Self-Preservation by Ian Lewis Copestick

PhotoFunia-1590567085 Self-Preservation

It’s a Friday night, in mid July,
and the young lads are out in gangs
of ten or more. When they swagger
past, I just look at the ground. Or is it
safer to look them in the eyes, to show
that you’re not scared ? I don’t know.
I play it as it comes, as fifteen more
go by. I hear an “Oi!” I keep on walking
at a steady pace. I’m not going to run
until I really have to, and I don’t want
to draw attention to myself. It’s happened
before, and I know from experience I
can take out one or two, but when they
travel in such big mobs, there’s not much
that you can do. So, on I walk, keeping
my head down, or trying to stare them
out. When you are my age, and on
your own, your self preservation skills
take control.

A Community by Ian Lewis Copestick

PhotoFunia-1590565538A Community

I really enjoy feeling like
I’m part of a community,
I know all the workers in the local shops,
and of course, they all know me.

It’s such a big, yet such a little thing,
it doesn’t cost you a penny.
When you’re depressed and lonely
it’s advantages are many.

Just someone to say  ” Hello”
and  “How are you doing, Ian ?”
Let’s you know you’re not alone
and you ARE a human being.

Of course, it’s really obvious,
people need to be connected
But modern life makes you nervous,
and you lose all your perspective.

Back when I was younger,
with an underdeveloped brain
I automatically thought others wouldn’t understand my existential pain.

I thank God that I’ve grown up,
and somehow matured.
I deserved to be hung up,
and covered in manure.

Thinking I was somehow better
than my fellow man.
Thank God I learned that lesson,
that I finally understand.

That we each have our own different gifts,

all individual, yet all alike.
Unique snowflakes, blown into a snowdrift.
Trying to cope with this thing called “life .”

Six Poems by Mark McConville

PhotoFunia-1590832754Strange Times Indeed.

Battlegrounds everywhere

In a city smothered by hypocrisy and a death toll

The thin try to eat and the overweight become thin

Strange times indeed.

 

The slender arms of a child

Become weightless as she sleeps on her mother’s belly

This is unity in the most heartbreaking fashion

This is a mother crying as her baby begins to flinch

Nightmares burst into the mind.

 

Shredding the world into pieces

Might be the best way to eradicate the desolation

Burning it into scraps of charcoal as the animals scream

No one deserves this depravity, these aren’t degenerate people,

Shadows or rigid silhouettes, they’re breathing the same smoke as you,

Their hearts beat for a comforting smile and graceful hand from someone,

Not carrying burdens.

 

One dies, two cough and sputter,

Fear attacks the senses

Heaps of energy sapped from breaking bodies

The city’s teeth discolored by nicotine and its abdomen

Hungry for economy and a rebuild.

 

Disease roams like cattle,

Flowers decide to die, their vibrancy,

A figment of the imagination,

Color trapped in grey, houses crumbling,

Woodworm eating through the work of a carpenter,

Who gave his all too building beauty when beauty gleamed in

The eyes of strong people.

 

A Bell Rings In My Head.

A bell rings in my head

A realization that dreams are for the hungry

The driven, the artists, the readers,

And the weaver of words.

 

Emotions are high

I wish my name was in the sky

A banner of authority and truth

People would see it and cheer

For my disenchanted self.

 

The pavements laced in chewing gum

Offer me a route to the dark underworld

Where emotions are high

And people die of unnatural causes

They’re bound to each-other

Like they’re strapped to a leash

Dogs of winter, dogs of war.

 

The snowflakes are colossal reminders,

Of an incoming force

Winter beckons and these unruly children,

Become like wolves, scavengers.

 

Covered in a blanket of snow

A bell rings in my head

A realization that dreams are for the noble.

Die Loudly.

Broken glass reflects bloodied faces

Prayers are needed here

Hope trips the lights and is now engulfed in darkness

Dreamers disregard their chances of swapping this life for days in paradise.

