Allhallowtide & Halloween


With more martyrs to count
than days in the year,
they all got rolled up
into this ‘Christian’ schmear:

Another scam to buy
more shite from the shops,
(once just a mask
to hide your face from a corpse).

Wear neighbours’ patience
really thin,
your kids making doorbells
ring and ring –

those normally just rung
by Parcelforce,
and Jehovah’s Witnesses
(of course):

This excuse to eat treats,
and fatty gloop,
with the fasting for martyrs
lost in the loop.

So roll on Bonfire Day
with no pretence of faith,
except in the Gods
who’ll make sure it won’t rain.


 

Button Therapy


The pushed-pushed
Lift-Shut-Now-Button,
[US-Eng: Elevator-Closure-Function];
pressed, but no more
electrical assurance
of any seal
of lift-shut avoidance,
now switched off,
under legislation,
some rights-to-access
codification:
Plus the kerbside
‘DONT WALK’
bright lights,
there to be poked,
under the Bill of Rights,
but now, not working,
not as useful,
one more gullible
Westerners’ placebo.


News story here

Collective Nouns, 2016.

A stream of migrants,
a flood of immigrants,
a stride of itinerants,
a slip of transients,
a confusion of foreigners,
a wave of incomers,
a steal of vagrants,
a thrust of aliens,
a landing of outlanders,
a gust of drifters,
a surge of unknowns,
a trespass of expatriates.

 

Coffee and Cake


Sat down, Grandma,
Grandson, and Mum,
Grandma, huffily:
‘No point sat by ‘im!’
Grandson, grumpily:
‘I’ll be on me phone..’
Grandma grunts,
Mum checks her own,
and Mum reads out
a Facebook feed;
the tired waitress
tries to intercede,
placing before them
menu boards,
waiting for her voice
to now be heard
above that of Grandma’s
moan about stuff:
‘It wasn’t like this,
when we grew up!’
Mum, now bored:
‘The world’s moved on!’
Grandma, resigned:
‘When I’m gone…’
Grandson, buts in:
‘Can I bags your phone?’


God on Facebook


Franzen calls it ‘a private hall
of flattering mirrors’*,

where we stay active enough
to feel the love of others
over the internet’s radar,
we exist, returning,
as low blips, heart beats,
these fleet sightings
of us, the low-followers
on the swipe,
are very necessary;
we the un-celebrities,
to whom the Gods dictate.


*Farther Away

The Beach Haters


Ranked low on recliners
by freckled differences,
some late sun-aged
before this dead sea,
as ragged and wrinkled,
umbered by the sky,
muttering in languages
so indignant, lain,
offended by others’ children,
and the laughter of families,
each interaction
a foreign intrusion,
as they languor, topless;
not that you’d want to see
the lower laughter lines
of these clay figurines.


Special Assistance

Special Assistance,
just two of us,
and in those minutes
I was lost,
under decades
of othered-avowals,
she bound to her
dementia-bed spouse,
him, one of us,
shuffling, forgetting:
When so met
I am guilty of vetting,
with my symptom
enquiry lines,
mapping my
prescription of time.
His first phase
like mine, didn’t alter,
only reduced
a former builder:
‘It was awful,
but no real pain.’

‘We are different,’
there, I said it again.

Tab


Now, what we wake to,
we cannot undo,
that accident of drink,
words lost to you:
No soften of pain,
nor popped-codeine,
to fix risen days,
redux, lie ins:
Foul-breathed wine,
paused, re-aligned,
from few hours straight,
to another lost time:
That reminder, rattled,
loose-change gathers,
buying bar laughter,
soured breath,
days after.


Petite


There is a smallness
to you,
he thought,
just physical,
petite, of course,
whilst, in that moment,
you exploded in his eyes,
as he watched your lips
form the word ‘Pogues’,
thinking what a kiss,
on such lips
would be like,
a largeness of
bitten pout,
as you reformed
your accent
under his tease:
You walked back,
untouched,
on lit streets.


Grudge Match


No new-built Britannia,
no tax-pirate ship:
A small piece of Britain!
It’ll cost zillions of quids!

A gift for us all!
Worth every penny!
But pounds buy less,
unsure how many:

A floating gin palace?
Build no more yachts,
we’re pre-Brexit sunk,
we have spent the pot;

now England’s stuck
at Scottish loggerheads,
build deathly Successors,
load the warheads,

aim them at Holyrood,
and prepare for launch,
Eton mess made good
by Boris’ first war.


