Poems and Short Stories

Enough of this pseudo academic bullshit, UNLEASH THE BEAST

People often ask me “why do you write like you talk?”

And I say “why don’t you talk like you write?”

That’s a lie of course. I don’t say that to anyone, and no-one says it to me.

Is it prose? Is it Poetry? Is it polemic? Is it garbage?

I hope that it’s all four. Any polemic that is too well written is dangerous. Look at Hitler for fucks sake. He couldn’t even write, but still got millions of people to support the deaths of millions of others.

“It’s a rubbish story that doesn’t hang together in a normal narrative like a normal, decent person would write and it’s rubbish poetry that’s interrupted by factual assertions and longwinded digressions into academic gibberish, that itself is rubbish because it’s not referenced and the chains of argument are broken up by random conversational passages, anecdotes and weird pop culture references.”

That’s my pitch to the publishers. How’s it scan?

Thing is, I normally write song lyrics and not much else. In songs you can get away with writing how you talk, cos sometimes you sing a line just like you’re talking, not really singing at all. It depends what you’re trying to do.

“I come from down in the valley, where mister, when you’re young…”

Bruce Springsteen, calling the listener “mister” in the first line of “the river”, potentially alienating at least half his audience, but it makes you listen, if you’re a man, and I guess if you’re a woman too, just for the strangeness of it.

Then, you know, I went to university and everything, mister, and had to write essays, where I just wanted to scream “fuck them! They are a bunch of bastards! Why can’t we fucking get on with talking about how we’re gonna get rid of them??” but they don’t give you marks for that. Marx out of ten, that’s what it’s all about, and that’s the game I played, lot of my friends too:

“This essay is written from a Marxist perspective”. Makes you feel like you’re in soviet Russia, like you’re gonna get shot for not being orthodox enough. But if you master the lingo, you can rag on the system as much as you want. Or you can just criticise other people’s use of the lingo. Seems to be plenty of money in that, somehow.

Who the fuck is paying all these people? Academics throwing revolutionary terminology at each other stops them getting out into the field and finding out how struggle really works. CIA? FBI? Like they did with the Panthers, man, it all fits together…

The CIA are making sure Marxist and poststructuralist lecturers and researchers are employed at universities around the world in order to confuse the fuck out of the undergraduates most likely to take part in subversive activity and channel their revolutionary energies into pointless naval gazing in ivory towers.

I mean, do arms companies or drug companies profit from all this turgid post-marxist shit? Does anyone? Follow the money, people…

Maybe that’s really what it’s all about, Marx didn’t give self-consciousness to the workers, he gave it to the capitalists. “Oh so that’s what we’re doing. Exploiting workers, that’s where the money comes from. Ok, thanks Karl, we’ll get right on exploiting them even harder using your handy formulas.”

The point is, most people still don’t know what the words people like me use mean, so why should I even use them? I do, because they are in my head and they are part of my thoughts, but if I can put things another way, which people are more likely to be able to understand, then I will.

Or better yet, give people a sense of what these fucking words mean so they can do what other people who use those words mean too, and decide whether or not they agree, rather than let it all go over their heads.

So I come up with this weird mixture. And I read a lot of shit like Burroughs, Hunter s Thompson and Kerouac, other people influenced by them or doing similar stuff, and it makes me feel like this is acceptable behaviour, what I’m doing right now. Except they weren’t activists.

Am I even an activist anymore? Maybe not. The times when I was most active were the times I was espousing the philosophy “give up activism”, the name of a zine kicking around the Brighton scene.

Well, whatever, I’m someone with a “critical perspective” which has lead me to read lots of books and texts by others with “critical perspectives”, so that now I know a lot of words with which to criticise things I’m critical of.

Maybe I’m just a critic, of social-economic systems. “No, this one is bad, take it back or I’ll give you such a bad review no-one will ever eat here again”.

I really don’t think I can get away with calling this poetry. I don’t know how the fuck Kerouac did.

Ain’t got no beat to it, fool, any songwriter could tell you that. There’s rhythm in them there syllables. Or there ain’t, simple as that. Rhythm and rhyme. The two Rhys.

It’s just what comes out when you take away the part of yourself that stops you writing how you talk. Fuck a grammar. You get me? Microsoft word didn’t even pick up on that one.

And I don’t talk like this anyway, fool. Who do you think you’re reading?

Just a projection, a fantasy. I don’t exist, I am my minds projection of myself and your perception of that projection. I am somewhere else, something else. Maybe I don’t even exist (ooh, spooky) but I’m pretty sure I do really. So let’s stop being silly about this, shall we people?

This is Beast poetry. Poetry of Beasts, like in the film Where the Wild Things Are. Those are some laid back fuckin Beasts. They know the score, all right. Hip cats, and birds, and other weird things. Like the thing with the head of the bull? You Know?

