[For Clair May, On Our Wedding Anniversary 31st December 2015]
This gone decade, avowed, witnessed, signed,
your white dress, my suit, hung, long-aligned.
Our large shared-bed (often slept-distrait),
is spirit-levelled by deep dream-spates.
Write those pledges (our private conceits):
Words on pillows and cotton-rich sheets.
Marriage slept in a bed of our choice,
Our vows renewed in our sleep-shared voice.
I’m Tootles the Taxi,
I’ll give you a ride,
Just log on to Uber
Then jump inside.
Just watch the app,
You’ll see how unfair,
Profits no object,
Do I bleedin’ care?
So, did Corbyn bend far enough down,
as the ‘last stand’ bled into the ground?
How many of us tilted our heads,
with any intelligent reverence?
Media streams fed us the parade,
more heads unbowed on trumpets’ fade;
Murdoch’s press gang want the neck
of those willing warfare into check.
Absorb the reports, and tattle-tales,
learn nowt off right-wing paper-trails.
As our left-over state snaps cleaned, dry,
we’ll all bend to a painful ‘good-bye’.
We sip tea on Sunday,
Checking house prices,
A washed-up crisis.
As values grow,
In the buy-to-let game,
Thousands of people
Are homeless, again:
This coast has become
A cemetery of souls.
Papers quote the mayor,
As the Lesbos bell tolls.
So we won’t buy
In Europe, after all,
Holiday homes being
The first to fall.
Let us sip tea,
As the East meets the West,
And our cheap values,
She sat, side-on,
Unnoticed, except chat,
Mobile to head,
Hidden by hat:
‘Yes, that’s right,’
Her one-sided talk.
‘She doesn’t recall
her fall, on the walk.’
The cubicle, walled-in,
Compression of soul,
Her phone call’s distance
Puts Dementia on hold.
The Sun: what a very
A burning, cynical,
Reprint of spin:
Ever-twisting the ‘facts’,
Even those disproved,
This is the paper
Which stated ‘The Truth’.
Mackenzie’s front page,
Laid by editor’s hand,
Lies, damn lies,
On every news stand.
Corbyn didn’t drop before the Queen,
I stand too, with my political lean.
Immigrant Windsors on working credits,
deny them all their state benefits.
Which Tory is pleased to go and kneel,
before any other ‘low-born’ schlemiel*?
I suggest we bow down before the poor,
turn our backs now on the hereditary whore:
The Queen is dead, so long live the unclean,
my republican views, are they still so obscene?
*Slang: A habitual bungler; a dolt.
UCKFIELD LOCAL NATURE RESERVES –
2 LEWES LOCAL NATURE RESERVES – 1
UCKFIELD WAITROSE – 1 LEWES WAITROSE – 1
LEWES INDEPENDENT BUTCHERS – 2 UCKFIELD INDEPENDENT BUTCHERS – 3
UCKFIELD GREENS DIY – 1 LEWES B&Q – 1 (HOME WIN)
LEWES AWARD-WINNING CINEMA – 0 UCKFIELD AWARD-WINNING CINEMA – 1
UCKFIELD FREE PARKING SPACES – 60 LEWES FREE PARKING SPACES – 4
LEWES RIVER OUSE – 1 UCKFIELD RIVER UCK – 1
LEWES TRAFFIC WARDENS – 12 UCKFIELD TRAFFIC WARDENS – 0 (AWAY WIN – POLICING INDIFFERENCE)
LEWES COSTAS – 4 UCKFIELD COSTAS – 3 (AWAY WIN)
UCKFIELD RECENT FLOOD – 1 LEWES RECENT FLOOD – 1
LEWES OVER-DEVELOPMENT PLANS – 1 UCKFIELD OVER-DEVELOPMENT PLANS – 1
UCKFIELD FM ON-AIR DAYS – 365 LEWES ROCKET FM ON-AIR DAYS – 30
LEWES BYPASS NOISE POLLUTION – 48DB UCKFIELD BYPASS NOISE POLLUTION – 12DB (AWAY WIN)
LEWES CHRISTMAS LIGHTS – 0 UCKFIELD CHRISTMAS LIGHTS – 56
[For Clair May.]
