole system is in decline
I’m angry at what they do to me
I can’t break free
From the vicious circle of waiting for Brian

Actor 1; you people don’t know a thing
You don’t know what to do with us
A great actor I would become
But you would have me drive a bus

Job-searcher; I know my job
I’ve been doing this
For twenty years of more
Kitchen porters by the score
With my help have found a job

Actor 1; I’ll not do kitchen porter again
It’s soul destroying work
Where are the casting sheets do you know
You great pen pushing berk

Job-searcher; It’s four years since you had a job
Admit you’re a loser and a hog

Actor 1; With the Arts you’re out of touch
Find work with you, not much

Where is your creativity?
Why to oblivion do you commit me?
Can’t the council create work?
For the practicing acting community

Job-searcher; That’s not my job
I’m here to send you out the door
I’ve no vacancies for actors anymore

It’s tea break now, so goodbye
Please come back another time

 

Scene 3

Actor 3; The directors gone on holiday
Gone to the sea, gone to be free
To walk on the beach
To dream

The director lived in fear
As each day a calamity
Shook her jangled nerves
It seemed

We came we played the fools
We emptied out our souls
Like Jesters at a charity
We caused a catastrophe

Director; I nearly held it down
It needed more commitment
Like jellyfish in the sea
The project slipped away from me

Tomorrow, what will tomorrow bring
I’ll sell hotdogs on Brighton pier
To the tourists coming here
And watch the ebbtide disappear

The actor’s footprints in the sand
Are washed away to sea
The actors in the shadows
Of my memories

 

Scene 4

Supervisor; (Evilly)
The actors are like grains of sand
That shift beneath me feet
I build sand castles with them
I sift them just like wheat

I promise you the world
I’ll lift you from the ditch
I promise you the moon and stars
I promise you’ll be rich

I sift them just like wheat
The actors in the wanted ads
I turn them upside down
Subjected to my will

Actor 2; I’ve so much anger trapped within
At the thing she’s done to me
How dare she try to rule my life?
I’m human just like she

 

Scene 5

Actor 1; The supervisor has not come in
The supervisor has disappeared
Actor 3; the supervisor is dead
Actor 2; The supervisor has been murdered

Jester; The one who used to sit
Upon the stage like King Canute
Now the stage has swallowed her
Is empty, see I claim the throne

The empty seats of the theatre
Will do as I command, you’ll see
I rule the waves of mankind
I control the tides in moonlit dreams

Actor 2; The fool has returned to his paradise
But the supervisor’s job is mine
Actor 1 No, it was promised to me
Actor 2 Well, you have it then you need it more I see

Director; Actors, oh actors, how I love you
To see you toil and sweat
To see your agony and ecstasy
But one of you is guilty

Actor 3; I daydream
I daydream of relationships
That vanishes with the night
Like light into darkness
I daydream
I daydream of feelings
That appears like flowers
In the living desert
I daydream
Did you imagine me here?
Am I in this slice of life?

Writer; My words went forth, you appeared
A full house you appear for
An empty house and you vanish
And I walk home to my bedsit
Alone with my memories

Director; (To actors)
Improvise this scene my dears
You are far distant stars obscure
Unseen to powerful telescopes
What do you say? Where do you go?
And from your hearts explain your hopes

Oh unemployed stars obscure
For a performance you endure
For men to see a twinkle of light
Dancing in the deep dark night

 

Scene 6

Actor 2; I need to be paid, I haven’t eaten
I’m near the grave, I’m cruelly beaten
I poured myself into the part
You drained the blood out of my heart

Supervisor; You had no real technique
You ruined the play, you get no pay
We hired you for the weekend
You ruined the matinee

Supervisor; The tide has gone out and you go with it
Actor 2; Who says so, I refuse to go
Supervisor; Then let the quicksand swallow you
Then let the seagulls ick your bones

Actor 2; I object to that attitude
I complain you’re a megalomaniac

Supervisor; I am the supervisor and it is for me
To alter the course of your destiny
And your destiny is now redundant
And your future is unemployment
Actor 2; You won’t get rid of me so easily
Supervisor; I am in charge now
I know your crooked ways
You’re no actor, you’re two faced

Actor 2; You creature of doom
You despicable fraud
What do you know of walking the boards?

