Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.

— Leonard Cohen


botany and ultimate reality

Selection pressures we don’t really understand led the deerhorn clarkia to have strangely oblong pollen This increased its fitness for the task of “Robert Brown picking it”

Louis Bachelier modeled the process now called Brownian. Einstein read that. Wiener read that that. Itô read that that that.

The stochastic calculus was made during the war. It describes all random events. that is, it describes.


self portrait

How did I get here?

Got out the cave quite easily

  • actually a lot of people leave the cave. that whole rebel “cave sucks!!” phase. but it’s cold out so you think better. but right outside is a door you can’t push open.

I realised that radicalism does nothing I realised that bureaucracy does nothing I realised that government is bureaucracy I was treated unjustly by social justice and made to not imagine i have no enemies

  • I realised that books are small and art is small and secondary and phantomish I realised that there is a way out of the cage of philosophy I realised that science too does almost nothing

Why so hard to work on what I should?

Of course it hurts! I am giving birth
as well as lifting the object I am also carrying myself on my back

What am I?

I am not a grounder, a tower builder, an explorer, an astronaut, a rotator I am a - sprinter - thought experimentalist - association engine - mascot - expositor - ladderman. dragging the ladder down for others - curator - eddington. thresher. searcher. finder.



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My nation is a dress uniform, like all nations. Distinctive, colourful, old, mass-produced. Six sizes too big. If I wear it I am legible to you, you I haven’t met. It veils me when I meet you and don’t want to be met by you. It lives in the cupboard (I don’t have to meet many people).

It’s usually nice to own it - something to don when surrounded by notional barbarians, to set myself apart in my different barbarism.

Though often people point to it, saying that I am my frock coat, or that I’m wearing my frock coat when I’m not wearing it. This isn’t fun, as no forced game is fun. At least my coat isn’t caked in shit and blood, like yours. (Like all coats, it is caked in shit and blood, but at least mine isn’t on the outside.)

Like all regiments, my regiment thinks it is special: not many people have these coats. But wearing any coat makes you less rare: you leave your kingdom singly for a low foothold on Leviathan.

No one will spit on my coat, unlike yours. It is humble and demotic. The regiment’s crimes were quiet, or loud with none left to say.

Frock coats are new. There are no frock coats, we just pretend we’re wearing frock coats to humour each other. It is cold without them. But it it wouldn’t be, if you stood like so before yours, as it burned. Say, can you see?

thole thule

Pale rulered ceiling low.
The fog a second sky at ten paces.
Your breath a third foglet.
You’d review harshly a film ending
among this melodramatic a cloud chamber,
lazy with meteorological ellipsis.

Away, you forget endmost
Grampian, the uniformity and wall-eyed mist.
Back, grey cries for colour: quayside tattoos,
neon dye, Jäger. Colour isn’t given.

Nae thermo, nae sae dynamic. (Ootside, onywoy.)
Folk thole the grey reef lang enou,
puddle in the sea, hoovering
at livid macroeconomic cracks.
Abdy oxidates, no white-het but blue.
A’hin blurs. A’hin levels. A’hin mixes. A’hin cools.

incentive compatibility

We live together: you dislike mess more than cleaning; I dislike cleaning more than mess. Mess happens: obligate social grooming rears a silent scowling face.

A current account runs to deficit: cogwheels backlash. I could offer you money for doing my part, if I was stupid; or if you were a different species. As you are this is a grave insult: cleaning you undertake yourself is home-making, comfort behaviour, preening, an act conceived in freedom and ease. Receiving money for it makes you a cleaner: low-status. Offering money called you low status: I signalled wealth, dominance. Negotiations sour: you don’t hear my offer instead to cook, or do the bins. But we are grown men; there must be a solution.

Yes: I skip the lease under cover of night, free-riding the axle of a Scania bound for the orient. In the morning: notes stuffed under your door.

to be led out

You start to learn something. You don’t know what to google. You don’t know the luminaries.

You don’t know what are stupid questions. You don’t know which are the good books, and they are all £90. You might not know a good book when you saw it, except that it seems to make sense to you, where others are demeaning slammed doors. You don’t know enough to just get started and incrementally improve at any rate at all.

Education is artificial enclosures and screens on this terrifying commons: ignore those cliffs, forget that vertiginous sky, stay in here, you will be safe to get strong, here is a nice story. StackExchange is a chain of lifeboats on the open sea of research, vanishing to the horizon.

Most educated people never leave the enclosures, and mistake the limits of the curriculum for the limits of the world. (In this way, it’s possible that the American general education philosophy - so admirable, so civic - could narrow minds.) In economics this “101ism” is particularly pernicious, since even honest specialists, those operating well beyond the screen, can’t communicate their technical results to the media, so almost all discourse takes place inside the fake, narrow enclosure, with endless fruitless illiberal results.

In fields where it’s impossible to know if you have gone astray - everything except the formal sciences - the work feels nicer but is sadder, considered on a proper timescale, of centuries. There it is almost inevitable that lives will be ploughed into the soil and merge with the stream of decomposing misguided theses. In the formal sciences this is only very likely.

Ode to Experian, Equifax, Epsilon, Acxiom, Rapleaf, Phorm, Cambridge Analytica, and Palantir

sun the sky. your points held out
to any who care to spend a penny
upon your little perch upon the cloud.

everything said already.
but no one heard. it will be held down now,
in index and coin roll, come again.

someone is watching. I am found
and weighed and found to be
several hundred out of NaN. Merchantable!

at least someone is watching.
Past a long lack, we know
There is a market of authorities

Seeking you desperately
knowing you more or less than you,
ought you be flattered really

omni-nothing, never-knowing, precarious
despite their M3 millions, e-score milliards
and what exa-peta-points of you they could snap.

