richard pierce

richard pierce

6 October 2018

Of Gender and of Soul

I've just finished reading I Love Dick by Chris Kraus, and it's raised some interesting questions for me, or realisations, which I just need to write about. And if I, in this, don't adhere to the current uses of the words gender, sex, etc, please forgive me.

My brief review, just penned and uploaded via my smartphone:

Weird, wonderful, confusing, illuminating. This is as much a novel as a reading list, as much a transcribed piece of performance art as an art catalogue, and as much a cry from the heart as a call to arms. The message throughout is that patriarchalism is not dead, and that the striving for equality will never end and never be easy. Does love transcend gender politics or subvert them, or does it demand the surrender of the self by one party or the other but never both? Read and ponder.

But there's more, much more, to it than that, to where it's led my mind. It confirms to me what I've thought for a long time, which is that it's not the nature of our physicality (or our gender, if you prefer) which determines what we feel and how we react to the actions of others, but our soul, or, if you prefer a somewhat less spiritual word, our essence, or to become even more secular, our thoughts. I suppose people might say I'm writing about personality traits rather than gender or soul, but I think this goes deeper than that.

Thus, when people encounter us physically, they immediately think of us as a man or a woman, categorise us into the expectations that come with that perception, and expect us to act according to those expectations. Men = hard, women = soft I suppose is the crassest and simplest of ways to characterise those expectations. And that's how the patriarchy expects us to behave and be categorised, with no exceptions, and that's how people have been educated for far too long, and that's why evil people still rule this planet, and why most of us, of whatever faith or none, laugh at the expression the meek shall inherit the earth.

Whenever I describe myself as a zeta male, it's because I haven't been able to come up with some other rational description, and because, I guess, this again fits in with that patriarchal compartmentalising of people according to their gender. And this is where I'm coming back to I Love Dick, the main focus of which is how women have been silenced in the worlds of art and literature. I don't think it's physical women who have been silenced, not physical men who have had the upper hand. I think it's female souls which have been silenced, and male souls which have shouted the loudest.

To get personal, I am avowedly heterosexual, but this zeta maleness I keep talk about is actually the fact that I have a female soul, a soul which would rather fight using words rather than swords, a soul which would rather love and be loved than hate and be hated, which would rather be compassionate than ruthless. And those with male souls, and whatever bodies those souls might inhabit, are those who seek to oppress those of us who are peace makers, love makers, natural empathisers and consolers, unilateral disarmamentists. This is not to say we female souls can't be competitive, but it's a competitiveness which doesn't have deadly edges. This is not to say that we female souls can't be mean and horrible and thoughtless, because all humans can be like that.

But this is to say that having a female soul goes deeper than personality, deeper than what we've got between our legs, means more than the purely physical in a world increasingly guided by the physical, by the need for instant gratification, by the greed of the rich male souls that rule and have ever ruled, the male souls which unendingly and unerringly damage and torture the female soul from run-of-the-mill households to world politics. Just witness Trump and Kavanaugh, May and Johnson, Brexit and MAGA, and endless incidents of domestic violence, physical and emotional.

The female voice is still crying out to be heard, and it is indeed a cry from the heart as well as a call to arms.

25 August 2018

First-World Slavery - Of Human Bondage

Does anyone remember the days before Sunday opening? Or the time when nothing happened on Sundays? Or when certain large supermarkets were closed even on Monday mornings? Or those days when we couldn't get hold of our service providers at all at the weekend? No? I'm showing my age, obviously.

We have become so used to having access to everything all the time that we don't spend any time thinking about the effects of our constant needs on the people who have to traipse to work on those days when we have lie-ins, when we're at leisure, when we're the ones taking a deep breath because our week is over, because we're at rest. We take it for granted that we can call insurers, on-line vendors, can quickly jump into the car to make a forgotten shop, have everything available to us all the time. It's an insidious thing, this, and although I might call it a First World problem, it goes deeper than that.

We like to think of ourselves as activists, as folk who strive to make the lot better of those in the Third World who have to slave in sweatshops, pride ourselves on our ethically-correct way of living, but we forget that what we do at home actually just makes everything worse for those we think we're protecting.

