polemical poetry to prickle the politics of "permanent austerity"
thistles stretch their prickly arms afar
The Thigh in the Wound
‘Your Royal Highness,’ he said, ‘I address
the state of the nation. Sadly, the cure
of your injury and ailment is unlikely
to be soon discovered. The Thatched dwellings
of villages and cities, rotten in their conception,
are ruinous and their architectures,
from the first corrupt, now stink in decay.
The poor, as we have always demanded,
are unaware of principle and properly, the rich
lack conviction. There have developed
rituals for those who live as cattle. In short
the falcon of order has fucked off. The thigh,
female and frequently open and usually
titillatingly displayed, is now the wound.
The counter-eugenic follies and policies
of our shrinking manufacture have borne
their inevitable and illegitimate fruits.
Corrupted estates stretch in a shit-stained
bandage to defile the fields and woodland
where supermarket trolleys parcel
and cage the water-table. Foreign agents
have been successful in their introduction
of an emin squalor into galleries and libraries.
Usury is rife, its philistines well-rewarded
and hygienically protected. Lust and envy
in their various fashions cosmetically control
much of what is projected or printed.
Keith Howden was born near Burnley in 1932. After National Service and work as a laboratory assistant, he taught English and modern European fiction with a major interest in ‘the text as event’ at Nottingham Trent University. Among his many pamphlets are Joe Anderson, Daft Jack’s Ideal Republics, Pauper Grave, Hanging Alice Nutter and Barlow Agonistes. He has published four full-length collections, Marches of Familiar Landscape (Peterloo 1978), Onkonkay (Peterloo (1984), Jolly Roger (Smokestack 2012) and Lost Orisons (Penniless Press 2014). Penniless Press have also published two polemical collections, The Gospels of St Belgrano (2012) and Ship of Fools (2013). Recently, with the composer Matthew Howden, he has completed two poetry-music collaborations with accompanying discs, The Matter of Britain (PRE Rome, 2009) and Barley Top (Redroom 2013). All his fictions, Naylor, Self-Dissolve, Godsman, New Found Lands and Hornyhorse have been published by Penniless Press.
The gardens of greed and ignorance
are carefully nurtured, their deliberate soil
knowingly alloyed and daily manured.
Pornography and celebrity
in their twin cannibalisms swell
a jordan inflation. We now need to recognise
that the construction and worship
of false gods has become our most successful
and profitable fabrication industry.
The change that might have healed your wound
has either frozen or fused. Since then,
the world turned upside down. A new beast,
so we are told, slouches somewhere,
but we have lost both bestiary and map.’