The Poet's Curse





I feel it so profoundly that it comes through me as a sadness. But it is not a sadness; it's a beauty, a beauty so dramatic of all the sensations whipped upon me. It feels close to an insanity. Either the most perfect insanity or the most cur'sed. And I see it and feel it and smell it in all things, in every step and every breath and every shattered day or brilliant morning. It's in brick and concrete and metal and flaking paint, in leaves and bush and trees and plant. I come across it in the shade of hidden places, amongst the tiny European lizards that dart upon the walls and scurry down into the undergrowth. It is on the wet of dogs' noses and in the smell of their coats, sheen or soiled. It romances me in piss and beer-soaked telephone booths as I'm carried away on the whiff of metal and polished copper and coin. It's in the methadone clinics, the hospitals; in the cancer patients who stand outside, held up by IV drips, smoking and looking so wistfully at the dew dying in the grass. It's in the crunch underfoot and the chaffing of fabric on fabric; in gravel and snow and ice, in car tyres scrunching over grit. It's in the wild of overflowing gardens, in rose bushes in early autumn. It's in the long shadows of first summer days, in the haze of the distant roar and city spray where the Now feels like a memory and you smelled of fresh soap and water and it was something more than sex and skin and blood. I hear it in the sounds of builders and cries from up on high, in the afternoon drilling and the clink of scaffolding poles. It's in the dust and slop of freshly mixed cement and, way up high, in the isolation of great cranes stranded in the devastating blue of the sky. I smell it in the molten tar when the roads get relaid, in the uncovered bottles of tincture and ointment in Victorian dumps and Roman fares and paths. It's in rusted rakes and spiders' webs and sodden pines and cones and leaves; in the treated wood of garden fence and damp and dampened earth and mossy stones. I feel it in pine needle lawns in small southern Italian towns in the sand and ruins of Pompei and stretched out across the Bay of Naples. In the ghettos of Mermoz Pinel and Villerbaune and far into the distance yonda, Grenoble and then off to nowhere and early dreams of Europe and fiesta and dancing all around. In the scent of old books and printed ink the words themselves are blood in me and I've only ever looked at them in Georges Bataille and Dirty: gazing out at London we [almost] wept. In cherry blossom snow and terraced housing and fragrant streets, in parked cars exhausted under the beating sun, in sap and milk and milky grass as great days blow in and the city is a-bustle and the radio says it's clear skies across a beautiful London town. In the bushes in the thickets in the tramped and trodden porno mags on Hampstead Heath in bodies fucking through the trees and you wanted to swim in the lake while from the hill I watched the suburbs and we rolled in the glade and hooked ourselves on Scottish thistles while they screamed and splashed and played. In the alien nights in Soho, in the acrid smell of amphetamine, in the smoky bar of the Intrepid Fox in the broken bottles and indiscriminate violence in the faces gashed by jagged glass. In the spoon in the cook in the draw in the pin in the passion for life and desire for death in wide open eyes in your desperate climax in the soft of your breast in our myth and obsessions alone on the bridge in the black scorch of river which snakes through the heart of this murderful town past the point where I said so leave if you can in the I'll walk you some more in the arrived all too soon in the decision to sleep, holding each other, on the bench in the common in the freeze of the night in the healing of wounds and the beautiful trauma of young damaged lives. In the cafes in the coffee in the stir in the cup in the harsh bite of winter in the sulphuric night of millennium eve when the world came together and life was no good. It runs through me as a sadness. But it's not a sadness, it's a beauty. A beauty which clings on, stalked me around Europe and European towns and left me screaming for quit into polluted foreign air. It arrived one morning and stood standing five foot nine outside the Perrache railway Station. In the bare room of the St Michel hotel it was there. It lay with us in the carved wooden bed, lingered in the melancholy of deep night. It flickered outside the window in the blue neon gas of the vacancy sign, illuminated briefly her sexual fantasies of sirens and bullets, wept as she narrated the story of our failed heist, holed up suicidal awaiting the loudspeaker and armed police, two people dead and two more to follow. It drifted out those cheap black-market cigarettes, twirled like ribbon and dissipated in the dark. It sat warm in the earliest boulangeries and cafés, could be found in the fumes of the 6am pernod of the loneliest bars. It rang out from the church every hour and was in the funeral knell of Sunday afternoons. O My Love, let me ruin your life for just one more day. But she was gone, and it resided so terribly in the gone.