She has to plot for me,
Our re-measured half-life:
Side-step a wish-flat world,
Navigate every strife.
She ensures my sleep is taken,
Re-fills the gap.
She has to micro-manage
Each low-kerbed trap.
Such mis-rules were never our
Rung out wedding vows:
My shaken hand, still in hers:
This we espouse.
I will sit kitchen-stooled,
until just before five,
having jolt-woken at two,
(eyes sleep-slump, too wide).
At these, irregular,
single-digit typed hours,
gliding, with low-level powers.
Our dog, bed-dead, sleeps
through my keyed low-chatter clicks,
as I tap my life out in,
Daily poems, built up,
is my concise crossword:
Lined arguments with gods,
my solution – verb-blurred.
She stands, cold,
at Waitrose’s door:
An immigrant washed-up,
on our shore!
is an instantly-fired
a tuneless, descant:
She stands, wet,
at Waitrose’s door:
‘The Big Issue’,
her limp offered store,
our freedom trade,
last held barricade:
She stands, ages,
at Waitrose’s door,
her light smile,
your corner-eyed reward:
A few fear
this awaiting grace,
her quiet held issues,
the rest embrace.
I’m no longer
The Superglue drugs
do not hold.
When walking I’ll stumble,
But inside my head
I am not old.
This stiffness: a gift
I would rather return.,
Bad habits, I wish to unlearn.
My wife will command me:
‘Mike, move upright’,
Without her this evening,
I tilt to the night.
I don’t have her near,
My kind carer and friend,
Her absence is noticed,
Because I now bend.
Should I refrain
From Parkinson’s re-right,
Or can she forgive me
For bending tonight?
Libraries’ hours will reduce,
their lending overdue:
Google will then charge us all
for e-book content view.
Our library is all knowledge,
day-long care and quiet reads,
our vast bookmark will be lost
if all we do is cede:
Loved tomes will not open,
nor the library’s oft locked-doors,
no free church for free readers,
we have to fight for more.
Less bookworm-work for staff,
all that knowledge has been sacked,
they may find jobs in Tesco’s,
where books aren’t freely stacked.
So the slow-flow
Of the Sussex Ouse,
Is gently drowned
By our discharged loos.
Our need to pee, poo, wipe,
And to flush,
Is plugging the Ouse’s
Killing the fish,
That we cannot eat,
As we drop the seat.
Uckfield is flooding,
a slow-risen tide,
not left on The Uck’s
Currents flood twittens,
pavements, and paths,
fouling by dog ‘Messis’,
but no dog-drop red card.
To be foot-stepped, trod-in,
and then deep-carpeted:
Land mines to be cleared,
by the rain, or unpaid,
but ’til the flood’s gone,
we’ll continue to wade.
Steep steps off the platform,
On a re-railed trip,
A lad lifts my bag:
My sudden short-stair blip,
Of now being infirm;
my stick informs.
I once held doors wide,
For the fading greyed-few,
I am now a member
Of the stick-crazed crew:
Entrance and exit,
No longer shoulder-shoved,
Now cared for by strangers,
In dignified love.
To acre-wide halls, in Birmingham’s inner guts,
With ring-roaded shorn verges, of yard-placed shrubs:
I am here for a busman’s brief holiday:
Booth-trooped through Hall 3, for my youngest’s game play.
Wrist-wrapped with Day Passes; and my fourth child shines,
This, his Nirvana, a gold (Minecraft-ed) shrine.
‘Do you see their addiction?’ I ask a dad,
Stood too in solemn duty, his face spend-sagged.
From across the hall , a shrill-scream, voiced en-masse:
A Minecraft gamer is iphone-snapped,
His soul is hired out in selfies as thanks,
His signature a contract for our cash in his bank.
We return to the show, with my stick-clicked walk,
My youngest beside me; more game-playing talk.
His love of this, my complained hall-hell,
Is the reminder to me that all is well.
This we will succumb to, for our kids’ delight,
(Pleasure is best supped when served up right).
The childhood I lost, before the web’s weave,
Is no longer the one I wish to retrieve.
