Day of the Dead

In the Xicotencatl, somewhere in the soul-deserting streets of the Coyoacan neighbourhood, Alicia found La Santa Gula. It was the only place in the whole of Mexico City where she could hope to speak Maltese. Her Spanish was pitiful, lazy, and speaking it elicited painful memories that used to be happy. No: she changed too…

The Ghost in the Arena

  The Ghost in the Arena     Writing is a blood-sport. And in many blood-sports you tend to find the influence of religion. Think of the superstitions of bullfighters. Or the outspoken religiosity of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Or the Zen-like spirituality of karate. Faith brings these fighters, who frequently flirt with death…

Che Guevara T-shirts and Jihadi John

        “That propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result. It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success.” This quote could so easily belong on the lips of any political strategist amongst Democrats and Republicans…

Dictionary of the Numinous

    Isn’t it incredible how sometimes beautiful-sounding words happen to mean something even more wondrous? Think of ‘sublunary’, ‘sublime’ and ‘crepuscular’. The one that’s caught my attention most recently is the word ‘numinous’. But when I looked it up, for utmost clarity, on the Oxford dictionary, I found something disappointingly antagonising. The definition, according…

Hemingway’s Loss: The Hardest of Feasts

Feast of St. Gaetan, Hamrun, Malta   “Their chief occupations are feasting, fighting, and making love, and playing the most beautiful music.” WB Yeats   I cannot claim to know what my townsmen get up to in the privacy of their homes when the beautiful music stops and their bedrooms beckon, but as for the…

Hardcore Writers no. 3 Ways of Escape – Graham Greene

    During his period as journalist Graham Greene did some work writing film reviews. Here is what he had to say about one of Shirley Temple’s early, childhood films: “ Her admirers — middle aged men and clergymen — respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed…

Poems of a Lapsed Catholic

  The Lawless Charity   Whenever I gaze at poverty I see the Church And her wealth.   Whenever a man is weak I see him kneel To the strong.   Wherever a child is hungry She is told to fast As a sacrifice.   When night falls The ruined streets are dark And the…

Poems Travelling Like Avalanches

I’ll Go Wandering   Upon every step I make A new deity is conceived. A myriad of voices echo in my head Competing for naming rights: Shinto, Hermes, Heimdall, Jupiter, Tiamat and Viracocha.   But I refuse them all and decide Upon my own title:     Memory.   So long as Memory is my kin and…

Odes to Unbelief

Between the soup and my eating it   Between the soup and my eating it I discover a new religion. Even as I watch the landscape of aqueducts Pass me by like a fleeing herd I feel an arm of godliness embracing The whole downcast horizon.   Between life and its travelling minutes, From riverbank,…