What My Words Are For

Die Grenzen meiner Sprache
bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt

Did Wittgenstein mean –

‘The limits of my language
mean the limits of my world’ –

or – in other translated words –

‘the limits of my language
stand for the limits of my world’ –

and then later he then stated –

‘the limits of my language
are the limits of my mind –
All I know is
what I have words for’

Feathering

It’s not the same pull or heave
as it was in my rowed youth –

no – this is chalk-and-flint stuff
below fast streams and run-offs

I am far removed from the flow
of the Thames through London

I now dig at the Ouse’s history
of dead poets and burning barrels

where no old boys or public schools
oversteer on her narrow channel

We aim to somehow fly
with the feather of our honest oars –

in a boat designed for work –
not built for pots or snobbery

#HustlePorn

You are a part of hustle porn
having once taken the dark oath
in a silent swearing-in

You surrender to twenty-hour days
missing every sunset in the week

You are schlepping overnight – there
imbibed upon their dripped breasts –
be they Yahoo’s or Spotify’s squeeze
in their rule of the way to work

You are pressed against the deadlines
with your suckled infant face

You dreamt of electric sheep
grazing on forever-rain rooftops
because you fell asleep reading
a novel – because you cannot sleep

Because your eyes are glued wide
open – because
You suffer hustle porn

Students Don’t

They don’t throw parties
like we did –
no sleepovers in puddles
of puke and-or-piss –
or found shagging bareback
their best mate’s lover
They don’t sink pure vodkas
for breakfast –
no acid – nothing dropped
without a full appraisal –
googling its providence
Unlike their bad parents –
who took to partying too hard
with only the letter E to look up –
They don’t throw up like we did

Holding

The act of opening has to be
quite deliberate –
from the holding of the tin
of polish –
in your poor hand

to then apply the finger-end twist
to the blind key –
just enough contact and pressure
to turn to prise the lid

But over time the art bends away
and becomes less effective –
The mechanics do not last long enough –
not as long as the polish

Ghost Holes

This bar’s serving hatch is always left agape –
tonight I see it is a varnished picture frame
holding unfair perspectives of the pirouettes
of the not-Degas barmaids in uniform black

In this pub’s cellar are floating phantasma –
I am often told – here under my pint-fixed feet –
below the boards – Orbital corner-of-the-eye
lights are known to cross the cold stones

They are – the old boys also claim –
fixed by the presence of the town’s tunnels –
those mislaid smugglers’ rat runs now
bricked up within the dead-end arches

Other spectres are regulars in the saloon –
they bother the rushed staff and punters
from their precarious stools – a feat in old age –
added up they would predate electricity –

and then they shuffle off – with chains of change –
shifting between the bogs and their tall thrones –
always back on their seat to summon spirits –
from the optics – but not with their pensions

Royalty

He is there – again – the ageless barfly
sat like a sore king at the wet-ringed table
where he fondles his tide-marked pint of beer
in the rooted grip of his right hand and

with each sup he plans to swallow time –
kept to Greenwich by his amber hour-glass –
well drunk – but he is still able to command
the Queen’s English – words not troops that is!

He is the cliché – the grounded boozer who wills
his wide-smiled laughter and loud intrusions
upon more innocent patrons – virgins in his game –
those who do not know how he plays the room

.. Don’t take the adjacent seat – don’t be fooled
by his schemes – of words and winks ..
For them he prepares to over-deliver
.. it is so well-known that he never listens
by dint of his loudness and eyebrow animations ..

And a woman – and a man – scrape chairs out
to sit across from him at his stained table –
and he now turns – with his sips of time to take –
and soon she is giggling at his crude stories
whilst her silent man stares at his glass

After half an hour they stand to leave the scene –
the man with a shoved handshake for the barfly –
to quietly let the pub’s royal drunkard know
that he is not wanting to fight – not tonight –

and the well-pissed king is left
to drink
on his own

 

#ExtinctionRebellion

You stood together
deep and wide enough
to stop cars from crossing
London’s tarred bridges –
leaving the delayed
Fucking! at your solemn belief
whilst blocking the concrete
arteries which cross and re-cross
that leaden slug – the Thames –
But the oil-soaked rags –
those still-connected papers –
only reported the traffic chaos

#extinctionrebellion
#RebellionDay

First Class

As my path-running dog bolts – yet again –
at the vertical thinning of grey squirrels –
I hear – and then see – those almostvermin kids
gather across the far side of the school fields –

where they struggle with bunched keys
to unlock the rattled and knocked store –
where the bright balls and corner flags
are piled behind the fist-drummed tin walls –

There the brazen – almost-male – chorus
of laughs and throat- bubbled testosterone –
of catching-ups – is loud before the blast
of Sir’s voice from afar – which pulls them

to five-a-side battles in their dark uniforms –
until the rattled shed is locked hard again –
I return from those few seconds of my school days
to see the dog waiting – I call to her on my way

Egon

Schiele’s quickened passing
at twenty-eight years of age –
just days after his wife’s death
and his pillow-propped sketch
of her looking back into him –

was more shocking to you
than his egregious
unfurling of women –
than his use of cadaver colours –
than his fists of cherry red knuckles
and brush-heightened nipples
in rude ochre brightness

His death scene was art –
like his eroticised life
where his place in it
was at the centre of sex
which he kept in twists of love –

of girls in their pulled-up stockings –
lifted tight – but not as high as
their dog-dark fleeces
on their ridged pubis regions –
which they pointed at – and into –
with their gnarled finger touches –

There above the not-quite contrite
cock-spaced curves – which he sculpted
in paint over yet another stretched canvas –
there in the air between their swayed thighs –

there lay those air-kissing sex-salted lips –
all his undressings pre-dating porn’s
artless forms –
there to feed others’ sexual pleasures –
those of the greedy male collectors

Cold

Believe in your child’s ghost –
but then let her spectre run
from the road-kill shock –
from the flare of the
body-struck headlights –

those halogen matches
will ignite her terrified flight
into the woods –
But don’t eye that place
where she first learns to haunt

in the permanent night
of tightly weaved birches –
where Nan Tuck flies afeard
of her burning death throws –

where the recently
spilt spirit runs
from the quick-kill road –
Who let the trees take the young
from our arms?

The wounding country lanes
kill our flightless birds
with too much winding speed –
She will be cold tonight

Social-ism

“It’s .. trying to construct a society around production
for need .. not .. for profit .. meeting people’s needs”
I half-quote Tony Benn

Once I was in his audience whilst back home
my father rebuffed Wedgie-bloody-Benn with
his gruff-spoken shun about the Leftie-in-a-suit
Benn spoke without limits at the Co-operative Hall

way back in the slush-grey twentieth century
of do-not-touch candles and knitted gloves
in an endless civil war of fists and banners
across slag battlefields far removed from us

Face-to-face politic was the free-to-use fuel
against factory shut-downs and mounting job losses
“(Thatcher) did make war on a lot of people in Britain,
and I don’t think it helped our society”

Now we trade insults over sofa-space distances –
such hate we would not dare to excrete out there in public –
no loud enough complaints about neighbours’
ached-stomachs with day-end hunger –

not of zero-hour contracts worth near to nothing –
or the basic provisions of dignity and stability
Instead – we lament the kiss of a celebrity –
caught on camera – going viral like herpes

This land is cut open under smartphone blades –
those knives blunt voices which once were our aides

 

The Street Artist

Across the radiator-hot pavement
is his greatest work – ever
under the gawp of holiday kids
and the blind-sided motorists

They will not know how much
the snapping sticks of chalk
weighed in his eye-in-hand –
even on such days of sunlight

The pain in the painting is his
to hold – briefly – in his quick grip –
to get the artwork down and out
before it is worn away by use

Blunt

These day-in day-out mis-typings
of small tap-tap-tap screen pokes –
which I commit as my bad habit –
weightless stabs in this landscape
to stall that mental keel

warned of by my desk-set consultant –
My thoughts are in a dark waiting room
without a fixed appointment for entry –
sat for a last hurrah
before the freeze

I greeted her breezy – How are you?
with an unfair response –
I use this screen – my handheld shield –
for honest words – about everything –
I’ll always dig for verse
in this spade-blunting field

Seventy-Six Percent

To take this decision to take my life
Off discharged thoughts but it is my choice

I wake disturbed – a scratched record
Will this be the day when I’m feed for the birds?

We frightened males – poor in acuity –
will swing from your beams far too easily

This tear-stained rope now held in my hands
I am throwing it up into no man’s land

The Perpetual Curate

Here lies the poor
perpetual curate –
he lived a low life
on the stipend they paid —

The beneficiary of
a lost monastery lease –
he was appointed to
this chapel-of-ease —

He could not marry
on the wages of God –
with such low standing
he chose to shun love —

Queen Anne’s Bounty
was no saving grace —
He died malnourished –
inhumed in this place


www.mikebellpoems.com
@wordsbell

The Remained

Even in the unfair fall
of rain on the night – of
discharged un-loadings –
after the torches lit
the memorial bonfire –
the three wives of war
will be still – to remain
without any complaint
about huge losses to
King or Country –
or other such standings
of the state’s manhood –
that stupidity of men
Keep back from
the lightings and fusings
of the electrical lines –
It is as if God was unable
to save the widow wives

