Phantasmagoria

I saw paradise in her eyes

Eden before the fall

free of snake or thorn

innocence recaptured

through such beauty

 

I stare at her shadow

which slowly overwhelms my soul

any feeble pretence

swept away by truth

 

All too much for one man’s heart

rose of Sharon – lilly of the valley

adorned in jewels

feet of gold

words formless – eluding me…

 

Like that brief silence

in no man’s land

when barrages ceased

before whistles blown

then over the top

to be felled by lead

drowned in mud

 

Ultimate transubstantiation

pitiful cries to God – for Mother

paradise eyes returns

slowly dropping daisies

into my dreams

pulchritudinous – Stendhal syndromatic!

 

My Rosebud – snow globe breaker

I am confused, lost, floating

in a sea of idealistic isolation

clinging only to the

eternal lifebelt of hope….

 

 

© MC Bolton, June 2019

 

 

globe

Acid Rain

Untitled_Artwork

 

What is my reality?

life’s music taking me further away

from what I see – understand

maybe think I know!

I stand amongst

the ruins of civilization

flames all around

time has ceased

forever trapped in this dystopian nightmare

never to die or sleep

 

Yet somehow I have found contentment

peace within myself

accepting my lot

grateful for what I have

not envious of the material rich

their path – never mine

Perhaps once for a time?

 

Acid rain now melting my face

like a waxwork

destroyed by thermite

laughing inwardly

as I become one with the soil

to be moulded again

by God’s hand

into the man

I should have been….

 

© MC Bolton, June 2019

Art © OGCZ 2019

Going Back to the Long Man

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To walk upon the South Downs

a pilgrim searching for a dream

the carousel inside my head still rotating

listening to the Byrds

Turn! Turn! Turn!

Eight miles high

I am 13 again

all my problems are in front of me…

 

When loons were jeans

not a derogatory term

to describe pitiful souls

shouting in the street

at unseen phalanxes

marching without mercy inside their tortured minds…

 

Welcome home old man Jones

Once “boyo” of these valleys

Is this Vegas? Or my own personal Nam!

Peace badges – flowers

Puff the magic dragon

spewing death in lead showers…

 

Kyle parading toothless jello-bellied monsters

to be mocked and baited

in front of those

whose mouths are as un-potty trained

as the children they send to school wearing nappies!

 

My working class – I weep for you…

led by Instagram’s pied piper

to nirvana in reverse…

Once cannon fodder for wars

now we fight each other

eternal gladiators of doom

forever kept in poverty

making the best of Primark couture…

 

Hearts of lions – yet forever poor

stuck in a chimney like a Victorian sweep’s child

While Labour’s Johnny ragers

left lighting fires – underneath those

it should be saving – yet despises

Perceived as knuckle-dragging,

pitchfork torch-holding,

racist Islamophobes

 

The truth oh! so different

but that doesn’t fit your ideology…

My freedom found upon these Downs

awaiting nightfall – to spy Orion’s belt

sitting at the Wilmington Giant’s feet

dreaming of returning to Lewes

My childhood home…

 

© MC Bolton, May 2019

Night Daleks

I felt the anger

Saw hatred in your eyes

Slowly walking towards us –

like a couple of Western gunslingers…

Watching my movements

Waiting for a careless word

to justify your extreme violence

Yet there was only silence

As we passed each other like ghosts

taking our tension to another dimension

knowing I am everything you despise

my mixed race daughter by my side

the ultimate racial traitor

must be exterminated!

 

Agents of the right

daleks of the night

What was that all about Dad?

Are those men truly bad?

these times really sad?

Pulling her close – tight – tight – tighter

would have made a stand

like an old prize fighter

but I am no Tyson Fury,

Judge, or their jury!

Understood the stares – glares – unfounded fears

which will end with us all drowning

under a waterfall of tears…………

 

movie-daleks
Image from here

© M.C. Bolton, April 2019

 

Monochrome Dystopia

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From Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la lune) 1902

 

Words run through my head

like a freight train

everything looks like a Fritz Lang film

or Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage Dans la Lume

 

It’s all in black and white

the moon has a rocket in its eye…

smoke and rushing…

Caps, ties, shirts with removable collars

shoe shine boys – paper sellers

non-playable characters

Forever trapped in a Peaky Blinders video game…

 

Yet I cannot form a sentence

grasp an idea – formulate a first line

to hang my literary clothing upon to dry…

Dead relatives flirt with modern day girlfriends!

over soup and tea…

I’m shocked by their candour

Felix the Cat purrs

as it entangles its legs

inside my mind

Its claws scratching my skull

 

Oh! Just to grasp the tangible-secure

to tie this drifting ship

floating on a lake

without water or shore

Feeling so lost – but so amazed

astonished within my own imagination

without need for chemicals or alcohol…

Petrol to the poetic cause

Many destroyed who chose this path

of angst and anguish!