Last time I took some kind of Trip I had an urge to see it, on my smartphone. People thought I had sold out, others were requesting “gay drum and bass”. It was confusing. But I survived. And this is my story. Uncivilised and even inhumane. Beast poems. Unleashed. BEAST!!!!!!!!!!

Thoughts on Guilt and Uselessness, 23 June 2012, Tangiers

When I was a young teenager, full of outrage at the injustices of the world while knowing very little about them, I remember asking my mother how journalists filming people in warzones or dying of hunger could live with themselves without doing something to help them.

Now I feel guilty of the same substitution of intellectual solidarity for real, practical, human solidarity.

My friends and I talk a lot about the virtues of “gonzo” journalism – the denial of objectivity , the embracing of the subjectivity of the writer, who must live what they are writing about, not merely observe as if they were outside the situation. Anyone who’s black bloc tactics to push through police lines have been foiled by lines of snap-happy photographers getting in the way will know that journalists are never truly outside of the situation.

We came here to Tangiers with this in mind, not just to collect information, but, crucially, to ‘see what happens’ in the sense of ‘see what situations we end up finding ourselves involved in’. As an affinity group of three close friends we should theoretically be able to react to events as they unfold, looking out for each other and gaging our respective comfort levels as we go.

Today we were told that 18 people died at the border with Melilla last night, and many more have been injured, taken to the border with Algeria and dumped there, including pregnant women. The man who told us was a Senegalese ‘mediator’ and translator working for a humanitarian association that provides services for migrants. We had miraculously found him on couchsurfing and he turned out to be the ideal contact to have made here, just at the time we were running out of money to keep paying for hotels, cheap as they are (about €2.50 per night). But because this has happened he has to go to Nador, on the Moroccan side of the border at Melilla for a demonstration that is happening there.

Everything we’ve been saying to ourselves and to others about why we are here would imply that we should be going too. The main reason we are not is money. It’s hundreds of kilometres away and apparently hotels there are more expensive. We don’t even have enough to get the boat back to Europe. So we’ve checked in to another cheap hotel here in Tangiers and are sitting or wandering about with nothing to do.

I have claimed many times that I am ‘not a tourist’ as if something tangible separates me from the people I see all over the place getting hassled by street hustlers and paying too much for everything. But I am doing the same, just as I was in Latin America when I also claimed to have some political purpose that meant I didn’t fit into the ‘tourist’ category. I’m just a poorer tourist, with no itinerary.

We have spoken of this trip a lot as the beginning of something, justifying our lack of direct action while here with the idea that we’re going to come back many times and organise various different actions, bring more white European activists with us. After all, we still know virtually nothing about the legal context for taking action here, or really what kind of action would be useful.

However, the future, as the song goes, is in the future, and for now I wonder what people make of us. A bunch of stupid privileged white kids who think they can save the world? Probably, and maybe they’re right, for all our self-deprecating remarks and talk of ‘the workers can only be liberated by themselves’ anarchism.

Do I daydream about utopian revolutionary solutions and unstoppable proletarian insurrections as a way to block out a truth I cannot accept? Do I imagine to myself that my small actions and gestures of solidarity are worth more than they really are in order to disguise from myself my true powerlessness. I am cynical enough to assume so, though my pride usually prevents me from admitting it to others.

I have done a good job convincing myself over recent months that my politics are not based merely on a patronising sense of ‘white guilt’ but instead on some kind of internationalist class-based solidarity. But when I was asked my our new Senegalese ‘comrade’ why we were here, the look in his eyes made the words I was saying seem hollow. I felt like I had failed some kind of test.

But this is besides the point. I feel I have enough strength to deal with such existential confusion, such guilt and such tiresome and constant misunderstandings of language and culture as I am bound to experience over the next few months or years, if indeed I do keep returning here under the banner of ‘No Borders’. The point is, I need money.

I would not be here if I did not have a mother rich enough to give me money to do so. Without her help I would not have even made it to the ZAD, the last place I went with the intention of doing ‘something political’, either. Busking, stealing, skipping, hitchhiking, and jumping trains have enables us to live successful lives as dropouts, and we have had a lot of fun, none of which I even come close to regretting.

But to be ‘Activists’ is different. The position of an ‘Activist’ is an inherently privileged one: it requires people to have both free time and disposable income.

Time in the world of dropout culture is never as free as it appears- even the simplest of tasks take hours, either waiting for drug-addled or otherwise twisted brains and energy levels to align, or simply because the ways we have found to do things for free simply take a lot longer that the ways people pay for.

As for disposable income, it’s a joke. Any money anyone has in a dropout community is almost immediately spent on communal resources, whether or not they want it to be. In Brighton I had to constantly beg slightly wealthier activists than myself for money to print flyers and such, for even small amounts seemed beyond my ability to raise.

