Winged Thoughts in the Age of Air

Month: January, 2013

Tube as Boudoir

Scribbled in a notebook the other morning barely out of bed flying down the Northern Line to Camden to get to Maximus; the subject was hard at work as I wrote. When I looked up from the just-finished portrait the unconscious sitter had so totally changed appearance I was reassured I’d got her down to a ‘t’, captured in about five minutes (plus a few odd seconds) too-early-in-the-mornin’ rollin’ into town…


Consider tube as boudoir,
railwaycar as mobile powder-room,
subterranean beauty-parlour,
proof, if needed, lipstick, perfume,
mascara, paint, eyeliner, blusher
don’t require anything plusher,
more aesthetic or romantic
than rush-hour’s overfrantic
evil-smelling cattle-truck
to work the witchcraft: old magic.
Woman might seem haemorrhagic,
bloodless; smack on some cosmetic muck!
And beauty lives again, from the dead
stands up, lips coloured hellbent-red.




Climbing volcanic Teide in the Canaries I first experienced the effect of ascending through the cloudbase to see waves of stratus breaking against the side of the mountain in slow-motion like combers breaking on a seashore. A crazy mountain-road went snaking through gloomy mist-drenched pinewoods, then suddenly you burst out into supernatural sunshine with waves of the cloud-sea below lapping the mountainside. This glimpse of a ‘higher’ reality was co-opted in the writing of Colorado; which perhaps carries some faint echoes of Goethe’s Prologue to Faust. The setting of the poem to music is something I’m vaguely happy with.

A coastline surrounded by blue sky;
where the sea should be, cloud-surf
driving over an enormous air-space,
breaking on walls of white vapour.

A vast marble flight of cloud-steps,
a floating stairway, each step up
a cliff-face of white architecture. Ah,
the wind here sings so harmoniously!

Syllables like thunderclaps; many
storm-winds of a glorious language.
Look up, the sun-like faces, look:
those who stand on the companionway.

Vox angeli, tides in the sky,
the truth behind the atmosphere.
Huge breaths governing weather-maps.
What do these swirling voices say?

Hazard is the curse of every world,
the only evil, more than sufficient.
A man goes a thousand miles to die;
here in his hand is the golden mean.

This is the way. A magnificent cyclone
sweeps across the monochrome earth.
Those who work and sing in Colorado
sing from creation-morning to judgment day.

Free download here:

for Musa M’Boob (master-drummer of Gambia).


High ones who still
touch the earth with joy,
even sadness starts dancing

With sway of movement,
as she catches the careening
lilt of evershifting music,

Hand-to-heart in triple-time.
Why not join these queens
along the waterside?

Why not celebrate again,
all meridians clear, escorting
the dragon through the land?

Musa M’Boob!


Father and Son (for Eminem and Seamus Heaney).

Unholyland is full of the Palestinian rap-culture of the West Bank, so this poem, Father And Son, written a few years ago in response to Seamus Heaney’s generous praising of Eminem, maybe merits an airing. Partly, I suppose, because Eminem is famously fatherless, I felt the praise would mean a lot to the bad-boy from Detroit. Anyway, I dashed down these lines as a reflection of those feelings, warm as April sunrays…


Rare to see lightning
arc across generations.
It seems sometimes,
thin lips tightening,
no interconnections,
rhymes, exist any more.
It’s all opposite-teams,
splinter-groups, sections.
No-one’s that sure now
of anyone else’s dreams.
Who changes directions?
Rejections drive apart,
we stand here divided,
hold new elections:
all one-sided,
throw a loaded dice.

Then through blue,
electricity crosses
vast gulfs, mind to mind.
Cultures have coincided,
two contraries collided,
fire and ice combined.
If this happens once
it can happen twice!
So say as you find,
leave the dead behind.
Through new skies,
above dark lies,
in golden weather,
talking together,
father and son
walking on as one.


A Speech in Granary Square

Freestyle and speeches – arts to be acquired – but here’s the approximate text of what was said at the opening of London’s fab new square in Kings Cross Central a while ago, spring 2012 to be more exact…

Greeetz in Kings Cross Central, peeps. Aidan AD here, aka Voice of Kings

Ladies and G’s, I didn’t come down here today intending to recite long
poems so don’t go stampeding for the exits just coz there’s a poet on
the mic. But I am gonna talk about (impersonating Gandalf)
psychogeography! (Now that’s got you worried!)

