Thursday, 31 October 2019

Samhein: Bright Blessings

It's that time of the year, the clocks have gone back, the evenings are getting darker, and menacing ghoulish Tories still stalk the land causing division and chaos and so much discontentment.
Today marks  Halloween,  however  I prefer its true name Samhein the literal translation being‘summer’s end. It is the Gateway to winter, a time when the veils between the realms of the living and the afterlife were said to be especially thin, marking a time for reflection to honor the worlds of the seen and unseen. There are several explanations for its origin, one being the Roman festival of the dead 'Parentalia', but another origin, not necessarily exclusive from the Roman one, is from the ancient Celtic old day of Samhein (sa-wain) and most of the traditions that we celebrate on Halloween have its origins in Celtic/Gaelic Culture.
Samhein, which means November in Irish, and Calan gaef in Welsh was the end of summer and the harvest season in the Celtic calender. It was the last great feast held outdoors before the cold months to come. The last night of October also marked the ancient Celts New Years Eve. Marking the end of the summer and the beginning of Winter.
The Celts  believed that on Samhein, the veil between the living and the dead was dropped for one day, and the spirits of the living could intermingle with the spirits of the dead.The ancient Celts divided their year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane on 1st May and Samhain on November 1. Many believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a new cycle / new year,and the most magical time of this festival was November Eve, the night of 31st October, better known today as Halloween..
In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer pastures to the shelter of the stables, .in order to determine how many animals could be adequately fed through the winter. Those not able to be cared for were butchered, which would help to feed the family during the dark days ahead.  It is partially due to this practice that Samhain is sometimes referred to as the ‘blood harvest.’
With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints’ Day, to celebrate the saints in heaven, and so the night before became popularly known as Halloween. The 2nd November became All Souls Day, when prayers were to be offered to the souls of the departed. Throughout the centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs and celebrations have intertwined
 Over the years we have ended up with the modern commercialised, corporate version that is now known as halloween  far from its original roots  when children dress up in Ghoulish costumes and go out trick and treating in what was developed in America in the late 19th and early 20th century replacing what in reality is such a sacred day The old ways are still with us despite the grip of large corporations, the real reason and respect for this occasion has never been lost. Samhein and its energy has never fully died out and still burns bright. Samhain fires have continued to light up the countryside down the ages., In some areas, ashes from these bonfires were sprinkled on surrounding fields. The day is also  about remembrance and  contemplation. Our ancestors, the blessed dead, are more accessible, more approachable during the time of the dying of the land. A day to commune with the dead and a celebration of the eternal cycle of reincarnation to honor our ancestors  and remember our deceased loved ones.
Whether you believe in spirits or not isn't important. What we are remembering is our own mortality. By honoring the dead we are paying attention to the fact that we are alive and life is rare and precious.
The Election campaign of our lifetime is just beginning. No witchcraft or magic, no tricks, just people working together for a better future for all in our lovely beautiful country.This General Election is about down- to-earth, bread and butter issues facing a country blighted by a decade of Tory austerity and misrule.
Lets take this once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild our society, like our parents and grandparents did after WW2. Labour  can rebuild our society to mend our divisions and try and take on the vested interests holding people back.
In the meantime I offer you some bright blessings .

Bright Blessings 

Though darkness treads this day of ours
today is one of celebrating light,
time to remember the paths of ancestors
forever casting their eternal beams,
goddesses returning, resurrecting feeling
whispering enchantment, releasing power,
as the veil of  life gets thinner and dimmer
time to welcome old spirits that walk among us,
that enable us to dance and sing again
beyond this realm allows us to be blessed,
as leaves turn golden, and fall to nourish the land
under trees branches we can all nobly stand,
mother earth reaching out offering protection
absorbing our longings, accepting our wrongs,
in the vortex of time, keeps on shining bright
guiding us as we follow ancient paths of wisdom,
slipping through time, surrounded by love
allowing truth and justice to be the natural law.

( when the barrier between the worlds is whisper-thin and when magic, old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it.
~Carolyn MacCullough, Once a Witch)

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

General Election Called:Tories Out For Christmas

It's finally happened, after weeks of acrimony in the House of Commons, Britain's members of parliament have backed a general election which will take place on Thursday, December a rare parliamentary success for Mr Johnson after a string of defeats, his short bill calling for a 12 December election was approved 438 to 20 in the House of Commons. An attempt by the LibDems to bring the election forward to 9 December was defeated 315-295.
The bill still needs approval in the Lords, but this is expected to be without problem.
Britain will hold its first December election  for almost 100 years since 1923, when Stanley Baldwin's Conservative Party lost 86 seats and their Parliamentary majority. Prime Minister Boris Johnson won approval from parliament for an early ballot aimed at breaking the Brexit deadlock. The result on the election means Johnson finally has within his grasp the election he has been pushing for since September after three previous attempts - the most recent on Monday - failed.
The decision means  that Parliament will be dissolved next week and all political parties will then enter into the customary six-week General Election  campaign culminating in the public vote  on December 12th.
With this parliament in a position of complete stalemate, the only way forward is for the public to elect a new one. Of course, having an election and running campaigns just before Christmas is far from ideal but the alternative  would be the continuation of a zombie parliament,another election I believe is in line with the needs of the people, who are not being served by democracy at all at this present moment in time,
The upcoming election will bound to be dominated  by debate over the UK's delayed departure from the EU but in a country blighted by almost a decade of Tory government and in which over four million children are hungry and in poverty, we have to concentrate on what  the Tories and Lib Dems have done since 2010 - the NHS carve up, the bedroom tax, the appalling Windrush scandal, destruction of our public services. as well as their bungled Brexit vote, and  their even worse Brexit handling, the Universal Credit fiasco, endless and brutal austerity; they have torn the country to pieces, thousands homeless on our streets, many have died, 120,000 austerity deaths, 14 million in poverty, food banks growing. Hopelessness, it has spread like a cancerous epidemic into every postcode in the UK. Even in the shires. The Tories have brought our communities to their knees. Britain isn't eating.It simply cannot go on like this!
159,388 during this election will rely on food hand outs to eat. 65,662 of our hungry this election are children who wont even get a vote. Alone the hungry have no power to change their future. Only you can. 131,00 Children will wake up on Christmas Day homeless. They get no say in their future' They are entirely at the mercy of what you decide for their future. You are the master of their destiny.As the Tories actions continue to be marked by incompetence and farce, which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has previously pointed out "threatens our economy, businesses, jobs and communities." and  the Tories continue to cause so much irreplaceable harm to our country, we have to remind ourselves that Britain doesn't have to be like this. We can be a confident, compassionate, forward looking and open society, with a properly funded and protected NHS, a high standard of schools for all and not just the wealthy few, a fair tax system that ensures giant corporations pay their dues, a welfare system built on dignity and not wanton cruelty. It's time for the Tories to go for the greater good of all. What greater Christmas could we have than this.
But if the Tories do manage to retain their grip on power, then God help us, I think we will truly be fucked, so in the meantime we must do all we can to prevent this from happening. The fight of our lives is on ,for our futures and our children's futures we must do all we can to stop Johnson and the Tories cementing their right-wing grip on the country any further.We have reached a tipping point in this country, a time when the line between right and wrong, justice ad injustice has never been so starkly drawn. We must now all pick a side, choose right over wrong.Tories out for Christmas.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Sean Taylor - Palestine

Sean Taylor is an acclaimed London based singer songwriter, who is not afraid to use his voice to address contemporary issues of our age and is one of thousands of artists who refuses to use their art to art-wash Israel's regime of apartheid and occupation. His work deserves a place in  popular culture. It’s relevant, resonant and makes you feel both empathy and sympathy for real-life events as they are unfolding around us.
This is his haunting  new single which is  dedicated to the brothers and sisters of Palestine Currently Israel is intensifying its decades-old regime of oppression against Palestinians, especially its theft of Palestinian land and resources to build more illegal settlements and apartheid walls. UN investigators have concluded that Israeli occupation forces’ intentional targeting of journalists, medics, children and disabled people with sniper fire in Gaza “may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity”. Moreover, Israel’s 12-year-old siege of Gaza has reduced it into an “unliveable” territory, according to the UN. Israel’s military occupation counts per-capita calories allowed into Gaza to keep the two million Palestinians there on the verge of starvation. 
From the rivers to the sea Palestine will be free

The single is available @
Produced by Mark Hallman and film by Reel News

Sunday, 27 October 2019

The Confessions of Karl Marx.

