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.

A Village Called Ugly

Welcome to Ugly
your new home
in the world,
Daddy isn’t here
for his two
favourite girls,
and he never
hugs mummy,
or kisses her lips:
Ugly, the village,
in which you now live;
it sneers and snaps
on the rumour mill,
marriages kept alive
just for the kill:
welcome to Ugly
a hamlet of hate,
if you haven’t
got perfect
then it’s far too late.

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.

Twitter for Dummies

Forget them kids,
your latest results,
your failures are
the teachers’ fault.

Then finger the poor,
those necessitous –
the lazy grazers,
who benefit off us:

Shoot from the hip
your spiteful aims,
we are all makers
in this self-made game.

Bring your fury
upon others’ beliefs,
that hateful tweet
is your true motif.

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.

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.

Rising

Google is Evil,
along with Facebook,
Instagram will f*ck you,
and Twitter will look:
The next revolution
will burn in the States,
where the off-lines will rise
against those engaged:
Removed from utility,
sidelined, betrayed,
armed against violence,
their violence they’ll raise.

Rainy Days

The commuter drag
through Haywards Heath,
nose-to-tail,
we queue before death,
we the cocooned
in our leases of life,
counting the weeks
until the holiday ride:
Succour found in Waitrose,
and down at Screwfix,
then a fantastic night –
thanks to Netflix.
I will wake in darkness,
and return home the same,
my weekends are spent
to validate this pain:
I squander my fortune
before I no longer work,
I save nothing for old age,
my pension’s a joke.

Breaks

Our summer holidays
were always ‘at’ Easter,
‘cos that time of year
it’s so much cheaper,

even after a pay rise
for the-men-with-truncheons,
still that week,
but upgraded to Butlin’s:

We went self-catering
at Bognor Regis,
where Dad smuggled in
my eldest brother

through the camp’s
padlocked gates,
Chris was concealed
under oil-soaked sheets.

I sketched seagulls,
the only visible detail
in that thin view
of endless shingle.

Forty years later
and another vacation,
off to Devon,
a last-minute stay-cation,

a holiday to engender
family joy,
the gulls now snap-chatted
by our youngest boy.

Walking too fast

He slow-sputters back
as his day is reduced,
but she won’t agree
his speed is removed,
because it is easier
to stride at her pace,
and when she slows
to show no grace:
all empathy removed
by her barbed remarks,
‘Of course you’re hot
in all those layers’;
and he’ll shuffle home
not wanting that bed,
because their marriage
is long-slow spent.

Belief

I do not believe
in anything I read,
apart from the stutters
of rhymed poetry:
I will kneel down
to fix the any-things,

I know kneeling’s best done
beneath un-wed kings,
under His patronage,
under His state,
because Royalty commands
us plebs to wait:

Ladies, crowns, patronage
and the fine arts,
we queue in His corridor
to win His blue heart:
I will piss up my shed,
the oak-clad exterior,
and wish to piss
on the Royal posterior:

Believe nothing, son,
instead recall,
your grandfather died,
and your father was a fool:
Dig deep into ancestry,
for a small fee,
there you will find
no royalty.