Ghost

Ghost

S;

here comes your ghost again through the wall
wailing. The scars in the meat of your arm,
beneath spectral skin, catch on the iron nails
that hold up your art and make you scream
and pull away the muscle itself. With
scrabbling fingers, hooked claws, puncturing
the air like talons howling, disturbing,
disturbing my sleep and burning, burning,
burning the air itself with formless lungs
of rotten space that exhale tobacco cider
smoke. Nameless ghoul, wearing
another’s face come to take my soul
as I sleep.

To think,
that you return to me now a memory
rising from unfamiliar streets, when I
dreaming of chaining you and your
ghost beneath familiar flagstones
bloated, billowing through cracks
in the very stone; to smile and recall
crying at the sight as you drive
spikes from the railway through my
eyes and the bookshelves of pages
of half-forgotten verse turning
about you and I had nothing,
nothing else to stumble and
support myself against, along,
than the dream of a heart never
beating in time
with mine.

Of nightmares,
talk honestly about depression though
honesty doesn’t come honestly to us or
the gas of your breasts and your
thighs half-hidden in the shadows
cast by a dozen men’s eyes, and lips
and fingers but never mine though
they trembled and made the air shudder
in passion that left me sweat and
empty breathlessness
around the vowels of my affection,
trembling bookstore dancing and
blinding tears and scars on terrified
arms, and love.


So, I’m expecting to get my next novella in the Broken Polemic series out within the next week or two – make sure you keep an eye out for that. If you want to catch up (not that they’re necessarily essential for understanding, but they might help) then follow the link above. For more poetry, why not take a peek at Bluebird, or All These Words? I also recently wrote a short opinion piece on religion and atheism, A Gangrenous Limb, so you might find that interesting as well.

On Passion

On Passion

Mightn’t it make more sense to spill my passions out upon the floor,
Than direct it in meaningless frustration at these hollow keys,
And the clicking clatter of their tombstone impact upon the white-page door –
To ignore the lure of life’s great, dreadful typewriting ink seas,
And its prison-cell freedom;
And simply live?
Simply love?
Simply wear my knees to a ragged mess as I crawl to your apartment door,
Or to the door of your family home in the Northern night?

To ignore the maddening pulse of drug-dealing conversation’s lure
And the threatening theatre of post office robberies in the half-light,
And the smoking meth addicts outside the body of our Queen?
To ignore the bitter rain sweeping cold and frost from the ground
And into my freshly-shaven jaw
And my conscience stinging like a needle
In the pit of my throat and the back of my stomach?

Am I not to fall in love, in a moment, with the girl
Who rescued a ladybird on a drunken bus as I rolled with the ocean,
From the depths of disturbing slumber to weary wakefulness?
Am I not to love the waitress with gleaming eyes,
Whose smile makes my meal taste of ash?
Am I not to love the artist, for a moment,
Nervously expressing her passions and hearing nothing
But the practicality of HTML 5 in return?

Am I not to love the women,
Who refuse to dance but instead sit and drink and stare
And long and mock those who rename themselves
In their public self-loathing,
After talentless Shakespeare melds and acts
And dreams from the nights of Midwinter?

Oh, me; Am I not to love?
Am I not to love at all?

Am I to resent passion as a foreign body,
And resent orgasm for residing within the thoughts of your foreign body,
And hold affection in disgust as a weakness not a strength,
A weakness birthed from olive overhangs beneath the Italian sun and ignorant
Of Roman ambition and Venetian Titian artistry?
Am I to read of love and mark it down and return to the underground bars
Which have been my home and hope to see you once again
And know that you exist and that you are happy,
Or unhappy,
Or spitting out your happiness with shots of absinthe that ceased to work their magic long ago.
Are you to spend your weekend with vampires?
Am I to spend mine with ghosts?

The metal road screams with electricity, moaning
beneath the midnight summer streetlights.

 

The moon is on fire.


If you liked this, why not check out some of my other writing? For poetry, why not take a look at Bluebird, A Red Dress or All These Words? For opinion, check out my latest essay on Atheism and morality – A Gangrenous Limb. If you’re looking for prose, you can always follow this link to my Smashword‘s page, or click on any of the covers to your left (at the bottom on mobile devices).

