Unaccompanied refugee children await Judges’ decision on their future.

A High Court hearing against government closes as the future of thousands of children hang in the balance.

Last Thursday 22ndJuly I went to the end of a three-day high court hearing in London, the result of which will dictate the fates of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable children.

The charity Help Refugees brought a legal challenge against the UK government over its implementation of the ‘Dubs Amendment’, a clause in the Immigration Act allowing unaccompanied asylum seeking children into the country. The challenge was made in reaction to the horrifying U-turn made by the government earlier this year, which brutally slashed the number of children that the Dubs Amendment would permit entry to from 3,000 to just 350 (not even 1 space per constituency).

Interpretation of Courtroom by Jacky Lakrichi

The futures of many unaccompanied asylum seeking children hung in the balance on Thursday. In the Royal Courts of Justice, Leigh Day Solicitors argued against the defendant representing the Home Secretary – AKA Amber Rudd. The premise was that the ‘consultation’ conducted with local authorities to arrive at the appallingly meagre number of 350 spaces was seriously flawed, if not just nonexistent.

With over 95,000 unaccompanied children now in Europe having fled persecution and violence, and more than 10,000 recorded as missing here, the urgency that these children be helped is something hard to put into words.

It is important to think about this not, however, as a series of worsening statistics and facts, nor as a messy array of socio-political and legal issues, but as a group o

f real individual children living real nightmares. Now. Children are homeless. Children are subject to violence and abuse and from the police and general public. They are falling victim to smuggling, to human trafficking worth billions of pounds, to sexual abuse, exploitation, disease, psychological trauma and suicide with every day that passes. As much as the discourse on this topic balloons out into political fencing and the hypothetical practicalitiesof housing and space and foster care and benefits… in each case what is fundamentally being discussed are these individuals’ lives and deaths. That fact cannot, and must not, be escaped.

The preliminary number of 3,000 spaces for these children, according to the state’s own legislation was meant to be reached through a consultation process run by central government with all 650 UK constituencies. The constituencies would then supposedly assess their capacities on a local level to see how many spaces were available throughout the country, giving an overall national figure.

Help Refugees’ lawyer argued that this process was ‘so unfair as to be unlawful’ – listing evidence demonstrating the crippling inadequacy of the government’s pretense at consulting local authorities. She argued that the government ran a ‘stealth’ consultation during which apparently, most local authorities did not even know they were being consulted. They certainly didn’t know that there was a consultation “cut-off date”, let alone when that actually was. The result of all this obscurity was the warping of England’s so-called ‘capacity’ for these infants into almost nothing: The whole of Scotland was recorded as having just 6 spaces. The whole of Northern Ireland was recorded as 0. The whole of the East Midlands was recorded as 0.

This wasn’t because these regions didn’t try their best. 91% of places offered by Scotland, 86% of those in Wales and 45% of English spaces were not counted at all because they arrived after the secret cut-off date.

The government admitted that an ‘administrative error’ led to 130 of the extra places not being counted.

The prosecutor was the one person during the entire day who struck me as demonstrating some real compassion and engagement with the human essence of this court hearing. Even the judges became irritable – at one point one of them interrupted by yelling something resembling “this is just intolerable!”, standing up and leaving. So the court took a 5 minute tantrum break. Apparently this was because the evidence was being given too fast and the prosecutor was ordered to massively condense and speed up her argument. To me this impatience seemed kind of tragic really, but then so did the fact this monumental decision lay in the hands of a tiny, demographically predictable handful of people.

Mr Magnell, The Home Secretary’s defender, listed off reams of statistics which were punctuated with an array of sparklingly sharp arguments (here paraphrased in my own words). Arguments such as “well, constituencies should have contacted central government if they didn’t understand the details of the consultation they didn’t know was happening”… were heard, alongside a dash of …“we got one email from someone saying Northern Ireland didn’t want to have an event about Dubs ‘at this point in time’, so clearly we could only conclude that there was not a single space available in the whole of Northern Ireland, and that there would be no point replying or contacting them again in any form until after the deadline they didn’t know existed for the consultation they didn’t realise was happening, had passed”.

Stunningly, in about 30 minutes Help Refugees’ prosecutor managed to rip through these, and many more of Mr Magnell’s points of steel (which he had been carefully honing since 10 am that morning) with a brilliantly viscous conclusive argument, hammering in the absurdity, unfairness, and down right unlawfulness of the whole thing. She strongly urged the judges that the whole consultation should be redone, with children being accepted into the UK on a rolling basis in the meantime.

Lord Alfred Dubs himself slipped into Court Room 3 during the proceedings and sat at the front to watch the concluding hour of the legal battle over his addition to the Immigration Act. Dubs, at 6 years old, was a child refugee himself who fled the Nazi Regime in Czechoslovakia along with over 600 other unaccompanied children who arrived in England via Kindertransport. Since then he has led a left-wing political career culminating recently in the championing of the rights of those who today are reliving versions of the journey he once took.

All that’s left now is to wait for the decision. According to one of Leigh Day’s lawyers I chatted to after the hearing, the judges can can take more or less as long they fancy to let us know. From weeks, to months (although she thought anymore more than 6 months is very unlikely). Every day that passes though, is another day thousands of children are languishing in quite literally unthinkable circumstances. And besides, whatever the result, ‘Dubs’ is just the tip of the iceberg.

Now more than ever it’s up to us to take responsibility. Power always lies with the governed, not the governors, as Chomsky said. We have the collective power to influence this situation. This was the feeling I was left with after that day in court. Because even those within the institutions trying to make a dent in this ‘hostile environment’ by wading through the political and legal bogs, are seriously impeded. At the end of the day, the power which is dictating these children’s current reality is accountable to us. This, people, is democracy in action: the 5th biggest economy in the world slamming its doors on the largest humanitarian crisis in living memory. Which, by the way, it more than helped to create.

In Bristol only  3 ‘Dubs children’ are currently being caring for, leaving a further 7 empty spaces which are still on offer… This is a number which must increase. Groups such as Bristol Defend the Asylum Seekers Campaign, Borderlands, Bristol Refugee Rights and Bristol City of Sanctuary are all doing invaluable work to aid vulnerable asylum seekers on a local level and can always use more support.

Reading and informing yourself about these situations is tantamount to ignoring them if it leads to nothing. As I write this, and as you read about me writing it, there are tens of thousands of individuals who are living the reality behind these words. We must talk to each other about this. A lot. To people we normally wouldn’t talk to. We must contact the council and offer up our homes as refuges. We must pick up a pen and paper – not a computer – and write letters to our MPs. Letters demanding they not only fulfill their original Dubs quota, but go beyond that to accept a higher number of unaccompanied children… and we must encourage others to do the same.

This is not just because we are human beings, but because we find ourselves in positions of safety and privilege which carry with them not just the power, but the responsibility to enact change.

Want to take action?

Now is the time.

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Breaking Promises, Breaking Children.

Last week saw the government backing out of the ‘Dubs’ amendment, a policy which promised to take in 3000 out of the 95000 unaccompanied migrant children. Instead we will accept a maximum of 350.

It is now essential that the public take responsibility into their own hands to speak up on behalf of these children whose voices are being smothered, whose lives are being threatened and whose human rights are being violated by a government accountable to and representing – us.

This disgusting and shameful move on the part of the British government is indicative of the landslide in ideology towards the extreme right, nationalism, xenophobia and self-delusionary resistance to globalisation. Following Trump’s Muslim ban, it is shocking to see the UK government rapidly mimicking such sentiments with political action. Currently 200 children (under 15s) have been accepted under the Dubs amendment, and in a sly low-key announcement on Wednesday 8th February it was revealed that the scheme is set to close once another 150 children have been brought to Britain, leaving the total amount of children allowed refuge here 10% of what was originally promised.

This is a deeply worrying decision, not only because of the wider political attitude it speaks of, but because of the real life impact it will have on thousands of destitue children around Europe. Those who are unthinkably traumatised, hugely vulnerable to abuse, sexual exploitation, trafficking, disease, suicide, homelessness and to whom we promised refuge, are now to be left abandoned to fend for themselves. Around 95,000 unaccompanied migrant children in Europe are in dire need of help. Over 10,000 are missing. Of the migrants arriving in Europe by sea in 2015, 31% were children, and children make up about 30% of asylum seekers in the EU. Last year almost 150 children are known to have drowned whilst seeking refuge crossing the Mediterranean sea.

captura-de-pantalla-2017-02-19-a-las-15-56-20

Daniel aged 9, orphaned, from Eritrea, was sleeping in a damp and dangerous lean-to in the Jungle, where he was regularly subject to CRS tear-gas attacks and violence. He had the right to be in the UK under the Dublin 3 regulation but his voice was not being hear. Thanks to charitable action he is now with his older brother in the UK and with legal representation to protect his immediate future, but many others are still not.

The number of unaccompanied child refugees to be accepted into the UK will now be determined by individual local authorities. With neither example nor policy being set by central government and with limited funding available (especially after recent cuts) it is likely that very few councils will step up to welcome these children. If each constituency offers refuge to just 5 unaccompanied minors then 3,000 children will be brought to Britain. If each constituency takes 30, then 19,500 children would be brought, making an enormously significant impact in the near 100,000 seeking help. Despite the UK’s ability and responsibility to contribute towards this situation’s resolution, the political climate is clearly encouraging a retractive distancing from the issue, and there is little sign of a strong or united grassroots movement on its behalf to pressure MPs and Whitehall into action. It seems increasingly, however, that grassroots campaigning is one of the few and most effective choices being left to UK citizens who disagree with their country’s shutting of eyes and doors to one of the most disastrous humanitarian crises of our time. Indeed, public pressure on MPs who in turn put pressure on parliament was the principle factor which caused the Dubs amendment to be passed in May 2016. Similar pressure can be applied to similar success in the wake of this callous and frightening act.

Immigration minister Robert Goodwell saw his announcement as a ‘proud’ moment for the nation: “The UK can be proud of its record helping refugee children and I can today announce, in accordance with section 67 of the Immigration Act, that the government will transfer the specified number of 350 children pursuant to that section, who reasonably meet the intention and spirit behind the provision.”

Human Rights Watch identified the Dubs criteria for acceptance as ‘restrictive’ and deemed its execution as inconsistent with its purpose << the process for children to seek transfer to the UK has been non-transparent and arbitrary, and that children’s mental health has suffered. Children said they did not have information about how and when they would learn the outcome in their cases, the selection criteria, what recourse, if any, they have if they are not accepted, and how they could follow up with the UK Home Office […] The UK Home Office should broaden their criteria for application of the Dubs amendment to ensure that older children are not precluded from consideration>>.

The May 2016 consensus of 3000 children – a number identified by the International Development Committee – as being the UK’s fair share in the Europe-wide effort towards humanitarian relief for unaccompanied children, was already meagre and unambitious ccaptura-de-pantalla-2017-02-19-a-las-15-56-36onsidering the scale of need, the UK’s position as the sixth richest country in the world and the enormous wealth which is held by banks and financial institutions which the taxpayer bailed out with tens of billions of pounds. Last week’s backtracking on the Dubs’ amendment was justified by saying that the local authorities responsible for the children’s care have limited capacity. However, after a Conservative MP pointed out that the new cap represents fewer than two children per local authority, Home Secretary Amber Rudd offered an alternative reason, claiming that the provision is encouraging human trafficking. Regardless, Rudd’s remarks in the House of Commons suggest that the real reason for this decision is to reduce refugee numbers. “We do not want to incentivise journeys to Europe,” she said. This echoes the government’s statement that it wants to avoid creating a “pull factor” that might encourage more parents to send their children across Europe, but Vincent de Coninck who manages an emergency day centre on the edge of Calais said it was ridiculous to think that any of these minors or their parents had any knowledge of UK asylum law: “They don’t know anything about the system. I try to tell them they will be better off staying in France, but the smugglers give them false information. The only way to fight against this mafia is to offer a legal way to get to the UK, and yet the British government has just done the exact opposite,” he said. “I can’t decide who I feel more angry with – the French or the British.”

This week’s ditching of the Dubs amendment comes just as the UK government announced it is also suspending the resettlement of disabled child refugees, and is a retreat from
involvement in refugee protection at a time when it is desperately needed. A separate accelerated scheme to bring unaccompanied refugee children with direct family links to Britain under the Dublin convention is also to come to an end. Theresa May ordered
the Home Office on Monday to look into reports that children dispersed from the Calais camp before Christmacaptura-de-pantalla-2017-02-19-a-las-15-56-48s were now returning to the French port. The charity ‘Help Refugees’ will be legally challenging the government in May, claiming that it has violated the 2016 Immigration Act’s clause 67 o
n ‘Unaccompanied Refugee Children: relocation and support’ which states that ‘The number of children to be resettled […] shall be determined by the government in consultation with local authorities.’ There has been minimal if any communication from central government with its constituencies: Hammersmith and Fulham councils’ repeated offers to take in more child refugees has been ignored by the Home Office.

The far right ideology driving this rejection of child (and other) refugees is not only inhumane, it’s self-delusionary. In this year’s January/ February issue of Foreign Affairs Richard Hass argues for a new model of world order ‘World Order 2.0’ centering around the notion of sovereignty as global responsibility, or ‘sovereign obligation’. He argues that the system of independent nations conducting their behind-border affairs as they please is now defunct. In an increasingly globalized world problems such as climate change, cyberspace, health (epidemics and spread of disease), nuclear armement and migration have come to affect all countries, regardless of their perceived responsibility in the problems themselves. These are border defying problems, and nations should collectively accept responsibility for the resolution of new global challenges. If every country behaved like England is now, these new most serious challenges would be totally neglected and continue to escalate freely. Hass sets out his clearer vision for this new kind of world order that needs to come, saying that ‘globalization is here to stay, and the inadequacies of traditional approach to order […] will only become more obvious over time’. If the UK government thinks it can hide from the wind of globalization by burying it’s head in the sand, it is more frighteningly blind than many of use believe. Engaging in the resolution of issues such as the migrant crisis is part of being a nation in today’s world, whether the Conservatives like it or not. To prioritize weak points of national self interest in the face of this humanitarian calamity is not only irrevocably damaging to those experiencing it, but is politically out-dated, regressive and foolish, as well as damaging to the global community – UK included.

