Nothing in domestic or international law forbids border checks between the U.K. and Ireland. Nothing in the Good Friday Agreement prohibits economic checks taking place between the two sovereign states that jut up against each other on the island of Ireland. The question of erecting physical infrastructure along their border is NOT a legal one, but a political one rooted in history, identity, and violence. Indeed, the Good Friday Agreement reaffirmed Northern Ireland’s legitimate constitutional place within the U.K. and, by extension, the border that exists on the island of Ireland between North and South.

the condition of women

July 25, 2019

In Europe, the women’s movement has done a lot to change their (women’s) position. Starting with civil rights and laws. Today, on paper, men and women are equal. Of course, in the shift from paper to everyday life, things aren’t so simple. It’s easier to change a law than an age-old mentality. Deep down, many prejudices, many hostilities, many fears persist. But if we take a look at all the peoples in the world, we have to realize that the condition of women is very backward and sometimes very sad, from both the social and psychological points of view. There are still countries where women don’t enjoy basic rights like the vote or the freedom to study or the freedom of choice in marriage. Every year there are twenty million little girls in Africa who are deprived of their sexuality through brutal genital operations. Basically, there’s still much to be done.

Dacia Maraini
The Silence of the Outcasts: an interview with Dacia Maraini
Words without borders March 2008

soul set in motion

March 23, 2019

For a poem is a mental affair: for its reader as much as for its author. ‘Her’ portrait is the poet’s state conveyed through his tune and choice of words;  a reader would be a fool to settle for less. What matters about ‘her’ is not her particularity but her universality. Don’t try to find her snapshot and position yourself next to it: it won’t work. Plain and simply,  a love lyric is one’s soul set in motion. If it’s good, it may do the same to you.

Joseph Brodsky
section IX of Altra Ego,
On Grief and Reason

Knife crime

February 12, 2019

Knife crime is on the increase in England. Kids carry blades for protection against other kids carrying blades. The police can’t find who’s carrying a knife without ‘stop and search’ – and the ensuing complaints of racism that follow such police activity means they do as little as possible. So what’s the answer?

Easy.

Parliament passes a law to ensure anyone under the age of twenty-five must wear (at all times while away from the home) a skin-tight leotard – no coat or hoodie. Also, any bag carried must be see-through! A knife, then, would stand out like a sore thumb, wouldn’t it?

Simple!

We live in a culture where violence or violent behaviour has become the norm. Violence is widely assumed to be the best way to resolve conflict. We witness it in the actions of government: the UK has engaged in almost one hundred years of conflict since the first world war, small wars with inevitably large casualty lists. Just to mention a few of these more recent military actions: Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1998, the Falklands war, the first Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afganistan, Iraq, Libya, Sierra Leone, the list is feckin’ endless, boys & girls – and we now have a Minister of Defense preaching confrontation with Russia! Was the Crimean war not lesson enough for these idiots – ?

Remember, kids learn by example. Violence begets violence. Confrontation is met by confrontation. Throw economic insecurity and hopelessness into the mix, then you’ll have kids on the streets carrying knives – so why be surprised?

A toxic mix of racism, austerity, societal deprivation and corporate greed is ultimately to blame for this situation. As a nation we should get ready to purchase and supply “free of charge” several millions of those skin-tight leotards – and thus eradicate the problem of knife crime for good! A fresh tax levied on squillionaires would easily cover all costs; but I suspect that any action engaged in by the government will fall far short of what is required. It’s more likely that Ryan Air will introduce flights across the Andes by green gulper frog than a UK Government will find a solution to this problem of knife crime. No, best the government continues to concentrate all its attention on Brexit – after all we don’t want that to end up in a mess, do we?

prototypical woman

January 6, 2019

Eve has long been advanced as a prototypical woman. There have been allegations to the effect that Eve was ignorant and easily duped into eating an apple by a wily serpent. She then used her feminine wiles to seduce her husband, Adam, into eating the fruit as well. In so doing, Eve is said to have brought about the fall of humanity. Men in Western culture have used this story for millennia to explain and justify the subservient position of females in society. They have claimed that women, like Eve, are easily duped into committing wrongful acts and should therefore be under tight control of their husbands or fathers. Many also view women as dangerous temptresses who will lead men into wrongdoing. To bolster this argument, they point to the “fact” that Eve used her wiles to get Adam to eat the apple. Men are thus urged to mistrust even their own wives.’ Similarly, women have at times been barred from testifying on the theory that they, like Eve, cannot be trusted. Women are also viewed as weak in will and in thought. People have pointed to God’s statement to Eve, “[Y]our urge shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you,” to explain and justify the argument that husbands should rule over all in their households, including their wives. Eve is the source and symbol of many of the negative traits assigned to women; the story of Eve has been used to justify the punishment of women throughout history. Given an opportunity to stand before a tribunal herself, it seems unlikely that Eve would be able to escape punishment.

[ .. ..]

