Monthly Archives: June 2011

Satruday Poem #3 – Oh God, Fuck Me

This poem may seem like an ugly tease at our recently updated Blasphemy laws but I find it saucily life-giving and intellectually stimulating! Funny as hell too, oh, and clever. A conceptual poem. Schwartz has a real talent for writing about sexual truths, and women’s sexual desire in particular, with a heady level of explicitness. More power to her elbow, I say. Down with repression and all who ride in and around her!

Oh God, Fuck Me (by Ruth L. Schwartz)

Fuck me, oh God, with ordinary things
the things you love best in the world –

like trees in spring, exposing themselves,
flashing leaf buds so firm and swollen

I want to take them in my mouth.
Speaking of trees, fuck me with birds

say, an enormous raucous crow,
proud as a man with his hands down his pants,

and then a sparrow, intimately brown,
discreet and cautious as a concubine.

Fuck me with my kitchen faucet, dripping
like a nymphomaniac,

all night slowly filling and filling,
then overflowing the bowls in the sink-

and with the downstairs neighbour’s vacuum,
that great sucking noisy dragon

making the dirty come clean.
Fuck me with breakfast, with English muffins

the spirit of the dough aroused
by browning, thrilled by buttering.

Fuck me with orange juice,
its concentrated sweetness,

which makes the mouth as happy as summer,
leaves sweet flecks of foam like spit

along the inside of the glass.
Fuck me with coffee, strong and hot,

and then with cream poured into coffee,
blossoming like mushroom clouds,

opening like parachutes.
Fuck me with the ticking

clock, which is the ticking
bomb, which is the ticking heart –

the heart we heard in the first months,
in the original nakedness,

before we were squalling and born.
Fuck me with the unwashed spoon

proud with its coffee stain –
the faint swirl of a useful life

pooled into its center, round as a world.

****************************************

Ruth L. Schwartz is the author of four award-winning books of poetry and a memoir: Dear Good Naked Morning, selected by Alicia Ostriker for the Autumn House Poetry Prize (Autumn House, 2004), Edgewater, selected by Jane Hirshfield as a 2001 National Poetry Series winner (HarperCollins, 2002); Singular Bodies (Anhinga Press, 2001), winner of the 2000 Anhinga Prize for Poetry; Accordion Breathing and Dancing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996), winner of the 1994 Associated Writing Programs Award; and Death in Reverse: A Love Story (Michigan State University Press, 2004).

She’s won over a dozen national literary prizes, including two Nimrod/Pablo Neruda Awards, two Chelsea Magazine Editor’s Awards, the North Carolina Writer’s Network Randall Jarrell Prize, and the New Letters Prize in Poetry. She has received grants from the NEA, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Astraea Foundation. Her poems have been anthologized in The World in Us: Lesbian and Gay Poetry of the Next Wave (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), American Poetry: Next Generation (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 2000), The New Young American Poets (Southern Illinois University Press, 2000), and elsewhere.

Born in 1962 in Geneva, New York, Ruth spent her childhood and early adulthood moving around the country. She received a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Writing from Wesleyan University, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology from the University of Integrative Learning. The San Francisco Bay Area has been Ruth’s chosen home since 1985; she’s also travelled extensively in Latin America, and speaks fluent Spanish.

Three days in Galway

A blonde toddler bounces up and down at the sight of a Shetland pony outside the pub while a random guy blows an alpenhorn towards a phlegmatic sky. Galway city on a Monday in June and it’s an entrada of ponytails, fisherman caps, stoners, shoppers, shifters, pint suppers, poets, cheese-makers, scallywags and tourists. There’s an incontrovertible giddiness about this city that’s hard to grasp when only two hours before, we’re wading through a load of pinstripes & junkies on Dublin’s Tara Street, where the morning cartage of people is swarmingly bad. A relatively recent wi-fi & loo enabled Go-Bus service from Dublin to Galway is a dream: 2½ hour uninterrupted sprint on the motorway compared to an original four. We dump our bags in the weeny boutique hotel in Cross Street and head straight for Nimmos.

Table 9 in Nimmos, my favourite place in the world!

It’s difficult to describe this place without raving in the style of a gourmet gobshite chef and a tosspot wine-snorting toff. I always feel excited strolling in here, in what used to be a part-derelict artist’s shack up until a decade ago. It’s now bulging with wild flowers and baskets of french sticks & chutneys, nooks/crannies, mismatched chairs, an industrial juicer, hippies sucking on morning eggs and lovers linking elbows in chequered corners. The staff are just gorgeous and if you’re [ahemm!] clever you’ll ask for Table 9, because it has the best of swan-filled views over the frantic Corrib, is snugly private and here an aardvarc snout like mine can sniff up all the fluky deliciousness of the kitchen.