Parallels abound with 1930s and 1980s are ringing truer than ever, but not eliciting a discernable response to the impending danger which seems to loom, electrical, before us. There is a resounding echoing of xenophobic and antisemitic sentiments which were legitamised by the British immigration policy in the 1930s-40s. According to Whitehall And The Jews, 1933-1948 by Louise London: “The process…was designed to keep out large numbers of European Jews – perhaps 10 times as many as it let in. Around 70,000 had been admitted by the outbreak of the war, but British Jewish associations had some half a million more case files of those who had not. The myth was born that Britain did all it could for the Jews between 1933 and 1945. This comfortable view has proved remarkably durable, and is still adduced to support claims that Britain has always admitted genuine refugees, and that the latest harsh measures against asylum seekers are merely designed to exclude bogus applicants. . .We remember the touching photographs and newsreel footage of unaccompanied Jewish children arriving on the Kindertransports. There are no such photographs of the Jewish parents left behind in Nazi Europe. . .The Jews excluded from entry to the United Kingdom are not part of the British experience, because Britain never saw them. . .Memories of the unsuccessful public campaign to persuade the government to rescue Jews from mass murder faded quickly.”

In Calais over 1000 unaccompanied refugee children were left to fend for themselves after the Jungle’s destruction. Almost 400 of those had been identified as having a legal right to come to Britain, and there are now at least 200 sleeping rough in the area. Hundreds who had been in the camps have been identified by charities such as Care4Calais as now officially missing. These are children set on coming to England either to join their waiting families across the channel, because they already speak good English, or because their parents have told them to go to the UK. Student volunteers offering food, hot drinks and sleeping bags to these homeless children had their names and addresses taken by police, and were told that what they were doing is illegal. There are increasing reports of abuse against child and adult asylum seekers by French police (and ordinary citizens), and since November’s destruction of the Jungle authorities are taking a very hard line in crushing the beginnings of new camps which may try to form around the area. Police run regular patrols at night so the children sleep without tents, or even standing against trees, to stay hidden. They do not risk staying two nights in the same place or lighting fires to keep warm. If conditions in the vast camp were highly inappropriate for children, they are now far worse. Many get hypothermia from living outside unprotected. Many have no food, water, toilets, bed, access to shelter, physical or mental health facilities, legal advice, or any kind of support for neither their asylum applications nor their general wellbeing. There have been reports of children beginning to bury food so that they can find it even if they are chased by the police. These children are not only horrifically neglected, but made to live in a state of fear due to active persecution by French authorities, and the active rejection by British ones.

Many children are suffering from PTSD. Many children cried in their assessment interviews. Many children described having bottles thrown at them, being racially abused or otherwise harassed by the public. It is imcaptura-de-pantalla-2017-02-19-a-las-15-57-05portant to condemn, petition and pressure the English (and French) government in their despicable handling of this crisis. It is also important to recognise their shunned responsibility as our own – not just because we are human beings, but because we are privileged citizens with whom the power to change this situation lies. It is important to read and think about this situation not as a series of worsening statistics and facts, nor as a messy array of socio-political and legal issues. It is important to think about this as an enormous group of real individual children living real nightmares. As much as the discourse on this topic balloons into political fencing and the hypothetical practicalities of housing and space and foster care and benefits… in any situation what is fundamentally being discussed are these individuals’ lives and deaths. That fact cannot be escaped. It is important not just to read and think about it. Not to just understand and care about it. Because if we read and think and care but don’t act, we may as well not care at all. Public passivity, apathy and silence is what has allowed these political actions which create the children’s personal realities. And ‘public’ does not mean the wider national disengagement – it means the summation of every single individual’s (in)action. Empathizing and caring about these children is the same as hating and rejecting them if it isn’t translated into action. We must talk about this with the people around us. We must contact the council and offer up our homes as refuges. Crucially, we must write to our MPs demanding our constituencies accept more unaccompanied children, and we must encourage others to do the same.

We are all individually answerable to the suffering of these children. The responsibility lies with us.

<<http://www.helprefugees.org.uk/news/dubs-amendment-passes-your-help-needed-to-bring-unaccompanied-refugee-children-to-safety/>&gt;
<<http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/sadiq-khan-launches-blistering-attack-at-move-to-end-dubs-scheme-for-child-refugees-a3462131.html>&gt;
<<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/08/dubs-scheme-lone-child-refugees-uk-closed-down>&gt;
<<https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/10/sleeping-in-the-undergrowth-the-children-still-hoping-to-get-to-the-uk>&gt;
<<https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/12/21/france/uk-lone-children-calais-left-limbo>&gt;
<<http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/disabled-child-refugees-uk-suspend-entry-home-office-resettlement-unhcr-united-nations-lord-dubs-a7571451.html>&gt;
<<https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2002/jun/08/immigration.immigrationandpublicservices>&gt;
<<http://calais.gebnet.co.uk>&gt;
<<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/24/new-fears-for-lone-children-calais-refugee-camp>&gt;
<<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/02/tory-mps-call-on-amber-rudd-to-help-unaccompanied-children-with/>&gt;

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Down

And when they cried down into the waters like a wild treetop spectre and the thick running currents of their souls flowed out wet and snakey into the black I wanted to crawl under them and breathe them until after all of the breath. When down the long never finding ground descending sharp flanks of the mountain chests which fall in water-like-rock falls glistening from old old far away starlight in their infernal pergutorial tumble into the fall, falling like an angel or a rain drop – I fell besides it. And I frayed my limbs and flesh on it’s surface all along the way until I was stripped like ribbons billowing and bloody clouds dancing, stripping and flailing in the light and the wailing air. My heart was stripped into strings and eyes were sliced into grapes as butterflies weeping clotted red, flapping hopelessly all trodden and limp but swirled all my pieces like from a performer spinning around. I was spinning around against the harsh face, against the rocks, not waiting for the land – not the crunch or crush or splat, knowing not the squash or the grinding into squelching dust beneath a heel. I just knew to fall acutely apart fibre by fibre, nerve by nerve ripped sensually like roots from the ground – capillary by vein into flailing pails into a non-black fathom of something desperate to swallow, desperate and waiting to gulp down finally – to end finally the destruction, all complete, all over and smushed and ended into —— —- . And that would be it but it was a saw dry cracked throat, flaking and raw and split all along the inside by indefinite gagging anticipation. But it wasn’t even surely there at all. Like swallows we fell diving in the rain to be buried through the water far from the water under plains we never could come to. I thought I had complained in my heart but it knew nothing of how to or names to form ideas of what idea means. There weren’t means for anything but everything outside of what was. I wasn’t really there at all one would say. One would look at the world – the hanging existence around me and vomit chunks of acidic hurling black bloody revulsion all into it everywhere. Into this self absorption. Into this sickening non-death non-living pool of putrid sty in which I abide and which I also produce and spread and spew up myself from my stinking eyes and anus and fingers, through my sex and splattering everywhere from my mouth and gurgling in lumpy spouting trickles from my ears. Everything is inside me coming out my insides aren’t coming out as much as I would try. As much as I would die aren’t coming out I don’t arrive at landing. I don’t arrive to stand or any verb or adjective to claim or understand I feel like _—- —— —. And set me free so I’m no longer anything that did or will or does exist or more than this that occupies a thought or time or space in everness – occupies a language or identity of physicality or mentality or consciousness or repressive effect in anything. Take it away from the fall. I fell / feel sick. They were crying with their lungs and souls into the black night and it was like treacle meandering all monster-like across the skies at night, slurring its own sludge across the stars and faces of light of the moon or the cautious winds which became stuck. They mourned and burbled and bubbled away from the trees and roofs – from the earthy crevices in humus of the brown ground and they wormed into a weave like an almost breathing thing that seemed to move us all around, that seemed to breathe and beat and from the stodgy blackness even sing and light up frighteningly into everything.

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IV

I think I see you sometimes like a dream; fading through dissipating skeins
Of consciousness with that trembling terrible mortal gleam, quavering lingeringly –
Like miles of last receding rays at dusk scurrying back over long darkling seas and planes.
We share many things about us: things like lying in silence on the sofa by the wide window,
Rolling to a precious pause in the still day with the bare blue sky stretching outside.

Like watching films and time pass, being intimate in our souls. I never saw your large dark eyes
So clearly, sternly mesmerising, as when I looked into them each day in memories and hopes;
The steady celestial silhouettes of distant mountain ridges drawing me on into the next minute.
Through soft translucent veils I feel your imprint of a gaze as I make the tea each morning.
Watching through your watching as I cycle wildly daily down long leaf-strewn tracks to trains by traffic.

As I step into the water you step too. That could be your hand on mine as my heart slows,
I think of shopping for vegetables and your favorite juice, saving for the rent, betting on baseball,
Soup when I was ill and our sweet aggravating cat you mainly hated – and my mind goes.
Wrenching tearing waiting holds me here: immobilised with shock or pain or summer rain
Which flows from grieving fissures in hysterical torrents as though it will never stop.

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III

Sinister and barren is this place at this hour;
The long road side-pathways
Lit by a descending rush-hour twilight and the
Humming rhythmical passing lights
of cars. Low hanging trees, predictable pavement and the doorstep again.
Well furnished and lit functioning rooms in buildings swill into pitiful sunderance:
Stilted viscous slow-stewing pits, bringing us inevitably back.

Far removed seems such a blasphemous
Solitary existence
Now for that
Place which withers
Into water coloured shades of fairytales and low
Sweet thrumming life which brimmed over and drew us from
Dank recesses of caves.
Everything good and simple is decanted from emulsions in this place
And left behind in piling rubble on borders,
Frantic seaweed massing on the shore.

Sitting next to each other on a bench
Or on two sides of a square table
In that never changing refuge.
That monumental disregarded place of pure
Living at it’s most right: working incessantly,
Cooking, laughing all the time,
Struggling with bills, gambling, fights.
Violence, hunger, hygiene, light.

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Who cares about corpses in the street.

Have you ever seen a dead body on the street?

Most of us haven’t. What if you did? You’d undoubtably have some violent reactions. Call 999. Try and resuscitate them. Shout and cry. All of these? Lots of other things too probably. It’s something that would affect you for life. What about a body lying unconscious outside in the night. This is a sight for immediate panic: uncertain of their age, gender, medical conditions, general state of health anything could be wrong. Again, I’m sure you’d be extremely concerned. What if it was one of these common below zero winters? We would care about this person’s survival… it’s not every day you come across a life or death situation like that.

Apart from it is.

Every day.

And, shockingly, the very vast majority of people don’t care, self-inflict unawareness and carry on. This cold glassy regard of society passes the point of heart breaking. It is murderous. How as human beings with the capacity for compassion have we been so conditioned that we have arrived here? Our hedonistic individualist society is appallingly desensitised to and distanced from human strife, suffering and violations of social justice. Unless of course these are directed at us or those in our near vicinity. But please, please can we stop with this shudderingly frightening apathy. The shrugging acceptance of this as some kind of inevitable norm, as the unopposable ‘way of things’, as an intrinsic element of modern life and society that must be accepted and lived through nonetheless. It must be neither accepted nor lived through. It must be directly opposed and transformed.

I was in the park the other morning, it was -7 degrees and there were four unconscious figures lain in the middle of the grass. The park was full of people walking their dogs, going to work, doing whatever you do on a Monday morning. They were all calmly walking past these bodies. Without even a glance. Without even a pause of acknowledgement. This may sound surreal. Unfortunately it’s what goes on on a daily basis in countless places across the world, especially cities like mine.

These people were rough sleepers covered in blankets and highly visible. Homeless people. The stigma surrounding homeless people is costing lives. Wait — no, scrap that: not ‘the stigma’ – the active expression of an arbitrarily constructed and foundation-less stigma by people all around us, and perhaps even people such as yourself, is killing the vulnerable. The quantities of homeless people in our towns and cities is reaching ever-increasing heights year on year. It is a humanitarian crisis. We are surrounded by, living next to and amongst these people. Would you not hope that if life dealt you a series of cruel and unfortunate blows that your fellow humans would reach out and help? Ok maybe not help. It’s likely that their own personal schedules, desires, objectives, values, finances etc etc. supersede your acute and desperate need for support with your physical health, mental health, finances and shelter. That’s fine. That’s more or less to be expected. Deplorable and revolting as it is. However, if your very LIFE was in danger, if you were in a critical condition facing death – you would think that out of the entire population of people surrounding you – some, if not all, would take immediate and decisive action. How about nobody. The idea that you would be left to die as feet continued to tread softly around your body, is surely unimaginable. Unimaginable, or, in the case of thousands of rough sleepers around the country, a day-to-day reality.

I live in Bristol, a city whose homelessness problem is just one example of the wider national humanitarian crisis. In 2010 there were only 7 rough sleepers on the streets of Bristol. In 2014 there were 41 and in 2015 94. Over a four-year period council spending on services preventing homelessness will be cut by around 40 percent. Already, Bristol City Council’s budgets for preventing homelessness have been reduced by 20% from 2011-2015. Last year 5,600 households in Bristol either became homeless or were threatened with homelessness.It is a problem which is accelerating at an alarming rate.

Crisis UK recently published their 2016 report ‘the homelessness monitor’ which is the result of five years of work and research into homelessness across the UK. It reveals a similarly extremely worrying trend of sharp increase fueled by socio-economic factors, and a general political, as well as public, disregard for victims of homelessness.

<< Homelessness is a crisis. It is devastating and should not happen to anyone. Homelessness is an isolating and frightening experience. Homeless people are invisible, ignored and forgotten. At worst, homelessness can mean sleeping rough on the streets. However the problem of homelessness is much bigger than that of rough sleeping. After years of declining trends, all forms of homelessness have risen due to the shortage of housing and ongoing effects of the economic recession combined with government policies – particularly reforms and cuts to housing benefit. Independent research carried out for Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that homelessness is likely to increase further still. Almost one in ten people say they have been homeless at some point, with a fifth of these people saying it happened in the last five years.>>

The report revealed that government street counts estimated around 3,569 people sleep rough on any one night across England in 2015, a rise of 30% on the previous year and double the amount since 2010.  But this is only a tiny snapshot – the actual figures are much higher.  8, 096 people were seen sleeping rough in London in 2015/16 which is a 7% increase compared to 2014. 8% of 16-24 year olds report recently being homeless. Housing benefit has been cut by around £7bn. Housing benefit for many young people is so low it often won’t cover the cost of even a room in a cheap shared house, leaving people to sleep where they can – on the floors of friends or family or, at worst, the streets. Up to 80% of homeless people have mental health problems and the average age of death for a homeless man is 47 (compared to national average 77) and 43 for a woman (compared to the national average of 80). These figures are only a slim reflection of the reality, as the government definition of ‘homeless’ excludes the large proportion of those actually homeless from their statistics, and so do not take into account the huge numbers of people sleeping in caravans, tents, hostels, shelters, who are squatters, sofa surfers or anybody not physically lying down on the street at the exact time of the count. Homeless people are far more likely to be attacked, victims of traffic accidents and freezing winters.

