Toe-tapping (California dreaming)

By | 1 May 2021

Because it was fun
Because we were young and wilful
Because the sun hadn’t always been a good friend
Because solitude, like wisdom, offered a tough but viable option
Because intimacy was peddling an even tougher option for all the wrong reasons
Because the past was clearly bollocks
Because the future looked more of same, our planet’s wobble cranking up
with indifference
Because secularism was playing peek-a-boo with longed-for landscapes
Because memory’s lonely tabula rasa was skulking around in a see-through negligee
Because Rorschach’s tiresome old inkblots were talk of the town
Because Lacan’s panty-knotting fantasies were deemed heavenly manna
Because commando insurrection spread like wildfire through Beatlemania
Because the vortex of self-importance had to be avoided at all costs
Because our duffle coats reeked of sure-footed impudence
Because mum and dad said No!
Because a negligent Church, colder and stiffer than Greybeard Almighty, couldn’t stop
flattening the Earth
Because every creepy white male was just that
Because silver screen M*A*S*H would spawn eleven seasons of grey screen mayhem
Because Yasujirō Ozu seasoned our humanity with labyrinthine contemplation
Because Watergate, like glyphosate, kept fertilising the court jester’s public tongue
Because the My Lai massacre deserved a little more than a pardoned soldier’s remorse
Because our eyes sparkled like crushed glass
Because our hearts were cascading to an endless drug-fuelled tsunami
Because Roland Barthes had other ideas
Because Martin Luther King held firm
Because Rosa Parks sat tall
Because tyranny had become the sine qua non of metaphysics
Because balance and harmony meant next to nothing
Because dark energy was everywhere
Because retreating never entered our minds
Because letting go lodged deep within and gripped tight, our only certainty
Because silence draped delicately from every moment, febrile, reciprocal, inexhaustible
Because poetry was a lambent black hole, the fugitive soul’s midsummer collapse into
midwinter space-time
Because the Big Bang had never ceased and we were surfing its crest
Because we were contortionists on the run
Because splendour was our heresy and our birthright
Because La Dolce Vita drove fascists bananas
Because the Dalai Lama hit the West with a bang on smile
Because Jiddu Krishnamurti was the full DIY carnival
Because a banana lounge, beachside, fostered solemn introspection and follow-through
Because a woman in bikini wouldn’t bend from the waist lest she trigger penetrative thinking
Because oceans, savage, immortal, roared to life in our whispers, to which we cocked
a deaf monastic ear
Because thunder and lightning meant more than a jazzed up light show
Because the lie of the land was garbling our ley-lady lai with toxic reverb
Because Hendrix was belching black magic from one blisteringly volcanic guitar
Because Miles Davis had pictured us wildly cool in Dorian blue
Because Marcel Duchamp was still breathing
Because Pablo Picasso, unstoppable echo, could be spotted out and about, walking, talking,
Because Antonin Artaud’s kaleidoscopic shamantics, newly resurrected, were haunting souls lost
to the Readymade Age
Because the tree of knowledge was speechless
Because the mind was embodied and desperate for company
Because dancing colonised the body the way mythologies annexed the mind
Because distraction, swamping our cities, cozied up, yoked us to murky tides
of hackneyed engagement
Because ecocide, backstage, was fast becoming our most spirited achievement, outdazzling
the war machine
Because the psyche, outflanked & outgunned, was thoroughly jaded
Because the Four Horsemen were having a field day
Because our conscious existence was wholly consigned to preserving the illusion of control
Because we found it so difficult to be honest with ourselves
Because mercy was getting a bad press
Because sincerity was front page news, dutifully reborn as commodity
Because commodity was editorial know-how, stirringly repackaged as heredity
Because heredity presupposed wisdom
Because presupposition was our circadian fulcrum
Because trailblazing was all the rage
Because hard-core sleight-of-hand was our tutelary spirit
Because capital was deftly engineering the optimal version of self-nullifying humility
Because the colour of money rankled, but only marginally compared to the colour
of the money-maker
Because human rights were not intended for Indigenous communities
Because rights for women, animals, plants were ‘dead body’ rights
Because for all the hype, Ulrike Meinhof would never be validated as a role model
Because Betty Friedan had us groaning in our sleep with much fist-shake and teeth-grind
Because Germaine Greer refused to market herself as anyone’s best friend
Because a howling Allen Ginsberg rang out from city rooftops, grounding our skylines
like a call to prayer
Because we’d rhapsodize on life’s preciousness, notwithstanding history
Because belts tightening to the heart’s pleading tug loosened too willingly round the gut’s
scheming hearth
Because a sense of fullness constantly eluded us
Because getting naked could be terribly awkward
Because in so many communities, God was still on 24/7 active genital watch
Because Diane Arbus feted us through beauty and complicity
Because Bugs and Daffy towered over Donald and Micky
Because Stephen Hawking was already a genius
Because Ludwig Wittgenstein had known precisely how tall he was
Because the Book of Genesis passed muster as a ripping yarn
Because Sitting Bull’s statue was sculpted using 1.4 million Lego bricks
Because Ken Kesey’s Magical Bus wasn’t colour-coded for Little Goody Two-Shoes
Because an early warming Summer of Love would fast transform into an over-the-counter
Because smug was not a badge of honour in distinguished syntactic circles
Because the inner-city wheel horse was quick to grasp the need for zebra crossings
Because one small step of star-spangled revelry planted with a giant toe-tapping leap
rippled like a shadowy dream
Because the ball and chain belonged to bygone days
Because mass extinction belonged to bygone eras
Because dystopia belonged to books and cinema
Because Motown was the place to be
Because tea houses were all the go
Because Armageddon was in the tea-leaves
Because sabotage was a crucial component of liberté, fraternité, égalité
