Poet in Reticence


Oscar’s back!

Last time I was here was November 2014. Since then I’ve been holding it all in like the south heading entrails of my lifetime’s vanity. Guys – poetry and gravity never relent. In the end you have to breathe out, express the urgent bulge of the soul. It’s only poetry so it’s only us who’re gonna notice. You can wear the same waist size – just lower with more over the top honesty. Only the true poets will spot the inversion of dispersion.

And, I’ve got a job. I’m a poet in residence. I’m dressing up and pushing it out on the wham bam instagram at the Virtual Book Café. It’s a run-down-up-town kinda place where the glitzy-glam-slam’s just walking by but the perfume tempts just long enough to hit the membranes of the poetic underclass. And you know who you are. And I’ll sure know who you are.

I need your lips to frame your clips. I’ve put up some footage in mouthage to give you a steer if not quite a bulletin. Sit with an accomplice in your current  café venue or capture the moment itselfie  or just one off the shelf behind the counter. I’m looking for that left bank feel of ristretto  incision or smooth latte reflection.

Do you wanna hang out?

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/virtualbookcafe/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VirtualBookCafe/

Twitter: @VirtualBookCafe


Freezing The Frame

Sometimes you just have to stop. We try to answer more questions in life than we ask. Essentially we try to answer other people’s questions:  questions posed by the bosses and the faceless systems. The hoop-meisters keep us jumping. The time servers steal our time and keep us servile. The image makers hold us up against their images. What survives of us, if we did but know it, is the poetry of ourselves. The true light of life is lost in the glare of packaging, marketing and business. To the dirt poor survivalist, the focus is the next meal or gulp of water. Such a one is the greatest poet. He knows the taste of water. The business man knows only the price per litre and how he can max out his margin.

Amongst all this undergrowth lies the hidden boulder of beauty. It is simply there. Property rights may restrict access, but there is beauty in the smallest of things and moments. I am working on a little project at the moment. It is a collection of short poems that attempt to freeze the frame and give some time to reflect on what we are thinking or simply what we are. Such poems need have no references or belong to any school. Today, I received a poem from the American poet Jo Von Bargen. She certainly has no identifiable posture or influence. She can be transcendently folksy or richly austere. Her poems can be death by a thousand cuts or joy with a single lunge. You always know that the boulder, honey or rapier is there and that it will get you. Here is one of her poems:


your hand hesitantly tries
the keyboard,
eyes reading impossible signs
on the score so that
every chord is suspended
like a voice grieving

all around you goes tender
at seeing you stop, helpless,
ignorant of the language
most your own

beyond, window ajar,
a breeze murmurs back

hummingbirds hover,
framed in blue sky,then vanish.
a branch rustles in the sun

nothing around us finds words,
and your youthful unknowing
is mine, is ours


I love that poem. It freezes the frame with the warmth of humanity. So far I have lined up four established poets to contribute to this collection. There are many poets out there and if you feel you could be in it or know someone who might like to be, please let me know. I will be editing the final selection. I am looking for short “beautiful” poems in the sense that they stop time at those moments when we have a transcendence that no one could ever sell you or tell you that your model of beauty has just been outdated by the latest design.

There is no format or fashion to the poems. My own publishers, – Gallo-Romano have agreed to produce the book. All I can say is that it will not cost contributors any money. Anyone expecting to make money as a poet is not one. The loot will be shared. If my own profit on poetry is a guide I think a cola and a pack of straws is about right.

one whole plantimal

I’ve been in haiku mode again. It is about the scene in this photo.

Sun on rose open
to bees transferring life code.
A buzz blooms wholeness.

Pasta Maldonado

Sponge Bob

I know a bloke called Bob.He was not always called Bob. He was christened as Robert – except that he was was not christened on account of having been accidentally spawned on the back seat of a Ford Capri by unmarried atheists. Last night I saw him in the pub. He works with young disadvantaged kids. After we had downed a pint or six (thereby exceeding the Librium/ Conservatory Government health regulations by a considerable margin),he confessed to his murderous and sadistic tendencies towards children who called him “Sponge Bob” or “Bob the Builder”. To my Latvian,South Sudanese and Azeri fans I must point out that both names relate to TV comedy cartoon characters. After a further pint of Old Cirrhosis Bowel-Buster Ale, I was suffused with shame. A man of my poetic sensitivity and high minded correctness would never entertain a cheap and derisory play on a fellow human’s name just for his own entertainment!

Pasta Maldonado

O.K. I made a mistake. The other day when Pastor Maldonado won the Spanish Grand Prix I had never seen the hero’s name in print. As far as I knew he had no human features other than his helmet and no body other than his torso de logo. In an orgy of fusion – illusion and filled with passione and hutzpah,  I went to the gas ring at the opening of my poet’s cave and created my latest dish –  “Pasta Maldonado”. In the tradition of our Euro-Feetballing heroes (yes – these days you have to strike it with either foot), I have dedicated this dish to Sir Frank Williams, Renault engine designers and to anyone actually called Pasta. I have added a picture of the dish. It is a tribute to Venezuelan Verve and ASDA hot sauce.