There are employers, many employers, in the UK, who stay open on Saturdays and Sundays, who don't announce the shifts for their workers any more than five weeks ahead, who make their people work on bank holidays and Sundays, and I'm not talking about the wonderful emergency services on whom we all rely. How often have you phoned in a complaint to a service provider on a Sunday or bank holiday without even thinking about it? We all go on about modern slavery in the context of poor people being imprisoned in grubby cellars and rooms, and not allowed to see the light of day, and forced to do unspeakable things behind the walls of silence, but have we ever thought about those people in air-conditioned offices, on a Sunday afternoon, sitting there fielding phone calls from irate enjoyers of leisure just so that we don't have to arrange our working days to have ten minutes of free time to make our arrangements?

It's time we looked ourselves in the eye and realised that what we're doing is allowing rich people to get even richer by employing people on minimum wage or zero hour contracts, or just shit money, to pander to our affectations, to pander to those of us who have regular working weeks. It's time we called for call centres to operate only 9 to 5 on week days and to be closed on Saturdays and Sundays. It's time we demanded that supermarkets and DIY chains close on those days, too. Because we're allowing people's lives to be put into disarray, to be messed up, to be led by opportunistic forces that are anything but forces for the good. And, in the same vein, we should fight for night shifts to be made illegal, for working people to be allowed as much leisure time as those who think they work for a living but just sit behind desks pushing pens and crunching spreadsheets.

Just think about how many more people would need to be employed on proper contracts, not zero-hour contracts if we did do this. Just think about how many people's lives would better, how many people might actually be able to enjoy normal lives, fulfilled love lives, decent hours of sleep, and be able to plan their lives and spend time with their children if we did this. And imagine how this might cascade on to the Third World sweatshops and call centres. The world might even become a better place.

25 May 2018

27 - Sculptures

The now world, the new world,
Assigns a commercial possibility
To each anniversary,
And not the precious metals of love
Forged in the flames of time.

The wood creaks under the passing of it.

The world now has faded them
In the wind beneath the fluttering banners.
The material is irrelevant,
The untouchable the real language
Of staying together.
They are still bright in my eyes.

The wood has been bleached under our feet.

Our analogue prints,
Our digital legacies,
They will all be outdated
When we’re dancing in the clouds.
Our days are history as we live them,
Before we understand them.

Calendar pages torn away too late to be real time.

I listen to your sleep every night
When my eyes won’t close.
Your breaths mark my destiny.
Without them I am too alone.
They slip through my fingers,
Those untouched hours.

Sometimes, emptiness is best.

A life-time of markers.
We forget too many of them
In the bustle of new ones.
Here, on the sofa, our hands
Meet in the middle,
A centre of gravity
For our many worlds.

For M
R, 25/05/2018

19 May 2018

today we celebrate

today we celebrate
an accident of birth
the discrimination of wealth
a country that feeds its royals but not its needy
a distorted image of love with an agenda
the gulf between the great unwashed
and those who can’t afford to wash.

today we celebrate
how hard work goes unrewarded
and laziness reaps high office
the fairy tales of ancient history
dragged along the long walk of hell
the deception of the masses by the massed media
how crowns and coronets are worth more
than dignity, integrity and honesty.

today we celebrate
centuries of unearned privilege
the parading of richness
to keep the poor at bay
behind the barriers that should be barricades
letting them smell horse shit and glamour
but only ever letting them get clear up
after those in a different caste.

today we celebrate
a divided society.

R, 19/05/2018

29 April 2018

A L'Inconnue 2018

In Avignon,
August 1987,
With money borrowed from my Arabian ex-girlfriend,
I feasted on croissants, black coffee, and Gauloises
Sans filtre
At 7 a.m.
In the sunlight alone and warm,
And wished for a single currency.

We had travelled a long time;
Boat train,
Change trains,
Gare du Nord,
A labyrinth of connections,
Using sleeper trains as free hotels,
Mile after mile of strange country.
We were a part of the same continent.

That same day, after Avignon,
And croissants, and coffee, and Gauloises,
Sans filtre,
We found Nîmes,
The amphitheatre full of Norwegian music,
Stood outside to listen to a-ha,
Until they stopped,
And pretended to be them,
Cosmopolitan everyones.

Hot and brown,
We wandered into a cheap restaurant
And watched Europe around us,
With a few token Americans
And lobster-red English boys who didn’t understand
The sun.