A Gangrenous Limb

A Gangrenous Limb

A Short Essay On Morality And Atheism.

There is a certain duty of atheism and of atheists. That duty wears the collar of logic. They need to be logical, intelligent and morally superior. They need to adhere to a certain code that features all the moral features of traditional religious beliefs, perhaps even more of the positives, simply because they are fighting more than 2,000 years of bigotry and propaganda.

And therein lies the issue. Thanks to their heightened need to show themselves as better, thanks to the logical language that they use to form their arguments, they can never appeal to the religious mind set because of the limitations of their logic. Spiritualists, religions, believers; they respond to conjecture, emotion, morality defined by fear, not morality defined by logic.

I do not believe in spiritual things. I will not lie and say that logic has no place in that statement, but the main reason for my lack of belief in traditional, alternative or modern spirituality of any kind is that I find such belief immoral. I think it degrades humanity, as a whole.

The Language of Belief

The first major problem in terms of addressing any argument between the religious and the irreligious is the language we are forced to employ. Immediately, it places one side of the argument, the religious, as the positive and the irreligious or the atheist as the negative. A moment ago, I had to state the fact that ‘I do not believe’; again, placing me immediately on the side of the negative.

After all, simply the fact of disbelieving in and of itself is seen as a negative. Who wouldn’t want to believe in the comforting ideology of a loving god, or an afterlife, or any hope of eternal love or redemption, when compared to the basic facts of life. Rot, decay, an organic circle of life that goes on and on and is half-beautiful, half-sickening.

As our language itself has evolved along the same veins as religious belief, over the same period of time, it isn’t any surprise that there is a certain level of dominance or bias in favour of the ‘positive’ option.

Immediately, therefore, atheism comes up against any and all forms of religious belief, including agnosticism, as the ultimate negative; as the anti-culture; as the spiteful little thing alongside the established beliefs of the predominant religions of the time.

Ideally, we need to develop new terms for faith, perhaps more along the lines of a political spectrum. On the spectrum of faith, belief dictated by fear could be the right-wing, and belief in the proven role of nature and fact and logic could be the left-wing. That brings with it its own problems, of course, but it would be a fantastic way to redefine faith, and the arguments of faith, for the modern generation.

The Morality of Worship; The Logic of Faith

My main argument, here, is not whether the logic of faith is necessarily true. If we, hypothetically, say that Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, Karma, Ganesh, Shiva or any other deity you care to name does exist, I would like to address whether it would actually be ethical, or moral, to worship them. For the moment, I am going to primarily focus on the Christian god, Jehovah, as a standard archetype for generalised religious belief – after all, ‘God’ is the mismatched, purloined template from a host of different religions, mainly Pagan religions as a means of cementing control and making their occupation much more palatable.

It is my belief that the idea of worshipping some mystical entity, or even a living thing, an institution, a belief system, or anything at all, in fact, with the exception of oneself, is degrading. What’s worse, however, is that it isn’t just a matter of personal degradation, but of universal degradation. When people place creatures, phantoms – things – above themselves, they are destroying the ideology of equality. They are, intrinsically, lowering the value of a life. Death doesn’t matter because people live on in the afterlife, because it’s all part of God’s plan, because we’re going to see all of our loved ones again in the end. It doesn’t make a mockery of the death itself, but it acts like a coping mechanism which degrades the entire life that has already been lived.

By worshipping a higher power, spiritualists or religious people lower the entirety of humanity. They destroy the efforts, the work and the struggles that people and animals have had to endure because it was always God’s plan. By attributing any glory to a deity, you are taking away the purpose of the struggle; you degrade the value of the human spirit. Fate, or the idea of fate, removes to potential for success. Pre-ordainment negates the reasoning behind any pleasure and joy in favour of the inevitable.