The grub is really incredible, all that ‘simple ingredients cooked to the very best’ that TV ego-chefs rant about as they bash chrome for no reason. I’ve never had creamy seafood chowder sprinkled with saffron & mustard seed – each spoon tasting as a decent first kiss – not the wet tongue prodder from a stranger under neon lights in an 1980s disco with beer spilt on the floor & first impressions in tatters. Yer man had lamb tagine, but was staring my chowder out of it (this always happens!). Both dishes splashed aplenty in the house red; a mellow daytime buzz before heading into air to laugh at lost Americans with a map, hollering about a statue of Columbus. An old man with a flock of bird-nest silver hair stands staring out to sea. Galway is also a great place for transients and loners, for people who just want to stroll & think & let live. Two days later after a lush risotto & some window-gooing in Artisan, we’re back at Table 9 in Nimmos. The courgette, spinach, organic thyme & preserved lemon soup is so outstanding I ask the chef how to make it. On the other side of the river, three men crow-perch & roll joints…one by one we watch them slump back onto grass & stalk seagulls. There’s a posher version of this eatery in Ard Bia upstairs at night, but Nimmos during sapid Galway daylight is how I’d like to get married, divorced, gorge on happy news, grow up some more, fall ill and die.

Billy Ramsell is a young poet from Cork with an incredibly mature grasp on language. He was guest poet at North Beach Poetry Nights (now finished for summer) at the Crane bar. Blown away by the professional focus of his performance, not an easy thing to pull off in front of an inquisitorial beer-swigging audience. Poems about hurling, how the brain functions, Greek gods and flung-away love. I especially liked his celtic tiger parody Gated Community, about a man who loses it with a shredder. Arts in general seem to be delivered in a much more relaxed manner in Galway than in Dublin. Or maybe it’s just a closer knit [happier?] community than you get in the disarticulated jumble of big cities. That’s not to say Galway doesn’t lack an acid tongue towards critics either. Outside Neachtains the next day two playwrights are having a right old bitch about Fintan O’Toole. “That gobshite said on the telly we’ve produced nothing of worth for the past 15 years, so what the f**k has he been criticising & reviewing if that’s the case and who’s been paying him!?”

Pubs here are a heady mix of young & bolder-older. Daddylonglegged women in velvet garb drink at the same hatches as 70-something malcontents in woolly-horned Viking hats downing port. A great college buzz about the place at night even if noise levels give tinnitus a run for its money. Spent one night lodged in a Neachtain’s snug with some lovely Twitterfolk and another on a crawl North of the river, wondering into the bottomless fizz if I could live here full-time. A lot of unspoilt pubs with bubblewrap windows and simple wooden benches reminds of what Dublin so earnestly lost in the full tilt of boom. My favourite day time hang-out is Sheridan’s Wine Bar on Churchyard Street, opposite St. Nicholas’ Church (also worth a visit for the Jayne Eyre reference alone). You can share a cheeseboard here for a tenner and there’s rakes of yummy wines from around the world at €6 a glass.

On Wednesday night we managed to nab tickets for the Cripple of Inismaan on its last leg of a mega US and Irish tour, after proudly bagging nine awards. I’m actually going to puke very little here about this traumatic experience except to conjure up if I could: Father Ted, Ronnie Corbett, Carroll’s Irish Gift Shop and Dublin’s Leprechaun Museum, synchronously fed through a sausage machine without any herbs, flavouring or even Gaviscon for a touch of civility. I’m just as haunted now by the canned laughter of the audience as I’m sure the survivors of the Titanic were, bobbing away from the screams at 3am that portentous April morning. Or as a pal said on Facebook in response to my update horror: ‘It plays into the hands of what people want to pretend Ireland is like, and for us on this island we know it’s shite but we still start to pretend to like it because foreigners like it and we still have that self hate inferiority thing going on, it’s terrifically twisted’.

I can’t wait to go back to Galway in early August…

I swear not to screw around on the Irish Constitution

Good folk of the world who want to make Éire their full-time home will soon have to swear an Oath of Fidelity to the nation. The exact nature of this newfound fealty isn’t specified in Alan Shatter’s plans, though there’s yabbering aplenty about an eventual ‘citizen test’ to see if non-natives can fit in with our indigenous way of strife. Before I laugh my knickers off or launch into a jeremiad of what it means to be truly Oirish, it’s worth noting that other EU nations do similar.

Britain insists that new citizens must adhere to its values of toleration, democracy, etc., while in Germany multiple choice questions are answered on history, language and culture. There too migrants must fulfil other conditions such as having sufficient command of the German language, no criminal record and an income independent of social welfare. In Portugal you’re requred to have sufficient knowledge of the language and ‘show the existence of an effective link with the national community’. It’s generally the same (with differing years of residency requirement) in Finland, Sweden, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, and Slovakia.

