Life and War with Mikey Fatboy Delgado
Thursday, April 14, 2016
 
The story of the Famous Five and the Arab boy

A Companion Reader to the Chilcot Report
Can't wait for the Chilcot Report? 
Can't wait to reckon the price of blood?
Read the Unofficial Appendix while you wait.
A snapshot of the state of the nation back then.

"The story of a boy who wanted to wear Levi jeans
and a cowboy hat and to be taken seriously by

the big boys. The story of the Famous Five
and the Arab boy." ---- Blyton's Believe it or Not


The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Amazon.co.uk £7.99
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Before Hutton, before Butler, before Chilcot,
Mikey Fatboy Delgado was looking into the matter...
In the spring of 2003 the Iraq war is underway and
Mikey is almost all in favour of it. It makes for good
television and is improving his sex life. If only the BBC
would sort out those green pictures of fighting in the
dark he might even be prepared to cough up for a licence.
And if only corrupt policing and the amount that Blair grins
weren't so unsettling he would be able to relax and enjoy
watching the highlights of the fighting more.

***************

“Saddam has bitten the kids and pissed on
the mat and eaten our ganja and he won’t
stop fucking barking, so bosh, ta-ta, thanks
for all the fish, and fucking goodnight Irene.
Your services are no longer required, Saddam.
You are going up the motorway, pal.”


***********************





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Wednesday, April 13, 2016
 
Visiting Dean

 By the road to the mental hospital
a guy on the wall calls across to us
 that he’s starring in a Chinese movie
about the exploits of a gang of bandits.
He says he’s reading a book called Knots.

Mindful of the long corridor
we still have to walk to the secure ward
I call back that life’s a scream
and he opens his shirt to show to the sun
the tattoos he’d done when he’d come undone.

 Haha, he howls, life’s a scream.
That’s true that is mate. I’ll put that here.
And he draws a circle with his fingers
around where he thinks his heart should be,
next to the blue inked words Man is born free.

The long corridor is quiet. The floor
somehow sucks up the sounds of our shoes
and everyone we pass looks beatific.
On the other side of the secure door
they look at us like rabbits might look at war.

 Dean is mellow. Never tell them what you know,
he whispers as we pass into the garden.
He stretches on the grass and we take the bench.
Everything has form and content, he says.
When we go wrong the form contains the mess.

And the blue mottled clouds that hold rain
which once fell on Rutherford, New Jersey,
start to wash over us. Clean my sins away,
begs Dean, holding his arms open wide.
We smiled for him in there. When we left we cried.

--
from the anthology Southernmost Point Guest House --

**
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
 
Essential Work Material
----
Monday, March 14, 2016
 
 




















Protecting the Commanding Heights of the Economy – A Torturer’s Poems
by Anon, forthcoming in 2016 from Pink Panther Acid

While I was setting up the recorder for our interview Anon glanced without invitation
at my typed notes.
– This is problematic.
He pointed to the second sentence of my notes where I’d stated “He was a torturer for
the government.”
Anon is frank. He was a torturer for the government.
– But all that means to say is that my wages came from the public purse. As far as I was
concerned, as far as we were all concerned, I think, or I thought, we were working on your
behalf, on behalf of the people, safeguarding what we like to call democracy. Of course I
know now that our function was merely to inflict pain on strangers, on other mothers’ sons,
on the off-chance that we might thereby protect the commanding heights of the economy
and our ruling class. But let’s be clear, we are all collaborators. As the law now stands if
you are not a collaborator you are ripe for torture, or worse.

During intermissions in the torture process Anon would write. That is how this book came
into being. The first poem he wrote (and the last poem in this collection) starts..

In places the torturer can sound like
some sort of poet. He says so himself.

He made the poem (An instructor in C— B—–) immediately after a lecture he and his fellow
torturers had attended. During the course of that lecture the torture instructor had exhorted his
cohort to not lose sight of the “fact” that both reading or producing poetry, and safeguarding
democracy by any means necessary, are absolutely compatible.

