Saturday, 18 November 2017

Financial District, NYC


Friday, 17 November 2017

28/01/16 (For Saphir)

28/01/16 (For Saphir)

You want to take a step back from the monster
but you do not see that this void is all consuming
and that within it there is no such thing as movement.

you, the monster, the void, and I are all the very same thing.

My weakness and failure is that I pretend to let your naivety and ignorance control this deception.

To not explain to you
how the monster is your mother
dead father
and son.

that the monster is not a scarred result of rape and pillage
but a new born baby filled with as much love, light and hope
as the raging fire of lust and attraction you fight to extract your searing skin away from now

the irony IS
that i too
daily reject the monster you flee
that i too
must believe in witches
false gurus
fake friends
and the true non-believers
who will turn all that is the best of our monsters
into the very essence of what sane men should fear.

it is normal for you to be running backwards from me.
and sad.
that you will only make it back to where we already were
once i am nothing more than a memory,
or a nightmare that will never disappear.

You treat me like a killer.
A murderer of emotion with no feelings of my own.
You, the distraught bloodied victim
I, the rabid dog
aimlessly infecting the weak
and immature.

In 6 days the world around us was created.
In 3 i rip it up and tear it all to shit.

and how many days will this suffering last out
until sun down?
the next offer of an awkward fuck with a stranger i feel nothing for?
or until we have worn each other down right to the very bone?

there is nothing worse than love
left to die.

too fearful to breathe.


within the very centre of all the shared pain that is our love
all i want is to hold you close.

to simply lie still at your side

hold your hand

have your head lay on my chest

and whisper together
the spells of a language we don’t understand.
that will undo all of the things that never cease to torment us.

what do we talk about when we talk about love?
Carver wanted to know this
and now
i understand.

love is not for life
it is the second where your fingers pulled softly away from my own
and i knew that it would be the last time i ever touch you.

love is not for life
it is the first words that we never even spoke
and the sly smile you tried to hide behind them

love is not for life
it is the provocations i can’t control
that turn us all into monsters
out of fear of being forever alone
and in pain.

love is not for life.
it is for secrets never to be taken back
then held over our heads like weapons of war
forever suspended in the ever nearing knowledge of our brutal end.

love is not a shortcut
that can be reached by the back road of Up Beat Beer
and cocktails of Xanax, Valium, Tramadol, and Klononpin. 

love is not for life.

love is not for the living.

love is not for those who can never grow up
and compromise.

love is certainly not for a beautiful jewel
who belongs only to the universe
and knows nothing of these mortal fools
she has been forced to live amongst

love is not for a man
who fits not in the skin he was given
and takes fright each time a mirror reflects his image.

love is not repetition,
and nor is it soft.
it hurts and burns.

by your own hand
it slices indelible suffering into your skin
which in turn leave its own eternal imprint on my too soft heart

love is boring.
no, it is not.
it is never that.

love can be found
but only at the very edge of insanity.

love can be shared
but only in flashes.
like shooting stars
jumping dolphins
in the silhouetted glide of an eagle across the sky with a snake in its mouth
(and this I did say)

love is the falling sun
that we can never stop from leaving
even when we know that its tomorrow will bring
nothing more than fraud and pale imitation
of this perfect day that went before it.

love is nothing that is not romantic.
it stands alone
beneath the beauty of the stars
under which we are all eternally dying
at the same pace
in the same moment
grasping at the futile nostalgia for that other light we never even saw.

love is blah blah blah
a joke.
a poem of nothing
sometimes of everything.
a madness that has no cure.

love is the help that those from outside of us
bring to make us strong.
it is my brother who sees me walking only tall like a king
it is your sister who wipes your tears away when you cry and reminds you that you can never be anything but beautiful.

love is long.
yes, it is.
very short sometimes too.

love is a secret place
where i sit with Indians
and think only of you,
hoping that one day,
far away
these words will make you smile,
feel stronger,
and love me back in return a little,
even if only for a second that i will never know existed

love is everything that is lost in communication.
it is schlug.
and “translate.”

this love,
will come to an end
it will stab me in the heart
with my own spear
as i pass you on the beach
and turn in the other direction
knowing that where once you wanted only a smile
now you cannot bear to see my face.

love is the darkest part of my mind.
all that is confusion.
every dark spot that covers the light.

and love is a mirror.
one you must be afraid of.
the one which i stand before
but in which you can only truly see yourself.

love is knowing too well
that what hurts one so deeply
will only destroy another even more.

love is something i have never known
but fight to guess at 
and grab for everyday.

love is Sisyphus.

