By Windover Hill

No rich patron for St Andrew’s Church,
unmoved by digging at historical facts,
dropped, slumped, almost marooned,
leaving it off-centred on Alfriston’s Tye,

a cross set high on a rough mound,
above the bezier-curves of The Ouse,
of her flood-carved meanders,
kept from the village by a low flint wall,

this house sits, quiet, above the tide,
that moon’s claim upon timed rises,
which shift according to typed charts,
there is more than one God working here.

This low Cathedral of the Downs
will always be half-framed by the slope
of that grazed slant of Windover Hill,
unsure of the Long Man’s presence.

Inspired by – Keith Pettit

The Inheritor

I let my grey hair over-grow,
wear out dead man donated clothes,

I occasionally tap paths with my worn-down stick,
missing the beat of my off-time limp.

I’ve been re-set by a strangle, unseen,
I am less of a man, a reduction in mien,

offended by nature not playing it straight?
I eye the barrel of pain’s aimed complaints.

‘Life’s unfair,’ she spat out the words,
a line which I’ll refuse to rehearse.

But forty years later my recall has grown
of my mother’s bile rising, I swallow my own..

Life is fair, it is in agreement,
until we are held up by our parents,

then their bias, that family axiom:
We make our own lives by not repeating them.

I let my grey hairs over-grow,
wearing out dead man donated clothes.

Field Work

I write this, aching from my simple effort,
now bench-propped, on Luxford Field,
with car shunts and engine revs behind me,
then killed, still, replaced (for now) by birdsong.

This afternoon, under ripe end-of-March sun,
(we will judge once more with warming fears),
I wave at the future,  upright in a buggy,
trundled up the path, bobbled over lifted roots.

And then the farcical entry of a dog shocks
the three matte pigeons, and a shined rook,
which lift away, leaving the expanse empty,
untimely, far too early for the annual fair,

it’s arrival to be rung by the hammering of pegs.
That fun, on this field, is still a drought away,
until then there will be the scattering of litter,
couples snogging, and teenagers swigging.

But today, with this lunch hour to be consumed,
and low warmth enjoyed, the town joins me
in the old art of laying, uniform, on the grass;
one skill which we were taught well at school.


 

Abiogenesis

You too have climbed
from the alluvial swamp
of youth, of immaturity,
that dark cloy which sticks,
a viscid ignorance,

up from that shallow place
to our adapted older-selves,
without His re-engineering,
One’s dulled interest long lost –

ever since J. Robert Oppenheimer
re-purposed the identity of God,
and made mankind the last hope.
‘Survival of the fittest,’  is questioned,

but we stand, good, on two legs,
presently erect on this planet,
us, the last keepers of the foul waters
in which we clean our children,


Before

Each weekend was a curst return
from pitch-black,
boot-filled, lifeless ditches,
each boy scolded for deep cuts
and rips off furrow-tripped meadows.

We ranged, untouchable, free,
across fallow farmland,
never knowing every acre was doomed.
The River Addle, our course of choice,
went first, piped and diverted.

Next came the laying of black lanes
for shot past trucks and cars  –
killing machines, legally driven,
which then road-blocked our crossings.

Our wild life was inequally divided
by over-takings and lines of sped death,
cutting us off from the dark woods,
that far copse of unmanaged oak

which, before they lay the orbital road,
was our furthest-ever destination
on our stone-kicked roamings,
in squelch-squeezed Wellies.

We had read nature’s encyclopedia
within the oaks’ shadowy gloom –
the same woods where Dad
had me shoot all that moved.

HRH

I have danced on the stage
at the Royal Albert Hall,
sidled a swept Princess
and a hundred-like fools.

Their rules of movement,
to me unsaid,
I turned to a tune,
not that which played.

I spun below domes,
under the clouds of song,
with a woman so slight,
because ballet is wrong:

Their rules of movement,
to me set blind,
I turned from their tune,
not the dancing kind.

From Kensington Gore
dropped on to Queen’s Gate,
ripped fast from the ball
by my own complaint.

Their rules of movement,
to me mistimed,
I removed from that tune,
that which was mine.

Take me from such
dance floors and grace,
I have no true patience
to keep me engaged.