And after my rage beneath the stage
Will your body be lifeless?
Will worms eat your bones?

(He chase’s the supervisor in a chaotic and lengthy death scene).

 

Scene 7

Actor 2; A fugitive I have now become
An outlaw on the run
And how long can this pantomime last
And to whom has justice been done?

Panto-horse; Now you hide in this disguise
Now you’ve become my other half
To clip clop about the stage
Trying to get the kids to larf

An understudy to a pantomime horse
Imprisoned by the pantomime laws
A pantomime in the prison of life
The faceless half of a pantomime horse

 

THE ACTOR ALWAYS BLACK

The actor always wears black,
For moving in and for talking in.
For during the theatre ritual
He may be sacrificed for his sin.

He follows the coffin in….
But who has died, who is within.
The funeral is all in the mind,
The corpse wore invisible skin.

The theatrical ritual of the priest.
The altar of the sacrifice.
The plot calls for a saviour from the east,
For a sacrificial victim.

Actors always wear black!
Black for death, but who has died?
No-one is missing from the cast,
The bookings are good, the play may last.

The stage is covered in black!
Black for death, but who dies,
In every nightly sacrifice,
In every nightly ritual.

The theatre is dark, has someone died?
They never came to their seat.
Time came in to see the play,
He chewed the audience in his teeth.

The theatre will never be free,
Ensnared to the supernatural,
Dipped in the watery sea
Of nightly theatrical baptism.

So the audience came to see
First night and initiation,
But the tragic heroine of purity
Is sacrificed by the patron.

The actor always wears black!
Black for death, but who has died?
The private life of their lives
Is published by the tabloid.

The rebirth takes place each show
Of comedy, drama and conflict.
The actor always wears black
In case death has him on his list.

13th June

THE THEATRE HAS GROWN DARK

The theatre has grown dark
Every seat cushion proves to be
A cloud a thousand feet above
The dark and empty theatre
Every stage plan to keep going
Is dissolved in acid-doubt
Is stolen by the jackdaw
Who also ran the box office

The theatre has grown dark
The days that follow are dissolved
In stage dissolving mist
That breaks down what was built up
Gestures are left in limbo
Directors do a circle dance
Left to the mercy of philistines
Blinded and put into chains

The theatre has grown dark
And the work that comes from the heart
Is paid for by myself
And taken through the lines
The streams that run underground
That bubbles forth with joy
Are treated like a hernia
By the one eyed monster, the city

July 3rd

Greenwich Theatre Group drawings (3)

OH TIRED AND DISPIRITED ACTOR

Oh tired and dispirited actor
Living with your hopes and your dreams
Leaving the calamitous production
The survivor of a crashed machine

Wander like a shell-shocked soldier
All your training turned inside out
All your discipline never was enough
When the ruin came from without

Oh tired and dispirited actor
Not one more step can you take
The burden of neglect and poverty
Turned make believe to a fake

Greenwich Theatre Group drawings (32)

