Birthday letters never sent

time eclipsed responsibility

edged off the horizon

my jet set life twisted and dived

into a burning broken heart, but still we

play feel good tunes on repeat

 

Every night…the same dream –

we stroll under soaring moonlit truth

to a marching melody of forgotten love

and rainbow hope

 

Morning comes, morning walk

through wildflower fields and I count to 224,

and deconstruct letters never sent

as a distant church bell so softly and sweetly calls

 

but I’m not yet out of time

as fragmented circles surround me

with no straight line solution

ready to seal my fate.

 

Written 21.5.2019, Folkestone, England.

 

 

things are changing

i had to escape. I moved far away, to a very old house down a little lane, where there are no cars, and not many people either. I live here where when you wake up, and it’s snowing outside, there’s no button to press for heating, you’ve got to go outside and gather some logs to make a fire to keep your family warm. It’s so quiet here, it’s a cottage lost in time. A place where you heat the water with coal, and a beautiful area where I’ve got a job at the little rural school across the fields.

It’s not a place to hide away and accept loss, and to cry about things gone wrong, it’s a place to re-connect with the world around you, and to be creative and to fight for believe in life and in love.

I feel home here. It’s where I’m suppose to be, hidden in a country cottage reading newspapers, writing poems, listening to music and embracing life for what it is, not to call it harsh or hard, but to accept the beauty of a single day. Walking home from work, I’ve never seen such epic stars above me which illuminate life. I have no choice but to look up and lose myself in the wonder of it all and marvel at Creation and Gods love for all of us.

Then there is music. I can’t get by without it anymore. We drove into the city today, for I still love the pulse of  electricity around me, and I picked up these albums.

 

life is beautiful, and yet….

It’s all about words now. I’ve just started a 2 year writing course, and as if that wasn’t enough I’m doing the final writing course on offer at my local adult educational school, and I’ve just got a new job working at a school. Helping kids to read and write, writing my poems, and putting together a book of short stories. That’s what I’ll be doing for the next couple of years, so stay with me. For now there are a few songs to talk about.

I once again had to defend my lov..sorry, admiration, for Norah Jones’ music. “How can you like such shit when you’re into sonic youth and Mark Kozelek?”. I tried talking about how amazing her voice is, how her lyrics are incredible, and just how relaxing the music is but it didn’t get me anywhere. Come on, the guy from Belle and Sebastian asked her to sing on his record! She’s touring the US now, and if you live there or are able to go, please go and tell me what the concerts are like because I’ve never seen her live. You can see the full list of those tour dates here. Meanwhile here’s that Belle and Sebastian/Norah Jones from a few years back

There’s another band out there called Stars, a Canadian band. They’re also not particularly “cool” but they write the coolest little songs. Poppy-love-trash songs about hope in a broken world. Anyway, they made a little film which is fun. You can watch it below.

In case you think it’s all too boring, and you need something to impress the hipsters down at the beat cafe, there’s a band called Algiers who are the music press are calling gospel-political-punk. They make really cool videos too, like this one here.

Last of all I got the new album by ANT. A few years ago when I did proper music journalism, I gave his cd 5/5 and had it down as album of the month. Despite this enthusiasm, for some reason it didn’t go platinum. This new one is lovely too, perfect for cold nights tucked into your blanket drinking hot chocolate. Oh but wait, there’s whiskey in the hot chocolate, because love has gone away and these songs will melt your heart. Please support this guy and buy this, he’s brilliant and we need music like this.

Finally, I need to let you know my German friend Daniel Benjamin and his ace band sea and air are currently touring the UK. Sadly no-where near me, although they are playing in Bury St Edmunds, a little small well off market town where I went to school and I don’t recall a single band ever playing there before. I hope they tore it apart. Catch them if you can on the dates below

Oct 15 UK – BURY ST EDMUNDS, Apex
Oct 16 UK – MANCHESTER, BOTW
Oct 17 UK – OXFORD, Oxjam
Oct 18 UK – YORK, Fibbers
Oct 20 UK – DERBY, Flowerpot
Oct 21 UK – BRISTOL, Louisiana
Oct 22 UK – WARWICK, Copper Rooms
Oct 23 UK – GUILDFORD, Boileroom
Oct 24 UK – CONVENT, Stroud
Oct 25 UK – PORTSMOUTH, Wedgewood Rooms
Oct 27 UK – LONDON, Funsbury Pub

I care about you. More soon xo

the internet reality.

I read a couple of books recently with a similar theme. The novel “the circle” by Dave Eggers, a kind of internet-modern age 1984. Although I would have written a far happier and satisfying tale, it was brilliant but really scared me. It’s about the end of everything that matters, a world where you can only vote with a facebook account, all kids have chips put in them at birth to prevent child abductions and hidden tiny cameras eliminate crime. So there’s no privacy left anymore. Everything must be shared. The other book was not a fantasy, but a reality “the internet is not the answer” a clued up book written by a Andrew Keen. a Silicon Valley insider and journalist about how the internet is, in a nut shell, making us all unhappy while a few privileged dot.com billionaires profit and robots and drones take over all services. Oh and it’s turning us into idiots too and changing our memory and sense of time. Ho-hum

So not exactly happy tales, and certainly not the kind of thing I usually read, but it certainly got me thinking about the state of this little world we share (far too much).

