How Long

The double drummer accents the beaten heart. Take a deep breath and inhale. Perspiration crawls out our eyes for what we have dared to see, enduring the years locked in a moment. Not of wonder. How much better to survive even when you cease to be necessary. Father’s words were never mine to keep. She turns the head as he learns the hard way home. Never cease to be necessary in the bullsweat of silence. Enduring love holds you hostage to freedom. A twinkle of an idea that winks at your foolishness. You earned it too. Your coffee is late. 

Up & Down

He was looking up, sky was looking down cast, hunched over the lessons it was teaching the young man who was closer to eternal life than the riches of mortality.

Sky always wanted legs and would trade places to feel what it was like to stand on ground, manly and rooted to core truth, womanly and mother to the men of war. 

Lower E

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

– Bob Marley

I was not meditating but there are times when I tap into a peace that bounces back up in the abstract of sounds and colours. In this captured moment I put on my Sci-Fi music and reached for my guitar just to see what might happen. Sometimes I like to work out ideas on just one or two strings. Not chords. Single notes. Purples and reds at the bottom of the neck. One note can be everything. It can tell the whole story if placed and timed right. Not to say that it necessarily comes down to the semantics of right and wrong in the creative playground of imagination. It is as much a percussion instrument as anything that hands and feet can hit. The lower E string is home. It gave me my first guitar child, Love Never Fails, but I don’t always arrive at something of permanence. I had an old tape of home made jungle music that I dabbled in for a little while, trying to learn some modern production techniques in 1999 when I got my first computer. I was just throwing ideas out into the ether to see what might happen at a particular bpm. I had also read Octavia E Butler’s Mind Of Mind in my local library within that period or maybe a bit earlier and the images and ideas I got from the Afro-Futurist world of her novel aligned with the sounds and colours I didn’t know I was searching for. Fast forward to a few years ago, and I was now hearing something else in that old jungle music. I started to employ techniques pioneered by the late great Lee Scratch Perry, to strip down and make new out of the old. Just to see what might happen. I dared myself.

Jungle is a true school London sound which had faded out of counter-cultural relevance before the turn of the century but still held up low end sonic value owing much to Black America as most popular music does, and the polyrhythmic continent that we associate with the groove of life. In an ideal world of parity and fairness, The Amen break should have provided financial compensation for drummer, Gregory Coleman, and his bandmates in The Winstons for they and their heirs lifetime. Not to trivialise, but it is no less than the Henrietta Lacks of music samples, perhaps only matched in equivalent significance by Clyde Stubblefield’s Funky Drummer break. A similarly glorious and tragic story. I say this respectfully and without exaggeration. It is a cornerstone of recorded music over the last 30 years. Though Jungle music never truly crossed over, it had its moment in the zeitgeist. And its cult heroes. Goldie whose album, Timeless, marked its emergence from the underground into the homes of taste makers and gatekeepers of perceived cool in the era of Brit-Pop, has been a part of the institution of British music for many years. A purist? I couldn’t say. Whatever that means and for whatever that’s worth. What I do know is that the power of Jungle is visceral and almost indescribable.

I remember going to a Jungle music basement party in Camden with my friend, Beru Tessema (just for the record, this is not a false memory), long after its heyday. The hardcore massive as we would say, were out and they were mostly youngsters. Kids in late adolescence. They didn’t live those years of its come up and scene. Not that I did either. They would likely have been in their primary school years during its peak in the mid nineties and some in infancy. It found them or vice versa before the playlist era. There were mantra like moments when the DJ would mix out the drums and turn up the wobbling, squelching, soul curling bass. Alien textures that was felt. Colours of mystical sounds wildly spraying over everyone like lighter fluid in a sprinkler. Then the drums would come back in and planets in orbit collided or so it seemed. In that heaving space packed with substance fueled low gravity bodies, the intensity was overwhelming. Sweat dripping and filthy. The bass was that dirty and heavy all night. Sexual pummelling of the sensory. All the air was sucked out dry. Flesh watered by sound, and wet as the greatest sex ever consummated in a standing position. Possibly. Perspiration photographs life and holds mysteries by the hand too.