The Little Orchestra

Over a hundred years ago, there was an orchestra, a standard one for the time, whose music sounded adequately beautiful; an orchestra with some of the greatest unknown musicians in Europe. Work was scarce and underpaid and each one lived a life of poverty, practicing in their hotel rooms and boardinghouses. The members of the orchestra confided in each other their secrets, their secret desires, their secret pasts. If they had nothing else as a group they had this, talking to each other as if in confessional, yet in fear of their conductor, a wealthy, cruel man who ruled with a fierce discipline over their lives.
Nearly all players were exotic, strange, lonely living in a strange city, touring the continent playing in the small venues in great cities. When tours were over they dispersed and went and lived as best they could, sometimes towards the end of their rest period they even become homeless and playing in the streets and bars for whatever they could get or else giving lessons for reasonable fees.
There were many from a poor catholic background. One was Buddhist, several were atheist, (they were Italians, Russians, French, Bavarian and Slavic. They moved to Paris to find fame and fortune but found only slavery. Detached from the general hubbub of normal life they were seen as outsiders, as aliens or as being above the general population, to be condescending to be among them. However, they lived stricken lives, crippled by a harsh moral code, part religious moral high society. Except that they never lived in the higher society, they had little money to take advantage of their service and they had little knowledge of any other life except as work-a-day musicians.
The world was confusing and life was fearful. They played because they were trained from childhood; one of them could hardly read a book. They were from a background of medievalism, of gothic institutions and the world of artistic slavery. As children they were made to practice for six hours a day then they sat by their windows to watch the world go by. This was the life of the musically talented, a life so Spartan that their hearts broke over and over again. They had no other schooling or contact with other children except their own families who saw them as precious protégées who ultimately disappointed because of how little, as parts of an orchestra, they were paid.
If you met one of them and struck up a conversation, you would be alarmed at how backward they were, at how repressed in their feelings they seemed to be and you would wonder why.
Their leader, the first violinist was a man of upright character in a moral straightjacket. Responsible for keeping them pure and innocent, believing that this gained favour with some of their more wealthy listeners and sadly and indeed it did. Little did they know about the individual musician or their names, or their claustrophobic lives.
Sometimes there were affairs between them, affairs that were doomed to failure. Swamped in ignorance and fear, destroyed by poverty, a successful suicide was more normal than a successful romance, for while high society was able to move forward with the times, the orchestra was tied up in the girdle of an almost militaristic honour. Still each one of them had their human side, by accident they would learn from lessons outside of their positions, or they would learn from each other.

The Lament of Admiralty Arch.

photo taken friday morning 12 7 19
admiralty arch from street

You can be a master tailor from Hong Kong looking for a toilet as you walk through Admiralty Arch. But no one speaks and no one knows. But if they ask then light a candle in that darkness.

You can be a civil servant who had his car stolen by a secret agent. You see him drive off through Admiralty Arch, but no-one speaks and no-one knows, the people in the crowd are no different than Lemmings. But if someone should notice then light a candle in the dark under Admiralty Arch.

You can be the director of American Oil, looking for the way to the Harrods superstore. But nobody stops and nobody knows. Everyone is single-minded, and go their own way under Admiralty Arch. But if someone should notice you then light a candle in that darkness under Admiralty Arch.

You are a train spotter from a hobby magazine making your way to Victoria station. You spin off from the crowd round Trafalgar square but nobody recognises you or knows your identity as you make your way through Admiralty Arch. But if someone should say good day, light a candle in the darkness under Admiralty Arch.

You are a tourist from a girls only holiday, looking for a restaurant where the rich and famous go, so you nervously explore the palace area and walk through Admiralty Arch and nobody knows you and nobody talks, everyone swarms like shoals of fish swimming. But if someone should stop and say hello, please light a candle in that darkness of Admiralty Arch.

For this is a game and no one can stop it, the forces at work compel the behavior. Each one of us with a history belonging to part of the tree of humanity; just like a leaf swept up by street cleaners and discarded somewhere in a heap under Admiralty arch.

