And so by 2015 my epic poem, my masterpiece, my magnum opus (or something like that anyway!) is still firing on all cylinders; I've continued to read as broadly as possible with all material directed towards this piece, and in the summer of this year I read (only in my English mother tongue for which I apologise) the Glorious Quran. This is a stunning work and I have much in mind Karen Armstrong's book on the Prophet in which she details his physical pain and hardship in receiving each Surah as it is delivered to him. I find, in studying the writing and the message which the Quran imports, that my own soul is somehow being modified, straightened, cleansed even. This is sacred literature, given straight from God, Allah, and I prostrate myself accordingly before it.
In the summer of 2016 my wife is admitted to hospital, our unborn son certain to be entering this world at some point premature; it is an incredibly stressful time for us as a family but in September of that year, at just 27 weeks (3 months early) our baby boy cries on arrival and immediately Shakespeare with his stupid lines on birth in King Lear becomes second to, well, my new master Jesus. I have spent day after day reading the Bible, night after night in the hospital chapel praying, loving, learning, fearing all but the Farewell Discourse in which God Himself in this figure offers such condolence and comfort. I have been cleansed again, and that by power I know suffuses quite through the entire universe He has created.
For in 1995, beset by hallucination, I thought God was gunning for me, that He wanted to destroy my very being, my soul (as per many of the poems you have read now) yet there is straight line here to 20 years later in which this Force, this Comfort, this incredible Strength blows clean through me telling me that He is in charge, He in control, He to save my son, my wife and me who through no merit of our own deserve His salvation, guidance, protection, His grace. I go from here, when we get home, and I read like I have never done before, every commentary I can find on Paul's Epistle to the Romans and the Gospel of John. I absorb, I study, I learn, I acquire, I understand, and finally I believe once more as I had done when a young man at school.
All my output has been in shadow form, looking outside in, and here, even here in this piece I have been trying to rescue myself when the whole experience has been quite out of my hands. Look below, look below, the poem opens with television (an object whose whole world influence I will concentrate upon in William Ottoway's Utopia) changing channel, moves through dissatisfaction with my Creative Writing course, the 'Great Protector' who needs human help (antithesis of the Abrahamic God), cinema (fake), matrix (fake), The Beast of Bodmin (cryptozoological fake), Jesus talking of His Father with a mirror (false), Predestination (false), Alexander the Great (flake), more false Trinities, sins and virtues (getting there), four not three (fakest of all), the Architect in the matrix (again), gaoler Trinity (absolute anathema), and repetition thereof for all time (so karma dictates until we break its chain).
My wife thinks I'm ill when I write. I agree with her. I take the six and a half thousand pages I've written over nine years and I bin all but this silly rhyming hokum, this nonsense, this doggerel which I hope will serve as signpost for other writers not to fall foul by in their endeavour. This is The Magical Kingdom...
‘Oh my goodness, God bless me, I think we’re going to hear
About the most ridiculous and tallest tale this year…’
Reception faded. Screen crackled. I adjusted the aerial.
‘…the day it so began the grey clouds severed in the East,
By westward creeping up to gorge upon its merry feast…’
Still the output wobbled, lost focus, sounded then was quiet.
‘…stupendous camaraderie twixt Feckless Snide existed,
Up the other, down the next and round about resisted...’
And again so that I slapped top of the box with my palm.
‘…so Feckless was a funny fellow, found he foreign foes
In working, wangling weekend wages, wasted were his woes…’
The picture held. And held. Then seeming slid off to the side.
‘…his best mate was a fellow, insincerity his creed…’
Considered I now to kick the wretched thing to action.
‘…he never gave a compliment but bit he hard his tongue’,
The only bet he ever made was a deceitful bung!
But anyway the two of them were walking down the road
When all a sudden jumped their path a slimy, warty toad.’
The television flickered just as I thought I saw the creature.
‘Children of the bell, did I say that clear,
Did I toll the gongy clang and disperse every fear?