Sisyphus walking his hill,
arms and legs sore
under the terrible weight of his rock.

his love is that which punishment could not take away
and which he continues to carry in his heart.

love is the wife Sisyphus fooled the gods to see just one more time.
it is the colour of the sea.
the sound of his son’s voice.
and your smile.

then the sudden,
momentary enlightenment,
where his arms and legs hurt no more
the rock bears no weight
nor the hill any inclination.

and Sisyphus is still

Sisyphus is…

I don’t know what the fuck Sisyphus is.


Wednesday, 5 October 2016

On Broadway and Damascus

In this centre of everything, I feel at home.
yet I know I am mostly not welcome.
i am not a functioning part of this machine.
my presence is only one to be entertained whilst there is currency in my pocket.
but my money is not on tap,
it’s on reserve.
most of it is not even mine.
and for all of the artists, models, fashionistas, pilates teachers, mad men officer managers, CEOs, and fuck if I knows,
i am an aberration.
a blip.
a second thought
pondered, then gone.
and exiled back to the middle of nowhere almost before I even arrived.

but there is no rancour in any of this.
i’m having a good time.
it simply must happen,
and i do not mind.
choices were made,
lines were drawn,
but in this momentary now,
we’re both happy that fate has decreed we be bought together.
you can buy my drinks for a week without resentment.
i’ll engage your mind
make you laugh
kiss you
soothe you
and entice you into believing in a world that will never exist for either of us.
for any of us.
doubt will kick in.
but inside one of those frozen moments that dare to approach perfection,
which two even briefly connected souls cannot help but share,
i see so clearly how all of this could be so different.
that i could stay.
one day.

but you don’t know me.
i don’t know me.
catch me wrong.
find me riding wild with my devil and i might as easily put a blade in you as give you a smile.
or gouge out my eyes with a hot spoon and leave them on your doorstep.
there is no Ma Kali fiery enough to becalm that kind of Shiva.
evil resides within me.
just another facet to the game.
a dark web determined to entangle and engulf my go(o)d
my saint
the king deserving, and deserved, of your majestic queen.
yet all of this grand and scary talk is little more than myth.
stunted exaggeration.
mere mental masturbation.
a monster to hide behind.
an excuse to not be better.
an ill-fitting, disfigured mask that feigns ferociousness as a means to preempt pain.
to stop you from getting too close
and stealing a glance at my true reflection in the eternal mirror.
to deny you a peak at the precious flower of a soul
that is too delicate to survive any interaction that is not all consuming and absolute.

i’m afraid
this battle never stops.
not yet.
how long this never lasts is still undecided,
but it’s definitely outdone today.
tomorrow probably, too.
the sublime already shattered this illusion a million times over,
yet we keep getting lost in the bliss of our release.
pills and potions numb the pain triggered by the inkling of such knowledge.
tattooed philosophies and dreams of romance bridge the gap,
as we rise up and turn to blindly scale the mountain;
bound once more to the karmic conveyor belt that delivers us ceaselessly back
to the vortex of our own discontentment.
Tat Tvam Asi.
and in the sudden truth of that blinding flash,
we free-fall headfirst in wonder as we transcend the flatland of this torrid charade.
and, one fine morning.
one fine morning,
we will once again bask in the glory of our communion.
i etch out this oath to you in the tears of my own blood.