The sepia tone of November has gone –
wrote Harry Smith – aged ninety-one –
seeing worn-out – blood-red – poppies as lies –
pinned politic medals on cut-back lives
Dignity – for the aged – the infirm and unwell
should not be hacked so this state can sell
the last shards of a now-curtailed reward –
gained fair in blood – in post-war accord
Death-won promises of a better world –
Instead they insist such respect is culled
On Harry Smith’s lapel no poppy was worn –
For him the Old Wars were still to be won
I am a General Practitioner,
working through my impatient lists,
queued for me, praying for miracles,
the waiting room (where hope still exists).
I prescribe for common complaints,
but how can I comprehend,
what their listed illnesses feel like:
To their sick-state should I now descend?
The memory-miniature woman,
sitting silently opposite me:
widower (without recent recall),
I am gone from her immediately.
Every new minute is quite foreign,
whilst her past is a vast unlocked house:
dementia devalues this moment:
a flaming disease we never douse.
A small cough-racked child is then offered,
held in vein-traced maternal embrace:
I’ve no idea which is the patient,
I shall drown in my shallow disgrace.
Me, infected, queue-sickened, instead?
I wouldn’t want to suffer their plight:
to live without cures (our common curse),
but to die, tormented, isn’t right.
At school, a rough painting
of my father, in green:
His shotgun, an accurate detail,
With empty breech, unloaded,
He shift-slept: even through
my demanding brush-stroke.
In my paints he towered
over a fictional ditch:
At an earlier age
I’d mastered the pen flow,
Of flood-cut riverbanks:
grass-tufted shallow cliffs.
Mr (Welsh) Williams enthused:
‘get it into the show’.
I forgot the competition,
I was told, later,
I won: first in the contest:
They’d called my name,
but I was drawing at home:
Fighting for my sibling place,
and coming third-best.
We four squared the fields,
measuring the flat-topped hedges,
Of briared histories,
with a quart of different scales:
A brace of busmans’ holidays;
we ploughed our city trades of measurements.
But the ungrazed clump-suck of meadow,
brought us both back from town,
And to talk of easelled-landscapes.
Ahead, as usual, the others, a decade behind,
avoid such muddied reflections,
At this indoor hour, with these paints,
to draw that sunset December-march:
A survey of possible Roman villa,
outlying farmhouses converted with other currencies,
The Ripe red brick long-dead slaughterhouse,
and a paced friendship – best not set-aside.
I love the place name: ‘Teddington’,
It raps a tapping off my tongue.
Above the rises of river tides:
Just tidal bores in house prices.
So sits deed-rich: benefices*.
(ˈbɛn ə fɪs) n., v. -ficed, -fic•ing. n.1. a position or post granted to an ecclesiastic
that guarantees a fixed amount of property or income.
2. the revenue itself.
3. the equivalent of a fief in the early Middle Ages.]
The stoic Lollipop Lady,
Manor’s stick-wielding boss,
she was out in all weathers,
the snow, rain, and frost.
Her high-vis personality,
cheery, loud, and with grace,
giving rat-run drivers
her glared look-of-disgrace:
With waved magic baton,
she guided kids safely across –
the missing Lollipop Lady
is Manor’s greatest loss.
We are now committing six easy jets,
uncounted souls into cold desert-deaths:
Then we’ll agree a bloodied bag-exchange:
More re-dress rehearsals of flag-tagged pains:
Led by the strong-armed (sell-munitions’ squeeze).
Again lobbied “Ayes..” said our lame MPs.
Did we bomb Ireland, strafe the terrorists?
No: we shook those Fenians’ angry fists.
For peace at home send a tame diplomat:
But for offshore battles, we’ll bomb you flat.
I have now reached
My ‘pocket-patting phase’,
A lost time of life,
Pre-empting old age:
Locating keys, or glasses,
With ‘the pat’,
Of every pocket-lump,
Until quite flat.
I will stand
At my standing desk (it and me),
Attempting to re-locate,
A fix on reading glasses,
(me not them),
Only to find them
To avoid pat-problems
I’ve invested wisely,
I now hang glasses
An ancient answer
To the ‘patting’ thing.
From a still, unpacked,
house you see,
the scruffy, leaf-free
where fat, half-collared
Birds watch us
also guests in our
rest home trees.
We both stood then,
under bent lime trees.
But then whipped,
A roar of timber-roll seas.
And a final,
washed and purged.