Lined

The parallel profiles
of the fifty to sixty linden trees
are bitten-thin by the wind
at this time of year

but their ever-tall alignment
of bared trunks
is still my local fixture

There – spaced by landed
strides off an owner’s count –
along this now hemmed-in route –

once a sublime wide avenue
to a grand house –
ridden up forty-ish years earlier
by a princess –
Sporting Life by her side

Now it is the route to a
sprawled estate
of modern servants
who push their buggies
and pull their dogs
along the uneven surface –

a shaded path
for the good half of the year –
for the other bared months
it is fifty to sixty sundial
shadows – if there is sun –

I haven’t counted the trees –
each a timer set by a lime
in the low winter light

Fresh Denials

Today one-in-twenty
British people
hold a shared belief
for that should they be

summarily rounded up –
after a few years
of harassment
and segregation

and then be consigned
into cattle trucks
and carried across
their homeland counties

to a place of final shoves –
of dogs and guns
and hard fists and shouts
and a sick unease

where interwoven fingers
will be broken
as families and lovers
are unloaded

and that is before
they find the hard slats
to sit upon
where others sat in disbelief?

Returning to Work

The dog was away with his eldest
so there was no scurry-to alarm
with her return after midnight

She ghosted down the hallway
to find him sober at his cold desk
pinned by weights of late designs

He met her bloodshot eyes to find
how well they answered his enquiry
about the evening out in Brighton

And then he let his other senses work
out her night’s eyed-up dialogues
and her lent-into clandestine touches

Did she taste of others’ tongues?
Had her lips had been scored by stubble?
Did her neck bear a robust cologne?

She awayed to bed and drunken sleep
as he shifted the aspect and constructs
of the lines of his worked-at scheme

Ratfucker

It’s better to be infamous
than never famous at all –
said the scuttling Ratfucker

Even with muscle memories
of weighty court bracelets
fresh in The Rodent’s mind

he still stood before a God –
one he did not get elected –
unlike the ferret on his back —

he won’t pay for its removal –
of Nixon – Stone now itches less
than the lustrous towering fool

whom he – Rat Man – won’t rat upon –
the sunburned – set-up – tycoon –
the fall guy wanting Moscow rooms

I Cannot Laugh Alone

I cannot laugh – not here
under deeds-squared –
not set right by brick walls
or shared boundary lines –

I cannot find a common rip –
no throaty response
to such drivel – no haw-haw
to ear-struck offences

I am talking to myself
in these late-night poems –
which are witchcraft-wishes
for under-dark flourishes

Laughter is a primal grunt –
we are bared-teeth apes –
but do not admit so much –
that would be straight

We can’t afford the weight
of any such conflagrated
head-butts over trolley aisles
or school pick-up lines

I do not LOL alone –
in this cast of red blocks –
because the clocks tell me
of the so-serious ways

The Orbital Road

The bastard Surrey countryside
was our dawn-to-dusk playground
of rust-stained ditches – of new paths
set down through welly-trod crops

out to where the horizon was lost
to woodlands – and to buildings
that had not been let to trespass –
not since the fitting of the green belt

to this part of the arse of England
but all that was dug up by navvies
sat in high cabs – forcing wide roads
across our churned playing fields

with their lurched one ton buckets –
set to feed on the tide-laid gravels
under the stripped-back veil of top soil –
We took to the clay and sand – until

in the channelled land – lunar places –
we found it to be a foolish choice
when they had to bring a donkey in
to pull a fool from the suck-quick sand


The Decision Makers

I’m lost – Danny Boy –
in this town of my birth –
I’m being pulled apart
by others’ decisions –
by the inflexible rulings
of fixed-people-in-jobs –
I could clip their pinned ears –
but it is not allowed –

due to time – human rights
loom at my now left half-life
in these – so – disunited
flagging kingdoms –
of offset Scotland –
of partitioned Ireland –
of phlegmatic Wales –
of moribund England

Now – they say –
connect by the internet
which eludes my grip –
not my old way of working
because that has been
swiped by the change –
under time’s circled stress
on my devolving thoughts

Early Morning at Abbey Mills, c.1928

In memory of Elwin Hawthorne

It must be an early summer
recollection
with the sun so high
on tin roof contours –
before the gauze and filter
of veiled vapours –
settled by less-puddled
watercolours –

The torn foreshore
is a bared cross-section
of London’s tidal visits –
sunken Roman traits –
that wallow of empires’
drowning of ways –
which were then re-built
for the Industrial Age

