Sometimes I’m happier with the scent
of all those nappies worth of baby shit
than all the bitter bile that poets vent,

converted into snarking kilobytes.



More numerous that dried up dead spiders
on every wonky bookshelf in the land;
or all the gleaming turds laid by King Midas—

the countless poems, unloved and unpenned
and in their millions on the internet.
Invisible enough not to be panned

nor subjected to slush pile sifter’s hate.
They may as well be fag smoke in the fog.
The hits will never come and so they wait

for some Cyber-Cromwell to pull the plug.


“Daddy, what did you do on that day,
when all those middle class, Western kids
rescued Uganda from tyranny

by sharing videos, placing some ticks
against the online pledge, buying t-shirts
and hashtagging the everloving shit

out of that warlord?” Please darling, avert
that judgemental and unforgiving look.
I switched off my computer and dropped out.

I sat in this armchair. I read a book.

Canto CXC

The Kafka scholar on the radio
espouses on the book as a bound object—
a closed system that can transform into

an open one when pages prize apart.
Did I say radio? Well, in a sense,
but I was listening to the podcast.

Their sober voices trickled through headphones
as I cut through the housing estate—
two bags of groceries, walking alone,

yet still a citizen of the internet.
I think of the days when my main escape
from the “real world” during long commutes

was from reading a book or Walkman tapes.
The world always seemed more real when I returned,
as if I’d woken from a heavy sleep—

but now, the taps and swipes with which I wend
my way through cyberspace just seems to drain
the substance from the world, like virtual friends

are no different to phantoms in the brain.


Even the internet slows down for the holiday,
as families reacquaint themselves to how
the eyes add something to what our tongues say,

and even tongues can startle when allowed
to ping against enamel’s coffee stains,
the fingers drum the table’s edges, cowed

and cut off from their hotline to the brain.


The biggest laugh that I’ve had recently
came from a comment underneath a blog
that queried how the left wing poetry

could pierce through the reactionary fog
surrounding the riots that broke out last summer.
Why don’t you ask the meanest, hooded thug

if he can explain in his street slang murmur
whether the mainstream and the avant garde
can bring all their opposing views together

in some Hegelian, synthesised accord.
And after he’s relieved you of your iPad,
your iPhone and your Cafe Nero card

but passed on your footwear, you won’t be sad
when, with a slap, he sends you on your way
back to your cosy, private rented pad

and the highbrow hearth of the academy.
You now possess some new weapons to fire
at the tum-te-tum formal hegemony—

you felt the people’s power. You were there!

Canto LXXX

My wife tells me to stop wasting my day
debating racist posters on Yahoo.
She has a point, I doubt that they will change

their Little England, Stormfront sanctioned views,
instead I should just picture them glaring
through net curtains into suburban mews

to double check they will not soon be sharing
their little village with some foreign types,
before going to back online to make daring

assaults on PC liberals that hype
the multi culture from our city flats.
Perhaps we should take this as cause for hope,

the views that once were issued by fiat,
by hereditary Lords and party leaders,
are only voiced by faceless, trolling prats

and higher ranking officials at FIFA.

Canto XXVI

The engineer writes haiku on his phone
as machines chug and whirr into lunch break.
This is the greatest peace of mind he’s known.

He thinks of Frank O’Hara, rushing back
to bash the keys while munching ham on rye,
to finish just before the hour hand’s tick

so that the New York poet can sent his lines
to Ferlinghetti’s gaff on the East Coast.
But when the engineer’s haiku is done

he hits publish and then the poem is lost
among its kin that swarm the internet.
He stops for lunch and nods to Li Po’s ghost—

the many works he penned which he then set
on fire before he cast them down the river,
sent back to where they came from, made complete,

to places where they’ll stay in print forever.

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