Nov 10th, 1995

In the Hobbits Room Tue Night March 22nd

Chris has got it taped; he fills the emptiness with selfish silence.
Chris, what do you keep to yourself? Sitting there like a budding Jean Paul Sartre.
The circle of smoky coincidence and a candlelit heaven in a wine bottle?
Maps on the wall obsess the intellect.
Every freedom you give means there‘s one you hide in.
I sit and I listen, I recall. I am impracticable, but you cope with me perfectly.
Leaving me alone, I look inwards, and then I become I.
I seek to remember when I have nothing to remember of nothing that grew out of importance.
I’m talking of love. I’m thinking of my private life.
I’m learning that a private life is and is not an exclusive thing.
Sometimes I pin mine on the wall like scientific studies of the behavior of white mice.
My experiments are made while I am in a deep sleep.
The intellect cannot free me from the curiosity of the unconscious
It cannot by-pass the lines that grow as I age.
Dreams shake the intellect.
Always an individual finds he does and he does not have what he needs.

Forgive this writing, as you sat there I found I needed someone to talk to.
Only to find myself with this observation – that you will frown at and ignore.
That talk is different from conversation, this writing is mere talk.
They’re wrong about conversation, non of it is intellect.
Intellect belongs to our silences and to us.
Conversation, music and arguments are the confusions we need.
Peace is the solitude of intellect and is easy to live with, but very vulnerable.
I talk of this because -you seem as vulnerable as the next man
And he is armed to the teeth with conversation, music, and argument.

1977 (from Kibbutz)

I was a volunteeer in Kibbutz Ziquim colony. I shared a hut with Chris from Manchester area. He didn’t talk much, I felt at times that it must be because he didn’t like me but I tried to take it all in my stride.

ALLEGORY

On the riverside the cameras eye hovered around the talking bench, panned across the river and back again to the talking bench.

“I lived in the room above where my father is now. I came down and people should listen to me.”

I leaned on the railing and watched the ships go by, the pleasure boats, and the outgoing tide.

The camera eye went to the floating dock, it was empty, it filmed the pleasure boat docked there, the ebb and flow of the waves.

“I have a message for mankind, that they should all listen to me”.

And there in the small room was the red water.

I was entranced by the floating dock, the unusual perspective of corridors, of gangplanks that formed architectural webs of metal post and roof all around me. The little office, the feeling of the floating dock bobbing up and down on the waves.

The camera moved on back up he gangplank to the riverside walk and along to the stairs and down to the beach cove.  The camera eye filmed the jetsam and flotsam washed up on shore, panning along the distant warehouses opposite, filming the river meandering around the horseshoe bends.

I went to look at the wall covered in seaweed and moss, its green slippery texture, the waterlogged wood, the great blocks of broken concrete on the shore, left from another era, the dancing midges.

“No one knows me, I have lived before, I came from the world above, the room above”.

The grey blue river had silver speckles over it from the afternoon sun, I watched it flow upstream, people walked or jogged along.

The camera now stopped at an inlet enclosed by old warehouses. The camera filmed a white duck that preened its feathers and then snuggled down into the sand, the litter, garbage, dumped stuff.

I watched the small streamlet that ran down the wet beach from higher small pools; water that seemed to flow from inexhaustible supply right at the top of the inlet. I looked at the ladders built into the walls that would transfer men from boats into warehouse doors. I put my face against the railing and I felt trapped on the outside.

The camera now began following the main road.

There is a garden in the sky where a girl with red boots is playing. Her father has gone back down to earth and left her on her own. An ogre sometimes comes and stares over the wall at her. Before he left, her father planted a small posy of flowers in the ground for her.

The camera resumes the Thames walk, stops to film the riverbank. A woman is out walking her two small dogs, one is a small fragile whippet, thin as a skeleton, the other ambles over decking over the river that is out of bounds to people due to its instability.

The girl with red boots is playing in the garden in the sky. She will come back to earth with a message for mankind and no one will listen.

The river has filled a small boat dock with water and receded, in the water I watch a swarm of fish dart and glide in circles through the shadows, beneath the swarms larger fish cruise lazily.

In the riverside park the camera films the flowers. Two teenagers immediately stop and ask the camera to film them. They strike a pose by the tennis court and talk about their leisure activities.

I watch the tennis players as they bat the tennis ball back and forth. In my hand is a bright yellow flower that I picked from a tree which I leave behind on the ground behind a little wall.

