Tuesday, 18 July 2017


As movie posters go, the one for The Graduate, with Dustin Hoffman's Benji staring in stunned bewilderment at Anne Bancroft's outstretched black-stockinged leg, Mrs. Robinson's temptation, is one of the best. Simple, effective, even haunting, it encapsulate's the thrust of the film and reveals much about both characters.

Even if it leg, as it turned out, really belonged to Linda Gray, who confessed just a few years ago that she'd been called in to pose for the photo and been paid $25.

So imagine my surprise as I walked past our local hall and I saw a poster for The Graduate, with Dustin Hoffman standing in a sort of mini-jungle with a big cat behind his shoulder. I had to cross the street to look close up: the Hoffman looks like an artist's rendering of a botoxed version of young Dustin. But I was still trying to figure out the cat until it came to me: Cougar!

Forget a female Dr. Who. The Graduate has now become a movie to be sold as a tale of a boy and his cougar. Plastics? The marketing guys wouldn't get it. It's got all the subtlety of that TV show with Courtney Cox. 'That's good!' they'd say. 'Friends sells!'

I was probably not in the best frame of mind to receive such a re-booting of a classic film, since a couple of days ago I listened to a powerfully anodyne discussion of Sofia Coppola's remake of Don Siegel's offbeat classic The Beguiled. It was one of those discussions framed by Coppola's best director prize at Cannes, and the residue of Siegel and star Clint Eastwood's heavily masculine approach to the film, yet the panel were incapable of suggesting any real virtue in the film. It looked very pretty, the dresses were far too nice for the situation (girls' school, Civil War, hard times) and the only black character, the maid Hattie, had been written out of the story, so all the cooking and cleaning and ironing happened as if by magic, as it would if you were Sofia Coppola or you were making another movie set in Versailles. So no one really liked the film, but only Tom Sutcliffe, the host, appeared to have seen the original, and he was being very cautious about endorsing Clintonian misogyny.

Then I read the Sight & Sound review, which tried to pretend the remake was based not on the original film, but a new take on Thomas Cullinan's novel, which would make more sense were not the screenplay of the Siegel film, by Albert Maltz and Irene Kamp (writing as John B Sherry and Grimes Grice) credited. You can fool Sight & Sound but you can't fool the Writers' Guild. The reviewer ended by praising the wonderful bits of embiguity Coppola had inserted. Like the amputation of McBurney's leg. Were they punishing him or saving his life? Oh now there's one that never occurred to Siegel. Nor demanning him, symbolically. Sheesh. They just weren't sensitive enough to make a small masterpiece some big name could come along and remake.

Thursday, 13 July 2017


My obituary of Chuck Blazer, the US soccer supremo whose testimony pulled back the curtain on the high level of corruption in FIFA, is online at the Guardian. You can link to it here; it should be in the paper paper soon. Blazer was an interesting case study, and I was lucky in the sense that I knew enough about the situation, and knew people with far more knowledge of it, to be to see both sides of the equation. It was important to note the impact Blazer had on the growth of the game in America, particularly in terms of the success of the national teams and the added exposure he got for them. The US still suffers from minnow status in the big world of football: they can go into the World Cup ranked a tier below Mexico even when they have beaten the Mexicans and won their group. But as I never tire of pointing out to British soccer moonies, the men's national team has had a success rate in the World Cup very much comparable to England's, the difference being no one in America really cares.

I also was able to speak, or at least write, with experience of FIFA. I had been doing business with them in the days when Sepp Blatter was the General Secretary and Joao Havelange was the President, and Blatter's reputation was as an 'honest broker' whom you could trust to see a deal through. Times change. Otherwise, writing it was easy, in the sense that Blazer was a larger-than-life character in any sense; I smell the makings of a TV movie, with John Goodman in the starring role. The hardest part was cutting out stories that were entertaining but didn't suit the obit. The macaw, however, made the cut.

Otherwise it is pretty much as I wrote it, with a couple of I think telling omissions.The first came with the mention of Prince William appearing in Chuck's blog. What I had actually written at that point was:  

alongside those (pictures) of Blazer with British royalty and football stars. 'Royalty treated him like royalty,' an anonymous colleague told the New York Daily News, 'because they wanted to host the World Cup and were slavering for the money that could be made buying and selling the beautiful game'.  