-We learned to believe that it’s possible to be both [torturer and poet]. That it’s possible to be
absolutely anything, and any combination of absolutely anything. That whatever it is it’s all right.
That whatever vileness which might be inexcusable and arrestable elsewhere is tolerable if in the
apologia for it the word democracy is sprinkled.

Anon notes in the poem the most terrible human exhalations that...

It’s possible to muse, for instance, that

from these rooms only sighs and screams escape.
It’s possible to believe that they are
made to flee the body on your behalf.
Even something as terrible as a
scream, which he has spent lifetimes subduing
and suppressing, cannot bear to remain
within his body when the torturer
is doing his work on your behalf.
His screams breed like rats, they breed inside the
body impregnated by your torture.
The more screams I bring into the world the
more are born elsewhere.

As is now well known the twist in the torturer’s tale is that Anon became a whistleblower and
fearing arrest and consignment to the network of secret prisons and torture rooms that dot the
globe he went on the run and is wanted for punishment.

– In our unit the work was done in that half-darkness that is calm and quiet apart from screams.

There is sometimes a ringing and we will
turn our attention from him and we lift
our small blue screens to the side of our face
and illuminate in blue the harsh bones
and muscles of our heads which form and shape
and change like corn in erratic gusts and
breezes the silhouette of his torture.

(from Taking a call from my wife while I’m killing a man)

These days Anon says he looks at people with their phones to their heads, and automatically thinks
don’t hurt me. He says this plea is most fervent in the half-dark and the dark, when he sees blue
faces and screenlit eyes in the gloom. He says he doesn’t say it aloud. It’s more of a prayer, and he
knows it will be merely co-incidental if it works. He says he knows that people have no mercy and
that everyone does a job and can’t think about it and what pain there might be in it for others, direct
or oblique.

They can’t afford to think about it. They
sell poisonous food. They scan barcodes and
ask if you need help packing the poison
into poisonous bags. People work for
poisoners. People work for the people
killing their children. People work in our
government offices and make peoples’
lives a misery. People work and their
work neglects other people. Why would these
people here have any mercy or thought
of mercy for me? I’ve done it myself.

(from Crating up chickens for slaughter in darkened sheds)

-I was a coward. At the start another torturer could see I was floundering. He said if you think
of them as lives you won’t be able to do this job. If you think of them as beating hearts you
will fail our country. You must think of them as oranges, as I do, or as something else.

He said I shouldn’t think about it if I broke their legs stuffing them into the plastic restraints in
that half-lighting. He said I should think nothing of it if their breathing stopped. He said I shouldn’t
sorrow at their deaths. I remember liking at the time that he’d used sorrow as a verb.

Now, in this long intermission in the torture process, Anon does sorrow. Here in M—— he is aware
of everything; the man on the phone, the muscles in his face and the flutter in his throat, scenes from
the past that arise in these intermissions, faces that he hasn’t recalled for thirty years, the boy who died
when he was six.

We didn’t sorrow for him then, or for
his mother. From that day forward
when we thought of him it wasn’t his death
or even him that we remembered, but
our terror of the word leukaemia.

(from we didn’t sorrow for him then)

-In the torture room, as in life, things of beauty dumbfound us. Only sighs escape. These sighs are given
off from what has coalesced in us, and has been silent and impatient for contact. In that way beauty drains
us of our small cries. It’s a gentler torture.

Anon in his recounting of the lives of himself and his fellow torturers says the writing of them feels
something like a loner’s furtive masturbation. He also knows that is how many will want to portray
it, to discredit it, to de-validate it. He says….
-I look back and see myself huddled there in the network, doing my job, not sorrowing, fantasy
streaming from me along with inadequacy, immaturity.

Of all the species what other animal’s outpouring would lead to that room?
Equally what other species’ outpourings lead to the bookshop and the critics knife. And which
critics will take the knife to Anon’s outpourings without
any sorrowing, on our behalf.
Plenty I expect.
We will see.