Tomorrow morning I’m going on holiday. We’re staying at a hotel, then we’re off on a boat for adventures. I don’t particularly want everyone to know where I’m going, what I’m doing. I don’t want to share a photo of my kids and I having fun at the beach. Does that make me selfish? It’s important to just experience moments in time with those around you and to reflect on your own existence without posting about it on social media hoping to get a few likes and comments to prove your own reality. I’m not judging, I do it too, but reading Eggers and Keen I realize it really can’t be all that healthy.

It’s what I’ve always loved about writing poems. Everything I write is about myself, relationships in my life (yawn yawn), but I try to do it in a way that doesn’t make sense to anyone else. I’m in love with the mystery I guess, and it seems these days mystery is becoming a dirty word. What and why are you hiding?

So, those are powerful books. I’d really recommend them, but probably not at the same time unless you want to get freaked out. My summer reading now is “my salinger year”, and I’ll be listening a lot to this little punk band you can watch below. More fun soon.

this sweet flame around poem for summer

this sweet flame around by Stephen Maughan

Browsing penny postcard shops offering cheap salvation

in hypnotic and decayed heat

but your bicycle eyes keep me cool, spinning

answers while  this Arizona skyline melts my fears

and digs into my heart

pantomime lizards sing and howl

as I’m pushed out of line at the horizontal bar

talking of eternal dreams gone sour

we don’t connect in a city drowned in

confusion and the black tears of youth

withstanding reason gets harder

when you’re gone and my sleep is hollow

and time eclipses your perfect moonlit smile

until the colours have all turned grey

before the sea breeze calls my name once more

7 July 2015

a delicate truth poem

Once again I was at the poetry club, and so here is my April poem. I’m back in Romania for Open Hands work next week, but back soon for more music and book fun. Stay tuned.


A delicate truth

These spring days I spend

under the pear tree thinking of

shadows and light lost

and the rocky helicopter ride

 

Our thoughts became our souls

until there were no more days

no more royal blue sunsets

to calm the mistakes I’ve made

 

I walked through the golden field

until I found you crying over

a dead butterfly

“things mean a lot”

 

i wish I could drain the pain I’ve caused you

wait until winter and start again

by the broken bridge

of tomorrow’s dream.


 

a new poem

When I have the time I go along to a poetry club. It’s very low-key, and run by my neighbour the shepherd. Here is the poem I wrote yesterday morning for it which the members there seemed to enjoy. Brand new for spring.

Rock, Paper, Scissors

I shut my mind to it all

who cares the stars still sparkle

in this cold black night when the brown leaves

are just like brown paper waiting to burn.

 

the evening will fall and drag me out of to the golden  lake where

you first held my hand and said something about time

could always heal, but you didn’t tell me the

sun hardly shines this way.

 

hope walks against your lies

one day the breeze will settle the clouds, and the sun will

melt your snake skin coat and even your

exotic perfume won’t help you.

 

four thousand tired trees surround this empty heart

I’ll talk to blurry animals about electricity as

a child’s balloon floats by out of time

losing hope to the sky’s fluorescent glow.

ordinary acts of life

I took my excited kids on a little road trip to see their granny in the wild forests of Norfolk this weekend. Nothing better than hitting the road with a bunch of cd’s (who says Norah Jones and Mudhoney don’t mix?), an open road and stopping off on the way for refreshments. I have no strange sense of sadness anymore, and I know it’s because for over a week now I’ve not been on any social media or news/music sites online. Happiness is in fashion.

To think I was worried I’d miss something! Like what happened to that guy who drank 10 cans of coke a day for his Facebook page as an “experiment”? Did he manage to see the dentist? Has he developed diabetes? Oh well now I’ve quit facebook until the spring I’ll never know so I can concentrate on the ordinary acts of life. Hooray.

Actually I’m enjoying reading the printed newspaper more than ever. I read there’s a new Sufjan Stevens album out in the spring, I mean a proper lush summer meadow happy Sufjan Stevens album not some experimental noise trash like his last couple of albums. I then read an interview in Uncut music magazine with the impossibly cool Sleater Kinney, who really just blow me away.

Their “No Cities Left to Love “is the first great album of 2015. I got into them during hazy lost post university days in the early 20th century. I stuck their punk girl rock songs on at the pizza hut stereo where I worked in London when I was 21 and I played it loud, and the customers didn’t seem to mind. It’s really so cool to hear them played on the radio now, and it makes me excited about the possibilities of words and guitars all over again. This blog after all pretty much got it’s name from one of their songs from the late 90’s.

I believe the ordinary acts of life are the best. There’s poetry to be found in every day life. I use to think I’d move to Paris or Sydney and write poems there hanging out with the beatniks and disillusioned. I now realize it’s everyday life that brings out the pure romance.