 

Angels talk up this place, this land which has conformity,

They have sprinkled white magic all over books of truth

Books that explain to us why violence is fundamental

To staying alive in a world inconclusive.

 

There are people lost in disposition

Their love songs only play out in shoddy bars

Those angels come and go

Switching on the lights may let them in

At a blink of an eye, they’ll truthfully tell you if,

This is the end.

 

She’s next to you, flapping her hands,

You’re in her line of sight

Dropping glasses of dispirit all over the wooden floor

Speaking to the walls, wishing they’d tell that you’re allowed to,

Die loudly.

 

Mystified by your response to these paper-thin walls

She drags you aside, peppering you with optimistic monologues,

Of why you should live peacefully, aborting all poisons and,

All these memories which you conceal under the dome in your head.

 

The theater of wingless drunks

Is on its last order

You quickly consume with all your repose,

The last drink of the night.

 

Tear Drops On Cheeks As Pale As A Winter’s Day.

She’s stretching out for her mother

But her mother is caught up, tangled in a drunken daze,

Profoundly stuck in a loop of mundanity.

 

Oh God, she wishes, to stick to her mother again,

Wrapped up in the umbilical cord

A warming embrace when she’s born again

But we can’t be born again, we can’t relive the tender moments,

We grow up and try to make sense of the world.

 

She feels suffocated when her mother seems free

Singing karaoke in a local bar

Drinking spirits when her daughter is out of spirit

Drinking hops and barley, when a starving girl is,

Wasting away, barely hanging onto the teddy bear her late father,

Gave her.

‘Honey this is yours, hug it when you feel uninspired and when your mother is

Disconnected from you and the world’

 

The home is colder than a day in the snow

The electric blanket doesn’t heat the bones

The young girl splashes water on the face of her hungover mother

There’s no response, no anger or repent.

 

Flicking the switches in the kitchen

There’s no electricity surging through

Just a feeling of tension at the pit of a hungry stomach

A swollen cloud of black rain hovering over her

She wishes to tower over all of this

Create sparks and wishes, but magic isn’t,

Real?

 

The tap leaks dirty water,

The milk is sour in the fridge

The emptiness is gathering space

And hopelessness seems to darken the room

She’s powerless and her mother is shadow of her former self.

 

A ticking watch is all she has

Temptation to walk away is a potent feeling

In a young mind, pushed to grow up,

But she loves the woman sleeping away the haze.

 

Hazy Nights.

Screaming for solace

Inside a cage we call home

The lucky and free

Walk the streets with their heads held high

And their wallets bursting from the seams.

 

The room is a reminder of hazy nights

Grasping onto the t shirt of a lover

Who quickly departed with the aromas of sex?

Swirling around the stench of the ashtray.

 

The thick smoke of cigarettes

Shrouds beautiful faces

They’re there writing down tales

Of yesterday

While out of mind.

 

It’s exhausting

Looking at drunken eyes

Which flicker a hundred times

There’s no answers from the mouth of this,

Rebel who wishes for a better life.

 

And we sit amongst the disenchanted

In a small compartment in an apartment block

Someone is singing hopeful lyrics

From a song as sickening as a restless heartbeat.

 

This night is longer than most

The clock has stopped

People urge me to sleep

I can’t,

I can’t count sheep.

 

The Flicker Of Lighters.

Freedom seems miles off

As the rumbling of thunder in my mind

Becomes frequent.

 

I walk the streets

Trying to curve the strain of mixed emotions

Homeless women come to me

Asking for miracles when I need a miracle

They’re hungry, and desperate,

I have nothing to offer but memories

Of a bashful crash into a state of disrepair.

 

They leave me to walk

They rummage for thoughts

Taking drags of cigarette ends

And the dregs of a bottom of a bottle

Drunk unsophisticatedly.

 

Why should they stray into darkened voids?

And alleyways, undesirable territories,

Where masked strangers steal innocence,

And everything they’ve ever fought for.