But don’t worry, peeps, the psychogeography of Kings Cross is so simple.
High places and fire-hills surround this ancient zone of London. I’m
talking about Primrose Hill and Barrow Hill beside it, Parliament Hill
to the north, St Michael’s Mount of Highgate in the north-east, and
under the sunrise Merlin’s Penton of Pentonville. These were significant
beacons of power in the faith of pre-Christian times.

And guess what? A long time ago The Old River of Wells flowed through
Kings Cross, aka the Fleet. Healing waters once upon a time; the sacred
river of England. But of course she’s still there, 20-foot under

Ladies and G’s, the good gets better and that’s a fact. Because the
oldest church in the western hemisphere, I’ll repeat that, the oldest
church in the western hemisphere, the `Head and Mother of all Christian
Churches’ still stands where she has always stood in Kings Cross, beside
the holy river. Course I’m talking about: Pancras Old Church.

Now William Blake knew all this and much more. That’s why he wrote: `And
did those feet in ancient times…’ D’ya get me? Blake knew the
psychogeography of Kings Cross backwards. That’s why he said:

`The fields from Islington to Marybone,
to Primrose Hill and St John’s Wood
were builded over with pillars of gold
and there Jerusalem’s pillars stood’

Then out of the blue comes Arthur Rimbaud, poet, psychogeographer,
teenage prophet, the guy who put modern poetry on the map, the dude who
invented literary surrealism at the age of nineteen then washed his
hands of ambition. Like Blake, Rimbaud knew Kings Cross because he spent
his great year of wonders here (in 1873) writing his Season in Hell and
Illuminations. Arthur Rimbaud called this place `the miraculous valley
of art’.

And that’s exactly my point, Ladies and G’s.

The arrival of the University of the Arts in Granary Square means that
predictions about Kings Cross Central are coming true. Predictions which
promise that one day we will see a small image of a new world, a city of
the arts here at the heart of future London. In my wildest dreams I call
this zone The Brill, Intelligent Playground, Vale Royal.

So, to conclude with a more personal narrative. A month ago in Pancras
church I married an angel on this earth. And two weeks after marrying my
dream-woman Lucie I heard that my little verse about the angels of Kings
Cross had been installed in Granary Square just over there… Go check
it out, peeps, among those trees just over there! What a wedding

But I nearly never made this gig tonight, Ladies and G’s, because long
ago I barely survived two blocks away in the derelict houses of Somers
Town. Could I have imagined way back then – down on the floor of the
squats – that in 2012 I’d be standing here to give y’all a poem set in

Kings Cross, dense with angels and histories,
there are cities beneath your pavements,
cities behind your skies. Let me see!

Big up & increase the peace! Let’s have it large in Kings Cross Central!
Straight ahead with interesting curves! We dance therefore we exist! God
bless all you royal souls! JAH bless Kings Cross! Have a great night!
Love ya!


La Vita Nuova (for Ario Zamani)

This is dedicated to a brilliant painter-friend, quite reclusive, not seen often enough.


A forked tongue venting psycho-rage
through smoky December evening:
falsetto bellowings down a phoneline.

Out in the nocturnal cityscape, does she,
answering from fogbound towerblock,
outcurse the madman at the other end?

They are one obscene hermaphrodite,
this decapitated ghost of Ario’s painting.
Why separate them into better and worse?

Here a black cobra with only one eye
crowns the red head of a spitting Satan
mounted on a golden model’s perfect torso.

One who loves is higher: heart-science.
One only loved, feeling nothing in return,
wanders beneath London Fields in winter.

I passed this way on an afternoon long ago,
stooping and throwing my guts in the grass,
squinting at a taser-carrying sun.

Now I rise and drink vinegar at dawn
as instructed recently by three angels in one,
according to the book called La Vita Nuova.


McCool Chapter Seven

Here’s Chapter Seven of McCool, the halfway-point of the verse-novel. It goes out specially for Kim. Also for Camden, whose boat, The Mindsweeper, features, slightly made-over for narrative purposes.