This was a reference to the failed British bid for the World Cup, which crashed amidst a 'fury,' as the tabloids would have it, of accusations of bribery. Which turned out to be true, but probably didn't actually take the event away from Britain anyway. But the ideal royals could be slavering for money was apparently beyond the pale.
The second was at the end, in the mention of his survivors. There I wrote:

Blazer is survived by his son Jason, a physio therapist who served as CONCACAF's head of medicine, and his daughter Marci, a lawyer who served on FIFA's legal committee.

I thought that the mention of their positions within world football was a telling point to make, for obvious nepotistic reasons. It wasn't the only case in FIFA history, that's for sure, including Sepp's nephew the travel agent. The paper also had some doubt about his cause of death. When he was hospitalized in 2015, it was reported as colon cancer. His lawyer's statement about his death said he died of rectal cancer. I didn't think it was a cause for omission.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017


Tonight I will be interviewing Michael Connelly at Waterstones in Piccadilly, to celebrate publication of his 30th novel, The Late Show, which features a new main character, LAPD night shift detective Renee Ballard. As I prepared for the interview I realised that I wrote my first review of Connelly 20 years ago. The novel was Trunk Music (his fifth Harry Bosch novel, and his sixth overall) and the review was published in the Spectator. It was, I think, his first major review in this country. Not long after that, I met Michael when he was reading in Melbourne, Florida, and I've been lucky enough to stay in touch, and to be asked to write an afterword to his collection of journalism, Crime Beat. So I thought I'd reprint that first review, from the Spectator, 8 March 1997. I also discovered that Connelly was mis-spelled throughout, and I've finally corrected that. One line from the close of the review was used as a blurb on any number of Michael's later books, which more than made up for the typo!


by Michael Connelly
Orion,£16.99, pp.375

The Los Angeles inhabited by LAPD detective Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch resembles the paintings of his Flemish namesake. Horrors lie underneath the surface of a garden of earthly delights. The classical gives way to the modern; Trunk Music, Michael Connelly’s fifth Bosch novel, is also the first post-OJ police novel; the ghosts of Judge Itoh and Johnnie Cochrane are never far from the thoughts of cops like Bosch, nor from Bosch’s real Nemeses: lawyers, politicians, and police administrators.

When the body of soft-core porn video-maker Tony Aliso is found in the trunk of his car with two .22 shells in his skull, on a hill overlooking a concert in the Hollywood Bowl, it appears to be a classic mob hit (“trunk music”). The trail leads Bosch quickly to Las Vegas, and to an apparent solution. It also leads him back to a woman who betrayed him, in the very first Bosch novel, The Black Echo. The situation may seem old hat but Connelly makes it work by constantly confounding your expectations as he finds new angles to pursue. His stories have more twists and turns than Mullholland Drive, but they never divert you from where they should be going. Because the murder is only part of the story, the rest is Harry Bosch, his character, and his conflicts with authority, the forces of control whose toes he inevitably steps on. “Who polices the police who police the police?” is a favourite Bosch line.

Character is action, said Fitzgerald, and the way Connelly gets to the core of the situation through Bosch suggests the genre’s best writers. If Bosch resembles Hammett’s Continental Op, a lone wolf who’s honest in a corrupt world, the woman who betrayed him is his Brigit O’Shaugnessy. Trunk Music also recalls Chandler’s relishing of the sleazy Hollywood milieu and his use of Las Vegas as a contemporary Bay City, where respectable people go to be bad, and bad people go to help them. The hothouse corruption of Aliso’s wife and the deserted settings in the Hollywood hills smack of Chandler at his best.

There is no new ground broken in Connelly’s prose style, but he writes with sensitivity to nuance, the kind of undercurrent often missed in conversation. He is particularly good in the interplay of verbal and psychological warfare. This was shown best in The Last Coyote (1995) , where Bosch fences with the police psychologist who must decide if he is fit to return to duty after he has assaulted his chief, the wonderfully named Harvey “98” Pounds (as in the American equivalent of 7 stone weakling). 

Bosch uses his suspension to investigate the murder of his mother, a prostitute, who gave him his name because she had no father’s name to use. There is more than a hint of James Ellroy in the pursuit of this case, which leads to revelations of Chinatown-like corruption. Although he lacks the innovative prose fire of Ellroy, Connelly has the skill to create a powerful new story out of familiar materials to create a new story with its own power.