See they are big brother, but dead at fourteen
of gaucheness and ick hubris. someone at least is telling
something to be watching, and that is as good as it gets.



I. Loss versus disposal versus deposition

from the common [Bronze Age] man’s perspective, the Uluburun
shipment would be hard to imagine: a thousand years of salary...

– Christopher Monroe

Not not betrayed. Not not pirated.
Not not sunk. Not not turned to air.
Not the luxury of meaninglessness.
Nothing the cape. Nothing will be said.

All rare things holy
But we were these things.
Never mind his lordship.
Hundreds of talents.

No reason for thousands of years nor then.

you internationalist canoe.
Gold over glass over tin over fist.
Ugarit. Enkomi. Nefertiti.

This shares properties with me, so it is good. That has properties beyond my properties, so it is good.

II. Commerce versus gift versus tribute

The collapse of Bronze Age civilization in about 1200 BC, just
one century after the Uluburun wreck, happened with surprising swiftness.
Within fifty years, multiple kingdoms and empires crumbled.

– James Rickards

My documents
Fact into law
Sand into glass

Object embody categories for people. How does material exchange occur across value systems?

  • Either not much variation on the key things, because of common survival imperative (bounded cultural variation)
  • Or fundamentally because no trade occurs between value systems, even on the individual to individual; it occurs where I value your thing more than my thing and vice versa.

So much can only be homage or ransom
or a dowry for all of your women.

III. Raw versus intermediate versus finished

IV. Whole versus scraps

V. Icon versus tool

...Go quickly,
examine the hoard under the grey stone,
dear Wiglaf, now the wyrm lies dead -
sleeping sorely, deprived of treasure.
Make haste, that I the ancient wealth,
the possession of gold might perceive, and readily behold
sparkling clever gems, that I can more pleasantly
for treasure leave my
life and nation, that long I ruled.

– Beowulf

Far from the trees - far yet from the town -
Bizarrely successful tall mammals rained down.
A puckle of palaces, a legion of pigs
Culture: banana, pointing at figs.

Destroying a sacred object destroys part of your identity.

A whole town’s GDP, lost. That is not the term to use to get you to care: the whole harvest, a large chunk of your life’s work, your children’s bellies. Everyone you know ruined for life.

Where to? First contact?

“we know a lot more now about some people we still know very little about”


the only beautiful object, event, or abstraction
of any kind within shooting distance of Riga airport
is the spew of a squat smokestack,
a pure grey stream of hot sideshow.
parthenogenetic and progeroid.

a boiled definition, lit to make
many monochromes wash out,
a collective paling, lines breaking, becoming
the static milk-blue back of this, a winter.
beside it snow is mute. clouds don’t intrude.

and I could study this! Really; not by eye
or for mere art. Given the itch persisting
I might spend a week with the profound and careful dead.
the vapour painting has a million twins running
the selfsame script of physical law, probably known;

on average each twin seen truly.
we found out the world without us. made it reel.
what’s written in the flames underneath
chokes mutely. my stoichiometrist mate
can code its dead language in a trice.

it solves for seven unknowns, but can be given
in the eternal manner since Boyle or Navier-Stokes
who solved mysteries you would have been satisfied with
are satisfied with, since ignorant amidst free knowledge -
which mysteries I am seen enjoying in the first two stanzas.

macro effects ongoing on the frontage, temperature and health
of Riga etc are knowable but not known and not soon.
Dark guesses nailed on the door. The models lift off, freed from obvious
falsehood by tiny effects in giant interactions
so we think what we happily will.

the present effect - one unit of pleasure and motive
in a youngish half-educated traveller - is known, shakily, in principle,
from parts outside: sparkling in my C fibres or Hebbian knots or GABA wheels.
even the heart may be knowable
given much stronger light.

in the absence of peak oil, the absence of monkey-wrenchers,
in the presence of the deep absence
that airports consist in, a cloud factory churns.
it ignores my head, dipped in notebook; ignores the folly and doom
symbolism people give it; ignores everything except pressures, gravities, van der Waals

and future soon.


the problem with other minds

I don’t know what you’re thinking, of course. Some people make much of this; all our thousands of languages are supposed to be bridges, however rickety and thin; half of all real and imagined tragedies turn on miscommunication; a large branch of world philosophy obsesses over the Angst of Being and the distant Other, incomprehensible, deep and sad.

The harsh light of Sturgeon’s law is a great comfort here, since it implies we aren’t missing much. ‘It’s no tragedy I am deaf by default if the world comprises mostly noise. Essential solitude is just a grander version of not having Twitter.’

But also that, were humanity better than it is - more thoughtful, more caring, more original, funnier - the situation would be more tragic. Because the feeling I have of missing out on you all would be, well, justified.

parabola not slide

What? Seest thou not how that the yeare as representing playne
The age of man, departes itself in quarters fowre? First bayne
And tender in the spring it is, even like a sucking babe.
...Then followeth Harvest when the heate of youth growes sumwhat cold,
Rype, meeld, disposed meane betwixt a yoongman and an old,
And sumwhat sprent with grayish heare. Then ugly winter last
Like age steales on with trembling steppes, all bald, or overcast
With shirle thinne heare as whyght as snowe. Our bodies also ay
Doo alter still from tyme to tyme, and never stand at stay.
Wee shall not bee the same wee were today or yisterday.


Winter is first. This is calendrical,
not the petty grandiosity of life as year.
Sulk sees life spring downward. The Gregorian
or astronomical fact is a compartment.
No one will have you heed it.