To my mind, simply believing in the existence of a higher power is enough to weaken the integrity of the entire species, but by actively worshipping anything at all, you are aligning yourself with fanatics. Fanatics are the worst possible representations of people; they are deliberately opposed to the ideals of a free, fair society, they are opposed to debate and honest, intellectual discourse and development. Fanatics and followers will ignore the negatives and focus on the positives of their subject and their beliefs. Fanaticism, in the modern era, has largely developed into an attitude towards conversation and debate, with the exception of deluded creatures being used as living weapons in a war that is more political and economic than holy. They will discuss their beliefs with zeal that offers no opportunity to be persuaded, that leaves absolutely no room for the presence of logic.

I believe, if I believe in anything at all, that to call yourself a human you need to adhere to a certain set of standards and morals – not necessarily follow the law as laid down by government and society, but have a set of rules that you, personally, need to live by. One of the most important rules, for me, is the rule of intellectual honesty, especially in the face of weakness. People need to accept the obvious truths, the proven scientific laws, and cannot choose to ignore, adapt or pick and choose these laws to fit in with beliefs. By choosing to ignore fact and favour fiction, by choosing to believe instead of think, spiritualists and religious people are weakening the integrity of the entire human race.

I advocate complete practicality when it comes to this particular form of mental illness. If someone chooses to live in a fictional world, at the cost of humanity, then they should be helped to overcome their problems. If there are regular functions where people can gather to be converted and controlled, there is no real reason why something similar could not be arranged for their treatment.

For those who refuse to admit that they have a problem, or those who are blatantly obsessed with their own fictional world, I would continue to advocate in favour of practicality. If you have a limb that turns gangrenous, the only way to limit the damage is to remove the limb. If there is a sub-section of humanity degrading the rest of us in terms of thought, and honesty and even morality, then for the good of the majority they need to be treated. If they have gone so deep into their delusions that they are beyond treatment, then they need to be isolated or dealt with in such a manner that they cannot spread their infection to others. In extreme circumstances, I would not call for re-education, but for damage control via quarantine.

Preaching Hate, In Favour of Equality

I am opposed to people being treated differently because of things they cannot control. When it comes to race and sexuality I will not accept anything less than complete and utter equality. When it comes to gender, I am in favour of equal pay for equal hours, longer maternal leave than paternal leave and the same job and educational opportunities based on talent and predilection for the job.

I am in favour of people being treated differently for their beliefs. I have often wondered if that makes me a preacher of hate. To me, it is no different than someone being treated in a certain way because of their actions. If someone chooses to believe in the existence of a higher power, and abandon Humanist morality, then they should be treated differently to someone who has respect for human life and beliefs that there is nothing, or few things, worse than taking a life. Just like someone who has never murdered someone should be treated differently to someone who has.

I believe in judgement, but not the judgement of imaginary creatures. I believe in horrifying, human judgement; as fickle and unfair and unfounded and spontaneous as it is, I believe in human judgement.

Religion as A Weakness

Belief in nonsense is not so bad, but belief in nonsense that degrades humanity, that tries to paint us, as a species, as weak and in need of shepherding, is morally wrong. It is also selfish, as it projects internal guilt, imagined sins and all too real weaknesses onto other people. Because these worshippers have a low self-esteem and little in the way of confidence, it seems to me that they are trying to overcome their weaknesses by declaring that everyone suffers them. How could we not, after all, when there is something big and unknowable and fantastic out there, amongst the clouds, smiling down on us benevolently.

John Lennon once sung that ‘God is a concept by which we measure our pain’, whereas I would amend that to say ‘God is a concept by which we measure our weakness’. People, real people, do not turn to faith, their imagination, when they suffer a setback or a tragedy. Instead, they deal with it themselves and emerge the stronger for it. Suffering, as the old saying goes, builds character. To me, it seems a waste to spend that suffering on building up the perception of an imaginary character.

People turn to God in their moments of weakness, when they need help or they’re frightened for their lives; when people believe that things are completely out of their control, they surrender to the whims of an almighty being. They neglect to take responsibility for their actions, simply because they don’t need to. ‘It’s in God’s hands now’, is a common enough saying when waiting outside an operating theatre, or when you hand in an exam paper, or when you’re waiting to hear back from that job you applied for – it’s not; it’s in the hands of people or as a direct result of the actions you took, or neglected to take. Having a crutch, for that is all faith is – a painkiller for weakness – doesn’t really strengthen a person or, if it does, it strengthens them at the expense of their mental health. Any and all belief in a higher power is directly opposed to self-respect and awareness and love.