After The Last Coyote, Connelly changed gears with The Poet (1996), a serial killer novel which is interesting, but hampered by the use of a reporter as its protagonist. The journalist, oddly, lacks the psychic empathy to the killer that the cop may have, the kind of feeling for criminals that Bosch has. The Poet, of course, became a best-seller in America. Trunk Music marks Bosch’s return, and lives up to the high standard of The Last Coyote. This is the strongest crime series being written in America right now, and Trunk Music gets an unqualified recommendation.

Monday, 10 July 2017


THE BACK ALLEYS OF NOIR is a title I'll use for occasional essays on the films I'm catching up with (or maybe revisiting) that fall into the general category of film noir. Or perhaps reflect in some ways upon it. I won't go into a great definition debate about what is or isn't noir right now: but I'm going through two editions of the Encylopedia of Film Noir which sit by my bed, and I may have something to say about that later. In the meantime, here's an early Anthony Mann I finally caught up to, and just yesterday I was talking about it with my friend Jeanine Basinger, who wrote the first and best book on Mann, which has been reissued and is still in print...


I'm not sure how I managed to miss Railroaded before, because this early Anthony Mann noir is fascinating at times on its own account, and moreso for what it says in relation to Mann's other work. According to IMDB it was released in 1947 after T-Men, which is often considered Mann first classic, done in a semi-documentary style. The title Railroaded implies some kind of police malfeasance, which would play into a documentary style; some variation on 'Framed' would be more accurate a title. But we do get some of the technical detail, as we did in T-Men: the laboratory forensics (discovering a perfume-scented bullet!), the quick access to the villain's rap sheet, the police radio broadcasting across the nameless city.And more interesting, as in T-Men, we have a top cop, the hard-boiled Capt. MacTaggart, smoking through a cigarette holder, as disconcerting in this movie as in that one, and no accident, as he's shown doing it in multiple scenes. It's sometimes seen as an easy way to make a stock character stand-out, but I think there's something slightly more sinister, more unsettling about it; something about the way the bureaucracy may impinge on the character of those it rewards.

The movie belongs to John Ireland as the villain Duke Martin, and, whenever he's in a scene, the centre of attention (note the poster above right). He could be the template for Lee Marvin in The Big Heat, only he's cooler, more convinced of his superiority, and his violence is more controlled, and thus more vicious. Jane Randolph sadly has to play her part with more vulnerability because of this, but she starts out brassy and tough: Clara Calhoun owns a beauty salon that's a front for a bookie joint; she and Duke plan to rob her take one night and keep the cash. When the heist goes wrong and a cop is killed, they frame young Eddie Ryan for the crime, and it's up to his sister Rosie and hero detective Mickey Ferguson (Hugh Beaumont) to learn the truth.

Stella Ryan, as Rosie, is most interesting when she's trying to get close to Duke by playing up to him; there's just the slightest suggestion she might be drawn to dark side of the Club Bombay forever, especially when she (gasp) accepts a cigarette from Duke. Beaumont isn't bad as the cop, though he's almost constantly having to play against his own innate niceness. Which hurts in a sense since his romance with Rosie almost parallels Dukes in its forcefulness, but he has nowhere to go with that.

As in other noirs, from Mann and others, relationships can be highly ambiguous and eminently mutable. Duke rubs down his gun (and its bullets) with a handerchief soaked in Clara's perfume (the scented bullets turn out not to be a key plot point), as well as using his (still-scented) handkerchief to polish his cigarette case feverishly as he tries to seduce Rosie. This frenzied wrist motion highlights Duke's manic sexuality: he's the epitome of what his boss, Jackland Ainsworth (played with great relish by Charles D Brown as he reads to Duke and his own moll passages from Oscar Wilde about the need to keep women under control with force. When Duke eventually shoots him, he does it while telling him about killing his previous boss, up close and facing him. His name, Jackland Ainsworth might be a subconscious kind of clue. This subplot of violence against women also explains why Eddie Ryan has been framed; he beat-up Duke's actual accomplice in the robbery for coming on too strong to Rosie.

