Second Song

Second Song
(How many roads?)

Stood on the banks of a stream with forces amassed, looking on towards the journey-defining second decade of adulthood.

A man must have the presence of mind, the perspicacity to acknowledge himself and hence possess the ability to adapt. For consciousness of the need to change is assailed perpetually by deluge of implacable ego. The desire to be right is lazy and disingenuously self-affirming. The journey is not complete upon arrival at the bank of the stream. No, herein lies the true journey’s beginning. Growth is not automatic; the termination of adolescence has seen to that. Now you must choose and, unlike most, drive on.

Did all the accumulated words and actions of the first manual stage merely hang around you, suspended in ether, phantasmal and as static as the breeze decided? Have they passed through you as free radical energies; bizarre, sporadic and beautiful; ephemeral and aimless? That I would resign?

Resign now as the full force of experience tears through the shroud at the speed of light, revealing awesome vistas of unimagined potentialities that dilate and heighten the blackness to indescribable focus, unintelligible expression, full-circle to blankness, bursting the dams and overwhelming the moist, biological matter?


Charge on in mind of the muses.

This is the time, always now is the time. Resign? Whilst all routes of all extant fabric point irrefutably to the immanent, right here NOW NOW NOW… ad infinitum.

I feel nothing now but know that in the place where this void gapes dumbly once dwelt an irreverent sneer. Resign and join you in complacent, vapid bleats afore a perennial grey pre-morning: intoxication comfortingly burning the skin from within and the milky mist and you and the interminable cold without? Join you in the reciprocal nemesis and brotherhood of the likewise-damned?; The two-way Stockholm syndrome?; Beneath the web that delimits the permissible height, so wretchedly low as to suppress all ascent and ensure that we all are equal so that none may incite envy. But we all are bitter. We clamour below and hurt each other in the name of fraternity. We scheme, but, each mutually assured of the treacherous intent of each, we pay lip service to the strange conformity with chests protruding and divide subject and object whilst feeling no conflict. The terrible truth. Truth, the taboo: weapon, unusable, of mutually assured destruction, amassed to the point of insanity but remaining, still… unusable. Resign now and join you in aimless scuttling, clambering over one another?; Cutting circles until the mundane, insane end? As again you bray at me before a faceless dream throng. Sickeningly assured and gapingly absent. Contorted of face to a degree achievable only in the absolute certainty of camaraderie adduced by the bully in his audience. But this is the dream of nudity, the will to exhibition and I have read indifference in a representative of the faceless. Neutrality effective as defection. These are masks of anonymity that I see crowded behind you. Your scornful construction contorts gymnastically in baseless self-assurity upon foundations of sand. How now that you are deserted?

I ford the brook with the full force of accumulated knowledge into the life-defining second decade of adulthood and pass to where the hounds cannot follow my scent.

© John Lowndes, April 2015

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Joyce’s Umbrella

Joyce’s Umbrella

Have you any idea how hard it is for me to play a G major?
Should I write a standard progression, put the chorus where it should be and scream ‘dada’ in a controlled display of abandon?
Know I am a charlatan?
The only true rebellion would be to, with utter sincerity, believe yourself a penguin
Flying in the face of all authority


Making nonsense of their nonsense by means of nonsense
All artifice
If we knew the secrets of the universe would Tory policy be affected?

And why write? Why try? Why anything?

Because we are alive and feel consternation at suggestions that one day we will be no longer
I wrote my MP on the matter and was thanked by her desk for my correspondence

Sublunar rulers of rationale
Temporal yoke
Take our hands and guide us to gravity
As though far above the stars burn still beneath us
And so I, warped branch in the mind’s eye of my former self
A twisted blade sharpened on the whetstone of truth
Stand strong before draped banners of peace
Saving the world’s minds, beard incidental, slashing through stereotypes, tearing it all down
Paradox paragon turn your sword upon yourself!
Fatal logic!

Out on the street I step purposefully
‘Wait!’ shouts my conscience
Comical in breathless pursuit

I stay my progress and allow him to meet me,
My conscience made feeble by years of formality
He catches his breath, bent double and smiling:
‘You left your umbrella!’
(he doesn’t inform me)

Along the x-axis;
Fluctuating like a gated kick drum;
As unreal shapes in phase space;
Madness on all sides conceivable;
Madness on all sides inconceivable;
Permeating to the core
(if we can allow such an anomaly)


All that is real can be sold at a profit
All that is true is subject to review
But something IS true
Subject to review


All that is real is also unreal
Nothing is true until counterfeited by the artifice of review
Limited and also defined by Biology
Partial(?) pre-determination, Gestalt, partial fatalism
Ineluctable modality of the protagonist
I await your return from sea and I have your umbrella
You must be drenched through!