But childhood is a winter.
Moral desert, intellectual negligibility,
contagious illiberty, ruin of stores.
Our minds alter and fly once thawed.
No, we will not be as we were! thank god.

“To sing in green” by Hugo von Hofmannsthal


Didn’t you hear, in here,
How music prowled the house?
The night was hard and lightless
But out there on a stiff stone
larking – that was me.

I said all I could:
“Dear, you’re everything to me!”
But the east shoved out new light
and the harsh day drove me home.
My mouth was shut again.


Under a murky weighted sky
So lonely we were,
Cleaved from the other!
But no more:
The air blows free and fro;
And the whole world inamidst us
Shines as if glass.

The stars arose, were
Shown shimmering on us,
And even they knew:
So strong and stronger their splendour
That we sighed,
Lay blissful, captured
by other’s touch.


My beloved spoke: “I’ll not block you;
You owe me nothing.
Folk should not be kept –
They weren’t born to trust so.

Hit the road, my friend,
Behold land upon land
Try out many beds
Take many women by the hand.

If a wine’s too sour for you,
Go drink Malvasia –
But if my mouth is sweeter,
Only then come to me!”


wait in room

Buro meets ochlo
and neither yields; instead
there’s a steady faceplant meld
of rule with weeping exception.
Christ. Reach me a nothing,
save me a stay!

If you are given pause — if
you give me a bed larger than I need
and heed the answer retrodicted —
you will brush the wrecks of timetables from me,
wash my shoulders of lead,
and see in me hot and fragile seas.

To leave me ungeneralised.

Rain Clearance by Dù Fǔ

for Qiu Ji

Sky emptied, the autumn cloud thins;
A west wind spans a myriad fields.
The morning scene is good — cleared:
Long rain has left us land.
Tight willows show sparse green,
Uphill, pears are flowering red.
Upstairs, a reed pipe plays;
One goose rises in plain air.

雨晴 (一作秋霽)





杜甫 (758 CE)



a world where no such road will run
From you to me
To watch that world come up like a cold sun,
Rewarding others, is my liberty.

– Larkin

Who can’t see autumn coming?
Come cloudburst, who falls in?
Whose victories are numbing?
What was; where have I been?

What is, I don’t get out much:
am unemployed on call
since the sky hitched up its moving-parts
and bolted through the wall.

I who can’t hear for my own hum,
the undone product less than sum,
the dolt in longing for The Femme
what reason could there be?

Charges: blind to dimming ardour,
Trying badly, missing harder
Last resort hint chance discarder –
I would not blame you me.

What was was shock superfluity.
What was is repossessed.
None own their shares in earthly beauty.
Make do. Lie; “s’for the best”.


wandering in extremis of your
rambling curtilage, I stumble over
miles, miles of dull ramparts. Not yours;
this is your siege, an élite ignored
critique, a cottage industry of line-toers
dressing a dead man down. Or,
no not dead but petrefacted: a door
closed but leaking light & snores
enough for one interpretation more.

create table person


name TEXT,
market_position CONTINUUM {buffett - lumpen}
ascribed_gender BINARY {"M"/"F"},
gender_identity FREETEXT,
ascribed_ethnicity UNFREETEXT,
ethnic_identity UNFREETEXT,
extraversion CONTINUUM
openness CONTINUUM
conscientiousness CONTINUUM
agreeableness CONTINUUM
neuroticism CONTINUUM e.g.
- spiders
- dentist
- gays
- people
thriftiness CONTINUUM {"cheapass"-""}
disability CONTINUUM
(debilitating-borderline, visible-invisible, legitimated-not
privilege INTEGER. NEG INTEGER in Context:{Left-wing},
professed_likes {Giorgio_Agamben, Merzbow & social_justice}
likes {Ken_Follett, Cyndi_Lauper & steak}
knowledge COMBINATORIAL, f(memory, scepticism, creativity)
credentials YEARS_EDUCATION,
rationality PROB,
relation_w_god LIKERT,
morals CAT {Y/N/Quasi-realism},
politics PARTITION {IF L then spurn, IF R then belittle}
remaining_lifespan CONSTANT (not_long_enough)



WHERE credentials < knowledge, file under "Ignored".
WHERE credentials > knowledge, file under "Ponce".
WHERE knowledge >0.5 & relation_w_god >3, file person under "Pain".
WHERE politics = N/A, file under "conservative".
WHERE st.dev(politics) high, scale up amount of world denied & rejected.
WHERE ascribed_gender =/= gender_identity, file under "Pain" (IF ascribed=PRIMARY KEY).
WHERE ascribed_gender =F, create column "ascribed_rationality" (= 0.5 x rationality).
WHERE ascribed_gender =M & height >mean height, scale up market_position.
WHERE body_police is untriggered, scale up market_position.
WHERE rationality high, scale down phobias.
WHERE rationality high, scale down precedence of default PRIMARY KEYS.
IF gender_identity=shrug, & ethnicity=uncorrelated, & body_policing=null, & bank_balance >=needs, & disability=destigmatised&optional, & phobias=null, & thriftiness=MAX & {morals, likes}=PRIMARY KEY, THEN you are dreaming;




So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of Eden…
a flaming sword which turned every way,
to keep the way of the tree of life.

– Genesis 3:24

there’s something wrong with everything
in this post-lapsarian land.
standing east of what he thinks is eden
stands the fire brand.

ward me, terrible agent;
stop up our eden’s ears,
justice itself, flame-left-long,
withstand lyrical jeers.

no anchor put to windward
no philosophy onstage;
many men, falling foully,
all phonelines engaged.