 

Botleys: Loss of an apostrophe


Those red brick villas
on the sloped lawn hill,
with service roads
linking collections
and deliveries
at every odd hour,
where patients walked,
the ones that could,
between the few points
some had known,
only known, since birth,
long-ago baptised
in that place by
the cloyed smell
of cleaning, and of filth
carried over, into them,
the walking, the lain,
the chair-rocked,
a few with head guards,
over those broken minds.


 

Let’s Put It In Writing


Fifteenth May, nineteen eighty-five, Brighton,
a Top Rank Suite, for an evening’s adoration,
standing, a puntered-audience of boys’ bad skin,
but fast forward, here, now, sat-settling,
in gentrified Hove, off the low Western Road:

Waiting, stalled, greyed women and men,
pot-bellied, various middle-aged friends,
like the rank of boorish South Africans,
love-locked, along with billy-no-mates,
who arrived, drunk-stumbled, seated late:

‘You missed Rattlesnakes,’ Mr Cole said,
looking equally pissed at their loud entrance.
And I ended the concert, stood at the exit,
removed by my stiffened need to stretch,
whilst the audience sat, politely applauding,
I shifted, mine the only standing ovation.


 

Jewel in the Crown


Rip it off from the past,
sliced on rusty nostalgia,
a span of heritage,
is this truthful disaster,
when history’s lost
pay old craftsmen to make
more bygones-be-bygones,
real genuine fakes:
Bow to the Crown Jewels,
displaced paste from the past,
profited and traded,
‘cross an empire, so vast;
flaunt valuable rocks,
but sell free-to-use jewels,
those men in blue suits
from the right schools.


 

This Is the Call


Gather those remnants of your strength,
and stand longer than any other,
more than those who may expect less of you,
and bring back, again, to yourselves
the small powers that others frame as broken.

This is the call to you, the robbed,
to recover the fragments – only briefly lost.

Continue reading “This Is the Call”

Threats


Skinheads scared me,
old stupidities,
their immediate uniforms;
bared arms, Fred Perrys,

with high-rolled jeans,
over Doc Marten kicks,
and the sneered attitude,
in ska-scored gigs.

But those skinhead girls,
I briefly adored,
their androgynous looks,
which I hooked, engorged.

But the depths of clans,
shorn, or long-haired,
all sunk in belief,
of such no one cares,

unless you are stuck,
in a false uniform,
that of thump-dressed,
or of us, the warned.


 

The Fourth Plinth


I heard it on the wireless,
(so it must be very true,
with my degree in disbelief
in that which is now viewed);

women will gain parity,
twenty one hundred thirty one,
a man-made time-proof date,
when the misogynists are done.

Not in your lifetime, our daughters,
on this male-queered stiffened sphere,
‘The Rights of Woman’ not in print:
‘Mere self-publishing, my dear.’

Men look down from their plinths,
erection high, regimental;
until that date ‘The Rights of Man’
will stay filed under ‘Genitals’.


 

Off


That short walk
past the Cinque Ports,
and the neighbouring hit
off pizzas and chips;
left at traffic lights
allowing the right
to walk due south,
past the Picture House,
branded both sides,
and the library lies,
awaiting budget-chops
along with the shops,
and dull retail banks,
even Pizza Express:
‘For Sale’ glowed homes
for too many pounds,
then, more bloody chips,
fat wafts opposite
the old post office,
and our town square,
still empty, still there.


 

Season Tickets


At fifty miles an hour
along London’s tracks,
beside allotments,
and back-to-backs,
past six-deep internees,
stacked in graveyards,
parallel to house building,
and joggers in parks;
above small archways,
over scrapyards of crap,
then on to the river,
across spanned tracks,
crossing the Thames
the commute here slows,
almost a pause,
but then over they go,
for eight long hours
of Powerpoint charts,
‘a quickie’ in a bar,
then home from the farce.


 

A Clown Lives

fullsizerender2

A smiling clown
lives under my shed,
that beastly thing
your kids now dread:

His beery breath
is much more rank
than that stink
off your aged Gramp;

this clown’s teeth
are as equally rough
as those in a tramp’s
gap-filled mouth:

This prankster sleeps
in daylight’s peace,
he dreams of flesh,
to eat with chips.


