Monday, 29 August 2016


He’s fighting the window and it refuses; that’s right, old man, it refuses - can a window refuse? no matter, this one refuses - to open.

And his face, you say? Well, it’s raining. Friends for ten years; since student days; friends for ten years before he stopped, before he shut his ears, to all their chatter.

That talk; those wonderful asides; all that history - yesterday’s clouds, rain that now ruins everything.

Yet still he fights. With fists and curses. That damned window! Closed still. He watches through a storm of arms and hands the sad faces of his friends.

Through the glass, frosted by his tears, he sees…

He has one last go to pull it down; to grasp…The glass will not shift; the train leaves; and he sees… He sees his friends; they refuse, old man, to smile or wave; sculptured to the platform.

Alone in the carriage he cries at cows; munching grass, they look at him from the fields, ruminate on his passing by.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

1789 (or the Romans Return)

What you do think, you higher men? Am I prophet? A dreamer? A drunkard? An interpreter of dreams? A midnight bell? A drop of dew? An odour and scent of eternity? Do you not hear it? Do you not smell it? My world has just become perfect, midnight is also noonday, pain is also joy, a curse is also a blessing, the night is also a sun - be gone, or you will learn: a wise man is also a fool.

Did you ever say Yes to one joy? O my friends, then you said Yes to all woe as well. All things are chained and entwined together, all things are in love; if ever you wanted one moment twice, if ever you said: ‘You please me, happiness, instant, moment!’ then you wanted everything to return! you wanted everything anew, everything eternal, everything chained, entwined together, everything in love, oh that is how you loved the world, you everlasting men, loved it eternally and for all time: and you say even to woe: ‘Go, but return!’ For all joy wants - eternity!’
                                       (Friedrich Nietzsche)

A monumental sleep
Whose ancient dreams
Awake on tomorrow’s avenues.
The body snores, groans
Is moving…

Across the centuries
Great artists work
Peopling the streets 
With ill-remembered gods…

        A sprightly Cicero
Defeating an old tyrant.
Now the republic wakes, rises, 
Puts on it antique dress,
Its Brutus the guillotine.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Painter

His eyes are dangerous.

Like all hard men he is scared. Making enemies that will hurt him, he is peeping over the wall; worrying about his head, thinking will it stay there…

A criminal looking out for the police.

Wary of this street, the city, his own little world, a whole being is concentrated into a look; his gaze two gun barrels staring at some woman walking by… Bang! Bang!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Exciting Sights

War brings out the best in us. This is almost a truism. We think of the old folks reminiscing; always they return to a few exciting years when life was wild with fun. 1939 to 1945: what a great time that was! lost to them forever, except in anecdotes wrinkled with smiles. When youngsters we did not understand our relatives: why does death excite them so, why does it make them happy; surely they should be sad and scared? Confused, we went to the history books. They did not help us much. The mental atmosphere long since faded away, only the novelists can recapture these years; a period when emotion tuned to the highest pitch, and then sustained for impossibly long periods of time, people became perennially excited, euphoric, intoxicated… It was like riding the longest, most frightening rollercoaster in the world. Amazing! Exhilarating! Let me off! Don’t you dare! Oh, what a lark it is.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Clouds Look Different From Above

…all these modes of thought which assess the value of things 
according to pleasure and pain, that is to say according to attendant 
and secondary phenomena, are foreground modes of thought
and naiveties which anyone conscious of creative powers 
and an artist’s conscience will look down on in derision, 
though not without pity.
                             (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Alone on a mountain
He is laughing,
At this carnival of clouds,
A circus treat,
Dogs and dwarfs
Travelling to another town.

The sky’s majesty dethroned
Before two penetrating eyes.

He smiles
At his own conceit.

But pity overcomes him 
For those below
Struggling in the foothills.

What! Pitying fools?
He laughs at these sights
They will never reach.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Look Underneath

It has all the rudiments of farce. Yet there are few laughs here. For when these rudiments are reordered by magic - when reshaped by Estelle’s Square of Power - they produce a finely tuned domestic drama; the comedic mishaps becoming the ironies of man’s complex moral fate; where intentions, pushed out of shape by omnipresent circumstance, turn into their opposites; good producing bad, evil giving birth to saintly self-sacrifice.

Thursday, 26 May 2016


Improvised While Listening to a Speech by Nicholas Serota 
and Thinking of a Poem by Frank O’Hara
in an Old Music Hall
in Hoxton

Angela de la Cruz has produced a work of history. An impressionist piece, it suggests the spirit of this gallery; its large life crammed into little rooms, the restrained vitality, its relentless will, seeping out between the cracks of its old confinement; we think of a dam creaking, on the verge of breaking… The control panel lowers the water level; and pianissimo, its notes trickle through the door, into a crowd watching this clock eclipse the moon. We wait. Under Chris Ofili’s memories. Under an iconostasis illuminating this tiny triangle, the Pocket Park, a plaza awash with civilities; the harpsichord lost amongst their gathering tide, whose waves carry us off to Hoxton Hall.