Consider the Menshevik; recall the wet,
Ta Thu Thau the Girondin,
dispensed-with, soon-null sets.
so too next time, I bet.

suffer little parentheses

Developed in isolation writing suffers. also in
too much feedback;
poor diet; sheltered life;
traumatic life;
not reading;
reading too much;
economic deprivation;
political empowerment;
aesthetic distance;
single-minded passion,
and so on so fragile,
so rarely good.

Mnemonic for Kahneman’s Three Divisions of the Mind

Otto’s secret author of
much of what you think;
Connie cannot rouse herself
unless he’s on the blink.

Econ’s cold and maximal
a lucid heart of glass;
Zappa’s contradictory,
inconstant, foiling Nash.

Remmy is deluded, or,
creative with the past;
Esper suffers greater thus
and flies off, Otto-fast.

Peter Singer

Speak now of the soul’s ratchets and the stirred Stakhanovite silt
of the bed of this generation. of pitiless benevolence.

Ratchet, reason; ratchet, ruck;
Progress slow through dry valleys, slow as

Fate; despicably kind. vegan cynic,
now shame meagre wealth,

Now balk at cost of consistency
now strike, wages of sin;

Now maximise like fatcat
now route cold virtue road;

Now niggle, now coin
now manumit the tenderloin;

Now not sit still
to tunes ignored.

Union Terrace Gardens #2

Three teens unshaded sodden
in brief brilliance
crane at youtube’s tinny cauldron
– brighter, greener, bustier
than the park reprieved.

Fair enough spillover
living public living room;
I crane at miserable book
– drabber, greyer than park concrète –
and, supposedly, at world to come.

no: dyce

Walking hard shoulders toward my early town through dew, fog, find a white cd-r in the carriageway grass. Thrown from a car. Rain-stained, smeary Saucerful of Secrets. ‘That’s fucking enough.’


Speak unfree, acquiesce to excellence;
artifice a quarter of your short time; disown time;
foreclose all weeks;
existential deodorant, and woe betide
who sweats out loud.
cleaved in two at one end - tool by day, stub by night;
out of history in circular gyre;
divest, discharge, weekend;
leave style at threshold, dream at car-door:
make it matter.

NaPoWriMo 2013 (one poem per day)

as per

as per usual, of journeys, remembrance, death, love
stars, blood, soul. on you go again.

the whole of your poetry
a corner of the real potential world.

Whitman’s prancing, Breton’s vomit,
Ginsberg’s pissy apocalypse?

severed prose for lazy ponces
selected razors for slight minds.

are allergic living. Write about normality all you like
it’s no realer for the description.

word-wrapping repels ordinariness,
negates as it affirms.

in ordinary life – more than I can manage.
I’m not strong enough to be happy with just sense.


I am the offending article.

So redescribed, transmuted,
I haunt, heedless, automatic, unfeeling.
My actions are oppressive.
The memory of my actions is oppressive.
My gaze is oppressive.
The idea of my gaze is oppressive.
My existing oppresses.
My longevity promises to.
I am deep in debt and they do not
make my currency anymore.

So I sing, must thus roll.

demon denominalisations, or, the vicious verbing

Suddenly monied,
we got pilled-up:

He necked them all
so I kneed him.

Newly enemied, he knifed me;
Newly knifed, he was unfriended.

He gunned me for my demogoguing;
I gerrymandered his face.

Entreating, he sexted sexily
(I pencilled it in).

We dialogued long, drank our dranks,
youtubed the workshopped process.

Newly employed by shady intelligencers
We actioned when ordered.

Renditioneering, they quickly
signatured what we told them to signature.

We will all nuke together we we nuke.
It will impact you but not for long.

study in usb sticks lost at my workplace

Black telescopic macho toy, 4GB:
Primary school lesson plans, LGBT materials, and Beyoncé’s discography.

Cartoon flowers on white, 512MB:
A man’s CV in Czech, alone.

Sleek redblack, no bigger than it ought to be, 8GB:
I ate your children - and what’s more they are happier now.

Clearplastic ‘Silicon Power’, 1GB
Passworded; not for you. Filenames evoke the particular banality of Property work.

Green squidgy Chibi with a thin white extending tongue, 2GB:
Work on the Anammox bacteria disguised as denitrifiers, nitrate reduction to dinitrogen gas via nitrite and ammonium.

Massive 90s red plastic, 32MB:
Tab for Maggie May and Ticket to Ride. Beginner’s German materials.

Turqoise switchblade, “0.5GB”:
Esoteric file formats: Jar files. LSTs, IVSs, .gzs. I draw blanks, no association.

Plastiglass Sleek: ‘ANTIVIRUS’, 4GB:
Top Gun.mp4, a resignation letter, a rant about the ex-employer in question in Estonian.

Sleek redblack again:
Sports “science”. An e-book called ‘Strength and Power’.

Bright blue telecscopic macho toy, 4GB:
Protocols for programming a PDP. The cleaning rota at Topman.

Just the naked circuit with the jack of all bus jacks, 512MB:
DaemonTools up to no good. Brazilian and Portuguese passports, Saudi visa. The smell of money.

Gaffa tape and hope, DEADFORMAT NOSTALGIA, 1GB:
The menu of a competitor.

Chunky black, more a train rotator than a switch, 1GB:
“Biletas i Glazga.” Torrent of the last Arctic Monkeys. Laddish photos from Tenerife.

Amber switchblade with epileptic blue LED, 2GB:
Papers on the role of calcium in the brain.

Needlessly elaborate hinge-and-cap, 4GB:
Eurocopter blueprints.

White ergonomics, 1GB:
Years of boarding passes and three Spanish arthouse films.