 

Forever falling deeper into despair

that washes up yesterday’s hopes – dreams

like the ebbing tide of Father Thames

exposing without pity the weakness

of those that don’t fit into any jig-saw

Completing a picture of damnation

 

Like an eel I slither back into the river

lost in its depths with old bikes

destined never to be ridden again!

drifting further out to sea

knowing not purpose or destiny

Forever grateful I drowned not in the ocean of bland

 

© Mark Bolton

Ode to Hereward

Tonight the chariots

are running through my head

destroying without mercy…

 

Truly my crime is great,

for in dreams and visions

I have spied the promised land…

 

Scales dropping from internal eyes

like dead men’s pennies

snatched by the Styx ferryman…

Freedom gained through truth

Jericho walls of falsehood, delusion, illusion

crashing down

 

Seeking refuge in the sea of reeds

for a year and a day

my home with birds…

Pursuers now vanishing

like mist over the Fen

melted by the morning sun

 

The great Wake rising

his fire burning within my soul

refining – purifying

cauterizing greed’s gangrene

of the noble lie

where introspection is reduced

to echo-chamber confirmations

inside the minds of those that rule

 

Babylon’s cruelty thriving

in the darkest hearts of men

devoid of conscience, love or pity…

 

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Picture from twitter.com/wakehereward

 

M.C. Bolton, February 2019

The Unholy Trinity & Writing in Kensington

The Un-holy Trinity

Writing about life in Kensington sometimes creates friction with Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC), the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Association (KCTMO) and the Westway Trust. The three constitute what has been referred to locally as the Unholy Trinity.

Roles & Responsibilities

RBKC is the local government, responsible for provision of many public services and dominated by councillors from the Conservative party, which retained control of the Town Hall by winning the local election in May 2018. For years the political leadership of RBKC has been dominated by moneyed property speculators who have sought to sell off North Kensington’s public assets, such as its library, youth club and college.

KCTMO is an Arms-Length Management Organisation and was given control of the borough’s 9,000 social housing properties from 1996. It was taken in-house, back to RBKC, after the Grenfell Tower fire; KCTMO staff now work in the same roles but use council, rather than TMO, email addresses. KCTMO is being maintained as a legal entity at a high cost to residents so that it can participate in the Grenfell inquiry.

The Westway Trust is responsible for ensuring the mile of land under the A40 flyover in North Kensington is used for the benefit of the local population who suffer from the noise, darkness and pollution imposed by the Westway.

 

 

 

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Power & Mortality

The three institutions form a power establishment in the north of the borough. Between them they have the keys to properties and can move families out of London; they hold the purse strings for many charities, small businesses and community projects. Senior positions at all three tend to be held by people with a capitalistic approach and a natural class bias for maintaining the status quo.

History has shown that their agendas overlap and, on their watch, Kensington is “the most unequal borough in Britain,” not an abstract fact: here in North Kensington we men live for 22 years fewer than the wealthier men in the south of the borough.

Writing in Kensington and possessing a modicum of socio-economic or political consciousness requires awareness of how the trinity impact the population.

Paradoxical

It is important to explain the phrase Unholy Trinity as it is a pronoun for three paradoxical institutions. All three are significant local employers: the council has well over 2,000 staff; KCTMO over 200 and Westway Trust approximately 100 (these figures do not include casual or contracted-in workers). They also provide vital services, sometimes effectively. Within each of the three organisations are fine and noble people, but the Trinity have not only failed to alleviate chronic poverty but have added to the misery in North Kensington.

Despite the misery, they carry on. The council has weathered the political storm after the Grenfell fire, mainly by playing silly and propagating corporate waffle about ‘change’ and ‘stronger communities’. Nobody in North Ken believes it, but they have no way to reject it. The government’s taskforce that oversees RBKC on behalf of the Home Secretary offered only token criticisms in its latest report which was a whitewash serving only to veil RBKC’s ineptitude. The property parasites of RBKC have proved ignorant and unteachable when it comes to the rich culture and dynamic potential of North Kensington making them less useful to the area than his fleas are to a dog.