Theo: murdered in 2004

The Dutch however push this to the limit. Their citizenship test is designed to weed out fundamentalists as like it or lump it, Holland professes to have a big problem with migrants (the country has a 1,219,753 muslim population for instance, at last count earlier this year). One guy after all, born and bred in Amsterdam, murdered Dutch artist and ancestor of Vincent Van Gough, Theo Van Gough. So when foreigners apply for Dutch citizenship they have to sit through, among other things, pictures of gay men and lesbians kissing and their reaction to the same sex love is monitored. They only become Dutch citizens if they agree that gay love is acceptable.

Flash forward to the non-rebellious Dystopia of 2016, when IMF bureaucrats regularly appear in Kerrygold butter ads, apartments on Dublin’s quays are forced to sell for €55,000 if unoccupied for longer than three years, Job Agencies are replaced by Internship Houses, the HSE is bought by an American health insurance company which bans all forms of cancer from its policies, FÁS is a souvenir Facebook page and crack cocaine is dispensed free on library cards in areas where unemployment exceeds 92%. The newfangled Citizenship Test is now fully in place and today, for the first time, 498 people will sit through three papers on Irish culture, begrudgery and history, in a ‘Reduced To Sell’ embassy building on Raglan Road. When the stern looking ex National Library archivist blows the fireman’s whistle to begin, there’s a bulk sigh of relief that Question One is such a sinch:

In an Irish stew, would you use two gigot chops or three?

Gone are the lean days where applicants took an oath before a District Court judge during court business and received their certificate by post. Now would-be Irish men and could-be aulones had to make sense of all of Ireland, from the first faux republican graffitis of Dorset Street shutters to the unwashed men sucking seaweed on bar stools on bleak islands off the coast of Cork, where car insurance and television licences no longer exist. Lucky for this lot the lion’s share of the Culture Paper seems very manageable overall:

  • Name a tasty dark beverage found in most Irish pubs, fridges & security huts.
  • Under what circumstances would an elderly Irish female use the term: “He has his glue!” and/or “There’ll be wigs on the green!”
  • Which Sunday Independent journalist won an award for not talking about themselves in every single article for a period of 14 months?
  • Is it true that Irish males born with carrot red hair are forced to play hurley up to the age of consent?
  • What does ‘may the road rise with you’ mean?
  • Was Cost Plus Sofas responsible for the famous Irish economic boom?
  • Are leprechauns real? [See exam notes on ‘making up truths’. For example, if you consider merchandise available from branches of Carrolls Irish Gifts & Souvenirs to be ‘realistic’ , according to your own unique culture & customs, adjust answer to suit].
  • Are Jedward real?
  • Is Penneys the same as Primark?
  • Is the consumption of Denny sausages considered ‘the norm’ on the morning of a traditional Irish wedding? Would your average Irish bride-to-be still have her hymen intact on this day?

What a pity the two other papers on begrudgery & Irish history were so tricky by comparison. Questions such as: Should farmers continue to illegally lend one another their sheep/cow/pig stock when getting assessed for EU grants? From what year were ‘selfish career women’ blamed on male suicide rates in rural Ireland by male columnists in the media? Approximately how many centuries will it take for Ireland to pay back its private-sector-generated debt? How many terrorists and killers help run the country and get paid for it? In your opinion, is Cromwellian-type violence linked to Limerick gangland’s abysmally low literacy rates? Can you list 14 characters from Tuatha Dé Danann? What is the ratio of smack-warbling heroin addicts on the Liffey boardwalk to sparrow-legged receptionists and wage-cut public servants with alcohol problems? Do you think a Citizenship Test such as the one you’re sitting now is an unnecessary waste of time and resources? How long do you plan on staying in Ireland and did you wipe your feet when you came in the door?

 
 

In lieu of Ulysses….

…and all that makes zero sense, I thought I’d lob in some of my random stream of consciousness Facebook updates below from the Bloomsday month of June 2009. Yes, disturbingly there’s an app that can do this. Still living in Belfast, just finishing an MA, not much work on the go, even less to do. No homosapien dead or alive should enjoy a monopoly on talking jibberyockerwocky. We can all talk crap but social networking is a giant Joycean gastric stomach. I would argue that the erratic, fragmentary ways we communicate online these days make texts like Ulysses more accessible or getatable than before. Making sense of the mind ministrations of others is something we now do routinely, trawling through the real-time droppings of the likes of Twitter, etc.