Chapter Seven


Knightsbridge, something you lack
strikes us from shopfront sun-mirror:
light, making a sudden attack,
its liberation getting nearer.
A perfumed emporium dazzles,
yet something in appearance puzzles.
What is this vacuity,
this glaring incongruity?
We’re alienated here, glitter
blinds us at noon: confusion,
modern anxiety and delusion.
This is why the world is bitter:
some have all and others none.
There, my entire tale is done.


The sun fumes like a diesel boat,
chugs along the blue skyzone;
clouds explode in a dry throat:
here is a sea goddess flown
in from the Sardinian Isles
only this morning, air-miles
shrinking, her bronze skin still wet.
She must drink soon: lag of jet.
Thus to the famous moated castle
which is where she’ll meet Elaane:
it’s Gala, just stepped off the plane,
still looking very coastal.
She’s in the juice bar, island-fit:
fragrances drift, nu jazz, she’s it.


A face from a dream of women.
She resembles the lady of El Cid,
eastern cheekbones, the cyclamen
with slanting wings; and there, amid
the flashing colours – a sense of flight –
her eyes are markings full of light,
with greenish rays, too exotic:
she is the deity aquatic.
Welcome ashore, divinity
only so slightly stressed, circadian
rhythms upside down, Arcadian
goddess of femininity.
She sucks at a gingered elixir.
Isn’t that Elaane just over there?


‘Gala, welcome back, my love.’
As if she ever left, ah, never.
‘You look sea-washed, my white dove.’
An understatement, as ever.
Gala is in ivory layers,
pale sails on a skin which bares
golden secrets; and Elaane?
In this nautical refrain
she reappears, sweet bird of passage
drifting along horizons of time.
Ages since this pair’s initial rhyme
at the beginning of our voyage,
where line and aesthetic serve passion.
Elaane is clad para-fashion:


Some jumpsuity military bits,
kitten heels: absolutely ace.
Her smile’s warm, genuine: ‘It’s
so great to see the one face
you’ve been really missing: Gala,
darling friend of the mandala,
I wanna know about the island,
hear news of your brave husband.’
Gala gazes down to the floor.
‘He’s mending fast, I think he’s smoking;
I always know when Parker’s toking:
let’s not talk about the war.’
Laane: ‘I know, it’s serious,
half the army is delirious;’


‘Think of firing a spaceage weapon
completely zonked.’ Gala, she saw,
really did not want to reopen
the subject, discussed before.
They went on to a restaurant,
somewhere vegan and elegant,
visited some perfumeries,
late-afternoon galleries.
‘In passing, here’s a positive:
my interview with Baselitz,
the one where he finally admits
upside down is “not provocative
enough.” Sometime late autumn
Apollo’s printing it. A column,’


‘That’s what I really need from them;
and maybe the sungod’s blessing.
Incidentally, someone – ahem –
wants to paint your confessing
nymphomaniac. I plead guilty
to vivid fantasies which thrill me;
kill me too. But I’m not a warzone!
Or am I? I have to be alone
because, unhappily, I’m married
to a man whose life is on the line.’
‘Gala, honeychild, it’s fine,
okay to get slightly carried-
away, be your own voyeur:
expectation’s the destroyer.’


‘Laane, you’re cool.’ ‘ No stresses,
he wants to paint you, that’s a first!
Get your Cavalli dresses
out, be flattered, slinky, burst
with quotable, stunning Gala:
wartorn London is your La Scala.
We want to be at the private view,
on the top deck of what is new
in the cosmic imagination
if your face is the one to appear
“on the leylines”, “in the air,”
just when, at the last conflagration,
it seems the beautiful is banished,
gone, in the dark times vanished.’


‘And guess what, babe? Valerie’s barge
next Sunday night, on her riverboat:
Midsummer Moon! We’ll have it large;
this weekend we’ll have a river-float.
McCool will come, by a miracle,
that recluse. In this chronicle,
riding waves of vibrational thought
through a poet’s mind in transport,
heroines of the transmission
to a cycle of stanzas turning,
they are in this endless burning
green maze by his volition:
racing through downtown at night,
their cab along the South Bank in flight.