Karl Marx  explained how the  capitalist system goes hand in hand with aggressive competition and innovation, and why this leads to  poverty, crisis and eventually revolution . These insights apply as much to the 21st century as the 19th.
The  current crisis of global capitalism is unprecedented, given its magnitude, its global reach, the extent of ecological degradation and social deterioration, and the scale of the means of  its violence.  We truly face a crisis of humanity. The stakes have never been higher; our very survival is at risk.
Consequently  a renewed interest in Kark Marx is evident. An increasing concentration of wealth and growing poverty is making his analysis relevant once again – especially to a generation raised on austerity and facing worse life prospects than their parents had.
No longer a spectre, Marx .was also a voracious reader who loved the works of Shakespeare and could quote entire plays by the Bard—just as his children could—and generally took an interest in everything. “Art,” he said, “is always and everywhere the secret confession, and at the same time the immortal movement of its time.” No idea or philosophy or culture was foreign to him, and there was nothing that didn’t keen his interest.
Karl also enjoyed playing parlor games like Confessions, which is now probably better known as the set of questions devised by Marcel Proust. In April 1865, Marx was staying with relatives when he as asked by his daughters to answer a set of confessions. Marx’s responses  were written in English and several of them are clearly in the gay spirit of the occasion. For example: Your favorite dish? Fish (because it rhymes with dish); your favorite flower? Daphne (a kind of laurel-sor Laura). Others, however, are just as clearly serious.They were discovered  by Friedrich Engels while going through his papers and reflect the true character of the man and give  an interesting insight into the mind of this great political and economic philosopher, journalist and writer.

Your favourite virtue: Simplicity 
Your favourite virtue in man: Strength 
Your favourite virtue in woman: Weakness 
Your chief characteristic: Singleness of purpose 
Your idea of happiness: To fight 
Your idea of misery: To submit 
The vice you excuse most: Gullibility 
The vice you detest most: Servility 
Your aversion: Martin Tupper [popular Victorian author] 
Your favourite occupation: Glancing at Netchen [“Netchen, or Nannette, was Antoinette Philips, aged 28 at the time, Marx’s cousin and a member of the Dutch section of the International”] 
Your favourite poet: Aeschylus, Shakespeare 
Your favourite prose-writer: Diderot 
Your hero: Spartacus, Kepler 
Your heroine: Gretchen 
Your favourite flower: Daphne 
Your favourite dish: Fish 
Your favourite colour: Red 
Your maxim: Nihil humani a me alienum puto [Nothing human is alien to me] 
Your favourite motto: De omnibus dubitandum [Doubt everything] 

 Marx/Engels Archive.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Natural Sanctity

Beyond the shambles of our age
That leaves many with tears of rage
Natures glory still a wonder to behold
Far more precious than silver and gold
The virgin forests glowing with purity
Secrets dense with mystical mystery
Containing richness to heal the world
The sap of ancient treasure unfurled
Untarnished by man's destructive hand
Sanctifying balms as sun rises across the land
Infinite energies can be garnished
To stop humanity delivering carnage
Among soft green climes, sounds of comfort
Permutations symbiotically magically exert
Rainwater percolating the fertile soil
Dispensing a downfall, sating it's thirst
Quenching the earth and replenishing rivers
Releasing a deluge of fortuitous sustenance.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

My Seditious Heart - Arundhati Roy

My Seditious Heart, is an ucompromising collection of essays  that collects the work of a two decade  period when Arhndhati Roy devoted herself to the political essay as a way of opening up space for justice, rights and freedoms in an increasingly hostile environment. Taken together, these essays trace her twenty year journey from the Booker Prize winning The God of Small Things to the extraordinary The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: a journey marked by compassion, clarity and courage." Radical and readable, they speak always in defence of the collective, of the individual and of the land, in the face of the destructive  logic of financial, social, religious, military and government elites." said the publisher in a statement.
When taken together these essays trace Roy's journey from her first book  to her last "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness"- a journey marked by compassion, clarity and courage, it added.
Since her debut novel  she has concentrated her writing on political issues.A vocal, visible, and courageous activist, who often takes on unpopular, underwritten causes and is unafraid to challenge the ruling elite. She has campaigned against the Indian nuclear weapons program, in response to India's testing of nuclear weapons in Pokhran, Rajasthan, Roy wrote The End of Imagination, a powerful critique of the Indian government's nuclear policies. It was published in her collection The Cost of Living, in which she also crusaded against India's massive hydroelectric dam projects in the central and western states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. She also spoke out against the barbarity of her government’s repression of the Kashmiri and Naxalite insurgencies, and the environmental and human costs of India’s hydroelectric dam projects, and also opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Born in northeast India, Roy was the daughter of a tea plantation manager and a women’s rights activist. When aged two, her parents divorced and Roy’s mother took her young children back to her hometown of Kerala, in south India. At 16, she left the south for Delhi where she lived in a small tin-roofed hut and sold empty beer bottles.
Her first novel  published in 1997.told the devastating story of twins Rahel and Estha and in doing so, examined India’s caste system, its history and social mores. It explored the ways in which the ‘Untouchable’ caste is derogated and ostracised from society, and the consequences of breaching the caste’s longstanding codes. The narrative deftly illustrated how the personal is indeed political.
Her political campaigning has caused clashes with the state on a number of occasions. In 2002, she served a “symbolic imprisonment” of one day due to her opposition to the contentious Narmada dam project, the largest river development scheme in India which was set to potentially displace 1.5 million people at great environmental cost. In 2010, she faced threat of arrest, and charges of sedition, after she remarked that Kashmir, a disputed territory, was not an integral part of India. In 2015, she received a contempt notice from the Bombay High Court on writing an article in support of Professor Saibaba, a severely disabled academic at Delhi University, imprisoned for ‘anti-national activities’.
 Among her prestigious awards, she is the recipient of the Lannan Foundation’s Cultural Freedom Award (2002), the Sydney Peace Prize (2004) for her work in social campaigns and advocacy of non-violence and the Norman Mailer Prize for Distinguished Writing (2011). In 2003 she was awarded special recognition as a Woman of Peace at the Global Exchange Human Rights Awards in San Francisco. In June 2005 she took part in the World Tribunal on Iraq. In January 2006 she was awarded the Sahitya Akademi award for her collection of essays, 'The Algebra of Infinite Justice', but declined to accept it. Roy came out with her second work of fiction "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness" in 2017 after a hiatus of 20 years. She lives in Delhi, India
In constant conversation with the themes and setting of her novels, the essays in this collection form a near-unbroken memoir of Arundhati Roy's journey as both a writer and citizen of both India and the world, from 'End of Imagination'  which begins the book to "My Sedititious Heart', with which it ends. She presents  interlocking network of ideas, attitudes and ideologies that emerge from the contemporary social and the political world and steps into "the very heart of insurrections" raging against globalization, privatization, and neoliberal capitalism in India and around the world, and the abuses of power that pit economic profit over human lives. She asks her readers to emulate the rebels whose resistance she chronicles to;

"find the courage to dream. To reclaim romance. The romance of believing in justice, in freedom, and in dignity. For everybody," she writes. "We have to make common cause, and to do this we need to understand how this big old machine works—who it works for and who it works against. Who pays, who profits."

These essays,  are united by Roy's unflinching assessment of the violence and inequality around her, and her search for alternatives to the world we've inherited. Roy reminds us that silence and inaction are choices. Trying to crawl out of the moral "crevasse" of the world as it exists is also a choice
These  studies are trenchant, still relevant and frequently alarming. Roy reveals some hard truths about modern India and makes powerful analytical forays into American and British foreign policy, aid, imperialism and attitudes. Roy's essays about the environmental and human costs of late-capitalist development read as dispatches from a recent past that will also be our future. Climate change threatens to displace more than 140 million people by 2050—another example of the "fascist math" Roy describes operating during the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The project's planners dispassionately recommended displacing millions to dangerous urban slums where they had no means of sustaining themselves and might well perish. The danger of "fascist math," Roy argues, is that it "strangles stories ... [and] bludgeons detail." It blunts our ability to empathize with those who bear the brunt of environmental injustice—a category that will soon encompass many more of us.
 Roy writes in her foreword that “Not one iota of my anger has diminished” since the time of writing these essays. Yet they do not come across as angry, instead, their impact comes from their precision, research and damningly clear reportage. Roy refuses to accept the inevitability of development, of globalization, of fascism, of sacrifice by the poorest people for "the greater common good." Instead, she argues:

"Our  strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay seige on it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music our literature, our stubborness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness - and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe.
The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling -- their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.
Remember this:We be many, and they be few. They need us more than we need them.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."

From the shadows of our grotesque world ,on quiet days, we too can hear another world breathing. I thank  Arundhati Roy for her rebellious political conscience, and for delivering weighty truths and her willingness to discuss the difficult and those that have been previously  silenced, and continuing to speak truth to power and for reminding us that our world is still worth fighting for. Her voice is vital, we need many more writers like her, and quite frankly the urgency of her message is simply impossible to ignore.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Remembering the injustice of Aberfan and the dirty price of Coal.