I’ve never celebrated Bloomsday before, but today we went to the Joycean Breakfast at the Brian Boru pub in Glasnevin, where chapter four of Ulysses was brilliantly orated by a wrinkled man clutching an embroidered linen snotrag. I always found chapters 1-3 completely unbearable, and usually threw Joyce to the immersion heater wall around about then, but today’s reading has encouraged me to go back to it. The last time I attempted to read it was in France on holidays a year ago, but gave up and my nine-year-old nephew began to mulch his head trying to make sense of it. “This guy is a nutjob Aunty June!” he exclaimed one morning, and then proceeded to tell me that it was blatantly obvious the author was “sitting inside an online game” in the way he was describing his surroundings. Young Jake had grabbed Joyce by the scruff of his quark and taken him into a future he could not have pipe dreamed in an Edwardian pub.

Sitting there today on a stump stool listening to Bloom describe another type of stool hammered home how monologuing in Ulysses is similar to the self-referential puke-ups of laptop life. Though invariably it’s also little or nothing to do with literature or the making of stories. An interesting resource for Bloomsday info is the BBC Book of the Week which discusses at length, how the idea for Joyce’s ‘masterpiece’ was conceived. There’s Twitter-generated novels already but I haven’t heard of the solo-authored Facebook variety. It’d be arduous as hell to drop a story arc in there and still make it believable with the separation of update hours and days, though I’ve no doubts a young sniffy Joycean lit-nerd (probably American) will achieve it soon. There’s a Facebook Status Update Novel project though a lot of these collaborations run out of steam quickly when the initial hilarity passes. Here’s an old month-long spue of mine dated backwards for the ultimate fried kidneys Joycean aspergers in a bread tin effect.

Tue June 30, 2009, 3:01 pm: Editing a financial website from my mattress. Great not having to deal with dicks in an office. I can also stay unwashed & eat fish fingers for breakfast.

Tue June 30, 2009, 12:03 pm: Having MSG for tea in the hope that it brings on peripheral brain poisoning.

Tue June 30, 2009, 11:21 am: Drunk on the synthetic fumes of a nasty cheap scented candle that should really be reserved for funeral homes or an antidote for cat litter trays.

Tue June 30, 2009, 7:31 am: Seriously looking for a sperm donor. Any idiot will do. Last chance for a sprog alarm to wake me in the mornings.

Tue June 30, 2009, 2:28 am: Blown away (not in a good way).

Mon June 29, 2009, 1:10 pm: Waded through a bizarre day that started with a plethora of scangers on DLA scooters, then some unwanted blood, finally ending in financial markets of Singapore in a rich man’s house.

Mon June 29, 2009, 7:37 am: Dreadful Bridget Jones episode an hour ago.

Mon June 29, 2009, 1:37 am: Off out to meet geezer for coffee, then to get impaled (but not by him, an NHS nurse) followed by a 3-hour website editing course. Christ.

Sun June 28, 2009, 3:30 pm: Off for a smear-test on the Ormeau Road tomorrow; think accidentally sitting on a scaffolding pole, then having to smile on a bus afterwards.

Sun June 28, 2009, 1:39 pm: Happy to hear my brother’s bum works after his cancer op. Not a nice fact, but a necessary one. Chemo gives you hardons, allegedly.

Sun June 28, 2009, 7:49 am: Strongly considering obliterating my F’book account to get a book done so societal knobs will stop leaving futile comments.

Sun June 28, 2009, 7:37 am: It was impossible to escape pics of plastic Paris forward slash pottery Michael today…but wasn’t he supposed to be ‘frozen’ immediately and not ever put forward for autopsy?

Sun June 28, 2009, 4:28 am: Woke in a rage thinking about money I’m owed….

Sat June 27, 2009, 11:41 am: Laughing heartily at a David Icke documentary; he really cheers me up.

Sat June 27, 2009, 9:06 am: Wonders why Holywood Library is chock-full of pensioners reading the Obituaries in the ‘free’ newspapers….can’t they just wait a ickle bit longer?

Sat June 27, 2009, 5:32 am: Piss broke and is still having no joy getting a £150 ‘deposit’ back from 3Mobile or should I say 3 fucking Mobile.

Fri June 26, 2009, 3:42 pm: Equations : grey hair to navy suit, yellow cardigan to pay-for-parking, slumped student to stray litter, blonde curls to wedding glossies, gay men to Smart cars, chavs to chips, slow learners to wide arses, lattes to transients, clutch bags to 48-yr-olds, Fona Cabs to smelly fooookers.

Fri June 26, 2009, 4:09 am: Rootin’ for brother Adrian who’s having a serious op today. Go boyo go!

Fri June 26, 2009, 2:15 am: Apparently it was an inherited condition Wacko died of….something called the Billy Gene?

Thu June 25, 2009, 3:29 pm: The Paedo of Pop is dead.

Thu June 25, 2009, 3:25 pm: Gung-ho for her bro who’s having a very serious operation tomorrow. Love him so utterly.