Give me no convention, no semblance, less, l asd dfig j [agj [ag-t gµ

© John Lowndes, November 2014

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The Author’s Room and the Radio in Mine

Collage by Chantelle Valentin. Picture by Arron Anderson.

Collage by Chantelle Valentin. Picture by Arron Anderson.

The Author’s Room and the Radio in Mine

I return from the fringes of a dream
Remember this universe
Lie back down
And wonder what the next universe will look like

In the corner a prosaic but spectral voice
Incants a lean philosophy
Pragmatic for efficiency
Self-assured in its conceptions

Its versions loaded with malign satisfaction
Static and therefore stagnant
Conceited enlightenment

There is only the finest veil separating the days from the nightmare

The Author’s room was cluttered and in disarray
He manoeuvred towards me unsteadily
Looking as though he hadn’t slept for days
‘Where have you been?’
I enquired gently

‘Working sporadically, erratic without purpose
Brooding on the synchronisation of birds in flight
Measuring the thickness of the present
As you imagine
As you but…
An image
We traded a rib once
And now you have taken it from me.’

Through the equiprobable spectral roar
A phantom incants the daily crisis

Can common sense exclude me
If it is truly commonality?
I imagined them in a back alley
Kicking a blind tramp to death
I saw the night but could not connect
With the complacent damnation
In the disembodied voices

‘Any sane…
Any right thinking…’

I did not speak
I wanted to tell them
That I had seen the orange moon loom above a pasture
And wondered what the stars were

But I could not ask
Because they would have answered

There is only the finest veil separating my nightmare from my days

‘The world ends when sequence ends
Just as it began with it
…You know that.’

He seemed distracted, disconnected

‘Alpha, omega, et cetera, et cetera
…I’m bored.’

‘But they seem so…’ I began

‘Remember perspective!
120° binocular vision
What is common sense divided by seven billion?
Where was common sense in the Planck Epoch?
Common sense in the Sombrero Galaxy?
And when was I?
We traded in ribs once
Your image.’

I could not convince myself it was a dream
When had I been sleeping?
The Author’s room…

‘Just because you…
Just because it isn’t you…
Doesn’t mean…
I mean…
It does not prove what is out there
To cite disproof of you.’

And when he answered he seemed wild;
And after all that I had said I felt an affinity;
Was ashamed of my presumptions

‘This is a poor incarnation
Many times I have been awesome, awful
If you would have seen me your eyes would have been reduced to ash
All would coalesce into incandescence and abject terror.’


‘Is it all you?’

‘It all started in the same place
At least that’s what they say
Doesn’t that make it all the same?’

‘All you?’

‘Maybe, or all you
… I don’t know!’

He retorted with disdain

‘Ask your radio
It sounds like they know!
I am an image
As you… but an image
You gave me a rib once
I gave you a rib once
And that fucking radio a rib once
And now it just doesn’t seem so important.’

© John Lowndes 2014

This poem was published in tHE zEEN, Issue 10, April 2014.

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A Record of Our Religious Fanaticism

A Record of Our Religious Fanaticism

A Record of Our Religious Fanaticism 


Once it takes possession of you –
Sink the needle
And the damaged, underlying record crackles warmly

And your revolutions carry you from now to when
An old man
Setting sun
You converse with a young busker about your own musical ordeal

Still in its possession
To have and to hold
A grip you cannot sever
In sickness and in health
On this turn of the wheel
For richer or (usually) poorer
A thousand dreams reduced to one attitude incarnate

Venerate the subjective in


Rise and fall with
Flailing arms on
Dance floors, in
Warehouses, and
Accompany every
Defiance, submittal
Fight and flight

You can run from yourself
Walk on water
Hump it through the eye of a needle
But you cannot escape its possession
Always compelled by this culture-bound syndrome
Unless driven out into a herd of pigs
To take flight into a river and drown

It begins when the arm drops
And ends, leaves the groove and ascends
The offence of possession, goodbye
Absolved for now

Samsara; change the record
Again it takes possession of you –
Sink the needle
And the damaged, underlying record crackles warmly

© John Lowndes 2012

This poem was published in tHE zEEN, Issue 08, September 2012. Picture by Arron Anderson.

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