Autumn by Ruswa Fatehpuri


At the dizzy end of Fall

Disoriented. Winter coat, summer shoes

Leaves wet in heavy piles, the smell

Your shawls retreived from plastic

Memories preserved in aspic

Quiet streets, the afternoon

Christmas lights and cloudless skies

I finger spines of all the books I will not give

Wind whispers in the branches, who and who?

Did you leave her? Did she leave you?

Ruswa Fatehpuri

from Sold and Bartered

Thematically related Post:

And as Autumn rolls around again, so does this poem, reblogged at re-linked…


On the Road. After All

On the Road. After All

Have you ever wondered why no long distance hauliers are renowned epic poets? As someone who has spent a lot of time in the saddle I’ve puzzled over it for years. You would be wrong to leap to bourgeois conclusions of class and erudition, that is lazy thinking.

If you have never driven long distance, and I specifically mean as the driver rather than a passenger, you may wonder at my premise. But those who have sunk over hours into the drivers seat, feet nursing the pedals, hands caressing the wheel will know. With part of the brain occupied and preoccupied with speed and traffic, distances and lanes, hazard perception and directions the rest of it is freed. The higher mind is alone at last, its noisey sibling distracted and silenced, the demands of doing and achievement delegated.

The road has rhythms, be it at an over the limit blatt or a congested crawl, although in truth it is empty miles and darkness that are the most conducive environment. The rhythms give a pace and order to thoughts, but even at constant velocity there are variations and dissonances. You pass, or are passed, there are imperfections in the tarmac, changing lanes, on ramps, off ramps, lights all weave in and out of the beating heart of the engine. And that too has its complexity, whether a four, six, eight or more part percussion of pistons, conducted by the throttle and played by great lung fulls of air to the intake manifold.

It is in the regular irregularity, the tapestry of complexity, that epic poetry lives. My faithful motor and I have shared almost a hundred thousand miles, over the years and with other partners you could double that. In those vacant hours I swear I have bettered Queen Mab and Coleridge, shaded Shelley and The Mariner. But it was a fleeting brilliance. It faded as the engine ticked and cooled and by the time pen and paper were assembled to bear witness to genius it had fled leaving only the glass slipper of mocking remembrance.

Of course, that is not all of it, that is not it at all. Today I am hands free, voice recognised, recorded. So why haven’t the tattoed hoards erupted into todays whateverthefuckosphere howling and yawping, claiming their place beside Whitman, bouncing Ginsberg off the bonnet?

Surely there is more to be had from trucking poetry than CW McCall?

The road lends itself to introspection, which is rarely a happy indulgence. There is time to rake the coals of fires long extinguished, or pursue flights of fancy like lost inland gulls. Gloomy thoughts and dark roads are a poisonous blend, Sobranie Blacks, seductively sickly sweet and yet filling the body with toxins. All the better. Happy poems are for hacks and Hallmark.

The blurring barriers become extremely dense, urging you to drift inwards with a new and more potent gravity. The shadows under the roadside verdancy promise eternal youth, androgyne elves and faerie queens. Dwell too long and the camber may sway you left or right and off the narrow path of safety. Survive the temptation and the passing juggernauts seek to suck you beneath their wheels.

Permit me a brief change of tack, I’m driving and my mental sat nav abhors straight lines. It is ironic that it is now, in the depths of night and on the dark of the road that I am making the choice to live. And appropriate perhaps that earlier this evening I have met briefly with the friend that introduced me to Dar Williams, and After All is playing on the stereo.

“When I chose to live, there was no joy it’s just a line I crossed, I wasn’t worth the pain my death would cost.”

I’ve had the end planned out in intricate detail for some time. No farewell note, that would be crass, just final touches of care and consideration. Paperwork neatly filed, bank accounts left in an orderly state allowing for the delays of probate, cash in the house for out of pocket expenses. The method would be calm, private, quiet. An undisturbed moment to prevent any hitches. And if I have not wholly made my peace with God, at least we have come to an understanding.