Thu June 25, 2009, 9:57 am: Appalled at the cynicism re: Hetty Hoover, I felt the same when all you Celtic Tiger dicks bought wooden decking patios and steel kitchens on yezer credit cards. Ha.

Thu June 25, 2009, 5:02 am: Sore back and smells like an abandoned herring but nevertheless I am up and that’s a start.

Thu June 25, 2009, 2:08 am: If you have a roving eye, it’s no use having the other one fixed on Heaven.

Wed June 24, 2009, 1:32 pm: Was Harvey Norman trained by the Taliban?

Wed June 24, 2009, 11:31 am: Why do anarchists with pink hair always seem to get beaten up at climate change get-togethers? Also, don’t they realise what those (often unregulated) ridiculously toxic hair-dye chemicals do to the environment they’re prepared to get slapped on Sky TV for?  

Wed June 24, 2009, 10:13 am: Charmed by her Chernobyl-esque five-legged organic carrots.

 Wed June 24, 2009, 3:07 am: Anxiously awaiting the arrival of Hetty Hoover. She has eyelashes for the extra tenner!

Tue June 23, 2009, 4:41 pm: Just set eyes on a hideous woman with a double-buggy and loaded down with ‘feel good’ Boots bags full of prawn cocktail sandwiches and a plastic sash around her emblazoned with ‘Bride To Be’.

 Tue June 23, 2009, 10:07 am: Had a ‘homemade’ microwaved chick pea curry full of d-Nitrosodiethanolomines & a pitta as hard as a Braintree drug dealer. However, the rosé wine on tap tasted a bit like ladybird kisses.  

Tue June 23, 2009, 7:52 am: Just saw this on a ‘kid’s health website’ – ‘You cannot catch gonorrhoea from a towel, a doorknob, or a toilet seat.’ Shocked to find out about the doorknobs…all those years wasted opening doors with my feet.

Tue June 23, 2009, 7:20 am: Is a fat prawn for yet another summer; interesting things happen with sweat in crevices when your BMI hits over 30. Any personal trainers out there want to deal with an angry neurotic for free?

Tue June 23, 2009, 2:03 am: Full of empathy…but maybe now I’ll get my friends back…those fabulous folk who turned into arseholes for ten years talking about holiday homes & house renovations they couldn’t afford. Sorry to take another slant, but being broke will be good for Ireland.

Mon June 22, 2009, 12:24 pm: Ponders the dull fact that women named Patricia are always smarmy. Struck down by a need to buy Tupperware in late afternoon.

Mon June 22, 2009, 9:56 am: Trying to have a siesta but small terraces can be a nightmare, the Poles are roaring outside the window, a group of small kids are playing war games, cars zipping by, home-hospiced aulone’s bell rings with new rounds of red-faced nurses in green puntos.

Sun June 21, 2009, 2:54 am: Looking for a gimp to wash my hair.

Sat June 20, 2009, 10:19 am: Born in March not June (for the love of jaysus stop asking me). Conceived in June, invariably, as March is nine months later.

Sat June 20, 2009, 9:08 am: Taking pins & needled legs off for some cheap cava at the offie.

Sat June 20, 2009, 5:24 am: Dousing in cherry sencha before marching against Belfast Nazis (disguised as genial working class folk).

Sat June 20, 2009, 1:47 am: Woken by an Editor (how embarrassing…). Off to anti-racist rally in a while but not before a trip to the Coffee Yard.

Thu June 18, 2009, 5:20 pm: Amused by Jimmy Nesbitt’s burka bonk, colloquially known as a ‘dry ride’ in 1980s Dublin.

Thu June 18, 2009, 3:00 pm: Really enjoying BBC’s Occupation drama. Job well done for a change (OK, so there’s a few Hollywood-esque bits…what virile Brit falls in love with a woman who doesn’t put out?).

Thu June 18, 2009, 9:22 am: Nabbed an assortment of organic veg looks as crooked as your average Dáil politician. The peppers look like horse tumours. 

Thu June 18, 2009, 6:12 am: Had a productive meeting with a blonde.

 Thu June 18, 2009, 4:56 am: Thrilled for Suzanne Breen – and journalism in general.

Tue June 16, 2009, 11:49 am: La bonne nuit tout vous prostituées de cochon. …eat mes ongles d’orteil pour le petit déjeuner.

Mon June 15, 2009, 3:39 pm: Wonders why PR cocks give the same story to every journalist in a place as small as Belfast – claiming exclusivity – and expect not to be scundered.

Mon June 15, 2009, 7:36 am: False hip beeped at Departures which led to a mauling by a friendly dyke in uniform.

Mon June 15, 2009, 6:47 am: In Stanstead and it smells of international armpits and Kerrygold.