More recent feminist interpretations of the narrative also take a more favourable or sympathetic view of Eve. One writer, while accepting that Eve committed a sin, thanks Eve for bringing about the desire to come closer to God and to improve conditions we face.’ Poet Miriam Oren “clearly admires Eve, portraying her as a model of righteousness, strength, and courage.” Anda Amir believes that Eve’s actions bring sexual knowledge and pleasure to the world, which she sees as a positive change.” Phyllis Trible writes that woman is the “culmination” of creation.” She argues that the serpent spoke to Eve rather than Adam because Eve was capable of engaging in philosophic and theological discussions, whereas Adam was not.” Finally, she sees God’s response differently than some other commentators. “They describe; they do not prescribe. They protest; they do not condone . . . . This statement is not a license for male supremacy, but rather it is a condemnation of that very pattern. Subjugation and supremacy are perversions of creation.”

Sally Frank
Eve was right to eat the apple: the importance of narrative in the art of lawyering

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, ‘The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. Like my kisses before.
Her void. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

Pablo Neruda

Powdered unicorn horn was once thought to cure melancholy.

What carries the hurt is never the wound
but the red garden sewn by the horn
as it left – and she left. I am rosing,
blooming absence, its brilliant alarum.

Brodsky said, Darkness restores what light cannot
repair. You thrilled me – opened to the comb.
O, wizard, O, wound. I want the ebon bull and the moon –
I’ve come for the honeyed horn.

Queen Elizabeth traded a castle for a single horn.
Surrender to the kingdom in my hands –
army of touch marching upon the alcazar
of your thighs like bright horns.

I arrive at you – half bestia, half feast.
Tonight we harvest the luxed forest
of Caderas, name the darkful fruit
spicing our mouths, separate sweet from thorn.

Lanternist, in your wicked palm,
the bronzed lamp of my breast. Strike the sparker –
take me with tremble. Into your lap
let me lay my heavy horns.

I fulfilled the prophecy of your throat,
loosed in you the fabulous wing of my mouth –
red holy-red ghost. I spoke to god,
returned to you feathered, seraphimed and horned.

Our bodies are nothing if not places to be had by,
as in, God, she has me by the throat,
by the hip bone, by the moon. God,
she has me by the horn.

Natalie Diaz

diverse body of occult tales

September 30, 2017

Kees Van Der Knaap - The jugler

He (Algernon Blackwood) understood the power of the intangible, and developed a style of writing that relied on suggestion and atmosphere. Regarding all experience as – potentially – spiritual, he believed that an understanding of nature would lead to faith and a knowledge of how to live. In the years leading up to the first world war, he produced an extra-ordinary and diverse body of occult tales: innocent campers who pitch their tent in a place where another dimension intersects with our own (“The Wendigo”); the psychological transformation of a fey aristocrat (“The Regeneration of Lord Ernie”); a house haunted by the echo of religious intolerance (“The Damned”); a man seduced by the forest (“The Man Whom the Trees Loved”).

Kate Mosse
Horror in the shadows

provide sacrificial tribute

September 16, 2017

12 – 15 th September

My dreams: feverish ramblings through some mythic wilderness. Troubling storms in the night, gales and rain, rain, rain.

We should all bow down to the great sky cock and provide sacrificial tribute. Say, the odd virgin or three – but if they’re too hard to find, what about a couple of goats?

They’re naming these feckin’ storms now. Shitty Kitty would be a good name –

I’m thinking of building an Ark –

Then, abruptly, trapped in this breathless precision of silence. Where’d the wind go? Did some bastard cut the throat of a virgin? Is the storm finally ended? Or have I gone deaf?

#

Enough. I’ve had enough of here. Of work, of people. I need a break from it all. So, off to the north coast we do go. A room at the top of a tall building overlooking the sea. Observe at first hand the rage of the ocean as it hammers the rocky coastline.

Oh, wonderful. Our windows full of sky and ocean and we can look across to the coast path, all elbow bends as it climbs towards a truncated horizon. And, amazingly, the rain has stopped!

Food here is out of this world. Excellent. Great choice of wines, too. We spend our time walking on the rocks, or gazing out to sea while seated on wooden bench seats, or making love in our rooms. At night the sea sounds like an express train rolling through the darkness.

Morning walks in the wind, foam flying from the sea. Luminous grey sea, banded emerald green further out. Sun burn on my face, and occasional bouts of ecstasy. Last night loving again, wild, free, in a world of magic, drunk on fleshy bliss –

But all good things come to an end. Time to return to the daily grind…

Love Poem to Risk

May 20, 2017

after Catherine Pierce
You move over my chest like the swab

of iodine before the scalpel. You are the fourth
shot of whiskey at a party I leave too late, the heels

I wear walking home after dark, and the man
watching me from the other side of the street.

When I was thirteen, you made me pack a go-bag –
toothbrush, Walkman, second-favourite dress,

a note for my mother that said I’m better off
gone. You’re the reason I can leave anywhere

in under five minutes, always a carry-on stashed
under the bed. But I I’ve never stopped seeing you

for what you are: the siren’s stuttering keen
and the storm cellar’s loose hinges,

both the lightning that doesn’t feather
my arm, and the charred ground beside me.

You touch your teeth to my pulse
and claim nothing good happens without you.

I still can’t say you’re wrong.

Emily Rose Cole