I thought this was a tale about the conflict, hate and woe
That drives us all to under deeds against a seeming foe.’
Again the device shook, maddeningly so its uneven transmission.
‘Hours four, I hear you say,
That’s such a waste of silly play,
That’s such a waste of sixth a day.
It’s such a shame this stupid lay
A bansty firtolbusteribble fibble dibble dribble,
Tibble, bibble, wibble, hibble, gibble, mibble, nibble.
Five figures hastened to approach, now here they come a-nearing…’
‘…Drama with his tasty mate, twas Conflict, Subtext too
And Critic led he Empathy, the lad looked palest blue.
“Drama am I, flood the airwaves, television, screen,
Everywhere you look you see me, never have I been
So influential, powerful and out control entire,
I’m as dangerous and as hot inferno flooding fire.
What’s the point of telling truth when I can have my way?
However best I want it, I can always others sway
By yelling angrily upon the whole ‘Our friends are actual foes’,
Rejoicing in aggression end to all our fated woes.
Shall I clamour, outbid you, and up my weekly sales?
The market cries for competition, strongest of all ales.”
“I am Conflict, Drama, in me dwell two sides,
You’re at evolution stage where on their cusps you ride
Twixt double, dual and twice your nature, think you just the pair
Reside in each your light dark spirits, but you’d best beware
For there is nothing like the sense that all can be explained,
Alas the truth of this existence is you’ll be refrained
From ever answering conundrum, each at point you ponder,
That’s where I come to play, to search for that far place out yonder.
I pitch combatants gainst each other, use their separate drives
To generate new earthly meaning, thousand bees their hives
Do flock around it, buzz and sting, expecting each their prayers
To best be listened by the queen, resolved all their affairs”.
“You must you always underpin whatever words you say
With other matter to confuse, and your friends disarray.’
Whenever I do speak afresh there’s always something hiding
Like your best mate, he’s your doppleganger slyly sniding.
List to me, I clamour, call, I’m beautiful to touch,
But change me as chameleon if study me too much”.
And with that did young Subtext, well her eyelashes they fluttered,
Feckless found that gazing at her all his words he stuttered,
The thesis of kinesis that releases, never ceases
Settled on our hero, his poor sanity in pieces.
Thought he saw cold cyberspace, the matrix it was funky,
Lattices did tell him he was born in line the monkey,
Grids informed him aliens had visited this earth
And left our human DNA from out their planet’s dearth.
And with that thought our Feckless he did suddenly espy
A fellow flipping heads and tails up hovering the sky.
“Hello, dear sir, what is your name? I’m Feckless, I’m deluded,
Talk to me, I’m mad, I’m barking sanity denuded”.
“Come, I want to show you round my manor vast domain,
I’m the Great Protector and this land is my refrain:
The human race has left me, it’s deserted from its station,
Yet know this, learn it good for your own mortal information;
I need your help, the fight continues hardy for your souls,
You must you aid me or your warrens shall become them darkened holes.
Your punishment for leaving me the twentieth century bears
All manner scar and injury, six billion people’s cares
That with a drop of several bombs your home you may destroy,
The thought it does depress you, and condition then will cloy
Of slipping stuck within the mire, rekindle faith in me,
Feckless you must be my prophet, turn that rusty key;
The one that opens up the door I live behind and weep
For all my world’s creation stumbling tumbling the deep”.
Protector Great and Feckless did they take their seats reserved
At the back the cinema though hero’s sight was curved,
So they moved them forward,
The pain their necks it soared,
First row facing toward,
The massive screen then soared,
Alas the age of headlines was it now replaced by show
In which the readers of the news celebrities did grow,
Top stories listed to describe all manner grievous horrid,
Presenter staring lovingly as second told it torrid.
Bildungsroman is the path Victorians their novels,
Poets of Romanticism scribbled in their hovels,
Dramatists Renaissance what on earth is left for us?
Nothing but report upon all bothersome and fuss.