The river has its own career
to follow, and these conform
to its excursions as they steer
through the city’s emerald storm.
Gala sees reflections swaying;
seems to catch what the stars are saying.
They streak across a bridge of light,
so anticipating Sunday night.
Far off, a dot of contraction
slowly widens, a distant point
increasing. Will fate disappoint
those who begin an interaction
within her great circularity?
Will ‘chance’, by particularity,


Select two and make them one,
bring singleness where there were many?
Shall we see a new dimension?
O multitude, have you not any
remote idea of your unity?
Will love take this opportunity
to whisper something fragrant,
blowing off the sea with vagrant
messages from Aphrodite’s crest,
raising up with crazy laughter
her waves of pleasure? And after,
when saltwater rolls back west
to ocean, will she say it again,
in race of foam over sandgrain?


Vauxhall, Gala’s twin-deck.
Centuries ago she moved here
bringing Snakecharmer from Purbeck,
and, of course, her vetiver,
in whose fronds a black flautist
hypnotizes, John the Baptist
androgyne of African rivers.
His haunting lullaby shivers,
electrifies the human soul.
Spirits of Niger and Zambesi
move on the Thames, free and easy
rhythm ‘n’ blues music of the whole
earth. This place is so transcultural:
a very cool town in general.


Even in dark times, under dead moons,
we need to peep through hot blinds,
see what the sun does afternoons
along the riverbank that winds
away into infinity.
A riverine divinity
has come to someone’s rescue.
Excitement is nearby, right on cue.
We won’t – and don’t – eavesdrop on a week’s
telephonic cooings of this pair,
early flutings through digital air,
too girly, we have other techniques:
we’ll just advance to the party!
Through the usual glitterati:


Look, X and Y; they’re an item.
Are we talking chromosomes?
There are the Saatchis. Must invite ‘em.
Among supercollectors, art-gnomes,
we recognize middle-aged rock stars
upstaged by taciturn gangstas.
In mists of Kali weed and chronic,
a pirate ship with electronic
atmospheres pulsating in the night,
all decks and levels, the Mindsweeper,
Val’s summer salon, drifts deeper,
glides and shimmies out of sight,
riding an ocean of dub and zouk.
Metromusic, DJ Subjuke!


Up on the bridge, near the jacuzzi,
Val and her first mate, arm in arm;
near them, ah! here’s Gala with Uzzi,
high priest of metropolitan charm.
Over comes McCool, the painter,
others in the room look fainter.
‘The new Picasso. Dude, all hail.’
Uzzi’s welcomes never fail.
‘My darling, meet Tyg McCool.
Ah, you know the man already.’
With painted smile you seem unsteady,
Gala, but very Italian School,
Da Vinci to Modigliani:
the resemblance is uncanny.


Galatea’s suddenly steered
into the whirl of a coloured tide;
here the carnival has veered
down a gangway, over the side?
Dancers of the Mindsweeper
clearing the world of all cheaper
imitations of ecstasy:
body-linguists of fantasy.
Out in the main crush, such a rush,
floating on the deep bassline;
stepping up to the divine
explosions of an airbrush
snare that splinters into echoes:
UK dub subculture! So it flows.


Elaane chugs past, poet in tow.
How easily it is forgotten:
a long time since Gala let go,
free to dance in her delaine cotton
dress, hot soundsystem throbbing.
Now the Mindsweeper’s hull’s bobbing
on a tropical sea of hiphop.
It’s the pleasure zone, tip-top
deck. And the Thunder Moon rallies
all dancers under her dominion,
quicksilver-full, milky companion
gliding through her cloudy valleys.
McCool is in a mindless trance,
on autopilot, in a moondance.


His, a face difficult to define,
burned with a brand of wild years,
flames and flowers of the malign
from hard decades, dark frontiers:
the derries and the squat houses.
Every mark somehow arouses
respect for a veteran backstreet
man who endured through the nineties, heat
locked off in arts-factory winters,
one of the discombobulated
peeps, bubbles popped, evaporated,
their dialogues from Harold Pinter’s
plays, painting through the Kings Cross nights,
trying to maintain the inner heights.