...................
Monday, February 29, 2016
 
The Song of Lunch
From The Song of Lunch - Christopher Reid


It’s an ordinary day
in a publishing house
of ill repute.
Another moronic manuscript
comes crashing down the chute
to be turned into art.
This morning it was Wayne Wanker’s
latest dog’s dinner
of sex, teenage philosophy
and writing-course prose.
Abracadabra, kick it up the arse –
and out it goes
to be Book of the Week
or some other bollocks.
What a fraud. What a farce.
And tomorrow: who knows
which of our geniuses
will escape from the zoo
and head straight for us
with a new masterpiece
lifeless in his jaws.


---------
Wednesday, December 02, 2015
 
Queen and Country / Letter



On Laughing Mushrooms we were,
all of us, except for 
London Mikey the black boy,
and the lieutenant,
a posh cunt
on anti-depressants.

And patrolling out there
on the same street where
the guy who got killed two days before
was in his house, in his coffin,
on the front room table,
and in the middle of his forehead
a tiny tiny blue bruise...
and I’m telling you now,
you wouldn’t know he was dead,
you’d think the box was his bed
not that he’d gone down dead into the gutter
where twisted like that
he looked like he’d just got tired
of throwing stones
and had dropped down and curled up
and gone off to sleep,
not that one of us had shot the rubber bullet
straight at his Irish head
instead of into the ground in front of his feet.

And two days later down his street
the acid started to bubble through
as strong as ten bears
just as it all went twisted
like that bit where
at the end of Bonnie and Clyde
those birds get spooked
and all you can hear is flapping wings
and birds getting the fuck out of those trees
and they look at each other, Warren Beatty
and that blonde piece,
and you can see them thinking what the fuck is this?
this is fucking it…


 and I don’t know what did it to us that day,
perhaps a car backfired, or some cunt pulled a stunt
with a firework, but we hit the floor man
and shot up the fucking street with live fire,
right, left, and fucking centre.
And Dave from Swansea,
a big fat Swansea Jack bastard
was screaming bandits! bandits! bandits!
and everyone else screaming screaming screaming
about the fucking Pope and Irish cunts.
And where one minute that poor fucker was laid out
ready for the cemetery
in his Sunday best
looking like he’d had enough politics for one day
and had slipped into his box for a little sleep,
the next minute the lieutenant’s screaming
hold your fire! hold your fucking fire!
screaming and bawling like a big fucking girl
whose dickhead boyfriend is being fucked-up
in the car park of a pub for being a twat;

and every window on the front of that guy’s house
is shot to fuck, with us sticking our heads through there
from outer space,
like space cadets,
peering like vegetables
at the matchwood of the mashed up coffin
and the body with eleven rounds in it
tipped onto the floor,
ripped to big pieces,
covered in glass and a fucked up flag.

And we stared and stared at the squiggly wallpaper
cascading down the wall
like a waterfall,
and what we could see of the carpet pattern
was squirming
like a pit of snakes,
and you wouldn’t believe the colours , as vivid
as the lieutenant’s face, melting
like cartoon stuff…..and the silence man,
the absolute
fucking
silence.

     And then transport came
     and got us out of there
     and everything was green
     and everyone said
     not to worry he was dead already
     and now he looked it
     and a couple of the boys said
     ah fuck the acid;

and London Mikey the black boy
never came back
from his next leave.
Stabbed by a white boy
in a pub in cowboy country
south of the river. National Front.
Good fucking bloke he was, Mikey,
called his house his yard.
One of the boys man.

Peace!

Later!


----
from Last Night's Dream Corrected


----
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
 
The more things change the more they stay the same
from Life and War with Mikey Fatboy Delgado




That George Bush is a scream. The geezer looks like he can just about stand up.
He’s on the telly making a speech, hanging on to that stand as if he’s whizzing his
box off and winging it as he goes along. He’s made up a great word just now on
the news...horrocious. He’s a top geezer. He’s fronting up Syria now and old Blair
is back-pedalling. They’re like Draper and Detective Segeant Hodgepewter in the
Drugs Squad. The old good cop, bad cop routine. Old Bush is telling Assad that he’s
going to have his bollocks as earrings if he don’t settle down and old Blair’s telling him
there’s a way out as long as he grasses up the lads who are slipping into Iraq to have it
off with our lads.