Black stanleyknife ‘Sony’, 16GB:
A price list of obscure rock albums. Four pictures of Toby jugs.

Greyblue maxell with her redlight on, 8GB:
The complete David Attenborough’s Life Stories.

Decrepit tech. Black and silver a lá 2000AD, 128MB:

Transparentred, circuitous, 2GB:
Signed landlord documents and one soft porn film of 50mins.

Switchblade in chrome, from a roustabout, 4GB:
Powerpoints on advanced actuarial maths and a boarding pass to the Caribbean.

Switchblade in chrome, 2GB:
Technical documents in Polish. Hans Zimmer’s True Romance OST.

works whose titles are their conclusions

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
The Importance of Being Earnest.
My Stepmother is an Alien.
The Only Necessity is Verbal Necessity.
We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families.
What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire.
Lord I Just Can’t Keep from Crying.
Every headline.
Everything is Illuminated.
La vita é bella.

Things Fall Apart.

works whose titles are their conclusions and are false

All Quiet on the Western Front
God’s Gonna Cut You Down.
I Will Always Love You.
I Will Survive.

heave me away with light iron

Sometimes I say I love irony,
though he’d call me a poof if he overheard.
I suppose I should not love him.

But he’s more than a sarky sneer at our soft places:
he is the hope of other minds,
Pyrrho in a harness put out to till the fields.

Bewilder me, world, unseat and unsex,
lead me through cognitive forests with two clearings only:
sweet ironism or pure reason.

In the end I cannot dissolve.
The power now vested is worse vested elsewhere.
Strong admiration of irony is my distance from his distance.

inter faeces et urinam nascimur

On entering The Academy mall, Belmont Street, Aberdeen.

stink a shite in thi shopn sintr thi day
(place isna taen thi piss)

so yis swither as yis come in: neb-struck, oocha.
cmoan! daunder through! dree the reek scoob!

Canna staun this aesthetic, sicht o naewhere
signifyin nithin, £90 jersey an $100 smirk.

noo. Abdy kens abdy shits!
I amna Grampian’s Metatron. Ma synthetic Scots is

the lyk of yir synthetic lifiness
aboot fit these folk ken naethin.

Onywoy. “Aming piss n shite wir born”;
aw thi money oot that sea winna buy off that.

Terroir and Milieu

The plant I am today is hard to know.
Nurtured in loam (over-watered,
water-warped, filled with inorganic ideation),

said loam was seminal, certainly.
No one may outrun their given rootstock,
though the young, pollen, uproot anyway,

try bootstrap our own wind, flee town on whatever copter sycamore.
I fend phylloxera, plumb-line roots into deep clay,
strain to stockpile auxin, to bud, fruit, ripen in one day;

branch against the dim light of my loam and chill of this tight clay -
that said, I present this grape.


Poem inscribed on some Undies

[Right cup]
You are my wild orchids;
you were my deep confusion.
you soothe and, better, kill
the prude, the prig and puritan I am.
you dance though asleep,
off line in lieu.

[Left cup]
I bear the happy cross self-expression;
I welcome piercing - but shy from mother’s mind,
pert haptics & most people most times.
I fill finery because nothing
else makes sense, or rings out
so sweetly above the racket of time.

I am what goes beneath,
closer to the middle
of an unpretending life -
and, in our instance,
closer even to the heart.
right in the thicket of it.

cheap mental health

my people are as they are because they shrink from
small sources of cheap mental health
available to things like us:

exercise, stupid art,
bold conjectures, pissing outside,
uppers, group affiliation,
coupling, writing about yourself,
laughter, early nights,
framing one’s pain as the small pain it is,
eating right, and embodying your morals.


no man is a nation

I’d like to distinguish myself & Scotland. But can I?
Seems easy: he, Scotland, is thirty-thousand miles big
& likes oil, bankers, and distorting history;
I, Nemo, am a hundred percent nothing
& like sunlight, empiricism and meat-free things.
But I am belched forth from him,
filled with his faults and his smells I cannot smell,
and we both say we crave independence,
(though mine’s from Britain and Scotland both).

and thence fall into jobs that feed the bourgeois nation-state

We must laugh at our anger and still be angry.

– Carl Hancock Rux

Hey! hark at their coming, oi! quake at their bells:
it’s those buggering jobs that feed the Bourgeois Nation-State.

what dyou think you are doing! where do you think your work goes!
all clocked hours, all leisures feed the Bourgeois Nation-State.

it’ll eat all progression, use up your every ounce,
that repressively tolerant Bourgeois Nation-State.

profane your enjoyments, o racist roundabout;
orgiastic job creation for the Bourgeois Nation-State.

o resist them do deny them please, Buy Nothing and bite back,
say boo to all its agents and flash them your arsecrack;

o sweet cultural studies, o countercultural airs,
o student with that One Idea and intentions fair,

does your garden grow purely, organic, and innate?
does your ignored critique starve out the Bourgeois Nation-State?

having just graduated

having ‘just’ graduated I’m just
a ghoul on campus, a drunk who’s lost a bet, and
happy, though just
an upturned Transit just spinning its wheels through long air guitar miles.

see some other dregs, just
magnetic years giving structure to
the idle existentialist, the hopeless arriviste,
the butch mens sana, and I, tiny colossus.

each just a graduate, just
straining to hear a song just stopped,
in this bright young world entirely
unchanged by us.


What goes through you When you call me my race?

Not malice, I know, Not avarice mostly Not even always predication – leaving what?

“Mzungu!” joy of novelty
“Mzungu!” lay your voice on the outside world
“Mzungu!” to be seen by The Mzungu, distant source on earth of stuff.