Today I  once again mark the tragic day when  on Friday 21 October 1966, a terrible disaster struck the coal mining village of Aberfan in  the South Wales Valleys, a tragedy which still stuns those of a certain age, and which has lessons still very relevant to new generations.
For decades leading up to 1966 excavated mining debris from the National Coal Board's Merthyr Vale Colliery had been deposited on the side of Mynydd Merthyr, directly above Aberfan in the South Wales valleys.
At  approximately 9.14am on the last day before half-term at the Pantglas schools below, after several days of heavy rain, liquified  waste poured down the coal tip, sliding down the mountain slide into the mining village of Aberfan, This black tidal wave would engulf everything in its path in this catastrophic tragedy. It would smother a farm, around twenty houses, demolish Pantglas Junior School and severely damage the Secondary School. It is a mercy that lessons in the secondary school did not start until 9:30, meaning that many of those children were still walking towards the building at the time of the landslide. The eye-witnesses report that when the landslide stopped there was complete silence: for example a local hairdresser who witnessed the landslide reported that “In that silence you couldn’t hear a bird or a child”
Immediately desperate parents rushed to the scene, many digging through the rubble with their bare hands, trying to rescue the buried children. Police from Merthyr Tydfil arrived on the site, volunteers rushed to the village including miners from local collieries and other pits across South Wales. Conditions remained treacherous with a large amount of water and mud still flowing down the slope. Some children were pulled out alive in the first hour, but no survivors were found after 11 am. Emergency services workers and volunteers continued their rescue efforts but it was nearly a week before all the bodies were recovered.

 The final death toll was 144, including 116 children between the ages of 7 and 10. It was a whole week before all the bodies were recovered. Most of the victims were interred at Bryntaf Cemetery in Aberfan in a funeral held on 27 October 1966, attended by more than 2,000 people.
The shock  that was felt  went beyond South Wales too. The television coverage allowed a collective witnessing of the disaster and turned it into a national tragedy. Parents, children, mining communities, Welsh exiles, people who had been evacuated to the area during the Second World War – so many people across Britain and worldwide felt a deep personal empathy and sympathy with those who suffered in the disaster. The surviving 50,000 letters of condolence sent to the village are a testament to that sympathy.The writings show of the warmth of the nation and its people.
This horror was made even more poignant as news emerged of previous warnings and previous slides that had been brushed aside. The National Coal Board (NCB) had been repeatedly been warned to move the slag heaps to a safer location, because the loose rock and mining spoil had been piled over a layer of porous sandstone that contained many underground springs. Local authorities had already raised concerns about the tip pointing out that it posed a risk to the village primary school. The NCB's area management did not adequately act upon these concerns.
Did the NCB have the decency to acknowledge their blame, to bow their head in shame, like hell no, but we were to  learn sadly far too late that the NCB was ostensibly a capitalist organisation more concerned with profit than lives.  The Rt. Hon. Lord Robens of Woldingham, a former trade unionist and Labour politician whom the Macmillan government had appointed chairman of the National Coal Board, arrived 36 hours later, having first gone to Guildford to be installed as chancellor of Surrey University. He announced that the cause of the disaster was an unknown spring underneath the tip. This was immediately challenged by villagers who had known it all their lives.
Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who had reached Aberfan 24 hours before Robens, ordered an inquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act 1921, headed by a judge assisted by an engineer and a planning lawyer.
The subsequent tribunal placed blame for the disaster upon the National Coal Board stating in its damning conclusion: 'The Aberfan disaster is a terrifying tale of bungling ineptitude by men charged with tasks for which they were totally unfitted'.
Nevertheless, the top management of the NCB tried to give the impression at the inquiry that they had 'no more blameworthy connection than the Gas Board'. The NCB wasted up to 76 days of inquiry time by refusing to admit the liability that they had privately accepted before the inquiry had started. The tribunal called this 'nothing short of audacious'. This may be the strongest language ever used in a tribunal report about a UK public body.
The chairman of the National Coal Board (NCB) at the time was Alfred Lord Robens. When he eventually arrived in Aberfan on the evening of the day after the disaster, he told a TV reporter that the slide had been due to 'natural unknown springs' beneath the tip and that nothing could have been done to prevent the slide. This was not true, the springs had been known about and were marked on maps of the area. Yet the NCB had continued to tip on top of these springs. The potential danger posed by the tip to Pantglas school had also been previously acknowledged. There had also been previous incidents of tip instability in South Wales that would have given clear information on the very real dangers posed.
 Lord Robens  also claimed that it was too expensive to remove the tips, with an estimated cost of £3 million pounds.  In response, the community of Aberfan formed a Tip Removal Committee to actively seek out contractors for estimates to remove the tips.  Eventually the tips were removed by the NCB, but using £150,000 that Lord Robens appropriated from the disaster fund.  Understandably, this caused long-term resentment in the community.  In 1997, this sum (but without interest) was repaid to the fund by the UK government.
The Aberfan inquiry of 1967 stated: ‘Our strong and unanimous conclusion is that the Aberfan disaster could and should have been prevented’.Blame  for the disaster rests upon  the National Coal Board. The legal liabilities of the National Coal Board to pay compensation for the  personal injury  fatal or otherwise) and  damage to property is incontestable and uncontested."
A section of the report condemned the behaviour of Lord Robens:"For the National Coal Board, through its counsel, thus to invite the Tribunal to ignore the evidence given by its Chairman was, at one and the same time, both remarkable and, in the circumstances, understandable. Nevertheless, the invitation is one which we think it right to accept."
A few weeks later,  Lord Robens offered to resign. The minister, Richard Marsh, refused to accept his resignation. The Commons debated the disaster in October 1967. The debate was painful and inconclusive. But at least Aberfan made the dangers of ignoring workplace risks and the catastrophic effects on both occupational and public health and safety all too obvious.
 The Wilson government found the NCB guilty, but the price they placed on each small head was just £500.  Worldwide, people were less insensitive, donations poured in daily and a trust fund was set up, that attracted donations of £1,750,000 (equivalent to about £30 million today), with money being received in the form of more than 90,000 contributions from over 40 countries.  This fund distributed the money in a number of ways, including direct payments to the bereaved, the construction of a memorial, repairs to houses, respite breaks for villagers and the construction of a community centre.  However, the fund itself attracted considerable controversy.  First, when the fund was created it did not include any representatives from Aberfan itself;  and another insult ensued. The bereaved families were not thought to be competent enough to distribute the funds. The grieving families were outraged. The villagers took it upon themselves to form a Parents and Residents' Association, and their solicitors eventually persuaded bureaucrats to include five representatives from Aberfan. The ten officials who were not from Aberfan accepted highly paid salaries from the fund.
The Government of the day was also extremely insensitive to the victims families, and people would have to wait for years for compensation. It was also to  the eternal shame of Lord George Thomas of Tonypandy that he did not do more to support the people of Aberfan, and it was the shame of the establishment that funds raised for the disaster were used to move the slag heaps from the school. Thomas many believed was more interested in toadying up to Royalty than supporting the people of the valleys. Perhaps what moved Welsh Labour to take some action were the fear of other voices speaking out. Plaid Cymru MP, Gwynfor Evans elected in 1966 suggested that had the slag heap  had fell on Eton or a school in the Home Counties more would have been done.
 The security of Labour’s hold on south Wales and the governments shameful marginalisation of the village’s needs after the disaster meant he was probably quite right. Indeed, the disaster played a key role in convincing some in Wales that both the nationalised coal industry and Labour governance were no longer operating in the interests of the working-class communities they were supposed to represent.
 Aberfan  at least added to a growing sense that the risks the public were exposed to by industry had to be controlled. This feeling eventually led to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (HSWA) 1974 which aims to protect both workers and non-workers from the risks of workplace activities.
Indeed, the HSWA notably requires that employers must safeguard people not in their employment. This includes members of the public, contractors, patients, customers, visitors and students. This may be seen as Aberfan’s legacy. Unbelievably, the committee which effectively led to the creation of the HSWA was chaired by none other than Lord Robens!
Earlier legislation such as the Factories Acts focused on specific industries or workplaces. This meant over 5 million workers had no Health & Safety protection – as well as the generally ignored public. The law was then more concerned with making sure machinery was safe!
One key feature of the 1972 Robens Committee Report that is echoed in today’s Health & Safety is the principle of consultation. So whilst we can be comforted by the fact that legislation is more demanding and the safety of people is put first, history tells us that we must never be complacent, take the example of Hillsborough for instance. .
Today though  we remember the people of Aberfan, their collective loss, a community that is still profoundly affected by this disaster and injustice, having paid the dirty price of coal,  one in three survivors still suffering  from Post traumatic stress,  over 50 years after this tragic event took place. The community of the Welsh town was deeply traumatised – the psychological and emotional effects rippled from one generation to the next, people felt guilty that they were left alive, they did not feel like survivors, cases of children not being allowed to play in the street, in case it upset other parents.
What happened at Aberfan on 21 October 1966 left an indelible mark on the valleys of south Wales. Even today, the name Aberfan evokes sadness and contemplation. Most British people born before 1960 remember what they were doing when they heard the tragic news.
The community suffered a second devastating blow with the closure of Merthyr Vale Colliery, Aberfan’s main employer, in 1989
The sores and wounds of this tragedy are now forever  engrained in the memories  and feelings of the people of Wales because of the whole collective loss of a generation that was wiped out.There are thousands upon thousands of Welsh people with personal or family connections to the coal industry, and for them the disaster is not simply something that happened in another time and another place. It is part of their own family history. So today again we  try not to forget  the children and adults who died, this human tragedy, that  many say could easily have been  prevented.
The disaster also summed relationship Welsh society has with its coal mining heritage. At one level, there is an immense popular pride in the work miners undertook and the sacrifices they endured. There is also a recognition that it was coal that made modern Wales. Without it, communities such as Aberfan would not have existed at all. Indeed, the knowledge that it was their labour that created the waste above the village added guilt to the grief felt by some bereaved fathers.
Aberfan is now known  today as one  of one of Wales worst mining disasters in it's history,but brought back memories of the pit disasters of Senghennydd (1913 - 439 killed) Gresford (1934 - 263 killed)
and the numerous less-known accidents that killed and maimed individual miners. Such fatalities continued to occur in the wake of 1947 but miners accepted the dangers inherent in their occupation. Aberfan however was different. This time it was their children that were killed, and by implication, a part of the future was lost,  because of mans greed.
 It is important to note that no employee of the NCB was ever disciplined for the breaches that caused the disaster.
Now pupils in Carmarthenshire will hold a minutes silence every year on 21 October after councillors recently passed a motion.
The chairman of Aberfan Memorial Charity said it was of "great comfort".
David Davies added: "The bereaved, the injured, the survivors and the wider community have always been touched that our fellow citizens in Wales, the UK and indeed around the world have not forgotten what happened in Aberfan.
"That wider empathy swept into our community like a huge wave of loving support most recently in 2016 and the 50th anniversary."
He added the annual silence "is a huge and ongoing source of great comfort to all concerned".
Here is an evocative poem written  at the time  by local poet Ron Cook. 