The adverts they concluded, and the trailers then there came,
Unnumbered films with three act structures, shame they were the same
As oft ten thousand flicks before and shows oft yet to come,
Why on good earth were we paying see them princely sum?
Bombs were blowing people up, guns now cut them down,
Other violence filled the film tape, Protector did he frown;
This wasn’t what he made them for, these folk he loved so much,
He leant across to Feckless and did tell him so and such.
‘Bloody Hell!’ cried Feckless, ‘it’s because of you we fight,
Because you will not give us answer, struggle day and night
To influence then force our views upon each other, just
Come out and say your piece, you know you should, no really must.’
Protector pointed at the screen, our hero did he follow,
Great his guiding hand right there in miracle the hollow;
Snide he stood now talking was to fellows three the screen,
Feckless well he daren’t believe his friend was movie seen.
He doffed his hat, its Burberry confused the freedom fighters,
Grid and lattice matrix seemed, did hypnotise their sighters.
“Ahoy me hearties!” laughed she, though nor parrot, wooden leg,
Nor eye patch, cutlass, Black Jack banner, flagon, ale keg.’
“The dragons snort and gnash in ire, the Phorkyads and the Griffin,
Their scaly jaws out-belching fire, grey gruesome grizzled Tiffin.
Wish and want, desire and need, the crave and yearn you dream,
Pah! In their saucy chops a vampire’s grinders ghastly gleam!”
“The Beast of Bodmin born and bred and dead is who I am,
I eat ten pigs for breakfast and a dozen racks of lamb;
I’m so enormous and so fat I cover many lands,
I’ve got three heads, a hundred feet, and ninety pairs of hands!!
And yes, I’m here this Christmas, yes I’m here to steal your fun,
I’m here to cloud the moon and blacken out your golden sun.
I’m here to take your presents and make sure that Santa Claus
Does not escape my clutches nor my massive gnashing jaws.
Oh woe betide you, little ones, when I do come to call,
I’m meaner than the Big Bad Wolf, I’m tougher and more tall.’
I’ll let him loose on all you kiddies, boy your scaredy faces
Will be a picture that I’ll hang in many nasty places,
I’m the Bodmin Beast, I am, I’m hungry for you now,
Here I come, I’m on the loose, devour you my vow”.
“Oh silly little puss, you really are the living end,
You’re picking on poor kiddies who cannot for themselves defend,
You’re nasty and a bully and I don’t like you at all,
In fact I think you’d better be my slave, why not my thrall?
I’ll have you as my servant, I’ll make you nice and kind,
You’ll leave that nastiness of yours and badness far behind;
You’ll join with me and wish the children here a happy time,
At Christmas and the New Year as we utter forth this rhyme –
O happy, happy Christmas, o joy to blessed folk!
Good people rise upon this day and cast off hated yolk
Rejoice and be best happy for the love cast on your way
Rejoice and praise the Lord above for this amazing day”.
“Stop ye fool! Ye stupid boy, what planet are you on?
There isn’t any love here, tenderness has also gone;
Far, far towards extinction, and children will be first
To feel the arid desiccation making people thirst
For goodness, love and thoughts of justice, kids they have no chance,
I’ve burst the bubble their contentment with my sharpened lance.
In cryptozoos they say a fun-filled day is watching people
Lose their happiness such place as sadness may then steeple;
If Christmas time is for you an occasion celebrate
Then rest of us the universe does glorify our hate
That on your paltry planet, a land where war is rife,
A place each country has it up to here with next door strife.
A homeland that delights in horror, terror still astir,
Each day with outrage aberration desperate crimes the blur.
Twixt love and hate and good and bad and right and wrong was halted
By a saviour born a manger prejudice be vaulted;
You are all in trouble now, look there you see him sleep,
I’ll be off to wake him have the kiddie for my keep”.