I saw her then,
A dark head of hair, laughing,
Tied to a wheelchair
And happy. Beautiful.
I wrote a poem in French on the paper menu,
A L’Inconnue, and gave it to her
When we left.

No social media in those days,
Nor mobile phones,
And no presence of mind to even leave her my address.
She was older than me anyway.
It never would have worked.

What would she make of this?
This nation tearing itself away from its root,
This British nation of cross-breds
Tearing itself apart for nothing?
What would she make
Of poets becoming warriors?

24 April 2018

Stradbroke democracy under threat again - Scurrilous is as Scurrilous does

Over the last few days, an anonymous and scurrilous leaflet has been appearing in the letterboxes of Stradbroke residents, akin to the anonymous and libellous leaflet which was distributed during the 2015 parish council elections. The leaflet has even appeared in laminated form, nailed to lamp posts and other road furniture. In truth, it's not even worth reproducing this scurrilous piece of non-literature, except to say that it's full of lies and allegations with no supporting evidence, and that it, once again, shows that moves are afoot (by former members of the parish council no less) to undermine not only democracy in the village, but to undermine all the efforts being made for the common good in this part of Suffolk.

The people behind this leaflet, who have not been brave enough to sign it, but who have allowed themselves to be seen in public distributing it, have contributed nothing to public life in Stradbroke, contribute nothing to the various fundraising events which are held to support village organisations, and have made no effort to support those in need in the village, nor to drive its organic growth. Instead, they are part of a cabal of malicious souls who wish to become feudal overlords in a settlement of only about 1,200 people, who wish to consolidate all the perceived power in this hamlet around themselves in order to directly draw from it financial enrichment. These are people who have dared imagine they are the leading lights of this lovely village, and its most important residents. These are people who have bullied, and continue to bully, not just sitting parish councillors and the Parish Clerk, but individual residents, tradespeople, and visitors alike.

One of their fraudulent claims is that parish councillors have been resigning because the current council is badly run. I don't know what the reasons for some of the resignations have been, but, as one of the councillors to have resigned in the past 18 months, I can tell you that I resigned because I was sick and tired of people not working for the common good, sick and tired of being lied to, sick and tired of adhering to the seven principles of public office while none of them did so, while all they sought to do, on and off the council, was to disrupt and undermine the values of democracy and common decency. But then I forget that these wrongdoers actually consider themselves not just in a class above people like me (so I am one of the common people, one of the great unwashed as they see it), but also above the law. I also know that some of the resignations have come about because those ex-councillors were tired of being bullied and intimidated by the cabal of the scurrilous.

I am not an eloquent or articulate man, as those of you who read these pages know, but I know the values of truth and integrity and dignity, and these anonymous people whose names we all know - but which I won't use here for fear of having to wash out my mouth with a wire brush and Dettol - wouldn't know truth and honesty and integrity if they carved themselves into their burning flesh with the same implements.

They will try to disrupt the Parish Annual Meeting at the Community Centre on 26th April 2018 at 19:30 in order to force out the clerk who has actually been doing a brilliant job, so please be there to stop them from destroying democracy. Out-of-village visitors are very welcome to come and support us in our defence of the parish council and its clerk.

I will leave the articulateness to a very wise man for whom I have the greatest of respect, even if our views of some aspects of the world are diametrically opposed. Here Chris Edwards, a sitting parish councillor, writes strictly in a personal capacity. I thank him for allowing me to use his words.

Dear all

I am a Parish Councillor and have just received this leaflet. It contains damaging and misleading statements and allegations, and in the interests of truth and perspective I am writing to put a different point of view which is my own and does not reflect the PC’s own view.

One section is focused on the Community Centre. It also focusses one section on the allotment landlord. I hope it was not sanctioned by either set of Trustees as it is political and openly seeks to influence the reader’s opinion about a publicly electable body in a way that appears to breach its purposes which as stated in the leaflet are

The purpose of the Trust is to enhance the well-being of all residents in the village.

There is nothing remotely enhancing to the well being of the residents of the village in this leaflet. It contains a number of misleading and inaccurate statements. Reading it has caused me personally great distress (see misleading statement 3 below). It is of particular relevance because it refers to our/your landlord in detail among other things, although it has a much wider significance.