Friday, 9 September 2016

I live here now

climb the stairs to my home.
sit down where my soul is bathed in the light that is often too strong for me to bear.
look out through the door to an alien nature that scares me.
laugh at the distractions I use to cover the walls I don't want to look beyond.
notice the places where it all merges together with your references to this side of the other.
walk with me into the garden which is off limits to exploration,
but where the water runs
as cold and soft
for me
as it would for you and your friends.
gaze up from the forest floor to the falling sun that barely touches us.
read words of church that I too would love to emulate,
take as my own,
and shine upon you,
and everybody else beneath this passing light.
touch my hand and lie still beneath the magnificent portent of tomorrow.
for better
or worse.
blessed in the stratum of every single one if its magical possibilities.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Fiction: Early Murmur draft at Unlikely Stories 2.0

the girl
We smoked a last joint outside the club and got inside as the bands were starting up. Apolo wasn't designed for concerts, but more as a ballroom, and its attractive but inconvenient booths, and railings that separated the dance floor, meant that people were splayed around the room in various positions and poses. We settled behind one of the wooden railings close to the overflowing dance floor, which gave a good vantage point from which to see the stage and also doubled as a leaning post as the beer and hash began to play together.
The Blues Explosion powered into their set and the room filled with the warm damp smell of sweat and smoke. The people in the crowd were all fans and the excitement was tangible in the heat that scoured the room. The band flew intermittently into view through the to-the-beat lighting; flashes of blue, red, white and green throwing blankets over the room, illuminating in silhouettes the band up on the small stage and the bobbing heads in the sea of people all around. I didn't know the band, but the sound, the energy and the atmosphere they produced, pulled me into the show. The whole room moved together in a perfect unison of chaos-music, light, heat and every movement controlled by one collective consciousness. To my right, Joan rocked, eyes closed and Roger gripped me by the shoulders, shouting, "Joder, Sam! Ellos son de puta madre!"
Abandonment, freedom, enjoyment. Life. My hands on the splintered wooden rail in front of me, I rocked more and more to the crushing flow of the wild noise that tore out from the stage. I became fixated on the drummer, afraid he would disappear and the music stop as the lights fell, leaving a black void in their absence, and my head lolled grossly back toward the ceiling. Bang, bang, bang. White, red, white. The drummer pounded the taut skins in front of him as though willing them to come back to life. Afraid, I tried to shift my gaze to the front man, but I was drawn back inexorably to the unremitting punishment being delivered by the drummer. Rocking faster and faster upon my axis on the rail, the heat billowed up in a gust of red light. Bang, bang, bang. The drummer slowed, Joan opened his eyes and I saw his profile in a skeletal x-ray, Roger gripped my shoulders but this time there was no shout. White, white, white. Black.
I didn't hit the floor. My spasmodic rocking had alerted Joan and Roger to my state, and Roger had pulled me back as I dived forward and over the railing toward the floor. I didn't hit the floor but I had gone for a few seconds. For a few beautiful moments all the noise and the heat had been left behind. It came back quickly but at a distance, as though everything was submerged in water.
Joan and Roger had supported me out of the main room, bought me a bottle of water, and gone back in to enjoy the concert, leaving me standing alone at the bar. I could stand, but my eyes refused to open. My mind was back to the madness of reality but my body wanted to stay with the fall. Sips of water felt good and brought some relief to my skin that was tingling like it had been through a bush of nettles. I knew that the bar staff, and people passing to the bathrooms were looking at me and laughing, but I didn't care. I felt amazing inside and my outward appearance was of little importance.
– Éstas bien?
– How do I look?
– Jodido.
– Well, I can't open my eyes to check, but I believe you. "Jodido", that's not very nice language for a lady.
– Qué pedo, wey? A lady? You're English, right?
– Yeah, I think so. Most things are pretty unclear right now though. 5 minutes ago I embraced and dived into oblivion, and now I'm blind at the bar talking to a Mexican.
– How do you know I'm Mexican?