Where Was God - Ron Cook

Where was God that fateful day
At the place called Aberfan.
When the world stood still and the mountain
Moved through the folly of mortal man.
In the morning hush so cold and stark
And grey skys overhead.
When the mountain moved its awesome mass
To leave generations of dead.
Where was God the people cried
Their features grim and bleak.
Somewhere on their knees in prayer
And many could not speak.
The silence so still like something unreal
Hung on the morning air.
And people muttered in whisper tones
Oh God this isn’t fair.
The utter waste of childhood dreams
Of hope and aspirations.
A bitter lesson to be learnt for future generations

But where was God the people cried.
The reason none could say
For when the mountain moved its awesome mass.
God looked the other way.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Love Drug

Alcohol and drugs of variable degrees
Soaking, intoxicating every fibre of skin
Penetrating cycles, in sickness and health
Carried in the mind and deep within
Easing pain, but can be ineffectual
But strong enough can be a safety pin.
Love, however more resilient in nature
It truly is such a beautiful thing
As days grow dark and grey
Feel it's infinite touch, reel it in.
Vapors of necessity, soothing time
Allows our minds and bodies sing
You can't fake love, destroy its nature
Whiskey for a time  buys oblivion
Takes its victim as a mortal slave
Love's simple pleasures, keep on giving
Even while dark forces, unfurl their shit
Amours fragrance safer than heroin
May we be touched by its sweet warmth
Gives not takes, always forgiving.

Friday, 18 October 2019

October: Ten Days That Shook The World (1928)

October: Ten Days That Shook the World (Russian: Октябрь (Десять дней, которые потрясли мир); translit. Oktyabr': Desyat' dney kotorye potryasli mir) is a 1928 Soviet silent historical film by Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov. It is a celebratory dramatization of the 1917 October Revolution commissioned for the tenth anniversary of the event. Originally released as October in the Soviet Union, the film was re-edited and released internationally as Ten Days That Shook The World, after John Reed's popular book on the Revolution.
In the cultural sphere of the day, after the triumphant success of Battleship Potemkin in 1925 – a film that stands as one of the greatest achievements of silent cinema, and which inspired generations of filmmakers and artists, the  director Sergei Eisenstein found himself in high demand. 
A committed communist himself, Eisenstein spoke about how the revolution brought him to art from his engineering background, and how art, conversely, brought him to revolution. His films bear out that relationship. isenstein had planned to make a film about the events of October 1917 as the final part of his revolutionary triptych of films – succeeding The Strike (1925) and the aforementioned Battleship Potemkin. His “October” film was highly anticipated, received enthusiastic state support, and was to be released in commemoration of the ten-year anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power. What resulted was the most challenging (and perhaps most problematic) work in the filmmaker’s career. The authorities did not like October – it was partly censored, when it was  eventually released some months after the jubilee had passed in early 1928.
 Nikolai Povoisky, one of the trioka who led the storming of the Winter Palace was responsible for the commission. The scene of the storming was based  on the 1920 re-enactment involving Vladimir Lenin and thousands of Red Guards, witnessed by 100,000 spectators. This scene is notable because it became the legitimate, historical depiction of the Winter Palace owing to the lack of print or film documenting the actual event, which led historians and filmakers to use Eisensten's recreation. This illustrates October's success as a propaganda film.
Today Sergei Eisenstein is often portrayed as the godfather of propaganda in film regarded as one of the most important pioneers of early cinema, a filmmaker and theorist whose legacy can still be felt.
The film opens with the elation after the February Revolution and the establishment of the Provisional Government, depicting the throwing down of the Tsar's monument. It moves quickly to point out it's the "Same old story" of war and hunger under the new Provisional Government.The buildup to the October Revolution is dramatized with intertitles marking the dates of events. 
 The film was originally  intended to represent two revolutionary leaders, Lenin and Trotsky. Trotsky’s absence from the eventual film so obviously contradicts the historical record that one can only conclude the work was heavily censored. Trotsky was chairman of the Petrograd Soviet from September 25, 1917. However, the film does not show Trotsky, but another leader of the Petrograd Soviet, Yakov Sverdlov, exhorting soldiers with a rousing speech. An important episode in the film concerns the second All-Russian Congress of Soviets. This was of huge importance in relation to the debates actually taking place. Trotsky is missing from this part of the film. The program notes to October reveal that his “historic utterance, ‘Words must be followed by deeds’ are put into the mouth of a political companion”
 October was criticised in Keatsian terms by no less a luminary than Lenin’s widow, Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya. “Crude tricks will not do,” she said. “The dead horse suspended over the water, hanging from the shafts of the opening bridge; the murdered woman’s hair spreading out, covering the bridge’s slats. It’s too much like an advertisement, it’s theatrical.” It is, if you like, “palpable design”.
This iconic film nevertheless continues to receive attention for its dramatic use of imagery, deploying  Eisenstein’s famous techniques of intercutting, juxtaposition and montage to create mood and drama. is still in my opinion a wonder to behold. 