“Aristocratic in the gutters,
damaged toff”: so McCool’s seen.
Gala’s green eyes hold his; Tyg utters
in cadenced drawl with Scots keen:
‘Och, okay, should’a worn the kilt.’
Putting on the Caledonian lilt.
The Drunken Moon, someone, support her,
is setting on Virginia Water;
she’s wandering, fortune wheel
spinning down into the west.
McCool and Galatea rest
forearms on the sternrail, feel
shy, fall silent. They’ve been excessive:
the dancefloor stands for the transgressive.


When he says: ‘Lift home?’ she’ll say:
‘I’m fine, I’m leaving with my friend
Laane who lives just over the way.’
(Liquid feminine tones blend
with the lapping of the tide
as high riverwaters glide.)
A silver ripple out there flashes,
an aquatic nightbird splashes.
Les Mysteres des Voix Bulgares,
Ali Farka Toure, John Coltrane.
Music’s gone to the astral plane!
Mountain-women, Malian guitar.
On a smooth moonlit balustrade
two hands are almost overlaid.


Her lips would part under his mouth;
to surrender her thoughts run.
In consciousness she flies south;
the sweet hot tongue of the sun
sends his fire through her blood,
his kiss driving a solar flood
into her transfigured body.
The river sings a rhapsody
to the moon, a cloudy song
full of laughing innuendo,
suggestive, with a crescendo
sexual. Where are right and wrong?
Gala, Venus in warpaint,
feels vaguely as if she might faint.


When his hand slides above hers,
hers slightly retracts but must needs stay
positioned underneath. Now a bird’s
multicoloured wings clap the Sunday
dawn full of Thunder Moon magic.
Listen – drumrolling angelic –
a heart flutters like a dove
startled while sleeping above,
beating in summer moonlight
from dovecot up to silvered roof.
Does Cupid need other proof?
Someone sways in the sultry night.
The marksman cherub’s just released
a flight of hot arrows at his feast.


You can check out Unholyland, the new verse-novel, here…

Old Tip

Here’s an old sheepdog friend of mine who goes by the name of Tip. Beloved master departed, he’s half-blind remaining behind. The one thing of significance and certainty in Tip’s world is a bit of stick. If you don’t remember that you get the stick: you’ll be hounded. This is a very wonderful tyrant-canine, one-pointed to the extent that his friends speculate that he is having a kind of religious experience via constant focus on nothing but the retrieval of sticks. Please meet Tip…


His life has been a single day
fixated on the fetish of desire,
his seeking through obscure tracts
for that straight line which is the truth:
the hunting and tracking-down of sticks.
Nothing else in a dull world distracts;
compulsive are his meditations,
emblematic, his sniffing-about for clues,
his nosings in the long grass of facts.
A black tail like a compass-needle,
white-tipped to be visible, utile,
hardly shifts or quivers to wag
unlike appendages of lesser tykes.
No common-garden warmth here,
too-far-gone in grand questing instinct
to flirt or fool with mere ordinary
conventions: sentiment and closeness.
‘Ah, you’ve found nothing yet!’

Monomaniac canine, you say,
mocking the obsessive focus,
kicking some chewed icon aside,
picking it up, viscous with excited
droolings of the perseverant beast,
hurling once more its whirling cross
glittering with saliva – one last time
galvanizing those arthritic back-legs:
Tip, unlocking stiff, time-skewed black
hindquarters to skitter down the hill.

But you would love such impetus.
Blue-eyed with clouding of the lens
still he races, half-blind, impaired,
listening for a light drop on the green,
the dream splashdown on silver dew.
Still, one-pointed is his only way,
with his feeling for magnetic north,
this sense of where the sky has fallen:
sublime knowledge of concealed
wonders yet to be retrieved.
Tippy, near the rim of the world,
near that problematic horizon,
your opaque gaze seems prophetic
almost in the way old people speak
clairvoyantly sometimes in senile twilight.

Spirit of magnificent endurance,
though you only win some bit of twig
taken for the big piece of the woodpile
and try to pass it off as the real thing;
though now you doze through indoor life,
foetal shape in the contemptible basket,
remembering when each find was easy gold;
good old Tip, though you do collide
with kitchen-chairs, stupid human legs
(only two of those, bah, insufficient!)
seeking – tap, tap – a blind man’s stick,
bumping down some false trail
though the furniture’s confusion
where was only quick-pointing once,
the keen run to a foregone conclusion:
still behind those milky cataracts
on secret meadows and sky-lawns,
Canis Major, you hold a flaming torch
in your jaws: a phoenix-bird of fire.
And one turquoise dawn you’ll race
across blue with an ascending sun
toward the one who calls you in,
faithful, loyal to his last command.