“Halt you there, you fatty beast, that’s Jesus he’s my friend,
He’s on my side, he’s with me world’s beginning to its end;
Tis fashion disrespect him, uproot his rightful place
As head and king in seer upon our wicked, sinful race;
We’ve money over love, ourselves over each other,
And yes we even tread the dirt our closest, nearest brother;
This may be the way the world since time its dawn began,
Shouldn’t we now join together, bind in marriage bann?
Ourselves to one another, sing ho and hardy major,
Fill each other joy and fun, then peace will rule I’ll wager”.
‘Just as Beast did snigger,
Our Jesus he grew bigger,
A man he now did figure,
Come tiger from his tigger!’
“My father has a mirror, its nature in its shape,
Like glassy essence Deputy and hallowed sister ape;
We gain from it our being, reflection of his whole,
And so he access has to every cranny, nook our soul;
In this polished mirror, so beautiful and clean,
The which he keeps and carries always brightening its sheen,
He sees all that will happen, and what has gone before,
The ever-seeming present as we tread this planet’s floor;
He sees our destination, those loyal to his cause,
As well those that betray him, justice served to give them pause;
Salvation is well promised for they that do his work,
Damnation held reserve for those who from his duty shirk –
This is known predestination, prescience divine
That sees all, guesses nothing, sups from mankind’s blessed vine,
Extending hand of grace to men when sees them chasing good,
Not supplanting free will though it ought and must and should;
Each man doth act of own accord for joy unless for sorrow,
This has always been God’s vision, looking at tomorrow.
For when we do unravel the definition full,
Eternity will find itself in linear time pull;
Vitality may not be ended, undivided whole,
That was and is and shall be our forever species goal”.
“If your dad already knows who’s saved and who is damned,
What’s the point of doing good if for it Hell we’re slammed?’
So daring was he with his arms, persistent proved in war
That he came lord of every land right after and before”.
When those who fought Great Alexander bent their knees surrendered,
Tormented was he by his pride, it inward gnawed so rendered
Thought on how the world was narrow, scarcely could he turn,
No longer wished to stand still but vainglory more to earn;
Intended so to further seek out second globe for fight,
A new war would he wage against the forces of the night.
He set off then to conquer quite the underworld entire
So that he might be then esteemed the universal sire;
And lo, the gods that place on hearing this they shook with fear,
Did dread they long into their night which time he might appear,
For this was fellow with the aid of just a wooden stick
Could break their gates of Hell down, strip their pride with one fell lick;
Deliver up his friends, though harrowed dead with sin,
A new age on this earthly globe his kingdom to begin.
But did it happen, no indeed, for no man ever shall
He tame the titans tallying in Tartarus, their pal
Is far too deadly, far too dangerous, powerful and strong
To lose encounter military or short or prove it long.
We reach a juncture, must we pass it, there shall be upheaval,
Socioeconomic forces rule they Good, or Evil?
Is this world a battleground twixt two opposing forces,
Or do random market-driven chariots run our courses?
There be three sisters if you know, not two shall lend support
But the third shall hurt you for she loves to cut lives short;
Know you first that Clotho, who holds her distaff high,
Lachesis also spins her thread whilst on you keeps kind eye,
But what these two create is torn to shreds soon after,
Atropis works to deceive you, cackle is her laughter.
No deep furrow will she plough, she’ll bury your whole line,
She has her magpie eye on you, no worse portentous sign;
You’ll face no greater enemy, she feeds her evil hound
With triple fare his three mouths – Cerberus in Hades bound;
He hankers after nothing more or less than human souls,
Atropos she casts them men and women like young foals
To the slaughter swallowed whole, no matter how full up,
He hungers, thirsts and belly aches continue dine and sup;
Those three malicious harlots, avengers of bad deeds
Do watch e’er anxiously for scraps, fulfil their grossest needs;
Tisophone, Alecto, Megaera shall devour
Your frame corporeal and duck dead at life’s ended hour;
These bearded hags await you in Hell where guilty folk
Are bound and thrashed and with sticks beaten, buffeted their yolk,
Dragged along, manhandled, burnt then grilled and boiled,
The three provosts consistory all human downfall toiled;
Each their majesties, oh tremble at their names,
Rhadamanthos, Minos and Aeacus, no one blames
Their judgement for throughout their lives abode the virtues seven,
Never falling foul the vices flung from fiery Heaven.
