Pablo

I wasn’t looking for Picasso
but I found him – seated –
whilst my Spanish was poor
his English was gilded

Please – Monsieur Picasso
Call me Pablo – he gestured
at the world and her wife –
Could I ask you one question?

He looked me up and down –
sized for a suit – or a kiss?
Maybe eyeing my fixed shape
for his oiled redress?

Was it – ‘Inspiration will come,
but it must find you working?’
Or – ‘Inspiration exists,
but it has to find us working?’

His eyes were hard marbles –
set polished and buffed –
I was stroked by his gaze –
those eyes were his touch

which re-set the truth
which now took me down –
Realmente importa?
A smile then a frown

He loosed a curled dove –
his brush was speaking –
‘Inspiration exists –
but it has to find you working’

The Blinded

The olfactory hit kicks in –
smelling at a filed return
of youthful tree climbing –
of guns-made-from-sticks
and of our lumpen crashing
among swallowing bracken

I am now drawing so deeply
on this propel of perfumes –
of the under-tree rotten scents –
and also taking the shaded chill –
which seems to feed the smell –
which was the first suggestion

My childhood – found in the kernels
of peeled sweet chestnuts –
was so open-ended that nothing
was going to set a conclusion –
Then on to the unexpected
cinder path – where it ends – again

This Older Driver

I want our lowering sun to burn
for a much – much – longer last hour –
or more – and brighter than now

I do not want to be driving
on those sunken country roads
into the skulk of dusk’s gloom –
and then turned back through black

I wish to see clearly tonight where
the patch of tarmac starts and ends
on the threaded bends and turns –

without the switch of dipped lights
or the blinding others’ high beams –

they set me to groping
as a blind man gropes

I’ll weave between the unseen deer

British Summer Time

Do not turn back the clocks
unless you have the time
to reset your circadian rhythm
and so to fall into line

The Leavers love the thought
that Europe will end this game –
so that Britain will reverse
to a different time again

Perhaps revisiting 1916
and war-footings everwhere –
The cowards will stay in Britain
because Europe is over there

White feathers for the three –
for Gove – Johnson and Mogg –
may they seek some forgiveness
from the dead who fought for love

And in the spring in England –
as good times rush to leave –
those rotters on the omnibus
won’t stand by lies they weaved

Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore*

As disordered pages
I read back my life –
until you – as Ludmilla –
entered mine

The creak of shined floorboards
from the weight of us
and of ten thousand books
under ten kilos of dust

You as Ludmilla
mark my book with your touch –
your stroke of the spine
is a pleasure to watch

 

*If on a winter’s night a traveler

Turns

I returned the ripped heart
of Saint Laurence O’Toole –
canonised post-mortem
for acts whilst entombed

As Archbishop Lorcan
he acted well in hair shirts –
and in shroud-wrapped death
he performed miracle parts

Another found-reliquary –
I gave it back to the nuns
Religion is theatre –
but it’s not the West End

This Parish

We stick to the leaf-kicked route –
a parting of the dry sea of leaves
cleared by dog-following boots –

We tack down its meandered drop
to the time-softened abyss –
plugged not by God – but drains –

where a watercourse once hollowed
the hillside into this shallow dean –
before the slugs of tarmac upstream –

Here the irregular plots of silver birches
ignore the fallen old lady in lime green –
this is the parish of ineffectual giants –

these natives – a copse within the woods –
are a finger-daubed fearful tribe in white –
chary – waiting – as if standing ready –

listening for the infected invaders
from other places – for intruders
who will bring other such followers

to spread the canker and pestilence –
which was not the way things changed –
not until we changed the weather

For a Pot of Paint

The tall bay window
is our empty white frame –
on the front of this home
of unshuttered shame –

but now winter-battered –
past my amateur repair –
the paint has flaked off
through changes out there –

The weather has whipped it
in layer-thrashed strokes –
like the blistered hull
of a forgot-turned boat –

with a peeled underbelly
for so long undressed –
it has been left unsealed
losing sea-worthiness

No sensible man
would sail in her –
he would never return –
she is so unfair

Hangover

There is an almost mist of ghostly off-loadings –
like pellucid Nan Tuck – or the long-lost Lord Lucan
My night now haunts me as a half-recalled dream

I breathe and count steps – taught by Seneca’s NHS –
Let only your body wander – don’t admit useless thoughts
The dog bounds due east in her leaps at life’s time

Unseen from overhead I’m no more standing – erased
under glances of passenger lists –
I am lost in the skinned canopy’s leaf-bare branches

I am then ducking below berry-weighted evergreens –
where the temperature drops by one or two degrees –
and still the weakened sun scathes my misted wine eyes

In the Eye

Women slip from winsome
under their senescent faces –
their hands steal the looks
off youth’s eyed-embraces –

They pleasure in pastimes
of tease-tricks and flirts –
they command your heart –
their hard rules will subvert

I want to reach out
and trace your lined beauty –
of furrows and laugh lines
worn freely at forty

I will kiss your eyelids
of stitch-tightened skin –
because here is your beauty –
it is still within

Naming Rights

Should I give a name
to those stolen logs
and breaks of wood
which were dragged
and then laid in place
in the muddiest parts
of our dipping routes?