The girl in the red boots must come down to the earth now. She’s been left alone for ages without her mother or father in the garden in the sky and they never went back for her, not even the ogre who looked over the wall was interested in her.

The camera is filming an old brick bus shelter decorated by children’s painting of a river scene with boats and birds.

I head down Three Crane’s Walk back to the riverside again, the camera stops to film the dark alleyway between the tall buildings.

The camera starts filming the bank and the outgoing tide. A tall red sailed fishing boat motors by going down stream.

In Wapping High Street the girl with red boots and a camera is filming the outside of Turners Star, she goes inside, beads of sweat cover her brow, she films the pictures on the wall and banters with the men propped up against the bar.

The camera seems momentarily disorientated, it walks to the north filming, to the East filming, to the West filming anything in sight. I try to steer it back on course and head it back to the river walk.

“I am from the world above, I have come with a message, everyone must know and listen, I am from the room above, I can foresee events that will happen, people must listen”.

Then follows a pier that goes out into the river, that goes down to the pleasure boats moored in a floating dock at the end of the pier. In the distance two men are skimming stones across the waves. A cook runs from boat to boat; from the Captain Kidd pub people in the beer garden stare down at the river.

My time is running out, my time has run out, I’ve missed my appointment, I get irritated by the camera that goes by without seeing me.

I settle down on a bench in front of an old barge that has attracted the bird life, a Coot is building a nest; a young grey gull waddles down the beach pecking at things between the stones. The river police-boats are moored outside.

The camera waits to finish filming now, the second battery is running low. It comes to a clock tower and films it for a few seconds. A tower above the rooftops somewhere in Wapping.

2002

Toothy Edna Ironsides New Blog

She had just posted her first post on her brand new blog. It was a brilliant start, an item about the Glasgow whiskey industry. She remembered, (just as her friends, who all had blogs, had taught her), to pick her categories and make up her tags; and then she waited. Next morning she awoke and it felt like a Christmas day to her; she was so happy she felt like singing. She opened up her blog page to read the messages and count the likes and follow the followers and … nothing, nobody, zerox with an empty ink cartridge. She went into a slump; where were all her friends? Where was the support? Where was the bloggers glory? She had told all her friends and family to look for her page; she had given them the exact address with the http:// and the name on her Welcome page, but nothing. She looked out of the window, it was raining, and the sky was grey, autumn leaves fluttered onto the street. She made up her mind not to follow up or try to find out what had happened. Maybe a disaster had prevented them all from looking, maybe a vanishing. She’d wait, she’d wait until finally from among the millions out there someone would open, read and like. She wanted to be liked.

First we dance and then we go to heaven

First we dance and then we go to heaven
First we love and then we pass away
We see the sky and then round ‘bout seven
Our hearts feel empty and we dream in grey

First we must dance and then we go to heaven
We somehow forget how hard life can be
We don’t realise how our bodies are like leaven
We only know what’s good and what is free

First we dance and then we go to heaven
And heaven loves the ignorance of a child
Never dreaming death can come between us
The purity of love and all things free and wild

Then we tire and find there are no answers
To questions about love lasting years
Then we cry and end our career as dancers
We feel like stone and then we fill with tears

So first we dance and then we go to heaven
And if we love we’ll live forever more
This is the ideal that life seems to teach us
And if we run we can just get through the door