What if I should tell of the day when Father Time
Stands still to let cold abstracts slither up its plinthy climb?
Justice here, attacked by Anger, rage shall ever prove
As impotent in face the law doth from it ire remove;
Prudence is advised, Avarice discouraged,
One gives juries thought for money, other hoard encouraged;
To have and hold and so be cruel to others’ wants and needs,
But Prudence is she careful to respect the hand that feeds.
Temperance shall she always take her further time to think,
But Envy will she bluster in as quick her eye can blink.
One is full of reason, the other ground by fear,
Remember choose the first if wish your head remain it clear.
As Fortitude is strong, so Gluttony proves weak,
The former shall she harden set whilst latter suffers leak,
Where faith shall come from thinking tough and riding pains and cares,
Lechery will so result from over-weening prayers.
Hope she is a pure emotion, springing life eternal,
Pride shall make you trip the stairs so fall to Dis infernal.
And last of all is Charity how puts she others first,
Sloth controls the man or woman quenching lone their thirst.’
So saying did our Feckless, he turned Protector then,
The confluence of defalcation preyed upon both men,
That they praegustatores, testing poison first
Would then contract a fever marked by ravened raging thirst.
Drink the drink hallucination, then somnambulate,
Phenomena entoptic therianthropes meditate’
“Speak you then,” Protector said, “and tell the tale once more,
Spin a different thread though as I really am folk four.”
Feckless jumped upon the wagon, started to quiz eager
Great on how the human race had underdone him meagre,
Giving him just persons three when actually another
Lived behind the other three though none of them its brother.
But Great he wouldn’t say nowt, he bid young Feckless speak
To use the wisdom in his head such answer might then eke.
‘I am you,’ he present spoke, ‘and you and I are we,
As they and it and plural you and he and of course she.
Is, ea, id, ille, illa, illud,
Eum, eam, eius, illorum twice illarum should;
We all are joined, commingled, each woman man as one,
The whole this vasty universe from single quark it was begun.
The being that you call God is really only you,
You, yourself, identity and character yours true.
Leave those four to fight it out, there never shall be peace
Till they from each their other find own singular release;
No one including gods above contentment will they find
Till inward satisfaction reach, own factual Gradgrind.
He made us just like him, imbued us with the sense
To differentiate ourselves twixt present, perfect future tense.
He has no more the answer than you or I can find
The reason for existence, that’s why he treats the rind
Our planet here contempt, supernatural ire,
Baptism for each one of us, short story rational fire.
But the Architect eludes and how he has escaped
All censure aimed against him for instead he has us japed,
Now we know beyond him another being gave
Life to this preponderance and from him it shall us save.
This entity is whole, it does not so divide,
It nothing knows of good or evil, left nor right reside,
Within his breast the part of you that chooses right o’er wrong
He the guardian greets adversity with hopeful song.’
Protector did he sit down, he weary was and ill,
He’d used creative part his mind right up and past its fill;
Snide and Feckless helped him up, they moved they all outside,
The heroes of this story sudden felt their sense slide
From out their minds and bodies, their souls went with them whole,
Attracted to equator and then each opposing pole;
On the quick they realised that with the world were one,
Their voyage of discovery had so it now begun.
Only men so stupid, so primitive presume
That space in all its vastness is some big and airy room;
Of course it was created, to boggle hard the mind,
Jupiter one thousand three and hundred of Earth’s kind.
Such interstellar distances, ridiculous they prove,
A billion miles between each planet further stars remove;
The people that we meet
At work or on the street,
However we them greet,
If trample them with feet,
We’ll pay for treatment harsh of others, karma wraps around
Like coiled anaconda crushes us with hissing sound –
Our bones collapse they inward, our brains splat out from head,
Fewer less and pleasant ways are there to end stone dead.
