What is Poetry? Poetry is the weather!

A very long time ago way way back before iphones and Nintendo's and electric cars, and Tony Blur, I used to live in...Blackpool.  Yes, that's right, Black-pool.  In gaelic it's Dubh-lin. I don't know what the gaelic is for shithole but that would have been a more appropriate name for it.  Though, thinking about it I did love the architectural vanities of that long sweeping promenade against whose walls the Irish Sea used to fling itself with relentless vigour.
The point of this ramble is that when I was in my late teens/early twenties I was hitting the pubs and clubs and almost everyone I knew was, or claimed to be, a writer.  I found an actual poet and we used to huddle in pubs reading our latest works to each other and casting lustful glances at any girls in the vicinity.  I never saw any of the other 'writer's' work, it was always in preparation.  I came to realise that though these people could pontificate on any and every aspect of the art of writing as a theoretical exercise, what they wanted was the perceived cachet of being a tormented writer without the somewhat stolid and unromantic activity of sitting at a desk for hours at a time while nuclear explosions go off in the imagination and then trying to confine that to the blankly  unrelenting page.

I came to realise then, that any productive writer even if they are producing rhyming couplets to their poodle, is worth so much more than the phoney writers who've read everything by the oulipo group and can post-modernly do a wicked gender/transcending relativistic critique of whatever you have produced and whose wicked insights can leave you gasping as you are crucified on the poisoned barbs of their wit.  These guardians of the literary heart, will leave you feeling like a drooling idiot for daring to offer your poetic baubles for their distinguished attention.  You realise as you stare into the narcissistic depths of their peepers that you are in fact, no writer at all.  What you are is a scumbag, a running sore, a leprous pretender ringing your little bell in the darkness of your own pustulent ignorance.

Whoah!  Where did all that come from?  This is straight from my Id-quill, spilling over the page in poolings of naked truth.  Please continue!

2.50pm:  The poet lumbers away from his desk of dreams and stumbles downstairs to find some coffee.  (To be continued...)

5.35pm:  Children fed he shuffles back to the desk of dreams trailing his sisyphean mortal coil behind him and commences:  What is Poetry?  Ah that is the question.  Once he responded 'let me go away and think about it'.  Returning aeons later he said with all seriousness-'If the World is a tree then Poetry is the wind in it's branches.'  Minutes passed....then:
'Why wind?  Why not the seed-ripening sun?  Or the all-encompassing rain?  Why not just the weather?'
'The weather!' he bleated weakly, 'you can't say that Poetry is the Weather!'
'Why not?'  Minutes drip from the branches of the World Tree...phut...phut...phut.  A poetic wind softly rustles it's greens.
'Because, because, because it's just not right, damn your eyes!  And another thing, if you barbarically plough my metaphorical allusions you will expose my poetic roots to the harsh winter frosts.  You will destroy my crop, my potatoes will blight and my carrots will bolt.'
'Well then,' replies the torturer 'so what is Poetry?'


The Writer's Alamanac with Garrison Keillor and 'Gas' by Charles Bukowski

A few months ago I remember reading in the London Review of Books an article by August Kleinzahler fulminating in a mouth-foamingly hostile manner about poor Garrison Keillor and his poetry and new writing site-The Writer's Almanac.  What particularly irked Kleinzahler, who is anyway I think something of a manipulative bad-boy as regards the media, was Keillor's midwest accent and his homesy soft spoken wisdom-bull.  Kleinzahler may be a hustler but Poetry needs bad boys and girls to hurl shit-bricks into the whirring fan-blades of it's complacency and self-regard.  At the end of the day it's only the poets who get covered in shit that have anything to say that's worth listening to.  Beware the clean, sensitive, milky-skinned lily-livered twats who masquerade with their metrical poses and anal scansions and their wine and poetry evenings.  Give me the mad drunken buggars like Bukowski any day.
Below is the link for Keillor's slightly dead-pan reading of Bukowsk's 'Gas'.  I'm reading Bukowski's Collected Poems at the moment and loving their ferocity and dark power-The Pleasures of the Damned  Poems 1951-1993 (Canongate 2007).  I don't know why 'Gas' isn't in it because it's great and always makes me smile.
Thanks for reading.  Success to your work.  Love and Will in Balance.