Religion allows people to avoid the obvious truths; the unpleasant truths about existence that should be beautiful. We have a finite amount of time; we are not given it, but it is ours and something is trying to take it away from us. Nature is our greatest ally, for it provides us life in the first place, but it is also our greatest enemy for it immediately tries to take its gift back. Nature is not God; faith in science is not faith; thought is not belief – if we, as humans, need to believe in something, then we need to believe in ourselves. The rest doesn’t matter.

In Conclusion:

From a moral perspective, ignorant of science and logic and fact, religion is abhorrent. It stunts our growth, or leads us down pathways of mental illness and irresponsibility. It can be used to control us with fear, or with promises of paradise. It stops us, as a species, from realising our full potential and creating a paradise amongst ourselves. If paradise is external to us, as is eternal damnation, then what choice do we have but to exist in a fluctuating half-and-half world, where there will never be complete joy, just as there will never be complete misery.

It sickens me to see spiritualists and the religious as the moral backbone of a society. Anyone who believes in themselves, who does not adhere to the laws of decency because of rules laid down thousands of years ago by an imaginary creature, is to be applauded far more than those who bow down to fear and conformity. People who believe in a personal code, and stick to it, and are able to look themselves in the mirror at the end of the day, are made of much sterner moral fibre than anyone obeying the whims of a fictitious deity.

Unfocused

Unfocused

I can’t get the camera to focus.

All the streetlights are stretched from Heaven to Hell;
they make it impossible to see.

The sky pants to itself,
desperate, behind the yellow flowers,
starved, and crucified on the grass,
thirsty, beneath the splintered lights,
waiting for the cool yellow milk of dawn to sober it up.

The road seems brighter, stained with headlights that move like ghosts.
The underground bridge of colour,
and the dark alley of pure blackness beneath the sky,
don’t belong here, here; glorious here.

They scream to me, and tell me I’ve been pissed on every street corner.
They moan at me, and remind me I’ve fucked in half the alleyways between the bars.
They remind me that I’ve thrown men into brick walls and red doors.
They tell me I’ve stood, after wearing my feet all night,
and felt the blistering heat of the sun.

And the camera mocks my shivering hands, recording gold exchange brilliance
that sets the acid rain aflame;
the gasoline in the air, gasoline in the mist and gasoline in the fog of the industrial night
and the cold water dripping from a railway bridge hangs – suspended –
icicles of a moment; breathing –

Frost Giant eye diodes in the floor, brutal blue and lighting
up the bare legs of stumbling women hiding imperfections
in wine bottles and beer tables and vodka pedestals;
dried-out scars presented with surreptitious pride
and catches the haze of cabalistic laughter
from steroid-bitten throats,
and a taxi driver smokes as the train lines shudder,

and you,
shivering.

Shivering in your passion,
shivering as you pull the headphones from your ears,

shivering as you open the window of the 11:43 bus to infinity,
shivering as you breathe in the air of the drunks, already asleep in their seats,
shivering as you smile at the cocaine rain lines crashing across the scarred glass

and watching the lights of the river mutter
unfocused promises that they’ll never be able to keep.


If you enjoyed this, why not check out some other stuff I’ve written? For more poetry, try A Red Dress, All These Words or Bluebird. If you fancy trying something a little longer, then all my prose is available for free on Smashwords.

All These Words

All These Words

And all these words are an act of vomit,
of feeling the soul pulse in the stomach and spit;
all these words like black bile raindrops on a white porcelain page

And all memory of the moment is replaced with the aftermath,
and the harsh pleasures of endless revulsion become apologies
and concerns and damage control.

And all these words are an act of vomit,
of feeling the soul shudder in the gut and spit;
all these words fading in the fluorescent light reflected from the tarnished drain.

And all things recorded are as nothing,
and all words that make the heartbeat faster or slower are a lie;
all things are a falsity.

