This isn’t true, or is it? I don’t know. I have not been here for some time. That can be said of many areas of my writing, public reading and personal life for quite a wee while. A lot has been going on. Moving four times this year. A big bereavement. Renovating properties to try and ground my life in a way that allows me to work on novels with less pressure. Being a Mama, a friend and human with a heart that beats — in a world that has far too many reasons to create existential dread in even the most positive of people. I didn’t write my novels for about ten months. I just wasn’t sure there was a place for the novels I was working on. The things I was doing to get security — so I can keep writing and provide for my family, were so hard. Each of them was taking me further and further away from getting back to words. I could say I’ve never felt less like a writer than I have done this last year. I wonder if Jessie Kesson felt like this in her crofting years? Most recently I’ve been living in renovations for seven years straight — in the hope of finding a core stability so I can keep working on my books, which can take years to write. Literature is a privileged industry. For those of us with a -+ in such things, there are many reasons at times to lose hope. However, I loved words a long time before anyone read them. I could have picked another career to make a good living from and done well. I am particularly skilled at making houses beautiful. I take old wrecks and restore them from scratch. At the end you’d never guess how derelict or smelly or weird they were when I got them. It is hard work. In the last ten years I’ve moved over ten times and done up every house by myself, some were in extraordinarily bad condition. It was so exhausting. There is a certain art and endurance in taking a house back to the bones and rebuilding it. I am an artist, so my eye to detail is acute. I recently read Tanizaki — In Praise of Shadows. I felt a huge solace in the essay. It’s exploration of aesthetics is so pure. I have gone a long road unseen this last year or so. Now I have come back to this place — where I type and think and begin to create worlds that mean something to me firstly. I know some writers would be appalled by that, those who write for readers, or editors, or reviews, or glory. I write to become. I write to try and make great art. It’s very impractical of me. I write to challenge, to rage, to love, to mourn, to lust, to hope, to pursue mortality in the ways it does me. I write to unfairness, and cruelty — I write to be. I have not been doing the longer pieces. The novels. Life has been taking me out. Despite that I brought out my last poetry collection — There’s a Witch in the Word Machine. It’s a book I really care about and I’ll blog about that separately. I wrote a play. I wrote other things. But, if I am not writing novels then a part of me feels I am just not working at all. So, anyway — I’m back in this space of fiction. I drive up and down the A1 listening to music way too loud and over these ten months of non-faith, non-practise (novels anyway) I have come to some big decisions. I worked out the structure of my 100 year-novel, I reclaimed its ending from the following novel. I am ready to stand by some things which I think are fundamentally vital as an artist. The right to create work that does not always comfort or soothe. The ability to believe in myself even when my content pushes boundaries too hard, or in too real a way? Perhaps keeping the multiplicity of real life in literature is rare. The world has never seemed so culturally conservative. Is it incidental that we are watching the censoring of media, of challenging thought, the use of propaganda, fascist far-right dogma. Is it an incident that clinging to ideals which claim to be middle-class or elitist as the only way to save us, is beginning to seem old fashioned, out of touch and outright dangerous. We live in a world that should know by now — there are no ‘classes’ of people, there are only those who have more money, and those who do not. I am responding to a hundred years of history in one of those novels — to patriarchy and social exclusion in particular. There is much to make a person feel a true and righteous rage when considering these things. I read a blogger whose articles I find hugely challenging at times. When I find them at their most difficult, it is because they are teaching me about my own biases or ignorance in an area I don’t yet understand. I am identified as threatening at times (in my work) because of the edge I bring to the literature I write. I am an edge walker. I am a risk taker. You don’t come from my walk of life and do what I am doing, without that ability to throw down your soul as the most truthful thing you own. My life has been beyond challenging this last forty-one years, and this last twelve months have been off-the-scale. Stick that in your discordant syntax detector. I’m standing by all the gaps. The unusual. The uncomfortable. I am thinking about my novels daily again. This time I may not stop for a decade. I may be glad of my years knocking walls down. May they have prepared me for continuing to do so, and more.
