The Sex Tourist

His urges worked to remove him
for a month to another place,
to lie with girls in hotel rooms,
face down in their paid-up disgrace:

He breakfasted after lunchtime,
smoking packs of duty free:
the afternoons sweated in bed,
soaked in counterfeit Jack D.

Each night was a dark playground,
of bars, birds, and no time for drouth,
he spat his vestige of manners,
with his foul-spun English mouth:

Then he woke in a concrete room,
dried piss as his cold mattress:
“The sex wasn’t ever that good,
not worth the spunked-up cash”.

Ballon

Your beauty is to float
above his weight of hate,
it’s how you deal with love,
in your well-practiced way,
which is a crafted dance,
on stage, a casting off,
no half-ballon d’essai,
this is the way with loss:
every marriage dies,
a slow death kills us all,
some sleep with the dead,
but you are not that cruel.
You will rise above the stage,
the ballon, made yours alone,
you will lift, without a man,
because all men will disown,
and you can see from there
the distance others miss,
above the weight of love,
not floored by one long kiss.
You will be the one
who will fly and never fall,
because you are lifted high
and will rise above us all.

Tales

This crumbling man
has let you down,
with shortened pulls
of heavy breaths,

a broken pledge
to set high your crown,
instead, disgraced,
he failed that test:

These rough-made men,
reset as fools,
by that male God,
who knows no shame,

who ‘out of love’
re-shaped their fear,
because of Him
I should lose love’s claims.

Demulcent

Here her brushed skin rises
over her freckled shoulders,
and then slopes away to meet
her curved spine’s cobbled path:

Here I am led, by my cock’s enquiry,
to her hips, the pale dune profiles,
where I slow-climb, but am dragged 
down, again, by my stiffening hands: 

Here I part and knead her to yielding,
where, by the slightest of timed turns,
I set her tide’s clock, with twist of fingers,
forcing on her – a small death by drowning.

Rock Pools

In these recharged times
of eye-sucking screens
the two boys still felt
the pull to cold rock pools,

where Fred wrist-delved,
turning possible pebbles,
but Wilf was slowed, upset
by his so-aching tooth:

Me, their photographer,
was quite unsteady,
cautious over rough slices
of tripped possibilities,

and my parental recall
of other times, of deep cuts,
but still they climbed, hunters,
stalking in their innocence

of that shorter progression,
just before their steps lengthen,
when they will stumble
with the strides into ageing.

But now they leapt from high
to scribe in sand their names,
a stick scrape, like us before,
to be tide-washed from the shore.

Exeter St Davids (sic)

Is there nothing more
depressingly British
than pacing wet stretches
of railway platforms?
Laid grey under long runs
of iron-beamed roofing,
wlith those fret cut fascias
– hundreds of vertical slats,
above us, there, suspended,
‘Up’ and ‘Down’ indicators,
all part of the railway’s
once national language,
which forced the idea of time,
across the country, to be fixed
against the nature of space;
hours regulated, queued by law,
and compartmentalized by class
inside the carriages,
a big difference in leg space,
but all on a standard gauge.

Static

The curtains swing,
lifting in and out
of the single-glazed
breeze-wide windows, 

through which
the gulls’ cries circle,
in turned over levels
of kid-like bickering:

The slim walls disclose
coughs and mumbles
of our own children,
and we are drape-blind

in the box bedroom
of this plot-placed
static tin caravan,
which rattles now,

as the sky lowers
with holiday-grey rain,
and the wet suits
are rinsed again,

but the view is great,
whilst we both lie,
seeing the world
through poor WiFi.

On the Beach

She inserted pink earbuds
whilst lain out on the beach,
a solution to drown seagulls,
and other such wild screeches,

like those howls whipped up by
huge ice-cream-now-demands,
fought off by over-tired parents,
complaints of the young and old:

Immobile, eyes shut, sight cut,
with that downloaded programme
off Radio Four, for such times,

and now, she was kissed by the breeze,
and the soft attrition of blown sand,
she was no longer on the beach.

Holiday Traffic

‘Keep two chevrons apart’
is the roadside command
for some of the foot-down way,
as we cruise boot-squeezed,
with brake lights popping,
on this, the first Monday
of the summer holidays:

We are driven, just one stop
for service station Starbucks:
The boys danced to muzak
in the hourly-mopped loos,
as we refilled with tea and latte.
Then back to the rushed tarmac,
and the dash-dash-dash of lanes,
to hurtle again through the flume,
towards a static caravan in Devon.

The Free Ride

Here, for a second time
in our relationship
(should that be ‘only’?)
I wait in a rain-spat car,
now on the wrong side
of a hand-braked midnight,
expecting you, please soon,
to re-surface from a night
of red wine, gin and fags,
in this town of staggerers,
shed-sheltered faggers,
last-bus-to-Ringmer-takers,
on this dark street of
shouts-from-around-about,
but you do not answer me,
my repeated calls and texts,
and it will be, later, much later
a simple miscommunication
writ by your right to escape.

Counting the Miles

That intermit of the storm,
when the lightening is charged
before the next hurl from God,
and his voice booms over us
commanding the flash-flood
upon us: we still cower, primal,
reduced to cave-dwellers
under our awe of the unknown:
So do not consider the fears,
as we teach ourselves to remain
in the moment, dread nothing,
do not fight, do not flight.
At the peak they made love,
with her bent over the windowsill,
run into from behind,
the storm was then earthed.