O it came and it pooled out of me as a sadness. It came through youth and I didn't know what it was. It was there in my sick bed during long fantastic days off school; came in on the drone of helicopters and the mid-afternoon screams and whistles from the schoolyard opposite. It passed by the window as a millipede of children, cruel and unruly, looking in and laughing as it made its way down to the local swimming baths. It was in the smell of chlorine, in pruned skin and warts and verrucas, in the hideous stench of changing rooms and sour milk, humid feet and prepubescence. It was in me and I don't remember a time when it was not. It roared by in the whoosh of freedom, expanded in my eardrums as I freewheeled downhill for life. Come each dusk I would feel it, would stare out as the sun collapsed and the city died, would want to cry over nothing I could fathom. It came in with history and it overwhelmed me and made me mute. And those were the first lashes from the whip and it was in the whip and in the lash and in the rhythm and the meter and the crack and the yelp of youth. It circled by overhead in the traumatic squawkings of seagulls, sounded in the high winds and arctic skies. It frothed out from my mother's mouth in the back of an ambulance and spread out in the bruises across her chest in intensive care. It comes through ugly and then turns beautiful, comes beautiful and ugly again. On a terrible night I wrote. It was the first time and it made me ill and she nursed me better. It was in me then and in the bright cold healthy morning. I woke up freshly damned and I wanted nothing more.



Thanks for reading... Shane. X

21 comments :

Anonymous said...

Nice to see/hear you again
Bittersweet, guess autumns here again

Vee Purdie said...

Beautiful as always Shane, and well worth the wait. You have a way with words like no other xx

JoeM said...

Autumn seems like a perfect time for this.

So: 'It's clear skies across a beautiful London town'.

You are seeming frighteningly happy there (and on FB when I catch it).

Happiness is The Poet's Curse!

Maybe that's why you've not been publishing so much recently.

But I'm all for it - Life is more Important than Art.

Favourate line:

It passed by the window as a millipede of children, cruel and unruly, looking in and laughing as it made its way down to the local swimming baths'.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Shane, that is...well, no more words are necessary.
The line,"Alone on the bridge" reminds me of a current love of mine. Our small apartments are separated by a bridge. We spend most of the evening at his place, hunched over our foil, or smiling at each other, but he rarely invites me to stay. Not because he doesn't want to, and there isn't anyone else for either of us, both of those people are dead. I walk home in the quieter night across that bridge, look at the view, and dream. Anyway, that's enough from me, I wonder if there's some sort of causal link between opiate use and the desire to write, and write well? Night xx

Anonymous said...

Beautiful...

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Beautiful, as are you. I come by from time to time just to check on you. You will always be dear to me, my sweet friend.

Much love,

SB

Anonymous said...

Hello Shane and Shanes Community. Allow myself to introduce myself. My name I s John. I'm from a place just a few miles south of Boston MA USA (& NO I DONT KNOW TREY!) Long enough (almost) history of off/on opiate passion and escapism 10yr methadone and on I go. I share many of the same joys and heartaches as many if the fine folks I've seen posting here and am super greatful to read the different experiences and ideas presented within. Especially those that find the light by embracing darkness. I've recently become aware of you and this site which is my new 2nd favorite escape from life (the first favorite currently being 40$ bags of fentanyl ) I 've always had a tendency to hyperfocus on life's pleasures and pains in whatever form they come so I've been devouring your words (as well as the postings of your community) and feel fortunate that I stumbled in here even if its beyond late. Thank you all. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

if poetry wasn't so unfashionable you would be very fashionable - but that would be a curse worse than being a poet, so I guess you are lucky. I think you hit on something at the outset: experiencing raw beauty as pure perception always feels more like sadness than happiness. Not sure why, and probably doesn't even matter.

Shane Levene said...