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Stand With Catalonia

Image Omnium

Human rights defender Jordi Cuixart and 8 Catalan political leaders have been sentenced to a total of 100 years in prison for sedition, a crime they did not commit. Cuixart will have to serve a term of 9 years in prison for having exercised fundamental rights like freedom of expression or the right to demonstrate. And the Catalan political leaders will have to serve from 9 to 13 years in prison for having organised a referendum on self-determination in October 2017 in defiance of the Spanish state, in which more than two million  people voted for independence that was dominated by brutal repression by the central state. At the time there was a sudden upsurge of self-organisation in defense of the right to vote, with the result being that  the  pro-independence political parties in the Catalan parliament  unilaterally declaring independence from Spain. In response, the Spanish government invoked Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution which effectively suspended the region’s autonomy.
The desire  for Catalan separatism, has been viewed with suspicion  by some on the left, seeing it as a bourgeois, nationalist, divisive phenomenon, though is generally sympathetic to the right of self-determination.It is a very complicated issue but there has been a growing clamour in the past decade for independence from those Catalans who believe their wealthy region, has a moral, cultural and political right to self- determination, and that  has long put more into Spain economically than it has received in return. Calls for independence grew as Spain  endured a painful and protracted economic crisis.
The fact remains whether you support the Catalan call for independence or not  is  largely irrelevent they should at least be given the choice and their right to vote on the matter. and should be supported as they reach their  own decisions and destiny.
 The representative of the Catalonian government to the EU, Meritxell Serret, demanded on Tuesday (15 October) that other political actors, including the European institutions, now intervene to pave the way for a political dialogue between Spain and Catalonia.
 However, the EU commission said on Monday that it fully respects the Spanish Constitutional order, "including decisions of the Spanish judiciary".
"Our position has not changed: this is and remains an internal matter for Spain," said a commission spokeswoman.
However, Irish MEP Matt Carthy (from leftwing GUE/NGL group) rejected that argument and tweeted that the ruling of the Spanish court is "a fundamental betrayal of human rights and democracy".
Many other MEPs stood up for the imprisoned leaders from Catalonia, pledging to bring this debate to the European Parliament (EP).
Scottish MEP Sheila Ritchie (from the liberal Renew group) said on Twitter that "the Spanish government has not handled this issue well".
"I will ask the Spanish government to engage in constructive dialogue to map out a way for Catalonia," she added.
Her compatriot MEP Alyn Smith, president of the European Federal Alliance (EFA) group described the sentences in a statement as "a travesty of justice which will only serve to worsen already difficult relations between Catalonia and Spain".
Some MEPs also supported the possibility of an amnesty for the jailed Catalan politicians.
The leader of the Spanish leftist party Unidas Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, also suggested a pardon of the sentence - a governmental decision used rarely in recent Spanish history.
However, Spain's interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, ruled out either pardons and amnesties. While Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez insisted on Monday on full compliance of the sentence with no special privileges - in line with other unionist parties like the liberals Ciudadanos, the People's Party (PP) and the far-right Vox.
The judgment has been widely condemned in Catalonia. “The Catalan government rejects this verdict as unjust and anti-democratic, for being a legal case against pro-independence ideology and Catalonia’s right to self-determination,” said the region’s president, Quim Torra.
 Carles Puigdemont, the exiled former president of Catalonia who remains a fugitive from Spanish authorities,who fled to Belgium to avoid prosecution. described the verdict  on twitter as an “atrocity”, " now more than  ever... it is time to react like never before... for the future of our sons and daughters. For democracy. For Europe. For Catalonia."
 Jordi Sànchez, former Catalan National Assembly president, also stated that preventative imprisonment of the kind he had suffered “is an enormous injustice, not only for me and for the other pro-independence prisoners but in general around Spain."
Jordi Cuixart argued that those who hoped the trial who put an end to the aspirations of the Catalan independence leader would fail, saying: "If police violence couldn't stop thousands of people voting in the referendum, how can anyone think that a sentence will stop Catalans fighting for their right to self-determination?"
"Self-determination is transcendental,” said Joseph Rull, the former Catalan environment minister. “There will always be more people after us. There are not enough prisons to lock up our desire for freedom."
 After and heavy-handed tactics and brutal aggression by the Spanish police saw innocent people hurt in the streets of Barcelona on October 1, 2017, Barca decided to play their league game at home to Las Palmas behind closed doors that day as a protest and the Catalan club released a statement on Monday in support of the jailed leaders.
"FC Barcelona, as one of the leading entities in Catalonia, and in accordance with its historical record, for the defence of freedom of expression and the right to decide, today, after the condemnatory ruling issued by the Supreme Court in relation to the open process against the Catalan civic and political leaders, states that:
"In the same way that the preventive prison sentence didn't help to resolve the conflict, neither will the prison sentence given today, because prison is not the solution. The resolution of the conflict in Catalonia must come exclusively from political dialogue," it said.
The Catalan club also called for a "process of dialogue and negotiation" to resolve the conflict.
"Now more than ever, the club asks all political leaders to lead a process of dialogue and negotiation to resolve this conflict, which should also allow for the release of convicted civic and political leaders," the statement continued.
"FC Barcelona also expresses all its support and solidarity to the families of those who are deprived of their freedom."
Several players also used their platform to back the jailed leaders. "Proud to be part of this Club," defender Gerard Pique wrote in a tweet which quoted Barca's statement. "All my support and solidarity," Sergi Roberto tweeted, while Xavi posted on Instagram with a list of the imprisoned politicians and the word "shame" – in Catalan, Spanish and English.
Barca's fans unfurled a banner at Camp Nou ahead of their Champions League group game at home to Inter Milan at the beginning of the month which read: "Only dictatorships jail peaceful political leaders."

A banner raised at Camp Nou ahead of Barcelona's Champions League clash against Inter Milan Photo: Getty Images

The Catalans' next match at home is the Clasico clash versus Real Madrid on October 26, for which another demonstration from fans is expected.
This sentence has created a highly worrying precedent for democracy in Europe, as it places in question several basic rights, as pointed out by the UN and Amnesty International. Today human rights are being violated in Spain; tomorrow it could happen in your country. All these political prisoners should be released now. Amnesty avoids using the term “political prisoner” as there is no accepted definition in international law. However, over 1,000 legal experts have signed a manifesto arguing that the Catalan leaders in jail are effectively that.
After the court announced its verdict in the morning, pro-independence demonstrators gathered in Barcelona and other towns and cities throughout the day. It has helped revive the national question in Catalonia,, stoking anger and  mass mobilisations.  Protesters blocked a number of road and rail links across the region and dozens of flights from Barcelona were cancelled in the evening as thousands of demonstrators converged on the city’s airport, many of them clashing with police there.The unrest is expected to continue in the coming days.
In their resistance to the Spanish authorities, Catalans are drawing on a long tradition. Today’s political prisoners, whether accurately labelled or not, are the latest in a long line who have fought against the perceived injustices of the Spanish state. Foremost among these is Lluis Companys, the president of the generalitat who was arrested for declaring the Catalan republic on October 6 1934 and was executed by firing squad on October 15 1940. In 1936, General Francisco Franco began (with the help of Germany) his coup d'état and the Spanish civil war that provoked the suppression of the Catalan nation and its language for many years. The historic parallel is not lost on the Catalan people.
Catalonia is the largest non-state European nation. The Catalans are aware and proud of having a history of more than a thousand years. The splendid Catalan literature and culture is an essential part of Europe. The Catalan language is the mother tongue of millions of Europeans, but supporters of independence argue that their language and culture is not being sufficiently respected  by the Spanish central government  and they worry that if something is not done their culture will be absorbed.,and many Catalans do not want to live in a centralised Spanish state under a monarchy for whom they have little affection.
The right to free, peaceful and democratic self-determination of nations is above the legal limits of a state that wants to impose its legal system on millions of people which feel treated as second-class citizens because they are catalans.. It is a shameful indictment of any democracy that men and woman in a democracy can be tried, convicted and imprisoned for exercising the right to vote, as  is the lack of condemnation by other European governments.
There are some who support the idea of  independence without a state. It's not a majority position, but I consider it a valid one, all radical , alternative, social and political options are welcome, in the meantime though solidarity with the Catalan  political prisoners.The yellow ribbon is the symbol for solidarity with Catalonia’s political prisoners and you will find it scrawled on pavements and hanging from balconies throughout the region in Spain’s north-east corner.This shutdown of democracy should not be accepted and will be resisted by  further mass mobilisations of workers and youth. Nobody should stay silent with this unacceptable verdict. Here is a link to two petitions you could sign to help end this injustice..

Jordi Cuixart sentenced to 9 years for exercising fundamental rights. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

October Acrostic

                                                        Ours is an interesting world
                                                        Containing much confusion
                                                        Threads of indifference
                                                        Oh to return to the future
                                                        Be repelled by unkindness
                                                        Essence overcoming injustice
                                                        Rained minds, reeled from pain.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Unconventional Rebel Poet - e.e, cummings (14/10/1894 - 3/9/1962)