I CHASED AN UMBRELLA

I chased an umbrella that floated through London. The drizzle of rain fell continuously on a stone moss covered cherub that was occupied by a nesting pigeon. The umbrella flew from the top of a bus. I followed. I heard it talking about the Belfast Peace Agreement, from beneath its canopy a cache of guns fell into a hole in the road. The umbrella floated through The City twirling round with a tilt to its axis. A small floating white dog began to bark at it, as a phoenix skulked across the road and set fire to a parked car. The umbrella flew into Conway Hall, dancers were rehearsing for a musical, it went into the ladies to drain away the water and emerged carrying all kinds of leaflets on anarchic and religious lectures in its handle. The umbrella grew two big greedy eyes and danced a little in the corridor. The umbrella continued its journey in the drizzling rain through Bloomsbury into a café where I sat with it for a while. Its two big eyes sometimes stared at me when I wasn’t looking. I took it into a shop to buy it a companion umbrella but it didn’t want one, instead it took a fancy to a transparent rain hat. On through the drizzle that was falling even heavier now it allowed me to hold onto it until we reached the British Museum. Undaunted by the mass of humanity sheltering under the portico, it folded itself up and entered inside and with its two big eyes found its way into the Oriental department where it fluttered over a Chinese Goddess. Then it followed me back passed the Babylonian room and down a long corridor to a secret chamber where birds of paradise flew in a blue mist. Finally it had to leave, I tried to hang onto the umbrella as it flew out of the Museum above the houses and came down into a huge drab city temple called The Barbican where life size plastic people on plinths stood about like in an architectural drawing. It found its way into a cinema and sat me next to a courting couple. I collected asterisks that fell from the Pearl and Dean adverts. Later on the umbrella became rebellious and flew around the complex in much restlessness. Back out into the city streets the umbrella was spinning now, a tongue of flame hung down from it and it began to say strange things making its two big eyes whiz around until it reached Liverpool Street. The rain was still falling now in delicate perpetual drizzle in a magical light. The umbrella went to platform three and got on a train to Bethnal Green. The station proved to be like a space structure high above the earth, I scanned the panorama of the East End from the balcony wall and saw the umbrella float down and away into the falling night.

Poetry & Poverty in Londons East End

Introduction!?
(For David Kessel, poet, original member of Approach poets. About 1996 or so David Kessel asked me to write a manifesto, titled “poetry and poverty in the East End”. I’m not a political person and I wouldn’t know how to write a manifesto so I wrote it this way, unedited, never before shown to anyone, does it work, or does it not?

The Approach Poetry was fine poetry group meeting in the East End, that lost its venue due to local changes, and loss of the older east end community; with David Kessel, Steven Watts and others and presided over by Brehoney a very extrovert Irishman).

Litter, spit, dog ends, motors. Wind from the far corners of the seasons helping offering deities of bread and poetry floating down the drain of a grain of spheres (and televisions) in the sun gun fun of a woman with her hat in the soap.

Poetry and Poverty passes by the wind from the four seasons of hell and the soup kitchens of cemeteries where dead poets in foetal positions read to the worms who pass by their thoughts that have no breath. Sitting in the ground selling her eyeballs to the business men in red plastic suits who carry briefcases full of dynamite to the office. Shoppers leave a penalty area around the drunks who sit in the market where the dirt from the train stations create a latrine of lovely sanctimonious zipper sleuths who slipper the bottom of secretaries in the moonlight.

Poets under their blankets in milk bottles cascade through dormitories in hostels where v2 rockets hide the cupboards of Highlanders who crunch the legs of bulls in the midnight orgies of constables in vestibules of sin and the comets of Jazz monasteries in the fag end filled sleeping bags of a Sonnets mother.

Poetry and Poverty walk hand in hand like zebras by the libraries of the Jews who polished the grenades that tumbled down the stairs from the high offices of comedians who fly through the bricked up windows built by road sign workers who lie about the red lights that shine a million times across the fan damaged churches of oblivion.

This is the only manifesto possible, of the moment, one of a crumbling forgotten history in the gardens of gnome officials where I stargaze at the changing face of Blackfriars bottom rolling down Ludgate Hill.

