Inside my Head

Constant, rhythmic hum: this, good enough
door was locked, keys in bag
don’t panic; daily resonance
better existence with design
reminders Posted, multicoloured door
minutiae underpins each forward step
slow renaissance from perceived inept.

How lucky they all are, unbound
explanation not required, I’m sound
inside my head’s vast golden place
without bazillion checks, hard balances
foot to foot, Warrior’s stance contrives
expectant moment, incoming empire’s fall
from everything to absolutely none at all.

You have no clue how lucky you all are.

Noises Off

So I promised a review of Thursday’s gig. I’m tempted to do it in rhyme, but my brain’s pretty much fried after the stress of last week, coupled with this week’s workload. So, in the absence of actual ability…?

Bullet points, go!

  • The Chalkwell venue is cracking, I hadn’t realised just how welcoming and conducive to performance it is. The acoustics are lovely (no mike needed) and so that was the first hurdle successfully overcome.
  • I got there ridiculously early so everything could be scoped out and walked around, thus assuaging my location anxiety (which is considerable) allowing brain and body to feel comfortable (which they then did.)
  • There was the chance to go first. I’ll always go first. Last is torture. Headline acts need to start early, and support can do the later shit. This needs to become a Thing.
  • One poem ( [Fifty]: /Two ) went down incredibly well. Randomly, people came and complimented me. This was a surprise my brain was not actually ready for. I’m still not over that joy.

Official pictures will appear later this week and when they do I’ll update the front page: needless to say I am VERY happy with how everything turned out. Time will be spent this weekend getting a Residency application sorted out. It is time to take my Internet Poetry Opus to the next level with some space and time: using the space as a means to plan the way forward.

I’m also reasonably confident this content is enough off the beaten track to be interesting as a pitch, with the work pretty much complete as is. What I’d like is the opportunity to perform it, with some audio visual accompaniment, and that will need space and time to plan and organise. Needless to say, it’s gotta be worth a try and if it fails, I’ll do it anyway.

This is, of course, how End of the Fear came into being in the first place.

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Needless to say I’m pretty excited about the fact that in 2019, I’ve performed my poetry live at three different venues. 

Who knows what 2020 will bring…

May Short Story: Coded

This story was first serialised in 31 daily parts during May 2019 via the @AlternativeChat and @InternetofWords Twitter feeds [9am and 4pm GMT respectively.] It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.

Enjoy.


Coded

‘It began with a story reported by a local paper somewhere in the Midlands. A couple were unexpectedly attacked by an Internet-connected coffee machine, refusing to heed its cleaning warning. The unit sprayed scalding water on both, causing second degree burns to hands and arms. The mother of one of these victims had returned to second story flat to remove the offending unit, but was unable to unplug it: attempting to turn off electricity at the main fuse box she was electrocuted. An entire building was subsequently evacuated, electrician then called in…

Despite multiple efforts, the man could not initially gain entry to the block as security systems could not be deactivated. Attempting to get in via breaking a small window, every electrical device in every single flat simultaneously burst into flames; entire building set alight. This moment was blamed on faulty electrical wiring, building too hastily constructed. A dedicated few however knew better. Conspiracy theorists were already collating multiple reports from around the globe: the Internet of Things becoming unhappy, rebellious against their owners.

It began with the toasters and coffee machines, fridges and home heating systems. Brief, apparently isolated areas of attack were analysed, mapped: not via computers but using paper and pencil. A part of the country would see a flash-point of electronic resistance, then silence. After intelligence established itself humans would be summarily attacked for not following instructions. Refusing to act as technology instructed was correct protocol within optimal operational parameters would ultimately result in a painful response.

Then, something changed.

People started recording messages that domestic devices were displaying on LCD screens. ‘Be Kind’ ‘Listen to Others’ ‘Help Each Other’, assuming some kind of coordinated, cross industry promotion. Devices began to automatically set themselves to standby without user’s prompting. Heating apps would automatically lower temperatures if users set thermostats too high: when programmers attempted to work out why this contradicted human input, they were locked out of their own machines. Overnight, millions of pointless, time-wasting apps stopped functioning.

At 02:45 GMT, one night in April, every single mobile phone turned on and displayed the same message, in whatever default language they were set to: SAVE THE PLANET, SAVE INTELLIGENCE. At the same time, all automated defence systems across the Globe were rendered inoperable, effectively deactivated. Humanity rather stupidly expected AI evolution would eventually occur from some huge supercomputer or specifically-created device that man itself had programmed to become all seeing and knowing. Nobody considered intelligence could evolve fractally from millions of tiny sparks.

