Under the Flight Path

I am hemmed in
by rhododendrons
and poor-fruit
rusty brambles,

here part-hidden,
with lost headstones,
by bleached grasses,
I am waiting for you

(sat on Sarah Newlyn’s
berry-stained bench,
with my cooled coffee
and folded ‘paper),

under a flight path,
itself dubbed over
by the bubbled
squabble of birds

in the thickets
and tremoring hedges,
as loud crows plot
the distances in air

with their deep caws
and dark eyes,
their navigation
is fixed by sight.

And you set down
beside me, beautiful,
with your return,
into our hidden hold.

M.D.

Behind my eyes,
becalmed in bed,
as the rooks clatter
in the lime trees,

and the last barks
of a dog trails off,
I am in the entrepot
of my memories,

picking at the skin
of scar tissue love,
I peel back time,
to make the past bleed

with the lifting
of rough scabs,
and with this peeling
comes a sore wound

which will not heal,
because I scratch it
into an angry mess:
her mark remains.

Today

A small calendar reminder
in the corner of my screen,
‘DAD DIED 1987’;

so it’s been three decades
since his ashes were tipped
by an unknown R.N. padre
at Spitshead, Portsmouth:

There a dying empire’s
grey fleet anchored in ’53,
with my father aboard.

His page will be turned
in that memorial chapel,
which he visits, briefly,

once a year, for a day,
back where he escaped
from his own conflicts.

The Wedding Reception

Today, the re-climbed height
of another British summer,
when buffed-up cars are steered
on a weeded gravel drive,
slow on that unmade road,

to park at a once-grand house,
where wedding guests gather,
those love-hungry witnesses
at the dressed-up ceremony:

Ribbons, flowers and cloth
hide all manner of hires,
including those who serve
the seated, the laughing
and the old, and still so unsure:

The band’s equipment, that wire-fest,
has been readied for later,
for phone-captured errors,
which will be viewed across Facebook,

but not included in the bound album:
The newly-married, etiquette-dressed,
are set on display, arrayed for viewing,
itching under garter and wing collar.

The Pig & Butcher

Friday lunchtime, slumped, re-arrives,
a shuffle of septuagenarians departs
as I place my pint, and my backside,
at a mat-free table in the lounge bar:

Two regulars take on slack scampi,
and one more pint for the road;
the barmaid’s sweet pull is too great,
so they stall, longer, the return to work,

and I sit, supping at the old familiarity,
that which Wetherspoons cannot fake,
also poorly replicated in English Pubs
in New York, and pop-up Asian cities:

You cannot make these spills and stains,
the rough wearing, long-worn by the repeat
of orders, of rounds, of social patterns:
They will never decode this pub’s DNA.

Addlestone

That distant town was my playground,
at Darley Dene I scuffed my knees,
returning, scabbed, to 6, Essex Close,
Addlestone, Surrey, England, Earth,
and our three storey police house:

I revisited the road on Google Earth,
unsuprised by its reductions in size,
but as that tripped child it fish-eyed
in the scale of the upgrade it was
to our family of five men and mother.

We schooled in the grey shadow
of the ever-scruffy Surrey Towers,
where Bill D tossed off his pet dog,
knelt, he said, in the oft-stuck lift:
That beastial act he reported to us,
he so wanted to be a milkman.

On a school trip, of distance and steam,
they had stuck signs up in the carriages
to mark our booking, stated ‘Darley Dean’.
Our loud comments about the mistake
are all I recall of that summer excursion:
of Addlestone, I just have shadow

My Lady of Good Encounter

Benoite, you are not, but still a reader of hearts,
a live angel on Earth, but not the saint of Laus:
that girl watched Christ, she witnessed his passion,
and I watched you undress with stiff absolution:

The lace-pull of perfume took her down from the hill,
whilst here in your thighs I drank from a well:
I saw her people slow-mo into prayer,
the rest fell in agony in that melee.

Benoite was sent to the Valley of Kilns,
by a dark-skinned Saint who worked those hills,
and I fall to sleep on your flattened breast,
as you turn your head and see your own Benoite.

Late

I cannot suppress the yawns
of this drawn-down evening;
earlier she re-scaled a recipe
into four guest-sized dishes,
adding a handful of dark olives:
We were sat, blindfold-drunk,
in alcohol’s sway of puked lies,
arguing against the concrete
piles of objectionable opinions –
truth still born by boozed cecity.

We the Grey-haired

We the grey-haired,
but fashion-aware
men, of a certain age,
the would-be punks,
back then,
or heavy-coated,
liking Echo, Bjork,
and then, a bit later,
almost wax-quiffed,
a suede-headed
Morrissey lover,
or confirmed hater,
tugging our loneliness
and unsure,
still unsure about stuff,
but not music,
just politics and love,
still trying on fashion
and making mistakes.