These are some of the people whom life had treated the cruelest. Victims of an oppressive capitalist hierarchical system which disdains to have a safety net to catch those in economic turmoil, abusive relationships or migrating from war-torn home countries. The running argument seems to go that we can’t help everyone. People all over the world are suffering atrocities, why should I choose to help this one on the street next to me? Well. Because they are next to you. Most people don’t present themselves directly before you like this… if a lost child approached you for help I’d really hope you wouldn’t give yourself the same excuse. Maybe you would. It isn’t the same, but it isn’t that different either. We have the power to make an impact in eachothers’ lives. We exist in an immediate community together. There are not different species of people existing in your microcosm from whom you are unrecognisable and separate. Homelessness can happen to anybody. Ideas of difference breed hate. We must learn from the appalling manifestations of such hate and ideas of difference which, before our eyes, are manifesting themselves with increasing explosiveness around the world – and we must NOT reproduce them. We must directly oppose them. To do anything else is to be complicit. To tell yourself anything else is to indulge in dishonest platitudes.

The homeless are one group of vulnerable and suffering people to whom it is easy for us to share our compassion and demonstrate our solidarity any day. They are part of all of our lives. Surely caring about our fellow beings is the most fundamental and important action we can take during our lives. If you don’t want to buy them a coffee because you’re too busy, fine. To be dismissive or commendatory about their potential death is not fine.

Stop walking past these people as if they’re objects. Start treating them for what they actually are.

BBC:
<<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36082945>&gt;
Bristol Post:
<<http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/households-bristol-faced-homelessness-rises-14/story-28792076-detail/story.html#p3UiS47YtSsm05d3.99>&gt;
<<http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/rough-sleepers-bristol-england-outside-london/story-28964526-detail/story.html#z1TjgzRHy3evUS8R.99>&gt;
<<http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/sleeping-rough-bristol-s-homeless-coping-coldest/story-28539480-detail/story.html>&gt;
Crisis UK:
<<http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/Homelessness%20briefing%202016%20EXTERNAL.pdf>&gt;
<<http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/Homelessness_Monitor_England_2016_FINAL_(V12).pdf>>
<<http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/Homelessness%20kills%20-%20Executive%20Summary.pdf>&gt;

[All accessed 03.12.2016]

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II

I was swaddled in your arms when the high
Watery ocean engulfed me. I was drowning
Beneath fading speckled stars when the
Water swathed chokingly upon us: heavy, mighty,
Immeasurably huge and surprising like the fallen sky,
While we were wrapped together. Then we were scarcely infants
As this happened; both amazed, appalled; I never needed air since

We were only travelling figuratively at first. Fingers
Interlaced weaving betwixt one another like limbs of a tree
We, planning gayly, outlandishly our imaginings: a Saxon
Fathoming inventively, postulating the impossibilities
Of the night sky. As us first so thrillingly ignorant of the tide coming now
The rushing and imminent clap of vast and Godly waters upon our brows.

Such music crept by me upon the waters. Your song so
Sweet, softly lulling to me in sleep. The music drew me
Further and I saw the sun rise twice, the moon spin fully,
The bleak fall of man blown into billowing clouds of sand

And I hear the soft wind singing through the trees. Your steps
On the Earth renders its voice and rotation as from a different breed.
With it this life transforms into something not understood
Since Eden, which infinitely shan’t be; you bring me
Into a different kind of realm: contentment, companionship here dictates
And mediates this new rhythm, new fabrication of the life which makes

New textures; winding themselves together, senses
I never realised without your hand to lend me feel them
And you in my imprint holding me warmly. I was pensive –
Thinking by the stream as it rained yesterday. My thoughts
Spoke through your voice inside my head. When my palm rested on your chest
I felt the throb of my heart beat matching my fingertips’ pulsing blood. The best

Of me was made by you, who said “be happy with yourself, I am,
And love you too”, so made ‘identity’, at once dissolved it, made it free.
Your solemn dark eyes stare through my own: gaze back at me,
Your fears, shames and uncertainties rack me in my dreams
Whilst I feel your fingers stroke the old and fading scars of mine, do not dread
What is past or is to come or happening. The water obscures all, what is left

That is certainly pure is only you. You see the girl, bored
With imperfections, rife with accusations, sullenness and
Resent, and love her anyway. And like from frogs in fairy-tales
Of high and cliched days cure her by making her new. Making nothing
Thank you, you wavering distant phantom. Love, saviour, we may be sent

Spinning at the whim of deep ocean swells, but in spinning as one
I need not be sure, not even think of to which shore; when, where or whether
We will come.
For this is knowledge enough. And now all my knowing is done.

Posted in Poetry, Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

A String of Story

I am a figment of my own imagination. I walk through my days in a seemingly temporally static haze, surrounded by a reality I can’t take seriously. Nothing is surprising or remarkable but like some strange fictitious movie whose lines seem inevitable every time I open my mouth to speak them, every time my ears ring with their vibrations. Well, this is in old old worry, think the old onlookers smugly observing her preoccupation. This is a clichéd teenage angst. When the first ancient eyes cracked open their lids to see sun this is what came to them too, sonny. But don’t dismiss this one so easily, I would say to those sitting, looking on, gathering dust. Perhaps it is in our misunderstandings and our depravation of knowledge where the most may be encountered.
This flat poorly coloured image encircling her – she just didn’t believe it anymore. The more she looks and thinks and understands the less she believes it, the less she feels she understands anything. It feels like a flimsy film of smooth fabric wound around her at which, the closer she looked the more frays and wears became apparent, the more she wants to seize the tapestry in her two hands and tear it apart. Tear it apart – not to see what is behind it (it wasn’t for her, that question) – but to rip it away – fibre from fucking fibre including all her own until they are hanging like a cloud of clarity, a lie violently stripped and exposed, burnt into small grey ashes like a fog of freedom from this suffocating weave who layers and folds drape themselves around her at every turn until everything is overheated and deluded, is sweating and hallucinating. A cloud of fibres hanging like everything that goes unsaid between two people hangs, mystified and expansive, before finally descending into dust.
She strokes her leg lightly – this feeling of her own dry soft casing is engineered by her hand, what her hand relates to her brain, her whole body is in cahoots – is conspiring against her to hold her in this torment. She knows she can never really feel this leg (as it stretches out bare before her, away from its place on the sofa), never see more than this image which is blurry if she’s tired, big if she leans close, gone if she closes her eyes (the leg itself is none of these things). Totally enraptured by this experience of the phaneron, of some kind of reality –  She Blinks – … so just the same as how we are always swamped by, bathed in light; apart from the more it shines on her the more she fades out of existence. Shining even in the depths of night, shining no matter how many doors she closes or how low down and buried beneath the earth she tries to hide. She takes her hand now and brings it down over both closed eyes, thinking as she sits quietly and alone in the living room of her flat of the other people who’d touched that leg.
Fervent lust driven men, so anxiously encaged by their desire, brusquely groping for assertion whose touches had been banally sexual, urgent, and reaches which seemed like reaches, which felt like closeness but which were really withdrawals, really retreats and separations into themselves, like the gorging of food until nothing is left but the disabling guilty desire. The lonely desire, chewing away at their humanity bit by bit, inch by sweating inch. Maybe one had been groping for more than that; she couldn’t say. She had been touched by others very ‘close’ in those moments of true vulnerability where the touches are of consolation, a sad trace from far away in an attempt to surpass an impossible distance, an attempt which acknowledged that words weren’t enough, but that neither was this. A panging and impossible desire in that hand to soothe or change or repair all felt through one tentatively soft touch to her thigh. And then also, she mused that years of babysitting, of rearing, of tussling and holding cradled teary fountains of bumps and bruises and sulks had seen many a small child sat upon these legs, placed a small downy head upon them. A touch sometimes associated with the delighted giggles – the ones that come from your chest – from senseless juvenile hysteria and nonsense. And which at other times alluded to this tender communal inter-reliance people have upon one another.
(I don’t know anymore how to know, how to think, how to construct words into this sentence or understand this fluid indeterminable impalpable meaning behind each or all of them put together. They aren’t contained within the words themselves, they can’t ever be. It’s all a lie, a farce, Shout it to the streets! The words are empty! What we believe is contained within them is only within ourselves). But all of these touches fell apart, fibre from fibre, fell away into dust.
How is solitude a question we’re ever meant to answer. Contained in our own inner narrative and forever separated from the ‘outside’ external existence. How can this ever be escaped. You touch my hand and I feel in my heart the glass wall between our skin, our beings. I want to really touch. My head hurts from my thoughts trying to batter their way out of it. Sick of this old narrow constrained one dimensional perspective. She felt their touches but she also felt the space in between that came in unison with the touch. The space: she felt it echoing inside her heart like a cry of pain with every attempt, it was between their skins, their beings. She wanted to really touch. For she had seen behind each face in her memory a flickering of the soul within. When I think so much of this I feel like the evening tide is coming in within my chest, and the light is setting. Language is a hard barrier to overcome – when we have to put it up to communicate at all. I’m lost but also more real I think when I don’t understand – could not even begin to articulate or disentangle what is happening inside of me. Plains of sunless pitless ocean, moving watery and foreboding within me. My heart feels cool. Reality is painful most days to my eyes, weighing on my lids, thickening my blood.
But with a sharp intake of breath she awoke in irritation back into the illusion and shook her head, hoping the thoughts might just fall out. ‘Vanity!’ She yelled mentally as she slammed the cup she’d been drinking from down into the foamy bubbles of the sink. Bubbles which, in agreement, reflected back a thousand tiny hers. There are days like this when the silence stretches so far in through the front door, rolls out his long sinister carpet so finally like the last shadow at sunset, that she couldn’t help but decide for the moment, at least this morning, to be a realist. Yes, existence is just a mental universe that begins and ends with us. But, she thought, who gives a fuck? How do I want to roll out this tapestry anyway? And when I can’t get my hands – groping and wet with tears through the blindness, flailing in desperation – when I can’t get my hands on the material itself, well then the best I can do is try to embroider the most spectacular thing.

And then one palm touched another:
A meeting of understandings ran like rivers;
Ran, with the urgency of a great migration.
Two palms closed softly
Like the day.
The last light is dwindling on the waters,
The last tide is flowing into the dark.
Two tectonic frontiers which meet and synapses alight,
Currents meet, species cross here
Under the sun.
We looked up into the age of the sky,
Into the past of the night
With such relief.
We looked into the sky and we wept
Floods, great rivulets which fell down our faces to our legs
Which swelled and fed the earth below
And streamed on down, which bled from the scars
So old and deep and crusted,
So overgrown and entrenched and forgotten,
Like the innermost rings of ancient trees,
We had forgotten – they’d never been stemmed
But still, sore had lain open and free
And drained us
Into the night.
Until we were hollow men,
Trembling like leaves and shivering in our thin hollow skins.
But now we felt faint, awash.
The whole sky swooned.
Now something human had finally taken flight,
Risen up and ridden over the wash
(The last light scurries back into the horizon,
The last flow folds away into the night,
The last notion of time recedes into the infinite firmament)
Through the surges of electricity running up an arm,
Risen up above fast corporal firing,
Above meetings of anything more than what floats far lost
Like soulfulness or love within our depths,
Has risen up us and disarmed.

Solitude frightens. But how is it a question we are ever meant to answer. Can we really be lonely when we’re not unique? When we’re all linked through out humanity, sharing the same thoughts at the same time, retracing the same steps on the street and throughout the days as countless others who’ve gone before us. Maybe it’s a sick illusion then – the feeling of experiencing singular consciousness unaware of its own facade, its own inevitability, like many leaves on a tree all identical, all connected, reincarnating and coexisting through the seasons.
Maybe this deep chest pain hollow panging is nothing more than an idea. Look at the lives of the people around you, and with your mind you seem to become them – thinking on it is enough – seem to reach inside their chests with your hands and feel their feelings, hold them, tactile and solid and real. More real and close than ever were your own. Individuals spill into each other through their gazes or every day exchanges, but you seemed to have convinced yourself you’re alone. And what is you, anyway? Is the question itself not wincingly arrogant? The presumption of individuality – the elevation of the conscious reality above the subconscious, above everything around that engulfs it in unknown. Why do you exist? What does it mean to exist? Why do you do nothing with your body, with your voice? Why do you make nothing from the world around you? Why do you waste everything, this precious unfathomable thing called life or existence or consciousness or some other word that gropes feebly at an understanding. A waste, a wasting away as you sit frozen in its headlights. As you let yourself be invaded totally by everything superficial, tripping down down this dark road trodden by human hordes of more than millions. Let yourself be filled irreversibly with emptiness. Not an ambivalent neutral emptiness you understand – one torturous, confusing and full of vacant questions and misgivings and airs that seem like depths until you dive into them. An emptiness which is selfish even to indulge to be trapped within.

Days are cruel spaces,
Stretching around our shoulders
Tight across your back and
Swathes of them gathered impassibly
Chaotic and seeming ahead.
Maureen had told me she believed
They sank down one by one
Like pennies in a pool
– She drew long and shuddering on her fag –
Said I should thank my lucky pennies
That I’ve had them at all.
The ash tray smouldered slowly,
The window pane, slowly fogging, stank
Of that day.