I’ve quashed it all in these melancholy miles. There is no way to tie up all the loose ends. I’ve picked apart my scheme meticulously, forensically, and found the unfixable flaws. What’s worth doing is worth doing well, and if I cannot do it well I will not do it.

That detour brings me back to hauliers and poets. In the end it is just a question of attention and concentration, and perhaps natural selection. It is about what the eye sees, what the heart feels, and what action the mind takes. And it is in this moment of darkness and choosing life that I learn the reason why no long distance hauliers are renowned epic poets.

Have you ever seen an articulated lorry jackknife? From behind and approaching at speed it seems implausible for something of such enormous weight to swing laterally. It draws the mind that is seeking the turning, pivotal moments in a grand rhythm. It calls “here is the foot on which you spin your great reveal”. It is that explosive writing rush when the finale becomes extraordinarily clear. Ink spills from the pen like gasoline from a ruptured tanker, the instant in which you know you have at last bested Queen Mab and Coleridge and the page catches fire.

Life did not choose me after all.


My book available here and here among others. Buy it, review it, tell me what you think.

MANIFESTO – The Artists Will Set You Free

The Artists Will Set You Free

There are no paintings, no sculptures, no books of poems. There are only conversations between the creator and the canvas , the chisel and the stone, the pen and the paper, all asking: What could you be?

And the dialogue does not stop there. The art asks the audience and the audience answers even if only to say: I do not understand. The creator asks the canvas, creating art; and the art asks the audience and the questions spread. Why? Why this way and not that? Why him and not her? Why your favoured son in the grand chair, why my daughter in the sweat shop? This is what the hegemonies fear.

The questions breed questions. A population explosion, immeasurable, restless. What is the story of the unmade bed? What tide washed in the room full of sunflower seeds? Why do some have no water, and some drink only sugar syrup?

Art is a meritocracy. The questions and the conversation do not see rags or riches, colour, gender, preference, height, weight, they only hear the questions asked as the chisel falls, as ink flows to the nib.

The hegemonies fear for their control is based on illusion. They fear because one mind wide awake can pierce the veil of dreams they wrap us in, cuddled and coddled and exploited. A feedback loop of fantasy in which we are sullied and despoiled.

The questions and the conversations and the dialogues are locked in vaults. They are traded at great price, commodities, goods, merchandised to cheapen their meaning. They are caged in wealth. The chosen, favoured creators gagged by privilege. Money is the divisive wedge.

The rest languish, ignored, the susurrus of the silenced in abandonment, daubed with the discounted cross of price: This has no monetary value – Therefore it has no value. Our language has been suborned and yet we live out our lives without outrage.

The only true currency is communication. What questions does the art make you ask? Does it fuel your courage with indignation? Does it make you inquisitive? Does it wake you from your lives of silence and subservience? If it makes the questions bubble up from beneath the somnolence of soap operas, quiz shows and celebrity worship then the art has some purpose, it has meaning, it has value.

The artists will set you free. They will show you chains you do not know you wear. They will draw back the lace curtains from the cage of thought in which you are trapped. They will make you question the burdens you have become so accustomed to you do not know you bear them. The will smash the yokes of ignorance and blindness with which you plough your birthright for the table of another.

You could have a walk on part in this war of ideas that is long overdue. Did you even know your freedom has been traded for shallow comforts? The sweat of your labour is stolen back from your hands with goods you don’t need made by slaves you will never see, paid for with your own bondage.

The artists will set you free. They will carve the faces of the unschooled children who make your trainers into the soaring walls of corporate mansions. They will spatter the overpasses with the strip mined landscapes where the precious metals for your hybrid car are ripped from the earth. They will bend wires into the spirals of despair and destitution faced by those who don’t fit the narrow confines of the corporate capitalist model.

The artists will set you free. Feed them, hear them, invite them into your homes and hearts. Challenge them to wake you with the truth, and listen when they scream it, raucous, uncouth, uncontained. Ask the questions they ask you. Demand answers and the hegemonies will fear you, hate you, hurt you. Give your own life meaning. Overturn the illusion of your privilege, where the best part of your production lines the pockets of those with plenty.