 

I Should Retire

The mean clock is doing it,
the balancing trick, ten-ten,
as ever the secondhand there
timed it, re-ticked on cue,

aligned with the brief minute’s
late-late reach to the far right,
just as I looked, synchronised,
to check another missed hour,

and I should retire at this point,
not too late, never, ever too late,
but for a man (of so many years)
it is so correct to consider such,

as others’ worlds spin in beer rounds,
long wet snogs, and streamed films:
I shall find comfort in a double bed,
propped-up pillows and hope,

whilst fitter men, soaked in bitter,
fuck-and-dance, dance-and-fuck,
in beer-washed sticky nightclubs,
swiped by Tinder, as I sleep soundly

through their infectious ribaldry,
and not have to hear the repeat
of chat-up lines I re-rehearsed
back in 1982, but never copyrighted,

then there was no intellectual theft,
instead we stole left-over half pints
and lengthening kisses with strangers,
to return to single beds in shared houses,

waking to cold kebabs at ten past ten.

Mutants

Princess Anne loves genetic crops,
she’s inbred-proof it really works,
there’s other experiments in mutation
displaying success beyond expectation:

Trump and Putin re-mixed the truth,
and now the States is democratic proof
that all it takes is a misogynist’s grab
to be Putin’s pussy; sat there on his lap.

This isle, set adrift by Farage’s caper,
limp as cold chips wrapped in newspaper,
is turning into another Gulliver’s find,
becoming a nation of the very small kind.

As toxic shocks of religion have shown
mix god with politics and here Hell will grow,
add in racism, bestow false hopes,
and the future becomes a right royal joke.

The Reader

A slight detour on the way home
to find my maybe-Quaker silence,
there, behind the shelved volumes,
in the near-silent reading room,
under zero gravity conditions –
just an old man’s licked turn
of an immaculate newspaper,
upon which he then comments,
so entering an amplified communion
with his just-arrived lady friend:
‘Shall we abandon this place?’
is his loud enquiry, almost to all.
And with his launch our vacuum
of unspoken words returns.

Numbered

He was born too late for ’21,
by ’68 he burnt with the charge:

Delivered 1950 in Bogside,
(part-named after Pope Pius XII),

the second of seven of Derry,
by fifteen years old a butcher.

Then to other blood at eighteen,
(after Fitt was struck in ’68),

and just one year later he was
Derry’s second-in-command:

A man at twenty-one counting
the dead after a bloody seventh day.

Politics’ cloak worn in the early 70’s,
but Mountbatten died on Shadow V:

Your man was the IRA’s number one,
that day when eighteen sons died.

By ’93 he was welcomed in London,
seeking peace within Number 10.

He lived 3,500 weeks, two sides,
and over that time 3,500 died.


 

The Piano

I lifted the hinged lid
of our upright piano
to find the centrifugal
of her studied song,

to listen to the hammers’
strikes, soft and loud,
in her found piece
on well-rehearsed keys:

but all I could sense
was what I breathed in,
back with the same smell
of my grandfather’s home,

sat again in his foreign fug
of deep wax and old wood,
back to a lost performance
sent by the piano’s opened belly:

There I slipped the cloy of voices,
to explore his own orchestra
of orderly outdoor plantings,
to escape the staining odours.


The Last Man in Europe

I see Eric Blair, upright, thin,
his bottom lip fag-lowered,
stiffly at his carried Remington,
posed at the high round keys,

which he knew too well, the sound
of a-e-i-o-u, those strikes
at very-necessary English vowels,
on fret-ish presses, in haste, to complete

The Novel – over coughs, those near-death
rattled expulsions, then later
to another hospital, long after a sniper’s
bullet fell him, blood-mouthed, in Spain.

He removed all his loved from the centre
to the offset Isle of Jura, an Astor invitation,
to her blanket bogs and Brecan’s whirlpool,
which his one-legged brother-in-law swam:

Eric could not row from that same draw,
instead he was guided to a shipwreck
upon a skerry, only to drown,
not much later, in a rip-tide of blood.


She Walked Out

Touch lightly his then bared back,
so harden his limp-loose skin,
walk close into unplanned shadows,
test his strength in kisses of sin,
offer yourself over would-be lovers,
those harpies who prop the bar,
remove him from lowly temptations,
place your centre in his cold hands,
let his fingers then loosen your hair,
and pull hard on your buttoned-self,
strip him down in your unsaid dreams,
gorge on him, let him fill, live well.


 

Derek Walcott, 1930-2017

‘Rhyme remains the parenthesis of palms,’
possibly misquoted, by myself, not the man,
that islander, playwright, poet, and giant,
gifted in language: ‘one of the chosen.’

Born under flesh-stained colonial rule,
he ran fast ‘cross the pink law of the Empire’s tongue:
stood huge on a platform, with Seamus and verse,
to see off the trains commuting their words.

It was the tidal returns, the moon’s low fold,
which refilled the pen he always held:
that implement, squat, was his quick mouthpiece,
the wordy, Saint Lucian, commander of language.

