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On Escaping from Nature

The birds are at it again,
arguing about Brexit
from their branches;

the smug song of a starling,
the crows’ cry
of blue murder,

and the inexpert chatter
of a so-called chaffinch.
Across the street,

a dog cocks its leg
against a lamppost
in protest against

the chronic neglect
of the National Health Service.
A leaf lies ignored

on the pavement
it slept on last night,
and dreams of home.

Further out,
in surrounding fields,
cows hold seminars

on the refugee crisis
and the pigs debate
what to do about Syria.

Goats stare bleakly
from desolate crags,
remembering Trump.

Soon it will be time
for the penguins to march
against global warming.

I do what I can
to keep nature at bay,
drown it out

with radio or TV,
find refuge
in the tranquillity of Twitter.

But it’s late now
and outside
I can hear the owls

calling parliament
into session
once more.

My Resolution Will Not Be Televised

after Gil Scott-Heron

You will not be able to discover it from your sofa, brother.
You will not be able to sit there under the cat, sister,
remote control in one hand, phone in the other,
and put the kettle on during the ad breaks,
because my resolution will not be televised.

My resolution will not be tweeted.
My resolution will not be announced on Twitter.com
in 140 characters of self-promoting concision
to be retweeted by Ricky Gervais in between posts
concerning animal cruelty and the release date of his latest film.
My resolution will not be tweeted.
My resolution will not be televised.

My resolution will not be Facebooked.
My resolution will not feature next to an inspirational quote
set against the backdrop of a soaring mountain or a mirror-blue lake.
My resolution will not be posted beside a shining infographic
illustrating how many kilos I have lost, how many pennies
I have saved, how many drinks I have not drunk.
My resolution will not be Facebooked.
My resolution will not be tweeted.
My resolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures on Instagram
of kale soup and black bean-quinoa salad.
There will be no pictures on Instagram
Of NutriBullet breakfast smoothies.

My resolution will not be vlogged.
My progress will not be revealed to you
in a twenty-minute daily video diary
documenting my trials and tribulations
whilst being brought to you in association
with John Lewis, Iceland and Marks and Spencer
and my resolution will not be right back after a message
about my brand new range of eyebrow pencils.
My resolution will not be vlogged.
There will be no pictures on Instagram.
My resolution will not be Facebooked.
My resolution will not be tweeted.
My resolution will not be televised.

My resolution will not be available to preorder
on DVD, Blu Ray, CD-Rom, VHS or Betamax, brother.
My resolution will not be prerecorded or livestreamed, sister.
My resolution will not be part of a thought-provoking video installation
and exhibited in a Museum of Modern Art to critical acclaim.
My resolution will not survive more than two days.
My resolution will not be televised.

Brian Bilston’s Poems – all gathered up into some kind of book thing

I’m pleased to say that my poetry collection You Took the Last Bus Home has now published and is available through bookshops and online stores in both print and ebook formats.

If you’re interested in buying a copy, do seek out your local bookshop – or Hive is an excellent online alternative, as it allows independent bookshops to benefit, thus enabling the book industry as a whole to continue to thrive.

http://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Brian-Bilston/You-Took-the-Last-Bus-Home–The-Poems-of-Brian-Bilston/19417281

It will publish in the US in January.

If you’d like to read more about how I went from posting poems in tweets and blog postings to publishing a book, you can read about it here in a piece I’ve recently written for The Irish Times.

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/brian-bilston-twitter-s-poet-laureate-on-his-print-debut-1.2819450

Brian Bilston

Please excuse me

My dear ambassador, I am afraid
I am unable to join your pompous parade
of dignitaries on Thursday evening,
because I am working my way through
seven seasons of The West Wing,
Such an enthralling drama, I have found;
it passed me by first time around.

How thoughtful of you to invite me
to this exhibition by contemporary artists
on ‘Post-Urban Space: Dislocation and Catharsis’;
it’s an important theme that resonates
deep within me. But I cannot make this date,
nor indeed the next six weeks;
I have to read ten thousand tweets.