Maybe I’m just too lazy and disorganised, maybe the musicians I busk and try and play gigs with just aren’t committed enough for my career to take off the tiny bit more it needs to for me to sustainably be an ‘activist’.

Or maybe I should just ‘give up activism’ and seek the good life instead. I have met a lot of apolitical dropouts, and many more whose politics consist mainly of just talking about it, and they seem the happiest people I can imagine being.

But my brain will not let me abandon the struggle.

A Doorway (fictional)

A doorway, empty.

The door? Rusting in a corner.

“Security pretty tight then, eh?” a voice- young, arrogant.

“Well, its not like we’re gonna be moving in. Look at the place, it’s like a fucking prison” another voice, weary.

“A post-apocalyptic prison. Like where all the police have been rounded up by an angry mob and been shot” The third voice, with a certain disturbing edge to it.

Nothing more was said. They got to work.

 

Four hours later. Somewhere else.

“Man, I’m knackered. I need a fucking spliff, a glass of water and my fuckin’ blanket” – arrogant.

“Whoah, someone’s got to stay up, remember?” The weary voice again, much wearier in reality than the first voice, whatever it might have said.

“You’ve been fucking lunching out all day and now you’re gonna fuck off” – edgy.

“Biatch, I ain’t gonna take this shit much longer, I;m gonna collapse. I’m just doing this as a fucking favour to you anyway”

“I can’t believe your egotism. You call yourself a revolutionary?”

“Oh shut up you guys. There’s people sleeping upstairs. I’ll just stay up then if it’ll shut you both up. I need to collect my thoughts.” Ratcheting up the weariness levels yet again.

“You ok man?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. I never sleep that much these days. Just go ahead, see you at breakfast”

 

The next night. A punk gig in a squat.

Scores of young people taking illegal substances, with hair and clothes each deliberately distinctive, blurring into an intense mess of black and dark colour.

“Alright geezer?” a mad grin from a bouncing, studded giant.

Attractive and intimidating girls everywhere. Girls who look like they’d be really interesting to talk to. Who look like you could develop a years-long obsession with. Are they making eye contact because they like you or because they want you to stop looking at them?

“What you been up to?” A legitimate inquiry from an old acquaintance, not seen in months.

Images of smashing glass, blurred roads.

The smell of blood and sound of sirens.

Waves of rage, fear and melancholy.

The numbing terror of injustice triumphant.

“Nothing much, just you know, chilling” lies, falseness. Who is left who you can be honest with? False friendships feel false. All warmth temporary.

“Oh yeah, what you think about this new government eh?”

Mumbling something about how they’re all the same.

Do you even realise what you’re asking me? Do you realise what I’ve done?

“Yeah, but this lot are a right bunch of bastards. That’s why they’re tryin’ to kill em. Too bad the fucking idiots shot a worker instead. What nightmare. Now we got the media blaming it on violent anarchists. Can you believe that? As if we would do something like that”

A burning desire to escape.

“Yeah” A weak voice. But how weak? Noticeably so?

“Just need a piss, good to see you”

 

As if we would do something like that.

“We”. The people? The movement? The scene? Our friends?

“Diversity of tactics”. What a joke. A phrase to make you sound enlightened in front of liberals and pacifists when you’re trying to smash something and they’re trying to stop you.

But we don’t condone terrorism.

“WE are not terrorists, THEY are terrorists” Who has not said this?

Those others who use the same language as us, of revolution and insurrection, they are terrorists. But they are not our comrades, we condemn them.

OUR comrades, well, they do… cultural work. Civil disobedience, non-violent direct action. Perfectly legitimate.

Of course, if a revolution started, we would join in. Of course, we idolise the warriors of the past, we would love to be like them. But not literally. Not here, not now.

Not in the real world.

So who to go to for comradeship?

When those who do not wish to be condemned will still condemn?

Maybe they would not, if they knew who they were condemning.

But comrades have been excommunicated before, on less evidence.

The informal processes of judgement by gossip, justice by individual initiative.

Sometimes so terrifying that you longed for the old men in their stupid wigs. At least they took the time to think.

Of course, that wasn’t an option in this case.

 

An old follower of Marx and Lenin, a real stickler.

Lecturing the room of youngsters who’d long since grown used to his rhetoric.

No-one any longer saw him as a threat. He’d had his heyday thirty years ago when he’d single handedly managed to convince some striking workers to ignore the anarchists and put their faith in the union bureaucrats, after which the city-wide labour movement had gone into inexorable decline.

But that was long ago. The anger at him had past and the new generation loved to hear his unique perspective on events

“Counter-revolutionary! I cannot stress this enough! These people are enemies of the working class!! They have spilt proletarian blood in pursuit of an infantile notion of being able to skip ahead to the revolutionary event from a position of low class strength! Only the careful development of the revolutionary party and it’s gradual dominance over the workers movement is the way forward! Let us denounce these deviationists!”