– "Qué pedo, wey?" Only Mexicans say that, wey!
– You're weird.
– Thanks.
– Do you want to take a shot of tequila with me? It will help you to see again.
She smelled good. Her hands were delicate but firm as she held my own to cover the nape between my thumb and forefinger in salt, then place the chunk of lemon between my fingers. My body still shaking, I picked up the shot glass of tequila and she touched my arm to calm me and told me tranquilo or I would spill the good Mexican drink. Ok. Ready. Salt. Tequila. Lemon. Bang.
Inside my throat bile welled up in sickly reaction to the acrid power of the shot. I wanted to throw up, but my disdain for outward appearances didn't stretch that far. I swallowed back the temptation and took another bite of the lemon. My eyes screwed up at its bitterness, which then forced them open rapidly. Eyes flickering open to closed, adjusting themselves back to the impact of the brightly lit bar, the noise from the band and the people redistributed itself around me and I came up from my sea of darkness for a new taste of this dirty air.
– Are you ok?
The girl was looking at me, unconvinced and answering her own question; her right eye brow arched into a sharp V of doubt. She was beautiful. Silk black hair cut a sharp angle across the top of her face (one single strand had fallen loose and over her left eye) and came down tight and harsh behind her left ear, forcing me to follow it down toward her neck- elegant and proud, a small dark freckle halfway down. Small, red, slightly chapped lips. Dead black eyes. Brown but only at second glance. A glance that was hard to take as the eyes didn't invite you in. Eyes that were difficult to meet until she smiled and I didn't have to.
– Otro chupito de tequila?
– Why not.
Joan jumped on me from behind, stinking of alcohol, sweat and smoke, wild with the energy from the show that had just finished. Roger put his arms around us both and we all fell down together on to the dirty floor in front of the bar. As we struggled back up to our feet, Roger whispered to me, "Qué carbon! Quién es ésta chica?"
– Come on, shouted Joan. Let's go on and party at the flat. I'm fucking happy. I love you all.
The party was crazy. The 3 other guys we shared the flat with had also been out and had brought their friends home. As we zigzagged our way back up through the city on foot, we met 4 Russians and added them to our group; 3 girls and a guy who looked exactly like a famous German football goalkeeper. The flat was full of different nationalities and personalities. Joan produced tins of paint from his room and announced that the living room wall needed painting. Drunken people covered in paint, filled the wall with images and messages — SEX and LOVE being spelt out the loudest in metre-high letters in turquoise paint. A video camera captured the whole thing forever and was probably never seen again by anybody.
– Hey Inglés. I'm going to go.
– Inglés! Have you forgotten my name already?
– No, SAM, of course I haven't. I just got used to everybody else here talking about el loco Inglés!
– Ha. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing to be known as.
– I think it's good, it suits you.
– Anyway, why are you trying to run off so quickly?
– There are too many people here. It's too hot, I need some air.
– Air? I know where there's a load of that. Let's go up to the roof. Come on, follow me.
Inside the city nights never fell to black the way they were meant to. Either the sun didn't go far enough away, or the moon got too near, but nights in Barcelona never meant blackness. In place of the dark, there was a dull red glow that bathed the city at night, presenting the people and all the things under the sky as indeterminate copies and hues of the things they represented under the daylight of the sun. Things were beautiful and distant in this light but they needed to be touched twice for you to be sure that they were really there.
– Mira qué bonita es la cuidad. Your home, Pocohantas!
– Cute. Have you already forgotten my name?
– No, but I don't know how to say it properly.
– M-I-X-T-L-I. Think of the word mist in English.
– It's beautiful. Does it mean anything in English?
– In English, no. It's Azteca. I am Azteca. Mixtli is the Goddess of the moon.
– Well, I'm honoured to be in the presence of a Goddess.
– Thank you. I like my name. It's the only positive thing I ever received from my Grandfather. The pendejo who picked it.
– Pendejo?
– Asshole. My Grandfather the great Mexican hero. The general who would be proud to tell you that he once entertained Juan and Eva Peron at our family's summer home. Puto pendejo.
– So you don't get on well with your family.
