Spent today working on my next solo chapbook – Clutches of Love – due out early February…
Here is a Boxing Day taster to whet your appetite.
At the looking glass rotunda
In the centre of the city
I saw you
Of covering smoke
I saw you
Slipping off sideways
Thin through the mirror’s edge
Disappearing from sight
Go Suck Lemons!
You sit there with the spilling pint tippling, dribbling down your trouser leg, and slurring you moan “Oh poor me. My life is so terrible. So traumatic. I’m so destroyed”. I pity you, so say something reassuring, something cheering, a glass half-full in the early afternoon, some everyday shaft of sunlight through the dust in the gloom of an unloved room.
You slam your half-empty beer on the bar and snarl personal insults at me, digging deep for intimate confidences, laying bare my private nightmares to the glare of the public bar, “And you don’t no nuffink” growled. I want to cry, your mates laugh, you plough on with this character assassination monologue.
Until I say “Go suck lemons!” and walk away.
And you shrink back , like a slug from a flame, and slurring you moan “Oh poor me. My life is so terrible. So traumatic. I’m so destroyed”.
Bella Basura December 2017
“A cyclical shape/structure ( as opposed to linear Aristotelian male orgasm shape/structure) is a female shape/structure, like the Wheel of The Year, like the cyclical menstrual cycle.
This circular repetitive structure is ubiquitous in paganism – Wicca etc. Like the Maiden Mother Crone cycle, like the Wheel of The year. Paganism perceives life as cyclic, circular, repetitive, coming around again. Connecting with menstruation, and menopause is the ending of that cyclic life structure.
Do you remember your last period?
Menopause is something that you only become aware of after it has happened.
Do you remember your last period?
Our culture makes menstruating women invisible – tampons conceal the blood, sanitize and…what is the word? …Sanitize and deny the existence of menstruation. So that when it ends nobody’s any the wiser.
During the last 3 or 4 years of my periods I consciously chose to use reusable sanitary towels which had to be washed and dried and folded between uses. There was a kind of flappy thing with press studs that popped into my knickers and the clean towel was tucked into this sling. I had to change the towels every time I bled – like every little flow or drop stained the towel. In order to cut down the mess and to stay hygienic each towel had to be soaked in water immediately after removing it – or they became permanently stained. They were made in a fluffy kind of brushed cotton, and off-white – they stained easily.
Because the towels had to be changed and soaked at every drop and drip it was difficult to leave the house, a job of work was impossible. I managed a bookshop at the time – a front-facing customer service role – and I couldn’t have just left the floor, gone to the loo, put the soiled towel into a bucket of salt water and left it in the staff toilet, so I arranged to stay home during my periods, I used my holiday allowance visiting ‘auntie’. This made it important, it made my periods important, it made me aware of them , to respect the blood flow. I felt I got to know my body more in those few years, how my cycles and needs shifted, than at any other time. It was very empowering, very empowering. I made my cycle visible, acknowledged, not denied, not hidden.
Do you remember your last period?
Invisibility. Invisible if you’re pregnant, invisible if you’re a mother, invisible if you’re childless.
This is all fitting together. Invisibility, invisibility of periods, cyclic periods, cyclic structure, cyclic time, cyclic pagan-time, cyclic pagan-year.
Do you remember your last period?
Is Paganism feminist? It can be goddess-oriented, but I’m not sure it’s Feminist. Is goddess-worship the same as Feminist? Pagan feminists? Feminist pagans? I don’t know. Just because my Paganism is green, feminist, goddess, earth, animal welfare oriented, I don’t think most Pagans are. In fact, the vast majority of Pagans are…I don’t like this train of thought. Think something else.
Maiden Mother Crone
(chants) We all come from the Goddess and to her we shall return, like a drop of rain falling to the ocean. Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that dies shall be reborn. Corn and grain, corn and grain, all that falls shall rise again.
We are a circle within a circle, with no beginning and never-ending.
Starhawk, obviously, Spiral Dance. Feminist Pagan Eco-Warrior, par for the course.
I remember my last period.
It was Lammas sunset seven years ago. I hadn’t had a period for over six months.
I was at a Pagan Ritual Camp with 200 or 300 other Pagans. It was the last night of the camp and we had built the Wickerman , processed him through the fields and were taking him to the fire-pit to be burned and I remember passing the Priestess, Carol, skyclad under an Oak, welcoming the procession into the field and I felt SO happy, So fucking happy, so completely at one with it all, In that place, in that ritual, in that time.
We were casting the circle, and they lit the Wickerman, and suddenly I burst into tears, I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop. I had to leave the ritual circle and go cry in my tent. I cried hard night long. I cried a cosmic grief in the pain of the childless mother.
Next morning I woke up and there was blood in my knickers and I thought “Oh wow! That’s what that was all about”.
Lammas is the harvest ritual, is about reaping what you sow, is about reward.
My reward that year was infertility, barrenness, I don’t like those words – I wish there were more positive words for childlessness.
Is it over yet?
Has time run out for this monologue?
Or is it just my time that has run.”