Our Arraignments

Sometimes she lies unknown
without a weathered headstone –
his fingerprints have been struck off
in rages ‘gainst Mytholmroyd’s son

Ted was – just once – Daniel Hearing
not yet un-spelt by strangers’ chisels –
no – they remove his Hughes adjunct
as if they are pummelling his smug face

And did he sever her crown of braids
in some overt – rash – cut and grab?
Was her estate of words – not enough?
Complaint never kept the Laureate at bay

At an unkept distance – from the graveyard –
there the old stench – a sharp stink of fox
still lingers above the farms and streets –
The rest is posthumousas was once said


 

My Arraignments

Should I scratch my own existence
off my wronged lovers’ lost graves –
from my past – as if erasing myself –
perhaps that’s the right thing to do

My first marriage slunked like a low sea fret
over Kemptown’s slippage of wet roads –
it rolled onshore above the piled shingle –
her washed stones should fill my pockets

That struck image of my children waiting –
their mother told me at the time –
I could not fix the view from the window
as they waited for Daddy to come home

At an unkept distance – from the graveyard –
there the old stench – a sharp stink of fox –
still lingers above the farms and streets –
The rest is posthumous – as was once said


 

In Be’er Ya’akov

We must use stage whispers
of the plight of Palestinians –
lest we upset the
status quo of seventy-one years

Our distant sympathies
cannot be put on-line in one-liners –
lest we are shot down
as anti-zionist and foul racists

I hold my great nephew and niece
under the Be’er Ya’akov’s olive trees –
they will all grow –
no matter who planted such fruits

I know that my Israeli connections
ruffle my travelling conscience –
We must bow to some ignorance
lest we upset the apple cart

The Best a Man

Let boys be damn boys
Let men be damn men
@PiersMorgan

Let our quick fists and sly cocks
damn us all –
Let young men sport superior
sneers and hate –
Let our sons expect the birth-right
to high esteem –
Let our male egos distend under
our close-shave chins –
Let our wives – our mothers –
our daughters –
Let them down by
letting ill-bestowed egos rule –
Let me not be damned

Insect Hunting

There was that microcosm
fixing my dawdled childhood
in which I centred myself
in a kneeled-to wondering

as unidentified insects
routed in and out – between
bent blades of variegated grass –
and in that airtight stillness

nervy sparrows let me forage
alongside their skits and hops –
until we were all fed enough
by the microscopic wonders

and then I unhinged
my tight focus – pulled back –
unhooking from nature
as Concorde halved the sky –

that white flechette – fustian –
slapping pigeons from the trees –
it was another sudden brutality
in my sub-sonic childhood

Squeezed

I am being squeezed from the middle
like a sink-side tube of stale emollient
or that holiday-returned toothpaste –

and you wonder – out loud but wordless –
why I smile less – as if I am a dullard –
a Charlie Brown kept in his place by you –
an always right Lucy van Pelt

It is as if I am being ineptly operated –
I am being used in the wrong way –
That will make my face difficult to read –

dried out – until you grudgingly comply
with the simple set of instructions
and see that you were not doing it right –
then you note my pithy grin – torn off a strip

No Confidence

The Mother of Parliaments
emits a low groan –
her confidence shot –
as our distrust grows

We smell the foul essence
worn by the rich –
it’s the stench of the moneyed
on the front bench

The PM frowns
as her voice thins and strains –
repeating her mantras –
again and again

The deceits are disclosed
in emotional stories
of neglect and fear
under the Tories

those perfidious parliamentarians
who grip tight to their seats –
those reeky Machiavellians
who trade in deceit


This poem was first published on www.dangerousglobe.com 16-01-19

Rubber Soles

Paced – my set flat route
of pliable rubber yards –
of flashed-by-dashes
on my soon-endless run
on that springing path
of a conveyor belt –
then up an incline fixed
by my lightest touch –
but slowed by my death
in that sweated place –

My running times show –
but have yet to pass
an hour’s whole barrier –
so dragged down again
by my lack of breaths –
because all shared air
has been removed
by the greed of others’
sucks and thud-thud-thuds
alongside my rolled way –

their strides soon pair
my thumped heartbeats –
but any visible rage
from my pounding chest
is bagged in my t-shirt –
No pull of Lycra
across my male breasts –
Honest labour is lost
because this is not
cross-country running


