IAN THORPE

Born 1948 in Manchester. Married to Teri since 1974, parents of David (27) and Gabrielle (23) Education. Private School until fourth year, then on to a conveyor belt high school producing office fodder. Further education was mostly self inflicted. People are surprised I don't have a degree but I never liked the academic environment. On two occasions, having stuck my toe in the ocean of knowledge I quickly found distractions (one blonde, one anglo-indian, nuff said? I'm a very shallow person.) but eventually ended up with a diploma in Sociology and A - Level English Lit. as my best achievements.

My ambition was always to be a writer and the die was truly cast by winning a competition in the Shrewsbury Chronicle when aged about ten. The prize was either five pounds or two pounds ten shillings, a fortune to a child in those days. That was the only prize writing has ever won me, in fact I can't recall entering a competition since.

After leaving school, several years were spent "finding myself" or finding ways of avoiding responsibility before imminent fatherhood made me look for a proper job. During that time my first "paid for" works were published and I could be found performing poetry anywhere people were silly enough to stand still. Later, as the world of poetry, having ventured into the sunlight during the sixties and early seventies, began to retreat to the shadowy half world usually occupied by occultists, conspiracy theorists and fallen political leaders my stories and articles were featured on BBC Radio and in respectable, nationally known newspapers and magazines. I also contributed to comedy sketches to a long forgotten Radio Show.

As an accidental career in Information Technology took off, writing and performing was pushed more into the background. In 1985 my life came to a crossroads. Having moved from a performance poet who did funny links to a stand - up comic who worked with verse I had to choose between becoming a full time performer earning £50 in a good week or taking my first consultancy assignment and earning £500 every week. With a family and a mortgage there was no option and that was how it looked like continuing until I retired.

Disabled by a severe brain haemorrhage in 1997, have been recovering and writing since.

For those who like to identify us by the geography of our birthplace, it is said a true Cockney is born within the sound of Bow Bells and a true Geordie within sight of the River Tyne. I was born within smelling distance of Davyhulme sewage works which must make me truly Manky.

Most of the poetry published here and on my website is previously unpublished although some originates from much earlier in my life. I never saw a lot of point in putting any effort into getting published in small circulation magazines and slim volumes destined to be remaindered a day after publication, to me (and I'm going to damn myself to perdition in the eyes of the literary establishment now) poetry is entertainment and if we cannot engage an audience beyond the small world of literary academics we are failing. Speaking personally, a round of applause from the punters in a Manchester pub is more of a buzz than a positive review in any literary magazine, because it means I have made contact with the people I live among and write for.

The Internet offers exciting opportunities for poets who eschew the traditional routes. As high speed broadband and ADSL connections become available all sorts of multi media ventures are possible. There will always be room for quiet, contemplative writing but if poetry is to engage a wider audience it must be vibrant and visual too. The net offers us many ways to achieve that.

At the moment I am awaiting a call from a literary agent who I hope will tell me that the publisher she is hassling on my behalf has finally agreed to publish my first novel, Schlocky's. I have two more in the can and am getting impatient.

Current DIY projects are preparing two collections of verse, Two Faced Poet and Reminiscing with a Stranger for web release. This will happen as soon as I'm confident copyright is reasonably secure. (please, nobody write to me about Acrobat. PDF files are as easy to rip off as any WP format.) I am also intending to put a few short stories on line before the end of this year and hope to launch a satirical magazine, HEADBUTT. As the title suggests this is humour with attitude. I want to create something akin to the ambience of early National Lampoon. A preview should be online by early September and contributors will be welcome. No pay, but the work will be promoted aggressively and contributors will be credited with e - mail links to your own site.

I have not written much here about my disabling illness and how it changed everything. Copies of my memoir of recovery are available to download FREE (absolutely free, no catch*) on my own website http://ianthorpe.airtime.co.uk. Don't be scared, it is not heavy going, in fact most readers have remarked on how funny it is. That's flattering to me because I tackled the problems with humour and set out to portray that as a vital aspect of mental recovery. I hope many people will find encouragement in it, not just those dealing with similar problems. The central message is "Take Control of Your Life whatever the circumstances."
* A publisher showed interest in this book as a commercial proposition but what they wanted me to do was so tacky it would have ruined what I was trying to achieve. There is no place for self pity in a recovery plan. All I ask from you is that you read it with an open mind and be ready to have a few ideas changed.