I decided to make a short film about the hospital where I was born. It is a Victorian psychiatric hospital village. The site is 222 acres in an isolated area, near a motorway, in West Lothian. It has taken me a long-time to be able to go back to this site and I suppose it’s unusual to be born & spend time in the womb, on a psych ward but that’s how it all started. There was a maternity ward opened on this site at some point but I was not born there. I have a lifelong attachment to Bangour Village Hospital (or) Edinburgh District Asylum and so I chose to shoot my first short film as a Writer/Director here. I will do a follow up article later but for now I’d like to let the work speak for itself. I wrote and shot this as a cine-poem. I am reading it and the eerie singing noise in the background was recorded in a cave with William Aikman. The film was made with a tiny crew from the wonderful Forest of Black Films in Glasgow. More to come soon but I wanted to share it for free, sent out in the spirit it was made in — for art & truth.
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The truth is tooth and claw. It goes tick-tock, tick-tock. It’s Lost Man Creek. It’s fertile. It’s wounded. It cauterizes so we can heal again. The truth is loco. It came from Monterey wearing your mother’s bra. The truth is chunged. It’s a petroleum pipeline. The truth is an orange baby pulled out from the Paris Accord to punish the world for mocking him. He’s out there in diapers — killing the earth daily from a hate-based perspective. The truth is bereft. It’s crude oil. It’s a man walking on the moon is not a man walking on the moon. The truth could be purple. The truth is in fact, shockingly purple. The truth is Alimito. The truth is Locust Avenue. The truth is — I know so few boring women. My girls are troubadours, they are shark-toothed bison. The women I know spread ideas like pollen. The truth is a chestnut. The truth is hairy. The truth died in Puerta Vida. It died again in Mexico. The truth never died, they just tried to bury it. They’re always trying to bury it. They throw whole mountains of soil on top of it but it still climbs out skinny and pissed off and needing a beer. The truth is Ptolemy. It’s boarding the train from San Francisco to LA. It’s a fight with a Trumpet before 6am. Blow your trumpet motherfucker and I’ll still shit on your parade. The truth is agnew. It’s friendly smog trails. It’s rush ray. It’s the service King. Enter at your own risk! The truth is whatever you want it to be. It accepts cash only. The truth is taking its clothes of, it’s skinny dipping in the river. It’s turning slow beneath the moon. It’s got pennies for eyes. It’s got twigs for arms. Fuck truth (they say) just freebase Disney. They are so awful. There is no saving them. The truth is spray boy! It’s asleep. The truth droops. It’s oylim olafu. It is heart felt. It is good. Caution — truth here. The truth won’t get off the tracks. It has right of way. It’s derailed and it’s taking a diversion. I need the truth and the truth needs me. The truth does not vote conservative. The truth does not vote for hate or murder. The truth believes in science. It fills out no forms for bureaucracy. The truth won’t meet me later. The truth holds me like a baby then breaks my fucking heart. The truth is — it was no incidental part of social warehousing — to raise a risk averse society. The truth does not do mind control. It’s allergic to fakery. The truth is a shuttle. The truth won’t lighten up. The truth can kill you. The truth won’t kill you. The truth did not kill you, it set you free. The truth might kill you later but first it will make you laugh. So many people devote their entire existence to avoiding truth. On the street, in their homes, in their beds. They refuse to record the truths of nations. Of individuals. Of crimes against humanity. Of achievements, of victories, of heroes, sailors, sluts and pirates. The truth swears more than I do. It drank all of my saki then put the empty bottle back in the fridge again. Don’t take the truth to Tiffany’s she has no time for diamonds. The truth is a trilobite. It’s fossilised fuckery. It’s got a ticket. It’s track no.6 in San Jose. It’s California 8308. It’s your hands on my body. It is feeling you in my soul no matter how far you are away. It’s unwanted eyes. The truth needs voodoo. The truth is boarding. Buckle up. Bend over. Touch the sky. Be a tree. The truth wants you. This is a truthening. The truth is mounting San Georgina. They don’t want you waltzing with the truth, no, no, no. Truth will take you on the run. It’ll build fires with you on the old railway. It knows your hunger. It knows how you are scared. People are always asking us to lie for them. That is the truth. They want us to smile for them while they lie to us — for us, about us, and to each other. Truth is dangerous. The truth can be denied but it will not be ignored. The truth is too much. The truth is helpless. The truth is too big vastness in all things. The truth is nearly all people want — to care for, feed, hold, educate, love, and sing to every other person in the world but we are raised being told we should all go right indoors and keep our fucking truths to ourselves. We’re told going into the outside world is just too