Rough Notes

Let us compare
our old notes
regarding ruination

[Mine’s a pint]

and then
put a rounded-down value
on our statements

Slow now – sip –
and assay our undoings

Ignore your familial

We should keep our peace –
you – your king-size needs

Smother your grinding
snorts of indiscretion
and offer me wordless

Do not read
my poetry

Inextinguishable thoughts
said Mary

[more than ever]

Here is a quaint inn
of unshaven drunks spewing
small pools
of table-brewed hope

Ageing men sicken
with what they know

They compare
fat volumes
of pub-roughed notes

You now look
like your blood-tied

[Some women
like their mother]


She stands as she presses
[a hot flat curse by her sex]
at an obdurate crease –
not her finest ironing

Her reproach is thin mist
over her too-quick
Welshman slumped below her
Lovely – as ever – is unheard

inside their stained rooms
on steam and smoke days –
coughs of poked coal
suffer too by spotted damp

She is not loving anger’s
post-war monochrome –
Kodak and snapped charcoal
sketches will not hold her

6lbs of jelly babies, Mister
A smack ’round yer head son
Her boredom swells
and she is too gone to stop

and prepare for blood’s colour
From foul names and bin-dirty words
he is sent to meet an apology
Rain tips needle him

He’s only a sweet stall keeper –
but a good son to someone
We had lots of fun –
me and Ma – just being alive

Everything was a slow exhale –
his soot trumpet breath blows
He looks baritone to everyone
but she sees a pathetic man-child

Night Management

It requires –
wrote an author –
a total abdication
of intellect

It does not offer
easy balances –
less so under
a tightened blindfold

It kills your craft –
a single bullet
spat through
a silencer’s hollow

It is every other
which nuncupates
slyly exclude

It explores you
with a soft tongue
turning your voice
into foolish gasps

It demands stupidity
and subjugation
Do not confuse them –
love and wet sex

Same River

It is impossible to maintain
a constant perspective

Heraclitus often reflected
between wept moments

Democritus often laughed
at blubbed floods of words

A month’s worth of rain
fell in one single day

Hellingly’s bi-sainted church
sits above our Cuckmere’s threat

from change-swollen reaches –
wet acts of Peter and Paul’s god

You stood naked in our risen river –
that serpent slips – a gelid rising

You were bare at its quick confluence
with a rushed stream – name unknown

I found you in bed with a clay figurine
Sussex has a hundred words for mud

A Daughter Lies

She rolled her stone-grey eyes
around my emptied house

She stared – hexed –
under her god-given right to be there

She – again – screamed too loudly –
I’m not going anywhere

She was present – moored safely
by her storm-dropped anchor

She unfettered her throaty gob –
spittle built in her foam-filled mouth

She spewed thrice-sworn spat words –
hatred spluttered out

She shouted again
and her vent dripped down my open shirt

She was an execrating creature
with stitched-back red lips

She turned her unmarked right palm out –
this pain was her last gift

She glared from grey marbles –
clicking – as her eyes flipped wild

She slapped with her right hand –
opened out – she rouged my cheek

She always looked more frightened than me
being an arrant fool

Por Volver

Hola – I’m Lucky – you may know me
Buenos Dias – I don’t understand
that played out Spanish soundtrack
I tune into every morning
for my barefoot Yoga exercises

My filter coffee steams like road tar
as it thickens and fixes in minutes –
as my scarred white lungs enjoy
a smoke set off by my lighter’s click –
Look – another pack’s easy stick

So – Listen – I’m lucky to survive
a first deadfall – a foolish indignation
At my age – about tortoise-ish –
things slow down too easily
like a ship – a Large Slow Target –

like that sprung clock of death
which will not stop ticking for me
Truth is – it’s all going away
It’s fucking tough being Lucky
But I ain’t a convoluted piece of shit

Just south of Nash Street

Just south of Nash Street
lies an eye-straight road –
not laid by bent-to Romans
or rutted under lost pilgrims’ carts

but a later by-way pegged
between tool-twisted turns
of fleece-carding pricking wires
nailed to long-paced posts

Untouched oaks claim sunlight
in their overhead boundary
Their bare roots act as hazards
for my blind spot boots

which then slip on acorn grit –
that loosely rolled resurfacing
of brittle spawned shells
under emptied boughs

All found-hushes are lost
to door slams of a far off shotgun
At a saturated junction
unknown mushrooms stand

as if randomly placed bollards –
circles of tipped fragile caps
standing more connected
to this land than ourselves

We take a hard turn
to find – again – our east
to leave that subsoil route –
to tread on returning home tarmac

Your Threnody

You have done nothing
for others
for over two years

Your sworn word-burns
scald all – lovers’ lies
marking your rum time

of pulling stitched truth apart –
almost mounting it –
as if pinned butterfly wings

You have cruelly removed
hand-rubbed angel humps
from your whipping boy’s back

Your milk-souring kisses
off your offered-up mouth
leave a caustic residue

of almost almond sweetness
off your cheap red lipstick
smeared on sagged cheeks

Multiple ugly marriages
stiffen your dearests –
they do not want honesty – truth at last