Transmission from the Wheel

Exploring the mythological treasure-house of Britain I discovered a system of thought which I now call the Pancross. The Pancross has much to do with the Celtic Church which as everyone knows was incepted in Britain long prior to the foundation of the Catholic Church. (As a direct result of the foundation of the Celtic Church we also saw the inception in Britain of the Arthurian Mysteries of the zodiacal Round Table.) Like Yeats, who developed a symbolic wheel of 28 lunar ‘cradles’ in ‘A Vision’, I have, over a long period of time, elaborated a system of archetypes which is based on a philosophical schema. Here, in Transmission from the Wheel, I reduce this complex many-layered schema – the Pancross – to eight lines of gnomic poetry. I present through these eight lines not a subjective aesthetic but a scientific equation of future psychology.

I assert that this poem, Transmission from the Wheel, belongs in the category of ‘objective art’. (Rimbaud’s term.)


The saint and the rake share love,
the lover and the poet share sorrow.

The saint has the furthest to descend,
the poet is closest to tomorrow.

The rake is transfigured or falls,
the lover’s tongue sails an ocean.

The laughter of the rake has a ring,
the sorrow of the lover is his sin.



I made an atavistic pilgrimage to Tulum in the Yucatan peninsula, atavistic because I was raised in the West Indies, very much part of the Meso-American world. Tulum, with its hushed jungle sanctity and ominous pyramid, left me full of wonder and dread, and later, meditating on the significance of the site I came up with the strange notion that Cape Canaveral, further up the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, and Tulum itself, served similar purposes, in the sense that both sites were and are concerned with launching humans into space, admittedly different kinds of space…



From mission-control overlooking green Yucatan
they launched the victim with red fuel of his blood.

Tracking an astronaut in skies of after-existence
they stole from the future the system of the long-count.

A day was brought back in time as echolocating
limestone observatories in jungle revolved. By moonlight,

On white roads of mass-pilgrimage moving soundlessly,
millions of travellers and spectators dreamed of flight.

Simultaneously bees in wax capsules hummed,
voicing appropriate worksongs of the countdown.

The silver-clad giant scanned readout on metal skin,
prepared to measure the circumference of the unseen.

Everyone recognized the iconic chromium candidate
with the earth reflected in his visor, the victim.

Surrendering to acceleration lift-off commenced
to the afterlife of no-choice, the next dimension.

Five gravities came down like a sky-blue knife
in the time of the unluckiness of the ascent.

Here was the first man lost in another atmosphere:
the launching of a chosen one to the exoplanets.

The Aztecs were rising. Immolations were timetabled
as the people multiplied, kept themselves in readiness.

A cruel tongue, the wailing language of calculus,
demanded the maximum offering, the greatest spectacle.

Numeration was taking-over. Abstraction, the heartless,
made the table-in-the-sky run with entrails.

From a platform over the rainforest, near the coast,
from an altitude of approximately sixty-seven miles,

They saw the Spaniard coming in five hundred-years,
sailing with his cross uncircled, meaning: materialism.

Greed for alien soil and calendrical magic,
in orientation identical, both served the insatiable.

Desire killed need! In an orgy of mathematics
everything was borrowed from a sum unrepayable.

Fear of the future became infectious, each day
acquired separate codified names, peculiar diseases.

Astronomer-kings invented a dystopian paradise
where launch-towers and cold gantries outstared the sun;

Where real-estate merchants swallowed-up solar-systems,
hybridizing and cross-fertilizing the galactic races.

The priest-kings took advantage of uncertainty,
that swerve of rage in the wilderness of yesterday

When fear was a crocodile in the canals of Sian Kaan,
once-upon-a-time, where-the-sky-begins.


And now it is the sacred mother’s house on fire
as the son defiles her atmosphere with thrust.


Note: Sir Isaac Newton once threatened to burn down his mother’s house with her inside.