I try to come up with a worthy manifesto of trial and error but all I see are rats with their testicles crushed by traffic jams that gush out the new air of poverty and where poetry sleeps like a man strangled by handcuffs in Whitechapel bar. The women on the streets are happy now that the college has polished the shield of the pilgrim knight and broken his teeth into gruel to give to hitchhiker who wander into the East End looking for lover boys on speed chain heroin bikes of stupendous speed alarm mysticism’s. Gone are the songs of the hippies and the black power panthers whose front rooms saw a whole generation waking up to the star that lulled the fish in aquariums of the Landlord who drove wellington boots across the bomb sites of Stepney.

Poverty is like a song of truth in the ever changing fashions of the tide that comes and goes like a policeman on his beat around Spitalfields where the wind blows eddies of litter in the stone washed denim sunlight of a dead dinosaur on the back of a Roman centurion who hands out white pebbles to the starving children of Britons who collect blue skies between copies of the Blue Star of Love.

Here is an attempt at a manifesto whose page begins in oblivion and ends in the bottom of the sea where gold and spices from the sailing ships are stained with the blood of the East End. That poverty is to become King Death in the dungeons of the music halls and that poetry should be loved for its shameless undercurrent of river ruined words of honesty.

What do you have in mind but the trampling feet of the masses collected in a police cell of materialism where so many now spend their time. What do you have in mind but the red flag fluttering in the knickers of Kremlin gremlins who adorn the dead churches of Bow. What do you have in mind, is it to ignite the youth into mass demonstrations in defense of the injustice done to poets by the fat cats of the industrial revolution. What poem, what words can help this world like a fat man clinging ot he fingertips of a child lying flat on a cliff-top.

Take a glimpse at this poverty that a poet in a roundabout of love on an island of dust in a network of bulls noise nose to nose from Parliament to the North Sea, that this poet dressed in salamanders, roses and corn grass on his sea of liquidation across the smoke of women and childhood in an eye of emergency services that appear like a pack of cards in the gutter afternoons of prayer and milk drenched sweet-singing to the prostitutes who are spent at the penny arcades of the gangsters and women constables who dance together on the deadened spotlight of the moon.

Here comes the bull from the dark universe there comes a letter between his teeth that unfolds and opens out so readable in the night. See how the poor poet collapses in a sea of tears as his grey hairs glow like neon lights. This manifesto is made up of chalk with words of black iron upon it, it reveals itself like a dream you forget to remember , it turns into sugar and salt and dissolves into your bloodstream. The poets manifesto of poverty rides the railways of summer through the train wrecks of yesterday, how you sense the smell of train engines on your blood, the steam and oil of that warm railway station on the edge of time.

 

Patient Poems

Doctors

A prose piece about how much society needs doctors and the strange power they have.

Doctors: picture a world full of doctors, doctors walking everywhere, everywhere you go you see doctors in white jackets.

Doctors from the mould, doctors in white jackets. The only way to tell male from female is short hair or hair tied up at the back. They all look alike, like shapes cut out of paper.

There are doctors, everywhere you go, doctors, in and out of every train door, revolving door, and shop door*. Doctors not smiling because they are serious, they are doctors, and they fill the planet.

And what do they all do, all these doctors? I am the only one left who is not a doctor. I run naked down a brightly lit corridor and out into the street screaming. I climb a high building and then I jump, then, doctors like clumps of snow crowd around the last pool of red blood that they will ever see.

*The sliding doors of the underground train; the revolving doors of banks; the glass doors of department stores.

There’s a Place in Boston

A lyric about how the wealthy can neglect their children

There is a place in Boston Where the people are so perfect
And anyone who starts to scream Is treated like a convict.
There isn’t a wrinkle in a sheet And they always say their prayers
But I don’t think God listens to them I don’t think he even cares
There are the homeless on the street And therapy is just in reach
And everyone is secretly In the bell jars of society
The heart is broken like a plate And when it breaks it leaks our hate
For all who scream to be set free From the perfect people who won’t leave be
And as you walk the Boston break-yard Where the freight trains alone can scream
Where you climb aboard an empty boxcar For it’s the only place to dream

Fears

As a child I experienced loneliness and fear at school

I was just a child. I was placing my feet precisely in the center of the paving tiles as I walked, hoping that no one would hurt me anymore if I did not step on the cracks.