But what's most fascinating is watching Mann (working with cinematographer Guy Roe) using the template of noir. It's at its best in interior scenes; the opening is brilliant in Clara's salon (we know she's bad because she has her initials embroidered gaudily on her uniform) where the robbers literally materialise out of the shadows, and where the curtains create dark effects as the robbery and shootings take place. When Duke stashes Clara in a waterfront dive, it looks too elegant for its setting, but when he shoots her he's framed in stark contrast to that setting, turning it into a trap. Even better is the scene when Clara goes to the drugstore phone booth to get help from Mickey, who's at the Ryan's house (don't ask): shot from the outside, framed by the drugstore window and the booth's windows, it's Hopper crossed with black and white Richard Estes. Finally there is Club Bombay, shot through small windows from the outside, and a hidden window that looks like a television screen from Ainsworth's office. The final shootout in the shadows, which Mann expands to include a brilliant bit behind the piano, ends with Duke being shot in the back, dominating the screen as he dies. Sharp contrast to the way he's killed Ainsworth, facing him, previously. There's a subtle diminishing of Beaumont as a hero in that. Duke also plugs Rosie as she stands in the shadows of the Club Bombay, set off in the chiaroscuro shadows, but it's only the inevitable shoulder wound, though in the final scenes it appears that the wrong shoulder has been bandaged.

The plot stalls repeatedly, because it cries for Rosie to be more active in it, and for Beaumont to perhaps get caught up more severely in her ambiguity. One of the key scenes is a cat-fight between Rosie and Clara in Clara's luxury flat, while Duke looks on from behind a doorway. She's brilliant in a three-way scene at he club where Duke and Mickey spar over her at a table. But this story's really about getting from one point to the next. I'm still trying to figure out how writer John C Higgins, who also wrote T-Men simply keeps things moving, to get to the confrontations that are set up so intriguingly by Mann.

Ferguson's partner, the aptly named Jim Chubb (played with great B movie relish by Clancy Cooper) is able to find out where Clara is stashed, as supposedly only she and Duke know where she is. Or why Duke has to write down the number to Rosie's phone, when he already knows it and it's dead easy to remember. But that's just plot and frankly we don' need no steenkin plot. There is more than enough to savour in Railroaded.


I was listening to the estimable Keith Wood on Newstalk Ireland's Off The Ball programme talking about the end of the series between the Lions and the All-Blacks and he said something wonderful about why sport is 'terrific' and why we follow it. 'It means a lot, and it means nothing,' he said, and how true that is.

Which is why I find myself writing this. It might have been fitting that the series came down to a ferocious last-chance drive by the All-Blacks which the Lions' defenders just managed to push into touch to get the final whistle and preserve a tie. And fitting that the ABs appeared to be arguing right to the end that the whistle should not be blown. A 15-15 tie was, on balance, a fair result, as was a drawn series, 1-1-1. The Lions haven't won a tour in New Zealand since 1971, and that mark remains; NZ haven't lost a test at Eden Park since 1994, and that mark remains as well.

But it was also fitting that the biggest controversy of the tour came when referee Romain Poite of France reversed a decision to award a penalty to the All-Blacks, with the score even at 15, changing an offside against Ken Owens to an 'accidental' offside, thus cuing a monumental nationwide whinge which began with All-Blacks' captain Keiran Read arguing and debating the call with Poite on the spot, then exploded with nuclear force in the NZ media the next day and will run and run for decades. Recall Read's words immediately after the match: 'That (the penalty reversal) wasn't why we lost the game.' In NZ, this draw was the equivalent of a loss.

The penalty came off the restart kick following Owen Farrell's penalty that tied the game. The ball had popped loose from fullback Liam Williams as he fielded the kick, and bounced into Owens' hands; after an instant's realisation, he dropped the ball. But what's interesting is that Read, as captain, was leading the chorus of protest, because when the whistle blew, I immediately assumed it would be for a penalty against Reid himself, for lurching into Williams' back as he was in the air fielding the kick. Contact is allowed only if the player is trying to play the ball; Read was no higher than Williams' mid-back when he lunged into the Welshman. He waved an arm around as if he were trying to tap the kick backwards, but the contact was not at all, uh, 'accidental'. Worse, if you watch the replay, as the equally estimable Brian Moore pointed out to me, you'll also notice that Read appears to be ahead of the kicker on the re-start; he's so far ahead that he's in front of referee Poite as he chases the kick, yet Poite apparently never notices him. Had Read not assumed All-Black invisibility, that would have been an offside penalty.

I've been watching international rugby regularly since 1977 (though my first match was the All-Blacks vs Combined Services in 1972 or 73) and trying to fathom the rules has always been a near-impossibility. I've read them, and they are ambiguous to the point of making the NFL's rule book look like it was written by Ernest Hemingway. It's all in the interpretation, and each referee seems to make much up as he goes along. When I first started watching, lifting in the lineout was illegal, yet everyone lifted. Nowadays the feed into the scrum never comes close to being straight; one AB put in during the third test didn't even enter the scrum at all.