Because timeless heir-conditioning made for blockbuster folklore, shallow breathing
Because Rilke’s obsession with Centre sharpened our peripheral vision
Because a mystical Dickinson’s rustic Trinity bathed us in ecstatic mystery
Because ecstasy and mystery were rare brides indeed
Because marriage forged tiny glittering kingdoms of intricately scaffolded light
Because the female orgasm was far from centre stage at weekend dinner parties
Because the male orgasm was unshakeable proof of nature’s ingenuity
Because it felt like the Beast was continuously coming into his own
Because everywhere was suddenly nowhere
Because nurture became a buzzword that could only be fed with bullshit
Because conditional love proved little more than a bully’s social contract
Because we were judicious on the job, hostile in the home, enraged by the world
Because an age-old epidemic of childhood neglect was beginning to rear its brutal head
Because the body was masterfully keeping the score
Because trust gave way to trystesse & trompe-l’oeil gave way to trash & treasure
Because art, like philosophy and anxiety, was considered cool and dangerous
Because group sex was sad sack fabulous
Because inspiration was key
Because reading was far too time-consuming
Because knackered ambition was an all too familiar trope
Because lucidity was a middle finger raised to clarity
Because life was fragmentary with every figment up for grabs
Because not everyone was living out a coming-of-age story
Because some of us were working fervently on our inner space
Because stripped of inner space, we’d be no bigger than a dust particle, the earth
no larger than an apple
Because facts and figures were shredding our mojo
Because Carlos Castaneda may or may not have been joking
Because Joseph Beuys was ticking all the right boxes
Because Simone de Beauvoir was never far from our ruminations
Because America, Russia and China were peacefully liberating comrades across the globe
Because the mirage of endless prosperity was transitioning into panoramic mode
Because Dr Who smirked more diplomatically outside the Tardis than inside
Because Hal could read lips
Because it was vital that one spoke one’s truth
Because too many pieces of the puzzle made zero sense
Because we could no longer count on one finger let alone one hand
Because the sins of the fathers had us by the clit
Because what was good and saucy for the goose was hard and fast proper gander
Because the brain was awash in filial dexterity
Because there was always someone awake in Warhol’s factory
Because our halls of confessional fame, spirit of intrepid go-getter diffusion & writerly
flourish, were solidifying into vaporous shorthand
Because the Word made flesh dwelling amongst us was still yearning for grace and candour
Because generosity and compassion were benchmarks only when things were going our way
Because praying the gay away unmasked us at our constipated best
Because The Great Society’s wind chimes fell victim to twister trombones
Because Nixon called Timothy Leary the most dangerous man in America
Because Pop, Jagger, Dylan, Plant, all torso, lip, cheekbone, hair, had us sphinxed out
on godlike seduction, tearaway ecstasy
Because Joplin jack-knifed through kosmic blue skies her feral hothouse abandon
Because romance and exile feathered our wings, tragicomic echoes of a redemptive void
Because sacrifice etched our forgetful portraits into the muse’s tired gaze
Because twilight would unfailingly flicker through its capricious assemblage of centuries
Because Zarathustra, out of his cave, had wormed his way into our silent devotions
Because Simone, with her spiritual eye, milked her pussy and bedevilled our dreams
Because Bloom the gentle outsider, androgynous voyeur, dwarfed us effortlessly
Because paranoia gave life its special zing
Because divorce would suck the oxygen out of civilisation, bring it crashing to its knees
Because our soul mate passed us by in the street, unheard, unseen, unforthcoming
Because salvation had played her last card and bluffed us empty-handed
Because Taoism wasn’t the path for the way-worn wayward
Because the second law of thermodynamics was and ever shall be God
Because absence made the heart grow fonder, then presence made the heart grow bitter
Because Sylvia Plath, haemorrhaging under fixed stars, left us utterly dispirited
Because Denise Levertov, heart in a canter, serenaded our sorrows with evergreen stirrups
Because trees have known everything worth knowing about us since the year dot
Because no storm was ever a threat to whales, no iceberg a menace to horses
Because lonesomeness could often snow a winter in
Because Antony and Cleopatra were now triumphantly afloat in our Milky Way vigil
Because Ophelia, increasingly eclipsed by an all too eagerly forgiven narcissistic Hamlet,
was receding further into oblivion’s shadowy wings
Because primal fear would come up trumps in every bout of hide-and-seek
Because awakening daily could be an unbearable burden
Because we were adept at bringing the house down
Because time muddied and timelessness muddled
Because Agnès Varda emblazoned celluloid skies like an Easter moon
Because Aretha Franklin’s lush melismatics were a fountain of joy and solace
Because Nina Simone stripped us beautifully bare with every note
Because emptiness was next to godliness
Because it seemed that things so rarely went our way
Because we were footloose wrong-footed die-with-your-boots-on foot soldiers
forever awaiting another boot to drop
Because hindsight was no more revealing than a candle in dense fog
Because foresight was your run-of-the-mill hair-shirt cosmology lacking empathy
Because we were each, ad infinitum, morphing back and forth from magical fool
to theatrical monk to tortured saint
Because we knew not what, how, when, where, nor why
Because truth and relativity had been tarred with the same palette
Because we were free but couldn’t deliver
Because we were driven to toe the line
Because we were starved of crucial communion
Because we were strapped for genuine reverence
Because we pined for intrinsic motion
Because we were drifting in and out of one another’s dreams, witnessing self alive, sleepwalking
innocent our earthly palace of crackling mirrors, blazing meteor bright
(snap, crackle, pop)
the rhythm divine

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