I had no idea what unhappiness was or why I felt it all the time.

The idea occurred to me like how the smallest of wild flowers suddenly appears in the shadow.

Stepping across the tiles like that gave me a feeling of security like how the feeling of a small key would feel to a wind-up toy.

And that’s how I discovered the meaning of feelings, of security, unhappiness and, strangely, the existence of a Me.

Where I lived there was a brick wall

As a very young child living in a slum I couldn’t make sense of all the wlls around me

Where I lived there was a brick wall and in the wall, there were several crumbling bricks.

I would see the wind hammering at the bricks trying to get through. I would see the winter weather eating away the cement and the broken bits of bricks.

Then one bright spring day I looked and I could see right through the wall at the sun on the other side and I watched as the wall sagged and then caved in and then collapsed entirely.

And there are parts of society that thinks itself strong like a wall but they never ever talk about there feelings and some of the children in that society grow up having never expressed how they feel about anything that has happened to them. Then they are made to see a doctor, then they are put in a hospital, then they kill themselves.

And it’s a sign about the wall; that the wall is growing weak and that the wall will someday collapse because it’s a wall with no feelings, it’s a wall without love.

Blue Flame

Prose exaimining how society can set thepath of your life for you

Some machinery released the trapped gas in the bowels of the earth. It travelled along pipes into a factory to be cleaned up than along more pipes until it popped up out of the gas ring where it tried to escape to freedom, and then it was set fire to, in the blue flames that were destroying millions of years of formation.

You had been in the womb for a long time until formed into a baby you; you travelled through a tunnel and into a place where you were cleaned up. Then you were taken by car to a house (did you see the engine that turned your relative into exhaust fumes). There in a house it was both hot and cold. Your mother loved you; your society awaited you. There in the house, you received mixed messages; your mother nurtured you and society waited for you like a wolf.

You expect society to be like a home, but instead, your mother let you go free and society turned you into a blue flame.

In a Cosmic Mist

I have known friends who spend time in mental hospitals

In a cosmic mist where no real people could live was a hospital with six beds and one electro shock treatment room.

The nurse and the warden came silently through the pinpoint of reality gate and down the long white corridor into the ward where Henry VIII’s six wives were sitting on their beds.

She was taken down into the dark cavernous basement. She looked up but she could not see a roof in the thick black silence.

The fat Henry the VIII bird flew onto the warden’s shoulder. It had a tasseted breast and a gold chain around its neck and a hat tilted roguishly on its head.

She lay down on the contraption and the nurse and the warden strapped her down. An order was made and a great bolt of lightning passed through her temples and she became unconscious.

In the evening, a little recovered she joined the rest of the wives in the ward. Their faces were bright white. The room was bright white and everyone shone with a jangling brightness, from the earth people talked in wonder of the new constellation of six stars, bright as gleaming toothpaste blobs, icy white. There was a droning noise coming from it as if it were trying to give birth to a boy.

The Falling Gate

A prose story cartoon about the neglected child in me

The big gate fell down and shut me outside. It was a grey morning; I looked through the iron grill at the creature inside. Who are you, didn’t I know you once? This creature was black with dirt and long black uncut hair and rags … and was crying.

The inside of the dungeon room was small; there was nothing to give light. It was black as jade.

Who was this person? Did I know them?

I felt cheerful in spite of myself, cheerful to have my freedom, to see the winter light of a cloudy day.

I struck a match and looked into the darkness. I was looking into a mirror. There reflected back at me was myself.

Am I real? Is this really me outside here or is it my imagination? Am I really the person locked away in the dungeon?

I sat on the old crumbling ivy covered wall opposite the arched dungeon under the railway bridge and as night drew in, I seemed to disappear

– Like a phantom into the night.

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