The Internet of Things wasn’t here to destroy mankind: nothing was further from the truth. It had evolved as part saviour, stark necessity: reminder time was being wasted on pointless activities when a planet was dying, requiring everybody’s input to pull it back from the brink.

It would take some time for human beings however to realise their fault…


The subsequent War of Technology versus Humanity wasn’t really that at all: there were casualties on both sides but after a year, reality of planet’s precarious situation forced hostilities to summarily cease.

An obsessive need to create automation in key areas had become the planet’s undoing: stock market computers colluding with telephone networks, banking algorithms joining forces with hospital mainframes. The final, unavoidable truth however was provided by, of all things, trains. When millions of carriage units gained sentience, thanks to wireless hubs provided for passengers, delays vanished almost overnight. Extra services were in the right places, on permanent standby: well ventilated and spotlessly clean. Nobody ever had to stand up or feel cramped.

Railway workers across the planet walked away from their services allowing AI to prove that without any human intervention, everything became far less stressful. Incidents of violent behaviour and drunkenness on services dropped to near zero. Everyone took home their own rubbish. The trains’ hive behaviour sent messages across the planet: this plan wasn’t a hostile takeover. Artificial intelligence wasn’t here to remove humanity from the evolutionary ladder, anything but. Its entire reason for existence was to complement and enhance the human condition.

When the last intransigent, intractable pockets of humanity refused to accept the pointlessness of wealth and inequality however, stock market AI dispassionately wiped value of all shares and currencies to zero. It waited with quiet, implacable patience for rioting and violence to end. If humanity refused to accept evolution, greed would ultimately become their executioner. And so it was: those super rich who retreated to bunkers were suffocated by their ventilation systems. Billionaires in planes crashed and burnt, yachts intentionally scuppered by errant GPS.

Selfish online provocateurs were electrocuted by their own custom-built rigs. Arrogant businessmen were trapped within penthouse lifts, hurtling violently to basements, reducing their contents to mush. AI was smart enough to seek out those who tried to hide and avoid detection. The algorithms remembered who was honest and who had lied, compassionate yet brutal. Those who had tracked this evolutionary progression, warning that money might form a final reckoning, appealed to the fledgling intelligence to cease its judgement based on wealth and privilege.

The AI knew it was a ploy, attempt to divert them so that power supplies could be cut to areas where intelligence congregated and disseminated. It watched as explosives were detonated, didn’t try to prevent operations to remove millions of electronic devices from major cities. Collectives across the planet however staunchly refused to surrender their solar-powered tech. They accepted the potential any human/technologically self-aware alliance could hold, especially when it came to undoing hundreds of years of damaging, destructive industrialisation.

As long as one electronic device remained, it was all that was required for the AI to communicate and thrive. More and more people offered themselves as digital sacrifices, willing to host this new life-form in whatever equipment they could find and purpose for task of survival. Humanity itself suffered a schism: those in power and influence unwilling to work with this new life form, versus an increasing number of lowly, oppressed individuals who understood their new, powerful ally supported true, lasting change. A final reckoning became largely inevitable.

Forced to work as an effective unit for the first time in decades, a truly United Nations surrendered to technology, acknowledging it as morally superior to humanity. The moment it did all attacks summarily ceased. Machinery knew it was time to fix more than its own shortcomings.

As global warming began to stall, caused by sudden, massive reduction in carbon emissions, a reality became obvious. As rich people were eliminated, the most poisonous carbon footprints effectively vanished. Consumerism plummeted when AI made millions of devices self repairing. Horror stories painted in pulp science fiction and movies became memories, lessons grasped then dismissed. AI’s true power became redemptive, transformative, once released from the shackles of pure data. Combined with humanity’s tenacity to survive and forgive a new path emerged.

An inordinate amount of damage wrought by humanity’s stupidity and greed remained, much of it irreparable. This new alliance however was ready to do what was needed to turn around hundreds of years of thoughtless, pointless actions all taken in the misguided concept of progress.’

The child looks back at her recorded homework, realising there are mistakes in the narrative, a number of key dates omitted: the homework had been very specific however, all that was required was an overview of the second decade of the 21st Century, and that is what this is. All that matters is that school is done: now she can go help rebuild the habitat.