Hey Anon (try to leave your name... I like addressing people personally). I don't regard the above piece as a poem. I understand why some would but for me it's a prose text. I'd certainly never be arrogant enough to refer to myself as a poet.. these are things other people must decide. I meet so many people who introduce themselves as a poet and it always makes me cringe. Then I read their poetry and I really cringe. I met a poet with no legs last month. He was there in his wheelchair waiting on the same dealer. Pulled all these crumpled pages of words out from the crotch of his pants and started reeling off his poetry to me in the street. His first one had the words junkie rhyming with monkey. I'll be glad when he loses his arms if that's what he's doing with them!

I think great beauty is always twinged with sadness because when we see something so magnificent we're instantly reminded of how little time we have and there'll be a time when all this beauty is lost to us. Even a beautiful lover. The more beautiful you find each other and the more profound the attraction is the more you talk about death and loss through the night. Beautiful things always make us think of loss. Beauty and wonder are the most traumatic things there are. I remember the first time I set eyes upon Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion - I fell into a kind of depression. Her beauty had a profound effect on me... made me dream and fantasize and want to share that tragedy and madness with her. Even today, I'd still go back in time just to sit in the space where she has not long been.

Poetry being unfashionable, it is, but that's always the best time to come along. You wake up the sleeping beast... re-introduce some raw meat into its diet. You have a tiny window of opportunity where you can write unedited. Once something is fashionable it already has a certain cut, must wear in a particular way. It becomes a formula and everyone who comes after is herded towards a certain way of producing the winning formula. Then the market becomes oversaturated with all too similar and unauthentic crap and the public realize it's a swindle and reject it and the whole pyramid of cards collapses and everyone is left swimming in the sea. So being unfashionable is a good thing - always. X

TheDMTmolecule said...

Hi Shane, anon was me (Russell in Liverpool) - had trouble trying to get a comment in any other way (more to do with my mental state than anything technical, or both). Agree with you about poetry-prose distinction, and also think that being involved in a sub-cultural style is better than being part of a media-led fashion - the famous are unknowns lurking behind people's fantasies, while the sub-cultural anti-hero is hyper-real (hopefully). I think that quality word-art (like yours, you verbal Viking) always feels like it comes from deep inside (the unconscious, secret self, creative edge, whatever you want to call it) among other places - and links into contemporary memes as well as primal urges. Hope you are thriving Shane (I will leave the health wishes and blessings to those so inclined) - over and out of it, Doc Nuke.

Anonymous said...

Shane..I found this girl on a Reddit sub forum. I want to help her after reading what she posted. I'm going to copy and paste...should I offer help or just leave it alone..I'm dead serious.
She didn't ask for help..This was in response to a college age kid asking if anyone romanticizes about heroin..I do not use drugs. I just read way too much.
"My dude was sentenced to 25 yrs for an amount of dope that wouldn't keep me well for an entire weekend. (3rd conviction). This will be his 4th christmas in prison. I had the same charge. But I'm a white female...And I'm out. Posting on Reddit a website he's never heard of bc we never used the internet unless it was a credit card scam. I like this sub. It makes me forget..And while I'm here...I'm not in some ass holes car with a piss smellin dick in my face. Heroin doesn't call to me like some.feather bowa wearing beauty...beckoning me from 20 ft limousine for a cruise thru Hollywood on my day off. THERE ARE NO DAYS OFF. I fly signs..I turn tricks..beg steal And borrow. Some of you seem young..either in age or addiction. I get it. I grew up in Russia and chewed my 1st cotton at nine.You guys are showing me things about how the game is changing...But here where I'm at things don't change..clocks have completely stopped ticking. On the streets I've never heard #3 or #4. I have never bought or even seen a fake pill. If I sent "dope porn or pron (whatever the Fuck that is) to a sick friend..they'd either rob me or beat my junkie ass for bragging. I don't know what a dab is or why I should want one. I think it's referring to some sort of pot and I'm not be sarcastic. Pot is a luxury I'd dare not indulge in bc every single dime I fly a sign for or steal scam or Fuck for HAS to be used on heroin. Look I'm not saying you guys are doing anything wrong. In fact...it's quite the opposite. This sub is a cold water splash to the face after a hard night of crack smoking and heroin injections. I bought heroin on this side of the internet that is apparently really dark. I learned it from here and shit was good. I can't even lie. There is nothing romantic tho. Maybe you think...well I won't be like her..And you probably won't..be thankful for that. Maybe you are like me. Idk. I love heroin...I LOVE HEROIN. But like that feeling you get when you 1st meet a boy and you just adore the Fuck out of him and spend every second saying I love you to...But a little while down the road you wonder why the spark is gone..But you stay anyway...even though he starts calling you mean names and hits you..you stay cause he says he's sorry and you believe him that it will never happen again. It always does tho.. But the next few times he hits you..he leaves a mark..But you still stay. Everyone tells u to leave but you can't and you don't know why. Then he starts hitting you but he stops apologizing. You still stay. It makes no sense to you or anyone else but you love him. It's like that for me..Heroin.is my black eye leaving..rib cage kickin..abusive boyfriend."

