Shipping Forecasts

We will struggle for storm names
and typhoons will be numbered
in the Northern Territories

We will enjoy sequential weather
and buy rain and shade covers
in equal measure for such events

Extremes will be downgraded to normal
They will re-define old tide charts
re-draw shorelines and flood plains

But we will suffer drought and wildfires
through months of cracks and widenings
without the squibs of English summers

From across the channel tiny migrants
will swarm in the blown air to find succour
among failing crops in Kent’s dry garden

We will struggle with Biblical excesses
and nature in the new ways of weather
which we will not be able to name

The Bird Table

That waking ear-fill of true birdsong –
as if found – was in truth brought on
by my flickknife choice – by my cutting
at connections to streams and channels
full of self-satisfied chattering

My re-designed distance from others
is freeing me from time’s smother –
to clear air and breath – no misty poisons –
no more breathing in expunged words –
those wonder curls of sour exhalations

We had massed – no more pas seul
for crumbs – to sip at our shitted-in pool
of held rainwater and waded warm piss –
We were fattened on sour disturbances
which festered as their offered titbits

making us so sick – so we did not dare –
there – to old wintering in the warm air –
instead – we consumed – I am unable
to make it to your shared high place –
I am off – I no longer feed at your table

Fifty-five

Life has bleached my forehead to the bone

My alarm is set early
to nothing –
to a home solitude –
except for my youngest –
except for this word search
in my head
for that which is known –

it is known
and then decrepit thoughts
rattle loudly
over my grunting
down
each
stair –
So – fifty-five years of age
this month
but already the ghost
whom I fear

The Builder’s Mate

There – above taught plumb lines
and a bricklayer’s knowing eye
of gauged slaps to alignments –
parried like a joiner’s fine blade –
your men make up for your mistakes –
never measuring twice – you cut once
so badly that your deep footings flood
with run-offs from your mistakes
which I can no longer block by love –
My own eye is still good for lines
and building virtual palaces –
but my tooled efforts were not enough
to convince you of my true craft

Hampstead Heath

We scurried across NW3
but not the low-laid Heath
of bricked-ish village-ness
of idealised introversion –
with loquacious City views

No – We took the buff support
of metre-high teak bars
before the flow of beer taps –
erect like those glass towers
stood in that visible rotten mile

We ripped at the greenery
of London’s low-rooted life
Scarred and weeping skin
from middle-class weekends of
pottering was not ours to wash off

This city is a rubbed scab
which if picked will bleed
from its red core and then fester
until a dry canker kills it off –
Once for all – as the Bible says

We slept with different women
of various sizes and weights
and woke to awkward breaths
and memory loss – some things
are best left on Hampstead Heath

Outside Uckfield’s Picture House

Outside Uckfield’s Picture House –
it was offered up in black and white
as a step off the narrowed path
to then fall under a slab-grey car –

They’re always exceeding
the speed signs through the lights –
or –
They set the limit too low
in this bloody town centre –

My body thumps – it is then whipped –
accelerated sideways on that ride
which comes to Luxford Fields
with a shout of fairground tunes –

For once in a lifetime thrills –

My stick is sent high in the air –
It is offered up as a simple device
to my cinema audience – roadside –
a cut-away shot in super slow-mo –

But my actual step finds me still
on the kerb to see the slab-grey tail
of that car pass downhill into town –
I haven’t hurt anyone – not today

A Crew

There is a slight run of resonance
with squared dips of catches –

it quickens with timed recoveries
along those rumbled turns

of leather-collared connections –
so that the forward lean-to-timings

lever everything to leant finishes
and the opening up of your lungs –

and we haven’t even talked
of power with the blade’s bowing –

We can master the cockboat’s turn
through hard rudder tips into the wind –

by finding strength in fixed ways –
by using the entry and exit in unison

A Casting Couch

Again – a rolled-eye look upon you – a lost lover
in muddling dreams – with me as your interloper
who pulls at those fetters you forged when away//
We had made our tugged bonds in bicycled years
when curious games stopped at bare cliff edges//

My role in this slept future is as a limping outsider
writing cinematic recall of my much-dreamt scenes
between us// Ages ago – we shared flat beer and lovers –
rounded turns as we sunk our pounds into pints
and did low crimes before spread cathode light//

Back then we had fewer things to switch between//
None feature now in my sleep’s three-part act
of sweated sheets// Now our phantom presences
are acted by sleep’s bit-part reveries –
so close to the choices we made without a script


 

Climate Strikers

For B.M.