Mon June 15, 2009, 3:55 am: Getting ready to head to Stanstead. Don’t want to head back to Belfast, time here almost done.

Sun June 14, 2009, 4:13 pm: Saw duck egg honesty boxes in Waltringfield & saw her niece get stung in Felixstowe.

Sun June 14, 2009, 4:36 am: Off to Colchester to get bitten by small monkeys.

Sat June 13, 2009, 11:54 am: Missing Irish wind! Strong enough to throw orthopaedically fucked aulones onto the road, the type of wind that scares swans and changes the direction of men’s urine in laneways, the same wind that imprisons babies behind plastic pram sheets and makes dogs run in circles.

Thu June 11, 2009, 2:13 am: Released a Daddy Longlegs from a spider’s web in the jacks, lobbed him out the window and watched him get chased by a cat. Far more interesting than the Sunday papers. So sick of reading about f00ked up writers after they’re dead. Such and such was an alco, had strange sexual habits, was cruel to his wife, a bore to his kids, but still won prizes. Grrrhhhhh.

Wed June 10, 2009, 4:12 am: Has flu-lite but nonetheless it comes with one of those cat-claw-creeper grids on the lungs full of phlegm that rattles like a kid’s handheld windmill when I exhale. Is that too much information?

Tue June 9, 2009, 7:44 am: Just been scolded by two old dears for using her laptop in the cafe. “Excuse me!” white-haired bint roared. “You can’t use them in here unless the battery is dead!” Then she picked up the menu to clarify her bintedness, which was unclarifiable. WTF?

Tue June 9, 2009, 6:52 am: Thought of a way to restart civil war in the North….Blow up AIDA @ Belfast Festival, Queens…demise the intellectuals, academics, creative writers, PR heads, etc., and leave the scum to sort each other out in the many tanning salons, low-price beer halls & cheap ‘Ulster fry’ cafes.

Tue June 9, 2009, 3:50 am: Sick of laptop bondage.

Mon June 8, 2009, 2:22 pm: Ma is still bitching about the parents of the baby found in the drain, over a boiled egg.

Mon June 8, 2009, 8:26 am: American writers use words that sound like they’re made of sodium. Schmaltzy, for instance.

Mon June 8, 2009, 2:19 am: Enda Kenny looks like a Petrol Pump Attendant from the Midlands.

Sun June 7, 2009, 6:02 pm: In the bath with a double decker. Writer’s group submissions are sitting in the Inbox. The sci-fi guy is still alive. Hasn’t he a bicycle to fix or women to kill?

Sun June 7, 2009, 10:38 am: Watching Big Brother on catchup…what a boring trite formula at this stage…Brit culture is f–ked. Mother says marvellously inane things on the phone, like: “they’re very good-looking onions.”

Sun June 7, 2009, 5:46 am: Just witnessed a moustached woman shoplift a slice of Sicilian lemon cheesecake from Cafe Nero in Belfast.

Sat June 6, 2009, 12:12 pm: Waiting on the Indian takeaway to arrive. Yer man is having some bombastically hot chicken scenario, I’m having a korma…some beers, etc. I am so easily pleased I don’t know how I’m not married.

Sat June 6, 2009, 8:57 am: Leffe beer & relaxing by a coal fire which is obscure for the month of June but nonetheless pleasant. Marvelling at other people’s self-protection rackets in the absence of her own.

Sat June 6, 2009, 4:44 am: Getting a lecture on Feudalism.

Fri June 5, 2009, 1:35 pm: Wonders about Kill Bill Syndrome & why oh why oh why would you hang yourself in a wardrobe to get off?

Fri June 5, 2009, 3:29 am: Right-side ovary pains, just so you know. Feels like there’s a pacman in there.

Thu June 4, 2009, 10:40 am: Found an antediluvian portion of Donegal Catch in the oven; may need carbon dating.

Thu June 4, 2009, 7:26 am: He who is without cows must be his own dog in the same manner that a blind man can see his own mouth. Irish proverbs. Total tits.

Thu June 4, 2009, 6:29 am: Enamoured by the pigeon shit & stray magnolia feathers on swaying laminate recession billboards offering NVQ Shepherd’s Pie + free glass of wine all about Botanic. No working class writers chronicling this place; it’s all middle-class yarn through a busted kaleidoscope.

Wed June 3, 2009, 6:49 pm: Bought a newspaper and learnt about a talking beetle in a volcano, more books on the private lives of dead authors, lingering articles about ‘depression’, the Lisbon Treaty, how to cook cabbage with cream and how the Queen ma’s legs shook during the Blitz.

Wed June 3, 2009, 12:06 pm: Thinks Fanta Lemon tastes like fizzy venom.

