Category Archives: The misery tune

Delicious poison

Delicious poison

For what’s existence but a burden to be borne?
A task that the servants are ordered to perform
While the master is away, off-stage, unseen,
Entrusting to our senses shared reality:
A big black sticky lump that looks good to eat;
Life is the delicious poison that you let it be –

And what’s oblivion but the warming hearth of home?
A condition in which no one can be alone,
Nor influence the interaction between
Their matter and the matters of their kinsfolkmote,
Nor indeed replace their own bonemealy meat;
Whatever your poison, death is its bland antidote.

Appears in:
The misery tune [2018]

Notes:
Although I had the idea for the poem when I thought of the title, after Googling it I found a Japanese Kyōgen play with the same name, which the subsequent reading of then infiltrated the poem.

Video:

Memento mori

Memento mori

I
Remember
You
Remember
Me:
Memento mori.

All that will come afterwards,
And all that came before me;
All I will lay claim to,
And all that will befall me:
I
Remember
You
Remember
Me.

All that I have been – and ever will be;
All that I have seen – and ever will see;
All that you have lent to me,
And all that all of it meant to me;
All that my existence means
To all the other meat-machines;
And all that matters to me.
You see through me.

I was born on a midsummer morn:
Naked, wailing, gory.
The skies were full of fiery shapes at my nativity;
And your destruction so deserves such creativity
That since that moment I have known
That you’ve been looking for me.
You never kept a secret well:
I know that you adore me,
Can’t wait till you have found me
And you’ve wrapped your arms around me:
Bound me, crowned me, drowned me.

I
Remember
You
Remember
I will die before I am ready
Like every body dies before it is ready:
Same comedy, same tragedy, same story.
I remember you remember me.

My grip on this cold reality is unsteady.
My bones have begun to ache from my weight already,
And I have yet to cover myself with glory.
There’s only one thing left to do:
Remember me,
And I’ll remember you.

Appears in:
The misery tune [2018]

Video:

The misery tune

TMT“The misery tune” is the fourth volume of poems in the Has Doubts series, written by Alexander Velky. Crowdfunding for this volume fell short in late 2018 and thus its future is uncertain. 

The theme of this book is death; more specifically the human condition of being tasked with living, while knowing that death is the only certainty in life.

You can read a few of the poems and watch a couple of video performances (as and when they are uploaded) by following links from the contents list below.

The draft list of poems intended for inclusion in this book at the time of the publication of this page are/were as follows:

  1. Memento mori
  2. Scollock Rath
  3. In a Spitalfields pub
  4. No mercy
  5. Backtracking
  6. Hospitality
  7. Trying again
  8. My bonny bog oak
  9. Death directions
  10. The world
  11. The journey
  12. The dread
  13. The horror
  14. The terror
  15. The time
  16. The last
  17. The end
  18. (Instrumental)
  19. Uhtcearu
  20. Spokes
  21. Hymn for Thoth
  22. Delicious poison
  23. Project Gilgamesh
  24. No bastard
  25. I like to watch sand slip through my fingers
  26. Sing a long fornever
  27. My favourite ape
  28. All-purpose funeral poem
  29. The Owl of Minerva
  30. Good morning, Ragnarok!
  31. And what is life
  32. Something new
  33. The misery tune

Project Gilgamesh

Project Gilgamesh

for FM-2030

Today the last to be allowed to die
Will say her words and give the nurse the nod.

She thinks she’s going to a better place;
Though we suspect, she hasn’t used the word.

What death is we now never hope to prove;
But pestilence and famine were just foils

To its brief mastery of humankind.
Now we are faced with many meaner trials:

What living is, we’ve none of us found out;
But now we’ve outlawed death we’ll have the chance

To design a destiny befitting
Of our race. And many centuries hence

We’ll still tell of how, once upon a time,
The last to be allowed to die were wrong

To upset our young unanimity;
To try to keep our siblinghood hamstrung.

Remember, our ancestors once looked up
Presuming they could pluck stars from the sky;

For far too long we’ve failed to question “How?”
And wasted far too many breaths on “Why?”

Appears in:

Live Canon poetry prize anthology [2017]
The misery tune [2018]

Notes:

This poem was originally titled “The last to die”, and appears as such in the Live Canon anthology, which it was included in after being longlisted in their competition of that year. It was changed due to its similarity to a new poem from the same volume called “The last”. The new title was taken from Project Gilgamesh, which I read about in Yuval Noah Harari’s book “Sapiens” several years after writing the poem.

The horror

The horror

for Alexander Narkiewicz

We two were born, entwined like vines,
To share dull destiny:
To quarry stone, crush copper ore,
Or trawl the Irish Sea.
We sprouted from the same soft seed,
Shared one radicle root;
From sleepy soil our common toil
Sprung double dicot shoot.

Two feet in one tight boot.

We gave thanks to earth and water,
The breath that lent us life,
And to the spark that cut the dark,
Whetting our hunting knife.
We drank deep from the wishing well,
Wore furs to fight the cold;
And all the while on the Honey Isle
We were never growing old,
Dear brother,
We were never growing old.

We’d trip through ferns as brambles snagged,
Pluck mushrooms from the ground,
And suckle blood from blackberries
Till Michaelmas came round.
The snow on the Carneddau range,
It never seemed to melt –
More moulted on March mornings mild
Its weary winter pelt.

We wondered how that felt.

And once the breeding season passed
We’d row out to Priestholm
To feast on puffin flesh and eggs
Amid the pink tide foam.
The sunset on the Menai Strait
Would gleam like cloth of gold;
And all the while on the Mother Isle
We were never growing old,
Dear brother,
We were never growing old.

We ranged the cliffs and wrecked the ships,
Swift-stirring eggshell broth.
We donned the skins of long-dead seals,
A rough and rusty cloth.
We slept beneath the firmament
On pillows of moist moss.
We measured midnight skies in sighs,
A glimmering grey gloss

For us to sail across.

In the deer park’s narrow quarry
We gathered ovine bones,
Up Flagstaff top we built with rocks
Our own great limestone thrones.
We wrote the rules and damned the fools
Who’d do as they were told.
And all the while on the Angle Isle
We were never growing old,
Dear brother,
We were never growing old.

Though there were only two of us
As far back as we knew,
I couldn’t help but think that I
Went further back than you;
You couldn’t help but think that you
Went further back than me,
So we fools fell to wrestling then
Beneath the brave yew tree

By Penmon Priory.

We fought fair well, we lasted long,
Until the evening’s shade
Caught your coat and I cut your throat
With our hot hunting blade.
My open mouth in your glass eyes
A horror to behold;
And all the while on the Darkling Isle
We were never growing old,
Dear brother,
We were never growing old.

I dragged you up the promontory
To the old flooded pit.
I rolled you from its grassy lip.
I wondered if you’d fit.
When you struck the still of the pool
The sound hung like a bell,
And though I moved to miles away
I couldn’t lose your smell,

And still I couldn’t tell.

I work now at that sorry spot:
The fish-farm in Dinmor.
I gut the fish. I pack the fish.
I wash the fish-farm floor.
The horror waits at complex gates:
Untellable, untold.
And all the while on the Lowing Isle
We were never growing old,
Dear brother,
We were never growing old.

Appears in:
The misery tune [2018]

Video: