Joe Banks

Writer & Actor

Notes From Beneath The Castle Walls

Heaven is a dark place John Bunyan heard church bells ringing the streets of sorrow rivers at dawn Tony Torn the Pagan drunk and steaming in the morning sun on stone The Evil Dream (suffocation, blindness) Canary Wharf shopping centre empty streets of Gloucester early Sunday morning night sky cold glittering vastness, oak, meadow, wide skies of hot metal heartbeat, blood, stinging eyes, Leyton, Natalia, her lips and flashing eyes, deer park at evening, lake at Blenhein Palace, sick London skies, drunk people on night buses, Rain, Chilterns and the view of Oxfordshire, The Doors of Perception, sick city birds singing in the night, wind’s death chant, The Wound, Time, night-sweats, unearthly clarity of dream-images, seasons & sex, Southwold beach sunrise, mountains elsewhere and jungle, tribes, science parks, Eric Satie, the enormous still evening, motorway sunsets, seaside towns in the grey dawn, Walt Whitman: “I do not talk of a beginning or an end”, Anglo-Saxon poetry, ‘wyrd’, “the haunted frightened trees”, the unutterable, summer’s evening, the scented air, birdsong, a moment in heaven and out of time, the Huge Evening, weariness of life, skulls, fragmented dream of life (“still here”) horror of mornings, loving tenderness, “Let me not cease till death”, witch-trials, the high-hedged lanes, birds bouncing along in front of truck, the morning rush, work, bone and blood, dried up inside, under London, smeared stinging faces flying through life’s dark, the tree-lined Thames at Chiswick, Brentford, Richmond, orange glow of a town or city seen from a distance on a winter’s night, the barn owl’s perfect white swoop in the darkness of the copse, English Civil War, savagery, lanes in Berkshire, waiting on train station platforms, the long straight road under the wide sky, automatic creatures, pornography, forgetfulness, the cul-de-sacs in small towns inhabited entirely by the elderly dozing in front of their televisions, smell of crotch, smell of armpit, the violence and chaos of the world, vampires, red-eyed wolves, 24 hour news channels playing in the glass offices of the City of London, the end of consumerism, mindless trudging, Gaia, the lights of cities seen from aeroplanes landing in the night, what we tell ourselves, Lo and Behold, crossing the frozen sea, view from a window, a street, strangers walking, the lakes where dog-walkers drown, changes in heart beat rhythm, raised blood pressure, sleeplessness, nausea, pallor, sweating, the Thames before and after London, “the forgotten paradises of the reborn sun”, fear and indolence, the overpopulation of the planet, England’s country homes, manicured lawns, box hedges, a view to the horizon from French windows, the face in the mirror, dry yellow grass in August, ferment, seething, The Wood, breaking the trance, the ticking of the clock, down the Rabbit-Hole, the English coast, sea all around, the waves of human life through the world, country graveyards, The Road, malignant winter evenings under orange town lights, drinking scotch by the river, swans, passing out in the mud, fragility of eyes, survival and leisure, Station to Station, ‘drift down the stream’, the sound of horses’ hooves moving at great speed, faces of the poor, lost souls, a darkened room full of echoes, quiet, affluent suburban roads after the rain, golden wash of sunset, the red sky, ghosts, wide and empty afternoons of scudding cloud on housing estates, the millions of pricks stiffening at any moment, always people finding their way to laughter, crisp, dead flies on a hot window sill, the poisonous yew tree, “how the hot sun rushes”, the war of life and breaking free from care, the human animal, Saturday afternoon in England, the sports pitches at public-schools, DIY stores, shopping malls, High Streets, pubs, football, noise of the jungle at dawn, this thin northern light and English melancholy, Scots Pines against the evening sky, Rembrandt’s face, drunk young women getting older, teenage girls and boys in their bedrooms singing sad songs to their guitars, suicides, skunk-psychosis, junkies, coke comedowns, The Sunday Times Rich List, whatever you end up doing with your time, when all the music and all the colour seemed to be fading out forever, lonely hours, London parks and the grey mystery of London, illuminations, a man slumped in a parked van staring at the mobile phone in his hand, each brain a virtual reality mechanism, the fallacy of the senses, catastrophe, human suffering seen from England, through TV: war, earthquakes, disease, famine, floods, bloodshot eyes and twitching eyelids, drunkenness and the moon, the seething prisons of the world, Windsor Park, pressure, release, burning Scotch, now and then a drum, the vulnerability of all flesh, restless longing, ancestors, universal human needs, the nightmare of no-motive-power, walking round in a ring, people dozing, sleeping, the grey life of English towns, real, time-marked human faces, beech trees of Savernake Forest, opium, “see the morning sun/ on the hillside”, absorption and exaltation, the deep, inward ecstasy, don’t snatch at the dream, tell me a story, happy on ale, evening light, all the lovely things, the beauty, the world is wilder and more ragged than you could ever compass, to judge a straight line in the darkness, “he loved the process of life”, that painting of Dante and Beatrice flying, where have I been?, when we wake weary and strange to ourselves, “idiot wind”, Billy Shakespeare, it flows like water, Lao-Tzu, the hot breath of an animal, the clean flash of the eyes, the ancient invisible command, a sudden storm of song

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