Misleading statement 1

“The PC have made unreasonable demands for the Centre to pay for repair work on property that belongs to the PC…. the PC now refutes responsibility for repair to the gates that it commissioned, paid for and maintained but now deny their obligations .”

Untrue. The statement refers to a set of gates. As a matter of evidence the gates do not belong to the Parish Council. If you wish to verify this there is a lease plan in the lease made between the Community Centre and the PC for the play area. The gates in question are clearly marked on land owned by the community centre. There is no maintenance agreement between the CC and the PC. If the PC were responsible for the gate repair it is highly probable it would also be responsible for other things on the CC land. Finally The Parish Council has invited the Community centre to apply for a grant towards the costs of repairing these gates. That is minuted in the last meeting's record. In case that is still not adequate evidence, the meeting is recorded word for word.

Misleading statement 2

“There was manipulation of actual facts regarding the level of contribution from the CC to the play park and the generous donation from the Centre yet despite f 10,000 being given”

Untrue. One main reason for the lease creation for the play park was because MSDC partly grant funded the play equipment. For whatever reason officers at MSDC were worried the CC might receive grant funding for the playground equipment and later develop the land on which the play equipment is located. The Council insisted that as a condition of grant the CC created a lease of the play area land to the PC to protect the MSDC investment. So the CC agreed the lease terms and signed it and also agreed to help fund the play ground with money obtained from income received from villagers using the centre, thus recycling your own money, and I see nothing remotely generous in this. Surely by definition this is what a Community Centre is all about?

Misleading statement 3

“The main reasons given in the majority of letters of resignation have been because of concerns as to how the council was being operated and, more specifically, the conduct of the Clerk.”

Untrue. As some of those resigning had requested their reason remain confidential to the PC the reasons are confidential, but while some were not bothered about their reasons being known some were and so all resignation matters were kept confidential to ensure fairness. How would the author know about all of them unless they are a current member of the Parish Council or the last one to resign?

I do not believe the author is a current member of the PC or the last one to resign. I do know the reasons given have been various and the statement made in the leaflet is incorrect and misleading.

A clerk’s duties are onerous and extensive and include (should anyone need reminding) administering the cemetery. I have first hand experience of this and may I say I found the clerk extremely supportive even to the extent that she bought some groceries for us at a time of need, and I particularly object to this statement, as we are fortunate to have a clerk who does not allow herself to be put in a box by her councillors as is often the case with Parish Clerks. I have been on training and have heard first hand about other PCs and how they run and frankly I wonder how those villages function at all.

Misleading statement 4, and two statements that do not follow each other

“The PC and in particular the Clerk has contested every action Stradbroke Charitable Trust has taken despite the Trust's efforts to co-operate with the PC and is actively reducing its work for the village. How?”

Untrue. The PC and the Clerk have not contested every action, and it is only dealing with issues that are not agreed between both parties around leases that problems have occurred.

The trust is the landlord of the allotment and the surgery. In previous years and before the time of the present clerk the PC and the Trust were very close, far too close in my view. I have a commercial background and some experience in leases and when I saw the way things had been run I was shocked, as the Trust is a leaseholder for the surgery and the PC is the freeholder and yet one might have been forgiven for thinking the Trust was the freeholder and the PC its leaseholder. The PC is acting in the best interests of its asset in its dealings with the Trust and these things are not always publicly obvious. Again as these matters are commercially confidential and a matter between landlord and tenant I cannot discuss them but this does not seem to stop people who are claiming to speak for the Trust telling their side of the story knowing full well that the PC cannot respond in detail to allegations made.

Two statements that do not follow each other

“Recent legislation means the Trust can benefit (therefore we all will) by changing to a Charitable Incorporated Organization”

This legislation is designed to allow Charity trustees to avoid personal risk in being trustees. At the moment trustees are personally liable for debts of a charity. Previously the Trustees of the Trust had to underwrite debts eg for the surgery and that was a fine thing to do. That personal risk is removed by the new CIO organization, meaning that if the CIO were to borrow in the future it would need to do so against the assets of the CIO and not the trustees' own assets.

There is no connection between the Trust benefitting, and all of us benefitting. It may or may not be true depending on the plans the Trust has. All I can say is the Trust had a choice of structure and has consciously chosen a limited membership structure (trustees only) and not a wider membership structure and if it really wanted to benefit all then surely it would consider a structure in which more people could have a say in what it does?