There will be peril, but at the end of the chain of questions there may be equity.


In a similar vein a recent post from someone I follow: Let us judge Art by QUALITY not POPULARITY!

And off on the consumerism tangent – check out What’s the deal with consumerism?

This piece was brushed off from its initial incarnation because a daily prompt asked for a manifesto and mine has not changed.

My book available here and here among others. Buy it, review it, tell me what you think.

The Plath Maths Patois

“…today we start
to pay the piper with each breath, yet love
knows not of death nor calculus above
the simple sum of heart plus heart”


In a fit of Plath love I posted a snippet from “Love is a Parallax” as a facebook status update. It kicked off an interesting conversation, conducted in a patois of poetry and maths, that I think is worth sharing, and also inviting views of the literate in both matters of the heart and pure mathematics.


Plath posits that there is a “simple sum of heart plus heart”. Reduced in its simplest form to the heart being something that can be added to another to lead to a defined outcome, and one that we may assume from her direction is qualitatively better than the component parts.


My interlocutor was in the Plath camp. Hearts are simple, and the mechanism that causes them to be combined is simple (let’s call it love for now) and leads to a defined outcome of fulfilment for both hearts.


My contention was that hearts are potentially complex, and the equation is not one of heart plus heart, but of finding where heart equals heart.


For the mathematically literate:

Plath: H1+H2 = goodness; where H1 is the heart of one person, and H2 the heart of another.

Me: fn(H1) = gn(H2), where the function that describes the characteristics of Heart 1 over n variables coincides with the function that governs the characteristics of Heart 2; which may be a number of outcomes which for now we can label good or bad, but which we will need to come back to later.

In fact, one may be choosing between the feasible set of outcomes for fn(H1) = gn(H2) and fn(H1) = hn(H2), and therefore in a love triangle, which partner to choose.


If the maths has lost you, think of a simple 2 axis chart, where the horizontal axis is passion, and the vertical axis is loyalty (I chose those at random). In a Plath world someone who scores 2 in passion and 2 in loyalty, joining with someone who scores 3 in passion and 1 in Loyalty leads to a partnership that scores 5 in passion and 3 in loyalty.


In comparison, I am saying that hearts are not points on that chart, they are potentially lines or even an area, and what we are really looking for is the set of results for where those points / lines / areas overlap.


Which leads to what I think is an interesting question. What are the n characteristics by which one may define a heart? I have crudely chosen passion and loyalty to illustrate the theory, but they may be irrelevant. The determinants may be something else entirely, cubic capacity perhaps, or susceptibility to chemical interference. Heart in this instance may indeed not be the muscle in the chest, but the complex group of brain parts that govern emotions and attachments.


Once we know what we think the n characteristics are what is the feasible set of values these characteristics could take? Are some binary: a person is or is not an arsehole. Are some potentially drawn from the full array of real and imaginary numbers?


When we have locked down the dimensions and their feasible sets, what form do we think the equation would take, and in solving it, do we expect to find a single point for each heart – essentially bringing us back to the simplicity of a Plath world, or a complex solution set that may or may not be continuous?


Finally, in comparing and combining two heart functions, are we in fact looking for their sum (per Plath) or where they coincide, and if there are multiple answers to the sum, or solution to the equations, on what basis could or should we choose between the results we get?


So, there is the tee up. Is the sum of heart plus heart simple, or are we looking at something infinitely more complicated?


DP: Haiku

Daily Prompt on Haiku, one for each of five days:



alarm ringing change

dawn, the sabbatical ends

for sleep leaden eyes



rise coffee phoenix!

drowsy afternoon ashes




packed trains, laden minds

blank faced in contemplation

filing our regrets



work hard, get married

buy a house, and buy a car

have kids, have kids. die



i tie my own chains

freedom embraced in farewell

a wage slave again




If you are interested in more of my writing please check out my book: Image and Other Stories