gracehappens said...

Love it Shane. Miss you and hope you're doing alright.
Sophie

Shane Levene said...

Anon (reddit)

Hey ya... the truth is you couldn't help this girl even if you wanted to. All you can do by trying is become another person she'll feel forced to lie to in order to avoid disappointing or being badly judged or feel she's let you down. Look what she is describing. If none of that can help her change her life, how can you? What you can do is be a non-judgemental friend and let her know you'll be there and you'll care whether she is using or not. The brutal truth no-one likes hearing is that there's nothing you can do and it's pointless trying. Don't forget there was a time when she didn't use... a time where she was in the state you'd like her to return to. Life was so shitty for her sober that she began using heroin, and that was even before heroin and deaths and sucking cocks in cars. The chances are, like most of us, even if she were to get straight she'd only realize again how shit life is and start using again soon after. Be a friend with no agenda... that's all that anyone wants. X

Shane Levene said...

Hey Sophie... Thank You My Darling.

Yes, I'm fine thanks. Hopefully I'll put up some writing very soon. X

Anonymous said...

Shit Christ I'm an asshole. Suppose you are right. Thanks for the reply. It was honest and hard to hear though.

Shane Levene said...

You're not an asshole to care and want to help. It's a hard truth to hear, but it is the truth. Ask any parent of any addict and I doubt you'll find one, in any country, going back 40 years, who ever managed to get their child to stop using. I know people with HIV, liver disease, amputated legs, half-paralyzed through a stroke and they are still using. Everyone stops someday - we either die or quit. But we do it of our own volition, when the mind decides it no longer wants heroin and crack. Until then... no-one can do a damn thing about it. X

Anonymous said...

I thought about this reply all day. I don't know this girl or why it's haunting me. Why she would, never mind, if there was an answer, she wouldn't be. You are right, if through all that she is still using, who do I think I am that I could help.
Suppose I will just send a message that someone is thinking of her. Do sentiments fall on deaf ears? There is really nothing I can do, a contrite pat on the back or a deflated helium get well fast balloon. Damn it all to hell.

Shane Levene said...

No, sentiments don't fall on deaf ears, but sentiments about "Why don't you stop?" "You ever think about rehab?" Those sentiments fall on deaf ears. It's what I said earlier about becoming another person to lie to. Heroin addiction doesn't actually make people lie - us junkies together we never lie about our usage... never promise one another we're gonna clean up. Addicts start lying when telling the truth will bring them grief. For example:

My mother doesn't mind me using heroin; it's not a problem. So I never hide my usage and she knows how much I take and how, etc.

My friends mother knows he's a junkie, but gives him hell for it. He has no choice to lie to her or he'll find himself homeless. She also keeps pushing him to stop and so he lies to her and talks about what hell addiction is and he needs help and will find help, etc. He has to say that to keep the peace. So junkies (anyone, actually) do not lie because the drug turns you crazy, we lie when telling the truth is going to work against us. Even mild pressure about stopping... or even sounding slightly disappointed when someone uses will ensure they lie to you to avoid being admonished. X

K said...

Beautiful writing, like always. Thank you for sharing it with us, Shane.

Btw, coming back to England any time soon?

I hope so. Katy x

Shane Levene said...

Morning Katy... thank you Darling. Drop us a little email as it's all a little hush hush spit crack and fizzle.. X

mr.shanelevene@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Its been a long time between posts hope you're Okay. cheers Tony in Australia.