This piece was originally written during a week of theatre workshops with RashDash physical theatre group, and was subsequently performed with Scramble Ensemble -women’s theatre collective, on 6th September 2017 at J2 The Cambridge Junction.
The image is of Panos by Carina Úbeda, a chilean artist who created an installation with used cloth sanitary towels mounted in embroidery hoops, embroidered with solgans.
Bella Basura 2017
Follow this link to see my skull collection.
When I was a child I dreamt of running away with the circus, but now I’ve seen Thee Telepaths I want to run away with a psych rock band. Last Friday they played at The Cat Basket Psychedelic Delights event at The Blue Moon in Cambridge, alongside local stalwarts Psychic Lemon and Warning Shadows. As I was to compere the event I spent all week listening to their Neon Spiral EP online, but hearing them perform War In My Head left me gasping “Oh, its just like Sister Ray said!”. Needless to say, they credit The Velvets as influences, alongside The Stooges, The MC5, Black Sabbath, Suicide, The Modern Lovers, Can, Neu!, Billy Childish, Loop, Mudhoney, Spacemen 3, The 13th Floor Elevators, Hawkwind, all these distinctive sounds smear through their music.
Seeing them live I was swept up in their raucous energy, and I was reminded most that they name-check Nuggets and Pebbles ’60s Garage Band compilations on their Facebook page.
Added to this Thee Telepaths have a heart-lurching stage presence that gleamed in the backroom gloom of The Blue Moon. A Wilko Johnsonesque wide-spread low-slung sprawl from bassist Tim often overspilled the space, at times he straddled the stage and dancefloor, so wide did he spread his lean thighs. Singer Dean seemed lost in possession, veering around the tiny stage like Ian Curtis on acid. Clasping his head in the crook of his elbow, grimacing, gurning, jerking a hand-jive that shook his whole body, crouching on the ground, staccato movements that wouldn’t look out of place at a Voodoo ritual. The Singer Loa-ridden called forth Papa Legba, and Baron Samedi on keyboard at his side. Tom, on keyboards, guitar and effects, was strutting confidence, spinning on the spot, manipulating piano keys, effects pedals and guitar strings with assured dexterity. The drummer, Vincent, an eight-armed Hindu god blurred in motion, beat out insistent in the gloaming upstage.
The whole a heavy writhing spellbound pandemonium, while pinprick coloured lights swept across my eyes and the ceiling.
Thee Telepaths are clearly a band with social media savvy, they are visible on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Youtube, but as they are touring right now, you would be doing yourself a big favour to catch them live.
In the 1990s one of my favourite small press publications was the seminal Unlimited Dream Company series – Towards 2012 – it’s editor – Gyrus – produced a stable of beautifully themed cutting edge factual anthologies at the end of the twentieth century.
In 2006 Gyrus started a new journal – Dreamflesh, which he subtitled “A Journal of Body, Psyche, Ecological Crisis and Archaeologies of Consciousness”. The list of contributors was an impressive roll call of writers working in marginal spiritual and philosophical paradigm, the whole was a smorgasbord of the strange and the alluring.
This month Gyrus has been posting the whole journal online, reprinting the articles and drawing out ideas that have persisted and flourished in the intervening 11 years.
In the web reprise Gyrus summarises the project: “Dreamflesh Journal documented an eclectic range of ideas, investigations and experiments informed by this complex ecopsychological framework. Essays, interviews and art ranged over many facets of human and non-human life that seem to be important to this transition: dreams, altered states, visionary media, occultism, sexuality & gender, animism, collective intelligences, psychosomatic healing, bodily symbolism, cognitive linguistics, new materialism, creatively disciplined prehistorical and anthropological studies, images & spirit (iconoclasm, idolatry, anthropomorphism, fetishism), death & dying, depth psychology, ecology… to name a few.”
Back in 2005, when I first heard that Gyrus was planning to edit a new journal I wrote a piece specially, my concern was female facial and body hair and I enjoyed myself writing a selected history of hirsute women. Then I sent in off to Gyrus.
A few months later I heard it had been accepted. I was delighted to have my piece included in Dreamflesh, it gave me the biggest readership I had ever had, I felt like I’d arrived, more than this, I felt I’d been accepted into a publication so inspiring that it left me in awe. And the Journal was certainly well-received, The Guardian called it “a bastion of the esoteric”, and not long after the Journal was released it was reviewed in Fortean Times “There is a dimension way, way out where flesh and dream coalesce, explored by people with names such as Orryelle Defenstrate-Bascule, Gyrus, Bella Basura, Pablo Amaringo and Lars Holger Holm, not to mention the formidible Dave Lee”. And that wasn’t all, wonderfully, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, the transgender founder of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, wrote of Dreamflesh “I felt EXCITED as I read. No mean feat. I truly was inspired”.
In the original introduction to the Journal Gyrus evaluated the role of traditional publishing in an increasingly digitized world, “The existence of the web can goad us into a sharper awareness of how print media impact the environment, in turn encouraging us all — in both writing and reading — to try to make every piece of paper and every drop of ink count. ”
In September and October Jean dark is running a series of six creative writing workshops.
Places are limited so please contact me to be sure of saving a place
Click the link below for more information