Where are you now? Anybody might ask. Who can ever know. Knowledge seems like a figment of our imagination. Perhaps the most sincere is to live always in questions, in the spaces occupied by the lack of answers – living at least certainly in uncertainty. Better a paradox than nothing, than lies – but if we’re sure of this lacking (such a lacking I feel every minute like I want to weep), if we reach this particular point in nowhere, how, then, can we possibly begin to construct anything around it. Where, in other words, can values come from now? Are they still something we can trust or were they as cunning as the rest? How can you even take a step outside in the morning, even form a cohesive thought, let alone a “life”, once you’ve arrived here?
I don’t know. I’m lost and I’ve no idea about anything anymore. But then again, it seems that that is exactly the right answer, and that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. The only problem then would appear to be that it’s impossible. No functioning, no acceptance of reality, language, knowledge, anything. And that just doesn’t fly day to day, sonny, with studies to be studied and bills to be run up, with human interaction to be getting on with and comportment in the ‘outside world’, the perfect answers just aren’t gonna cut it, I’m afraid.
And be afraid. Really. My veins snake through me everywhere thick with blood which oozes in circulation like a slow spiralling fear. Every day I struggle with the danger of falling into the gaping abyss; the wide waiting jaws of squander and illusion, the maws of conditioned society and perceived reality, which like some bedtime monster from a child’s panic-stricken nightmare is forever devouring and gobbles up the humanity of men. But what is my humanity? You may well justifiably ask. And in that question you’re closest, maybe, that you’ll ever be – an acknowledgement of ignorance, a surrender to the unknown and what is further than us. Even as the pen lands, you see, I am imagining your questions, creating your consciousness with my own. Isn’t it surely now as valid, as real and conscious as every other one? And maybe I am writing this preempting that, for an audience, as a reaching out for connection, perhaps attention or recognition, perhaps any other arbitrary value we like to think about nowadays. They would any or all be true – a thoroughly convincing argument could be drawn out for any of the infinite possibilities, spinning multiverses off each other like excitable cancers. Any and all of the realities are true then. Maybe I was writing this for you, maybe not. Maybe just for myself. Whoever you and I are anyway.
And then I wonder, where do my thoughts come from? You ask yourself, if there anything which doesn’t cross the phaneron? (“NO!” comes the mysterious distant bellow of an answer from within your head.) Is there a kind of mystery, I don’t know. I don’t know what ‘I’ or ‘know’ mean anymore. Language crumbles in my fingers whenever I touch it, when I reach for it and try to put it together, try to build something with meaning, it falls away insubstantial into a dust whose dissipating cloud seems to laugh at me. Laughing at my foolishness, my attempt to contain meaning and mould it into something fixed in this vain quest to understand. But anyway, I already feel like I’ve gone far too far down into this black hole looking for an opening through which to emerge. Far too far down into a hole full of rabbits and dust and echoes. And it’s cold anyway. It’s lonely too and you can’t see anything, however hard you squint, however well adjusted your prescription or 20/20 your eyesight. However much light or dark, rabbits or not.
Even waking up and taking a look around at something (supposedly) outside your head – some good solid reliable occupant of the world – you seem to tumble straight back into the warren, like falling in a dream but a living waking one (or a nightmare perhaps) with this sensation that although you never seem to move or land you are always falling. One breath of fresh air and a shake of head – one foot in from of the other now, and yet eyes have already fallen on the question ‘What about Love?’ Which is to say – yeah, exactly, fucking what about love? Which is to say what about emotions? (Could I please move three paces through the room without existentially falling apart.) My opinion of them tends to swing haphazardly like a gate in the wind. Are they formed by or forming us? Where do they come from and why – good or bad – helpful or a bitter cherry on the illusory cake? For example “Why Do I Love You?” “Why Don’t You Love Me?”. But maybe we both feel the same, we’re just in too much darkness, too caught up and swept away in the whole consciousness thing that we don’t realise. As you realise the emptiness of your question the multiverses spin off in their multitudes and more than millions, they are soap bubbles under a fast running tap being picked up and dispersed infinitely by wind.. And all this seems a bit heavy and tangled, doesn’t it? It all seems like the tip of the proverbial iceberg, the scratch on the generic surface – take your pick from the hat of floundering limp expressions. We must surely laugh at ourselves and our own egoism if we really think we can focus on these questions and see them for what they are. Let alone really address them. Let alone ever dare to whisperingly utter “resolve”.
If we bend compliantly now a little under the whip of conformity and acknowledge knowledge as a thing (I hear your sighs “oh for God’s sake”, “circling whining little shit”, it’s tiring, I know. Now you’re wishing you never joined me here, never came into this consciousness at all or merged with it, never took it on as your own), then we can make ourselves. And now I sound like a lame campaigning politician, but I’m serious (or at least I think I am – much like them). I’m talking every detail – every emotion, value, desire, action, reaction, vision, attribute, dream… And if you can pick and choose these like the building of a digital avatar, and you can choose from copious infinities of possibilities (if you know the choice is there, that is), how are we ever really supposed to take the notion of individuality or uniqueness with any more adherence than we gave to the politician’s empty words? Surely though, it is a choice impossible to make – no one “individual” style of being is going to be correct: we established the lacking already you remember – the space in space of answers. So to take that first step out of the door, to make any interaction, the most impossible of gulfs must first be passed. Who is taking the action and how and for what reason? If the answer to this can never exist surely then the action and the subject behind it can’t either?
 And how can you be sure (you feel like giving up perhaps, want to close the covers on themselves like a long needed sleep), and I mean really sure, that it’s even your foot that would go outside the door at all? That you’re not a somnambulist, or simply imagination, or simply life. The foot, we have established, is beyond the phaneron, and you can never know it (ah there is a phrase whose senselessness we are familiar with by now). And so now we seem to have come full circle – it wasn’t a perfect one (il y a quelquechose qui ne tourne pas ronde dans cette histoire); rough and lopsided – more elliptical – more even reminiscent of a square, of fibonacci. And that foot hasn’t so much landed outside of the door as back inside the rabbit hole from which it came.
And as I move my wrist to the pen and as you react to it, we mustn’t be deceived by the pronouns we employ or confused into an acceptance of words as something substantial. For how many others have/ are/ will – to have – (the confines of language are once again fucking me over) these exact same thoughts, perhaps even in this exact same place. We must try to avoid getting lost in this strange concept of solitude – ego – cogito ergo sum, but Descartes it’s sumus no? The egotistical downfall has led us here and we seem constantly flooded by our own experience. Why give so much importance to the conscious over the subconscious mind in terms of everything including autonomy and dictation. Why give so much importance to the earth – why place these things so centrally when there’s an entire sun, and many billions more for that matter. Maybe somewhere in a widespread unification we might find ‘ourselves’ a little more truly. Might find that that word does bear some small element of sense after all. ‘But what do I know?’ I think, and I think you think, and so you think. Nothing… nothing. Isn’t that the beauty? The splendour of this all? Or is it the terror. Or most probably, are these, too, ideas that will crumble apart sadly when I take them in my hands.

I want to gather all the words up in my arms and hurl them out of the open window into the limpid night. Hurl them at the infinite space between the stars and see them all spinning off into the black. I want to gather them up in their hordes and release them into the night air like gravity releases the rain. And the clarity of the sky behind is revealed. I want to see liberated the clarity of what waits amongst the words, what is muffled and distant and buried. I want the dying of the thunder and the coming of the rain.

When the morning comes the night is drowned in soft illumination. Look at the faces around you which are familiar – you know them. In your mind they form a part of, or all of you perhaps. And the other seeming faces, figures, which you don’t know, or never will or have but from whom you are strangely estranged, the others everywhere whom although you recognise as people with your eyes, it is a dislocated understanding, although you understand with that knowledge of yours, you try to convince yourself perhaps that the knowledge is tangible and sentimental – that you feel them branching everywhere within you in one glorious network, feel them streaming through your limbs and into your heart in hordes of erythrocytes. But, are you really sure? It seems the more you look the more strange their images, like the malformed distortion of a long repeated word. And you realise they are somehow impossibly far in your perception now, and are belonging to that first kind of knowledge you aren’t even sure exists. What hope is there, then, for the others? For the ones you don’t see. The ones far from you in every other arbitrary sense that these aren’t. How can you ever hope to touch each other (to wade through the human landfill until you stumble across something recognisable. Something of ‘value’. Until you blink and realise that it is in fact a sea of treasure, or stars, and that you too are immersed in this galaxy and all its magnificent constellations)?

And then you think, What Do I Want to Do with my Life? And, What Should I Do With my Life. Do. And how far apart are these questions from each other. And do they have answers (answers, answers, answers dies gradually the echo with each repetition)? What is want – why do I want this anyway, these things are all constructed… pre-wired. How to spend a life. Is it even a question. Falling in a never-ending rain of our own consciousness, of the living, falling from unfamiliar waters. And I have another question (you can lie on the ground, draw the earth over you like a soft sheet and rest. Take some silence from all of this. Questions may be one of the truer declarations we can make – easier to identify absence than substance by a long way surely). What does it mean to write? Where are we going here? Where am I trying to go or take you? And in what spaces are we dancing as we trip not together but in strange parallel directions through the imaginary (isn’t everything imaginary?) and swimming into one of the other infinite pools of existence which waver around each other, separated by thermoclines of perception.
C’est tres souvent que je ne’arrive pas à m’exprimer… Ces moments où ce que je sais sur moi même reflectent bien ce que je ressens sont rare. Like the calming of ripples on the sea – there’s too much wind (doesn’t feel like a lake or a bath. I feel like a sea). Lost, unfathomable.. isn’t this consciousness. I find myself often asking what is the experience of being a person – of living as a consciousness, as an individual, as a society, as a mass. I feel like it’s likely there’s no response – each inner world seems to me a planet spinning so deep within abyss it is impossibly inaccessible from any other. So then it follows to understand one’s self, to see things as normal, good or bad, with any degree of subjectivity lacking a framework/ template/means of comparison…. would this then mean there is no right/ wrong/ good/ bad way to be. Yes, perhaps. Cannot be true since we exist in collaboration – we do reach through the abyss and touch each other. Sometimes. So perhaps it’s more the opposite. There is no unique. No individual. Like an ant colony we are one respiring organism dependent on its individual units – although we’ve constructed ourselves arbitrary ideas of self and value which impossibly veil us from something real – a truth or reality. What ever those things may be.
And love. Or simply the caring for another human being. What is this composed of. Firstly, it’s clearly an idea which doesn’t exist. But when we feel our own version of this… Why is it that we love somebody? For what they do for us/ to our lives? For what they make us feel (but about what – life/ ourselves… I suspect often ourselves), or do we love our idea of them – our own mental understanding of a person often influenced by projections of inner desires/ ideals/ narrative. A manifestation of dissatisfied yearning imposed on another as a wish for this ‘lacking’, some ‘emptiness’ to be filled.
I often think I was mainly loved for what I represented – what my appearance conveyed. These things were maybe loved much more than I was, and then how I made him feel as well – which I did deliberately. An explicit effort, an altered self to get this result of desperately sought ‘love’. Like this it feels so tragic, such an excruciating waste. How can I ever trust myself when my power of delusion is so strong, or when there is no answer no way to understand. Every one of the infinite ways in which love can be interpreted must therefore all be equally valid. I always thought I needed to know myself better – to be more sure/ confident/ comfortable in or with me before I can properly benefit from life, the relationships and experiences it has to offer. But then it scares me maybe there is no self to get to know. Perhaps I’m just vacancy – as easily swung and influenced into a new mould by every encounter/ other person/ song/ comment that passes through my head. Maybe all I am is an amalgamation of all of this. This very real possibility deeply upsets and troubles me. And the fact it does so upsets me even further. Even this is sickening. This long self-indulged pontificating. When the self may not even be real, and if it is it is surely the least important thing in the face of global injustice, poverty, capitalism, widespread violence and human suffering which this self is a direct result of and has been benefitting from since long before birth. How revolting to be in this position and constantly preoccupied with empty notions of identity and future – idly indulging in pointless exercises and vain concerns where the situation of others, the cataclysmic rift in social prosperity should be the purpose of our power and privilege as we are the ones with the responsibility and ability to do this… so it is thus paramount that we do. Anything else is as good as murder.
Thoughts whirl around in my head like snowflakes, melting fast and retaking shape. Circle in their ice white flurry and are impossible to distinguish in their fuming swirling masses. In their melting pools and rivers. Where do they flow to? I am lost at the depths of these waters, and some thoughts return like constellations on rare clear nights. Many are not welcome. Many are not helpful or interesting or important. Many are the opposite of all these things. Holes punched and ugly out of the nighttime canopy. And even knowing this I cannot make them leave me. They follow me, cling to me like flies in the heat, crawling around my mouth and in my ears, their cool buzzing bodies felt tickling up my thigh, under my skin and into my temples. Tears come sometimes into my chest. I am tired of all of this. I am tired of living inside this useless artificial world. So tired of fake projections and values, of constant inescapable self-inflicted dissatisfaction, disappointment, useless hopes and imaginings. Better that the snow builds up to cover my head, my body and my closed eyes. Cool and deep and heavy. Calm and silent. Insulated from flies and wind and stars. Better that the night blow over, into such a thing glistening beautifully outside of our conception, something far which isn’t the day either. What a thought (of course I can only use the word ironically now). Better to be wrenched away, better to be crushed and reshaped and obliterated. Better to dissipate into the abyss.
Existence seems to be far too much. Words are laughable to handle it. Happiness and love far too meagre. Consciousness too much of an illusion. I don’t trust anything anymore. My thoughts, memories, feelings, knowledge. My eyes. Understanding of this world. It is essentially empty. Meaningless is a funny word. The meaning isn’t there. Of any word. Just man made ideas. All subjective. All fluid. Even solid things aren’t solid. I can never see/ touch/ experience the table. I feel like I never experienced my memories. Like they’re fables from the past I look at wistfully, in yearning to feel them but never truly connecting with anything. I think I go through my life like that. Not really connecting with anything… everything seems arbitrary. The question often arises to me if this is ‘normal’, but of course it is a question without sense. You’ve been gone a day and I don’t even remember what it was like to be with you. The feeling of it. Even your face, your characteristics. After a month. Why not. What is wrong with me. Maybe we orbit life sometimes and look down into it. I cried reading through our past messages. As if it was some fucking beautiful story I empathised with. Sometimes I really think solitude helps more than anything. I was looking for friends for so long. I have many. But I don’t really know what that means honestly or why people care for each other. I have a strong suspicion these are as empty as everything else. Human experience. Is that even something. I don’t even know what those words mean.