October 14th marks the birthday of unconventional American poet Edward Estlin Cummings, popularly known as e.e. cummings, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1894.His father, Edward, was a professor at Harvard University and later the nationally known minister of Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts. His mother, Rebecca, who loved to spend time with her children, played games with Cummings and his sister, Elizabeth. It was Cummings's mother who introduced him to the joys of writing.
Cummings began writing poetry at the age of 8, developing a signature style of using grammar and syntax to give his work a distinct physical and oral shape which broke with poetic conventions of the time. Cummings was educated at Cambridge High and Latin School, and from 1911 to 1916 he attended Harvard. Cummings became an aesthete, he began dress unconventionally, and dedicated himself to painting and literature.At Harvard, he roomed with John Dos Passos; befriended Lincoln Kirstein; read Latin, Greek, and French; earned two degrees; discovered alcohol, sex, fast cars, and burlesque at the Old Howard Theater; and raged against the school’s conservative, exclusionary upper-class rule.
When the United States entered the war in 1917, Cummings made the decision to avoid the draft and volunteered to serve with the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Service in France. He was excited by the prospect of adventure and felt this service would best match his pacifist nature and intellectual upbringing.  Perhaps because of his experimental artistic personality or his political beliefs, Cummings did not seem to fit in well with his unit and tension began to develop. Cummings freely spoke of his distaste for the other men in the unit, and wrote numerous letters of complaint to his family back in the US. French authorities censored the letters of both Brown and Cummings and they soon found themselves under the heavy scrutiny of authorities. After being interrogated and refusing to turn his back on Brown, Cummings was detained and eventually interred in a French Prison Camp at La Ferté-Macéfor three months.Later, he found out he had been accused of treason, but the charges were never proven.
He was glad to escape the regimentation of army life for the artists' playground of Greenwich Village, which he would call his home for the rest of his life, Never enamored of the moneyed class or celebrity or authority, here he threw himself into writing, painting, and sexual adventure. (Cummings would run through two marriages and many love affairs before settling down with the former model Marion Morehouse, his companion for the last 30 years of his life.)
His first major literary success came with the publication of his prose memoir, The Enormous Room (1922), an account of his imprisonment in France. This was followed by collections of verse, Tulips and Chimneys (1923), which contrasted the evils of war to the 'sweet spontaneous earth', and XLI Poems (1925).
In his poems Cummings often expressed his rebellious attitude towards politics, and conformity,He was sardonic about organized religion, but maintained an almost transcendentalizing faith in human beings. He championed individuals against the power of the state, as with "i sing of Olaf glad and big," and as a result was drawn to the radical Left early on, even translating Louis Aragon's poem "Red Front" from the French, but a visit to the Soviet Union turned him against communism, Eimi (1933), his experimental diary recounting his Soviet experience. By temperament, he was in some ways more an anarchist ( ironically with somewhat politically conservative leanings) but a certain irreverance remained fundamentally central to his character.
There is the  the question of  Cummings’s anti-Semitism, which his biographer  Susan Cheever contrasts with Ezra Pound’s more virulent prejudice, and while nothing is excused away, quite the contrary ,Cheever argues that in Cummings’s case it speak more to a prevailing disgust with the world rather than a disgust centered on one group in it:
Cummings was an equal opportunity hater. He hated Hitler and he hated the Jews. He hated Roosevelt and he hated Stalin, he especially hated Stalin. He hated the critical establishment and he didn’t like the new restaurants on Tenth Street. He made fun of other poets who had once been his friends.
He had a somber side that craved privacy and what he called an "after breakfast" side that enjoyed running with the crowd. He never ran after the crowd. He could spend days isolated with his work, yet he loved travel. In the twenties Cummings made several trips to Europe and there met with Ezra Pound, Hart Crane, Ford Maddox Ford, Archibald MacLeish, and others. During visits to France, Spain, Tunisia, Mexico, Russia and Italy he enjoyed visiting the museums, attending concerts, viewing stage shows, or just watching the passing parade. his body of work includes almost 3,000 poems, two autobiographical novels, four plays and several essays, as well as numerous drawings and paintings, and was the recipient of many literary awards, Cummings was awarded the Academy of American Poets fellowship, 1950; he received a Guggenheim fellowship, 1951-52; and he was the Charles Eliot Norton Lecturer at Harvard, 1953. as well as earning an honorary professorial seat at Harvard.
Throughout his career he paid a great deal of attention to the visual appearance of the poem on the page, probably due to his painters eye. But Cummings is perhaps best known for his unorthodox usage of both capitalisation, punctuation and typography. “Grammatical anarchism” was his way of protesting the conformity of mass society. He varied text alignments, spaced lines irregularly, and used nontraditional capitalization to emphasize particular words and phrases. In many instances his distinct typography mimicked the energy or tone of his subject matter. He also revised grammatical and linguistic rules to suit his own purposes and experimented with poetic form and language to create a distinct personal style.He frequently used  colloquial language and material from burlesque and the circus and ignored conventional punctuation and syntax in favor of a dynamic use of language, even inventing his own words by combining common words to create new meanings.
Yet despite the nontraditional form of his poems, Cummings gained widespread popularity. His style may have been avant-garde, but his themes were more traditional: love, childhood, nature, his moods were alternately satirical and tough or tender and whimsical, combining powerful appreciations of the individual soul.
Edward Estlin Cummings died on Sep. 3, 1962 of a brain hemorrhage  His literary style marked him as one of the most revolutionary and innovative poets of the twentieth century.Cummings will be remembered as one of the more lasting poets America has produced. An extraordinary poet who simply rebelled in the act of noticing. An artist who never cowered from being his unconventional self, in the words  of his most incisive  biographer he "despised fear, and his life was lived in defiance of all who ruled by it"
 His body of work encompasses approximately 2,900 poems, two autobiographical novels, four plays and several essays, as well as numerous drawings and paintings.
The following is  a selection of  some of my favourite poems by him.

i sing of Olaf glad and big

i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelovéd colonel (trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but-though an host of overjoyed
noncoms (first knocking on the head
him) do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments-
Olaf (being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds, without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

straightaway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but-though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skillfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat-
Olaf (upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"

our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ (of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you

i carry  your heart with me (i carry it in) 

carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Humanity I Love you

Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both

parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard

Humanity i love you because
when you’re hard up you pawn your
life in your pants and forgetting
it’s there and sitting down

on it
and because you are
forever making poems in the lap
of death Humanity

i hate you

Seeker of Truth 

 seeker of truth

follow no path
all paths lead where

truth is here

you said is  

 you said Is
there anything which
is dead or alive more beautiful
than my body,to have in your fingers
(trembling ever so little)?
                          Looking into
your eyes Nothing,i said,except the
air of spring smelling of never and forever.

....and through the lattice which moved as
if a hand is touched by a
moved as though
fingers touch a girl's
        Do you believe in always,the wind
said to the rain
I am too busy with
my flowers to believe,the rain answered

the mind is its own beautiful prisoner  

the mind is its own beautiful prisoner.
Mine looked long at the sticky moon
opening in dusk her new wings

then decently hanged himself, one afternoon.

The last thing he saw was you
naked amid unnaked things,

your flesh, a succinct wandlike animal,
a little strolling with the futile purr
of blood;your sex squeaked like a billiard-cue
chalking itself, as not to make an error,
with twists spontaneously methodical.
He suddenly tasted worms windows and roses

he laughed, and closed his eyes as a girl closes
her left hand upon a mirror.

i have loved let us see if that is all - e.e cummings

 i have loved, let us see if that’s all.
Bit into you as teeth, in the stone
of a musical fruit. My lips pleasantly groan
on your taste. Jumped the quick wall

of your smile into stupid gardens
if this were not enough (not really enough
pulled one before one the vague tough

exquisite flowers, whom hardens
richly, darkness. On the whole
possibly have i loved….you)
sheath before sheath

stripped to the Odour. (and here’s what WhoEver will know
Had you as bite teeth;
i stood with you as a foal

stands but as the trees, lay, which grow

o sweet spontaneous - e.e.cummings

 o sweet spontaneous
earth how often have

               fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched

, has the naughty thumb
of science prodded

          beauty     . how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive

to the incomparable
couch of death thy

          thou answerest

them only with

since feeling is first

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
– the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other; then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis

Further Reading

e.e. cummings : A life by Susan Cheever, Pantheon 2014

 e.e. Cummings: The Complete Poems, 1904-62 edited by George James Firmage  Liveright,,  2013

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Legendary Poet and Artist John Giorno dies at 82 (December 4, 1936 – October 11, 2019) : A Tribute to a Beautiful Spirit

John Giorno, legendary American poet,  LGBTQ+ activist, visual artist, and originator of Spoken Word and performance poetry, has died at the age of 82. Giorno’s death was confirmed on October 12 in an Instagram post from his friend  musician Lee Ranaldo,  who posted photos on Saturday in memory of the artist. He wrote, "Sad to note the passing today of dear friend John Giorno, such a sweet, beatific person.
 Born on December 4, 1936 in New York, NY, Giorno studied at Columbia University before briefly working as a stockbroker. When John Giorno was 14 he experienced what he called “a blissful feeling” towards poetry, which in life is what you are supposed to follow when you have these positive feelings, he said. Going down the poetic path John Giorno met Andy Warhol and the whole pop art scene in 1962  during an opening at Stable Gallery in New York. The two became close friends and occasional lovers, and Giorno was the star of Warhols movie Sleep (1963). In the film, which lasts for five hours, Giorno is depicted sleeping nude for the entire length of the movie.Shortly after the filming, Giorno and Warhal ended up parting their ways.They rarely saw each  other until 1987 (the year Warhol died) when they had a few encounters.