by Charles Bukowski

my grandmother had a serious gas


we only saw her on Sunday.

she'd sit down to dinner

and she'd have gas.

she was very heavy,

80 years old.

wore this large glass brooch,

that's what you noticed most

in addition to the gas.

she'd let it go just as food was being served.

she'd let it go loud in bursts

spaced about a minute apart.

she'd let it go

4 or 5 times

as we reached for the potatoes

poured the gravy

cut into the meat.

nobody ever said anything;

especially me.

I was 6 years old.

only my grandmother spoke.

after 4 or 5 blasts

she would say in an offhand way,

"I will bury you all!"

I didn't much like that:

first farting

then saying that.

it happened every Sunday.

she was my father's mother.

every Sunday it was death and gas

and mashed potatoes and gravy

and that big glass brooch.

those Sunday dinners would

always end with apple pie and

ice cream

and a big argument

about something or other,

my grandmother finally running out the door

and taking the red train back to


the place stinking for an hour

and my father walking about

fanning a newspaper in the air and

saying, "it's all that damned sauerkraut

she eats!"

"Gas" by Charles Bukowski, from The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain. © Harper Collins, 2004. Reprinted with permission.



Yes it's true, after a string of heartbreaking No 1 hits and a five year domination of the album charts with such essential rockers as 'Pimp my Pinstripe Pants Baby' and 'Pricks in the Parliament' and the classic jazz fusion concept album  'Expensive Sandals and Expense Scandals.' it seems the Ed and Davy show is about to go solo with Ed signing what is rumoured to be a highly lucrative contract with the heavily unionised  Don't let us down or we'll 'ave you recording company.
Davy on the other hand has been coy about his future but has indicated he may not even form a new band and may instead spend time with his family discovering his musical roots though he is rumoured to be  imminently releasing a highly dubbed version of 'What's it all about Alfie?'

Some prominent music critics have described the brothers highly selective childhood experience as meaning they have no idea of what it actually means to be a normal human being while others, of a crueller disposition, have suggested the brothers are not actually human at all and arrived here in pods along with other well known performers of the nineties and noughties.  It is not known where the originating planet was but it is attested by several sources that the Mothership was simply called 'N-E-W-L-A-B-O-U-R'.

Professor Bumpn'dink of the University of Hollywood has suggested that the brothers strangely fixed facial expressions are clear evidence of aliens simply trying to copy genuine human emotions.
'Only a feckin' eedjit would believe a feckin' word to come out of their alien orifices!'  The professor said.

Others have pointed out that the boy's father was the famous Ralph Miliband who was a sociologist.  The conclusion is that if your dad is a sociologist you must know...lots of things.

Heart of Balance wishes both Ed and Davy all success in their latest scramble for power...er...we mean...career move.


We all get a little down sometimes! A poem to read down the phone to the samaritans in the wee smalll hours and dedicated to those amazing people who work for them.


Tonight my heaving heart has laid me low
and shudders in the holes of its dark cave.
The fractured rhythm of some loathsome row
beats out the brutal measure of my days,
rasps against the roof and dripping walls
and builds into a tune that mocks and crows:
A dirge, lament or elegy that drifts and calls
over the dead white fields where nothing grows.
A Glasgow child stands on a slivered rock
and in his eyes there is no trace of fear
as Chaos lumbers down the steely Clyde;
a hairy beast wrapped in a kilted frock;
to lie in wait for forty frozen years.



In August 2005 we went to Cornwall on holiday and visited Crackington Haven on the day of the Boscastle floods. It never appeared on the news or in the newspapers but it will be a day we will always remember because we thought we were all going to drown. The pub mentioned in the poem is the building on the left side of the picture. Imagine everything else under water and cars and fridges heading out into the bay! It took five years to write this poem and it's been through many drafts but I felt I really needed to memorialise this day and celebrate our survival. When I hear foolish people describe themselves or others as 'Masters of The Universe', I recall that day and remember that the true Master of the Planet is the climate and the natural forces that it commands-all else is transitory.


