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The Author Is Dead

Juliano Zaffino - The Author Is Dead - Blog

Winter Miscellany

Juliano Zaffino

 '...w here a private prayer is a song for any stranger's ears .'

'...where a private prayer is a song for any stranger's ears.'

I wanted to share my last few bits of writing from this year - including a handful of poems and a song! A couple of the following pieces were written earlier this year, and edited/reworked over the past two weeks; the rest of the pieces were written very recently, as days get shorter and colder and sadder. Hopefully they won't be too Wintery (read: sad) to handle...

1. Last Passions
2. Awaken
3. Christmastime
4. New Age Pagans - A Fragment
5. Speech On My Ascension To The Throne Of The World
6. Goddess (Misery) - A Song
7. Commitment
8. If Wishes Were Words I'd Write You A Novel
9. Coconut Scent
10. Clapping Tone Deaf Jesus Is A Subway Woman
11. July Prayer

*

Last Passions

A street in Kidderminster paints a normal scene.

Two men fucking in full view of the neighbours
While the old woman screaming “how obscene”
Is a split-second away from decapitation
By garden shears held in callused hands;
The homeless guitarist, atheist, closet
Sociopath, made callous by cold and by bigots.

Beneath the orange sky, they lie in wait.

Mother from the end of the road on the end
Of her tether shakes babes like old dusty
Leather boots on the doorstep; other mother
Just a few doors up holds children close,
Faces hiding in her bosom like when they
Were equidistant from un-living bliss.

Beneath the orange sky, they cry in wait.

Teenagers, like a poster for diversity
At the Gap, grapple hands amid horrors,
Breathing heavy, the only people looking
Up. Men naked running, women loudly
Singing, pages of a book billowing around
Before the end, which never touch the ground.

Beneath the orange sky, they die in wait.

A street in Kidderminster paints an empty scene.

*

Awaken

Stabbing a loved-one again, bloody bold,
Or stuck in the backseat of a moving car
Closer each second to out-of-control,
Sometimes drowning, more often than not
Falling. Violence, mostly, and pain.
Horror, subservience to an oppressive regime,
A colony of ants. Echoing speech within
My head, it says “all that we see or seem”
And gets no further. “We are such stuff”
That dissipates with hatred. In the void
I don’t know which thoughts are my own.
Even less, I guess. Escaping my captor,
Committing murder with a sled, smashing
Someone’s head open into a milky pool
Of ugly galaxies, containing multitudes.
A variation on a symphony of multiple
Different infinities. Raven perching proud
On Shakespeare’s bust. What’s gone wrong?
How did I get back to school without
Any clothes? How did I get back to being
A caricature of a person? Double down,
Double back, retrace steps in non-linear
Lines, back. “Will you never have done?”
“Fuck life.” Black voices, black water,
Swelling bruised inside my eye, in a moment
Of perfect terror, Full Dark, No Stars.
The thing is there in the distance, at last
Close, and I will face it, I must do it,
Won’t turn away –

“All the dreamers, awaken!”

                           – And so I do.

*

Christmastime

Christmastime is not for the faint-hearted.
Haven’t you ever heard of Black Friday?
When the troves of unhappy people cram
Into stores to buy more of more, never
Satisfied with life, never full of enough
Even when they spend Boxing Day moaning
That they have too much stuff, and not enough room.

Christmastime is not for the faint-hearted.
Children abound making petulant, violent sounds
As you shatter a dream that you falsely fostered
Just to make Christmas seem worthwhile; telling
The child that their actions meant nothing,
That Santa is a thought-control apparatus, socially-
Acceptable cult-status for the status-quo family,
Middle-class who can afford the luxury
Of self-destructing consumer-psycho-sexual fantasy.

Christmastime is not for the faint-hearted.
Wrapping until your fingers are tied up in bows,
The scissors an extension of your limb, trying to
Create a state of order from utter chaos, a neat fold
Because your life is out of control, because you
See a scroogey bit of yourself in old relatives
Who just depress the family with their obligatory
Visits that no one wants to make anyway.

Christmastime is not for the faint-hearted.
It rewards people who can stomach enough wine
To escape the conversation and the stress, who
Don’t let the little things taint the bliss
Of a family united under happy terms for once.
It may make your heart skip when you sit down,
Knackered from shopping, from wrapping,
From talking to everyone including yourself,
Because Christmastime is an effective drain
On all your resources; but it is a lottery,
Russian Roulette with a high-entry cost
And an unimaginable payoff in the form of
A smile on your little siblings faces, a hug
From a lover grateful for the perfect gift.

*

New Age Pagans - A Fragment

We are a mass of New Age Pagans,
We are no different from Willow or Jaden;
We are a generation not in need of saving,
We are saving all that was and is to come –
We are making it better. We are better.