A Still from Sleep (1963)

After leaving Warhol, Giorno went on to become very influential in the underground arts scene of New York, and became  known as a leader in the development of poetry as a performance and entertainment medium. He did this through his own performances and also with his  non=profit Giorna Poetry Systems, which he founded in 1965, an artists' collective and record label that aimed to relay poetry to a wider audience using innovative means of communication which  subsequently led to  Dial-A-Poem which he created in 1968 that  extended poetry into the medium of mass communication, in which he sought to extend the frontiers of poetry and to free it from its elitist repertoire.
 The service allowed members of the public to call a number to call a number (+1 641-793-8122 ) — which is still active now — and hear a live recording of a poem from poets like Frank O'Hara, David Henderson, John Ashberry, Laurie Anderson, John Cage, Anne Waldman  and the likes of Brion Gysin and more. Giorno said that the idea of “Dial-a-Poem” came from a conversation he had with his friend, the great William S Burroughs, after a a call with him in the late 60s,  Among the dialable texts were poems by Allen Ginsberg, but also parts from Jim Carroll's Basketball Diaries or William S Burroughs' novel Naked Lunch, read by Frank Zappa. Among the texts was also an extract of a speech delivered by Bobby Seale, one of the founders of the Black Panther Party, and the poem Revolutionary Letters by Diane di Prima, which included a practical instruction of how to build a Molotov cocktail. As well as speeches and texts on civil rights and opposing the Vietnam War, Giorno Poetry Systems released over forty LPs and CDs of poets working with performance and music, numerous cassettes, poetry  videos and film.
Though too young to be part of the first wave of Beat poets, Giorno was a close friend and collaborator of William S Burroughs from the late 1960s onwards. He was with Burroughs the night Burroughs died in 1997. Giorno’s early poems  explored the use of found images, appropriated language, collage, and was introduced to sound poetry by Brion Gysin. When composing his  own poetry, Giorno  imagined an audience in front of him. "Spoken word " he wrote. " using breath and heat, pitch and volume, and the melodies inherent in the language, risking technology and music, and a deep connection with the audience, is the fulfillment of a poem. It's the entertainment industry ( you got to sweeten the deal) - transmitting an awareness of ordinary mind."
Giorno was a pioneer in shaking poetry free from the page, performing his work with verve and gusto, rather than just reading it aloud politely.Taking on issues of sexuality, death, psychedelic drugs, and his life in New York, Giorno’s text-based work and poetry often employs appropriation and performance to evoke memories and feelings of transcendence. His books included The American book of the Dead (1964),Balling Bhudda (1970), Cancer in My Left Ball (1973), and You Got to Burn to Shine: Selected Poetry and Prose  (1993).
His recorded albums and CDs numbered Biting off the Tongueof a Corpse (1975) and ( A Diamond Hidden in the Mouth of a Corpse ( 1985).
A pervading macabre sense of humour underlied his work and a strong outsider Queer sensibility.His confontational work and his energy has been an influence on other  performance poets since and rock bands have been quenched and influenced by his ideas.It was also William S Burroughs with whom Giorno toured through the United States in the 70s and 80s. Together, they entered the stages of rock-clubs and presented their texts as performances. Giorno  was to  develop an amplified, confrontational performance poetry that was highly influential on what became the Poetry Slam scene. "Poems are instruments of wisdom. It awakens something in one’s mind.”  he once said and when  he performed, people had an enormous emotional response, which Giorno felt was because his words allow them to see themselves. :
He had also been a long time practitioner of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Bhuddism. In 1971, inspired by a post-LSD conversation with Allen Ginsberg, Giorno traveled to India to study Buddhism. There, he met HH Dudjom Rinpoche, the supreme leader of the progressive Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, and became a devoted student.
Strongly shaped by his political engagement. For example, he protested sgainst the Vietnam War and provided money from the Giorno Poetry Systems for lawyers or bail-outs for political activists.In 1984, under the impression of the AIDS crisis, Giorno founded the AIDS treatment project: He visited infected people in the hospital, handed out cash, but also took time for intensive dialogues. Starting with small amounts of money, the project soon expanded and, to this day, provides large amounts of money for the daily needs of people living with AIDS. In his poem "AIDS monologue", written in 1992, Giorno subsumes the spirit of the project in just one line: to treat a complete stranger as a lover or close friend.The Paris Review quotes Giorno saying, "My intention is to treat a complete stranger as a lover or a close friend; in the same spirit as in the golden age of promiscuity, we made fabulous love with beautiful strangers, and celebrated life with glorious substances. 'God please fuck my mind for good!' Now that their life is ravaged with AIDS, we offer love from the same root, in the form of boundless compassion."
In 2015 he was the subject of a major retrospective ‘I Love John Giorno’ byhis husband, the acclaimed Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, and in various venues throughout Manhattan in 2017, in celebration of the poet’s 80th birthday. Giorno’s work  was included in the collections of prominent venues worldwide. At the time of his death, Giorno had been exhibiting new work at the Sperone Westwater gallery in New York City. The exhibition, titled “Do the Undone,” is due to be exhibited until October 26. The press release for the show refers to Giorno living and working out of his studio in the Bowery in Lower Manhattan for over 50 years.
His contributions are significant to many culturally defining moments: the Beat generation, Pop Art, Punk, the Pictures Generation, and the hip-hop era. Giorno's work was innovative and provocative in all respects. Friends, colleagues, and admirers have taken to social media to express their grief and to pay tribute to John Giorno, a rare a poet of spontaneity and vitality, who on all accounts had an astonishing presence  and a warm humanity, that saw in his time and brilliant life him at the crossroads between poetry, visual arts, music and performance, directing his work  toward a broad public, redefining the capabilities of poetry and linguistic form, releasing words of great imagination,  labors of love and passion, utilising intensely rhythmic and philosophical poetry.
It was some of these qualities that led the former singer for R.E.M Michael Stipe. to cast Giorno in We All Go Back to Where We Belong, a film he made for the band’s 2011 song of the same title. Shot in the spirit of Warhol’s screen tests — black-and-white, portrait-style — the film captures Giorno in close-up, a blank stare on his face, until the end, when he erupts in laughter.

REM - We All Go Back To Where We Belong , John, 2011

Here is a video from 2014 where he looked back at his first meetings with poetry, his great influences, the importance of performing without a book, and where poetry is headed in the future, and I will  end with a few of his amazing poems. A truly  remarkable individual, and iconoclast of our times.“Poetry never dies. You can’t kill poetry.” Rest in Power, beautiful spirit John Giorno.
' You Gotta Burn To Shine.'

John Giorno Interview : Poets are Mirrors of the Mind  

Life is a Killer

Everyone says
What they do
is right
and money is
a good
it can be

drinking beer,
they need me
more than
I need them,
where are you guys from,
stumbling off
into the night
about it
stumbling off into the night
thinking about it.

When I was
15 years old
I knew everything
there was
to know,
and now that I'm old,
it was true.

I got dragged
along on
this one
by my foot,
if I wasn't so
I would have
a good
If I Wasn't so tired
I'd have a good time
If I wasn't so tired I'd have
a good time.

and turning,
cause there's
a nest
of wasps
through your
cause there's a nest of wasps
coursing through your bloodstream.

If you think
about it
how could
it have come
to this
if you think about it
how could it have come to this,
it's coming
down the road
the red
and it's
and it's there
and it's there
and it's there.

Try your
and think
you're good,
that's what
I want
being inside you
that's what i want
being inside you
that's what I want being besides you,
and you hope
you're doing
it right.

How are you
feeling good
how are you
how are
you feeling
how are you feeling
how are you feeling good,
you need

Cause essentially
all you
ever accomplshed
was snort
some smack
and sit
on a zafu
your breath.

How the hell
did I end
up doing
how the hell did
I end up doing this
for a job?

I can't say
I don't need
cause I need
the Bhuddas,
and there's nothing
I can say
about them.

Everyone is at
a complete
you're being taken
to dinner
at La Coter Basque
and you're eating
9 lives
and drinking
the women
they are taking
I'm not going
nowhere, I ripped up
my suitcases
I ripped up my suitcases.

Crank me
and keep me
crank me up
and keep me open
and keep me open
crank me up and keep me open,
like success.

it will seem
the way
it seems
it doesn't matter
what you
how perfectly
or amazing
the clarity,
you think
is deluded
everything you think
is deluded
everything you think is deluded,
is a killer.

Just Say No to Family Values

On a day when
you're walking
down the street
and you see
a hearse
with a coffin,
followed by
a flower car
and limos,
you know the day
is auspicious,
your plans are going to be
but on a day when
you see a bride and groom
and wedding party,
watch out,
be careful,
it might be a bad sign.

Just say no
to family values,
and don't quit
your day job.

are sacred
and some drugs
are very sacred substances,
please praise them
for somewhat liberating
the mind.

is a sacred substance
to some,
and even though you've
stopped smoking,
show a little respect.

is totally great,
let us celebrate
the glorious qualities
of booze,
and I had
a good time
being with you.

do it,
just don't
not do it,
just do it.

and fundamentalists
in general,
are viruses,
and they're killing us,
and mutating,
and they destroying us,
now, you know,
you got to give
strong medicine
to combat
a virus.

Who's buying?
good acid,
I'm flying,
and sliding,
and slamming,
I'm sinking,
and dripping,
and squirting
inside you;
fast forward
a come shot;
milk, milk,
round the corner
where the chocolate's made;
I love to see
your face
when you're suffering.

Do it
with anybody
you want,
you want,
for as long as you want,
any place,
any place,
when it's possible,
and try to be
in a situation where
you must abandon
beyond all concepts.