Some few miles north of Boscastle,
a hamlet nestles in a crack
of cliff that rolls down to the sea.

We travelled there to try the surf,
and look around the rocky shore,
and eat some scones with clotted cream.

Some specks of rain began to fall
and angry clouds came rolling in:
The surfers dashed as lightning flashed.

We huddled in the small cafe
as raindrops became golf-ball sized,
and torrents dropped from angry skies.

The beck that chuckled like a child
now grew a matted mane, and claws,
and without pause, began to roar.

We scuttled to the white-washed pub
that perches just above the beach
while raindrops turned to tennis balls.

We ordered pub lunches and pints
and settled down to stuff ourselves
when Jack said, 'Dad! Come look at this!'

Water sluiced the car park floor
and flowed around the parked up cars.
Jack and I rushed out the door

to move our car to higher ground
with one eye on the frowning clouds
then ran back, soaking, to the pub.

Now all watched the waters grow.
Raging water from above:
Foaming water from below.

The beck spat out and the sea sucked in,
working like nefarious twins.
Then, all sound seemed to subside.

An eerie silence fell about.
A sepulchral skewer clamped
a gag in the tongue-tied clout.

Then, like a bomb the silence cracked.
A horde of banshees screaming out
our doom to split the sky in half.

The heavy rain had just been tears
from the roused and raging dragon's eyes
but now with boom, and bang, and blast,

the dark dragon herself appears-
bolts out of the beck and bends
the sky with whirling water-wings!

The hissing rain still pocks the sand
and lightning stirs the churning swirl.
The water stomps in giant's boots!

The beck's banks break apart like glass;
smashed and pounded and then ground
beneath the raging of it's flow.

The hustling trickle's now a torrent
and we feel we might be doomed.
Just then, all the children start to scream.

Men holler like loons to order.
The women's eyes are filled with tears.
Two lifeguards fret and scream for calm.

Platoons of men are window-pressed
and watch a fridge go floating by.
A tree, turning in the tide

waves feathery leaves as if
to say 'goodbye, farewell-I'm gone'
followed by strings of spinning cars.

Beside them sits an ancient pair
quietly eating pie and chips,
frowning at the fearful din.

I ask the barman-'Shall we move
upstairs and wait until the flood subsides?'
He says: 'The rooms are occupied!'

Flowing round the old white pub
go the brown sinewy arms,
like fingers rouns a pure white throat.

Any moment now I think
this pub will float right out to sea.
This monument to drink will sink

with all her screaming fearful crew.
The choice seems clear; stay here and drown
or take the road to higher ground.

Let's go! We wade out to the car
and soaking wet, we all pile in.
Thank God the engine starts first time.

The pedal-pressed leg shakes
but we judder up the hill
and leave the others to their fate.

Then...Damn it! Damn! Damn! Damn!
My moleskine notebook's in the pub
full of poems not yet grown.

Ben jumps out and rushes back
and while he's gone the seconds drag:
A son is poor exchange for some

mere book but in a flash he's back
and up the hill we steeply strain,
water washing to the rims.

The honda coughs and groans against
the push of that great flowing tongue
that so nearly licked us out.

We crest the ridge like freedom's song
Yes! We're saved! We'll live! We'll live!
Then sorrow for our shipmates down below.

We park besides malevolent floods
and rush into another handy pub.
The feverish light of the nearly-dead

dangles guttering lanterns in
our wild and widening eyes
as we wail our salty tale

to startled diners and a clutch
of locals brooding by the bar.
A sullen landlord scowls for free.

'There's talk of bodies at Boscastle!'
A news-hack from the local rag
picks about the place for scraps:

Like some strutting raven on
a field of silent slain-
Against a white backdrop-a stain!

'Crackington-where? No! No!
It's Boscastle that's in the news.
Not What-haven! Where?'