Still, things are looking up. It looks like the septics are determined to have it off with those
Syrian geezers, whatever the Syrians say. It’s shaping up nicely and it looks like any excuse
will do. Old Assad wears brown shoes…bosh! the Yanks don’t like brown shoes...old
Assad is watching BBC1...bosh! the Yanks want to watch ITV. So a word to the wise to
the BBC before it all goes off again...get those fucking green pictures sorted out so we can
see what’s going on when our boys are fighting at night! A few more people would probably
get a licence if you took little things like that on board. I know I’d consider getting one.

These Yanks are a right laugh aren’t they? When they want to have a ruck with you there’s
no getting out of it. They’re like Davey Ribnecklace Gallagher down The Bush when he takes
a dislike to some ponce on our patch.

“You looking at me?” he goes.

“No,” they goes.

“You calling me a fucking liar?” he goes, and smack, bosh! down they go.


----


Tuesday, November 17, 2015
 
Hotel Kultur



In the Kultur Hotel’s Plato suite
the Secretary of State masturbates
over an issue of Slash, Stab and Beat.
A priest of the culture fulminates
in the Aristotle Conference Room
against setting the Amalekites free…
‘Kill the enemies of God. All are doomed
unless they come to the Father through me.’ 

Down the corridor the Medici Hall
hosts a jamboree for oil-company reps
and girls who do business on Capitol Hill.
On the Machiavelli disco steps
and in the toilets of the Borgia wing
are citizens who can get you anything.



--
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
 
Mikey Delgado's dream, part 3




The Famous Five and the Arab Boy


To be perfectly honest Tony was a little bit uncomfortable around Donald.
When they had first arrived at camp Tony had been overjoyed to see that
there were bunk beds and he had baggsied one of the top bunks but Donald
had gone awfully strange and..well…Donald had been rather beastly to Tony.
He had turned to Tony and because of the sun shining on Donald’s glasses
Tony couldn’t see his eyes. All he could see were Donald’s thin lips moving,
and though Donald spoke softly he sounded frightfully hostile to Tony, if the
truth be known.
  “Listen, kid,” Donald said, “you ain’t nothing here. You ain’t what we call a
man. A man knows another man. And I’m a man. And I know you ain’t one.
You...” and he stopped here for what seemed to Tony like an awfully long time
“are just a kid pretending to be a man. Well, kiddo ...that crap don’t cut no ice
with me. We are going to need someone to switch the lights off and that bunk
down there,” he pointed to a bottom bunk next to the door, “is next to the switch,
and you are going to be in it because you are going to be the light-turner-offer.
Capeesh?”
  Tony was quite taken aback by that and turned to George and Condie and Dickie
and Wolfie for some support but none of them seemed to have heard, even though
they were right there in the room. They were all looking the other way and Tony
thought for one odd moment that they were simply jolly well pretending not to
have heard. Uncle Colin had heard though and he just laughed and thumped Tony
on the back good-naturedly.
  “Hahaha,” Uncle Colin chuckled, “well I guess Condie has got her dog, and now it
looks as if Donald has got his pussy.” 

-------------------
Friday, May 15, 2015
 
things to do when elected
`

































For those who suffer the heat
of homogeneity, launch gentle
butterflies of rain, paroxysms of
blossom snow, quick guides to
pensions, blizzards of sweet money,
ladders of wristwatches, taxis to payday,
caplets of relief, evaporated paper,
peaches. Launch more words, tears
torn from water, conclusions of lines,
bunches of flowers (in which lilies
predominate). Turn back the miracles of the
feast, purges, unveiled hair, suffrage, written
reports, high buildings, intervening canyons.
Work longer. Write letters of intercession. Buy
envelopes, women poets, moisturiser, dogbrush,
shoeshine, scissors. Plus de guerres vagues.
---
Sunday, May 10, 2015
 