Seduction
© Ian Thorpe


Step 1. Courtship rutuals
She flirts with me,
invites my attention,
rejects my advances,
refuses the gift I would
bestow on her, declines
to give me her virginity.
I can find no seed
to make her fertile,
the mother to my creations
I cannot be their father,
cannot articulate
my desire in a way
worthy of her chastity.

Step 2. Consummation
At last I respond to her taunts,
conjure inspiration stiletto like
to penetrate her reluctance.
I weave metaphors to charm her,
Conceits and lies to dazzle her modesty.
She hesitates. I wait, my stylus poised
ready to make her mine. She yields
to the soft touch of my words,
a caress that fulfils her purpose,
makes us partners, bound forever.

Step 3. Afterglow
I relax,
light a cigarette
and sit back, satisfied
reviewing what I've done

Step 4. Self - justification
It was her, I tell you.
She led me on,
Flaunted her blankness
To inflame my desire.
She lay there naked,
Taunting me,
mocking my impotence
until, passions roused,
I filled her whiteness
with my ink.


Casual Sex in New York
© Ian Thorpe



Nothing is significant
at street level in New York
where giants look down
on the electric menagerie.
I offered my lust in Times Square
she brought her lonliness.
We traded in a Market Place
swapping tarnished dream
for faded hope,
jostling with the other traders
each of whom was looking
for a profit on their deal
and prepared to give a little less
than they hoped for in return.
New York brings everything
down to commerce and takes
its cut of every transaction.
Nobody can see they have
much more to offer
and so much more to gain
if they give rather than trade.
And at close of business
all the traders leave to
calculate their profit and loss
No bargains to be had;
just unfulfilled promises
and fumbling apologies
in the anti - climax. Telephone
numbers scrawled on matchbooks
race each other in rain filled gutters
as last night's Valentios slink
like pariahs in morning alleyways.
We cut the deal, she had
arms to lift her temporarily
I satisfied an appetite burgers
cannot feed, but New York
fed on both of us. A vampire city;
it bled us dry and starved
our stillborn love.

Authorís Note:This might seem unfair to New York which is a great city in every sense of the word. The time I spent there was too many years ago now, but I loved evey minute on its streets. It is used here in preference to London or Paris because it scans better and just feels right. Also NYC gave me images that worked for the way I have attempted to represent the high - speed, high pressure world of modern commercial life and materialistic relationships.


The SPIDER
© Ian Thorpe



The Spider makes her web
with indestructible patience.
While I watch her
the web of my life hangs in shreds.
All the gossamer threads of plans
and dreams are torn by
the slightest wind
of unexpected events.
A rage of frustration rises
in me as I sit among
the simplicity of nature.
The cycle of the seasons
is too basic for human logic,
there are no shades, no nuances
life, death, decay, rebirth,
inevitability mocks our creations
And the Spider makes her web
with indestructible patience.
Until I, an angry giant
who holds the power to create
GODS in my own image
but cannot tie the strands
of all my schemes together,
determine not to let it be and
with one sweep of my hand
destroy and brush aside her work
but as I walk away rejoicing
in my vicory over feeble nature
the spider makes her web
with indestructible patience.


Authorís Note: OO-er, an arachnophobic poem? Spider images crop up several times in my work and amateur psychologists tend to have a field day with that. Actually I find the insects fascinating. One dewey morning I ran out of a house in upstate New York where I was staying and crashed through a huge web. As I pulled the gossamer from my face a beautiful black and yellow spider crawled onto my hand. Placing it on the ivy that grew around the porch I went out, returning in the evening to find the half 0- wit spider patiently reconstructinng its web to try and catch me again the following morning. The photographs I took of the construction gave me this poem years later.

Vauxhall Cavalier
© Ian Thorpe



Blossom was a dreamer back in sixty- nine,
Wore bells beads and a kaftan, thought love and peace were fine,
Got into meditation and mind expanding trips,
Was often seen in saffron robes, a mantra on his lips.
Tried to heal the world with love, banish hate and fear,
But he's sold his soul for a Barrett Home and a Vauxhall Cavalier.

Kier was a revolutionary, protesting in the street,
campainged for Marxist policies and equal opportunity,
Demonstrated for minority rights and marched against the war.
Feared for the environment and what the future had in store.
Now he lectures in humanities, campaigns for better beer,
He sold his soul for a Barrett Home and a Vauxhall Cavalier.

Fiona tore up all her bras. she saw the upturned breast
As an outdated sexist symbol of how women were oppressed
She swore she'd fight the system, to her gender she'd be true
But a single mum's restricted in the things that she can do.
So now she wears a short skirt and lipstick ear to ear,
She's sold her soul for a Barrett Home and a Vauxhall Cavalier.