dangerous. Don’t keep truth from me. I’ve laid it a place at my table. I’ve invited it for tea. I made truth a tiny paper boat. The truth is future packaging. It’s modelo free. It’s been sold. It’s done a long time in the joint but it’s been tunnelling out by Sunday. The truth is a link belt. It’s jasper. It’s Jane. It serves no fucking master. Kiss me truth, do it slowly, please. The truth is smoking behind the bike shed. It’s a flag on the porch that makes me feel queasy. It’s a hockey stick. It’s being attacked by wild turkeys. It’s fire. It’s trapped. It is death walking along beside us and at some point we take it by the hand. Time is shorter than we ever know. How the fuck do we save this planet while we are still here!! The truth is we can do it. The truth can change everything. The truth wants only good things for you. The truth is a house on the hill while people sleep by the tracks. It’s tents. Trollies. It’s washing. The truth is never-ending. The truck is knocking on everybody’s door. Look on the mat — there’s a leaflet. The truth is looking at you. Aye, you. You are the truth. The truth is you. You are the time, the place, the hope, the beginning of what comes — after. You are the greatest hope for truth. I am too. The truth can smell you. The truth is this world is so, so beautiful! The truth is you are meant to be here. The truth is good to you. The truth likes you. It would buy you a drink. It would hold you in the night. It wants to have your children. The truth is not wily. It’s a friend of coyotes. The truth is hay for sale. The truth is mustard. The truth is Jonty’s. The truth is Vietnamese. The truth is morgan hill. It’s memory ivory. The truth broke down and an old lady held it. The truth hates to be alone. The truth saw the sheriff. The truth is church-like. The truth is I’ve had holes in my converse since I got here. The truth is landscapes fly and trains stay still. It’s jicama. It’s twisted lily. The truth is available. Sign here, and here, please. The truth is veterinary. The truth is water. It’s not on lease. How am I doing, truth? Actually don’t tell me. The truth won’t take me to bed unless we’re both so drunk we can’t see. The truth is blind. The truth is horny. The truth is that when I was a witch I always did it sober. The truth is all ways. The truth is I’ve always been a witch and a little bit gin and mostly scientist and spirit keeper. The truth is pretty good. It’s certainly truthful. Don’t deal truth to narcissists. Don’t feed the narcissists. Don’t give bombs to narcissists. Don’t give countries to narcissists. Don’t give spray tan to narcissists. Oops, okay. The truth is sociopaths are good at some things. I’m not saying evolution has no place for them. The truth is — fuck you. The truth is — fuck me! The truth is fuck hate. FUCK HATE. Fuck the cunts that perpetuate hate, that hurt other humans every day — the truth is for those people — I have no atoms of empathy — evil walks among us each and every fucking day! The truth is — don’t cross me. The truth isn’t coming out to play. The truth is some friends mothers loved me and others were worried I’d steal their jewellery. The truth is I did not steal their jewellery although I might have been tempted by their valium. The truth is I was never a thief. The truth is if I wanted it — I worked for it. If I couldn’t afford it, I didn’t buy it. I could never be a thief as too much has been stolen from me. The truth is calling out a list. The truth has pincers. The truth is a red handle. It strips away rubber moulding. The truth is rarely fatal, except for when it is. The truth is in a call box. It’s leaving the country. It fucked the sheriffs daughter and it’s now speeding down the highway. The truth won’t take me to dinner but it often makes me breakfast. The truth is I can’t breathe but I can write, fuck me sideways I can type. The truth escapes me. We need to hunt the truth down and nail it to the wall — who am I kidding, truth is going to track me down and read me poems whilst I bleed. The truth is we need the great loudspeakers-of-truth to blare out all day. The truth can hold a tune. The truth is outside the embassy. The truth is marching. The truth is if you keep immigrants paperless and nervous you can pay them so much less and you don’t even have to worry about paying out for their broken, fractured, dislocated sense of self. How do you belong without a country? This country does not want you ma’am and your homeland wants to kill you. I tell you this, the truth is not written in the stars — it’s for us to put down. The truth has autonomy but only if we give it our everything. The truth is a clown. It’s musical but it can’t play drums. It’s a dog wagging its tail. It’s a god. It’s a dog-god. It’s bathing in milk. It’s a girls voice singing all the way down that alley. It’s all hype and hypo and hypero and hyppero. It’s under lock and key. It’s handcuffed. It’s sweating. It’s governmentally detected. It has crosshairs on its forehead. It has a bullet with its name engraved in silver on the side. The truth will be deleted. It is studied by assassins. Believe me, governments and goblins all know — the truth is deadly. The truth is the land. The land belongs under bare feet. Dip your fingers in the soil. This world belongs to kids and they should all be climbing trees. The land is truth and so too are farmers, sailors, tinkers and traitors. The truth will be evicted. The truth’s got a Russian landlord. The truth is on the other channel. The truth did not miss the train to LA but it does miss the good old days. The truth is nostalgic. Nostalgia is truths mistake. The truth is there’s a lot of wood in America. The truth is Del Monte. The truth is Salinas 7. They’re shredding documental truth, they’re drowning truthful atoms. The truth is atomic. The truth is southern. It’s a man raising his fucking fists. It’s a man scaring a woman. It’s underplayed. It’s vile. The truth says, go warriors! The truth will hate you later. The truth won’t trade or barter. The truth has been upgraded. The truth’s the best performer. The truth is there is no truth. The truth is truthless. I’ve copyrighted the truth. The truth won’t sue me. The truth is not trash. The truth does not travel business class. The truth does not own me. The truth is thirsty. Make it a double if you’re buying it gin. The truth is hiring drivers. The truth is not extinct. The truth is stupidity and ill-intent are a global misdemeanour. The truth is not so sure about humans. It’s not totally convinced. The truth is driving through a brush fire and it did not blink twice. The truth is I was on the Amtrak eating a salad and talking to Jackie whose son plays in Rancid when the flames were flamey either side of the train …. we just kept going, it was all just totally fucking okay. The truth is I felt sad in El Paso. The truth is sick of type A personalities. A is for arsehole! Aridian. Ailments. The truth is the world is full of people who think their needs are THE MOST IMPORTANT ONES and they say I am just making sure my needs are met — because they are so much more important than yours — but still, hey buddy, call me friend! The truth is self-serving entitlement is killing evolution. The truth is idiots think entitlement is a totality. They think it is eternal. They kill the planet and people as if the plague they profit from is a birthright. They act as if they are fucking holy. They rape the worlds resources, bomb its children, batter lovers unconscious, murder wives, mothers and sons — abuse children, institutionally implement generational racism and poverty and homophobia — perpetuate incessant crimes against humanity — often carried out with the full weight of the fucking law behind them. Some people claim heaven is a place where murder is sent down by celestial order and that murderous animals will be rewarded and deified in some future infinity! I apologise to animals. Not one single kind of you, murders like we do. I tell you this — and I will tell you it any day or night — if your God tells you murder is holy, then listen hard — your God has lied. Your God might be money. It might be capitalism. It might be celebrity. Or, fascism. It might be good old-fashioned hatred and greed, it might be patriarchal or matriarchal psychopathy but the truth is this — you will be held accountable for the hatred in your soul. What you give to this world — will be revisited upon you three times over in this life or the next. I met God and the exact words she said were this — not in my name. Not in my name, would one single child on this earth go hungry, frightened or dead. The truth is uterine. The truth is I am always looking for signs. The truth is epidemic, let’s start a global conversation — do you think revolutions are not started by bakers or bartenders, by people like you, or me? The truth is taking a moment. The truth has bowed its head. The truth is praying for all of us. The truth is making me nervous. It’s looking for a foothold. It’s flickering a candle. Offer it a cradle. Give it a place to lay its head. The truth checks your fingers for a ring. The truth is trespassing. It is forbidden by law. Lately it’s been general but it’s getting more specific. The truth is a southern cross. Truth — hopes. It is architectural. The truth is ready to fight for you. Are you ready to fight for it? The truth loves you. The truth is in motion.The truth is a warrior. The truth is a saint. The truth is a sinner. The truth is a coward but it’s also a wizard. The truth is a hermit but its come to our party. The truth is our true creator, it’s age-old, it’s the only educator. The truth is love. Love is truth. You are love, you want love, you have love and every fibre in your body was created from light, we are all of us pilgrims and for better or worse, this is our time.
That, is the truth.
We’ve been on the road. I met Bonnie Jo’s friend Eric in Portlandia and we three hit the highway. There have been many miles covered. I’m going to post a selection of photographs here of that section of the trip. High points were the redwood trees, seeing elk, going to crater lake (astounding) writing whilst in motion, staying in lots of working class or industrial areas and really getting a feel for them, saying hello to grifters, a man doing the peace sign to me as we flew by, we’re still in motion and it’s hard to blog anywhere near it all but this will give a feeling of the last part.
So we hit this amazing place to stay when visiting Ken Babbs. It was on a logging road and it had a cat called Freeloader, a dog called Jude (who was found wandering in LA) and another dog called Tito, who was found wandering Nashville. Those dogs were so good to me. There were chickens in the yard, a great greenhouse and when we arrived the stars were so clear. Ken met us in a car park to drive us up there and he said we were lucky to get such a clear night. It was so beautiful and dramatic! The place we were staying had a store room full of homemade chutney, jams, pickles all labelled and organic. There was a great artist living in the small yurt by the house, her name is Sohaila and I got into the habit of making us a breakfast of berries and a boiled egg. I’ll post some of her artwork up later. The next day we were going to visit Ken Babbs at his farm. The countryside was so beautiful, I understand why people want to live there. Babbs (for anyone who doesn’t know) is a famous Merry Prankster who wrote the book Last Go Round with Ken Kesey, among a whole lot of other things. Babbs took part in the Acid Tests and he also helped fly and found the infamous bus Further. Babbs is incredibly funny, he’s sharp, not in it for approval and he has little time for negativity. When he laughs he could be any age and the man is fit and strong and seizing it. It was inspiring and fun to hang out with him. He made us burritos with his super cool wife (who I had a great chat with — she’s a writer as well) and his amazing daughter Elizabeth, between them they offered us a wee bit of home for the day. Ken took us over to his good friend Ken Kesey’s place and it made me think for the first time about how cool it would be to share the page with someone, to understand and respect someone else’s intellect and artistry enough to go on that journey together. I think there’s was a one-off kind of friendship and life, extraordinary, challenging and yet still with that position of being outsiders and understanding sometimes that is the best space for an artist to maintain, whether it be through politics or being a rube or a revolutionary, I don’t say that lightly either, my upbringing made me other without my consent and I have mostly kept that path and all the interesting artists I know have too, but also, friendship, community, conversation, laughter, argument, anarchy, sadness, fear, loss, beauty — those are the human things we need to share on the road. Ken made the kind of jokes and told the kind of stories that made me laugh so hard due to their wit, unexpectedness and deadpan dark humour too. I won’t repeat them because I don’t think its polite to quote someone who has invited you into their home and I will only post a few photos of us out in the yard on the way to the bus. I felt like we’d joined Ken on the bus, that he was still on the bus, that we are all of us on the bus, that sometimes we hitch a lift on someone else’s and they offer us a different view and when we get back on our own the way we see things has changed. I’ve always known about the Merry Pranksters, or since I was a teenager at least, they were a counter culture force in a time of great motion and change and we need that image of those amazing poets, thinkers, trippers, stoners, dressed up in all their finery and strange and brilliance, all the little kids that watched that bus fly through their town, all the people that heard about it, talked about it. I loved seeing the bus. Both of them actually. They are iconic designs and the history of the original bus is palpable, it is truly a thing of beauty and I’m so glad it wasn’t all restored and shiny, that would not have even true to its soul at all. History begins and somewhere out there in the cosmiverse two young men are still sat side-by-side, one scribbling, one typing. In the fall of 1958, Babbs took a writing class at Stanford with a young Ken Kesey. Babbs didn’t take a straight route to freedom. He was a marine. He was in the Vietnam war. He has lived. He struck me as archetypically American, tough, a bit lawless, seeking and writing the narrative anew. This is a man who is living! He has nine kids. He is vital. He’s still very much in motion. Babbs and Kesey formed the Merry Pranksters together. It was described as a Happening something that just occurs! The most famous happening was when they saw a “revamped school bus” in San Francisco, pooled their money, bought it, and named it Furthur. Babbs was the engineer and he also did the sound systems for the Trips Festival. Babbs’ sorted out the the sound systems that usually distorted when cranked to high levels because of cement floors at Longshoreman’s Union Hall (where the Trips Festival was). He made sound amplifiers that would not create distorted sounds when turned up to high sound levels. How many of us are thankful for that in clubbing days. The Happening linked the psychedelic tribes from west and the east. The east tribe had Timothy Leary. Babbs still plays music when he feels like it, Bonnie Jo met him at one of her readings, he is a man who spiralled out into the universe at some point and who may always have that little sheen of stardust on him. He made us burritos. They were mighty lovely. We swapped books and stories and it was a highlight