Wed June 3, 2009, 11:14 am: Looking forward to Ipswich next week…

Wed June 3, 2009, 4:46 am: In my next life I’ll be a solicitor’s wife hanging around the dishwasher with lambs wool knockers & constant grace.

Tue June 2, 2009, 3:32 pm: Went for an interview with a retard-publisher, then had pints in a pub where local loyalists hid behind plastic plants and made jokes about IRA bombs.

Tue June 2, 2009, 11:18 am: Received an email about carbon emissions training with spelling mistakes POLLUTING the text. Learn to spell before saving the planet, gobshite.

Tue June 2, 2009, 9:57 am: Fascinated by the PedEgg contraption on TV3 – you can save (in bulk) your shaved off foot skin and sprinkle as “parmesan” on enemy pasta dinners. Only €10 at Heatons!

Tue June 2, 2009, 4:40 am: Cheered to know there’s an alternative PURPLE to the dreaded Blue Loo that every spinster in Ireland has used since the death of De Valera & shoe polish.

Mon June 1, 2009, 4:01 pm: Church newsletter: a lecture date on ‘Mystics’ – Therese of Lisieux, Edith Stein, etc. – then underneath: ‘All About Geraniums’. Have geriatric Catholics started to look for God in the ground?

Mon June 1, 2009, 11:57 pm: In bed reading a book that’s too perfect & ironed, like a lap dancer’s bikini line. Ban creative writing courses & bring back a bit of raw.

Saturday Poem #1 – I love drunks

Poetry makes me giddy but sometimes my bum muscles clench in the same wrung manner as a bad Eastenders story plot. Cringe factor heightens when poets with berserk eyes retch feelings onto the page, without any care for how layfolk should attempt to translate. At the same time guesswork of meaning is aerobic for a mind overbrimming with cabbage leaf. Good poetry, for me, is a platter of desserts that keep only the soul fat and the heart floating. You simply can’t go wrong with a shiny new Bloodaxe ensemble or the beautiful crazed utterings of a dead genius like Miroslav Holub. Just a pity that most living poets are brazenly, unabashedly mad and nearly always dreadful company.

I unwittingly fell into a poetry class on the MA in Creative Writing, chosen by mistake as I’d read the course criteria incorrectly (pick two of the following: poetry, prose, playwriting – I read that as ‘pick two subjects’ – when in fact it was pick two classes under the same topic umbrella to specialise in). As a result I did poetry and fiction, learning little from either, but finishing both to the worst of slipshod. Even now it’s hard to fathom what those two maniacal hours of attic neurosis actually entailed. The sheer torture of hauling my billowed boobs and cement hip up five flights of stairs, reading aloud the tutor’s Christmas cards for no apparent reason and being compelled to listen to jingling bells on a random lunatic’s skirt. Even the honeycomb brittle egos of the ‘serious’ poets falling apart when criticised didn’t get to me as much as the complete lack of instruction or learning did. That somehow being so near the curtain in Oz with this ‘revered’ poet who’d made it to a level we’d never lick, was enough of a résumé-adventure in itself. What did it matter if every single poem any of us wrote was construed and metaphrased as just another fold in a big menstrual minge? Even when a [male] classmate wrote a poem about views of Belfast a la whizzing bicycle, the tutor still managed to turn it into a sheela-na-gig blood cake. No difference at all between Dorothy, Scarecrow, Toto or whoever else was sitting on the other side of this soiled drapery. Most of us left none the wiser and twice as disoriented. I raved as if brain-burgled, after every single class. In the end I wrote my ‘project’ in one night and bastardised everything in sight from TV ads to antiquated indexes in out-of-print bird watching books. Not that it made any difference to the marks: in bought MAs nearly everyone ends up in the same passable, plastic category. It’s almost poetic, come to think of it.

Thankfully that naff experience hasn’t turned me off reading poetry or even occasionally, writing it. Last autumn, I sat through a truly delicious course at the Irish Writers’ Centre – taught by Peter Sirr – who recently won the 2011 Michael Hartnett Poetry Award. The course was a wonderful grounder and all-rounder. Peter showed us where and how to source poetic material, blurring boundaries between poetry and prose, the beauty and diabolism of staying with a poem until done. Brief interesting snippets too of poet lives and the conscionable lonely journeys to publication. I was introduced to poets I’d never heard of: Penelope Shuttle, C.P. Cavafy, Jane Hirshfield, Les Murray. “Terrible things happen and people reach for poetry to deal with it,” he told us. Poetry can make sense of horrible events but can also illuminate life’s brief thrills. You can goo the weekly schedule, complete with resources and tips, here. Meanwhile, I thought it’d be a good idea to post a poem on the blog every Saturday. I like this poem by Fay Hart for its elegant no-bullshit simplicity!

I LOVE DRUNKS

by Fay Hart

I love drunks, I always have.