Careless Talk

Play a required symphony
by a long-dead composer
in a suddenly quiet moment
during your commuted time
Then – perhaps – then scroll
to old depressing stuff
by now-dead-Leonard –
No – not Leonard Bernstein –
Life ain’t a fucking musical
you scream outside your house
as you pause – then insert
and turn your copied key
to unlock home’s passwords
of Bletchley-worth codes
found in confusing texts
and misunderstandings
between desk operatives and you –
their long-suffering field agent
And in this domestic setting
do not spill jargon weighted
from your second language –
work’s double-speak words –
such is unknown by those
sheltered in your safe house
where what is said is often left


One More Named Illness

I do not want
one more named illness
that would be a sublime act of greed –
a selfish huzzah –

more drowning in remorse
as others swim carefree
in lakes – in ponds and in seas
without fear of sinking

Suddenly – an unexpected recall
of a place – almost lost – Coxes Lock
that maleficent flour mill
stood above a hand-dug waterway

Exclusive apartments
says Google –
still with brick-skinned faces
over that ever-dangerous depth

A near-redundancy
was obvious to all
forty years before
as a slow decay took hold

Above stuck sluices
hammered signs
denied access by trespass laws
and for all to Be Aware – Deep Water 

With its old labour came cuts
to flow – they filled reserves
to increase their grinding speeds
so reducing depths downstream

We were three boys
adrift in a rope-tied boat
pulled by our father
at his towpath distance

Coxes Lock and its dark pond
were not an option –
even for him
an old submariner

so we were towed
through shallower water
below those
high seeping gates

Now I have no anchor
in this floatation tank –
drifting in thought
and easing my set of pains

from a day’s equation
of hour-paid time
I cannot afford
one more named illness

Mad Men

Don Draper said –
is of Hellenic origin –
an old sensation –
pain from a wound

Don Draper pitched
in a dimmed meeting room
as he – Don Draper – spun
his so-subtle remorse
via a sentiment-filled –
brand spanking new –
Kodak – a Carousel!

Don Draper quoted Greek
at less fortunate men –
Kodak’s suited marketeers –
who shed rolled tears too
as Don Draper sold his love
on an advance button

That softest sell –
a hard-pressed remote
connected to a hot projector
made in Rochester – New York
Never buy quotable poetry –
even Don Draper’s will not do

Chelsea Girl

Nico took me on a trip
across a leatherette couch
at young Mr Warhol’s
last gallery party
We sipped old absinthe
from filthy egg cups
with that desert blast
from Jim’s
selfish rasps of eremic air
played back through
Andy’s Bang and Olufsen
We didn’t talk that much
My wet mouth was fixed
upon her age-pitted skin
There was a second time
but she was not counting
scores in ninety eighty-one
once punks stole her songs

My unpaired bookend

My unpaired bookend
An unescorted
found not wanting

to take her slotted weight
of a ripped hide binding –
of one more unreturnable

No end support
for true-life stories
featuring her bends in time –
of tippings and double backs

under fading recall
as a distorted monologue
No squeezing into space
left on a packed bookshelf

No loose dust covers
to keep at bay
her sparkling particles
Now half a brace stood
for others’ volumes

Poem #1,596 of 10,000

Birch Polypore

Scores of lady’s gloves reach
out on this chain sawn patch
whilst less urgent saplings
have slower ambitions

There a sometimes-killing –
but also useful – fungi
sprouts from a rot-set
silver bough

You see it too –
but as a foreign shell
washed up far from tides
without a limpet’s blind tenacity

I tell you – it is also known as
razor strop fungus – 
due to its rough edges –
many lost uses – like fire carrying

We crush this season’s litter
stopping at bright busting
sweet chestnuts –
buffed peel-able virgins

to be split by my heeled
crush – to an extraction
Along our crackling path
of bitter acorns – those

discarded ancient fruits
of last week’s storm –
we see where swung blades of gusts
broke a woodsman’s coppice


I am a tightrope walker
with my filled wheelbarrow
steered – nervous weights
before me – held dead-straight

You act as if you are
just another Harry Houdini
balanced above Niagara
for a long bet against gravity –
quivering inside – all of us do
when stepping so high

Such is fatherhood on days
of bowing mistakes
We have no diplomas
just higher circus learning –
without safety nets

Once More

There is such scant chance
of any long term escape
from your rusting suffixes
now all time is in a half-light

since your last offered dance
to your half-known songs
of romance –
you unstitched their looped lyrics
in your head

Love is not found in white lines
or knocked on hotel doors
or where an hour is charged
at exorbitant fuck-me rates

as underwear is slipped down
and another breath is felt hot
through a nipple-bitten-minute
of house rule-settings

before a stiff affirmation
of your being so beautiful
that feckless gauge of worth
which has been set

by years of dressing downs
within your three-way coven –
they fucked you up
and left you to look – still looking –
for more than them