Your handmade sign
is stood ready for Friday’s
demonstration against
your distrust in our ways –

My grandfather’s choice
was the Peace Pledge Union –
he then had a quiet war
his boot on his spade’s shoulder

as he sliced dark soil in England
so claiming a holy conscience –
in that amorphous mass
who sought God’s thoughts –

No placards – he sent a postcard –
a small weight of words – first class –
to show his sense of disbelief
at such waste by warmongers –

Carry your panel high for a day –
and then again seven days later –
there is no one else to speak out –
ever since God quit your world


Four Years

Five-zero-three-fifteen –
my DX anniversary
of a ‘phone consultation
upon basal nigra’s role
in my slow-witted downfall
and other explanations
that Google had offered
over the previous few
years of not-knowing
how many search results
were not sponsored
by quacks and sawbones –
Now it is uneasy sleep
and dreams of running
which keep me turning up
to this annual event


A Markov Chain

Your single dice is rolled and fixes
the next move of your red counter –
and then things – like probability –

also occur by your releases –
all observed by him – Markov –
who winks at you and your tits –

We are grey with tiredness –
our dog will sleep until our gate
is pushed to allow steps on gravel

and your return from Markov’s place
with your trolley bag of dirty linen
labouring behind you – suited to city life –

There – stand and stare at bare flowerbeds
and desire for small hints of weeds
to not return to this squared garden –

Let us no longer play games of chance –
Markov has your breasts cupped
and will now roll you across his bed


 

 

#BBCQT

I turned off the BBC’s
weekly Question Time
it’s now a B-movie
played out by UKIP-types –

Bland egos screen-act
mincing up for clap-baits
from the baying audience –
all cheered up by hate

as a host steers the fears
from lost hope to idiots –
this is Jeremy Kyle
with professional gits –

But late-at-night viewers
under booze can’t deny
the glaring screen truth –
the Beeb also lies


 

By Love’s Light

For LB & JB

A lone traffic light beyond Kemptown
oscillates with near-nervousness
as it instantly switches between colours –
older-type bulbs – now made redundant
by lower prices and higher brightness –
once took time over their slow instructions –
But we no longer have that eased luxury
as we drive at our uncontrolled speeds
through a few more degrees of change –

Queen’s Park’s leaf-naked rooted troops
lift prayers for god to temper wind speeds –
it’s bloody hard work staying upright
for plants – for people of various sizes
before rolled surges of shingle-lifting wind
and air-thrown salt kisses – rust readied –

My car cannot settle when parked up –
a moored rocking effect upon its axles
almost slips me into sleep’s slowed nod –
but my ajar window is a penny whistle
played by the gale’s fat-puffed cheeks –
and it jolts me awake to my missed cue –
bringing me back to my nervous state
about weather not carrying old-line labels
and of less comforting climate forecasts –

Within fifteen minutes I have driven us east
to Rodean Cafe and a high view out
to Brighton Marina’s rigid lines at sea level
as repeated waves crest in a broken spray
over a long curve of that rebar-pinned wall –
smug like a reinforced Canute – to stem tides
like mine – under this nameless rage
of a nervous separation and blast-tipped fixings –
I say to you both –
By love’s light – there will be a slow change


 

Those Other English

There is a malaise among those English
set sore by a too-shared saint and crosses –
spoken of in footballers’ reedy voices
at post-match interviews – post more losses –

Now Being English is not quite enough
for Pimms-pourers and pub-crawling bigots –
Cuckolded Englanders distrust each and all –
those past Offa’s Dyke and Hadrian’s Wall –

those who speak of The European Project
that obvious brain child of English logic –
Those truest English of English hate again –
they hate all foreigners – that’s how it begins


A Pathogen at Work

This year’s olive crop
is failing across Apulia
as older-than-Christ
groves are uprooted

to break the spread
of the end of the world
for sun-dried farmers
who bear the dark look

of bereaved parents
at their child’s funeral –
as their questions to God
are waved away at mass –

Their pontiff no longer visits
because Rome is burning
with rumours of disease
promulgated by priests


Finding Signs

There is a languageless rule to reading puddles –
to understanding such first-glance nothingness –
their impossible silences before trod-in signage –

a gauging of place – now – by such offered inches –
ones dredged by tyres – those in unfettered lees –
below busied hedgerows – there held evergreen

against all buffettings – such pleshes can guide
you when compass-less – a small-ish understanding of
nearby prevailing wind helps to fix your position –

known conditions assist in your marking a route
by each reading – taken – it will give you knowledge
not spoken to others from your stared-at puddles –

and flooded plough trenches – and by potholes –
by rain dropping – as storm-clock worked droplets –
and of damage done by such small repetitions

over time – as nature finds less is left natural –
then you will need a new sign language
to name each stranger season of weathering –

whilst you struggle – again – to pass your folklore
without old landscapes to bind your tired stories –
as floodwater-and-thirst rise to alter all readings –

except those re-told by your oldest survivors
of what they saw before – in muddy gatherings –
their earliest evidence of man’s impact on earth –

as Robinson attested – as he circled heel-and-toe
on virgin sand – to find a matching disappointment
in himself at marks he made – huge ramifications