of this road trip for me, its funny, outwith the landscapes there are so many great people on the road, extraordinary, I feel like I was meant to meet them along the way, it all makes sense somehow. Babes has been quoted saying he wants younger and future generations to carry on “love, peace, and happiness; extended in practicality to the simple act of helping one another out, being kind and generous.” Babbs is promoting Ken Kesey’s book Kesey’s Jail Journal. He recently had a showing at an art gallery in Oregon to display his friends artwork. Viking Press brought his jail journal last November. The exhibit consists of all Kesey’s artwork during his lifetime. Babbs hopes that “this exhibit will tour the country and the rest of the world.” Babbs is also founder and leader of the Sky Pilot Club. He also recently published a novel based on his life in the armed forces during the first years of the Vietnam War, Who Shot the Water Buffalo? It was great listening to Ken and Bonnie-Jo talk about horses, the land, working it and maintaining it. We went to see the calf and their beautiful cow, she was great, had attitude to spare. We fed some old goats that are seeing out their days in a field nearby. Ken built his home and I loved that, the act of creating something — where before there was nothing — of making a home and filling it with people to love, and argue with, and hope for, those we want to travel through time with, to be sick with, to dance alongside. He made me my first blueberry buttermilk pancakes. They were lush. He’s a gent, with a wicked sense of humour, self and a sharp mind. I’m glad to have got on the bus and as I continue on this crazy journey across America, all around is motion, endeavour, trials, tribulations, and those particular moments that let us know we are living. We found out later that Ken Kesey’s grave is at the home farm where all those great hippies, characters, kids, lovers, and wanderers lived together in a unique time. We didn’t go to see it and only found out later that it was there. I lost my best friend five years ago, and she is never far from my heart or mind so I get it, why visit the soil when the things our friends have given us, like the art and literature and friendship of Ken Kesey to his buddy and partner in troubadour wandering are still very much a vital, present and important part of life. I want to keep looking into Ken Kesey’s later artwork. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest influenced me so much when I read it, I was only a kid and I read it again later and as a girl raised in care it spoke to me and in some ways (alongside A Clockwork Orange and The Color Purple) helped inform the first novel I would publish. Here’s some photographs. The star is in Ken Kesey’s living-room and the outside barn type building with the star is where he lived on the farm as well. We had to roll under the electric fence because we couldn’t remember the gate code, it added a tiny touch of danger to a day of blue skies.
Share the road. Get off. Get someone else off. Walk along beside the road. Rollerblade it. Only travel a road it if takes you to the ocean. The truth has much to say. In San Francisco I see a man with a shopping trolley and no shoes, he has a huge white shaggy dog riding up in that trolley with big black eyes like Cleopatra. I meet a man who tells me I might get shot in LA. I meet a man in a bar who says he killed his wife. His parole officer would like his photo. I ask him without blinking what time the bands are on, it’s all I wanted to know comrade. When the truth makes eye contact I never look away. End your detour. The truth is Black Lives Matter. I arrive on 62nd and the sign above me reads — The Devil’s Here. The truth is gasoline. It’s a vestal lady. It’s raw. The truth is not penetrating. The truth is strapping itself on. It’s procrastination. The truth is vital. It’s controversial. The truth is not destroyed by madness. It’s angry. It has not even the vaguest time for hipsters. Where’s your manifesto? There’s no angels in Idaho. It’s time to Lay Down Your Arms. The tsunami is coming. Fuck Hate. One of these days will always be one of these days. These are the good old days. I tell the man who is irritated by my composure that it’s not my generations fault we were brought up as capitalist children, raised to think each interaction had a value based transaction, and despite that, this era is full of youth and venom and underrated genius’s or bastions of kindness – and all of them are extraordinary. I tell him to take his bitter pill and mix it with his tea. Don’t tell me what I am stranger. Truth is something you can’t tell on sight. Truth is not bone deep. The truth is having its 91st birthday. There’s so many homeless here I am dizzied. The truth is I see all of them as children with eyes open and hopeful and haunting, I see them with long socks or brightly coloured balls, ignored or misunderstood by those who should love them. I see them unable. I see them vulnerable. I see them afraid. I see them defiant. I see them weary. I see them hungry. I see them with dignity and without dignity. I see their children selves in dirty old clothes. That man jumping on the sidewalk, kung-fu kicking the air. I