Here’s the new SK. “We’re wild and weary but we won’t give in”. Enjoy.

where the dragonflies play

15 years ago since the first day of a new century and I had a “champagne breakfast” at a little café in Norwich, and everything seemed possible in that new century. I was dating a girl from art school and we were just kids, and everything soon fell apart. I had a little shop in the indoor market but that closed down too. I left the country and moved to Germany not knowing what would happen but there’s always been hope in my life.

This is a music and books blog. But today I’m going to diverse a little, so bare with me and don’t despair, normal service will resume but…but….but there’s something I need to say first.

I’ve been looking for adventures all my life. Sometimes things work out, sometimes don’t. I make lots of mistakes. I get hurt. I then focus my energy on happiness and fun, but then I can’t ignore the broken world all around me. It’s a constant balance to do something constructive to help others and not just to whirl away the hours reading books. I realized I can’t do one without the other. Maybe some people can, but I can’t.

I was in Germany for a week. It was very enjoyable but intense,  and I went to bed most nights at 3am. I went to Bremen and drank a lot of coffee and made new friends. I spent hours talking about books and poetry. I took my kids for a long walk around the park and we watched the skateboarders. I laughed and laughed with my friends and made silly jokes. I had fun. That’s part of who I am.

But then there’s another part. I get so sad about the world sometimes. I feel so disconnected from modern life I think there’s something wrong with me. Technology bores me. Entertainment makes me nostalgic for purity. I read long magazine articles but I still don’t understand why the poverty gap is so big in England, let alone the rest of the world. Sure I have a charity, we work hard on it every day, and yes it’s rewarding but that’s not the end. I want social justice for the masses. You can read as many complicated books as you like but I’ll sum it up for you in two works – inequality sucks. I’m a member of the Green Party here in England, I’m going to a debate on social inequality in a few weeks. Like I said, it’s all about hope.

It’s crazy but there are moments when you realize how beautiful life is and how precious moments in time are. I try to capture those fragments in poems or short stories. Sometimes I succeed, often I don’t.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to me , you or anyone. Things fall apart, and nothing seems secure in life anymore. But I’m addicted to hope.

Ok. Back to the music and books posts from now on. Thanks for sticking with this rambling little post. no comments anymore, but you can always contact me at the e-mail address on the top right spmaughan@wildmail.com 🙂

the eternal dreamer

It’s been a hectic week for music (sales) as I’m still digesting over NME’s top 500 albums of all time, the death of Lou Reed, and the Mercury music prize. Let’s gloss over those quickly before getting onto something far more interesting. Ok, so NME had a fun list some cool things on it, but the smiths “the queen is dead” at number one is, of course, wrong, I’d put it in top 20 maybe even top 10 but no, 1? Maybe it just reminds me of bad times skipping school at 16 and following the train tracks looking for adventure I never found with a copy of the Morrissey and Marr biography I carried around with me along with “The Catcher in the Rye.” Umm, moving on…Lou Reed whose life has been written about elegantly and passionately by people like the Guardian and the Independent (and celebrated on Absolute Radio) there’s little else to say except it’s sad, but not really a surprise considering the amount of abuse his body took. Somehow crazy Iggy Pop and David Bowie are still  alive (and releasing cool records too). Finally Mercury Music prize. It’s a big thing here, mostly because it allows record shops like HMV and the immoral Amazon to sell a load of cd’s and downloads. For some strange reason James Blake won. I have no idea why.

So now I can finally get onto Mark. Who? Mark Kozelek who is only markkozthe greatest musician of our time! So he didn’t feature in NME’s list, but somehow that’s a good thing too. I saw him earlier this week play in a lovely old church in Brighton, which was an odd setting for someone who is kind of vulgar, but I don’t want to go there I want to talk about his music.

I’ve said for a while now I could throw away all my record collection and never listen to the radio again as long as I could keep my Mark Kozelek records. There’s something so haunting, so lonely and sad about those songs that if I’m a bit vulnerable and it’s late at night and I’m on my own I’m likely to get carried away and find tears rolling down my cheeks. It’s an astonishing mix of heartfelt beatnik soothing poetry and a lullaby gentle guitar sound that can take you breath away, make you stop whatever you’re doing and close your eyes and indulge in the sad world of Mark Kozelek.

He’s 46, as he reminded us the other night, but he’s still hung up on girls, he’s still looking for meaning, and he’s broken. Tuesday night proved that more than anything else, he’s a broken and lost spirit. He’s suffering from attachment issues, but that makes him even more special, even more brilliant, and certainly makes his music all the better. I guess I’m saying unlike James Blake, unlike Morrissey, even unlike Lou Reed, he’s a poet. There’s not many of those around now.

Live he’s brilliant too. Everybody always gets upset and disappointed when they see he isn’t the sensitive Nick Drake type though. Here’s what the BBC wrote a couple of years ago about a concert “The manner in which he (Mark Kozelek) goes about it is extremely disappointing… it only serves to emphasise the gulf between a stunning songwriting talent and an apparently indifferent personality.”  That kind of stuff is always said and it always gets on my nerves. Where does it say to write romantic songs you’ve got to be a super soft cry baby too fragile for the world?

Anyway, im super tired so….You can take any song and it would be brilliant. But here’s an old one…It’s a good place to start as any for those of you who’ve yet to discover his genius.