Moon

Once upon many moons ago, I met an elderly Japanese Haiku poet in Borders on Oxford Street. A favourite hang out spot of mine in the olden days. He told me his life story in the little English that he knew. A fast friendship was forged. He didn’t have a place to stay so he would spend his daylight hours in the book store and rely on the kindness of strangers, then at night he would wrestle with the odds and chance at finding somewhere to sleep, with all his earthly belongings in a bag for company.

I’ve been thinking about sleep a lot lately. I think about the line in Act IV of Macbeth. The lady’s inability to sleep without the light around her because of her fear of the dark. I’ve been in a dark place too and I have been awake through much of it. Sleeping with the light on in the dark. What light? Sometimes I watch the moon till my eyes tire enough to turn in. I rarely sleep without some light on inside my head. But getting back to the poet. He said to me “be the moon.” What did he mean? Light a way for yourself or someone in need. Perhaps that’s not what he meant but he wrote those few words in a book of his poems that he gave to me. I still wonder what became of him.

To be the moon. To turn the tide. An idea. Light as possibility. Light as love. Uncovered by night. Unbroken by morning. Even as we mourn through dark days and tread lightly on the minds of those who are dear to us, not wanting to hurt the gentle soul that has been pressed down to the bare bones of indifference in the war of being human. Naked enough to be badly disguised by the masks that silence sees through. And does the light come through when we lie? To each other? To ourselves? And do we die if we do not grasp it? Love. Light. The Moon. Us.

Snow

Snow is as unpure as my thoughts when I doubt that the bigger picture cares for none of us.

Frame the framed motion. All stand.

Earlier it rained. Still the water wasn’t deep enough to drown out the image of blood pouring out of his agony as he unsuccessfully attempted to kill himself again. I hate cleaning up blood. Even when its blood of my blood. My cell count is abnormally low but I’d give my blood to facilitate hope. Impure as the snow that falls on the filth. And settles there before dispersing into nothing.

Come softly to bed the night. Eyes lifted in sleep will greet us in the morning haste.

Healer

Choosers at the begging, offer bread for cake money. Healing hand opens up to reach down into a pocket full of ashes where foundations forgot. Smile is on the honey side of life, but not a dry eye in August to ply with tears. Cheers. They’ll drink to this when they swap places in the next life that catches fire before they choose where the burn marks will reside.

Assumption

Epigenetic screw face, her gesture is a case load of inquiries. Malefunctional of the dys and the mal and the theme is female in origin. A face pulls at the camera, adjusts its lies till a crooked nose is straight and pointed. The narrowing of words makes the journey longer than the murmuring, he speaks in riddles to compliment her maze of thoughts and side eyes that fall in too deep with the back of his mind.

Grown

There I was, sitting in the not knowingness. Not a word of corner comfort. Slow burning away in deep space with a mystery. Unsolved. The reward for my unwilful ignorance was six stringed. The fairer the sex, down stroked, the bar chord is tinged with melancholy. This blackberry was sweet but so was I. All of my honey for burnt toast. The sex of it, long behind the love that held on to an idea we dreamed up. But I was blind of heart and nature is in the killing business of kindness. Venus kind, closing out after clamping up, let’s raise a toast for my burns, I’m growing out of my eyes and years.

Flares

Flares will catch you. Not when you see them coming. Moving cool. Not while she occupies your precious time in mind. Dress rehearse the face you will wear when you are recognised by the heart yours mines for.

Flares will learn you well. Before you turn off the lights that bend at corners. Prosperous cheaters of nature’s law of one, hand out your fate full of the spiced choices you picked off like snipered scabs. Your lowers knew of the powers desire thrusts into language. You can’t speak it. Only of it.

Portal

Openings. Portals for longing’s quest. Finesse the eyes that hunger to see a world dressed to the nines in grace. Love lives in tales of bowler hats on sweethearts leaning loafer smooth, to peddle footsteps like silk on skin. Peeled awake. Thoughts tie down arms that hold down the city’s doubts. Soon to fly through clouds that pillow the noise of your mind’s traffic.