Class enemy. Traitor. First against the wall when the revolution comes.

Do people really still think like this?

No-one’s telling him to shut up.

But then… murder is murder.

Shit.

 

An opinion poll in a tabloid newspaper. Glimpsed over someone’s shoulder in a café.

“85% of YOU believe capital punishment should be brought back for Treason”.

Treason. Plot. Gunpowder.

Heads on spikes, bodies hanging from scaffolds.

A sub-heading:

“Police chiefs shock claim: This was not the work of Muslim terrorists”

Oh shit.

“16 subjects released, 4 still held for further questioning”

20 people arrested, because of us.

Because of the colour of their skin, and the scaremongering generalisations made about their religious heritage.

And those supposedly fighting the same fight as them, against racism and imperialism, using them as scapegoats just the same as the fascists.

And it didn’t even work!

When have we actually reached out the hand of friendship to such people as these?

We denounce them as backwards, sexist, as terrorists.

Just like our enemies do.

When someone feels the burden of oppression, of injustice, weigh down on them until their mind burns with a pain that only bloodlust can relieve, who can they go to for friendship?

Terrorists Anonymous?

How anonymous can you ever be?

Anonymous enough to admit to murder without fear?

 

“I think the three of us need to talk” Trembling.

“Why? Are we in danger?” a voice never more serious than now.

“No, just… I have to get this off my chest”

“Shhh. Shut up. We arnt discussing anything, least of all here. That’s what we fucking agreed”

“Yeah, fucking hell man. You’re psycho”.

Psycho???? What the fuck do you expect?

Comrades? Hah!

No wonder they giggle when the word is used.

They think it’s a relic of the past, as if modern life is synonymous when individualised atomic alienation. Like fucking liberals.

 

 

An analysis:

In the struggle to defeat the bourgeoisie, the spectacle of representative democracy must be ruptured in the face of the masses in order for class consciousness to flourish.

The people’s natural sense of justice at the death of tyrants will be reawakened when they realise that their supposed democratic representatives are actually upholding the tyranny of capitalist oppression.

The death of a representative will spark the inquiring minds of the proletariat into seeking the cause of the hatred that led to the murder. This train of inquiry will lead to the discovery of the exploitative reality, and its mass rejection.

In this case, the assassination was a failure, with the unexpected death of an innocent worker. This led to a contrary effect to that intended: the revolutionaries were seen as enemies rather than allies of the people.

The theory still holds, though the new conditions mean it will not be feasible to put it into practice again for some time.

The death of the worker is unfortunate from a tactical point of view, but in itself must be considered a natural consequence of the class war, which after all, was started by the enemy. Out-moded religious ideas of absolute morality play no part in revolutionary struggle.

So why do I feel like this?

 

This newspaper is almost one hundred pages long.

Almost thirty of them are about me. About how they are coming to get me.

About how all right-thinking people should want me dead. About how by the very fact of my actions all those who share my political opinions should be considered suspicious and dangerous.

About how the Minister is taking it all in his stride, somehow twisting the event into rhetorical reasons to support his policies.

No analysis of these policies. No speculation as to the true intentions behind them. No warning of the irreparable harm they will inflict on the working population both here and in the war zones, thousands of miles away.

No reminders of the history of pain, exploitation and death that this very man played so recent a role in. No insight into the social reality of today, a reality shaped by the past efforts of men like him to ensure the security of capitalist expansion at the expense of all other considerations.

No mention of the thousands who died today of hunger, war and curable disease.

Of course not. It’s a newspaper.

 

The face of the dead worker, inches away.

Not dead? How did he find me? Fuck! Escape!

“Wa!”

“Don’t worry, I’m on your side” A wink.

Waves of relief.

“They faked your death for the papers?” Hopeful…

“Of course!” a hearty chuckle. “boy, we really spooked em, eh?”

Reality melts…

“Oi! You’re talking in your sleep! I need to be up early, pack it in!”

A dream. Typical.

I remember when I used to dream of utopia.

At least, I’m sure I must have done once.

Or else what is all of this about?

What indeed?

 

A doorway.

The door? Rusting in a corner.

The gun? Hidden under rubble.

Escape.

 

“Victim of the welfare reform”

A sign hung round the neck.

A neck specked with blood.

A limp finger wrapped around a trigger.

A head spilling it’s contents on the road.

A road leading up to a government building.

A few dozen journalists. Three police forces.

A symbol.

 

A punk gig in a squat. A funeral theme. “RIP Johnny” on a banner hanging from the ceiling.

“What a fucking idiot. Sad really. Still, he opened a lot of people’s eyes to what’s been happening. I guess that’s what he wanted” A studded giant, without a grin.

“A true martyr to the cause” Edgy.

“I’m just glad the heats off us now for killin that old bloke” arrogant.

“What?”