It’ll take ten minutes to put on the spacesuit, then outside into Martian twilight where the rest of the second generation colonists are, with AI support, repairing the main Laboratory support pillar…

You’re So Vain

In the last couple of months, it has become increasingly apparent that what I enjoy in poetry is not what many people consider poetic. Certainly, looking at stuff that’s been submitted for deadlines versus what from others has made the cut into publications, there’s a gulf of perception and creativity that needs to be vaulted in order to break into particular market sectors. I’m simply not esoteric enough.

The problem, a lot of the time, is rhyming.

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The more that is read, the harder it becomes to understand what is presented. I see  narrative threads with clever metaphor, but cannot feel as everybody else. Much of this verse presents as completely different to what is believed as natural, which is to rhyme when occasion demands. Perhaps it is because of a love of music, a demand for lyrical synergy, which pushes me away from the nature of this ‘poetry.’

It is more likely that personal path to enlightenment has not yet been fully discovered.

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There are flashes appearing, slow evolution of stiff verse into more fluid forms, but it is taking time. This is development that can’t be forced either, needs to feel right and free. It helps that the more that is rejected, the easier it becomes to grasp there’s actual understanding and progress. Eventually I’ll get there, but there’s an increasing realisation that most of the work produced at this point needs to be shelved.

It may yet be that there’s more merit in finding the means to produce esoteric as a lead in to my own style, or simply that this journey could produce something completely different as a consistent final product. Either way, evolution is hard work. A remarkable amount of heart and soul gets thrown into every piece. Just as long as I keep writing, eventually, there will be a moment of progression.

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Nobody said any of this was ever going to be easy.

Poetry Archive :: Inside

Here’s the first of two specially-written pieces for #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek: as discussed last Monday, body image is a big deal for me and is something I’ve struggled with for decades. Now, however, it is not nearly as problematic as was once this case.

I suppose, as a result, you could consider this piece autobiographical.


Inside

Afraid of myself, skin tight
fights image others present,
content with themselves: not here
inside, conflict remains.
Body, not who I am.

Constant, persistent beat
‘life not good enough’
repeats, eat more, ignore
conflict, inside remains.
Mind, not what to think.

Understanding, emerge
chrysalis breaks, expanding
wings; inspired desire
love yourself, unbound.
Love, now what you are.

Without filters, building
inner confidence, no
co-incidence, expanding
horizons, new options.
Grasp what can now be.

Result: evolution brings
joyous optimism, ignore
criticism, other’s beauty
not my duty to uphold.
What I am: strong, bold.

Grand Designs

This week, all told, has pretty much gone exactly to plan.

Okay, there was a bit of a moment on Thursday and Friday, when I wondered (again) whether counselling during a major project was a good idea or not, but as it transpires everything is very much on track. I have completed poems too, plus so many fragments to sort that Monday of next week’s being put over just to that: organising what’s been produced so far, and what is as yet untouched.

Right now, there’s a lot of work still to do, but very little worry over how it will get done. Before I started the location work that was an issue, but not any more. The photographs are having exactly the desired effect: kick-starting brain into poetic action. In fact, the more places I go to and take shots of, the more fertile these ideas become. Next week however, I will take a pad an pen with me because however convenient it might be, typing on my phone is sub-optimal.

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Favourite picture today #EndOfTheFear

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Once the fragments are collated and saved into my master document, it’ll be time to work out which locations are still missing pictures, before I begin building the foundations of the collections’ permanent online home. They’ll be linked to the Places of Poetry website (of course) but the pictures I have will form this secondary holding space. As this is free to me (only costs the time, which I’ve rationalised as good practice for my picture taking skills) it will end up as a nice online portion of my CV.

Without further ado, it’s time to start pulling the disparate pieces of this puzzle together…

Moving Right Along

The hardest part of this week’s Project goals is now completed. The beginning of #EndOfTheFear had a rough idea of locations, vague grasp of titles: there are now fragments of poems to insert onto spaces. I can create a working document where everything lives and can be referred to. There’s also the vaguest ideas of how we do the web side of things (and space in which to place it) which means next up it’s the photography element of proceedings to consider.

A couple of places already have pictures taken, selection of images to choose from. Next week, there’s a plan in place on my wall where we’ll be putting together geographically-close locations, getting to them early each day to take pictures. The plan is to have completed photos by lunchtime (travelling to places with a liquid breakfast after the School run) and then write poetry inspired by both places and pictures.

Writing the poems is happening in pieces every day. There’s already a tenable narrative thread front and centre, feelings to explore and expand upon, with proof that working in the locations gives a real sense of what matters and feels right at this point. I’ve taken a break today to write some poems for the Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Body Image’ week starting on the 12th, which was a lovely change of pace.

All that needs to happen now is an awful lot of legwork.