Cracks

I’m spitting out my words
I do not like their taste –
I’ve been thinking too much lately
now I’m fat around my waist

I’ve been seeing the small hours
without sleep’s dead embrace –
I’ve directed thoughts to work
on your holes and your disgrace

I’ll wash my mouth with alcohol
to remove the lines I hate –
whilst the bitter hit of whisky
sets my mind to sleep awake

And if we survive this winter
without a thaw across the lake
then we will skate more fearlessly
since the ice will take our weight

Call Ended

When I touched the button
and killed our discourse
I ripped with emptiness
then filled with remorse

I cannot handle
these telephonic wars –
I start thinking out loud
my unspoken thoughts

I struggle with distances
logged by servers and silos –
those creeping tendrils
gathering ones and zeros

But my ear is pressed
to heed numbers you say –
of your long hours awake
and your days still away

We have lost the buttons
and slow rotary dials –
these phones are devices
which hack our denials

Gravesend

The singing whale
sang canary song
swimming upstream
in the river of kings

Almost a portent –
a white flag of truce –
dipping and guiding
her head by the moon

There will be a dinghy
to greet the creature –
to check her origins
and to refuse a visa

We know too well
that her journey will fail –
in that dead end course
taken by other whales

09:45

This is my time of day
with the door wide open –
just clock ticks and the dog
to keep me company

I am untouched by anyone
whilst the alerts and alarms
are switched off – for now –
I do not think about you

I steer my thoughts around
this selfishness of silence –
I would not explain myself
to any visitor to this moment

In this capsule of my remove
I am so strong – now capable
of stopping time and breath
by not thinking about you

Self Portrait

My naked body would look worse
only if crucified on Bacon’s canvas –

Because I conspire with my reflection
to blank out the sags and stretches
which later ageing has brush-dragged

so that my dark-haired belly bloats
with the crap and oil I cannot avoid –

I then wash it down with just one more
and the wine glass is half an egg timer
of emptiness – rouged red and framed

Lover

I leave clues in the bathroom –
empty blisters of pills –
Leonard is everywhere
singing of stiffening thrills

Affection is not infecting
the bodies in the beds
and children speak in whispers
because of what is said

All I want from your presence
is engagement and thoughts
instead we stare at screens
and read others’ fingered words

My weight is dropping daily
whilst the world fattens up –
I would pray for forgiveness
but I’d be praying far too much

Deleted Facebook

This phone feels lighter
after I deleted the app –
today I’ve restarted
with a single act

No pushes from Facebook –
that microscope
into others’ lived lies
and hashtag tropes

My thoughts were narrowed
by the blinkered view –
No yearns for ‘Likes’ –
No fear of peer reviews

Late Out

This dessicated path
is an off-white scar
under the moon’s phase
of waxing gibbous

Boots and tamed dogs
have worn this route
into a grass-bare map
which I read by that light

The holding flightpaths
of man-made meteors –
of ephemeral accords –
circle among the clouds

The transmitter mast blinks
with a beast’s red eye
shaming Arcturus and Mars
so even those stars fade

This as the bypass hums
a song of our war won –
our tilt against creation
by over engineering

Bottle

Here clear water springs
halfway up the hill –
forming a slow stream

into leaf-rotted mud
which could – at source –
be bottled and branded

It would sell in Lewes
as a holy of holy waters
off the Sussex Downs

because small miracles
still curl in these parts –
by the sagacious oak

and sacred hawthorn –
a liquid gift from God –
for five Lewes quid

Ali

This latest named storm
is as magnificently loud
as Seaford’s raw shingle
when overturned by tides –
but now it is tipped across
the highest of these trees
which emit fearful creaks
and then offer a low footfall
of snapped touchwood

These tall variations
take each sucker punch
like hardened pugilists
with their bent bones –
whilst whipped saplings
spill their dried germen
as they cower and crowd
like ingrateful men
sheltered from a fight

I sit to rest my shuffled legs
and shut my blasted eyes
to truly see what I can hear
as the stripped off leaves
fall in layers around my seat –
each arrival noted by the puff
of a soft landing on another –
In the hush of this ripped storm
I find my ancient connections

The Drawer

Then they grow up
and are like us
and our inheritances
which we hid

Those hand-me-downs tucked
below old underwear
in the sagged dresser
which needs mending