I do not hear any of that (pallards: thin-skinned)
I grimace at you, fight indifference walk on.

the kabootar in flight

What lasts?

– not harmless cheek (the hidden key to grand toilets), by definition

– actual education (none here, 1000 kids given an inkling of an inkling) does, for a bit

– concussion (the price of adventure you paid for us) won’t, touch wood

– massage (a sudden kind thumb) rare and brief

no. what lasts is the harsh heat of family’s hand,
the undying vampire queen London, mathematics,
and sometimes the memory of friends,
the kabootar in flight.

[For Rohit Rajput]

Perth / Dundee

hard, dark and
hardly started

crap bus distorting our demesne

Perth? Dundee?
I should know but know you don’t know

frantic, the
yellow-spot-road, and vague places past it

note: ticket
includes each other on tap

but legroom
and peace aren’t included

we cargo
are silent, hummed and whined and shook from sleep

lesson: no
lesson, I just wanted you to know

who gradually wasn’t

First she lost her beepcard
(so beepdoors didn’t know her)

then she lost her licence
(the road no longer hers)

next she lost her passport
(was trapped inside one border)

and she lost her phone
(and distant friends went mute)

losing then the wallet
(goods and comfort blanked her)

she went and lost her cloud
(the past, what would’ve come)

then she lost her throat chords
(couldn’t invoke absent things)

her breasts and other jumbles
(she was proclaimed unsexed)

and last lost all her body
(so sat godlike, and vexed)


In Italy they call estate agents
and so they are,
wormed deep as they are
into the unspoken plan path
of almost everyone.

It is not mostly via vices
or secrets that they get us
but by our dreams.


Come, please, do! I am open to critique!
Truth was my first wife!
(But queue yourselves,
and come slowly,
along my line of sight,
and wait for the nod,
and punch with your hand open,
on limbs that were anyway gangrenous
and do not leer.)

anti matters

A thing is a hole in a thing it is not.

– Carl Andre

hairdressers sell negative hair;
sculptors negate stone.
cleaners mess with mess,
prozzies try to siphon lust;
judge hurls negative freedom.
priest spits fear and negative fear.
killer, negative life,
musician, negative death.

that they

I see they’ve cloned a baby.
They’ve put ten mice on crack!
They know what causes rainfall now -
They’ve fixed your grandad’s back!

They’ll go too far if you ask me
They can’t control it all.
So while they fill up the TV
I’ll off await the fall.

la noune

but english has no good words for it –
and little love.
but I’m not bound by one set
in many settings.
and but you are unconcerned with good words,
don’t need ‘em.
so but between word and world I
but felt your heart beat through it
a night just then.



against nothingness we used bang.
against lifelessness we used rna.
against stasis we used predation.
against blind we used sense.
against neanderthals we used braining.
against darkness we used each other.
against peace we used questions.
against angst we used questions.
against boredom we used questions.
against impotence we used questions.
against arrogance we used questions.
against questions we used god and fire.
against hunger we use life.
against women we use themselves.
against happiness we use ideals.
against death we use soap.
against thought we use stuff.
against memory we use google.

speak sense

the time for talk is over:

the rising tide lifts all boats;
you can’t fight the tide,
you’re either with us or against us.

it takes one to know one;
he knows one,
so he was asking for it

no smoke without fire,
no fire without fuel
no fuel without sowing (you’ve made your bed now reap it.)

spare the rod and spoil the child;
fight fire with leopards
who won’t change their spots (though the tiger has a chance)

when in Rome do as I say not as I do
because I say so
you have too much time on your hands (out, damned tock, out!)

all’s fair in love and war,
no pain, no gain,
and the time for talk deemed over


Name: Not Clive James

Age: Missed most of the Twentieth Century

Address: Almost nowhere, really.

Nationality: Not a great deal. I don’t participate in Scottish culture, any more than I have to by merit of enculturation.

Languages: Can’t speak Gaelic, Spanish, Cornish, Saxon, nor…

Work: I’ve never had a full-time job.

Non-interests: Sport, war, Tarski, collecting anything, scale-modelling, surfing, bell-ringing, spelunking.

Education lapses:

Secondary: No economics, no philosophy, no gender, no business studies, no psychology, no politics, no French, no Chinese, no grammar (properly). I’m also quite bad at geography.

Tertiary: No law, no computing, no engineering, no geology, no medical, no pure maths.

I’ve surveyed no field - nor any phenomenon, physical, cultural, or other. I know nothing of Nussbaum, I am ignorant of Avenarius, I haven’t a clue about Conway. I’ve contributed nothing to either the mainstream nor dissenting schools of economic thought.

I’ve never read Hemingway, Goethe, Brookner, Isherwood - nor anything from the Harlem Renaissance (nor much of the Euro Renaissance) - nor Houellebecq, Duras, Vargos Llosa, Thackaray, Musil, Bainbridge, Naipaul, that Girl With the Dragon stuff, Zola, Behn, Updike, Wolfe, Richardson, Barth, Byatt, Bellow, Brecht, Kazantzakis, Paz - almost no Classical stuff - Smollett, Wharton, Trollope, Nin, neither Amis, Eco, Roth, Coetzee, Tóibín, no Christie or Hammett, nothing I could afterwards identify as “chicklit” (except Austen?) and, despite heroic efforts, I have not yet successfully climbed a Pynchon.

There are also a vast number of things I do not know that I don’t know about. (I imagine.)

References who don’t know me at all: Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Bruce Campbell, Johann Hari, Deirdre McCloskey, Abdul Fattah Younis al Abidi, John Worrall, Guo Qian, James Corden.