And this is one of the areas New Zealand have a huge advantage over everyone they play. The All-Blacks are put on a refereeing pedestal: Richie McCaw spent his career entering rucks from the side without penalty. Rugby minnows are given no benefit of the doubt, the All-Blacks always are.

This is partly deserved. To me what most separates the All-Blacks from the world is their game awareness. They process the game quicker, see options, make decisions more fluidly than any side in the world. The whole country is focused on rugby, they grow up playing and learning the game the same way. Every player possesses a great degree of skill and no fear of using it. They also have a sense of the rules, and of how much they can get away with bending and sometimes abusing them.

M. Poite's decision in Owens' favour wasn't his first use of the accidental or inadverdant call. When Jerome Kaino (born in American Samoa, there's one who got away from gridiron or at least the Eagles) clotheslined Alun Wyn Jones. Despite seeing Wyn Jones' head smashed backward (he was concussed, and allowed to return to play for reasons that deserve explanation), the ref and the video official concluded that it was not contact with any force (!) and that it was a legitimate attempt to tackle within the laws, although Kaino's fist remained closed and arm remained stiff throughout. The clothesline was banned in American football back in the Night Train Lane days. Given that Kaino had been caught (but not penalised) for late hits on Connor Murphy in the second-test, his standard New Zealand reply: 'Its never our intention to hurt someone outside the laws of the game' rang as hollow as it always does.

Read also said 'perhaps we were trying too hard', and that certainly seems true, given the unforced errors the ABs made. The Lions made plenty of their own, but in the end Owen Farrell and Elliott Daly atoned for theirs with penalty kicking. The game was a tactical masterpiece: the ABs reacted to the Lions' defending in the second test by widening their play, and should have had more tries. The Lions adjusted at half-time, and the All Blacks never really adjusted back. The Lions again couldn't finish at the goal line, and Farrell's soft pass nearly turned into a NZ try. It was a fascinating, imperfect, hard-fought match and in the end not marred by the officiating the way the first test had been.

The drawn series seemed to bother some people. The Sky reporter began an interview by saying 'we all know a tie is like kissing your sister', but that's always been a misleading aphorism. It was originated by Bear Bryant in 1966, when an injury-riddled Notre Dame scraped out a 10-10 tie at Michigan State in a battle of unbeaten teams ranked numbers 1 and 2. Bryant's Alabama, also undefeated and ranked no 3, remained there after the game, which irritated Bear no end, as if, when the first two runners finish level, the gold medal should go to the one in third.

I've never been a proponent of overtime in American football (except in the playoffs when it's necessary) and I'm not in rugby. These are heavy contact, physically debilitating games and after 60 or 80 minutes, a result is a result. Overtime tends to work on behalf of the 'better' team, the favourite, the deeper squad, and especially the home team. For the Lions to scrape a tie, and a drawn series, against the odds, is something special, and something that should not be overturned because some people find it inconclusive. To me, it's very conclusive. Over the course of 240 minutes, these two sides were as near enough equal as they could be. The All-Blacks deserved to be favourites, and after the first test they were overwhelming favourites to sweep the series. That the Lions fought within a hair's-breadth of winning (or indeed, losing) the series, but hung on for a draw, is triumph enough; that the Kiwis, threatening to take the whole thing right to the end, couldn't, will remain a disappointment, but in reality, it was a series they didn't deserve to lose. Remember, it does mean a lot, but it also means nothing.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

SAGA: NEW AGE SPACE OPERA by Brian Vaughn & Fiona Staples

The winged people of Landfall, the largest planet in the galaxy, are in a state of perpetual war with the rams-horned people of their planet's moon, Wreath. But because the destruction of either planet or moon could wind up destroying the other, the war has been out-sourced across the galaxy, with planets and their creatures forced to take sides. This bellicose state of being becomes threatened when Marko, a Wreathian who is as close as one can come to being a conscientious objector, is captured, and guarded by Alana. Sparks fly, and twelve hours later the two are escaping together. And when Alana gives birth to a Hazel, a feat not believed possible by either race, the new family are pursued by both sides, neither of which has any interest in rapprochement.