 

I observe mass gatherings of people in despair

Drawn to the flicker of lighters

They’re certain to meet the end

No bright lights to guide them homeward.

If He Will by Ian Lewis Copestick

PhotoFunia-1590565538

If He Will

My father is in hospital,
recovering from a major
operation. They have
cut out what was left of
his cancer, and it seemed
that everything was going
well. This morning the
doctor discovered that he
had got an infection, I’m
worried, in fact I’m fucking
terrified.
I’ve just done something
that I haven’t done for over
40 years, I prayed. I put a
call in to the celestial
switchboard. The thing is,
you don’t know if it got
through or not, do you ?
I’m what I’d call a sceptical
agnostic, but I’m more than
willing to hold up my end
of the deal, if He will His.
Who knows ?
Time will tell.

Working The Night Shift by Ian Lewis Copestick

PhotoFunia-1590565538
Working The Night Shift
You drink yourself to sleep by 7’O’Clock
The traffic wakes you by eight
At nine you’re woken by the postman’s knock
By ten you’re convulsed with hate
By then the shops are open
mad with drink and tiredness you sway
to get another bottle hoping
you’ll get some sleep sometime today
By midday you’re so drunk you have to sleep
but it’s more like passing out.
Awake again by six, you’ve got a schedule to keep.
Back to work, your mouth’s a drought.
So you drink shitloads of coffee
with a hangover from Hell.
You’ve got to work, to keep your job you see.
So you’d better do it well.
By midnight you’re back in the swing
like a well oiled machine.
By seven, you’re well oiled again,
trying to sleep, to dream.

Small Town Blues by Ian Lewis Copestick

PhotoFunia-1590567085Small Town Blues

The wet pavements, and streets
underneath the grey skies.
Petrol rainbows in the gutters.
The breeze blows loud through the trees,
as I walk to the dull, dumb town centre.
The washed up rubbish of urban life,
gathers around the shops, drinking super
strength lager, and waiting for drugs,
trying to remember what it was they
forgot. The sadness clings to the scene,
but am I any better, something tells
me I’m not. Just another dreary, wet
Saturday afternoon. In another dreary
small town, just the same as any other.

Recommended Read: Gender Justice by Nicky Charlish

gender justice

Twenty-year-old Toni is fresh out of the slammer and working in a gay bar in London’s Old Compton Street when she is embroiled in a gang war war that threatens to shatter her dreams of a better life.

From the very first page, Charlish grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags you through the mean streets of Soho and South London.

Nicky Charlish’s Gender Justice is a violent, fast-paced and involving slice of Brit Grit that wears it’s bloody heart on its sleeve.

All The Joys (Of A Summer Night) by Ian Lewis Copestick

PhotoFunia-1590565538

 

All The Joys

        (Of A Summer Night)
Pure, pale blue sky,
little, fluffy clouds,
grass  as green
as anything seen
on a movie screen.
Birds singing in the background, but I
don’t know the type
Singing for seed,
or singing to breed,
or just for the
beauty of the night.
Bright flowers to
tempt the bees,
scantily clad girls
to tempt me.
All the joys
of a summer night.
No, they don’t
happen too often,
but the buzz
you get off them
makes you feel
everything is alright.
A couple of months
every year
is only as near
as we get to this power.
But the memories remain
as winter pours
down the drains,
and we make it through
to spring’s showers.
Then, again
comes the sun,
to charm everyone.
For a short while
again it is ours

On Being Fourteen Years Old and Loving Miss Perkins by Stephen J. Golds

On Being Fourteen Years Old and Loving Miss Perkins

 

Miss Perkins had been teaching at my high school for nearly a year and I was in love with her. It was a fourteen-year-old boy’s love for a personification of a wet dream twice his age, and I carried that love around in my chest like a loaded revolver.