Dear Lord and Lady Asquith, I was charmed
to receive in the post today, your card
inviting me to supper at Hedge End –
ever the magnificent setting.
Gustav’s profiteroles are legend.
I would love to come, I really would rather,
but I’ve reached a new level on Candy Crush Saga.

Dear chat show producer, thank you so much
for the opportunity to sit on your sofa
and, amidst the giggles and knee-touches,
promote my brand and new book over
a million television sets.
Sadly, with regret, I must say no;
a cat upon one’s lap does limit one so.

Thank you, world, for thinking of me,
but I’ve never been much good at society.
Please do not think me rude
but I would rather hide my shyness
in solitude, behind a screen,

and use my own knife
to whittle down the hours of life,
to something barely seen.

Stuart Mould has invited you to join his professional network

I

Stuart Mould has invited you
to join his professional network.

He is wearing
a tuxedo and the smirk

of a man unfamiliar
with the concept of rejection.

Stuart Mould has four thousand
and fifty-eight connections.

Small wonder given the way
he generates

revenue
you never knew

existed. It’s all there
in his results-driven profile.

It appears he will go
the extra mile

in his position as
Customer Solutions Architect.

I don’t know why
but I click accept.

II

Stuart Mould has endorsed you for the following skills:

Marketing ✓
Leading Teams ✓
Targeting ✓
Weaving Dreams ✓

Scuba diving ✓
Semaphore ✓
Lego building ✓
Harp (Grade Four) ✓

Chess playing ✓
Home baking ✓
Soothsaying ✓
Lovemaking ✓

That’s a lot
of endorsements to get

from someone
who I have never met.

III

Stuart Mould has written you a recommendation
that you can include on your profile page.

“Bold strides this colossus in the workplace
with footsteps firm and full of flawless grace,
noble of purpose and so fair of face,
greeting PowerPoint with such fond embrace.

O Mighty Strategist! Leader Complete!
The Pivot-fabled Slayer of Spreadsheets!
Analytical Artist! Office Athlete!
Leviathan of the Corporate Elite!”

I must admit
I hesitated.

It seemed a little
overstated.

IV

Stuart Mould has invited you to join him and his family for two weeks
in their delightful villa situated near the Rio Real Golf Course,
and just ten miles from the charming, bustling city of Marbella.

I went, of course.
I’m no fool.

It had a private
swimming pool

where I, alongside
his four thousand contacts,

swam and schmoozed,
snoozed, relaxed,

after mornings
on sun-parched links,

and the clink of ice
in noon-time drinks.

We, the Professional Network
of Stuart Mould,

his corporate army,
paraded, parasoled,

a linked in, in sync
commonwealth.

I eventually met
the man himself.

He was not as bad
as I expected.

I felt I had –
at last – connected.

For we shall stare at mobile phones

Streets shrug as we roam back to our homes,
obstacle courses of lampposts and cones.
For we shall stare at mobile phones.

Landmarks languish and attractions close;
statues, cathedrals, Byzantine domes.
For we shall stare at mobile phones.

Reading gets shelved, poetry and prose,
with the dusty rebuke of neglected tomes.
For we shall stare at mobile phones.

Conversation falters, dries up, unflows,
feelings once said, lie buried, unknown.
For we shall stare at mobile phones.

Yes, we shall stare at mobile phones,
when we’re together and when we’re alone.
For we shall stare at mobile phones.

And when we die, let’s hope they’re thrown
into the pit with our crumbling bones.
So that we might stare at mobile phones.

When Les Linked In

Les linked in with himself
on Linked In.

It made him feel reconnected
with who he really was.

He went on to add in new skills,
such as ‘good at linking in’,
‘well connected’,
and “brilliant networking abilities”,
all of which he then
promptly endorsed.

Two weeks later he was congratulating himself
on his new job.

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