Twat throat
and cigarette dew,
that floor
would ruin
a sponge mop,
she's the queen
of great bliss;
in your heart,
flowing up
a crystal channel
into your eyes
and out
the world
with compassion.

to family

We don't have to say No
to family values,
cause we never
think about them;
do it,
just make

and compassion 

Thanks 4 Nothing 

I want to give my thanks to everyone for everything,
and as a token of my appreciation,
I want to offer back to you all my good and bad habits
as magnificent priceless jewels,
wish-fulfilling gems satisfying everything you need and want,
thank you, thank you, thank you,

May every drug I ever took
come back and get you high,
may every glass of vodka and wine I've drunk
come back and make you feel really good,
numbing your nerve ends
allowing the natural clarity of your mind to flow free,
may all the suicides be songs of aspiration,
thanks that bad news is always true,
may all the chocolate I ever eaten
come back rushing through your bloodstream
and make you feel happy,
thanks for allowing me to be a poet
a noble effort, doomed, but the only choice.

I want to thank you for your kindness and praise,
thanks for celebrating me,
thanks for the resounding applause,
I want to thank you for taking everything for yourself
and giving nothing back,
you were always only self-serving,
thanks for exploiting my big ego
and making me a star for your own benefit,
thanks that you never paid me,
thanks for all the sleaze,
thanks for being mean and rude
and smiling at my face,
I am happy that you robbed me,
I am happy that you lied
I am happy that you helped me,
thanks, grazie, merci beaucoup.

May you smoke a joint with William,
and spend intimate time with his mind,
more profound than any book he wrote,
I give enormous thanks to all my lovers,
beautiful men with brilliant minds,
great artists,
Bob, Jasper, Ugo,
may they come here now
and make love to you,
and may my many other lovers
of totally great sex,
countless lovers
of boundless fabulous sex
countless lovers of boundless fabulous sex
countless lovers of boundless
fabulous sex
in the golden age
of promiscuity
may they all come here now,
and make love to you,
if you want,
may each of them
hold each of you in their arms
to your hearts
balling to your hearts
balling to
your hearts delight
balling to your hearts delight.

May all the people who are dead
Allen, Brion, Lita, Jack,
and I do not miss any of you
I don't miss any of them,
no nostalgia,
it was wonderful we loved each other
but I don't want any of them back,
now, if any of you
are attracted to any of them,
may they come back from the dead,
and do whatever is your pleasure,
may they multiply,
and be the slaves
of whomever wants them,
fulfilling your every wish and desire,
(but you won't want them as masters,
as they're demons),
may Andy come here
fall in love with you
and make each of you a superstar,
everyone can have
everyone can
have Andy.
everyone can have Andy,
everyone can have an Andy.

Huge hugs to the friends who betrayed me,
every friend became an enemy,
sooner or later,
I am delighted you are vacuum cleaners
sucking everything into your dirt bags,
you are none other than a reflection of my mind.

Thanks for the depression problem
and feeling like suicide
everyday of my life,
and now that I'm seventy,
I am happily almost there.

Twenty billion years ago,
in the primordial wisdom soup
beyond comprehension and indescribable,
something without substance moved slightly,
and became something imperceptible,
moved again and became something invisible,
moved again and produced a particle and particles,
moved again and became a quark,
again and became quarks,
moved again and again and became protons and neutrons,
and the twelve dimensions of space,
tiny fire balls of primordial energy
bits tossed back and forth
in a game of catch between particles,
transmitting electromagnetic light
and going fast, 40 million times a second,
where the pebble hits the water,
that is where the trouble began,
something without substance became something with substance,
why did it happen?
because something substance less
had a feeling of missing out on something,
getting it
was not getting it
not getting it,
not getting it,
imperceptibly not having something
when there was nothing to have,
clinging to a notion of reality;
from the primordially endless potential,
to modern day reality,
twenty billion years later,
has produced me,
gave birth to me and my stupid grasping mind,
made me and you and my grasping mind.

May Rinpoche and all the great Tibetan teachers who loved me,
come back and love you more,
hold you in their wisdom hearts,
bathe you in all-pervasive compassion,
give you pith instructions,
and may you with the diligence of Olympic athletes
do meditation practice,
and may you with direct confidence
realize the true nature of mind.

America, thanks for the neglect,
I did it without you,
let us celebrate poetic justice,
you and I never were,
never tried to do anything,
and never succeeded,
I want to thank you for introducing me to
the face of the naked mind,
thanx 4 nothing.

The Death of William Burroughs

William died on August 2, 1997, Saturday at 6:01 in the
afternoon from complications from a massive heart attack
he'd had the day before. He was 83 years old. I was with
William Burroughs when he died, and it was one of the best
times I ever had with him.

Doing Tibetan Nyingma Buddhist meditation practices, I
absorbed William's consiousness into my heart. It seemed as
a bright white light, blinding but muted, empty. I was the
vehicle, his consciousness passing through me. A gentle
shooting star came in my heart and up the central channel,
and out the top of my head to a pure field of great clarity
and bliss. It was very powerful - William Burroughs resting
in great equanimity, and the vast empty expanse of
primordial wisdom mind.

I was staying in William's house, doing my meditation
practices for him, trying to maintain good conditions and
dissolve any obstacles that might be arising for him at that
very moment in the bardo. I was confident that William had
a high degree of realization, but he was not a completely
enlightened being. Lazy, alcoholic, junkie William. I didn't
not allow doubt to arise in my mind, even for an instant,
because it would allow doubt to arise in William's mind.
Now, I had to do it for him.

What went into William Burroughs 'coffin
with his dead body:

About ten in the morning on Tuesday, August 6, 1997,
James Grauerholz and Ira Silverberg came to William's
house to pick out the clothes for the funeral director to put
on William's corpse. His clothes were in a closet in my
room. And we picked the things to go into William's coffin
and grave, accompanying him on his journey in the

His most favorite gun, a 38 special snub-nose, fully loaded
with five shots. He called it, 'The Snubby.' The gun was my
idea. 'This is very important!' William always said you can
never be too well armed in any situation. Of his more than
80 world-class guns, it was his favorite. He often wore it on
his belt during the day, and slept with it, fully loaded, on
his right side, under the bed sheet, every night for fifteen

Grey fedora. He always wore a hat when he went out. We
wanted his consciousness to feel perfectly at ease, dead.

His favorite cane, a sword cane made of hickory with a
light rosewood finish.

Sport jacket, black with a dark green tint. We rummaged
through the closet and it was the best of his shabby clothes,
and smelling sweet of him.

Blue jeans, the least worn ones were the only ones clean.

Red bandana. He always kept one in his back pocket.

Jockey underwear and socks.

Black shoes. The ones he wore when he performed. I
thought the old brown ones, that he wore all the time,
because they were comfortable. James Grauerholz insisted,
'There's an old CIA slang that says getting a new
assignment is getting new shoes.'

White shirt. We had bought it in a men's shop in Beverly
Hills in 1981 on The Red Night Tour. It was his best shirt,
all the others were a bit ragged, and even though it had
become tight, he'd lost a lot of weight, and we thought it
would fit. James said," Don't they slit it down the back

Necktie, blue, hand painted by William.

Moroccan vest, green velvet with gold brocade trim, given
him by Brion Gysin, twenty-five years before.

In his lapel button hole, the rosette of the French
government's Commandeur des Arts et Lettres, and the
rosette of the American Academy of Arts and Letters,
honors which William very much appreciated.

A gold coin in his pants pocket. A gold 19th Century Indian
head five dollar piece, symbolizing all wealth. William
would have enough money to buy his way in the

His eyeglasses in his outside breast pocket.

A ball point pen, the kind he always used. 'He was a
writer!', and sometimes wrote long hand.

A joint of really good grass.

Heroin. Before the funeral service, Grant Hart slipped a
small white paper packet into William's pocket. 'Nobody's
going to bust him.' said Grant. William, bejeweled with all
his adornments, was traveling in the underworld.

I kissed him. An early LP album of us together, 1975, was
called Biting Off The Tongue Of A Corpse. I kissed him on
the lips, but I didn't do it... and I should have.

Everything gets lighter

Life is lots of presents,
and every single day you get
a big bunch of gifts
under a sparkling pine tree
hung with countless balls of colored lights;
piles of presents wrapped in fancy paper,
the red box with the green ribbon,
and the green box with the red ribbon,
and the blue one with silver,
and the white one with gold.

It's not
what happens,
it's how you
handle it.

You are in a water bubble human body,
on a private jet
in seemingly a god world,
a glass of champagne,
and a certain luminosity
and emptiness,
skin of air,
a flat sea of white clouds below
and the vast dome of blue sky above,
and your mind is an iron nail in-between.

It's not
what happens,
it's how you
handle it.

Dead cat bounce,
the falling knife,
after endless shadow boxing
in your sleep,
fighting in your dreams
and knocking yourself out,
you realize everything is empty,
and appears as miraculous display,
all are in nature
the play of emptiness and clarity.

gets lighter
everyone gets
everyone gets lighter,
everyone is light.