Just a place we thought we'd met
our end, that's all. That's it, no more.
A hamlet nestling in a crack of cliff.

We visited to try the surf
and look around the rocky shore,
and eat some scones with clotted cream.

Some lies are worse than others

Indeed a lie is a lie is a lie.  But some lies change the very substance of how we see the world and all that is in it.  Some lies corrode our sense of hope, lessen our courage and destroy optimism.  Some lies darken the world for us.  What is the vilest lie?  Is it political?  In 'The Republic', Plato even encourages the guardians to lie to the people as a means of control, likewise Machiavelli for whom a lie is simply another instrument of power and control for the effective prince.  Or is it to say 'I love you' and not to mean it?  Or to say I am your friend while sliding the stilletto into the ribs smilingly?


 The vilest lie has wormed its wicked way
 into the very heart of me and mine,
and nests there breeding poison in my veins.
My high, thick walls and ramparts fell apart as
in the demon stormed and ate me tea.
I do wish we could trap the bloody thing,
confine it in some stinking foetid hole
to meditate upon it’s ruthless crimes.
Will we wait here for redeeming signs?
Some indication of a deeply-felt regret?
I say we let it rot here by the shore!
The waves can wash away it’s many sins!
For it has plagued me with the foulest dream:
That life is just a dream, and nothing more.


Fwd: GEORGE MONBIOT TELLS IT LIKE IT IS AND IT'S NOT GOOD. Why the climate talks in December are doomed to failure.

From George Monbiot's blog:

The Process Is Dead

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 12:07 PM PDT

It's already clear that the climate talks in December will go nowhere - so what do we do?



Indeed palms beneath our feet and hosanna's ringing in the air?  I think not.  As we disembarked the ferry at Weymouth in the early hours of a grim Sunday the only sound was of the muffled clamp of thick fog and wind-spun drizzle as we blithely drove out of the town in completely the wrong direction for which action, in the tradition of my gender, I roundly blamed my poor suffering wife, while the children optimistically asked whether we were there yet.  Ten hours later we arrived at Kendal red-eyed but relieved and stunned by the wild beauty of the Lakes-our eyes still unused to a horizon of land that exceeded nine miles in any direction.
So here we are, back in the UK after three years in Guernsey setting up court advisory services for children and families. It was a fascinating project and I’m now taking a break before embarking on a new challenge probably in the private care sector. And to top it all we're back just in time for the recession to start biting and the city streets to erupt into protest and revolution.  Marvellous, but then again was it not always thus?
Getting an entire household back from one country to another including children, the gerbil Mr Nibbles, and all possessions is quite an endeavour and an organisational task of immense proportions so my wife Millie and I are still in recovery mode as are the children. But they were all brilliant. I can blog a bit now and start to catch up on lots of stuff that’s been happening. Life in the Channel Islands has inspired me to begin writing a fairly lengthy poem called ‘A Theory of Islands’ and I’ll be posting bits on that as it develops. Essentially the concepts of flotsam and jetsam and the random way in which lives are cast up on distant shores serves as prime theme and then there is something of the inwardness of islands and the inevitable predatory reaction to ‘passing trade’. I began to think of smuggling and ship-wrecking and piracy not only as illegal survival activity but as a philosophical mindset determined by location, in this case the proximity of the sea-a kind of smuggle-osophy. And then there is the sea herself with all her mystery and pitiless wildness. To live within the ambit of such a wild force must inevitably impact on one’s growth and nature, on one’s perceptions and values. Anyway that’s my theory of islands stuff. It’s great being back in the UK and I’m aware how I relish just the great diversity of cultures and peoples. Even the complexities of weather are appealing-though I’m not sure how long that will last. I’m going to start posting some video on the blog over the coming weeks including some of my songs, some interpretations and some of my poems performed for the blog. When I get settled in the Brighton area I’ll be doing some gigs and readings and will post those dates here. It’s looking like I’ll be working in London which was part of my plan so I’m looking forward to that and just enjoying being unemployed for a wee while. Thanks for reading-Success to your work!