And the nightmares come so easily now,
and the language of my dreams changed from English to Latin
and German outcries of hate.

And all these words are an act of vomit,
of knowing the soul revolving in the bladder,
all these words getting out of the body in any way they can.

And I’ve seen you, S, in my dreams,
and walking through the streets of Liverpool and shivering from the Mersey,
and rolling your eyes in fever.

And there is no madness on the minds of my generation,
and there is nothing naked about our confessions,
and there is no honesty in our self-portraits.

And all these words are an act of vomit,
of knowing the heat and bitterness of creation;
all these words getting stuck in the throat and exploding.

And that I were who I am,
and that all these words might blossom from my skin,
and my hair would be replaced with flowerings;
my sweat with the scent of grass.

And all these words were, once, the act of vomit;
and now they’re a memory of Rorschach ink on plastic;
of knowing the act of creation for a moment, and the dullness of maintenance;
and waiting for the shivering pipes to carry the water up the first floor
and washing my art away.


Last night, Saturday the 23rd of April, 2016, I got incredibly drunk. The drunkest and most obnoxious I’ve been in a long time. I woke up this morning wretched and retching and naked to the waist on a pile of old clothes next to my bed. I feel incredibly guilty and I’m not sure why. I’d like to say the being pissed makes me a great poet, or writer of some ability, but I’m pretty sure that’s a lie. Anyway, if you want to read something that I didn’t write whilst massively hungover, why not check out some recent poetry of mine, like Coal Carthage, Bluebird or A Red Dress. You can also head on over to Smashwords, and download some of my long form writing for free.

A Red Dress

A Red Dress

A red dress, and said “when you were a boy”;
I choked on love; I was a boy and you were the night forest – lost,
scared, alone in you, alone with the wind moans
through bracken branches making a stranger’s bed with my name engraved in the headboard,
with half-satisfied boasts in the chisel-daggers’ art.

City light; hideous against you and joy,
when eyes above smiling lips should have tasted the nightmare frost,
icy wastes of Imperial doctrine, dust-ice on frozen tomes,
disturbed by our warm bodies at the end of the universe held by a strand of hair, a chord
breathing ragged lungs as I play my part;

The part of the boy, waiting for you to acknowledge you are a girl
with the withered soul of a woman, cut liquid legs and striving arms,
pushing aside the red, the night, the sound of rain on sleeping cars
and three-hour worship to caffeine gods,
rejecting love.

I’ve cut the beating heart out of poetry because I am scared,
scared of hate and preaching hate and letting you know I hate you;
hate overpowers love in a heartbeat,
pulsating on the floor.

And there are a thousand words for love;
your name seep through them all.

You,
in your red dress by the broken glass,
made me realise that there is no word that means ‘I don’t love you’.

There is no word to proclaim your weight as a chain,
a word that reduces your dreams and longing for mediocrity to dust;
a word that makes your love for Carthage impossible to understand;
a word that dictates the fading of our affections in favour of comfort;
a word that means nothing – and nothing is our confession;
a word that says I still want to fuck you, but I don’t want to want to fuck you;
a word that echoes, and hangs, in the empty space between us;
a word that blinds me and makes me grow my beard and cut my skin.

A word that pulls aside all fallacy,
and reveals my self-loathing. A word
that tells you about hatred, beyond fear and reason,
beyond forgiveness.

I don’t always hate myself when I’m with you.

When you wear that red dress,
I dare to think I’m not ugly when I wear you.

I can believe that I am capable of love.


There’s a poem I’ve had for a year. A great declaration of love to someone I’ve only met once. I can’t seem to match it, so I’ve kept it hidden away on a document on my computer. I’ve printed it out and crossed through every line and told myself that it’s ridiculous and nonsense, and never changed it.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be happier with something that I’ve written and not forgotten about. If you like this, why not check out some of the prose that I’ve written, over on Smashwords?

Bluebird

Bluebird

Liz,

I don’t know how to start this letter.

I’ve spent hours; countless papers sprawled
across my bed and in my bin; that perfect opening line.

I wanted, in a sentence, to remind you; reflected
a thousand times against the glass walls
and above the pool table at 3:00 am beneath the ground;
in that Sodom that cut
through the drunkenness and left us sober and retching in the heat.