Yes now look about, the world is clear to see,
You’re trapped inside a dungeon and your gaoler’s Trinity.
But back beyond it as you know sits fourth and noble Lord,
He and She and It’s the one who proffers grace accord;
Bestows upon each one of us whenever we cry need,
Fights attrition, seeks to save us from three-headed feed.
Cerberus he stands and guards him sentinel the gate
That keeps us chained and manacled till souls we lie the slate;
But hold we on we should for there is beauty other clime,
Prevarication is the mate this nearly ended rhyme.
But never ever give up, absolutely never,
Then your skill asseveration and your bold endeavour,
Don’t attack each other, help yourselves to grow
For discord, battle, war result from aggravated sow;
Speak words encouragement, and if you have the choice,
Relinquish other people’s cares with gift shared all, your voice.
Enough of that I tell you, face your inner hell,
Pack it, parcel, price and on your market stall do sell;
There’s nothing hurts your human race as hatred your own being,
Believe me it’s the fog, the gloom, the blindness stops you seeing;
Imagination starts the inner eye whenever we are young,
Responsible for games, adventures, tales told and sung,
As we grow us older, so it closes down
Till our powers visual do fade and cause us frown.
With sweep enormous of his hand did Greatness sudden blow
Feckless and our Snide back up from whence they’d been below –
Did find themselves now wand’ring round the busy city streets,
Frustrated at how close they’d come achieve heroic feats.
Said Snidey-chops: “I think we’ve touched on matter that may prove
A lot more useful in the future may it our race move,
Though still I am upset, annoyed we couldn’t match
Free Will Predestination in our netted wholesome catch;
I think we’ve moved it forward, I hope in future time
We’ll reconcile the two though not in fourteen beat-end rhyme,
For poesy is not the place profundity and reason,
Mere emotion does not end in catch at close of season;
Oh no, it is in prose where you will find the space,
Explore this subject further going slowly at own pace.
As for Trinity, the fourth god his existence,
Know I not if made-up proves by coldness ours the distance.
Tis often in the writers’ mind create such falsity,
Bedevils his or her own search for creed sincerity.
Well, yes indeed” he said, “I’d rather be stone dead,
I’d rather have my head caved in with weapon red and bled;
We’ve wandered in and wandered on and wandered high and low,
The only answer I can see we’ve found is nothing know;
Move from here now demonstrate a mind attuned to thought,
Receptacle not passive but in real time best caught;
Delve you deeper, dig back through the mind discover trend,
Pull it forwards, expose and study human race so mend.
We’ve opened up the channels, thought process set in motion,
Further study shall enrich and increase our devotion
To essential truth of why we walk upon this land,
Given nous to wonder on our sitting here or stand”.
Feckless he reflected hard on what he’d learnt that day,
Enjoyed he had his company Protector, though the way
Was far from clear ahead, the briny ocean floor
A thousand feet beneath him seemed more opaque than before;
He settled down to sleep, his dream machine was clear,
His mind revolved with interruption minimal, nor fear,
Nor any rupture but for those two questions that turned round,
Predestination, free will and four deities the sound
Whirred through the cogs his head, looking for solution,
Would he think outside the box, profound as firm ablution,
And then he slept much deeper, and then the answer came,
And then he knew all for a moment, then like dreaded Fame
In many tongues it talked to him and told him all he craved,
Whilst he slept he realised how wisdom she behaved,
All issues and all problems were solved the whole night through,
Twas pity then when woke he up consideration grew;
The glimpse he had of Heaven, restricted so to sleep
Was not his place the waking world to have it nor to keep,
And so he got up from his bed, he made his breakfast, sighed,
Reconciled himself to living this world so denied,
But then his pal, his Snidey mate he joined him at the table,
And both of them the rest their lives repeated this here fable.