New Years

I stand – alone – at an open gate –
I have missed midnight’s kisses –
then – me-the-fool – fleetingly lost
the worked-at vows which we set
on our half-recalled wedding day –
a ceremony thirteen years earlier

where we sliced up a countdown
to the last hour’s holding of hands –
with our slid rings on held fingers –
our bind to the old laws of the state –
silver and gold bands of such weight –
I stand alone as this New Year sings

Professor Seagull

Joe Gould’s swag bags of pearls
were only bags of bags of bags –
they were his carried-out emptiness
of the never-written writer’s words –

but he could speak seagull fluently –
having learnt the dockside language
of New York’s scavenging finest –
taking their shrill wind-scatterings –
setting them to his Cherokee stomps

His claim to have written such a vastness –
ten times longer than the Bible
and then to carry around such a thing –
was this vagrant’s bagged possession

Parousia

This second life was ordained
by a drawn-out judgement –
an almost-expected epithet

for the quickened reductions
under my ever-thickening skin –
on dragged heels and hands –

Add Old Age’s uneven stockpile
of his enfeebling irritations
and so my time was reset –

And in this slowing restate
I cannot make any mistakes –
I cannot afford to fall heavily –

do not expect me to pick myself up
as quickly as the still-blessed do –
as I did before this epiphaneia

#OpenMic

In a rather cruddy function space
above a time-stale pub in Brighton –
sat uneven – at beer-stained tables –
we sipping poets of no published note

fingered our place settings of paper
in folders – our kicked headstones –
Here Lies M.A. Bell – and other writers –
who died slow deaths of dull rejection

There is no air or space these days
for me – from the other side of poetry
I quote verbatim Atilla the Stockbroker –
he put me in my place a long time ago

There I was – that fusty room’s rum alien –
in my coat – offering quatrains of fear
about warm croissants and disease
and Del La Warr and surrealism

I cannot get close to the slam-generation
with their pert feats of rhymed memory
nor reduce my voice to their flat intonation –
I cannot do their shopping list poetry

Paid

Bend to the paid work in hand
and watch your hours fall away
as if they are pearls spilt off string –
those drops off your tilted head
under the fast-running shower –
in the hour before you commute –
until those sped beads are nothing –
And do not ever – ever – attempt
to be a true artist unless squared –
unless you are recompensed
for the selfish hours given to art’s
endeavour – it was Van Gogh’s failing –
not putting money first

Mind The Gap

They’ve got a Dead Cupboard
in this Underground station –
hid from swilled passengers –
a Central route to Heaven

Behind those locked doors –
they hide the fresh body –
where the platform-removed
is stored temporarily

There the dropped dead
waits for the official –
to pronounce upon
this stiffened individual

The zipped-up fallen
is bagged – airtight –
he will not be required
to tap his ticket tonight

√úbermensch

I will wake and fail to find my eased flux –
not without pushing up into discomfort
over breaths of ground-voice-as-grunts –
these announcements vex my tired wife
who needs sleep in my odd-roused hours

I sit upright – off the bed – to test myself
in the sweated night – I almost always assay
in the woken hours – contrasting the past –
adding to a never-published paper
about this ill-judged illness – it will devour

My recent history of being her own overman
able to embrace all with gusto and gratitude –
has been powered down – pathetically cut –
too much for either of us to truly construe
We wake to a slow down – no more superman

Little Georgian Antiques

Arrows still fly at Battle – spiritual ones ..
against Anglo-Saxon self-satisfaction* –
as if The Bengal Colonel had then leapt
from the stretched canvas into Ninfield –
and prowled around the village green

set to devour their war-won remains –
that pyrrhic victory over downed fascists
who were set by the Sussex gravediggers
Look inside its mouth to find meaning
said Grace – to anyone who would listen

to her – and Richard – and Reuben – they drew
from the post-war rationals against hate
and conjoured up creatures and shapes –
As if Terry Gilliam had sucked the oily teat
of these artists’ bared brushes of surreal
extractions –

as if colour and lines were not rationed
and all of Picasso’s art was lost to Bexhill
And I see Scarfe and Steadman in the ink
of cross-hatch – etched so hard it scratches
the paper into furrows of staining –
the future will be saved from the past by art