First Year, 1970

Aged five to school – an unplanned addition
M. Bell – born into a monochrome 1964 –
just after real sex was bargained by Larkin –

Miss Green – my teacher – wore the latest
fashions – miniskirts and roll-neck tops
with cropped hair and big jewellery –

all co-ordinated above calf-fixed trends
of highly-shined high heel boots
and her daily sprayed halo scent –

Aged fifteen – my recall of Miss Green
was fixed again – seeing her once more –
she was still wearing 1970 well

when we passed in my dentist’s alleyway –
that red brick shortcut to the High Street –
but she did not recognise me – now fifteen –

A decade earlier she was my cool mother
on school days – she had set me to new words
and easy metrication – before my release

to longer grass and longed-for summerings –
She is now – by my calculations – locked
into her last few years – and still wearing
nineteen seventy


Endings

There – an ending – a recourse – a damning
by more admissions – by reductions
& other canalisations

which can no longer be left to flow
by a misdiagnosis – by new meds
or by wearing of pulled-tight blinkers

We are drowning – we blind guides
with uncovered still useless eyes
miss each slipped & stained indiscretion

which creep like unfurled underwear
from between tightly-zipped travel bags –
Wayfarers wearied after nights
away – working – unavailable –

apart from a quick one – a filling of gaps
in hotel expenses & of endless bar tabs
everything to be removed – forever
under this title – Endings


Shrove Tuesday

Shriven into a repentant’s place –
readied for a cross of palm ash –
a marking – tomorrow – of believers –
Yesterday was our early Mardi Gras
of confessions – But we do not follow
those fading rules of others’ liturgies –
We cannot name their Shriving Bell
as they stick it loudly to parishioners –
I was last in a church in Birmingham –
under glass and impressive masonry –
but did I not see the work of God –
Now on this half-holiday we will feast
without you here to guide turned heat –
to sear fat and remnants of shopping –
We have given up everything
to a non-date far beyond Lent’s tests


 

Cox

Slipped backwards with a slight grumble
of keel complaints on that steep slope of gravel –
and our loose rudder is quick to shift – left or right –
as if kicking sullen under reversed ways –

its complaint is slowed – then dismissed
by my pull and straightening – my first correction –
We drift into being a crew as dry blades lower
into the fix of pins – set as bared pegs on a line –

You are the cold engine – me – a tugged-corrector
of your early misfires – of too-short reaches
and lax recoveries – they will tip our vessel
like a nervous fish in an ever-shrinking pool –

as we outgrow circling and find a desire for waves
and their high rises – then lives will depend
on us mere coxes – us shouters and fag-suckers –
we will need to read sea water – as if born to it


 

Comforts

A pint on a Monday – at lunchtime?
Things must be bad – Michael –
And so they are – but I only offer lies
above salted crumbs on my table –
small pieces – but shiftable boulders
to summer’s soon-invigorated ants –
able to heft such burdens of others’
relative insignificance – of leftovers –
But that is a season away – along with
beer-swilling wasps and longer days
of enough light to keep me
from the pub and beer on Monday


Dry

Bugger off to those soda syphons
claiming in January sainthood –
un-settlers of our sense of right
with their smug month-long cast
of sober teases off whipped rods –
with their dry false flies as bait –
those anglers now spreading
their dull-witted winter diseases
of no more indulgences –
drowning by their dry resolution –
But we have our thirst-fix gulps
from all-answering tankards
as they stare out at tame still water


Two Masterclasses

A.A. rebuked me –
Do not use ‘I’ –
that first person singularity
it’s not yours to rhyme –

It’s of the oppressed –
their turned-to-word –
for taking control of
that which is owed –

And – A.A. then said –
There’s too much ‘the’ – too –
‘The’ is a word
which only dead poets
should use

But J.G. had reproved me –
a short while back –
The ‘the’
is missing –
it makes your poetry slack


Found in Birmingham

[A prose poem]


Here is an old white male using his poetry to ease off drugs and dropped lines – verse defined words – his strips in place – in plied lines – to avoid being lost in a rush and buff – of being set to in slow motion – fixing over him – sat above him – then floating signs which point at him – they light him in garish neon – and flicker with shouts – this old white male crows – this white male quietly denies bright white goods – this white male will now – as one man – apologise for chains – for tied ropes – for pricing bent heads – this palliation is not for any racist whom he knows – those he hears – those foul loud spat speakers – he can see their white spit – sickly double thinkers – there is white hate paint on the tip of every finger of pint tipping beer drinkers in his ghost town – he reads their glassy foamed thoughts as they form – because we all emit that local illogical eye illness – passed down – lie to lie through ill brewed words – and other such ways – our white lied said inflexions are caught in our history – the way the world rhymed and how our thick ears cock – but ignore white crows