Units of Measure

It is this moment – a problem of
mine – in my stumbled-to-stand –
when I rise to a lowered sobriety –
to another false swing of swagger
into the blind tight turn to corners
of sharp right-rights and then-thens –

I am stuck still – counter-stopped
at the gloss-bald white worktop –
to find-and-twist – to dead-head –
another French label – volute
from contorts in cellars – such snobs –
at eighteen quid-ish of so much –

So very much more – bottled up –
Another grip on her narrow neck –
she opens up to a wine bled red –
a gutting-burn of drunk guilt
as I surrender to my mild hangover
which is my waking anal fist

Kurt

So it goes – from the
slaughterhouse cellar
under Dresden –
At that safe depth –
with Werner Gluck –
his half-relative

An unholy war
as narrative – but
it has no time line –
it makes no sense –
until historians
claim a victory
from those events

Grandpa stood
with the PPU –
he fought in fields –
not foreign felder
he eyed the loam
from his pacifist shelter

On the other side
an enlisted man –
my dead grandfather –
shelled on thin sand

Prompt Notes

Lugenpresse – the cry
of the untruth brigade –
in the theatres of hate –
of cheap bit players –
they bay in loud heckles
and kick at the presses –
they stick it to foreigners
and Islam – like zealots –
they spray the synagogues
with graffiti and guns –
they are The Minority
but represent everyone –
they find no favours
from CNN –
they shout loudly on Fox
about everything –
The lying press – their cry –
as they confuse the news –
spewing up rhetoric
as they twist their false truth

Strung

Am I rebuffed by your cooling love?
I tremor under naked phone lines –
oscillating – now wind-touched –
Silent are our words in the wires
which we strung to allow such whip –
Without voices they are set to squinch
and tighten before a snapped mishap
of misunderstood tensions – of speech –
No text – no reveal – such cold harm
here – left open – rough translations
like the coded language of telegrams –
Are muted signals your intention?
And I’ll sit by my phone – as if
your voice is the waited-for-gift

Lewes Martyr

She lays fond recall
of burning the Pope
onto today’s
bonfires of Lewes –

but only with
late-night distance
from the day-trippers
and the easily upset –

that small army
of misunderstandings
who do not march here
or through Sussex –

at these most robust
of memorials for the dead

Leaving

Through me among the people lost for aye –
Dante

We were set upon by the leopard
the lion and the stinking she-wolf –
also known in these parts as Pleasure
Ambition and that foul Avarice –
whilst stiff Reason stood off-stage
with no straight lines or measures –
as our small state folded in on itself –
as our families split because of it –
and now wade through a cesspit
left by the cage-padding haters

Inside My Lover

I am entertained inside her lento lungs –
travelling alone and partly dusk-blind –
within her low suck of cooling breath –

I inhale her exhale of purest oxygen
and with it comes an unwinding –
an expansion of my otiose senses –

an awareness of this as existing –
of living things set around – but
obscured by the falling of the hour –

Now the manic chp-chp-chp-chp-chp
of panicked blackbirds to one side –
joined by the rude crows overhead –

that tuneless duet of birdsong is overlaid
on itself by others’ alarms and queries
which set off – concentric – around me –

As I tread – as I compact the leafy mucus –
which she absorbs into her membrane –
the fallen are re-sown by the plough
of my steps on this weaved footpath –

Her cold stew of re-use – of rotting down –
is nature’s re-design – it is not random –
be it the branched capillary urge
of saplings – or the fork of tipped boughs –

or the patterning of her cast off leaves –
already thick enough to hide the paths –
Now on cinders I miss the give of the mulch –
the weighted compress and its last sound

The Corpse Gate

I called it a tithe gate
but it is a lychgate
I confused it with barns –
my first mistake –

Here are the lost bones
of dead English words –
and here a brutal joinery
hewn by blunt saws –

Here the just-deceased
were propped overnight –
Here guarded ‘gainst theft
by snatchers on the sly –

Laid still – after carriage
on the rough corpse road –
under this shelter
for one night’s repose –

Wood knots – whales watching –
here the whorled grain –
This was not God’s work –
but of man’s own domain

The Dealers

Vituperous – you lie –
you low politicians –
with your back-slap careers
and solid state pensions

You’re immune to the illness
as this state becomes
The Sick Man Ex-Europe –
the ailing one

Hide in your shepherd huts –
short the future –
your acts have created
these Alt-Right tumours

You’ll parade through The Lords –
wearing garters and ermine –
having laid out your poison
for us – the sick vermin