My dear friend, the shameless and adorable Emma Calin (Romantic Novelist and lapsed poet) called me a couple of days ago. As always she wanted something. I agreed of course. Then she told me she wanted me to do the audio for a story she had written. It required being a Londoner and some sort of northern character. I did it of course – but I fink I mighta been a bit Dick Van Dyke wiv the accents. It will be out soon.

Lie in water truth

Since my partner’s mother (not a fan of the godless drunken poet tendency) was popping in today for a familial chat, I went off to be a poet. I have the good fortune to live in rural England, yet with access to industrial dockland. I am revving myself up for some poetry centred around the work of Sara Barnes – a seriously talented visual artist. In the meantime I took a few photos and meditated upon a theme for a haiku. I’m quite new to the haiku form but I appreciate  its idea of focus. I like to play with the idea that a thing is what it is because it is not all those other things around it that define its outline. It’s like the calf sucking at its mother’s teat. The nipple is defined by the sucking  mouth and its need. The mother is defined by the flowing milk and it’s gift. This sense of fit and pattern have always been part of my poetic landscape. Probably, I’m going on a bit but I’ve been wandering as a lonely cloud and you’re the first to get the download. I watched huge cranes unloading a ship in the docks. Here is my humble haiku:

Hull, defiant steel

Imprint of what you are not

Lie in water truth.


 Oh No! Pastor Maldonado has distressed the kind, humble and moderate Formula Uno Lewis in some kind of shunt in Valencia today. Lewis has thrown his steering wheel from the pram. On the horizon I see a dish delish of Ham-il-tone Baloney. Watch this Renault  Espace.

Lyrical Salads

A while ago I was listening to a learned radio programme about the ground-breaking publication of “Lyrical Ballads” by Wordsworth and Coleridge, thus kicking off the Romantic Movement in poetry. In those different times, the two young poets wandered off into the wilds, in full poetic flow, discussing art, beauty and philosophy. They needed some cash and brought out a book to fund the trip. Somehow it seems that those opportunities have gone. Even if one did wander poetically and bring out a book of poems, there would be little chance of main stream publication and even fewer people to read it. I suspect that these days the poets would have filmed themselves for You tube with Coleridge hamming up the Ancient Mariner in full Caribbean pirate flow, hoping to go viral. Wordsworth would be tweeting  – “Just seen river near Tintern #mortality #pantheism.”

In that case very little has changed. Although I have never invited poets to wander off with me, (not even the pretty ones), the internet has allowed me contacts, stimulation and influences beyond anything available to the Great and the Dead. A while ago, an American poet Jefferson Hansen mailed me a copy of a small book entitled “The Branded Woman & Other Poems” ( This gentleman had already deranged my satisfied sense of music by introducing me to a band called “Purgatory Hill” play it LOUD!). Inside the book of poems was an invitation to recite them and so I have chosen one called “The Meditating Cougar”. You can hear it here. It is one of those poems that is about nothing much in so far as suffering, chance and mortality are not about anything much. The language is plain and poses no barrier to a reader also just idling in neutral, our own food chain hidden from view, sanitized and packaged. It is a poem that raises the question of determinism and causality in a quiet flat tone that hides the claw hammer of time striking the bell of chance. If that last sentence sounds out of place it is because I am also thinking of another poetic wanderer who has turned up in my cyber salon.

This week, another American poet Jo Von Bargen has published a collection of some of her work “It Ain’t Shakespeare But Oh, How it Glows” which I had the pleasure to review. Whilst Jeff Hansen’s poem is bare of image, JVB’s work is a feast of imagery. I have written of her before and often one of her phrases pops into my idling consciousness. In her poem “Hissing Like Fire” she also chooses a moment from the unscheduled natural world. As an experiment I have recorded it as both a complement and a contrast to the first poem. You can hear it here. I do not think either of these writers belong to a “movement”  as such. The internet has no manifesto but infinite manifestations. Perhaps we are at the dawn of “Manifestism”. I feel so lucky to be here.

I have always needed to read poems aloud in order to come to terms with them. It is a process something like peeling an orange as if you had never seen inside one before. Even then – do you understand an orange? Poets send off their little poem creatures as if into a river – perhaps flowing on to the ocean, catching up in an overhanging branch or circling in an eddy. Some may sink dead for a thousand years until some silt bed dries and a tiny body becomes a treasure. A poem with truth from the polished or the rough hewn hand has an ever enduring voice.

I had a big sky day this week. I was doing some familial child care on a windswept beach, conscious that I had written so little of late. I wanted to do a perfect classic Haiku but in the end I just did what I did. It’s legitimacy is simply that I was there and I needed to justify being one of those old guys mumbling to themselves.

Dome sky stretching day

My thoughts fly out to fill you

But you fill me first.