Pub, 7pm

It is a low church,
without sober prayer,
rough years, sixty-plus,
blinded Sky-high stare:

Unaltered transfix,
upon sports, by God,
matched-crucifixion,
across the green sod.

They tip their flat pints,
on last sure-winners,
each sup a delay,
to home-cooked dinners:

Stood tall-table straight,
with concentric rings,
beer becomes central,
at last order’s rings.

Everything is easy, there is no difficulty

Called, I entered
‘The Departure Lounge’
renamed, a rare-shared joke,
for that downstairs room;
here my father sobbed
with cancer’s slow burn.

Sat upright, explaining a dream,
for the first time in our lives,
(me, twenty-something,
then, no reader of such things),
with his simple review:
‘I saw my mother,’ he explained.

Nan had passed on ten years before.
‘She said.. everything is easy, there is no difficulty..’
In that moment, with his head-held,
Dad licensed me to cry before my kids,
to find comfort in dreams,
and to speak with the dead.

Wedding Photos

Met, in ill-fitting suits,
Best man-made bad speeches;
‘It’s all about the bride’:
Slurs and white-dress-hitches.

Relatives move-tortured,
across the first-danced floor;
Loose-tied, high-drunken, ensembles,
knocking back more, more, more!

Bitter-pill hangover honeymoon,
over seven-ish burnt days;
Their love sobers slowly
after the wedding’s farcical play.

Holier-than-thou-Saudis

Our dear Saudi friends
are trashing Yemen:
The city of Sana’a
is crumbling again:

Imported bomb-thumps,
and blast of tremors:
‘The Saudis are
fighting Houthi rebels’,

in support of
‘unity government’,
we help blast them,
‘the subordinates’,

across schools, homes,
and pock-marked parks:
Only the UN cries out
at such Saudi-led-larks.

Sandhurst, England.

Sandhurst – England – training world leaders –
subsidised captains of overseas terror

We pay state taxes to crush insurgents –
brutal regimes are this year’s perfect

Military managers of political dissent –
drilled in line – the loyal-regiments

Excuses – Regional security assured –
ruling-by-war under Sandhurst swords

We British have sold Saudi Arabia
a billion pounds worth of megalomania –

July to September – only last year –
Now no hard arguments for kings to fear

 

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On the Underground

Lowed head, herd-burrowed,
to subterranean trip:
Down, slowed escalator-drop,
to queued platform crypt.

Commuted life sentence,
branded as ‘Mind the gap’:
Squeezed rush-hour day’s flush,
shoved aboard, standing-trapped.

On coloured, stiff spaghetti,
fooled cartography:
Tube-mapped London, visited,
cheats on geography.

But, the Underground
still performs, as planned, as meant:
Commonality,
the funnelled requirement.

Stonings

Living roughly, on Diamond Road,
Middle England, Middlesbrough,
Where slapped doors, painted red,
Mark you out, for the foul-demurrer.

Hateful stones, from the offended street,
Clatter, and threaten, your short time here:
Life seekers’ homes, being on their feet,
Families unfixed, always thrown to fear.

Fresh red paint, bought in a deal,
‘Happened’ to mark-out the transitory.
I think of painted doors, before the kill,
That being the daub, in old Germany.

Shed-moved

Greased up sky hooks: 
I stood nervous, plan-wrought;
local endeavour 
on hired-in winches:
Two ratcheted wires, 
stretched hard, tremor-taut;
traction, sweat-steaming, 
in scaff-rolled inches.

Sunday elbowed,
across two properties,
to a final sleeper-laid
place (as planned):
I thank all the friends 
who moved to achieve,
that five-metered shift
where my shed now stands.

Tea drunk hot, our toast
to slow-completion,
Of success,
with only minor complaints:
A few inflamed backs,
odd-blistered lesions.
Thank you neighbours,
whom I upgrade to saints.

Other Nonagenarians Exist

Another ninety year old’s birthday soon,
A decade short of a card from the Queen:

Mrs Windsor, in her state-aided room,
Mis-rules her memory, un-throned, unseen.

The square root of ninety, now her empire,
With common dominion, three floors below.

Her self-labelled walking-frame is required,
For any walkabout, on which she goes.

The children visit, briefly, in a blue moon,
With unsubtle, quick-wrist clock-watching:

Charlie Windsor’s the worst, her first heirloom,
All she’s to will him, her love of Elvis, her King.

Ritual

Hear now my diurnal ritual,
Rhyme-rammed verse,
freely posted to all:
Vibrated-hyphenated set words,
Each one’s telling,
moves me slow forward.

End-of-day’s reversed writ-shift,
Looking back
and writing of it,
Wherever that place may be,
Now, inner stings
the last thing I feel:

Disconnects my illness,
by odd scan;
Each poke of thumb on screen, held in hand,
Exercise booked,
the re-tapping note:
I am what you read, a daily poet.

Advice to my children

Finitude
– the place you need find on earth,
in every breath,
from your fixed date of birth:

But what if you’re told
your fixed date of death?
For valid opinion?
Ask the blade-necked thief.

Should you be thinking,
as a condemned man?
You are kneeling
on the same shifting-sand.

How hard is it to live,
without waiting,
Engaged in your (own)
moment of making:

Satisfied with your time
of well-being,
Finitude:
– when you are truly seeing.

Down-sizing

It is the thing we make our parents do,
Or do to them: mortal-shuffle-moves,
To sheltered, or ‘down-sized’ flats:
We clear out all the past they had:
Lined-times on shelves, in towered attic-stacks,
Life’s trophies-won, ‘just dust-magnets’.

We slow-pack our home, one we filled over time,
Finding the ‘stuff’, which is ‘yours’ or ‘mine’;
Quick black-bagged, high street dropped,
To the worthy-option of charity shops:
Except for an item, saved without words,
Donating that toy would really hurt.

In thirty years, our life-reduction planned,
When we are being down-size manned,
By our children, and their loved-ones too,
They will wring their hands, as we now do:
That plastic teapot they’ll find in the loft:
today’s poured memories of time we’d lost.

A Studio in East Hoathly

It’s a step up on his studio’s tread –
firm – unlike the loose stone path
No bend for the door – no struck head
into the workshop – here he starts

his eye-lined measure of Wealden –
He stands – readied – to catch the views
of creation which he and God repeat often –
He tools thousands of gouged lines –

His work of furrows – brow-knotted deets –
The tools – spitstickers, scorpers and stippling
palm-packed stitching – he knocks into blocks –

In sketches of subjects – from inked towns to crossed hills –
he traces this capture over the close-grained face
where each sight is inverted – where each landscape re-milled
by hand – where he is bench-readied with an obliged trace

His art is aligned to true by the encompass of love –
which guides him straight with each wood-fuelled thought –
Fixed in boxwood’s grain with a scabrous shove –
This is the artist which my verse-lines have sought


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The Facts

The truth we believe is the truth we read:
Web-feeds, Facebook, Twitter, the Beeb.

Channelled-veracity, from Sky and Dave,
Immunity claimed for low-thought waves.

Drivelling truth soaks into our heads,
Performing gross acts as we sleep in our beds:

Sub-conscious toss of diatribes,
Demands unanswered, dream-thrown lies.

I can offer you trade of fists, or stats,
Neither will convince us, we have all the facts.