She was lost beneath a sprawling forest. Pale green light wept downwards softly from the canopy. Shadows fell exhausted amongst the trees and vegetation, still and forlornly pooled amidst the sun’s sombre shafts. It’s expanse was staggering. Taller than the eye, rumbling outwards further than every horizon. Like an old old beast, it breathed almost imperceptibly. And she was looking up. Blinded by everything in her vision, the running light, the black shrinking wings of ascending birds, the tall stretches of bark. The long falling lines of rain or light, the glimpses of a light blue. And a beating that felt as if it had been building for centuries, moved up through her feet and hammered within her chest. The light streamed through her eyes and the thunder quaked violently, battered with the aggression of a furious jealous man within her, it pummelled with spitting vehemence cracking all its encasing bones and cavity and with its movements more and more desperate, seemed to scream bloodily until her whole face was screaming too. Wildly and in anguish like the undead, and her face tried to lift itself up from the earth – wood snapped and splintered in one thousand places, roots tore themselves from her cheeks in terror like veins. Some trees swayed. Many fell. Many animals dies in the scream where the earth itself opened its maw and bellowed a high and hellish ripping cry of pain. Of lost man. Of the individual stayed inside their thoughts but fooled tragically into imagining social validation. Of the pain of the hungry, as the days move with the sun and moon around the dogged straggling thought of food. The pain of those trapped in violence, trapped by a monetary world into days on endless days of oppressive suffering. And the scream was of death then, too. And the face of the earth tore into great rifts. And the birds took to the skies.

Je me suis rendue compte qui’il était magnifique,
Et là la vie s’est arrêtée, s’est assise sur les pierres du rivage,
Et prenait ses propre temps de regarder au loin, de respirer,
Faire glisser doucement ses pieds par cette plage,
D’incliner en arriere sa tête et laisser tomber
Tous les rayons de soleil sur son visage.
La vie s’est allongée ici, en se sentant le rebord
De la mer lechant ses pieds avec le froid,
La lumière qui la remplit, le vent qui chant,
Tant que dans ce état de reverie elle ferme ses yeux,
Et s’est endormie.

Wide out on the waterside where they normally used to leave him looking over to the horizon, the space was big. The height of the sky was long long away and if you looked into it closely enough it dissipated as insubstantial hopes whose invention reveals itself like a sly joke when they’re clutched at. Someone else was watching the space he used to watch the space from. And this place had the sense of receding consciousness; stratas of minds multiplying on and out of each other indefinitely. Sky reflected in the water’s surface and these parallels lay calmly face to face. These are the places you can often touch somewhere closer to yourself, grope down further into your stomach and begin to unearth and uproot this great knot made from all your tissues and fabrics over the eternity of a lifetime.
He sat on the bank. And the land beneath him was very wide. And the verge before the water was very long, tapering away towards the horizon. The sky hung highly, heavy and full of light like a glass ball waiting to drop. The winds ran wildly like lost children. Echoes hurried around his ears from both sides, from all directions. Upon looking at him, words pour out of her hands and mouth, billow forth from her eyes and stomach like great streaming flourishes of blood in water. He has alit her, and she is suffocated and mute at the torrent of expression her self gives birth to; an ancient nile of words and life which had been lying dormant undetected with for all these years. Contained by walls, draped in dark shadows of inner gorges or ravines his eyes now bring it rushing forth in smokes and waves. How she’d hate to revisit her hold child, how this meeting of souls extracted from within her something by means of purge or resurrection. Where is the black hole inside you. Search it out, obsess over it, dig and cult holes to let in light to illuminate what’s lacking. This elusive absence seems to be ever intangible as it is growing and consuming from within.

We all hold each other in our slumber.
But in dark moments I awake
In swathes of confusion, engulfed
In folds and subsumed by supple space
In all directions, held within the rolls
Of thoughts like a tumbled child – Thoughts
Like time, like every word is (my hands) a sieve I hold
Out to catch the meaning
Catch and feel a realness
To trap
Essences and give them to you as a gift.
But in the end (the water running through my hands)
I gift you stuttering vacancies, pools of separation, a wish.
I gift you hypotheses and an existence which is strung out
Like the night sky around us, sparkling, magnetic and illusory.
Which is drowned in illumination by the coming of the day.
Which can’t exist.
I swoon, I’m porous. I’m drenched, under the fall. I’m dripping,
Though every drop escapes me.
My hands held out to you in reverie or prayer,
Cradling emptinesses thrown out like in longing or despair
I know although I’m never knowing, never
Fully aware they try to pass through their absences.
Try, wading feebly through the air until they could
Touch, ignite, sense truly and alight upon
Your hair, your face, your skin,
The waters of your being,
And travel through the space
And touch you from within.

Je perd mes yeux
Mes pensées semblent de s’envoler
Jusqu’a la disparation des etoiles
Dans ce que est pire
Plus noire que l’obscurite
Je les ai perdu
Ils m’ont laissés
Après avec le roulant
Fatigué des saisons les
Soupirs du vent faible et âgé
Je perds mes sentiments aussi
Je ne sais plus où elles sont ou
Où elles sont allées
Papillons liberés de leur cage
Elle volent et montent depassant
Le crepescule
Je ne sais plus de quoi je parle ni
Qui je suis I recognise nothing
People move around me like flotsam drifting
Et petit à petit je perds
My understanding of everything
La voix dedans ma tête elle
Est perdu elle s’en est allée
Un jour on ne sait pas où
Mes sensations mes pies mis
sur la terre aussi perdu
Ces choses s’en levent de mon
Corps le laissent vide et
Fading all my parts abandon me
Picked up and melted away in the breeze

Why is justice a thing which is so hushed? A thing which seems to slide quietly past people on streets. Eerily unseen, trickling everywhere like rainfall, flowing down highways before running into the drains. How can we in our more than millions wake up every day to a world gory and stained with blood, walk contented, ambivalent in this city as rivers of red pool themselves around shoes, trickle through fingers which pick up goods. It has been well engineered – this place; those at the top have kindly deafened the proletariat – so they can sit between any of these countless walls in the sty of contentment as desperate screams and ghoulish shrieks of death and pain and suffering and war echo around their heads, vibrating all over them into their very skins. Still, this doesn’t incite. The pain painted on every wall, sealing every item in every shop, the slow stinking death of the natural world doesn’t smell in this place. Or at least, those here have been taught not to smell it, not to flee from this sewer of putridness, but to rather thrive from its rot, gorge on its sprawling fungi and ballooning moulds, bathe in its stagnant pools of shit and congealed blood. Like maggots feasting on the despoiled carrion of something once majestic and peaceful, we worm in our deplorable hordes: sickening in their apathy, devastating in their passivity as the viscous stink of death dumbs our every sense.
Sometimes I want to close my eyes and lie down in these shallow pools and drown. Let my body join the rest of the human refuse. Others I want to rip away the gore from everywhere (the skin and insides used to erect all this magnificence, all this proud wealth and progression), tear them from all the walls and streets and windows. Retrieve them from the plates of car bodies, from the threads of clothes in shops and the packets of food. I’ll pull back from these things all the spools of cold tangled blood vessels, like rope from the sea. I’ll peel off the sheathes of skin and tear away compacted pounds of old flesh. Deconstruct what has been made from the deconstructed and see it all fall weakly apart. Fading away pathetically into nothing. And then, left sitting on nothing but hills of gore irrigated with blood rising from the red sea, finally in the carnage of destroying destruction. I would in my wishes then, build it back together. In my futile fantasies I would gently replace every part to every owner, retrieve and return to them what is theirs, make them back up again from cold and decayed, long and forgotten and neglected, with my hands and fingers. And wash them with my tears of sorriness and regret, or remorse and resolution until they’re shining and strong and risen. Our tears of a long overdue reunification will cleanse the land of its old mistakes. Will soak the earth in mutual compassion and will build new seas surging with love.

Degrees of separation

  1. Non existing as we perceive/ permanently unfixed/ incessantly changing inner self.
  2. Largely distilled and distorted and added to from external impersonal artificial incessant influences and flooding sensory information before even trying to exit the inner stage.
  3. Not only fundamentally unstable but entirely empty assumptions forming basic integral understanding of everything – informing all ‘knowledge’ and behaviour (ideas of knowledge, right, wrong, good, bad, self, individual, person, reality, objects, meaning, language, communication, information, understanding, time, space, scale, feeling, size, movement, direction, subjectivity, objectivity, words, things) forcing into template and strange shapes pure elusive and incomprehensible nameless elements, like spring water being died and sweetened and frozen into ice cubes in a factory before being crushed and served up as slushies at a giant circus event.
  4. Impossibility of separation and already complex mix of unreal/ real (impossible ideas talking about perception) external/ internal, false ideas of dichotomy and division contributing to the self. Difficulty of distinguishing what is pure/ impure/ false/ true when these concepts are largely (largely) arbitrary.
  5. The ‘expression’ sortant of the inner experience – translating the experience and feeling of consciousness by filtering across the thinking conscious inner dimension to the totally unrecognisable sensory ‘physical’ unconscious exterior world. Linguistic and physical expression and our ability are two pin pricks to allow all the light of the universes to pour through.
  6. Language’s huge staggering restrictiveness makes this like trying to row around the world with nothing but a boulder. Infinitely subjective, ambiguous, preconceived with predesignated meanings it is totally suffocating and allows only wan shadows of ‘real’ ‘meaning’ to pass across its surface. Other forms of expression are often an improvement but only by infinitesimal fragments, the increased space of which we don’t know how to understand.
  7. As if the language itself wasn’t restrictive enough we are very often censoring/ altering/ giving a deliberately warped presentation of ourselves (often all of the time (even to ourselves)) due to aforementioned ideas/ pressures/ understanding and values. Another layer or barrier and untruth distancing us from each other. Sometimes/ often this is an extremely different – unrecognisable – presentation of the ‘truth’. even when we do not do this at all and are at our most self consciousless and ‘honest’ rules of politeness and physical conduct in external space – basic perceptions and ideas are still blinding us unaware. But we’re often unaware of all of this binding.
  8. All of this travelling ‘communication’ or ‘expression’ now has to reach (an)/other/(s) which is where the two processes colide and meet from different directions. It now has to take any of the almost exclusively non-existent truth it retains into their inner world. Which is going to happen with indeterminate frequency (0.0 recurring 1%) as anything it did have now undergoes comprehension by another ‘self’ (if they are even comprehending really rather than listening/ thinking/ filling their inner space with any other infinite possibility of subject/ consideration at this particular instant within this moment) – if it is ‘comprehended’ that process is through a filter of specific prejudice person-to-them warped meaning swathed in presumption/ judgement/ preconception which are inevitable and essential elements to this process even in its most careful, considerate and intelligent form > they are the cogs by which comprehension (linked with language) happens. Each different life experience (if that exists) has not only brought different sets of these to each ‘self’ but different ‘meanings’ to every word built with associations and understanding. The more are put together the more the possibilities multiply away.
  9. For all of this to be somehow overcome and depassed in one direction would be like a raindrop falling, permeating the earth’s crust, then mantle, then core, then mantle, then crust, then entire atmosphere on the other side of the planet before escaping the burning ozone and the pull of gravity and fleeing into the wideness of the universe. Let alone for it to happen mutually – from both directions (2 raindrops). No one can say that’s impossible (although pick anything and we’ll say the same). But I can’t see it happening.
  10. How can we ever make a connection/ intimacy with someone which isn’t entirely vacant and illusory? How can I ever dream to tell you how I feel or understand how you do? I may as well do everything but. I may as well never open my mouth. But then we have even less of a chance. Despite the odds I don’t want to give up during my life on articulating the impossible – touching you, exiting the solitude longingness and connecting, feeling another living spirit -?- you own.