 

Miss Perkins was a teacher at my school, but she wasn’t my teacher. If I had her as an educator, I might’ve learnt something (and not crashed out so spectacularly). I only snatched glimpses of her strolling to and from the faculty lounge, the sounds of her high-heels on the cracked concrete tearing into my adolescent hormonal heart like a power drill. Miss Perkins waltzing across the title screen of my ‘The Wonder Years’ to the soundtrack of ‘The La’s – There She Goes.’

There was a rumor floating around the school like a bad fart that she was fucking the geography teacher. I liked to think that the rumor wasn’t true. Kids made up a little song about it; “Perkins sucks Berkins.

Berkins licks Perkins.

Perkins fucks Berkins.

Oh yeah, baby, baby!.

Sometimes, spurned by the madness of the crowd, I would join in unenthusiastically with the chant, mouthing and mumbling the words like an atheist singing hymns at a distant relative’s funeral that they’d been obligated to attend.

I didn’t really like the geography teacher whose name was, as the song creatively suggested, Mr. Berkins. I think it would be more honest to say I hated him. He was skinny with brown moles all over his pink skin, his grey eyes bulged out of his head like two half-buried golf balls and he spat when he shouted at you for forgetting your homework or for being late. Long thick black hairs tangled out from his nostrils and when he breathed the hairs slithered and twisted like snakes in dry, black holes. Sweat was always seeping out of the large pores on his forehead.

Whenever I saw him with Miss Perkins, he would always be trying to make her laugh or trying to touch her arm or shoulder subtlety, the sly little prick. Always pretending that he was something special and not just some ghost of a robot. I knew his game. I was on to him. He wasn’t fooling me.

 

Miss Perkins looked like one of the women from the Victoria’s Secret catalogue that I kept stuffed underneath my mattress. Blonde, busty, beautiful, young, and probably intelligent too. Nothing seemed to touch her because she was above it all. Berkins on the other hand seemed old and crustified like a piece of dinosaur shit in the sun, even though I’m sure he was pretty young himself.

I remember one afternoon he sent me out of his class for swearing at this fat girl called Shelly. She said I pretended to drop my pencil on the floor, so I could snatch a peek up her skirt, when she had in fact swung open her fat white thighs like the jaws of a shark to show me her whirlpool-like snatch.

After the lesson had ended Mr Berkins called me back into the classroom as everyone was leaving and cross examined me with the eyes that looked as though they were trying to leap out of his face. He kept looking at me as the sweat slid down his shiny forehead and cheeks. Finally, he took out a white handkerchief from his V-neck sweater’s sleeve and mopped at his brow. I couldn’t believe he kept a handkerchief stuffed up his sleeve, to me it was surreal and ludicrous and justified all the hate I felt for him. He finished drying his face off, smiled a slick grin and asked me whether I would like it if he looked up my mother’s skirt. I couldn’t believe it. What kind of a question was that to ask a kid? I knew he was trying to beat me, defeat me. I didn’t know what he was trying to defeat me at, but I was sure I wouldn’t let him win. I licked my lips coolly and said in as manly a voice as I could force out of my shallow chest, without it breaking, that if my dad caught him looking at my mom’s pussy, he would kick the shit out of him.

As soon as the words snaked their way from my mouth and birthed themselves into the awkward silence, his eyes jumped from his head, all white and like lemmings at a cliff edge. He scratched at the bald patch in the center of his head and kept saying the word “quite, quite, quite, quite”, as he scratched, nodded, and stared.

Finally, he pointed a thumb towards the classroom door, telling me to get out and we both knew I had won something ridiculously small and worthless. I attempted some kind of a strut out of the classroom, almost feeling like the character McMurphy from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and refusing to acknowledge the possibility that a woman like Miss Perkins could be interested in such a man as Mr Berkins. A loser pretending to be some sort of a hot-shot. A man outwitted by an always outnumbered and outgunned fourteen-year-old boy with dirty socks and holes in the soles of his shoes.

 

In her second year of teaching Miss Perkins handed in her resignation and disappeared from the high school and my life.

A very short while after Mr Berkins quit as well and for the first time I could almost empathize with him. Understand where he was coming from.