Along Brodsky, and Heaney, he will loudly reverb,
as his silent waves rise on sand-scribed words:
and the triumvirate will laugh at their own bawdy jokes,
in their office of tongues those three foreigners spoke.


 

The Flood

Evangelina Chamorro Díaz
climbed, primal, from the flood,
risen from muckled timbers,
smothered in Creation’s mud.

Heavy oxen struggled for land,
as Jesus Hidalgo filmed the girl,
some held out calloused hands
to return her to this world.

The deluge, instructed by God,
heaven-sent to test belief –
the sunken cattle didn’t know,
because God is a lying thief.

Evangelina Chamorro Díaz,
on slowed limbs from that slime,
an ascent of natural selection,
proving God isn’t on our side.


Story here.
Video here

The Funts

The foul-mouthed family
held court in the bar,
tossing “f#cking” and “c#nt”
in their expletive spars:

Sharp threats of a knifing,
came too easy, too quick,
that night of hard curses
got me peeved, thinking this,

I may have to frequent
a family-free pub:
A more friendly local,
With no fucking cunts.

Ozymandias

Lifted from water, brown as the Nile’s,
he was found under Cairo’s dust-slums,
in a bare-foot place of disrepair,

(another ruin to make Shelley smile),
given up, again, to the constant sun,
him, the lost King, Ozymandias.

uncovered, “boundless and bare” –
from under the city’s ruined piles,
in a three-tonne bucket, he becomes

the brief provider of a foul rain,
as the mud, which was newly carved,
slipped back to the dragged-at hole

from which he, the busted Ramses,
was shifted, ignobly pulled.


News Story Here

My Work

My work, the drawn-up stuff,
takes me to chair-rattled halls
and outwardly fabulous hotels,
but these days I visit on-line
to inspect the not-right spaces,
to then conjure in the nothing
of their rent-echoed rooms
such ideas and extents of build
that will last hours, days
or weeks, but never much more:
My work, the drawn stuff,
does not last long, a soft recall,
like that of a night with an escort:
I let them fuck me with their ideas.


The Son of the Wind

John Surtees, CBE 1934 – 2017

‘Figlio del vento’
this knight was called
by the motoring fraternity
from which he won all,
but he was never bestowed
a higher ranked honour,
that master, that maven,
the lord of horse power:
Championship titles
were his laurel-rewards,
perhaps no need
for the touch of her sword.

Donations to: Henry Surtees Foundation

Practice 

She plays her scales
on our upright piano,
her late hour practice
is appassionato.

Her traveling completed,
enough notes pressed,
the white keys gleam
in this switched darkness.

I revel in the room’s
serene composure,
I am left alone
in our echo chamber.

I hammer this review
into lowly verse,
my midnight rehearsals
are never heard.

The Hulking Giants

East of Polegate,
as the cars fly by,
stand the three farmers
arcing their scythes:
Each a proud labourer
sweeping the field,
with clean cut blades
they slice nature’s yield.
As I drive alongside them,
breathing diesel’s spill,
I cannot understand
why we tilt at windmills.

We Few, We Happy Few

I could steal a line from Henry the Fifth,
but his battles were not with himself,
(he fought the French, which we can’t,
or else we’ll be fighting Knockaert).

Instead I’ll offer you my crass words
at this last phase of our season’s churn:
From Falmer’s low dip in our rolling county
The Albion will lift that long lost trophy.

Nine battles left in our thirty-year war,
nine matches, each, an Agincourt:
our long balls will let fly into the box,
to be buried in their hearts by a swift Baldock.

From the sure ranks of our mighty defense,
led by Bruno’s unwavering strength,
with Stockdale’s saves and domination,
we see Chris’ matchless machinations –

his tactics and plotting of every battle,
needs his foot soldiers to win every tackle,
across the pitch, from Dunk to March,
Houghton’s orders are: ‘Keep your guard’.

Our final throw in this season’s thriller,
is a match away at Aston Villa,
but ‘Gulls please win the Championship,
‘gainst Bristol City, here, at The Amex.

The Girl from the Hotel

She left her job
at The Mandarin
to finally feel
the London sun,

to another routine
in another place,
her future shifted
into the day.

She made her escape,
back to the sky,
leaving the sick
and trays behind.

Outside the rain
of London greyed,
a stolen light –
sodium replaced.

But she flew past the doorman,
shouting ‘Goodbye!’
The girl from the hotel
danced out from the night.


 

For My Physician

You, with gilt-framed diplomas,
please sit for my dull certificate:
I am to lecture you about pain,
since your grasp is so inadequate.