OK Google

“OK Google,”
please turn off,
you know too much
’bout my choices in life;
what I looked at,
for how long,
it’s a dead-end relationship,
your snooping is done.

If I need a map,
I’ll A to Z,
navigate my life
with no traces left;
I’ll use a brick phone,
and Duck Duck Go,
then avoid Facebook,
or just stay at home.

Revived


“Look at that handle!”
cried Allan,
as we strode toward
another motorized moment,
and Otto inhaled the leather
and oils of the past
off the cars parked across Luxford.

Lost details from our histories,
fuel switches and choke pulls,
seats that never reclined,
and other discomforts:
We middle aged men find
our comfortable pasts
locked in old cars.


 

Notes From An Exhibition

It was on completing the book
that on the back cover
I felt a wetness,
then on my forefinger

(like a dammed tear
collected from another’s cheek),

a minutiae of fictional grief
for the book’s first death,
announced last,
but not written down,

and our shower curtain dripped,
a confirmation that
no make-believe tear
dropped from that book.


Cold Coffee

For SG

You would meet me after work,
for a drink, sat closer in Fitzrovia,
my years ahead start,
I hoped wasn’t my only appeal:

You know as men age our vanity grows,
and attention from younger people
is our tonic: a look, a smile, a touch,
such regards are our effortless sex,

because the real stuff hurts,
maintenance just court-ordered,
not even an act of concentration
can help us to keep up, perhaps drugs:

I could see what we were doing to you,
with such sugar daddy assurances,
we men, we perspicuous things,
we look upon your world,

as one-eyed kings.

Little George 

Remove him from headlines,
bred, born to re-breed,
a future in carriages,
to be shoved on parade:

Feed him on privilege,
trade far his blue blood,
a kid with that lineage,
sell his charms for quick bucks:

An addition to the past,
of old Empire and pink maps,
but soon ruling Gormenghast,
this child waves, birth-trapped.

Degrees

It is early October, in my sixth decade,
this low sun’s heat now obfuscates:
Two score fears of Betjeman’s bombs,
aimed to rain down on everyone;

that threat, then stalled, by a melt of Cold War,
but on the horizon a more terrible storm:
MAD-placed positions offer limited balance,
but we are slow-burning this lonely planet.

My neighbour’ll not prune until her last flowers fall,
but such lore set aside, now the sun misrules.
I stand ‘bove my shadow, as sundial and god,
my presence on earth more than enough,

to have been found guilty, on my own conviction,
my residence is toxic, I shan’t be forgiven:
I return to the shade, under still-green trees,
a level walk home, up by two degrees.

Blind Pizza

Savile, half vile, by name,
‘as evil’:
and now Theroux,

an inequal victim
of Jimmy’s lies, it seems,
as transmitted.

But him, Louis,
never abused by Savile:
only the untrusting could see:

My mother, a nurse, met Savile,
in the eighties,
and found him ‘Creepy’.

And Louis found what?
The salaciousness
of Savile’s acts:

A monologue for Theroux
to look disturbed:
That’s his TV.

“And so we must remember
how we were beguiled” LT.

Drugs

Which drugs work?
Well anything illegal,
plus doses of alcohol,
or inhaling some freedom:

Not television-consumption,
and the inanity of such,
which is foul humdrum,
remove that crutch.

Let me read Ginsberg,
howl wild words ’bout sex,
meet strangers to talk to,
but not to fuck (not yet),

because fucking strangers
brings swabs of bad luck,
which need more meds
and I’ve said drugs suck!

Let me loose on the world
before it dissolves,
let me lose this shit time,
before the shit takes hold.

I V*w*l Fr** T* My C**ntry

*ngl*nd, *ngl*nd,
y** *gn*r*nt f*cks,
r*g*rg*t*t* ‘Th* M**l’,
th*r* y**r tr*th *s pl*ck*d:

‘H*m*s for Wh*t* Br*ts’,
                                 ‘F*ck the d*rk-sk*nn*d’,
‘*f th*y *r* M*sl*m,
                                 d*n’t l*t ‘*m *n’.

*fr**d *f th* w*rld,
th*s* n*me-c*ll*ng r*nts,
k**p th*s, ‘y**r’ *ngl*nd,
‘c*s *t’s * pl*c* *f f*ck*d c*nts.