– Oh, yes. We're the Mexican Brady Bunch. My Grandfather would probably be less wiling to tell you that he told his only son he believes his granddaughter to be a prostitute.
– Shit, that's tough. When were you last back there?
– I ran away from there more than five years ago, when I was sixteen, and I haven't been back since.
The eyes that were so hard to meet at the bar were not so intimidating under the ghoulish light on the roof. Mixtli turned her back on me and looked out over the city she was still a stranger to. She was just a thin wisp of a girl but standing there looking out blindly over the edge of the roof, she gave off a dark, angry strength that joined seamlessly with the strange night that enveloped us both. I stepped forward and placed my hand on her shoulder, unsure how she would react. She softened, let her neck fall slightly back toward my grip and continued to stare out over the city and into the distance.
– Y tu, Inglés. Qué haces aquí? Apart from passing out in public places.
– I don't do a lot. Read, watch films, go out, drink.
– Nice life, but what do you do for money?
– That's boring. Not worth us wasting breath on.
– Oh, ok, so you're too good for work like everybody else?
– Maybe.
– Haha. A thinker, then. A frustrated artist.
– Yes. I'm actually in training to be a clown. I want to grow up to be Henry Miller.
– Ok, so I can be Anaïs Nin.
– Well, you could try.
– But you must need a muse.
– Why, would you like to be mine?
– Maybe.
She turned back to face me and I tried to see through the wall that was the solid mass of those eyes, trying to get some indication as to whether this was real, or just another pretentious dance between two strangers playing their respective roles, showing off to their new expectant crowd of one.
– Would you like to walk me home?
Mixtli lived out of town; a walk and six Metro stations from where I lived. As she went to walk down the steps of the Metro I called her tonta and said that I thought we had only to walk to get to her place. She stopped dead, her face froze over in anger and she unleashed a flurry of Mexican Spanish at me that I couldn't understand, but whose message I could not fail to comprehend. I walked after her down to the track, asking her to explain what it was that she was so upset about.
– I go home now. Vete, ya! It's better if you go back to yours too. You don't call me that, ok. Just because you think you're smart, because you've read a lot of big books and been to University. I don't care, nobody calls me that.
I had understood tonta to translate to silly in English, and was glad I hadn't used the first Spanish word that had come to mind, estupida. I looked at her standing there, after her diatribe. A soft down of sweat had covered her forehead in the small space between her hair and her thin eyebrows. Five minutes behind me there was a party, full of my friends and other pretty girls, and I was standing on the Metro being shouted at for making an innocent remark. I looked her up and down and wondered whether this was really going to be worth the effort. Mixtli stood opposite from me, staring, fighting against her own anger but refusing to back down. The lights of the station flickered overhead, the tunnel behind filled with noise from the impending arrival of the old blue line train, I apologised, wiped the line of sweat from her brow, reached for her hand and walked with her onto the train.
Mixtli's room was small and untidy. Clothes covered the bed and the small amount of available floor space. A little wooden desk covered with drawing pencils and a large closed pad, and an overflowing ashtray, stood on the right hand side of the room against the wall. On the left there was a single bed, the mattress made up but lying on the ground. Three or four shelves on the walls above the desk and bed gave extra storage space, and were filled with photos, a Snoopy doll, CDs and candles. A large Frida Kahlo self-portrait print depicting the artist naked but mangled, her body meshed with the metal a lifetime of operations had left with her with, was hung in an expensive looking frame on the left hand wall. A small window looked onto the interior of the building. Opened up, recurring, retching coughs could be heard and the bitter antiseptic smell of ointments and illness filled the air.
In the morning, in the kitchen before I left, she jumped on me, wrapping her legs around my waist and arms around my neck, burying her head up against my neck, then whispered into my ear.
– Eres mi cocodrilo. That is what you reminded me off last night when you opened your eyes at the bar — a crocodile. When you leave, I'm going to draw you a picture. It'll be the picture of how I saw you at the bar. It is for you, but I will never show it to you.