But I don’t want to talk about me;
I want this to be about you.

I want this scrap of ink to be nothing but a question mark for you.
I want you to tell me how you’ve been;
where you’ve been;
why I haven’t seen you in months.

I want you to tell me that you are happy.

I want you to tell me just how broken you are;
tell me about the sieve you call a heart.

Let me know that you are damaged, damaged
beyond redemption and driven by bitterness,
by hate and shame for your failures
and mine.
Tell me about the ones that fester in your stomach.
Tell me about the mistakes that can’t make their way out of your throat
and will never be confessed.
Use your fingertips to mouth your wounds and,
I swear,
I will absolve you of them.

I need to know that you are impossible
and that your hate starts in the half-wakefulness;

I need to hear about the summers
and winters that you’ve sweated and shaken through.

Tell me about the old scars,
about the dark,
about how you’ve covered yourself up with tattoos, tattoos that speak of music you’ve always had your doubts about.

I need to know that you sometimes look in the mirror
and struggle to look yourself in the eye.

I need to know that your pupils are distended and broken
and that tears slide along your skin.

I need to know that no one can make you cry like you can.

I need you to tell me that wine in my journal, stout on my sleeve and rum in the drawer beside my bed doesn’t really mean anything.

I need to know that you have found something
beyond the ghost of the girl I knew
and that there is hope for me too,
to survive who you were.

I need to know that there is something after confronting your ghost,
curling through the flagstones of foreign cities.

I need to know that every step is going somewhere;

forwards,

backwards,

left,

right,

ascending to Heaven or descending
to God and weakness;

that I am not held in place by chains like those which your spectre rattles.

Listen to me, Liz;
I need and I want and I need and I want and,
honestly,
I am desperate for dreams.

Dreams that I dare to steal,
dreams that I can pluck wildly from the dawn;
dreams that are capable of hanging heavier than your chains could ever have a hope to.

I need to be something more than this;
more than a caricature that shudders around a pen and screams out ‘No!’ above a Guinness.

And ‘No!’ is all I am, Liz,
all I know now that you’re gone.

No! to life, to holiness, to the locked door of potential;
No; to Edinburgh, to Norwich, to London and Greenwich and Paris;
no to Liverpool and Manchester;
No; the austere governments keeping us apart;
no; the zero hours that hold you;
no; the children crying in the doorway between murder and life;
no; the British missiles in Saudi hands;
no; the bald slavery of the rotten monks;
no; to Mary, sleeping rough on the streets of Wigan.

I don’t believe in marriage, Liz; you know that.
I don’t believe in marriage, but I would marry.
I would choose the chains if I were chained to the moments that we knew,
between drunkenness
and hangovers
and glasses of water from a bar that sells Trooper.

I’d marry your dreams, if I could; dreams of artistry,
dreams that go beyond stained tables
and tablecloths
and old men leering from behind their coffees
and solitude within the crowd.

Did I tell you that I saw you,
hours before we first met,
with pale skin and red hair and metal in your face?

Did I tell you I saw the ghosts of you above the pool table?

Did I ever tell you I think about you every time I bite my lip?

Once I’d seen you, I knew;
Knew that there was a bluebird inside my heart.

All the poison made sense, in a moment;
I tried to drown my bluebird in whiskey
and rotgut and whatever else I could find.

I muted incessant cries
and chirping with slurred words and glazed eyes
and lazy smiles.

And I heard its silence,
Liz,
like it was screaming.

I heard the silence one morning and tore my chest apart.

I broke bone and ruptured muscle,
split flesh and spilled blood onto the floor
and wheezed air and gagged on the smells of my own stomach –

Liz; I found my heart and it was empty.

Not even the skeleton of a beautiful creature,
just hollow.


If you liked this poem, why not check out some of the longer prose stuff I’ve written over at Smashwords? It’s all completely free, so I can hold onto some vague anti-Plutolatarian ethos. If you’re looking for more poetry, in a similar vein to this one, why not read Coal Carthage, one of my most recent pieces about my hometown?