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William Blake . . .

It is a well known fact that William Blake lived around these parts, close to where I am sitting right now with wet hair, bare feet and a view of neighbour enjoying the back garden that I can see into. There’s no romance between us; she’s a lesbian.

In fact, I have no idea who she is because this is London, it is the present day and no-one communicates with one another any more. If you make an attempt people will think you’re weird. Besides which, she’s seen me naked in front of my windows of my studio flat She could have me arrested for waving my cock at her of a morning without even realizing it.

Best to not push your luck by instigating conversation, a breeze filters by, heading south for the winter.

It was near here, half way between the hot cracked pavement and a sky that looks like a vast military tanker viewed up close from a dinghy that Blake saw angels in the trees during one of his infamous reveries. I too see such heavenly creatures from time to time. I know they are real only in the metaphysical sense, that they aren’t necessarily tangible or visible to other people and accepted that may well be a figment of my imagination as they had been Blake’s.

My mind is always doing stuff like that. I think it over-compensates for the mundanity of every day existence by creating interesting characters and scenarios to keep me interested, much in the way Hollywood movies are a distraction from the truth of life in modern America.

But I was grateful to my imagination for being over active. He was alright, my imagination. Or she. Always there when I need stimulus, and there too when I don’t. There to place angels in trees where others see birds, flapping carrier bags or the occasional Nike trainer hanging by a solitary shoelace.

William Blake said:

“To see a World as a Grain of sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”

You could say the same thing about a kidney.

When William Blake died it was in poverty and obscurity, something which gives hope to all struggling artists.

So underappreciated was Blake in his lifetime that no-one is entirely sure where one of the greatest creative minds this island has produced was buried, for he lay in a pauper’s grave, which was no doubt sad for everyone concerned but Blake himself, who was too dead to care anyway. Instead they erected an insult of a headstone that said:

Near by lie the remains of
the Poet-Painter
William Blake
and of his wife
Catherine Sophia

Which – reading between the lines – might aswell have said:

William Blake
We know he’s round here somewhere.
Maybe if we dig long enough we’ll unearth a jawbone
or the clavicle of his wife
Catherine Sophia

But it still wouldn’t be as honest as:

No-one gave a shit about
William Blake
1757 - 1827
They thought his art was tat and his poetry poofy
But then what do people know?
We put up this headstone out of guilt.
At least his wife
Catherine Sophia
loved him.

Taken from Ben Myers’s forthcoming novel The Missing Kidney.

Ben Myers is a writer and journalist. His first novel The Book Of Fuck, a fictionalised account about a hapless music journalist, was published to acclaim in 2004 through Wrecking Ball Press. It was published in Italian in 2005. The novel drew comparisons to the likes of Charles Bukowski, Hunter S Thompson and J. P. Donleavy. His short stories and pems have appeared in numerous anthologies since 1999. Myers has also written a number of music biographies which have been published in the United Kingdom, United States, Finland, Germany, Italy and Russia. In the US he is published by Disinformation. As a teenager he began writing for British weekly Melody Maker. As a freelance journalist he has written for publications such as Mojo, The Guardian, Alternative Press, Kerrang!, Time Out, Q, PlayLouder, Plan B, Careless Talk Costs Lives. Along with Tony O'Neill and Adelle Stripe he founded The Brutalists poetry movement in 2006, and co-authored the 2008 collection Nowhere Fast. He is also author of a poetry collection Spam: E-mail Inspired Poems, published by Blackheath Books in 2008. Ben Myers also ran the independent record label Captains of Industry from 2003 to 2008. Bands he released included Gay For Johnny Depp, Kinesis, Hell Is For Heroes and Marmaduke Duke.

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