KCTMO has been absorbed into the council, along with thousands of outstanding repair jobs it couldn’t carry out, despite £11 million a year of public money. And the Westway Trust’s 2018 keystone cops AGM was a mess, with allegations already carried over from previous years going unanswered. Every establishment, profiteering instinct of the decision makers within the Unholy Trinity leads them to mess up big time in North Kensington and it is not possible to shame them into improving.

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Look closely: KCTMO cover up

Many staff members at these institutions are comfortable with constructive criticism of their big bosses, and often agree, but others get jittery when local writers consistently, accurately identify the seriousness of the failings and when the finger of blame points steadily at those whose doctrines have done so much damage to the people they are paid to serve.

Lancaster West – Urban Dandy

Urban Dandy started off in 2011 covering art, music, local businesses and whatever else we felt like talking about. Jen, Angel and I were always philosophical, ear-to-the-street, socially and politically conscious types though.

The blog was conceived on Lancaster West estate, which probably set in train the trajectory Urban Dandy has taken. In the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, in a climate of rage and truth, no issues were raised about our comments on the local power system. Now, in the post-Grenfell world, it’s different; people have adjusted their minds to circumstances that would have been unthinkable before 2017. Being sensitive to the times, it was inevitable that if we kept writing we’d come up against the Unholy Trinity.

 

 

 

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The Masque of Empathy

It is painful to write but what we see now in North Kensington is a gravy train about to smash into the buffers. Profiteers motivated by personal gain, not limited to the business or political classes, have cashed in on tragedy. Integrity has been trumped by fear of missing out, not helped by the panic-stricken local authority almost literally throwing money (£400 million and counting) at the community, to maintain the established order, rather than investing in people to transform standards of living and create opportunities.

Financial corruption in the third sector, corruption of the minds of those who are first to proclaim their piety, adds to the corruption so obvious in the upper echelons of the council and KCTMO. The perversions possibly peaked with the presence of the leader of the council on the monthly silent walk for Grenfell. Her deputy feels relaxed enough to poke fun at those who attend council meetings to demand justice. Eighteen months is an infinitude in politics.

‘Change’ at RBKC amounts to a masquerade of empathy for which they are sent on training courses, funded by residents.

The Masque of Anarchy

Back to the blog, and when Mark joined us, we had London’s greatest poet, the perfect foil for news stories and the op-eds. Philosophical, social and poetic. Perhaps something is stirring in England, but in Kensington, the Royal borough, the Unholy Trinity still decides the life chances of many families and the council has a democratic mandate for power.

What to do? Blogging, or citizen journalism, is the fourth estate in this borough. Temporarily, Urban Dandy is the only show in town outside of the social media echo chamber. We hope we won’t be alone for long though: others cannot be matched for their assiduousness; and one local blog takes the fight to the Unholy Trinity almost daily.

Rage, though it manifests in our words, was never the purpose of Urban Dandy and it won’t chew us up. The power system endures because it was designed to, that is a fact of life but we remain philosophical, knowing that big doors swing on small hinges.

Massacre

The second centenary of the Peterloo massacre is marked by Joyce Marlow’s brilliant, authoritative book. Making use of all that was published in Lancashire and across Britain at the time, she tracks the fear among the ruling elite of revolution in England and the spirited, non-violent call for dignified living conditions in Manchester that was turned into a massacre of its own people by the British army. The book also tells the story after the massacre as the population is subjugated by the state’s control of the courts, parliament, media and arms. In 2119, we hope historians researching the atrocity in North Kensington find our blog and recognise an honest account.

Stepping back and renewing is the early year theme of the poetry, articles and art on the blog, as we mop up the chaos of 2018 and look forward.

The anarchy we glimpsed in Summer 2017 has given way to the old order, and it is a great sadness that an alternative system for North Kensington has not been established. A mechanism to enable the community to make its own decisions in its own interests, which briefly seemed possible, is not even discussed any more. Squabbles and petty ambitions dominate North Kensington while the privileged, dividend-collectors at RBKC relax, bloated by their success. 

Like any logical article, even a stream of consciousness comes full circle. In this case back to the Unholy Trinity. We’ve ignored the murmurs of discontent about our work and started 2019 with an insider account of alleged Westway Trust corruption and a serious look at the abuse of the word ‘change’ by RBKC. We’ll write whatever we feel like writing about and might step back from covering North Kensington’s Unholy Trinity quagmire. But stepping back means having a better view of the whole picture, and their injustice will remain on our radar…

 

By Tom Charles @tomhcharles