want to bake him a cake and hold him and tell him a story but I’m a prickly person and the truth is I too know what it is to spend nights on streets — it’s a truth I don’t talk about but that doesn’t make it untrue. The truth is still Fuck Hate. Don’t divide me from other people with your ideas of division. My neighbour is me. My neighbour was hurt by my great, great, great grandfather and I am crying on the side of the street. The truth is golden. The truth is women. The truth is women writing. It’s not the truth that is writing women out of history — it’s something else señor. The truth is clitoral. The truth is a banned book. The truth is I don’t miss beatniks. The truth is naked. It steals time. The truth is literary. The truth is fearful. It is words. It is one thousand years-old today. It’s mono. It is a city of light. The truth is my camera is gone. I am the truth. The truth is sleeping on a sidewalk. If you find my truth, run it a bath and put it to bed, please.The truth is Underwoods. The truth is Redwoods. The truth is I went to the oldest trees on earth and they knew I was there and I spoke to them and they tolerated me but the truth is they’ve been walking so long and growing so tall and we humanoids to them are still so very disappointing. The truth is Miwi. The truth is I wasn’t in the room when he dedicated me a song. I’ll meet you in truth. It’s the only place I know. They say that Jesus was a beatnik but they also say he rose from the dead and we should drink his blood and eat his flesh. It’s disgusting. The truth is white people are not white, I’m reading about this truth in a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The truth is on the radio but the station is obscure. You seek it out. You go through the fuzz and hum and warble until it declares itself clear as the first call of a sparrow to dawn. The truth is ripped. It’s CND. It’s foggy. It’s debatable. It’s 20% of Americans believing we are being controlled by chem trails. It might not be 20% but the thought of it still pleases me. The truth is mind control. We are raised in institutions that teach us what to think and what to believe and we work in jobs that leave little time for thinking and loving and creating and being — the truth is human trafficking, it’s child abuse, it is domestic violence, it is poverty — there is nothing more truthful than poverty. The truth ignores me. I go to its door and hammer until it shouts out the fucking window at me. It’s a wage. It’s systemic, generational violence inflicted on the psyche and body and opportunities of people of colour. The truth is all colours are equal but some are more equal than others. The truth is that was an idea brought about by psychopaths. The truth is every child. The truth is being surly. Every parent raising kids hans solo is the truth. The truth is lonely. Nobody’s defending it with guns or armies. The truth did not go to school. The truth does not endorse brainwashing, institutionalisation of any kind, or the taming of potential. The truth is emotional. The truth won’t make amends. The truth must be spoken. The truth is at the foundation and core of every building. The truth is we can’t take the truth. The truth knows what you did wrong. It’s a brake check area. The truth is divided. It’s a concrete washout. It’s shoulder is closed. The truth is calling. The truth is speeding but the cops won’t pull it over. The truth got pulled over and it gave a fake ID. The truth is somewhere in San Francisco there lays my camera but it is not with me. The truth brought my monsters flowers and invited them to love me. The truth is our earliest consciousness. The truth is shame. We’d figured it all out by 10.16. The truth is in your pocket. The truth is every day. The truth is psychic. The truth is upstairs. The truth is reading. The truth is vesuvio. The truth is the best girl in town. It’s a stinking rose. It’s a basque hotel. It’s a cold beer. It’s a floor show. It’s rats in the walls. It’s being unable to say to a stranger — I’m frightened — please hold me. The truth is desolation. It has never been to heaven. They put the truth in a museum but it’s only open from 1-3. The truth is you are magic. The truth is you are stardust. Your bones, your eyes, your cartilage, DNA, hair, pubic, facial, your tongue, your kiss, your touch, your slip and slide, your dreams, the low moan, the electrical charge of communication all around us every fucking day — this universe made us and we can’t fucking take it. The truth is gay. The truth is straight. The truth is trans. The truth has a femme daddy with tattoos of Israel. The truth is people of all faiths. The truth is humans are a migrant race. The truth is welcome here. The truth is quiet but be certain you can get it here. The truth is local. The truth is strange. The truth is open Thursday – Sunday. The truth will see you by appointment. The truth transacts its business and leaves promptly. The truth delivers mood swings at ten minute intervals. The truth is my bones separated so I could deliver my baby. The truth is rats are not doing the fan dango. The truth is leopard sharks dying off in San Francisco bay. The truth is a young boy on the Bart with a tune to play, a tune to be heard, why