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Our Coffee Temple, Pushkar


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Non-Fiction: La Paz Collective

I have 14 tattoos now. Sorry, mum. The last one I did last night with my brother and skilled artist Aaron Walsh. This was the third piece of art I’ve been fortunate enough to receive from this true friend after we did two earlier beautiful pieces at the Sai Baba Hotel in Pushkar when we were both staying there in December.

Just two days before working with Aaron last night, I’d spent the best part of the last two weeks working with another friend on a purely organic and unique 25 hour arm piece. I laid out on the porch of my room at Kudle Beach beside the ocean and Oliver poked every single piece of ink individually onto my arm forever.

With Aaron the work was spontaneous and simple but incredibly important for me in terms of the significance of the symbols and the word they represent.

It was something I had wanted to do for years and now all of that is infinitely more special because he was the one who inked it in. In spite of the importance of what was being set into my skin, we couldn’t help but laugh our way through most of the whole session because that’s what happens when two really good friends just hang out. In his small hot room, with me lying under the pink mosquito net, my hand stretched out to be held by his, Aaron rocking the head light, and us both wearing very little clothing, there was definitely a strong Village People vibe being given off; at least until a pair of angels turned up with a couple of cold beers. It was fun and later we all went out together and got pissed.

With Oliver it was an almost mythical experience.

Oliver doesn’t have a single tattoo on his body, but he is a pure artist and was trained by some serious tattoo masters at the time we both met in the Himalayas six summers ago. When our paths finally crossed again here, we talked a little about what we wanted to get out of the experience then I let him draw free hand onto my skin in white paint the design that we would later turn into the tattoo. I told him nothing about what I needed in terms of philosophy or style and just let him get on with it. I put pure trust in his ability to create and to connect with me as a friend.

The result is an incredible monument to the effort he put into it and the time we spent together just going with the flow while under the shade of the coconut trees we worked away as the waves crashed against the rock less than ten metres away. Friends came and went at various points of the day to drink and smoke with us. People we didn’t even know properly would offer to bring us cushions, or food and drink from the restaurant. It was an incredible experience and on at least four almost other worldly occasions time literally stopped for us both. It was amazing and before he headed off up the road again, on a 36 hour train journey to Orissa, we hugged it all out.

Every one of my tattoos tells its own tale.

For my first piece I blacked out onto the floor mid-session after smoking a joint in the car before we went up to the studio. The magnificent cover job over that same piece was done by the hand of the best and most beautiful of all Barcelona tattoo artists, Soledad Aznar. The Goa pieces. My Sisyphus. Buddha facing down one of the Hungry Ghosts. My ripped off heart from Andy Warhol to mark the most intense and insane relationship I ever had in Rio de Janeiro one summer. They warned us to stay far apart but I flew to her anyway and It was worth every second. The same eternal seconds that tell my grandmother who brought me up, and who I could not get back in time to touch and talk to one last time before she passed, that the words written in her native Irish tongue on my wrist lift me up and carry me on her strength and love every single day.

My tattoos are a road map that remind where I came from, where i’ve been, who I was with, what I did, and where I need to keep heading towards. These feelings are heavy for me right now because I wear coconut oil as I write this and the ink on my arms is still to dry out, but it is also equally true that I believe tattoos can be random, fun, and sometimes just plain silly.

A crazy French friend of mine here told me about how one night he had to sleep in a car. He was bored, had a tattoo gun, some ink, and decided to randomly hook up the machine to the cigarette lighter and drunkenly etch Made In France to the bottom of his foot, just because he felt like it. A beautiful Israeli angel I know has a weird little space ship tattooed onto the base of her spine. She did it in El Borne in Barcelona and doesn’t even remember where exactly she went to get it done, or even why she did it.

And that is the thing about tattoos.

You get them impulsively on the road when travelling and realising that you are in the midst of an incredibly special moment that needs etching onto your skin forever. Or it can be a piece painstakingly designed and doubted over for years by your own hand until on the exact right moment when the stars align it is finally and uniquely delivered to your body. Or they are words or symbols, irrelevant to others, that you know need to resonate on your outside because you feel the same thing a hundred times as strong in the depth of your soul. And then there is simply happenstance. The heart-stopping beauty of an image you see in a temple or a gallery. Or the flower blossom you watched fall from a tree and land at your feet in Japan. Six simple words from a song you hear sung in a language not your own on a beach in Paradise. The best, magical moments, thoughts, or ideals of your life you know you must be reminded of daily for the rest of it.

It’s no coincidence that 13 of my 14 tattoos have been made on the road. There is something about the transient nature of travelling or living in a place not of your birth that reminds us that our days are forever passing too quickly and that one way or another we should always be looking to leave our mark. A tattoo announces that sentiment to the world for the rest of your life, but the journey never ends.