A little piece of the sunshine had been stolen from the school and it was now a lot darker and less fluid and more mechanical within the hallways and the classrooms. I supposed even though we were completely different human beings we’d both discovered a red rose growing out of a pile of horse shit and we both knew that with the flower gone, there was only the pile of shit left behind.

 

Much, much later, I found out that they had gotten married.

 

Mr. Berkins had won after all.

 

 

 

Punk Before Punk: The Party’s Over (1962/5/6) by K. A. Laity

olly reed

Just as the word punk existed before the music did, the concept of the rebel outsiders breaking all the rules has existed as long as rules have (probably: I’d bet my PhD on it anyway). One of those iterations surely included the beatniks, at least in the popular imagination. The Party’s Over’s release was delayed for a while due to censorship not of its violence, youthful decadence, matter-of-fact portrayal of homosexuality but – wait for it – for featuring necrophilia. The director Guy Hamilton and producers Jack Hawkins, Peter O’Toole and Anthony Perry demanded their names be removed in protest. It was finally released three years later in 1965 (1966 in the US).

 The film starts with the fanfare accorded to a production company named Monarch, but quickly switches gears by opening on a guy hanging from a balcony crying for help as a party goes on inside the building. Funky jazz plays on a Victrola while desultory young people smoke, smooch, drink, and mill about. The walls are covered with tennis rackets, beer mats and art. We follow a cigarette from hand to hand, introducing some of our key players until we end on Moise (Oliver Reed) who uses it to light a cigarillo and, swilling beer, wanders over to the balcony to take a butcher’s. He responds by pouring some bevvie over the luckless lad.

An imperious Melina (Louise Sorel) demands that he help the unfortunate. Moise instead calls on Geronimo (Mike Pratt) and the others manage to drag the fellow up. Moise shrugs at Melina, who rises and commands him to drop dead. Moise climbs up on the balcony rail and jumps. Cue screams, a passing look of angst on Melina’s face and then laughter from the crowd as we cut to Ollie hanging from a lamppost, smiling around his cigarillo. He bows and walks on.

Cut to the group as they begin desultory walk over a pre-dawn Albert Bridge as the voice-over by Reed describes the film as the story of these young folk who became ‘for want of a better word…beatniks’. It also clarifies that ‘the film is not an attack on beatniks; the film has been made to show the loneliness and the unhappiness, and the eventual tragedy that can come from a life lived without love for anyone or anything.’ Sure we’re going to cast glamourous young actors and make cool beatnik art studios but the message is this is bad.

Also necrophilia, much more clearly a bad thing.

Like so many films that show youth subcultures, it both glamourises it and oversimplifies it. We’ve already seen Reed as the beatnik artist in Tony Hanock’s The Rebel though he was French there. One of the most fun things here is Reed getting to trot out a series of accents in one brilliant scene as he shows down Melina’s American fiancé who’s come to drag her back to New York. So often Reed was forced to play to type, it’s always good to be reminded how much he could do.

The beatniks lead the hapless fiancé Carson (Clifford David) on a merry chase from studio to pub to café and back again until Nina (Katherine Woodville) takes pity on him. Unlike the dilettante Melina, Nina is a real artist though posh as the day is long (which makes all the difference in the end).

The problem is Melina disappeared after a whale of a party and it takes a while for people to begin to put together their fractured memories of what went on at the party. And what’s up with nervous Philip (Jonathan Burn)? With Nina by his side, Carson fights to find out what’s really going on with his mercurial fiancée in the face of the beatnik hostility, mostly wrangled by Reed’s Moise. In between there’s a lot of vintage footage of swinging Chelsea, gorgeously shot and a lot of beatnik posturing, bad art and slang. There’s even a cameo by Eddie Albert that proves surprisingly tender (yes, that Eddie Albert).

Well worth a watch even if you aren’t the kind of person who would watch Reed in almost anything. C’mon: beatniks in swinging 60s London! Currently streaming on Amazon in the US and I think BFI in the UK.