Pompey Love

Always third in line –
never really intended
such was my birth –
I am long disinherited

Time is our slipway –
greased for each build
It is a steep incline
for those low on love’s skills

Champagne in ribbons
burst on the bow
and then a spunked wave
to please the crowd

‘How long will it float?’
is not to be whispered –
‘Don’t curse the crew
an’ all who sail on er’

Their shouldered terrace –
my parents’ first home
still waiting to slip
into the port’s lapped foam

Across that hinterland
a tide of just-weds –
the wives of submariners –
a choice none understood

One night of holding
before his boat steamed –
it was sweated and lugged
til he heard her scream

The rude gulls returned
when ships broke the Atlantic –
they pull from tipped bins
a seamen’s tossed prophylactic.

Holding

There are ripe callouses
on one of my palms –
a furrow of skin
in my walking stick hand

My limbs are nettled –
a tease of scratches
which paint my shins
with blood-dried patches

The constant cut pain
scythes my stilly squalls –
‘Just a walk to Waitrose’
is a distance too cruel

I lie fixed by the duvet
that weighty cover
Here reduced by time –
my sadistic lover.

Catching Butterflies

To catch a butterfly
takes a lightness of hand
which I try to employ
whenever I can

The reminder chimes
for the civic hall meeting
where the Parkinson’s carers
do all the speaking

Their therapy stirred
into cups of weak tea
and we smile politely
at the speaker’s ill ease

I’ll be the youngest
at this month’s farce –
still able to hold
a life trapped by glass

Eclipse

I danced my weight home
to a no-eclipsed Moon
whilst reports of Her crimp
were reduced – removed

Her amber qualities
here timely-abused
by a shifted Earth’s
slow sun-spun cruise

As we sweat into sleep
and tug on warmed fear
please pray for a God
who will rain on us tears

If no good will fall
on our field-wide droughts
then pray to the Devil
for floods to drown doubts

Expect little beauty
in this high hemisphere –
whilst long winds spin
the clouds quite queer

And if all such plans
only map out to dust
then take to the lake beds
and imagine them lush

Drink the low waters
which form as warm pools –
but do not imbibe
the next epoch of fools.

Emptied

There was a tin of Swarfega
under the kitchen sink –
its opening the notification
of Dad’s tinkering

His wrenched weekend battles
with ageing Austins and Fords –
as an amateur mechanic –
were his ongoing wars

He was sometimes frustrated
by metrication’s foray –
and I was equally stumped
by his imperialist’s ways

He became a man of peace
as he stripped his oiled guns
with no sprung swear words –
loud expletives unsung

He would put his bearded cheek
onto the cold wood and weigh
the heft of barrel loadings
and teach his lungs to wait

The engineering of Brownings
he’d refit with no complaint –
in his hands and soft breaths –
he exhaled and taught aim

At the farm – with my boys –
I put up targets with care –
There I taught them how to shoot
and shared my Dad’s zephyr

This Brexit Summer

Every upstairs window
was wide open
as if an exorcism
had violently willed
the throwing
of panes and drapes –

that unlocking
from the day’s hard heat
of still bedrooms
and even dark landings –
which up until now
were cool shelters

Such inflammation
is now an English condition
which is mishandled
in every negotiation
between couples
and sweated politicians

We will sit in shade
this July and not suffer
the rude temperatures
which expose flesh
and remove the duvets
but not for sex.

The Cull

It bolted into my beam
and was too fast for me
to stop the car in time –

a grey and white rush
of life under my wheels
and I could not avoid

the eye-shined badger
in the space between
ruts and embankments

A thudded weight cursed me
through the steered curves
with the guilt of road-kill –

of something too noble
which was always under
others’ orders to be culled.

3am

These are such long hours
in this slumbered house –
that only I ever know –

so being only mine to own
when the wall clocks talk
to no one else but me –

there is no competition
for chairs or channels
as the left alone wifi flows –

I unlock the back door
and let the dawn air flood
the breath-staled room

shorting the summer’s heat
that had been held over
from another day now gone –

which was all that remained
of a small part of my history –
a short story I’ll never repeat.

Eighteen. Yesterday

You will hear bird song in Brighton
as you walk the mile home on Eastern Road
with a belly of beer as your low ballast

There will be winking cabs but your gut
will steer you and your mate a slower route
because the clean up bill would be too much

And your ears will be thick with shouts and
laugh-rubbished conversations in places
which were loud and sticky underfoot

The bingo hall will be dark because the old
are too clever to stay up this late –
all except your mother who will wait

Dry

The curled grey hairs on my chest
are wrapped in a heavy gown
and hidden along with my old sags

Now I can negotiate the stairs
without forcing the shame of my flesh
upon any other eyes on that journey

The verges are the most obvious victims
of this summer’s unending dry torture –
as the skin on my legs flake with the heat

but then blister into zits under the rubbed oil
that I self-prescribe to calm my cruel itch
from which there is no natural relief

I lay on the bed – I wait for my tea to cool
as my stretched out bared legs prickle
and call for rape under my scraping nails

Inner

The intimacy of it
has been shelved –
I use the phrase
side-lined as well

The heat reduced
is also true –
I woke to the shunt
of a drunkard’s spew

A four AM throw up
of booze-necked shit –
the uniformed kids
will side step it

These hours are mine
before any one else –
No opened eyes
in my unslept house

Early Rising

I let the cool air in over the parquet floor –
my temporary mistress for these few hours
before the sun fucks her rude heat
back into our brick and glass box

I said we’d need blinds to counter this
warming of the morning face of the house
But my pronouncements were stale –
like unpalatable coffee breath kisses

In the room without windows we had sheltered
from the fallout of this sky-dropped summer –
there for an evening of radiation off the TV
which in itself fed the ice-threatening heat

At this hour the bedooms are containers
of the sheet-shoved and half turned over –
where the poorly slept bodies simmer
and adjust to itched consciousness

It is only five o’clock but the sun has risen
at this point on the turned earth’s surface –
Soon there will be words about the weather
and requests to fix the sprinklers will be made

BN1

BN sweats under this carbonised heat
as hard-hatted men kick up coughed dust
among those lost floors of Hanningtons –
that now-gutted department store

I sit in Brighton Square where I hear
every nation parade as the coffee
cakes the inside of my mouth –
a bitter rake across my taste buds

Still the Italian girls chatter
in loud tongues – untroubled
Their volume drops when the jack hammer
is suffocated by the lunch hour

My eldest arrives from her office
for our lunchtime that is becoming
a regular retreat for me from Sussex
and her own escape from her desk.

Science Block

Surface tension
gives water droplets
that almost
spherical shape
A sphere – I was told –
has the least
possible surface area
to volume ratio

My science lessons
were not elliptic –
the strains on the class
were uneven –
instead we received
rough instruction
from miserable teachers
on secondary pay

Biology lessons had a tang
of flesh
and chemistry
was a measured stench

Fixings

A bare bulb hangs by two wires
over the bathroom mirror
as a reminder of his absence
with that unfinished fitting

I walked between the rooms he built
and am now that rare ghost
having flown back to my home
of other incomplete projects

The future is never reached
as we flounder with tools to build
our small palaces and shrines
in which we wander on our way to die