It is the norm, we are born to screams,
the cuts and tears in every childbirth,
in which all mothers are victims:
Dear physician, you are too averse.

Here I sit in your consulting room,
where you ‘tut’ at me about booze,
as I twist under angered muscles,
my nerve-ends twitch, hurt, adduced.

All the time within my skin,
are such thrusts throughout my frame,
spiked and sliced, in feet and hands –
my digits gloved in pangs again.

When taking notes in my lecture
feel the smooth scribe, no hard design,
unsuited for people like me,
struggling to pen ‘anodyne’.

Alice

Down by the empty river bed,
the Todd, ‘usually dry’,
amongst litter and remnants,
sat a lone Aboriginal, dazed,

as if all this had just occurred,
and she was the last on her land:
her rheum-run eyes fixed mine
and she knew everything about me:

‘Miss Pink’s gone,’ she said,
as she pushed a black strand
of such dark hair from her face,
and she turned away, her work done.


 

Claudio, No! by Gary W. Lineker

You came to Leicester,
a silver fox to our pack,
the grey Tinker Man,
whom we’ve now sacked:

Claudio! Claudio!
You got me to strip
down to my shorts
– my crispiest bits.

To get me there
you proved me wrong,
you took my team,
at five thousand to one,

up to the top
of the Premiership,
but then you got dumped
for tinkering with it.

Alas you are gone,
no more punditry pokes,
I’ll live with the title,
and ignore Shearer’s jokes.

My pants are pressed,
my abs are tight,
I am now ready for
the relegation fight.

The Surveyor, Online

Her screen offerings, in selfless forms,
adorned or bared, her shared allure:

Of course he prefers her nakedness,
which so shames his own rucked flesh:

There is a distance he has yet to guess,
her stretched out form on his bed, undressed:

Would she lie for him, tongue and back,
to provide his review an easy abstract?

No longer there, mere pleasant thoughts,
to move from such, no more besought.

Freelance

I have worked too hard
and am dead on my feet:

this lost time is recorded
across a hundred invoices,

thousands of hours stamped
by receiving bookkeepers,

who will be ‘sure to pay’ me
way beyond thirty days:

and I will work hard, again, at
getting those payments in

for designs and late hours,
my long-dead work.

The Fighting Temeraire

Apart from the obvious creases,
and immediate grey effects,
a flabby jowl from rich indulgences,
comes the breaking of our extents:

Once loose, no plot, our lives,
now rotting in unsure depths,
so we face a towed-to future,
to be beached in shallow dread:

The Fighting Temeraire repeated
on the walls of sheltered flats,
reprints from London visits,
an obsolescence, reduced to scrap.

Do not put me in a care home,
those stinking broken berths,
let me ease off, with the pull,
let me drift without tow ropes.

F5

‘The years teach much which the days never know.’
Ralph Emerson

Half a century has passed,
of my oblivious education:

Valves glowed behind Bakelite,
those wireless invocations,

mail was flap-rattled –
some bore oddity stamps,

wearing cent-priced strangers,
sent from inky confidantes.

My search was inherited,
in spine-bust encyclopaedias:

I learnt the word ‘concentric’,
and skipped the Roman Empire.

Medicinal Purposes


This empty bottle
is the evening’s measure
of my own drink units;
I am going against
the approved dosage,
proving salubrious,
whilst prescribed pills
bring on such nausea,
akin to a hangover.
This morning’s disposal
of that cleared bottle
is my recycled marker,
of an evening passed,
to this new day blessed.

The Triangle

Past that rough triangle
off Heath Road, Weybridge,
a slow junction lined
by gloom-slimmed birches,
these woods we all knew
as the murder patch,
where a woman was killed,
his low theft gone wrong,
and a foul faked rape
by other thrust means,
(facts then unknown):
we kids were alive to
her near place of death,
there scoured by detectives’
metal detectors:
and we looked for shadows
on every pass,
we innocents whelped
on his criminal act.


An Australian

An extra brother
was found post-mortem,
their mother lay shunted
on a locked-in gurney;
and so the drawer-hunt
was left, aborted,

stopped by finding
of an unknown’s journey;
‘the solution back then’
export the rebus,
her secret posted
to an empire – still burning.

Their mother outlived him
with her feelings,
in the found letter,
a secret hard blow:
‘He carked it,’ it said,
‘Tyres ripped, squealing.’

And that was all
to ever know:
A sibling departed
twice before them,
a brother, shipped,
sent a time ago:

Do not seek history,
do not go again,
that is the cruelty
put on women.