Who Am I?

“It’s easy hatin yourself, it’s hard makin it rhyme”

I am the word made flesh (lowly CTAGCCGATCATT)

DNA is a candle and I am is so much

evaporating wax

I’m words and words are dancers

Flowing over their ink

Under their maybe-meanings.

I’ll never be there for anyone if I don’t

somehow stay still.

Everything anyone’s

Ever said about me

is true.

In my forced condescension, my needy generosity,

false modesty, false arrogance

“I gave my heart before I knew what it was”

organs it attached to.

Not informed of hands nor feet,

I shattered your fingers. It’ll happen.

I am a clenched fist in glass gloves,

an intellect insinuating; a missing accent.

I am a grasping heaving frowner;

the dissatisfied have always been on top,

we tutters, bleeders, wankers. What thinking!

I dance to a done tune.

You to an unwritten one.


two drag a chest.
inside, treasure rotting.
each prickles within rights.
wonders if the other peeks.
wonders if they know they do.
neither escapes. one doesn’t want to.
they bear it. they’ve counted thirty paces.
dig new at two Xs.


Disbelief makes me solemn;
you are a serious matter
I’ve no hope to solve.
(a paralysing sequent)
Your hands are absurdities
for they contradict my skin
and from them anything follows.

I can say the words but they’re
empty names, real but not realised.
The delight scalds me.


Studiedly nothing

Smiling, we let our youth pass
And smiling did recline
Swivel chairs were not worth it
(Style over backbone by design).

There’s a gamut, too
– Superlunary or syndicalist
Or Cistercian or something -
Where the cordon between degrees

Bleeds through, and unity can be
Noted if not attained.
Mind-bags and little else,
We probe behind glass

(Everyone’s a scientist of their friends)
No need for much; a crossword, ice tea,
State-backed leisure,
less of your lip, poet,

Spuriously all things.


A rolling limit on it all, wide as world,
effortless Shiva-Brahma, Now.

entire anew
entire anew everything
instantly entirely

times pass and pass away
we pass, and now flies
the tick.

it is cold, the godclock;
its truths are transiences.
it’ll allow you only a moment,
the moment, and fling
juxtapositions unexplaineds halfperceiveds
rushed right by finalities beautiful firsts
ephemera and quantum bullshit at you
for observation,
though more like for not.

The past cannot save,
the future cannot promise.

Fuck Zen,
sight without a backbone in one’s eyes.
Now, not Tao.
More than shallow, divorcing Zen;
the dead men you consort and tussle with
are at your elbow,
waiting for us to forget.

Only what is present is and all that is is present.

This, time’s null-series and
its dynamic hindtruth:
bug-eyed, austere, and punk.


Then howling, then lowing,
she donned quick dull and bedded -
but did not settle - down,

in a feu de tristesse. There’s no
choicer torturers than selves.
It’s masturbation for clean hands.

Endlessly dressing; life as vanity table
in an alcove offstage (ever offstage).
Words will do for clothing in a pinch.

Of late what words they are! Silken
Armour and feather helmets,
a ridiculous expressionist war.

Sparagmos! the jubilant wrong
that we’ll pause by, observing rites
over rights. Drink deep, fill your boots.

Impress, prepossess, distance;
petition from the surface.
I hate it when you say it’s only skin.

Valuable, people. Opaque, though, so much so
that muck that covers brass; all is muck
if you never scratch it, and reason seems alone.

home school

needing parental permission slip signed to read Sophocles.
Near world, well-meaning, nominally
the diversity of parental belief.
how many years the instantiated? very little goes away.
How much of me was decided has branded itself on my mind in my hand.
When parents die early I will not need to; the begetter’s whim
Shall I ask my ailing father if I may when I am 50?
When my children ask me, will I pass their request upwards?


I have been told of things. Almost everything in my head I have been told; of an a passive brickie, handed material (begrodying study and expected to conclude as I should.

Some of the things recently mortared-in are in are destructive tellings, however. They undermine and pry, never settle and never dry. Possible worlds. Idealism. Imperceptibles. Anarchic science and slave moralities.

Philosophy is a downpour on the construction site, or maybe it only reveals the rain.

Children of one multiply-sclerotic parent have a 35% chance of themselves presenting in later life. I am told.

too cool, i think, for the morning

Without some vulgarity there is no complete man.

– Raymond Chandler

He has a semblance of vast experience, or wisdom. Tacit uncanny models, unseen and unfelt states or events. He knows what you are made to pretend at knowing (blazered kids cracking jokes about crack). I always suspected him of having written a long novel, or some other quiet greatness. Maybe seventy portraits of the same thing. The only way.

So Babes In Toyland drink with Dowland. Thou skiller, J Dillazilla,
a local authority and a name. a spiral shorthand.
The postmodern did have something to offer
though it took its time in signing this up.


no pedestals for anyone - totema!

I am a neolithic man! and my science is well put.

I hear in every language a universal echo!

as universal as you get with humans, anyway.

Marx of myth, I ran rings round menhir.

You’ll note patterns in your very bones if you only drop some airs.


Thought ourselves clever, etched worth on our skin by idea alone.

There are these very sparkling minds, devoted to inglory.

They are the weight of grain in diamonds amongst worse things.

Their Work – Unearned if good, Unsurprising if not –

takes regular tolls; a taxing ignorance paid in irritation. And the fruits of the work are interdicted.


In any case there’s gottabe one answer, one spiel to spike them all!

If I’d been thinking I’d’ve asked Body, who is too simple to deceive.

She has air-raid sirens in her every nook; you’re invader no more (Did the payloads expire?)

