The idea – to float quietly down the Danube, to

tip into the Black Sea and back again – was on its face

a good one, although quiet contemplation proved not to be

the dominant mood for the whole shebang, what with

so much out there, back there, over there, so many

holes hammering into the softer spots of my skull to produce

a yet more porous pot that just cannot serve to retain and sift

the myriad bobs and bits, each aware of the ease with which

just one unintended slop or slip of that bubbling brew might

purge its content if no attempt be made to stem the flood.


I start to list the likely content shifts upon disgorgements –

the sum total of non-me-specifics is short and generic:

for example, wall-to wall political shenanigans, acts of god and

the ultimate disequilibrium between states’ abilities and desires

to be or not to be the catalyst of terminal warfare, not this time at least;

the main mood being that which switches all lights on

as the ought-to-deal-with-this-now gauge accelerates and

passes its mid-range with a leap and clicks into a momentarily

worrying high that cannot sensibly be relied on.


This coming to rest, one day, some day, is the best available

but I know that the work is largely done for the watchers, the waiters,

the flakers, the fakers – largely done with their in-built, sometimes

complimentary, default or factory settings. I try to summon up a warmer,

more understanding, more generous frame of mind, in which I demand

judgement deferral across the board. But I fail, falling heavily backwards

onto my haunches – another place that will hurt for a while, alongside

too many others; and I feel a warm, slow-descent, solitary tear

trickle down my cheek – that I know quite well now because


it’s always part of the last gasp, get real, final utterance that

rings true, like the Warning information on a cigarette pack

that is only ever read by the non-smoker. And it feels like the tear might

pass down to the corner of my mouth; but it stops and quickly dries,

so only I know, in most cases, that it was ever there.  Equally,

no-one can ask about the underlying fear; so I decide not even to

think about moving from the generic to the me-specific in terms of

what swishes and swashes inside my head. I see them, feel them,

know them – sometimes even understand them and engage.


I mull for a moment over the possibility that, in truth, each is

merely generic, in that none is other-worldly, insusceptible of explanation,

and has no protrusions to slice a shaking finger. I do wonder, however, if I should

try to write representatively and so limit the words used in my work; for example,

should I write a grey and black cumulus nimbus swiftly shifted across

the twilight sky, instead of a black stormcloud raced across the evening’s

fading light in the hope that my/a brand be established sooner? Sometimes I

really should cut to the chase here and shovel the whole lot

deep into the ground and explain, if necessary, that my style

and/or readers has changed, been simplified.


I conclude, after a further few hours afloat, that the generic

must entail a lack of precision, an absence of vision, too much

television; and that the truth lies somewhere meddling in the middle,

as usual, sitting on the fence day in, day out, sometimes saying to me

come on up, the view is beautiful. I’ll lend you my binoculars! What an arse,

I spit to myself – but everyone thinks it hits the thing on the fence. Is that,

should that be, excused as artistic licence? I fear not, it’s artistic atrophy,

it’s I that is the arse! ls this all I can do, all I am left with, a lewd fellow,

drifting in the wrong direction?  I whisper panic prayers, that tear on my cheek,

thankful I can still see, hear and listen, so earn the right to speak again.




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