But why does it matter to you if somebody does or doesn’t love you? We know that can’t mean anything, that it’s like trying to always catch the same cloud in the wind over the days, across the years. Trying to scoop up that one particular wave from the water, from the seas across time that shows finally the essence of what a wave really is. Glistening in its pure form under the sun like a released soul stepping into daylight. We are grasping at dissipating whips and fragments with these words – throwing them out like a large net, hoping to pull back something substantial into ourselves. But fishing is only harmful. Swimming, on the other hand, is for the free. Why does it tie your chest up into tense knotted rope to ponder on such mirages of questions? Surely it’s next to hilarious – next to ecstatically, frighteningly delusory to think there lies even meaning in the consideration of the fact there may be answer, let alone texture in the question. Lives are spooled around each other in a medley of formless light and shadows, dappled, dancing around each other, changing under the clouds, under the sun. Sometimes I feel cold under the sun. Even I can see it’s heat, be soaked in its light. If you love me, so then I don’t know anything about you, or me either. The day illusory vacuums stop me feel the warmth of the sun is the day I become illusory, the day I evaporate into contradiction: being nothing. If that day didn’t already pass. And what does it mean to have you in my life, to care about you, to hold you in my thoughts and see your face all the time when you’re not there. What is there to do with this all when the idea one superior perception which would engender understandings, or even actions in the the wing flap of a butterfly, is itself a joke.
And so then if I subscribe to this I surely have to accept an existence of complete conscious uncertainty on every level of inner and ‘outer’ experience. I must make peace with the absence of belief in anything – including this world, ‘knowledge’, myself, you, love – and live one lost or suspicious or simply ambivalent experience of singular consciousness which seems more logical, which I can wrap myself around with more comfort than anything masquerading as substantial or ‘real’ in the sense of its generally understood significance, and its occupation of the physical and ‘intelligence’ ‘outer’ experience we perceive. And what seems even more at a odds with this understanding of a lack of understanding (I move unaware through spaces outside of the subconscious, move through places without darkness or light that dance between binaries, in pools of entropy and things lacking a figure, a feel, a taste, a sound and a name. And what is knowledge? What is it creating and more – what is burying? What strange trees lie between our thoughts in uncontemplated forests – falling or standing – silent or not – wavering in their conviction of their existence) in my deep longing for it not to be true. For the illusions to solidify with such brilliance and assertion that I’m a moth drawn to their dazzling display, warmed in their heat, blinded into dizzyingly putrid contentment by their bright colours. Dowsed in skeins of substance and structure. But it’s as much, if not more, a terrible fear as a longing. And this now we’ve built up this ‘knowledge’, this language around ourselves, with us holding the hammer and the saw, standing in the centre of the auditorium and admiring the grandeur of its great walls, its marvellous sculpted sea/cei-ling. Because I write as if the ‘I’ is the solid core around which spin these vapid and dispersing currents and nebulae. But it’s not true. Fight with idea of a voice coming from one location, the mouth of a source spawning something that was created, something going in a direction and coming from a place, finding a location in your reception of this thing… The more you look at the words the more they will disintegrate into obscurity before your eyes. The more they will reverse in on themselves like a person undergoing some rewinded birth – shrunk back down into a baby, contracted back into its mother, shrivelling now into foetus, zygote, cells cells and splitting back up over generations into innumerable pieces of person, spinning fragments of genetic information ballooning out ad infinitum back into the roots of living ancestry until you realise that they we never a person at all but an inwards supernova of matter whirling away through all the space outside of time and understanding into an infinity of possibilities.
And even after all of this. When I look into your face I feel I feel love. Rich in suffering, fiercely keen in compassion it is sculpted and smoothed by your sensitivity into the deep contours around your eyes, the slopes of your full mouth fall away into the suppleness of your soft skin like a boy falling out of childhood, rising up dreamily from your firm jaw to your cheek bones like a running hope slanting upwards into the light of your eyes. The wide solemn softness of your brow which holds its shadows like a space of evening, under your forehead which glows like a dawn. And even this magnificence I know is just one thin shed of light through the fissure au derrier de lequel est ton âme. J’aimerais le tenir dans mon cœur, to cradle it into felicity with my own. And everything I feel goes against everything I know I don’t know and I feel myself tumbling tumbling in dizzy circles until I spin off somewhere > not even tethered by a gravity, just weeping like I did when I was a child and didn’t understand why tears came out from me, spinning spinning further and further from anything, ready to implode away. And when you say you don’t love me I don’t understand what that means. And when you say that you do I don’t understand that either. And despite what I know/ know I don’t know/ I think I know/ don’t know, I feel like although it rings with nothingness, it is something whose meaning is only closely related, is perhaps only fractionally apart from nothing, a slither of separation like the small balance between matter and antimatter which engendered the universe.
And then times come when all this turmoil calms at once like the sea at the fading of the wind, the sunny clearing through (dregs of the storm) this death. And your soft light gently stills my trajectory, soothes my weepy tumbling and your warmth apaises the unsettled oceans and I go quiet inside myself. And I bathe immersed, suspended for a while in this silence, this stillness which seems closer to everything I have been unable to articulate or grasp at a conception of. In the death of the wind and the voices and thoughts there is a calmness. Tranquilidad. Ahora shhh. Tranquila. A clearing in the sky. And the other things seem to dance closer to us, seem to surround us like light surrounds the blind, skipping nearer between the words and threads of neurones. I’m more touched here than any time I try to reach out.

In the end though I just hurt to be apart from you. In any sense.

I wanted to turn towards you, to see
The sun flooding into your eyes, so far
As to light you from within,
Beaming out from your smile,
And with your treads you almost seem
To rise. Your grin is soft, tes yeux sont doux
I touch your skin and through its warmth
I’m running, rising too.

I don’t know how close to be to you. I feel the long roads between us stretching on, they are unresolved hypotheses, chemins du philosophie which only seem to lengthen the further down them you travel. And then I do know, though: I want to be as close as possible, want to wrap myself up in you and hibernate in your compassion. Although distance feels like a thing half-imagined I’m always trying to cross, always wading foggily through, intermediate planes which waver between us like still air in the heat. Maybe you’re not on the same trajectory, or scale, or timeframe as me. We are moving oceans of universes apart, in times just hypothetical in each other’s perspectives, we are to each other fibrous wisps of an idea. Everything of you is created inside my head. And you’re far bigger than me. You span above ages and across the life cycles of stars, thrown out like an infinite blanket to swaddle existence – and I am lost in another story, amongst particulates with centuries of space between the convicted orbits of electrons and daydreaming amongst the charges of nuclei, stretching my legs during long promenades into quartzes and breathing the fresh air inside the smallest idea of something on an oxymoronic scale of infinity, where all sense is absent. Sanity and insanity are tricks of the light. The personal is subsolved. I want to expose everything of me to you and make it yours too – until selves lose their definition and their forms become a memory and are lost, and they are mingling with all of life in a conscious wind. With a knife I can slice deeply from the top of my forehead, over my lips and down my throat onto my chest, along between the two sides of my ribcage, over my stomach, my nombril and down into my groin. And I would then open up like a book, and everything would pour forth wordlessly. I would be exposed in everything and you could touch me for the first time, and me – vidée et liberée, je pourrais te prendre dans mes bras uninhibited and weightless.
I’m scared to scare you away. For you to know the strength of my thoughts towards you. Their superficiality. Their excruciating vanity. Their egoism. Their insubstantiality. Is everything I’m trying to escape and I want to apologise to you before I begin to say anything. But I can’t say anything. And when we hold hands and the moon turns over, and my heart becomes a small girl who somersaults, I can’t say say anything. I’m frozen and full of moonlight. And I love you.
Somebody said once that it’s more convenient to be a realist, and I ask myself if convenience isn’t a kind of complacent compromise. Is compromise a thing to strive for? Surely no… surely no. And what about compromise in the face of the impossible? My gut shouts “NO” – but then compromise to what extent? And what does impossible mean anyway?
Why does it hurt at times the idea that you loved passionately before? Didn’t I? I think not… no… And some thoughts fill my body like thick undulating clouds of swarming flies arriving on a dark wind I just wish would blow away. And I want to shelter from it – I want to get down on my knees and press my forehead to the earth and weep as the storm rages everywhere around. What is the past anyway? Nothing, nothing, an idea… But I struggle with such a sad idea of an idea at the same time. And why do feelings exist – caring – this ‘love’ (I can spit that word out like a bug) arrive and engender and manifest?
And who are the people we meet? They are not themselves – that’s for sure. They are the strange wavering frontier between themselves and the world around them. We are borders upon which we both stand when we engage, that lie between our own inner worlds and everything surrounding. To connect them – to touch each other somehow. How much of themselves are they – or can we really be. How much comes from within and is let out, and in what way – or how is it distorted.  A sun ray hits the water’s surface and it reflected, then distorted, then drained of colour and finally stripped into a ghost. You are distilled by me. What then is it that I meet if it’s not you? What parts of you are coming out of yourself towards me and in how much purity – will I be able to recognise them for what they were ? Birds fly away over the skies in migration, exploring, permeating the ariel planes. We are presentations of ourselves, so surely every digital profile is an equally valid individual. How many selves do we have and in how many places and moments? (Infinity.) At least one old man is laughing at us from his serene spot under the tree – all of this is your illusion; your own fantastic bedtime story you strung out for yourselves over the years and spun with colour and thickened with hopes and a longing to feel the same, to understand, to not be deluded. But we feel less deluded amongst the deluded – so in this way are largely satisfied by empty bedtime stories (although it must be admitted that there is something great about stories). How can we ever find something fixed in this weathersome experience of existence. In which place does something as strange as any relationship between two people, as stranger as a concept (or, dare you think it – a ‘feeling’ of “love”) fall into this surging ocean of incomprehension in which we reside?
These are conversations we never really have with each other. And if I were to try (which I have been known to do) simply the interjectional mechanics of a conversation and the severe limitations of language and the spoken word – the mind juggling distracted by flooded senses and social experience – would make it just impossible to ever have to such an extent, or in quite the same way, but now somewhere on the nib of this pen I feel I am permeating that filmy border a little. Letting out a little long contained light. There was a pressure gradient there like the cliffs of Dover and I didn’t even know, but now the balance is growing, I shine, I feel such relief (it seems the opposite of exponential – indeterminable and inexhaustible, I hope). And anyway – if these things were ever to escape coherently from my lips they would sound vocalised vibrating and aired so empty – so obvious and strange. And we would all say “she’s an idiot!” or “she’s mad!” And of course you’ve thought about it all before and are befuddled by my mere raising of the matter – so cooly and clearly they lie in your head. Like listening patiently to a child in wonder of their own body, learning about their hands and feet. Because surely for you to hear it now within your own head – echoing around in there and filling up your inner world with the authoritative central voice of self to pump blood into the carcass words, give them weight and emotion and meaning – it rings louder. Incites more contemplation, is felt more profoundly than ever if floating across at you from the other side of the frontier. The more I aggravate with the nib the more seems to pour out of me – making more and more perforations with the pen each time, widening the holes, but only here, surely, only in this space now. When I walk away the holes seem to disappear and the light is shut away and the darkness comes.
Part of me says I should be sharing this – aches to do so – is convicted I should be painting it on every wall and every street. Part of me, or is it all of me ((?) and what is scale and me huh. We know about the emptiness of these questions) wants (want is nothing) desperately to share it with you. Wants (nothing) desperately: for you to feel through my senses, be conscious through my ?. And at the same time I feel silly – all strung up and fidgety and bound by invisible string to grow boldness and share (so many binaries, so much entropy circling around, voices everywhere, crying, Lot 49 is wide and waiting even today). Perhaps (surely) it is just a lot of emptiness of doubt and self criticism wound insidiously to string up a woman. And where do we go in this (the phrase comes out with a little vomit) “self-expression”? The writing is a movement travelling where? Is there really a world to explore in this inner experience as infinitely expansive as the others we perceive ? Scales and perceptions peter away into negligible things. Is it beyond arrogant, beyond egotistical (or are these negligible too? Things without quite the same nuances here) to think this inner experience of existence can be as wide and rich and thrilling as the outer? And on the one hand I thought that this place was barren, that there could grow nothing here, that all seeds floated in from around and elsewhere and that the rules of nurture and external influence stamped out the notion of uniqueness. But then this is a realm, this is a force who we can’t quite sense – a fabric of a reality we haven’t learned how to feel. And if there’s no answer where the consciousness itself comes from / how this world is birthed in the first place then how can I say with such certainty that there is nothing separate or unique or new here? That is doesn’t have depths and corners and labyrinths which while off past the horizon of inconceivability. It sometimes seems (‘egoist’ / ‘well of course’) that this innerness is rather dismissed, is rather subordinated and forgotten. It seems sometimes it is forgotten that all other worlds are enclosed within this one (the ideas run away from me like electricity through fibre optic cables to distant cities). Ironic, no, that I find so much to say here, and yet when you open your mouth to engage me, to share with me passions and curiosities of your own I become mute, I become enwalled by bricks and earth and buried in silence and inconviction. And I am disappointed when i hold your (?) lips in my own and learn I cannot pass here across to you all of these feelings, all of this silently, nor draw your -ness back into me, however long and insistently I might try. There I learn something else, maybe. It is not that our worlds are closed to cross, or even our frontiers meeting really in this intimacy, but more like new ones being created. Time ‘passes’ very strangely in this space. It seems to beat statically like a tired heart rather than flow or run or fly. Flying like a hovering bird then maybe, flowing like a trapped tear, running like in a dream.
I think we are imaginary little ships lost somewhere in the ocean. Bobbing languidly in the mist. What is lost, what is it, please, to be lost. Is there somewhere to go and somewhere to come from, then, and an area which is nowhere – is that it? One place as better than another or more solid and land like than the next seems to be mainly fantasy. Our ships are static, drawn duplicitously into dreams of voyage, when it is really the seas below and the skies around them which turn. I feel to have turned. Like somebody looking behind them for the first time. Like milk. The firmament spins around dizzily and I am nauseous – what is age for example? An idea… a system of categories with which to understand each other and know how to be and behave as if the linear passing of time, again and this template in which we reside were anything.