Consider Pyrrho, the mad dog in love with what he seemed to see.


I cannot reveal myself; I’m not there. But I’ll get in the gaps, e.g. between creditor’s knock and bailiff’s ram:

I’m aiming for truth, you see, A town twinned with Insane, Ohio.

What is it you rail with, right over the Reichenbachs?


By grace of angst, For the love of ill, throw away happiness when it comes, get in the way of yourself; hate, and heartily recommend hatred; dramatize, nostalgize; expect too much while disparaging hope in others; unmake, criticize those who bed down in rationalised serenity; appear eager in your reserve; progressive while defensive; lie whenever feasible – it’ll slow everyone up nicely; when with others, think always how to utilise them; objectify all things; love only what you are certain cannot reciprocate or benefit from your attention.

these are seeds of good life, my child; wheedle, snipe and smile.


I cannot intellectually justify any course of action.

– Will the Skeptic


That is not absolute universal ultimate truth that’s a pineapple, a trolley-car, the now-king of France, your project.

We had lifeboats synthetic, but you speared the one you stood in; ours took your example.

The tides of doubt, the enormity, the enormity and your terror.

you claimed living a nebula of perhaps that none of us sees is a drowning question. your courtesy.

why doubt? because you don’t want to know, I can’t know; because none of it might matter. your great slight.

Maybe you can bend light; perhaps you’re a figment. But something does lurk there. I know you like one knows of pain.

and the sun’ll come up, after all. it always does.


I’ll Hill Your Head

Ascendent though light pollution.
A canopy of youth, snug in subzero.
River runneth rare;
a brook of the world’s
bright drunkard snowmelt
intermixed, tributary.
A tropic of the North
and movement in the undergrowth

Descend by skyhook and bitten tongue


Timepoem 1: Independence Overrated (6/10/07)

Being a minute-by-minute account of a shy lad with pretensions travelling to the Edinburgh University Open Day, and there enjoying a psychotic moment

5:19 Lurch bleary to action
My matter creaking his hello
to my me and the absent sun.

5:22 Crime scene vacated,
prelim premortem
sanguine as my smug blood.

5:26 Shower, and but with all
exaggerated care
make a lot of fucking noise.

5:40 Breakfast remorselessly
sitting in a heathen lotus
Leering indictments askance.

6:05 Invidious from waking
and rediscovering my adolescence
I throw the door to percussion

6:10 I’m pacified by the desert, urban,
with its sunrise I don’t have to share
and its thrumming quasi-silence

People walking this morning-tundra are novelties & civilities:
we are collective in our solitudes,
we swarm single-handed.

I nod to each I pass
which is a truly rural few we swarm

6:13 Newsagent, bored, kicking his bins
I’d join but there’s bus to grasp

6:20 Dissension, tension!
the awful confound and snicker
of timetables misread.

6:24 The bus stance putsch fails
& I certainly have not rhetoric enough
to force leeway.

6:40. On en route en bus;
I write without pause, uncertainty,

I would bottle this state of mind
hoard it in an affective cellar for faltering times

7:30 The obese light rolls up the line
& my spidery spread
forgets even music of me.

8:30 Dundee, where we flit and
nestle away from the chilling
fact of where we’ve stopped.

8:51 Merely overtaking default
disdain, hooded discomfiture
is gratuitous excitement.

9:52 Edinburgh arrives at me.
Too much depends on my
love for a city, any port or toun.
9:54 I hit the ice crown-first:
No North; can’t visualise;
stomp circular and gnaw lip

help ma boab!
unquantified, unmapped and
disparate dan.
distress comes defcon
and my face changes colour
though mostly broken green.

10:10 I ask, I throw upon mercies
my Kingdom til I’m hoarse;
Wherefore wherefore aight.

Many shields are millstones too
My silent panic is a stupidity
that I cannot mask to you:

I pulled ahead, though it was
not meant to strand me or
to behind you. (wrong track wrong speed)
In short; why didn’t I bring a map?

10:22 - Breathe, & try not to look so creepy
“Um – sorry - but are you going to the university?”

(Timepoem Part 1 of 7)


    Hörtest du denn nicht hinein,
    Daß Musik das Haus umschlich?
    Nacht war schwer und ohne Schein,
    Doch der sanft auf hartem Stein
    Lag und spielte, das war ich.

    Was ich konnte, sprach ich aus:
    "Liebste du, mein Alles du!"
    Östlich brach ein Licht heraus,
    Schwerer Tag trieb mich nach Haus.
    Und mein Mund ist wieder zu.

    War der Himmel trüb und schwer,
    Waren einsam wir so sehr,
    Voneinander abgeschnitten!
    Aber das ist nun nicht mehr:
    Lüfte fließen hin und her;
    Und die ganze Welt inmitten
    Glänzt, als ob sie gläsern wär.

    Sterne kamen aufgegangen,
    Flimmern mein- und deinen Wangen,
    Und sie wissens auch:
    Stark und stärker wird ihr Prangen;
    Und wir atmen mit Verlangen,
    Liegen selig wie gefangen,
    Spüren eins des andern Hauch.

    Die Liebste sprach: »Ich halt dich nicht,
    Du hast mir nichts geschworn.
    Die Menschen soll man halten nicht,
    Sind nicht zur Treu geborn.

    Zieh deine Straßen hin, mein Freund,
    Beschau dir Land um Land,
    In vielen Betten ruh dich aus,
    Viel Frauen nimm bei der Hand.

    Wo dir der Wein zu sauer ist,
    Da trink du Malvasier,
    Und wenn mein Mund dir süßer ist,
    So komm nur wieder zu mir!«