Misleading statement 5

“This involved the PC simply writing a letter of support and approval.” However, the PC refused to do this

Untrue. This is nonsense. It implies the PC has prevented the Trust from forming a CIO. The CIO already exists. It was set up on 30 April 2017. See

The statement also assumes the Trust’s interests and the PC’s interests are one and the same. They are not. The PC is the freeholder/landlord and has a duty to act to protect its asset.

Misleading statement 6

“The public are no longer able to express themselves or have their opinions heard by the PC. Why?”

Untrue. The new system came in because there was a period of several meetings in which a small group of people came along and were very aggressive in their approach to the meeting. A PC meeting is a Council business meeting to which the public are invited, it is not a public meeting. A lot of time was being wasted on things which did not further Council business at a time when there was a lot to discuss. I cannot speak for my fellow councillors but I give time to this unpaid and I got really quite annoyed that the issues being raised seemed to be directed as personal attacks not just against the Clerk but also councillors. This unpaid work takes place when we could be at home relaxing or out with friends /family etc, and so it was important to try and stop this disruption. At the last meeting the PC was able to deal with 2 points raised as questions under the new system and take them on as action points and so this statement is simply not true.

Misleading statement 6

“There has been a serious challenge to the Neighbourhood Plan that has resulted in it being delayed. Why?”

Untrue. This is nonsense. The plan is with MSDC on their website for the next 6 weeks and then goes to examination. This is more than nonsense this is insulting to work the NP group has put in over the least year to make the plan happen. See:

I am happy to discuss these things with anyone who might wish to do so.


10 April 2018

across country

fens flat
boots dark parchment
trees straight and vague
amid a massacre of uprooted siblings
open fields
tiny horses
shrubland soil dunes
tilled and tilted
wild hair under his russian hat
sudden sun
parched sand unrested
faded haystacks mouldy
pylon robots stalking
lonely houses
occasional trains
the rhythm of the crossing
horizontal lines on the map
the vertical interrupted
settlements not villages
the softness
where wings join the body
a sudden cathedral
up out of the water
silhouettes and hatless shadows
and she's too young to be certain
and he's too young to ask
the silence of the old observer
headphones and beer and tea cakes
and smartphones
the mechanics of avoidance
a long-forgotten scent
origin and memory unknown
far-off rain and sunbeams
unending straight lanes
a raised expanse of water
discarded metal
half burned
but the fire went out long ago
vast empty steel barns
the middle of nowhere
is somewhere
stones and poles and tangled wire
the horizon slides
time is a destination

14 March 2018

For Stephen Hawking

Despite what you said you believed,
A mind like yours cannot just go out like a light,
Cannot be switched off like a machine,
Nor disappear into the nothing.
The dark is not what we are afraid of,
It’s the emptiness.
And once we realise the void doesn’t exist
We can live forever,
Travellers between stars and vacuums,
No longer in need of body or breath,
Like you now, exploring the reality of your theories.

RP, 14/03/2018

10 March 2018


What is the proof of love,
If there is proof,
And not just blind faith
Or shape?

Is it the curved mouth
Or the lack of attention
Or the inadequate words
Before and after the sigh
Of what feels like fulfilment?

Or is it the exclusion of all else,
Of time and place
And friends and foe,
Of the world at large?

Is love a ghetto of two,
Or is it the freedom to roam
Into the unknown,
And to keep secrets
To make the heart beat faster?

Maybe love is just a theory
To be unproven,
Like Einsteins Relativity
And the shape of the universe.


19 February 2018


The blackbird belly-breathes in the hedge,
Thicket awash with the rain and broken branches
The storm left behind
Of its clouds and whitewash.

It watches the plume of its breath escape,
Claws at it with its half-frozen beak
And its disarranged feathers,
Wings oddly folded across its crooked back.

Its deafness has silenced its song now, in age,
Alone in the cave that was a nest when,
Hearing, it called to the stilling morning.
Its eyes, too, have withered with the years,

Their colour dissipated with the final winter,
And talons blunted by fruitless hunting,
The ground too sodden to rest on.
She shakes herself and waits for her next breath,

And waits ...