(*Reuben Mednikoff)

De La Warr

I am here – thick-and-mixed
among middle class minions
who eye up the croissants
in the De La Warr Pavilion –
they discuss in great depth
the state of the nation
as they queue so politely
for the barista’s attention –
The winter light bounces
off the buffed bar surface
and my large mug of latte
warms me to their circus –
I leave via the shop –
where I eye the gift dirge –
my shifting behaviour
is verging on absurd –
Return me to boozers
with their beery truths –
avoid gentrification –
and all it consumes

He Really Did

He really did not know
for how much longer
he could hold on to her
and still be dishonest

He had walked far more
than he had drunk –
but still staggered
along the loose path

off which his love for her
dipped like a slunk ghost –
then she was there –
caught by a car’s high beam –

then she was inverted
like a shadow between trees –
as if his recall of her
had been politely dimmed

as if they were long-divorced
from each other –
that common vote for failure –
which is the wedded norm

The Commuters

Our Ikea-padded cells
should guard us from self-harm –
but instead they fuck with us
in cubes of coupled calm

Each of us fitfully sleeps
in our over-familiar beds –
we pick at our clipped wings
feathering empty nests

We rise to expected alarms –
our daily rude refrain –
to stumble without consciouness –
to queue for time-warped trains

In cattle trucks we stand and sway –
our iprods poke our eyes –
blinding us from seeing
the pastures passed outside

London Bridge – we rise to screams
as the wheels rub on the track –
we shuffle from the shouldered stalls –
spewed out – we can’t turn back

These Lessons

‘Love is a skill¬†rather than an enthusiasm’ – Alain de Botton

She is giving me lessons
in love without hate –
but my teacher is failing me
for my schoolboy mistakes

The morning was fractured –
my compass wouldn’t twist –
I failed to find answers
and she would not assist

My notebook is ink-stained –
I scribe off my left –
I crib her taught words
but I always forget

The air is mite-lighted
as I pull from her mind –
this classroom is silent
as my learning unwinds

Four by Four

I sought the purport
of a four-letter word
after coming across it
in a loan long-expired

I looked to definition
in its Wikipedia entries
of disambiguations
in need of citations

But do not believe
everything with labels
not even a short story
of four vocables

Love is an impact crater
on the far side of the moon
Love was a film
starring Salman Khan

The Christmas Call

..We know nothing of man .. far too little..’ CG Jung

It is over two decades since we last spoke –
you offered no responses – not when I ‘phoned
or when I cheerily arrived at the family home

with – or without – a disquieted companion –
then I’d try to engage you in light conversation –
but that was your silent-met cue to exit the room

And our mother never gave me a full explanation –
except that – He goes upstairs and paints ..
pictures .. from his imagination .. It’s his escape ..

He doesn’t get out much .. nearly an old man – You –
a temporary loss in her thinning line of sons –
each boy sets her wondering – What went wrong?

I watched her fight her eldest – a patio-battering –
from behind the Crittall windows of my bedroom –
I saw her ill-faste fists set upon her eldest child

That is what she made – Us in her ugly likeness
of turned cheeks and of emotional tightness –
that son she striked – he died too early for her liking

And now – on the ‘phone – She is too ill to talk to you
your first line in this garrulous time of your remove –
then a snapped order – not to try again – It upsets her!

You don’t speak to me for years then bark commands –
Do they count – along with your hardened demands
against my ragged ripostes at your loss of voice?

No – do not speak to me –
Please leave it twenty more

Turn

She turns to let the bird go –
as if it would leave
such half-robed beauty –
as if it would be robbed
of a close indulgence
like us cocksure things

and I can pick up the scent
from her underarm sweat
as she rotates – so as to let
the creature lift from her –
as she turns away
on her bare bone heels


Inspired by Michaela Ridgeway’s art @michaelasian

The Lungs of God

I stand under this vault
of our common church –
off-centre on this sea-girt isle

Our stone tradition of roofing
is more to do with fools’ fires
than Heaven’s weight

Here the light is insipid –
no tang of incense
only the blue miasma
off flume emissions

My legs tire – but find no pew –
no tuffet to take me
to the path’s cathartic
kneel-down call