Saga is an epic space opera which is the most entertaining thing I've read over the past two years. It's been billed as a cross between Star Wars and Game Of Thrones, but that's much too limiting. Writer Brian K Vaughn draws on familiar tropes, but what brings them together is the way they are used to tell stories which reflect on our present state, while constantly surprising with their innovation. The myriad, mostly humanoid, races include the Robots, androids with video monitors for faces, who, like most of the races in this galaxy are perfectly able to have sex with, if not procreate with, other races. There are mercenary assassins, including The Stalk, with an arachnid body. There is a Lying Cat, who says 'lying' whenever someone does. There is Izabel, a ghost with half a bodywho floats alongside the family. And D. Oswalt Heist, a writer reminiscent of the Man In The High Castle, whose offbeat philosophy seems to mirror the entire Saga itself.

But what makes it work is the way this inter-planetary chase, this violent existence, simply brackets the more human, as it were, problems. Marriage, parenthood, relationships, drug use, reality TV (Alana at one point is acting in a soap opera on 'open circuit'), love, sex, friendship, loyalty...all the things we expect epics to draw upon, and when it is done well, it reflects on us in ways we recognise. Artist Fiona Staples has a wonderful knack of moving from the mundane to the galaxy-busting which complements Vaughn's leaps of imagination and daring.

Saga is published in volumes which collect six issues of the comic. I find this the more satisfying way to read the series, because it operates on cliffhangers which would become too frustrating on a regular monthly basis. I've just finished Volume Seven, which may be the best, and is certainly the most powerful, since the start of the series. It appears to be a pause, a holding pattern, for the series, but really it is a book of losses.

The family has been reunited, and with the unlikely group they've gathered on their tree-based spaceship, they land for re-fuelling on the war-torn comet Phang. In fact they land in the middle of a group of meerkat-like creatures, one of whom, Kurti, becomes Hazel's friend and her first kiss. But pursuit is never far behind, and in the conflict a timesuck is released which threatens to engulf Phang. It's necessary to abandon Phang, and they want to take their meerkats with them, especially Kurti, but the meerkats believe their deity will see them through the crisis. I don't want to spoil this, but near the end of the story is a panel that made me think of Goya's Dog, and the final pages are stunning in their power. These are creatures who would fit the classic comic book definition of 'funny animals', yet Vaughn and Staples have given them life we belief in, and told a story which has the power to bring even cynical adults to teary sadness.

SAGA Volume 7
written by Brian K Vaughn art by Fiona Staples
Image Comics, £13.99, ISBN 9781534300606

Saturday, 1 July 2017

...LISTEN (a poem after Jan Garbarek/Thomas Transtromer)

I started this poem between August and October 1985. That was the time when I had just moved into my flat in Belsize Park, alone. I was listening to Jan Garbarek's new album, It's OK To Listen To The Gray Voice, in which each of the tunes is based on, and titled with a line from, a Tomas Transtromer poem. There is a lot of inward looking in there, and it was resonating with me at that time, for reasons I got then, but understand a lot better now. It wasn't based strictly on either the title track, nor on "One Day In March I Go Down To The Sea And Listen", which is why the title has its ellipsis at the start. I know I have made notes for both those other titles, but I haven't found them yet.

...Listen was published in December 1987, as part of 'Five Jazz Poems' in Hollands Maandblad, which, as I've said before here, was one of my favourite of my all poetry publications. I've continued to write poems when the jazz music takes me. I was putting some together, maybe for a 30th anniversary at Hollands Maandblad, or for this blog, or something else, when I started looking at this one again. And when I did I reworked it considerably. In fact, what I hear in it now is a lot of 'Witchi-Tai-To', the Jim Pepper tune, in Garbarek's later version, not the one with Bobo Stenson in 1973. It's got the feel of a ritualistic chant, which is an approach to a feeling of aloneness from another side. It was a gray voice I was hearing, and I was not sure it was OK.

                   after Tomas Transtromer via Jan Garbarek

You're learning

something you've known
long time gone
crazy with rain
falling in waves
driving away
wipers beat

blinking not
crying but
trying to

make her repeat
what you don't
want to hear

but you think
needs to
appear & fill
between you


so you'll feel
pain, know
enough to
push her
away, though
she's not
there in the
other seat

so push instead
the last dry
grain of love
to a place
beyond care
you'll never
find again
not in this
rain & then


you can

& drift away
away with
& drift away with
the rain