One of my favourite curry recipes from Jamie Oliver! Thank you Jamie!

Peter's Lamb Curry (from Jamie's book The Return of the Naked Chef) - serves 8.

2 tablespoons butter
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
285ml/1/2 pint stock or water
1.5kg/3 1/2lb leg of lamb, diced
1 handful of chopped mint and coriander
285ml/1/2 pint natural yoghurt
salt and freshly ground black pepper
lime juice to taste

Hot and Fragrant Rub Mix -

2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 clove
1/2 a cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Curry Paste Ingredients -

5cm/2 inches fresh ginger, peeled
2 tennis-ball-sized red onions, peeled
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 fresh chillies, with seeds
1 bunch of fresh coriander

Preheat your oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.

Lightly toast the fragrant rub mix in the oven or under the grill. Chop the curry paste ingredients roughly, add the rub mix and puree in a food processor.

In a large casserole pan, fry the curry paste mixture in the butter until it goes golden, stirring regularly. Add the tomatoes and the stock or water. Bring to the boil, cover with kitchen foil and place in the oven for one and a half hours to intensify the flavour. Remove the foil and continue to simmer on the stove until it thickens. This is your basic curry sauce.

Fry the lamb in a little olive oil until golden, then add to the curry sauce and simmer for around 1 hour or until tender.
Sprinkle with chopped coriander and mint and stir in the yoghurt. Season to taste and add a good squeeze of lime juice. Serve with spiced breads, steamed basmati rice and lots and lots of cold beer.



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bill McKibben - 350.org <organizers@350.org>
Date: 10 September 2010 21:02
Subject: Just left a meeting with the White House...
To: heartofbalance@gmail.com

The White House refused to accept our offer of a free solar panel installation on 10/10/10.

That's why we need to lead by example, and show our leaders how work gets done. 

Can you start or join an event in your community on 10/10/10?

Take Action
Dear friends,

I just walked out of a disappointing meeting with the White House: they refused to accept the Carter solar panel we came to Washington to deliver and said that they would continue their "deliberative process" to discuss putting solar panels back on the White House roof.

Well, we're done deliberating. When Pakistan is under water, Russia is on fire, and millions of people are ready for clean energy jobs, it's not time to deliberate: it's time to get to work.

Today marks the one month countdown to the 10/10/10 Global Work Party. Will you help us celebrate by signing up to
register or attend an event today?

We entered this morning's meeting buoyed by the over 40,000 of you who signed our letter requesting President Obama to make the retrofit. We were equally heartened by the hundreds of work parties that have been registered since our road trip began on Tuesday. And we were humbled by reports of the amazing work being planned in places like Zimbabwe, where a group of students will be installing solar panels on the roof of a rural hospital for 10/10/10.

I'm also incredibly proud of the three students from Unity College who stood right up to the officials we met with and explained to them that if they wanted to communicate about the greening of the government they should do something in a place where people pay attention.

This week's road trip got incredible media coverage in places like Newsweek, the Washington Post, USA Today, and more. Thousands of you helped spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. Hundreds of you signed up new work parties to show how you're leading this movement for climate solutions. Because in the end, that's what it is going to take: a movement.

Your efforts are building incredible momentum. In the last month, big partners like Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, and the World Council of Churches have joined the 10:10 Campaign and 350.org in planning for 10/10/10. The day will be a moment to bring our entire movement together and show our so-called leaders what real leadership looks like.

As for the Carter solar panel, it's going to stay in Washington for now, ready for President Obama to come take it home. And as for me, I'm going to head home myself for a few days of rest before hitting the road again to drum up support for 10/10/10.

Your hard work means the world to us, let's keep up the fight.


Bill McKibben

PS: This week was a big week for our online growth too -- we're super close to 100,00 supporters on Facebook. Push us over the edge: Click here to invite your facebook friends to join you.

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What is 350?
350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Scientists measure carbon dioxide in "parts per million" (ppm), so 350ppm is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. To get there, we need a different kind of PPM-a "people powered movement" that is made of people like you in every corner of the planet.