immigrating back to where you come from . . .

Cold toes and cold hands in Wood Green. Trying to save on heating.

Smashing Time is done and needs to find a home. I am 60 pages into Nerve Movie (poems written during my commute on the underground from Wood Green to Hammersmith then Hammersmith to Richmond).

When I first came to London in 2008 I had high expectations. Expectations of home. Expectations of coming back to the world of poetry. It was tough year.  I had to adjust my expectations. I had lived too long in North America to expect to find a sense of home. Something about coming back to where you come from and finding it is not the same place at all. My mind creating narratives and images of Northern Ireland and the U.K. Childhood. No matter if we stay in the same place all our lives we still travel. Childhood.

On my second return to my country of origin (in December 2010) I had less expectations. I wanted to re-connect with the poetry world. I wanted to do readings. I wanted to settle down and get more comfortable and re-start my library. I missed having a library in my world travels. I missed having a sense of place. At the end of six years of world traveling and living very feebly at times out of one suitcase, I wanted to just allow myself to feel some of the comforts of a more settled life.

So here I am. One year into my second go at London. I lived in London when I was seven or so. First in a homeless hostel. Later in Elephant and Castle. This was the 80’s. It wasn’t a good time to have a Northern Irish accent.

This time I have found some good friends. I have found what I love about writing and poetry. Call it a world view. An epistemology? Kenneth Koch, Philip Whalen, Bernadette Mayer, Tim Atkins, Lisa Jarnot, Jeff Hilson, Cathy Wagner, Peter Jaeger, Steven Fowler (especially Minimum Security Prison Dentistry and his Maintenant Series of collaborations and readings of U.K. and European poets).

These are a few of the writers and artists that matter most in terms of living my life. Their work is intimately connected to how I experience life.

And writing through what I love. I have seen this especially in the work of Tim Atkins. And getting out of the way. I have seen this in the various exciting conceptual work of Peter Jaeger. And being child-like in terms of curiosity. Letting everything come in. Including the risk of humour. I have seen this in the work of Jeff Hilson and Tim Atkins. Plus the punk poetics of Cathy Wagner. And the life writing life of Bernadette Mayer. And letting in the multiplicity of voices in the work of Hannah Weiner. And the nerve movies (quicksilver moments of being) of Philip Whalen.

I am having mint tea. It is time to grade final exams. London is not really a home. Perhaps it never will be.

But then again my mindfulness practice has benefited a lot since I have been here for the last year. And I have grown much more comfortable with the North American part of my cultural background. I have learned to create my own America through exile. I thought myself an exile from Northern Ireland when I lived in America. Now I realise my choices are much wider. Much more varied.

I am from the Milky Way.

Good friendship are vital. Writing is vital. Books are vital. Love is vital. Mindfulness and compassion are vital.

And so it goes . . . .

in progress from fractured burps

Opening the Eyelid
(for David Rattray)


ripped by rum and oranges


we’ll picnic here


there’s no difference


between homecoming and going


God’s whiskers on Jesus skin


I have an inside to my outside


fireflies in a leaf filtred limelight


thereby fulfilling a prophecy


every moment empty space shines 


bathtub rings


I think of your children in spacesuits

crunching numbers second draft

Crunching Numbers

the price of beans of which I am constituted
the dude behind all that rain
time has this shadow 
check this dog a bone
every man jack gets to be a wife 
the states
somewhere does a sky bend into lassitude 
a full court press 
into high hips 
into a form fitting sheet
new jack sex
thunder puddles
in Wood Green
no pev no gup ya
no pa pa

ongoing from Fractured Burps manuscript . . . first draft

Crunching Numbers
an earcheck 
breath from a hooded hook
no pev no 
gup ya
part of a slipper 
they call it a gulf
time has this shadow 
sometimes a chant
the dude behind all that rain
check this dog a bone
every man jack gets to be a wife 
the price of beans of which I am constituted
somewhere does a sky bend into lassitude 
full court press 
no pev no
thunder puddles
at night the states
into high hips into a form fitting sheet
new jack sex
what we call it could be worse
thunder puddles
in Wood Green
no pa pa

Reading a lot of Philip Whalen and Kenneth Koch

Friday night. A week drawing to a close. Indian stomach rumbles again from the buffet. Settling in with some ginger tea and reading some plays of Kenneth Koch collected in The Gold Standard. Leaning over bed in this small North London room to type on laptop which rests on a foldable chair.

Will return to Koch’s play George Washington Crossing the Delaware very soon. NY School Poetry is taking my writing in new directions.

As we all know it is information overload. So much on the internet. Jacket 2. MFA programme grads. it is nice to hunker down with something like Kenneth Koch’s collected and his plays. Focus attention.

Just ordered Philip Whalen’s collected with parent’s gift certificate for 37th birthday. Be here in a month or less. Whalen’s and Koch and Padgett and Mayer are opening me up.

I am weighed by memories. So many lifetimes, identities, experiences, countries. I am finding writing as a way to let them go. See them as me and not me. That flickering between existing and not existing. In short, I am finding my way back to writing as life and life as a practice and that practice ultimately as spiritually but not spiritual in the sense of separate from the body. An expansive spirituality. All encompassing. More a perspective. A mindfulness.

And so it goes . . .

back to George Washington.

He just chopped down the cherry tree . . .

some interesting essays over at Big Bridge (perhaps actually much more enjoyable than Jacket in many ways):

Philip Whalen essays at Big Bridge

copulating and happy with NY School Poetry

I just received Joe Brainard’s I Remember in the post today. I am sure many folks have read it. I am late to the game. It is a classic of conceptualism and NY School Poetry. I am sure the French writers have already been influenced by it. It seems NY School Poetry has much more in common with French poetry than anything at all British. British poetry is very isolated. It is stuck in the 19th century with a few early modernists. Agh. Too bad for British poetry.

I just finished the following NY School Poetry books while commuting on the tube/subway. I highly recommend all of them.

Great Ball of Fire (Ron Padgett)

Poetry State Forest (Bernadette Mayer)

How To Be Perfect ( Ron Padgett)

My plans for next week’s tube reading:

Tulsa Kid (Ron Padgett)

I Remember (Joe Brainard)

NY School Poetry is of course a united singular aesthetic. But is seems, without getting into scholarly nit-picky mode, the poets do have some things in common. I especially like how so many of them, Ron Padgett and Joe Brainard especially, use their everyday lives. An attempt to bring art and life closer together. The original avant garde art project.

So here is my everyday life today.

There was a Polish birthday party in Leicester Square, followed by crowd immersion at British museum. Currently, I am experiencing acid reflux.

My friend Joe, just back from living and teaching English in Portugal, brought his own blow up mattress to stay with us in London. Our place is very small. Maybe it can fit a blow up mattress.

I thought about fish and chips tonight but there is no fish and chips tonight. We are trying to eat more healthy.

I also looked at LOOT for place to live with Ewa. If I can keep a job for decent amount of time, it would be nice to have a place, even a small one, but a bit bigger than this small bedroom we share in North London (Wood Green).

And so we tread forward. Nomadic travels await. Ewa has made some green tea.

Tea helps to centre me.