Diagnosis
`

These things grind us to such a sharpened point -
the brightly-lit room, the gaunt sick faces,
the corridor and our feet constantly
shifting to give way, the recesses called
bays as if the grey men there have at last
a view of the sea, and where with stumbling
dread we feel sure the tips of our horror’s
honed blades will catch against the curtain and
cut it open to a vista of dread
and oblivion that will not be like
going to sleep – there will not be postponed
things to complete upon rising, or a
breaking of the fast, or rain, or sun or
a knock on the door and a returning
love, but in so bright a place memories
come flooding in – a man interrupting
an embrace says ‘you dropped your ticket, you
must be in love,’ – how true, the broken bed,
the stained sheet, the passionate protesting,
two arched backs and bodies fused at the hips
making a wishbone on its side, testing
its own strength – where is she now all these years
later? Has she gone on ahead herself?
Will word get to her that I’ve gone? These things
in the rain after diagnosis bring
such pain, such a flood of knowledge of what
a look may mean – in every face already
the November weather, the air-filled damp,
the terror, the fixed masks of a planet
of walking dead, the queued traffic as it
crawls up Pond Street, exhausting grey,
screaming to you “accept no leaders, not
one of them, friend, is worthier than you”


------




Wednesday, January 21, 2015
 
For W…. in Cardiff who I thought of tonight





I had come back at the end of a war to the same room I left at the start of it.
Because so much had happened I expected as I turned the key that the room
would be as different on my return as I was. It wasn’t. Rooms don’t change much
when no-one has been in them, not to us anyway. We are too big to notice
the small real deaths of mites in the carpet or the life in the decay of some crumb
teeming with change between a chair and a wall. I wrote something to W…. who
would never read it, I wrote quickly about what I saw when I came back through
the door. It seemed momentarily as important as what I’d seen while I’d been away.

I have returned from a long journey, and the forgotten half-cup of tea
with two dead flies in it returns me to mourning in the empty room
where nothing knows or cares of the monstrous sadness of a forgotten
half-cup of tea with two dead flies in it. The air is so still, nothing that
cares has moved through it in all this time. Every night now the door

is left unlocked to let you in and find me.

All these years later and there is war again. This time I have stayed in a different room.
I haven’t gone to the new war. All these years I have kept Nigel’s drawing of the cup
with the two dead flies in it which he drew after I sent him a copy of the note I’d written
to W…. who would never read it. I sent the note to Nigel to let him know I’m back.
He sent the drawing to me by way of saying good. Tonight I have taken the drawing
down from the wall to gaze at it, to imagine him reading and then drawing, perhaps
like this, like me, in a lamplit room in the early hours. Earlier tonight I read Schuyler’s
poem that has a cup in it, Schuyler’s beautiful poem about a cup half-filled with sunlight.
That poem made me think of Nigel’s cup and of W…. and of how I’d like after all these
years to write something about what happened between us all, all those years ago,
some poem, or something as beautiful as the drawing, but here you are, almost at
the end of this, and still no poem.




Cup - (Nigel M ©)


Shimmer    -   James Schuyler


The pear tree that last year
was heavy-laden this year
bears little fruit. Was
it that wet spring we had?
All the pear tree leaves
go shimmer, all at once. The
August sun blasts down
into the coolness from the
ocean. The New York Times
is on strike. My daily
fare! I’ll starve! Not
quite. On my sill, balls
of twine wrapped up in
cellophane glitter. The
brown, the white and one
I think you’d call ecru.
The sunlight falls partly
in a cup: it has a blue
transfer of two boys, a
dog and a duck and says,
"Come Away Pompey." I
like that cup, half
full of sunlight. Today
you could take up the
tattered shadows off
the grass. Roll them
and stow them. And collect
the shimmerings in a
cup, like the coffee
here at my right hand.


---------------


-------


-------------------
Friday, January 09, 2015
 
How (it seems) I came to be tattooed in the house of W**** R**** in the Old City of Jerusalem



