The Pindaric Ode

He tried to tear the horror from himself,
Searching in the sockets of his eyes with needles
Till they burst blood
The Phoenician Woman

In my last post I wished to demonstrate that the true raison d’etre of poetry is to spread proper morality throughout humanity. The Poet Saints of India are a fine & longevous example – such as the sagely Duda Dayal – who often broke through the restrictions of caste to preach social & religious reform though the medium of song. As a believer that a poet’s path should be one of a didactic nature, I spent most of yesterday composing a new poem on a topic which I feel quite strongly about. Just as Sidney states that a poet should use an ideal character as the model for his teachings, so we modern poets must utilise the unideal to ward off our children from the many pitfalls of the modern state. These I saw & conversed with in abundance all across my previous city of residence, Edinburgh, which was not the setting of the seminal mid-nineties, drug-addl’d film, Trainspotting, for nothing. The cheap heroin that flooded the city in the 80s & 90s has had a profound generational effect, & three decades later the consumption of Skag in all its forms is rife throughout Scotland’s capital, & especially in Leith, its old port.

During my sojurn up in ‘Firenze de la Nord,’ with some discomfort I witnessed a number of promising youths have their lives destroyed by this most wickedest of demons. Never having taken the drug myself, I often wonder’d how it could exert such a powerful force over the human spirit. Thus, yesterday, established well-away from Edinburgh’s seedy underbelly, & given freedom to reflect on the matter in the upmost tranquility, I began to write a few lines. These slowly took the shape of a Pindaric Ode, a wee tour-de-force into which I could consisely pour a decade of observations & frustrations. The result I find pleasing, a little aggressive, yes, but Heroin Addiction is something that cannot be treated with kid gloves… ask the long-suffering parents & partners who are forced to endure the tortured wails & infernal screams of their loved ones as they writhe in their shit-caked, sweat-sodden sheets, withdrawing in their cell-like rooms. This, I am afraid, is real life, & is something that is ignored by the best of our poets these days. There is something not quite middle-class enough about such a theme, with today’s poetry publishers would never dreaming of touching such a hot potato, instead diverting the reading public’s attention to… let me for a moment take a random book from my shelf… it is, NEW POETRIES III: AN ANTHOLOGY edited by Michael Schmidt 2002… to… The Radiator in Your Room (Caroline Bird) / Big Blue Sofas (Linda Chase) / The Calligraphy Shop (Ben Downing) &… well, you get the picture.

Yesterday’s ode conforms to my newly-forged concept of poetry; that is, we have come full circle in the Art & are faced with something of a blank page. The form I have chosen for the occasion is an ancient one, created by the Greek poet Pindar in the 5th century BC to celebrate the victors at the earliest Olympic Games. John Potter in his Archæologia Græca, writes; ‘it was customary, on some occasions, to dance around the altars, whilst they sung the sacred hymns, which consisted of three stanzas or parts; the first of which, called strophe, which was sung in turning from east to west; the other, named antistrophe, in returning from west to east; the other, named antistrophe, in returning from west to east; then they stood before the altar & sung the epode, which was the last part of the song.’ If the Pindaric Ode is what I call the MOULD, then the MEASURE is as modern as it gets, for it is essentially Free Verse, captured within the order’d confines of a tercet stave. Purists on both sides would balk at such a concept, but it is only in such a spirit of re-unification that poetry may gather its forces & move forwards as a stronger being for the betterment of mankind. Overall, however, this hybrid form of mine, this blend of old & new, still remains a Pindaric Ode, for it is the structure of the MOULD which pre-dominates the determination of a poem’s form.

Time swings, things change, & nothing is truly impermanent; thus in the spirit of those Poet-Saints of India, let us hope that a future reader of my new ode will find a phrase or two embedded in their consciousness with enough alacrity that whenever they are offered a ‘hit’ of heroin, they will point-blank refuse & declare rather bluntly that those fools who stooped to offer them such a filthy, soul-destroying drug, are nothing but…




There’s a Junkie Fuck
Everywhere you look
: in Leith

Great Junkie Street
Zombie-crowded cash-machines

Kids like, ‘Where’s-my-crack-pipe?’ boy
Grinnin’ into school
Thinkin’ he was cool

‘Im never injecting,’ he blusters upsetly
Blazin’ about his Best Friend’s funeral:
At the Wake… to ease his grief… shoots up first time!

His crack-whore ‘Wudya,’ works the Leith Links’s edges
A posh-painted Picture pick’d up by drunk dockers
While her daughter chews straws at McDonalds

Her looks are fading, she turns to friends
Getting them hooked so maybe they’ll pay
For these needles fresh ‘besties’ dare share

There’s a Smackie Kunt
Always on the hunt
: in Leith


There’s a Junkie Worm
Every corner turn’d
: in Leith

The Skag is a slippery, shrieking Beast
Cunning as Fox, strong as Lion
Foul as farting Pig

Don’t listen to what they say, but how they say it,
Bullshit Defence Mechanism takes control
Insiduous serpent contorting thought

As poppy seeds to thick’ning branches grow
This crude oil-slick that brings each death-rush on
More hardens & more blackens punctured veins

How the hell can ya call it glamorous?
When glampin’ means beggin’ up the North Bridge
Contemplating suicide in torn, soggy shoes

Viledom’s finest scourge Leith Walk
Piping, ‘We are young… We can handle it…’
‘…We could drop it just like that.’

But when they join the clucking Cold Turkeys
& Methadone Monkeys in gibbering clinics
It’s more { { p e a c e f u l } } just to try it one last time

There’s a Bag-Head Prick
Itching itself sick
: in Leith


There’s a Junkie Fool
Shuffling past yer school
: in Leith

I was twenty-one once,
Busking down Bournemouth
Boozing wi’ beggars

I’d follow’d ‘em into a nappy-dirty yard
Watching ‘em cook up their hard-earned stuff
& said, ‘I’ll have a go,’ in all innocence

‘You don’t wanna try,’ said Feathers,
‘Do I not?… alright…’ three days later
I found him overdosing in his tent

I took his hard-earn’d wisdom with me
Tossing Junkie friends from my life
Tough-love, but sanity follow’d

Never babysit a Smack-Head!
If you show signs of weakness they will take
take & take & lie & take & steal & take & scrounge

take & take & lie & steal, take & scrounge & take
when you’ve stopp’d givin’ they turn round & hiss,
‘I thought you were my friend?’

There’s a Junkie Shmuck
Lonely, Soul-less, Stuck : in Leith

April 30th

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