But moving it would
surely unsettle
the air into dustlight –
They sparkle at times

but not enough
to dampen our fear
of them becoming
just like us

Quietus

It is now zero-two-twenty-two
and my sleep is distracted
by far too much thinking
about minor possibilities –

and other rum miracles
in my conjouring mind –
such as taking my mother
back to the Holy Land –

to see her greet the white grave
of her eldest son – at least once –
for me to tolerate her
misunderstandings

There will be no myrrhbearers
but only her – one more witness
before the laid down stone
which is fixed – she will stand alone

But I know that she will never return –
and I have no chance of any apology
as she struggles with family acts
of untranslatable love

She may live a few more years
having never felt his breath on her –
off his loud grandchildren –
and seen the tears of his wife

And at zero-three-zero-three
I save this disturbance of sleep
among notes on my phone
and a reminder to call my mother

The Boat

His boat had seen action in the East –
the reek of cooled sweat met him –
not yet mopped by long-damp cloths –
Never dried enough to work well

so that his first breath taken underwater
faltered – his onshore training failed him
making him cough like that last fag had
as he carried his black kit bag

He crouched to find the right height
at which he was to live and work –
now his skimming on the waves
were inked notes on his service record

This is how it started – it’ll make him –
those hours of constant perspiration –
a hundred nights of coffin dreams –
and still yet to learn Jack Speak

Dew

There has been no rain overnight
but the underfoot dew is enough
to darken both my boot toecaps
and to soak the dog’s knotted hair
as she bounds into blind prospects
of hedges and low distractions
And I look up at the underbelly
of another aircraft on another path
and do not envy their chosen route –
I then shout out for the dog’s return.

Into the Trees

Under the trees we find the path –
that one we missed last time –
and climb above the flood plain
on which – five miles downstream –
fools build fifty-four homes

We are now in nature’s green skin
where branches and hand-propped boughs
form unfinished rough shelters –
these experiments and adventures
decay to an undesigned usefulness

Further on the slunked gully runs –
here kids built mud and stick dams
until a wire fence was erected
and that sucking and silting stream
was blocked from the apprentices

The track is beaten and heat-cracked
which encourages youngsters on bikes
to take the risks we also under took –
but we hadn’t the engineered machines
on which they hurtle as fearless riders

The trees reverberate with monkey calls
and the shrill complaint of a lost child –
it is as if the internet doesn’t exist
as the off stage scramble of children
escalates – not quite Lord of the Flies.

New Terms

Whist you commuters
weary your lit ways
at ergonomic desks
and begging screens

I will walk out
to that richer idyll
that you can only visit
when allowed

You are locked down
by your WiFi streams –
even the commute
is more small displays

Those sealed views
from that fixed carriage
is the best you can do
on most weekdays

until the sullenness
of September dims
and the daily journeys
are seen as reflections

And the mid-term break
in October’s pointlessness
is the dark reminder
that holidays have been taken.

Sunday in Seaford

There the sunburnt woman
sits alone – her cheeks inflated
and colouring to that near-pink
of shrimp-stained flamingos

whilst two older ladies draw
their lines in snapping charcoal
on bared sketch book pages –
each hoping to record beauty –

two on art-pressured sheets
and one – later – in the mirror –
England’s ruddy south coast
still blushes as if caught out

The tradition of seaside decay
settles alongside the ageing folk –
curling as flotsam – delineating
the ragged edge of our known world

And here we locate ourselves
in a bolted and braced beach hut
to watch the dog walkers and seekers
parade in opposite directions

After a Party

The wisest of the kids
had reset our house –
so that my scratch-forced
early morning ritual
of back-door-and-dog
was quite normal

The unexpected waft
of an outside chill
was the only thing
I found misplaced –
that and a small bowl
of rolled fag butts

which I’d suggested
be left outside
when I had patrolled
their dying party –
consciously sniffing
at the air for drugs –
only tasting
the boyfriends’ sprays

Earlier in the evening
I had bolted myself
in my dark study
as the various volumes
of the engineered event
were subject to
the same social forces
we adults endure –
but at a different pitch

The dog had scratched
at my side of the door
as I sank even lower
on displaced cushions
and kid-shifted furniture

My brief entombment
was almost equal
to Egyptian disarrays –
alas for me there was
no mass of splendour
or promise of some
sort of waking heaven