I love guys that laugh,

hairdressers that gossip,

bouncers that scowl and tv presenters

that wear stupid wigs.

And I just love has-been rock stars that

blubber into their bourbon

about some distant drum solo

that I vaguely remember from

Ricky Munch’s bedroom on acid.

I like new young designers

and entrepreneurs

who always wear the right stuff

and have cute chicks with them.

I like big homos who call me

dahling and step back,

shaking their head in admiration.

Miss Thing, one of them once said,

we have just got to get you

your own talk show.

I like somebody’s dad

who spends half the night

trying to pick up girls

his daughter’s age

and the other half crying into his beer

about how his little girl never

calls him anymore.

I love caterwauling women

who take their tops off

just before last call

and shake about the place

like goddesses with bourbon breath.

I love drunks, I always have.

Wrongly accused cucumbers

Poor cucurbitaceae! Creeping vine cultivated lovingly for 3,000 years, shining star of many a modern porn shoot, healer of skin disease, longtime slug killer, cellulite remover, wrinkle chaser, hangover alleviator, cleanser of faucets, sinks and stainless steel, fertility charm, carrier of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, folic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, dragged to Europe by the Romans…in 2009, an international team of researchers announced they’d sequenced the cucumber genome…this week the green watery flagpole is the subject of intense diplomatic battle between two European hyperpowers.

Fear of Killer Cucumber Grips Europe, proclaimed the Times of IndiaBelgium Blocks Spanish Cucumber Imports, a German newsagency declared. 16 Dead From Killer Cucumbers, said The Sun. Full transmission of media plague. Cucumbers infected with E.coli allegedly may cause the deaths of a few dozen people by week-end, leading to a rake of retailers withdrawing cucumbers from sale in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Hundreds were also thought to be ‘critically ill’, the outbreak of hemolytic-uremic syndrome, which affects the blood, kidneys and, in severe cases, the nervous system, was the largest ever in Germany and the biggest of its kind worldwide. Health officials advised people in Germany to avoid eating cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce immediately. The cucumbers were initially thought to have been sourced from Spain, however subsequent tests failed to show contamination in the imported Spanish cucumbers which lead to the Spanish Government demanding compensation for Spanish farmers who had been forced to destroy huge quantities of cucumbers. Germany, in the mainstay, was to blame.

Let’s just take a quick breather to browse relations between the two countries in recent history. While Spain was neutral in the Second World War its dictator General Franco was indebted to Hitler. The Nazis provided him with air power and armaments during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) which had tilted the struggle in Franco’s favour. 

In the post war period especially when Spain opened up to mass tourism in the 1960s, the country became a new battleground between the British and the Germans. This “war” was fought out at the edge of swimming pools and sunny sandy beaches with the Germans making major advances by being up mega early and getting their towels and women down first! 

For a period up until the 1990s the Germans were the second foreign dominant force on the Spanish costas. But there was temporary German flight from the sun spots after the Social Democrat-led government started to impose taxes on Germans who owned properties abroad. Relations also soured somewhat in 2004, when Zapatero was elected Spanish Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s relationship with Chancellor, Angela Merkel was less close from that moment on, but remained civil, at least on the surface. The heyday of the D-Mark rich German tourist spending large amounts of cash on the Costa Del Sol while belching up pretzels was over. The Brits, and the Irish, remain in depleted numbers and spend more in the Malaga branch of Dunnes or Lidl than in the family run shops and cafes.

The Spanish are now uber furious that German paranoia over cucumbers has cost them hundreds of millions of vital euros. But they ought to be careful in attacking De Fatherland. Spain could follow Ireland and Greece in going to the EU with a begging bowl. Fiscal crisis in Spain means Spanish banks are as over-stretched as Irish ones having also got into the property-bubble mania. Going to the EU with said begging apparatus means of course asking the Germans for a dig-out. Germany is the main banker of the EU and it’s German car engineers in Stuttgart and chemical workers in the Ruhr who are currently helping to keep civil servants in Athens and Dublin in their jobs.

Post War Germany became famous for many things including a highly productive porn industry in places such as Essen in the north, which is regarded as the smut-producing capital of the Federal Republic. Germans, like the English, have a penchant for rear end activities with the aid of the long, girthy green food stuff that is currently wrongly blamed for Europe’s lethal outbreak. Knuckle Cake is just one term used to describe such activities. Even though the Spanish would surely like to take one of those cylindrical fruits and place it firmly in the anal passage of any German politician they see as responsible for the cucumber-hysteria, caution is advised! German bank balances and a robust economic growth means Kraut neighbours are more than capable of giving as good as they get, ensuring any EU partner that crosses them will eventually have to bend over and ask: “how far and for how long Meine Damen und Herren?”