Spend your life wasting your freedom. We spend more time dead than alive. I stumble dead around these streets groping through the grey with my eyes, burrowing into other sockets that pass me by embedded, sunken forlornly into bowed crowns with my own, trying to unearth some truth. Some spark of light. The brush of one wire against another. To light a fire. To burn both wires into one smolten pool of matter. This place is the universe. This is where all of it resides. What else can we be sure of. This is the cosmos and all the galaxies – a spinning burning consciousness living – existing with fervour as a thrust at ‘truth’ behind all of the painted images – all of the veils which lie across our eyes and the eyes of our minds like strata of earth. All of the speech and senses and knowledge. Don’t be fooled by all the light and colours. By all the sensations of comprehension. They have substance like your forgotten dreams which are blown apart by the wind of waking. They have substance like crumbling words which stand around us as a house of pride, apart from we are all in that dungeon, we are all the skulls. We are all the stories. Story. Look at this magnificent story we’re telling. So vibrant it walks and breathes and is true. It’s empirical. It’s a plant nourished through strata of paradigms and falsification. It’s a plant in a forest. A forest full of snakes and shadows, chevaliers and apples and unaccompanied wondering children and maidens. Full of stretching microvisal networks, transfers of compounds and elements, communication branching like chemical neurones deep deep, out wide whiling out in the ground. Orpheus, nymphs and spirits, Daphne tread about this ground, and the troops of Galileo, Congolese fighters and they moved under leaves birthing just the right balance of atmosphere to make that movement possible. And all the plants wavered. All of them felt true. What else? What else could there be? They moved along in their stories, en ecrivant leur propres chemins. Because besides, what is the point of stories which aren’t even real? What is the point of some story which isn’t even true? Why would we fill our heads with fiction a wise man called Haroun once thought. This universe of consciousness is unawares.
We are not balls of intangibility within the strange enclosed shapes visually presented to us. Are we not more infinite 4D networks of wavering strings, penetrating into the depths of spacetime and vibrating with something living, entangled with each other. Whiling on in complexes into other multiverses where the winds usher a different pitch; one which still resonates all the way down the string to now. Stuff is stuff we cannot imagine! What stories! What truth! What spools and spools of existential wool lie tumbled before our feet to weave endlessly into patterns too diverse, too complicated to be perceived, into tales so rich they come to life.
The strings are everywhere. Strings, strings, strings. The story of the weave then was really true all along. True stories, an illusion so devious and duplicitous it conceals its crucial element of ‘realness’. Strings coming from every tree, every flower and fly and person crisscrossing and stretched and extending away far. Movement is an illusion. Do they ever touch each other? Can we dream of the complexes they form and the manifestations which may thus arise? The life, the conscious being vibrates along every inch, singing off through the multiverses of boggling possibilities into eternity.
Time is certainly one of the greatest stories. They should make a film about it. Terrence Malik could direct. The credits would roll heavily like a prologue reading ‘TIME / A true story’ and light would shine beautifully out of the digital screens into waiting eyes, moving from one to another at what we understand to be the fastest speed possible within the conceived universe (whose creating itself exceeded that speed). I feel like I’m ringing in one space, at one point on my string. My past comes back into my mind and my feet are still in that school playground from years ago looking over the fence, still planted. And I shake solitously on a string. And I don’t know, I cannot tell at all but I very much hope, very much wish, that it’s entangled with many other, who are in turn tangled with many other ad etc. And a decision to take a hand, open a door rings out across distances, dimensions, times, through others. Information somehow shared in the spaces between. And death is the old women of Haedes taking their scissors and splicing a string in one place… but it still stands extending on either side I like to, somewhat wishfully, in some absurd ignorance, think. That it still rings. These were tales passed down through mouths over many centuries, in the great halls through which sparrows flew, people sitting on the floor close together. And parents down to children gathered sleepily at dusk, eyelids droop at receding rays and murmured out with gravelly sonority through radios and whirling cassette tap ribbons into rooms and closed spaces until they were all full. Stories sung around like legend, falling like an eternal Autumn. This is a string of story. The greatest scientific minds, humanity’s magnificent place of knowledge, our forging and ever climbing keen endeavour for truth, all of the fine victory of technology and industry and evolving understanding has to culminate here at this point. In this truth. Our story. This world or words existing on a page yet somehow also within your head fluttering around in the gardens there – the expansive inner world which is your own. Perhaps it’s boring you, all this selfish masturbatory wondering. I hope at the very least it’s a little disgusting, a little anger making. Because that’s what it is, what is shows in it’s pile of waste and inaction. It doesn’t even seem like a story! Where is it going? In what direction – what is lying ahead of it and what behind? And more than that – we are not even sure what it is made of anymore. Where is the structure, the method, the inductive development? What is the point of whiling fiction going nowhere? And what is a story anyway? Why fill your mind with nothing? Nothing will come from nothing. Things that aren’t true, aren’t real are as good as blindness. As pearls in your eyes. Blindness from senses. Liberation from vision. Sight of information. Everything is becoming farfetched. Entangled. Knotty. Loud. Time to rest.
Aren’t all of these stories useless selfish pursuits to nowhere. From Nowhere to nowhere. What are we changing here. What are we doing in this world. In the bigger picture, in the galaxy of interlaced gleaming and precious strings. Too many being cut. Justice floating evasively in between them like remembered imagination. Come out of your stinking solipsistic pit. Use your nails to claw and scrabble deep into the muddy stinking walls. Haul yourself out of that hall-like hole of echoes, out of the circular darkness. That deep darkness, that long sorry rabbit warren you either tumbled into or in which you were born. Or in which you have always been. Haul yourself towards a light, an exit, out of the putrid soil, the crumbling walls of rot and substance. Words and stories built up high high up – knowledge and experience like a long dying tunnel. Haul yourself up, out, get out, get OUT and join your fellow men under the sun.
How can we escape this sadness. This sadness which haunts us. Which rises like a long ghoul, a shadow which is in fact the real substance from under your heart, to behind your eyes, until you are filled with ghoulish insipidity and realise you always were this shadow itself, always lying hidden by the light, always aching and crackling like a dying fire at encroaching night. Where does the sadness come from? You feel haunted but it is you who is haunting. Where upon my string is being drawn this long and melancholy mournful chord of solemnity so it reverberates through me from somewhere in existence until it is pouring out of my eyes and mouth. Pouring through my porous skin and washing me away into something which is neither light nor dark, space nor emptiness, but an aching bellowing hollow of obscurity which consumes finally and so spawns from all directions and in all directions. In every point and nowhere, ringing along the string, entangling into incomprehensibility. A sound too complicated to understand, from a process to complicated to explain, We drivel into the expansive devouring fog of ignorance. There’s nowhere else to be. I wanted to cry to the stars. Cry up with all my force to the black. With either noise or tears. Tears from my eyes or in my skin, it isn’t clear. The sky. My mind. I don’t mind. But in many senses I more than mind.
The young boy climbed the stairs spinning his small yellow plastic umbrella with both hands. It was the same boy you had seen standing behind the window of a house very still looking out into the street and watching the outside world. This boy had a different face and shape; his size was smaller, but you could tel he was the same one. You probably knew each other too. He continued to ascend the stairs, thinking of the stories filling his small head and ballooning out of his eyes into the world around him. He trailed his umbrella through a very long up-running purple river which flowed around the staircase and up towards the waiting door by the street. Commuters of fish with fleshy blue fins and flannel suits walked everywhere on the busy purple river’s surface, politely moving aside from the trail of the trailing nib amongst them. The banks rose high and fluffy, and dripping black roots of great majestic trees hung over the bank and stood sprawling above the shuffling schools of bodies, plunging down into the waving water’s violet body below which flowered plunging forests of descending splendour. And the higher he climbed the closer it seemed to him he seemed to approach to the vast overhead canopy, the stuttering pixelated cape that flashed and gasped, sending falling patterns of light and shade. Faces of grave old white men, leaders or gods, thought the boy, flickered behind the clouds, peering down, perhaps minds of important knowledge or extraterrestrial beings peering down. The boy craned his neck to be able to make out the faces more clearly, but before he could their features were already stretching and distorting, scores of spirally messy yellow stars against the black or blue. The boy thought the blue looked heavy and the stars hot and angry. And the black something too uncomfortable to name. And he stood upon the banks and swirled his yellow umbrella in the snaking purple Jordan. He saw long dragonish snakes in the distance rearing up from the foresty deeps and undulating menacingly in his direction. There was a crackling interference from the sky as it let rain a noise like a broken TV. And the boy felt scared and also thought it might rain. And he ran to a big golden rock which sat gloomily away from the river. He asked it to hide him, but the rock cried out that it couldn’t. And the boy despaired, couldn’t it see he needed it? And more ACTH was discharged from his pituitary gland, and so it was that his adrenal gland secreted more cortisol, which ran everywhere in his blood and called into his body greater quantities of glucose than before. And his brain and muscles tensed. And he felt fear. And he ran to the river. It was bleeding, it was boiling. And the sky cracked again and became a plethora of whirling galaxies and enormous fiery suns, plants ringed by ice and rocks and – But all fast-forwarded. All unfolding across the uncertain 2D divide at an alarming rate; supernova exploding furiously and the boy flinched as if the searing force of it would engulf him. But it didn’t. It stopped high above like some amazing 3D cinema. The life cycle of stars and matter and memory and maws of devouring black holes played out above his head at a speed too fast to comprehend. Illegal. Light seemed to hang in strings or drops all around him, like the suspended debris from all of destruction or creation. Or like an ocean which waves and surges everywhere. Or like rain. The Hercules-Corona Borealis Great raced closer to swallow the entire sky. And the boy cowered and ran to the sea shouting desperately ‘Haroun! Haroun!’ It was bleeding. It was boiling the sea as well. He could see the hanging roots burning and sinking slowly into the purple flowery guts of the ocean. The sea enraged and bubbled and soared. Waves split apart impossibly. There was light everywhere but there were other things he couldn’t see in much more places in far greater abundances. It was something not dark or light enough to contemplate. And so he ran away from the boiling sea which bled and soaked the shore in its blue cold fear. And he ran back to the stairs he had strayed from, over the purple Jordan, but there were only receding roots now, for all the fish had shaken off their suits and taken flight into the storm to shelter, and he looked up and saw them filling the sky now and swarming around like ants on the glassy roof, upon which he thought he saw the running typeface ‘There are plenty more fish in the sea’, but he didn’t have time to read. He didn’t have time for words. No. He ran to the stairs which kept going up up and he saw them very high looking up they whiled away into an immeasurable distance until they were nothing but a thin string-like line. It seemed to wave very hazily this line in the long drawn out distance, as if with a melody, thought the boy, and the river splattered out into the angry sea – the door he thought had been there before must have been a trick of the light – a figment of his imagination. He just ran, climbing up up. But looking at the stairs although he moved his feel upon one after another, he had the strong sensation of going nowhere, it was hard to tell. But he ran and clutched at his now erected umbrella which stood like the sun above him.

How is it love seems to trap and free at once? It is a new kind of paradigm within living begins to work, perhaps, as a restructured channel, because no one can’t ever exist.

Watch all the hours bleeding past you, through you, until you’re drained off, washed away into the dry and empty wastage. I am nothing nothing. Nothing comes from nowhere. Nothing goes nowhere. Nothing comes from nothing. I must die, die (it means live). I must die like all those people, like everybody else. I must gorge my eyes from their sockets and reach back through the gaping bony soggy bleeding orifices to pull out my brains, draw out my mind and squish it into miserable mush beneath my dead feet. Time doesn’t happened. So I’m dead. I’m so dead. I’m dead so. I’m a ghost, a figment of imagination, a character, an avatar, a body, a space, a hollow, a house of everything harming humanity. Apathy, times, waste, inequality, passivity, oppression, fear, ignorance. Lack of passion, care, love, closeness. I’m the sorry excrement of vapid society. I should have been over before I began. Caught in a putrid whirlpool or arrogant self reflection and obsession, paralysed like acupuncture by penetrating indecision and excruciating anxiousness. My muscles tremble from their own tension, seized in fear of emptiness as ‘truth’. I should crawl into a rocky hole in the ground and pray for mathematics to destroy me. To come and rip me alive limb from limb and leave me liberated and formless. Gone. Take me into vacuum and let me swell and burn until my splitting skin releases me, until I’m full of space bubbles and my lungs explode filling me with space from the inside out. I’m out. Let me out. Let me out. Release me from these horrible words. Each one is another link in the heavy chain hanging from my tongue. Release me from this body, from this mind, this self. They lie on me like miles of the earth’s hot and compressing strata. I’m metamorphic. But at the same time I’m a contradiction because the rain sinks into me and breaks me down, outwards from within, washes me away as dust in long watery trails. Watch all the pronouns combust, the adjectives implode lamely away. Take away my literature and philosophy and leave me naked of everything, pass me through Pynchon to Remedios Varo and into the tower from which I’d like to fall forever in that void. Please. Make me better. Fix me through exploding me out of existence. And then we can stop concerning ourselves with all this whirling mesmerically egocentric bullshit and make use of our time. Do something in this world for the beings around us. But I’m afraid you might have to do it without me. I failed from the word go. If I even tried not to fail isn’t clear. I wasted everything and let down everybody. But soon I’ll be gone. There will be breath. We can do something for the world. How how to live in a world with no solutions – with so many problems and pain and all the questions are unresolvable. Can’t make sense of sadness. Even the concept of a solution is a lie. Language. Lies. My head is full of lies. In imaginary nonsenses I find more solidity and truth than anything coming from the outside world or me. I am DEATH in the form of ABSENCE, INSIPIDITY, SPACE WITHOUT SENSE and I did die in many ways already (time marker when there’s no time). My string I’m sure (hope) has been cur so many times in so many spaces it’s falling like fibrous confetti, no longer drawn or long or going anywhere, coming from anywhere.

The sun visits in the morning
From time to time
From some time ago, through the panes
So that we know the time of day
The stars twinkle in salutation
From long times away. How easy
To escape the anthropocentric gaze?
Something in a being ? (verb) with something ? (adjective)?
We are ‘animate’, we are ‘inanimate’
Assemblies of electromagnetically erected
Things from smaller things, quarks, within
Which smaller things recede infinitely
And assemble to expand infinitely
The scale of things. There is no scale.
No matter.
The day brings magic. Knowledge sings
Like the washing of the sea of all
It isn’t, all it can never be.
It’s melancholy long withdrawing roar
Grates on the sands of hope – the deep
Moans round with many voices
We could never hope to hear they
Are a matter so obscure they stream
Through us, crowding around our ears.
Streams like falling veils of smoke
Soft into the sea, dark under the stars.
The child spoke, collecting daisies
In the park to form a chain. He lives
Inside your mind, he spoke your name
And knew you there, beckoned you close
To help and join his game, visit his ghost
Or spirit/ biological footprint/ person (it’s all the same)
His eyes were wide, his skin is pale,
His hands are small, his hair is thick with rain
And strewn with daisies, wet white in
The wet grass, you both laughed
Under the noise of the rain
The time passed and he seems to
Speak silently to you again
His skin was cold, water ran
Around his frame. You said
“Come back with me” trying to
Bring him out
From under the falling sky,
But he was lying on a bed,
He smiled at you and closed his eyes.
And you were drenched
Looking into the heart of light
The silence.

The emptiness which skirted
Around the fence through which
The sun lay, bright but languid,
Tenderly receding away to call in
The night.
The eyelid softly falling on the planes
Tired, more than tired, falling on the day,
And twilight stays, suspended somehow
In dark haze darkling between long lashes,
Twinkling among the dusky waves.

What I know is tired. I let it go.

It must be washed, carried away like dust
On timely winds which run singing
Over the seas. The waters ring with speech.
The deep moans round with many voices.
The sky dreams
Of spectacular ignorance
Where winds blow from every seam
To bring in
Things we’ve never seen
Like petals in a breeze which stream
Under the imagining lid of vaulted night,
And the falling streams will rise
Alive with unheard songs
Of voices flowing in long murmuring seas
Which go beyond the utmost bounds of human thought;
Sinking or pouring into the night, the sky,
The light, the deep. The cosmos recedes
Into your eye. The bed sighs out for rest.
The words, exhausted, feeble, collapse
Into the waters are are washed away.
The tide goes out.
There gloom the long smooth waves.
Their crests fall and rise.
Here hang strings of hours.
Here sleeps a child strung with light,
His age seems long,
His quarks take flight.
Things flood into us from the deep
And from silence pours distant song.
Now take his hand and rest you too,
Time is yawning, floating nowhere,
Sinking, falling.
Sleep.

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Rwanda’s disappeared – where are they?