can’t you hear him world, why can’t you see? The truth cannot park parallel. Neither can I. Except I can. The truth is bi-coastal. The truth is queer. I am queer as I am free, liking penises never changed that in me. The truth has currents. The truth is drowning. The truth is MNK 713 is the Cadillac for me. I couldn’t drive a gold Cadillac, are you shitting me? You’d have to paint it black and hang rosary’s from the mirror and even then I’d feel too exposed. The truth is demanding exposure. The truth has things to tell me. I dreamt of that big ear — I’m listening. The truth is a hauler. The truth has a sharp crest ahead and trucks are not advised. The truth is rain. The truth is great breaking waves. The truth is sharks with meningitis all over the bay. The truth is at a sidewalk sale. The truth is Balboa. The truth is simple. The truth is being gruel. The truth has priority mail. Live fast, the truth says, but it won’t come round to pick you up later. The truth is cops don’t trust me. The truth is they do. The truth is they drop by the apartment and they are so young and cute and I hope for them safety of some kind out there. The truth is bitter-strange. The truth is ugly-scared. The truth is anger. The truth is perversion. The truth is I need to like my lesser self a whole lot more. The truth is I am learning to not judge my imperfections, I salute my flaws on the crow road, I leave out whiskey for the demons, I draw them a beautiful banner to welcome them home, we waltz together on Mondays and knit together Tuesdays. The truth is Marlin Creek. It taught me how to shoot a Marlin. Everyone’s truth is more road than railway. The truth is 359 miles away. I’ll know the truth in San Francisco but it won’t know me until San Jose. Dorothy is waiting. She’s the bastard out of North Carolina. She’s the only kind of woman you really need to know. The truth won’t face the demon but it will bring you underwear. The truth is kids in care have few decent pyjamas. The truth is I left care with four black bin bags and a thimbleful of hope. The truth is razors in my brain. The truth is I’d rather see a whale than a forest. The truth is radar enforced. The truth is not a team player. The truth is a cathedral tree. The truth is interpretive. The truth is skunk cabbage. It’s ladybird Johnson. It’s my terror, it’s my tired. The truth is edebees. The truth is not for sale. The truth is cavernous. It is too big, too wide. Don’t forget the magic. The truth is beet. The truth is petuloma adobe. It’s mitochondrial. It’s seven sisters we came from. It’s speed enforced. It’s cigarettes afters sex. It’s the giants. It is he and it is she. It’s uterine. It’s a fox dog. It’s a tiny house. It’s racist room allocation. It’s a no stars motel with confusable geometry. It’s that I’m 7% British. I’m 27% Spanish/French. I’m a whole lot Northern Irish. I am in the world and I am being mostly me. A guy tells me he is only 50% my sexual preference and where will that get him. I tell him he is not my preference at all because he’s stupid. I am looking for a 100% soul mate. I’m not really looking. I really must kiss more toads. Bump up against more toads. I am so toad averse. I am a soul gone to seed. It’s olampali. It’s San Marin. It’s how I always head downtown to find my conversation. The truth is waiting. The truth sells haggis burritos. It’s a minor crash, no fatalities. It’s a husband who won’t come home tonight, or for all of time, it is a loss, a gaping, howling wind inside you and me. It’s nave drive. It’s the 2nd exit. It’s trailers and campers. It’s a gusty wind area. It’s Golden Gate bridge where a boy jumped to follow his mother, it’s knowing they will have to drag me from this earth kicking. As long as I can be here to love my son I will be and I will be and I will be and I will be. Even death won’t stop me because like the soul — love travels — outwith our mortal form. The truth has gone to the fairground. It rides the carousel all day. Wave to it, baby. It’s shining for you. It’s posing for a picture. It’s all around us. It’s linked to us as universe-is-to-universe. The truth is we are crazy islanders and the earth is our island and all of us feel abandoned here. The truth is we were always going to make up deities. We tried out capitalism but lately that’s been failing. The truth is fascism didn’t work out so good before. The truth is the least of our capabilities. The truth is at war. There is blood on all our fingernails. We try to scrub it off. The truth is men should never be a thing to be afraid of. The truth is some of my best friends have biological penises. The truth runs really fast. The truth is men need to stand by women on the long road home and say — ownership, via fear, of women and children, of boys and men, of all the utterly miraculous bodies that came here to house our souls — it has to stop. The truth is many of them already do but we need the whole fucking lot. The truth is belvedere. It’s tiburon. It’s mist on the mountain. It’s seminary drive. It’s Sausalito city. It’s exit 455a. It’s tired. It’s weary. We need to bring it home again. The truth is holding my hand. It doesn’t want to be so lonely. I followed the truth across the sea and like an old friend, it welcomed me.