They span the indents –
the heel-suck puddles
in the uneven paths –
Not bridging boughs
too stepping stones
I will leave it now to
a far greater authority
to find the best thing
to fill that word space

#bbcqt

Hear pile-up politics in a thick lathered buzz –
Question Time’s audience is a scream-streamed TX

Almost over-directed for a hyped-up reception –
Our screens are re-tuned to TV’s deception

Below the radar into our licensed homes –
finding the softest – in our sofa-slumped zones –

Some people will toss their floating votes –
they’ll re-tune held views via the set-top box

to long-lost frequencies of old-school racists –
an angry audience with their for-TV faces

The Impatient Plant

The Himalayan Balsam’s scent
clogs – a laundry swill of smells –

lingering – invasive – out-of-place –
underlining the call to action –

Since its foolish introduction
it’s no longer welcome here

Almost sticky – swollen with pollen –
it waits with near-primed seeds

until it fires ripe-wide explosions
finding further incursions

Balsam Bashing – its removal –
is now a nationwide fixation –

The bent stem-cutters – the pullers –
are impatient traditionalists

who tug – with gardening gloves –
working hard at their final solution

Repose

The granite markers have tipped forward –
angled over the settling of in-filled earth
where the boxes and bones collapsed –
the stones remain whilst other things fall –

The once beloved’s burial is long forgotten –
but not the slab’s patience over centuries
of bearing – the carved words mumble
a worn-down remembrance of years lived –

The mason’s refined font is rubbing thin –
almost erased by the wear of the world
which has re-touched the carved surface –
even death cannot claim shelter from time

Disputed Questions of Truth

Aquinas floats in his grave
and Socrates will not swallow –
their thoughts have been inverted –
their words are sounding hollow

A strategia della tensione
is courted by the State –
those clowns in the Senate
will let their votes bring hate

Salvini is banning love –
he cracks his sharpened tongue –
as his men buff their batons
to swipe the foreign sons

He’s shutting corner shops early –
the dens of drugs and plots –
he refuses ships safe harbour –
those boats which bear the lost

The different are set to suffer
as Salvini cracks his whip
on the skin of migrant settlers
who had found their hope in risk

The borders close on promises
as the ports are mopped of tears –
the Far Right drops the barriers
to block their far-right fears

Above the Ouse

Here are the random spillages
of sorrel-glazed sweet chestnuts –
an overnight downed bounty
which has settled on the layers
of leaves and paths underneath

The splayed-open spiky cupules
offer – like unclipped purses –
their copper-only change –
I finger out those fattened nuts
which were once so desired
to fill the bowls of soldiers –

As I gather – not easy work for me –
the loosened crop on my route –
they mass to make my pockets
weigh as if full of dreadful stones –
but these will not pull me under

In Line

Weird kids never came out –
not back then –
that’s why they were not in
our rushed pack
of loosely herded imaginations
running under the command of
Up to the ruins!

Us from identical houses
yet each uneasily unique –
being found guilty
of English differences –
set by the age of cars on drives –
which kept us in our place –
forever fixing our sub-classifications

The weird kids only went outside
to be the last-in-lines –
to retreat to bedroom isolation
which was still a viable option –
back then

Envious

My envy device knows me too well
just from the lightest of my touches –

She is engineered to conduct risings
inside my mind from sparked jealousy –

ramping up to shrill shocks of hate –
which will then swill around my unfit gut

and tease those last good microbes
into a lurching frenzy of brain cramps –

then I want to steal their smug smiles
which beam from their side of the world –

and she will be working so very well
at keeping me in her malicious circle –

and I will add fuel to her high pyre
by posting my oh-so-perfect life atop it all

*Inspired by@guardian and Moyra Sarner – thanks for the ‘envy device’

Last Summer

From this hill top distance
above the slope of the estate –
there – in thinning October light –
almost aligned to your rooftop –
I see that solitary oak still in leaf –
forever isolated – also cast out –
under which we took our shade
and where my laggard fingers
gripped at your then-bared skin –
slipping below your blue shorts –
flimsy attire suited for sunshine –
but now the cool dew counters
such all out abandonment –
our laid time remains in summer

Finding You

I found value in my love for you
under Aurelius and Epictetus –
so I purchased a one-way ticket
to end my lonely sojourn abroad

I wasn’t tempted in empty deserts –
no fingers took my potent virtue –
no foreign lips encouraged sin –
But I saw mirrors on their pages

and I watched myself translating –
framing – like Christ – opportune times –
I saw my mouth speak in tongues
telling you to taste my poison

Now I unpack my emptied bags
having brought back nothing more –
I left behind heavy possessions
which I no longer wish to share

Samara

Anemochory takes this seamless child
of these immigrants – landed from Europe –
and urges her to fly

We named her Samara because of her wings
and the hope that she will carry
our future further

Her family has been resident here – four centuries –
but historically are the dark foreigners
among landscape and cities

She is Anglicised among childhood memories –
kids awe at her presumption to fly –
We call her spinning Jenny

At Anfield

The scouser outside
the pub gave a stare
at our unashamed
blue and white colours

from behind
his circular eye glass –
with it’s stretched froth
and shallow backwash –

he spied our short cut
through the car park
and called out –
Six-Nil !
before he dragged

his fag into his lungs
to chase his beer
into that strain
of shirt and buttons

On our return
to the parked car
the only difference
was his demeanour –

that and the fresh pint
and a virgin cigarette –
Ey! One-nil –
Not bad –
Good on yer!