Rwanda’s press scene is a media ghost town. Freedom of speech has deteriorated into a widespread culture of fear and self-censorship. This is a result of police-state style oppression of voices seen as dissenting or threatening to the regime. Today tactics such as forced disappearances, forced confessions, torture, intimidation, exiles, harassment and violence are used as political weapons to silence opposition and maintain a hold on a dictatorial power which is dressed in the clothes of democracy.

This year two prominent Rwandan socialist figures are still missing. All questions remain unanswered.

1858The Rwandan Patriotic Front has been ruling for twenty years. Its rise to power came in the wake of the 1994 national genocide which saw the slaughter of 20% of the population in a 100 day period. The RPF have since continued what has effectively become a one-party state, ruthless in its crushing of dissents and gagging of free speech under the guise of preventing another genocide. Since 2010 the government and its army have been accused by organisations including the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Freedom House for human rights violations which are in breach of national and international laws.The President and head of state Paul Kagame is serving his second term, having begun his role in 2000 and won large majorities in the two (heavily criticised) elections since then. Although the Rwandan constitution stipulates a President may serve a maximum of two terms, as of last year the parliament are in the process of overturning this. 2015 saw 90% of voters agree to modifying the constitution’s two-term limit; potentially allowing Kagame to rule until 2034. He will stand for election into his third term soon.

With the impending 2017 general election, the spate of political imprisonments and enforced disappearances (which have intensified since the infamous elections of 2010) have continued to mount. The government and its security services have responded with silence in the face of the most recent disappearances this year: Illuminée Iragena and John Ndabarasa have been missing for months.

Illuminée Iragena is a Rwandan political activist who hasn’t been seen since March. She is a mother of three. She was closely involved in the political opposition party FDU-Inkingi and is renowned for founding an NGO which champions the rights of women and underprivileged children in Kigali (the Rwandan capital).

Illuminée was last seen March 26th 2016 leaving for her work as a nurse at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali to which she never arrived. She ran the << ABIRU >> The Rwandan Association for the Promotion and Development of Women which works to help vulnerable families by establishing nurseries in the capital for children born into difficult circumstances. She had been a candidate for the Social Democratic Party in the 2008 legislative elections and was a member of the political opposition organisation FDU-Inkingi (which is not allowed to register as a political party). The president of the FDU-Inkingi, the long-time political left writer and campaigner Victoria Ignabire Umuhoza, spent 16 years in exile. In 2010 she returned. She formed a Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties with two political opposition party leaders. She proposed the creation of a Committee of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation, the introduction of an independent commission to rewrite and interpret Rwanda’s history, and the passing of a bill for the right to private ownership and for protection of the weakest members of the public in legal guarantee of their equal opportunities in access to credit and employment. This return was quickly followed by her house arrest and imprisonment later the same year. Today she is in prison serving a fifteen year sentence.

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Illuminée regularly visited Victoria in prison. She disappeared just hours after her fellow FDU-Inkingi member Léonille Gasengayire went to see Victoria with a copy of the book Entre les 4 murs de 1930 whose delivery Illuminée had apparently helped arrange, and which had her name written on the first page. The book, owned by Illuminée, was written by Victoria in prison and, uncensored, is sold freely around the country and is no legal reason to detain those possessing it. On the same day Illuminée went missing, Léonille was arrested under charges of inciting insurrection by bringing Victoria the book. She was denied access to a lawyer. She was beaten in detention by police, questioned about the book, and released three days later having signed a confessional statement saying that Illuminée gave her the book and that she then brought it to the prison. Both these women have been arrested numerous times since 2010 along with other FDU-Inkingi members. Léonille is currently facing a tribunal against charges of stirring up local opposition to expropriation, criticising the government and promoting the banned FDU-Inkingi. If found guilty she, too, could face up to fifteen years in prison where she would join numerous other members of the FDU.

<< Human Rights Watch has documented several disappearances, politically motivated arrests, and unlawful detentions in Rwanda, especially of suspected government opponents or critics. With less than one year to go before the country’s August 2017 presidential elections, political space remains very limited, with tight restrictions on freedom of expression and association […] Very few opposition politicians are able to function in Rwanda, and human rights organizations and independent media are weak >>

Family members calling for an investigation into Illuminée’s disappearance have received no official response and fear she may have died in detention, having been unlawfully detained and tortured. There have been unconfirmed reports that Illuminée is dead. In April Justin Bahunga from the FDU-Inkingi writing in The Rwandan insisted that according to informed and reliable sources, she had been taken to ‘the infamous Kali military camp’ and that she has since been moved to one of many government ‘safe houses’. The camp was condemned by Amnesty International for its illegal detention and brutal torture of civilians. It reported the camp as using torture methods including electrocution, plastic bags placed over heads, beatings and sensory deprivation. Joseph Matata, founder of Belgium-based human rights activist group CLIIR (Centre of the Struggle against Impunity and Injustice in Rwanda) said in a call for government action on Illuminée’s disappearance
‘It is obvious that the Rwandan authorities continue to persecute and hunt opponents as they try to violently stifle the inevitable awakening of the consciences of the rwandan people.’
Illuminée’s husband and former Kigali representative of the FDU, Martin Ntavuka, was moved by his wife’s disappearance to flee the country from fear of arrest, or being made ‘missing’ as well.

The concerning mystery surrounding Illuminée Iragena’s state and whereabouts persists. Despite appeals from her family, various media outlets, humanitarian organisations, and the Rwandan government’s July 2016 response to the Geneva Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review stating it would ‘eliminate all provisions that undermine freedom of expression in an ongoing review of laws on the media and political parties’, it remains inactive and mute about this woman’s disappearance.
This year has seen another disappearance of a journalist in Rwanda. John Ndabarasa was last seen on August 7th in Kigali. John was a journalist at Sana Radio and a musician, writing about social issues such as the effects of the 1994 Rwandan genocide:


John is close to anti-government convicts, being the relative of Joel Mutabazi (who was forcibly retuned to Rwanda in 2013 and is serving life imprisonment) and the brother of Jackson Karemera (whose whereabouts are unknown since his rearrest in 2014).

People close to both John and Illuminée describe having received messages after the pair’s disappearances – supposedly from them – saying that they were going abroad. Neither John nor Illuminée’s families believe that either of their loved ones have left the country.

These extremely worrying missing persons cases have received next to no international attention. We have responsibility to ask about the whereabouts of these figures. If the world shows little interest in the violent, dictatorial and oppressive actions of a country, it is left comfortably unchallenged to continue its conduct in the shadows. Whatever we may like to believe or tell ourselves in platitudes, public interest is powerful. With the internet we are far from nobody. By campaigning on social media and pressuring governments about these issues they may be pushed by heightened public attention and media scrutiny to respond. It is a lie that there’s nothing we can do in the face of these issues. It’s an easy consolatory escape. By engaging and creating an interest, we create a demand for answers. In spite of speculations as to Illuminée’s death, survivors of the Kali military camp have been known to be detained for up to nine months. There’s hope. Whatever the outcome of these two disappearance cases we must care. We must talk about it. Show that it is unacceptable. And by shining a spotlight on the atrocities of the Rwandan government, it may be forced to change.

We have a responsibility to make use of our freedom of speech to help those who’s freedom is oppressed. Start by asking the question: where are they? #WhereAreThey? #Iragena, #Ndabarasa ? Why is there not an answer? Why does our media not care? Why are people not asking this? Not trying to find out? What about the rights to freedom of 11+ million Rwandans? What about the others living in fear of falling, disappeared, into darkened apathy?

#WhereAreThey? If you’re asking yourself the question, ask others too.

@PaulKagame – President
@RwandaGov – Government
@Rwandapolice – Police
@amurekezi – Prime Minister

Government Ministers:
@BusingyeJohns
@Vbiruta
@claverGatete
@undagijmana
@RwandaAgri
@F_nsengiyumva
@PMusafiri
@ORwamukwaya
@IMunyakazi
@DianeGashumba
@P_Ndimubanzi
@KabarebeJames
@EvodeU
@LMushikiwabo
@RwandaGender
@JamesMUSONI
@Gkamayirese
@RwandaInfra
@RwandaLocalGov
@FKaboneka
@VMunyeshyaka
@J_Uwizeye
@fkanimba
@JUwacu
@RwandaMoD
@RwandaTrade
@VRugwabiza

Amnesty International:
<<https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/document/?indexNumber=AFR47%2f004%2f2012&language=fr>&gt;
Centre de Lutte contre l’Impunité et l’Injustice au Rwanda:
<<http://www.cliir.org/uploads/media/CLIIR_alerte_disparition_Illuminee_Iragena.pdf>&gt;
FDU-Inkingi:
<<http://www.fdu-rwanda.com/fr/rwanda-madame-iragena-illuminee-succombee-aux-tortures-des-agents-de-services-secrets-rwandais/>&gt;
Freedom House:
<<https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2015/rwanda>&gt;
The Guardian:
<<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/03/rwanda-president-paul-kagame-crushed-free-press>&gt;
Human Rights Watch:
<<https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/09/29/rwanda-opposition-activist-missing>&gt;
<<https://www.hrw.org/news/2010/08/02/rwanda-silencing-dissent-ahead-elections>&gt;
<<https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/11/07/what-rwandas-tourists-do-not-see>&gt;
<<https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/07/21/rwanda-locking-poor>&gt;
John Ndabarasa:
<<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGsdRvyyViE>&gt;
Rwanda News Age:
<<http://www.rnanews.com/health/12058-2016-09-08-16-16-30>&gt;
<<http://www.rnanews.com/politics/12150-2016-09-29-14-44-57>&gt;
The Rwandan:
<<http://www.therwandan.com/fr/rwanda-madame-iragena-illuminee-succombee-aux-tortures-des-agents-de-services-secrets-rwandais/>&gt;
<<http://www.therwandan.com/fr/lettre-au-ministre-de-la-justice-du-rwanda-demande-de-liberation-de-madame-illuminee-iragena/>&gt;
[All accessed 08.11.2016]

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The myth of ‘bad english’ DISPELLED

Hi there fellow english speakers. I used to be one of these people – big time. The pseudo-intellectual person offended by misused apostrophes, confused homonyms (like ‘their’ and ‘there’), the ‘mis-use’ of grammar in many natural ways of speaking, incorrect spellings, sentence structure, punctuation, the lot of it. ( >> Including prepositions ending sentences.) Basically a fucking deplorable SNOB.

This problem seems to me to arise from its basis in the premise that there is a right and a wrong way to use (english) language. Or even just a better and a worse way. This assumption that how you speak is a reflection of your literacy level, your education or your class, is sometimes true, often false, and – most importantly – besides the point. People speak how they speak because of geography and the other people they mix with. We teach each other language sooo… it just depends who you spend time with! And guess what – IT DOESN’T MATTER. Language isn’t fixed . It’s something which exists for the purpose of communicating with people, so the only issue you should ever have is one of communication: if you actually cannot understand what somebody is saying. When this is the case, sure, you have a communication problem which you need to figure out together in a SENSITIVE non-dickish way which doesn’t offend or smugly laud some imagined linguistic superiority. Feeling good about your on point knowledge of grammar and polished BBC-News-Reader accent? Hey, congratulations!!! You know how to conventionally conjugate the verbs of your native language! How erudite and impressive! Apart from it’s not. It’s bullshit. Jamila says why:

Every person has their own unique way of speaking and using language – yes there are arbitrary grammatical ‘rules’ which exist, but only to aid communication and understanding, not to dictate how people should and should not use the language they are speaking. I don’t CARE where you come from, who your parents are, if it sounds street or soft or northern or eastern or deep or broken or awkward or mixed or thick or like a harpsichord. I don’t care if you’ve been speaking the language for 5 minutes or 50 years: if it’s coming out of your mouth that means you own it. The language someone speaks is part of their personal identity and nobody should criticise or try to change that. So unless you genuinely do not understand somebody you can keep your mouth shut with regards to your opinion on the relative articulacy or poorness of their speech. Who are you to decide? Who is anybody to decide? Language has no rules. PEOPLE decide what language means, how it is used and how it changes. A person can speak, dress, eat, conduct their life in whatever way they’re comfortable with without judgment from people who feel like they must go around imposing their contrived superiority on the perceived inferior world around them. When we hear ‘WE WAS’ or ‘I WEREN’T’ or if you read ‘HENRYS BURGERS’ we know exactly what is being said – there is no issue with understanding. If you’re not sure exactly what ‘fleek’ or ‘slaying’ or ‘paaed’ means, if that comprehension isn’t crucial to you, your personal affront at being excluded from areas if vocabulary and language is insignificant. Well yes, yes it might sound strange to you or different from what you’re used to. Tough. Surprisingly enough the world is under no obligation to conform to your idea of normality.

Criticising, correcting and just all-round feeling superior to people because of their different uses of language is an irrational and stupid attitude we all need to stop right now. It’s worse than stupid: it’s harmful. It is one of the many components feeding into the life-altering systematic oppression of people of colour, lower classes, people considered ‘foreign’, anybody with an accent etc. etc. and is ANOTHER way in which we are discriminating, forcing a dominant oppressive culture on others and being shits. The implication when a person corrects linguistic ‘mistakes’ from their ‘superior’ position of speaking better english, is that they are also better, since they are displaying what is conventionally perceived as a superior level of class and eduction, as well as a stronger ‘claim’ on the language and ‘belonging’ to the respective country using it. The act of correcting somebody on how they are using their language may seem helpful or instructive, but it is a an assertion of privilege. A privilege whose dominance systematically and oppressively crushes the voices and lives of the people everywhere. Such perpetuation and reinforcement of oppressive notions is seriously hurtful, upsetting and destructive to the people around us. Of course those who do actively condemn ‘bad’ english are normally not concertedly trying to be mean or discriminatory. Ironically, it is largely coming from a place of ignorance rather than a place of malice. In the very act of trying to demonstrate their intelligence the “Grammar Nazi” (as they have been popularly and revoltingly coined) is only revealing their own narrow-mindedness and lack of knowledge. Ignorance, however, is no excuse.

So, get off your high-ass linguistic horse. Now brutally kill it. Good. Also tear your eyes away from [insert generic 95+% white, cis, straight, middle-upper class national piece of media]. Now put down whatever esteemed literary book written by a famous white old man from hundreds of years ago you were planning to read later. Have a long hard think about Western/Euro-centric education and conditioning. Go and find some diverse voices to read and listen to. And then see if you still feel so ‘good’ about your english.

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