It was the sour stench of tear gas
rising up the steps of David Street
from the alleys of the Christian Quarter.
It was the Border Guards beating
their prisoners after Friday prayers.
It was the blueness of sky,
it was the air-powered hiss of bus doors,
it was dein goldenes Haar, Margarete.
It was a haircut at the barbershop
in the Muslim Quarter,
it was the date (1714) on the ironstone house
in which my father was born.
It was Karl Marx writing
that the worker has no homeland,
it was the failure of the Enlightenment,
it was the McMahon correspondence,
it was the Balfour Declaration,
it was a Yemeni girl on Kibbutz Shomrat.
It was the coastal plain seen
from the Galilee highlands,
it was arriving in Nazareth,
it was tomatoes growing in sand
in the Wilderness of Zin,
it was George McRae singing Rock your baby.
It was the gold teeth of Bedouin girls,
it was kif on the Lebanese border,
it was the greyness of England,
it was looking for work in Tiberias.
It was her name scratched on a hotel wall,
it was passing through deserts in buses,
it was the rest-stop near Yad Mordechai,
it was a signpost to El Arish,
it was the panic of an animal in front of a fire.
It was the indiscriminate pursuit of affection.
It was the footsteps of a priest.
It was mist at dawn on the Jaffa Road,
it was the stars seen from the desert at night,
it was the chemicals in the hair dye,
it was the sound of earth landing on the pine.
It was the strength people need.
It was the evening
and the black walls of the passageway.
It was the blind man on the Via Dolorosa,
it was haji painted above the shop doors,
it was the mother suffocating her baby
to protect it from fedayeen.
It was not knowing the names of trees.
It was being afraid of snakes,
it was not knowing the names of birds,
it was organophosphates in the orchard,
it was poor sight in the dark,
it was the mirrors turned to the wall,
it was the streetlamp’s small circle of light.
It was the loneliness of people who believe they believe,
it was the hopelessness of choirs,
it was the smell of stone and wood in churches.
It was the callousness of killers,
it was the casual cruelty of soldiers,
it was arrested development,
it was abortions we procured.
It was Graham who died at four,
it was the fearful child’s bedroom,
it was the abusive neighbour,
it was everything that has ever happened.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
 
Case History


 'Most Welshmen are worthless,
an inferior breed, doctor.'
He did not know I was Welsh.
Then he praised the architects
of the German death-camps--
did not know I was a Jew.
He called liberals, 'White blacks',
and continued to invent curses.

When I palpated his liver
I felt the soft liver of Goering;
when I lifted my stethoscope
I heard the heartbeats of Himmler;
when I read his encephalograph
I thought, 'Sieg heil, mein Fuhrer.'

In the clinic's dispensary
red berry of black bryony,
cowbane, deadly nightshade, deathcap.
Yet I prescribed for him
as if he were my brother.

Later that night I must have slept
on my arm: momentarily
my right hand lost its cunning.

Dannie Abse
Thursday, July 31, 2014
 
Letter




By day we wait for war again. We listen
 for radio items that make no sense: for lists,
numbers, archaic words and usages…clues
to the call-up of reserves. We walk barefoot
to the supermarket, watch lovers inflaming
each other. We imagine those women turning
to catch us peeping as they wave their men off to war.

At night we sit on the flat roof listening
to the distant sea. How the noise of the daylight hours
disrupts the senses. Late at night when it’s quiet
we can smell the ocean from here. We can taste it
on the salty breeze. We have learnt to say omelette,
matches, the time, because the women here are beautiful,
slowly, I don’t understand.

 
The English-language newspaper writes often
of terrorist incursions in the north. We imagine
Bedouin trackers and their private photographs
of dead fedayeen lined up like fishing trophies
between the smiling hunters. We debate the foolishness
of travelling to the border to buy matchboxes full of kif,
 and we go just the same.

We communicate with Galilean Arab girls there in nods
and smiles. They reward our earnest attention with golden-teeth grins
 and we wonder about their strong thighs, and what if things
were just different enough for them to yearn to come into the trees
with us, or for us to slip into their lives as serious prospects.
 On the train back south we talk of how the death of Elvis shook us,
even though none of us can stand rock and roll.

We talk of how we might extract the morphine from Diocalm.
We talk of the wonderment of Fantasia on drug-addled senses.
Catching our drawn faces reflected in the window between us
and the night I wonder what the oldest Arab girl, beautiful
with those heavy breasts beneath her embroidered Bedouin dress,
must have thought of us today, as we sat at the roadside café
guzzling the cheapest red wine, bleary-eyed, bullshitting.




----

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