Dazza was an Angel, he rode a Bonneville,
Swore he would live fast, die young chasing another thrill.
The chapter was his family, the bike his truest friend,
He believed he'd follow the last road to its very end.
But now the pillion hurts his piles, insurance is too dear,
So he's sold his soul for a Barrett Home and a Vauxhall Cavalier.

We rejected social values, chose to live outside the law,
But we've given in to the march of time like so many before.
We all grew old together, the options got too soft
For us to chase our ideals or hold the flags aloft
Now we sip our Chilean chardonnay as at the young we sneer.
We sold our souls for a Barrett Home and a Vauxhall Cavalier

Author's Note: It happens to us all eventually of course. The price mankind must pay for Eve's dalliance with that no good snake is not that we all must die but that before we do, we must become boring old farts. The curse is particularly potent for the hippie generation. As we slither downwards past the last flush of middle age it is our particular fate to be sneered at by the people who, in their desperate pursuit of COOL re-invented the basin haircut! A Vauxhall Cavilier was a popular UK family car of the 1970s to 90s. In a similar range to the Toyota Corrola is was an aspirational item for young middle class couples with moderate income. The Barratt Home refers to low cost surburban housing marketed to the same group.


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Jan Sand in New York

JAN SAND, poet and illustrator from New York, is a regular contributor to Poetry Life & Times and the newsgroup alt.arts.poetry.comments. A great deal of his work is about animals, or science fiction.

Recently Jan was published by Kedco Studios Artist Profile Press, on their latest CD ROM e-book, "A Way With Words (Poetry Real and Surreal), which also includes complete books by Dale Houstman, Sara L. Russell and Keith Gabriel Hendricks. Jan's illustrated book on the CD is called "Wild Figments And Odd Conjectures", which is also sold separately, in a limited-edition "single" CD.

To see an illustrated article about Jan's poems, visit the November '98 issue of Poetry Life & Times, and scroll down past the Editor's Letter. He also has his own poetry pages on Charlotte's Web at Artvilla.

THE FUGITIVE
© Jan Sand



It is so easy to lose the obvious.
Stare through a mirror at one's self
And neglect the glass for consciousness.
Chase within for that elusive elf
Which was conjured into being
Out of reflective surfaces of seeing.

But the glass, as fingertips will tell,
Limns the boundary of true extent
And that twisted ghost encased is no real shell
But mere light, deceived, ricocheted and bent
Which resounds down through mental corridors
To imprint now between afters and befores.

This now that flees on feet of seconds pattering
Is glimpsed in fleeting colors, clashing sounds,
Here, then gone, leaving echoes clattering,
Pursued by yelps of recall's hounds,
Which, when we reflect and pause
Bring back our childhood in their jaws.


FINALITY
© Jan Sand



In one hand I hold
One more sun
And in the other
A night begun
Rolling on so soon,
My last moon.

Where should I wander
In my final thoughts?
They rush away like animals unpenned.
I gulp oxygen in huge draughts
And watch with hungry eye
This local patch of life to say goodbye.

Life is a habit and a skill
But, lately, I have lost the trick
Of all its intricate mechanics.
My tongue meanders on dry lips to lick
To softness horny skin. Flames of fear, small panics
Make blind surges through my cage of nerves.
I wonder what next? The thought swerves.

Now, calm now. I must let it come.
I'm confident this process knows its way.
My brain calculates its final sum,
But, as always, secretive. It will not say
How everything will come out.
No matter. It's unknown what it's all about.


ODD THOUGHT
© Jan Sand



Pursue through time,
Past apes, lemurs, animals like rats,
Past things with scales, slimy things,
Crawly things that squirm in grime,
Things much alive, and requiescats,
Things that swim with fins like wings,
Back to tiny, tiny, tiny blobs
That swarm in ancient seas in mobs.
When we spin back all the clocks
We can see our ancient mother is the rocks.


PREDATOR
© Jan Sand



My tongue has tips
Just full of quips.
They dance there unrequited.
My tongue makes slips
That curl my lips
And make me seem benighted.
It bathes within my mouth in spit
Lurking there in malice
Full of wicked impulses
Like an upper phallus.
It never foregoes chances that
Might embarrass me
But, sometimes, when my mind goes blank
It releases something savoir faire,
Gives up the chance to harass me
And, chuckling, retreats to its lair.


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