His beer was held high
above his thinned hair
as he tipped a glass
to the Albion’s lost game

The Butchers

There – baited by the thump
of traffic several times –
it looked more than dead
with its striped pelt ripped open

There between the rush
of commuters and trucks
magpies took greedy pleasure
from the brock’s speedy kill

There the spill of pink inners
across the black tarmac
was a shiny reminder
that this pile was once alive

Here on my return journey
the carcass is less – now bated –
but not by the mischief of birds –
instead by a compaction of cars

Shortcut

Dream holes and desire paths –
those spire views and bared routes –
those modern urban lay lines –
guiding light and human shifts –

letting sound and choice drift
until the unbuilt gets put down
and our tracks are lost to tarmac –
when our reveries are blocked up –

once the empty churches are sold
and the open parks are enclosed
by signs halting walking on grass –
we will lose the ways we made

Pevensey Levels

The filleted contrails
meet at an equal
destination over there –

weak carbon offsets
of traceable aspect lines
for the flightpath artist –

but not strung long enough
for the followed eye to apply
into the capture of nature

It is runway flat under them
so pray they don’t align here
and find this level for land

Zero Four Thirty

For a man who has done his natural duty,
death is as natural as sleep. GS

Here we meet again
you no longer a friend
you jolt – a waking itch
this drugged portend

This unnatural discontent
which sleep is for me
it is a sickly thing

It is as if rest itself
is my disease

It is as if my register
of a simple expectation
of a longed-for sopor
no more allows it to admit

Yet we will drift in daytime’s
impolite light
with eyelids weighted
by the night
just enough to stop me seeing things

This puzzle of so many pieces
which darkness has become
You – my new foe –
my agonist – my bedlam

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County Lines

There – incongruous in khaki
among the lurid colours of youth –
two sallow lads sat by the tunnel
at the love-etched bench

as if recovering from a hundred years
of trench warfare with their coughs
whilst the younger troops are bound
to school desks and repeated tasks

The soldiers’ drugs are sweet perfume
above the sour rot and kicked mud
of the early hints of a winter campaign
across county lines with bunched fists

New England

They will soon take command
of the scattered pill boxes –
those red brick squatters
sat above river crossings –

built for strategic purposes –
and to fool the nescient
of a Maginot Line in England –
to withstand our invasion

There will be working parties
to restore the squat outposts –
drinking tea and sipping gin
as the last of Locarno evaporates

The new guard will take to parades
under friendly church hall beams –
taught to guide the landing parties
into concentration camps in Kent –

and you will shift the weight of anger
by reposting others’ indignant shouts
from your padded cell of social media –
which is how all of this begins

יין אדום

I don’t believe in God
but I think she hears my prayers

I can only hope to touch her face
if she deigns to ever care

We don’t talk much about politics
it bores her more than sex

We drink red wine and compromise
on what is truly meant

I woke to judgement nightmares
and a terror in my heart –

with an empty wine glass by my bed –
that brittle bodyguard

Loot

So she dug up my soul –
I have a price on my head –
she pulled it from my skull
because of what I said –

Quoting Aristotle –
in accordance with virtue –
she showed me my old failings
as they formed a ragged queue

Jealousy and mistrust
once mine to sculpt with ease –
I’d struck at our confidence –
I’d cut her blood with tears

She placed her prize on scales –
held high by a blinded hand –
and claimed the inside of my head
was hers to now command

The Boxers

There’s now a looseness
of my limbs –
my flesh is tidal-tugged –
my skin’s forgotten fingers –
it doesn’t get their rub

She slugs her way through cities
knocking back – inside pubs
Testing weights and measuring –
she seems to get enough

I spit blood into my bucket –
they don’t say why it drips –
and I wonder if old Jesus
felt the nails as they ripped

Morning is my saviour
telling me that I’m not dead –
I wake her with my stiffness
but she’s not inside my bed

Old Devices

We’d race to get the telephone –
stating our number as rote taught –
our mother in her poshest voice
but rough for sister talk

Relative news transmissions –
but not intended to be heard –
I knew nothing of kindred facts
’til I stole truth from her words

We were ignorant between acts –
maybe flattening an irksome book –
we’d stare through the yellowed nets
whilst half-tuned to loosened talk

We tugged at the reluctant drawers
where our history was lost and found –
there tucked between old table mats –
sepia smiles were loosely bound

News bulletins marked the hours
or were shoved through the letterbox –
that narrow window on the world –
ink fears of the Eastern bloc

Ignorance was a short-lived bliss
in those disconnected times –
no algorithms on our wrists
to redress the truths and lies