The Prince

I am the Bastard Prince
with my mounted portrait
showing me at my worst
as an ugly creature of spite

caught in wedded anger
and then openly exhibited
by the keen female artist,
she the re-commissioned,

with her de-construct of love,
being the all-seeing critic,
captured by what she can admit
in this oversized oil portrait.

I am the Bastard Prince.

The Present

This moment, at ten-thirty,
his present is wrapped,
and I am sat sweating,
bloated after breakfast,
me feeling slowed, heavy,
the grain turns inside,
and to now head back
to hand-deliver the card
and a paperback copy
of ‘When Breath Becomes Air’
for this friend, an occasional
husband to a dying widow:
Birthdays push us closer.

The Swimmers

At Temple Grove they emerged
in their towel-wrapped attire,
a mother, maybe, and her daughter,
in spot colours, those of rich cottons,
lifting them in the gloomy outfield
as they placed white feet on grass,
in that tiptoe way we all have to
when barefoot in summer;
as they dripped pond water,
and held themselves from shivers,
we spectators for the ball game
wondered at their wild pleasure.

U-11 Cricket

Talk of H.M. the Queen
in the cricket pavilion,
of immigration controls
and of ‘darkie millions’,

‘C*nts can’t speak English,
they take our jobs’,
as the under-elevens
are wicket-robbed:

They teach the youth well
to play the bat straight,
to detest Johnny Foreigner,
because ‘whites are great’.

The Ending

They gather, again,
after an endless week
of slow commutes
and old complaints,
about train operators
and these long dog days,
but tonight, all together,
returned to the village,
at the cricket ground,
propped on folding chairs,
or in heel-rocked groups,
gripping their quick pint,
and here too those
time-battered wives,
the stay-behinds,
who attempt to hide
their underlined eyes
behind bag-sized
designer sunglasses:
Here, outscoring,
by the pint-poured pavilion,
they size up the weekend
and, again, get slightly pissed
before they return,
at dusk, with burnt-out kids,
to their pleasure domes,
still on loan, as is the car,
and all that they know.

Freelance

This quiescent night
is my daytime of no fools,
no calls, no unread emails,
no uploaded updates,
or delaying indecisions
about the final design,
which should be mine,
but is there to adjust
in other distant placed,
delayed, latte-meetings:
Shift an inch, or more,
back again, to the left!
The client’s always right.

Sick Note

No, I do not regularly
commute away to work,
or to pushy schools,
or sumptuous trips alone,
and there meet others,
and interact, deeply,
with so many people
in an assortment of places,
for assorted pleasures:
So I badly escape,
to the same rough places,
for a coffee, or beer,
and then slowly return,
usually at the call
of my freelance work.
I am always here. Alone.

We

We, the now-diagnosed,
may be the dead men walking,
slapped, strapped,
labelled as a bit too different
by the uncovered disconnects,
which, compounded by stress,
and our near normal efforts
to be the original self, to be us,
may reduce our ability to fly,
but that doesn’t stop us trying:
we will pull on our waxed wings,
lift from the cloying labyrinth,
and shake off the weight of hubris,
to take self-esteem back, yet again.

Under the Woods

Among the ragged shadows
of the canopy umbrella,
cut by the leaf-shaped gobos,
here that broken sunlight will die,
increasing neck-breaking risks
as I avoid tripping up on
worn rib roots along the paths:
here the blackbird hacks
with its cut-cut-cut alarm call,
and my rescue is almost assured.

Sunday

The backlit curtain hesitates
across the open window,
with the inhale, exhale, breeze
it moves on the unintended axis,
creating a dragged complaint
of man-made materials,
an almost-radio sound effect –
of the turn of Edwardian ladies,
or the inflate of doldrum sails,
perhaps a man’s last breaths,
and here I will lie, behind them,
putting off the shift called Sunday.

Beddingham Landfill

The picked at scab
scarring above Beddingham,
containing such poisons,
rain-washed infections,
which leach, for this ever,
into the tide-turned Ouse.

Up there they buried
square metres of radiation,
and household stuff,
tonnes of weighty nappies,
and other tipped shit
of our modern lives

into that former chalk pit:
High open-heart surgery
on the South Downs,
that gull-dived littering,
best buried and grassed over;
invite butterflies.

The Path

I kicked at the summer
along the bosky path,
punting insects and scents
with each measured step
through spiteful nettles
and over-reaching weeds:
I was forced to dip, to avoid,
the slap of weighted branches,
pulled apart by my leading
companion, let to whiplash,
without malice, on this walk
through the dense end of June,
where the nature of things 
had been thickened by rain:
Here the blackberry blossom
advertised an abundant crop,
here the small dog had to leap
to make her own way through
the viscid grip of grasses
on the rooted public path
of stings and itchy skin.

Smeuse

Smeuse – that low-run gap
where the wild things are –
under Sussex-set hedges –
but now a reduced tag –
worn out – as are the places
without any lasting labels –
things will no longer exist
My kids already fail to name
occasional birds or trees
and without nature’s
passed down placeholders
a creation disappears –
until we chance to recapture
the nameless creatures
and pass the landscape on
with their ancient titles
and collected echoes
of common-place parlance
We may lose them all –
no word for ‘sparrow‘?
Then no sparrows are left

 


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