And it makes them angry, to read words
They never could have thought, made flesh
By their own flesh, but dissociated violently.

They think we’re lazy, resting on their shoulders,
But they are not Ancients. Not close.
They are not the Ancients we look for,
They are not the Ancients we aim towards;
They are just.. ancient. Nothing special.

*

Speech On My Ascension To The Throne Of The World

I will have no more religions.
I’ve seen what you can do and I am not impressed.

I will have no more doctrine.
Those orders, which pollute and unify the lesser masses,
Were made by men who didn’t know our modern struggle.

I will have no more churches
Standing like commonplace castles wasting space and bricks,
Housing herds of hooligans who could be put to better uses,
Who have homes of their own from Monday to Saturday.

I will have no more praying.
It is like creative writing but intolerable and useless,
And no one ever saves their first drafts or best phrases.

I will have no more dictatorships.
They are everywhere and always and they never end well.

*

Goddess (Misery) - A Song

I feel the tide, the ebb and the flow,
I feel like an addict who can’t let go.
You are a noose, you are my Novril dream,
You are an idol face frozen in a scream.

If I worship you will you let me go?
If I try to write you out, will you know?

You terrify me, my Goddess
You mystify me, my Goddess;
With the grip that you have
I want to run, I want to love,
My Goddess,
You horrify me, my Goddess
You purify me, my Goddess.

When the tide retreats the pain returns
Like lost love or time, the kind that burns.
And I will call for you again like a child,
My Stockholm queen, I will go wild.

Am I bound to you like earth to the sun?
Will I always be too weak to stand and run?

You appreciate me, my Goddess
You mutilate me, my Goddess
With that axe in your hands
You make me hurt, you make me see
My Goddess,
You satiate me, my Goddess,
You decimate me, my Goddess.

In the flames, while we burn,
I see you whither and turn
Into some bird in some cage
Set ablaze in violent rage;
And I see past the idol,
When you turn homicidal
Like a goddess, Africa, queen
Of everything sick and obscene.

If I burn us both, what will remain?
If I let us live, how will I stay sane?

You destroyed me, my Goddess
And you enjoyed me, my Goddess
But your time is up,
Your final page is done,
My Goddess;
See you annoyed me, my Goddess,
When you employed me, my Goddess.

*

Commitment

When I’m sorting through the laundry
And I can’t tell which socks are your socks
And I feel the softest cotton
Of all the underwear I bought for you.

When I’m holding you on the couch
And you’re trying to get closer to me
And I can’t bear your skin on mine,
Making a fraud and traitor out of me.

When I lie in bed awake, half alone,
And imagine a year of slow stillness
And talking to myself all day
But in a literal way, without choice.

When I realise how bored I am
And how boring it is to be trapped
And helpless doing the same shit
Without end, without rest and meaningless.

When I fail to think it all through,
And overlook all obvious truths
And pin the heartache all on you
Like a scapegoat for a brutal hate crime.

I must commit. I must do it.

*

If Wishes Were Words I’d Write A Novel

I wish you looked at me with love,
The way you look at your reflection
When you do your hair in the morning
With silent love, silent attention
Fixed in a way I haven’t seen
Since the first days when you
Showered me with affection.

*

Coconut Scent

Love is the special coconut soap that I wash my body with –
Because you love the smell of it on your own skin and clothes
And I want to appeal to you – even though it makes me retch.
A hundred years later I take, in the retirement home where I wait
For the ecstasy of death, a coconut shower – cleansing the stench
Of piss and shit and loneliness – even though it makes me retch.

*

Clapping Tone Deaf Jesus Is A Subway Woman

The first thing I think when I hear her small voice singing – or,
A verb that means less-than-singing – is that Jesus himself
Would be as tone-deaf as her, and just as bad at reading the room,
And just as bad at clapping in time with the rhythm of his own song.

But she sings on and on, even though it’s a song that means nothing
More or less than mental illness. I want to sing ‘Cloudbusting’ now
To the captive audience (captive in the sense of being imprisoned),
Sharing all the secrets of my heart: “something good is gonna happen”.

I guess the subway is the perfect place for this woman’s display.
At least it’s not hateful; it ends when her voice no longer reaches.
She has left the carriage, train, platform, station, out into the public
In New York, where a private prayer is a song for any stranger's ears.

*

July Prayer

Praise God for the breeze
That rolls through King Street in Maidstone
Like a cavalry come to rescue me.
I give thanks for the cool on my face
And for the sweet shade shielding me
From that malice sun, symptom of Satan.
Praise God too for air-con,
Convoy of his love in all its endless splendour
Made tangible, hairs standing in prayer.
I give thanks for the open window
Breathing life into me as if from nothing,
Reminding me that no one sweats in Heaven.

Amen.