E190219

New Years

I stand – alone – at an open gate –
I have missed midnight’s kisses –
then – me-the-fool – fleetingly lost
the worked-at vows which we set
on our half-recalled wedding day –
a ceremony thirteen years earlier

where we sliced up a countdown
to the last hour’s holding of hands –
with our slid rings on held fingers –
our bind to the old laws of the state –
silver and gold bands of such weight –
I stand alone as this New Year sings

Professor Seagull

Joe Gould’s swag bags of pearls
were only bags of bags of bags –
they were his carried-out emptiness
of the never-written writer’s words –

but he could speak seagull fluently –
having learnt the dockside language
of New York’s scavenging finest –
taking their shrill wind-scatterings –
setting them to his Cherokee stomps

His claim to have written such a vastness –
ten times longer than the Bible
and then to carry around such a thing –
was this vagrant’s bagged possession

Parousia

This second life was ordained
by a drawn-out judgement –
an almost-expected epithet

for the quickened reductions
under my ever-thickening skin –
on dragged heels and hands –

Add Old Age’s uneven stockpile
of his enfeebling irritations
and so my time was reset –

And in this slowing restate
I cannot make any mistakes –
I cannot afford to fall heavily –

do not expect me to pick myself up
as quickly as the still-blessed do –
as I did before this epiphaneia

#OpenMic

In a rather cruddy function space
above a time-stale pub in Brighton –
sat uneven – at beer-stained tables –
we sipping poets of no published note

fingered our place settings of paper
in folders – our kicked headstones –
Here Lies M.A. Bell – and other writers –
who died slow deaths of dull rejection –

There is no air or space these days
for me – from the other side of poetry
quoting verbatim Atilla the Stockbroker –
he put me in my place a long time ago –

There sat – that fusty room’s rum alien –
in my coat – offering quatrains of fear
about warm croissants – and disease –
and Del La Warr – and surrealism –

not getting close to the slam-generation
with their pert feats of rhymed memory –
my voice not near their flat intonation –
do not attempt their shopping list poetry


Paid

Bend to the paid work in hand
and watch your hours fall away
as if they are pearls spilt off string –
those drops off your tilted head
under the fast-running shower –
in the hour before you commute –
until those sped beads are nothing –
And do not ever – ever – attempt
to be a true artist unless squared –
unless you are recompensed
for the selfish hours given to art’s
endeavour – it was Van Gogh’s failing –
not putting money first

Mind The Gap

They’ve got a Dead Cupboard
in this Underground station –
hid from swilled passengers –
a Central route to Heaven

Behind those locked doors –
they hide the fresh body –
where the platform-removed
is stored temporarily

There the dropped dead
waits for the official –
to pronounce upon
this stiffened individual

The zipped-up fallen
is bagged – airtight –
he will not be required
to tap his ticket tonight

√úbermensch

I will wake and fail to find my eased flux –
not without pushing up into discomfort
over breaths of ground-voice-as-grunts –
these announcements vex my tired wife
who needs sleep in my odd-roused hours

I sit upright – off the bed – to test myself
in the sweated night – I almost always assay
in the woken hours – contrasting the past –
adding to a never-published paper
about this ill-judged illness – it will devour

My recent history of being her own overman
able to embrace all with gusto and gratitude –
has been powered down – pathetically cut –
too much for either of us to truly construe
We wake to a slow down – no more superman

Little Georgian Antiques

Arrows still fly at Battle – spiritual ones ..
against Anglo-Saxon self-satisfaction* –
as if The Bengal Colonel had then leapt
from the stretched canvas into Ninfield –
and prowled around the village green

set to devour their war-won remains –
that pyrrhic victory over downed fascists
who were set by the Sussex gravediggers
Look inside its mouth to find meaning
said Grace – to anyone who would listen

to her – and Richard – and Reuben – they drew
from the post-war rationals against hate
and conjoured up creatures and shapes –
As if Terry Gilliam had sucked the oily teat
of these artists’ bared brushes of surreal
extractions –

as if colour and lines were not rationed
and all of Picasso’s art was lost to Bexhill
And I see Scarfe and Steadman in the ink
of cross-hatch – etched so hard it scratches
the paper into furrows of staining –
the future will be saved from the past by art

(*Reuben Mednikoff)

De La Warr

I am here – thick-and-mixed
among middle class minions
who eye up the croissants
in the De La Warr Pavilion –
they discuss in great depth
the state of the nation
as they queue so politely
for the barista’s attention –
The winter light bounces
off the buffed bar surface
and my large mug of latte
warms me to their circus –
I leave via the shop –
where I eye the gift dirge –
my shifting behaviour
is verging on absurd –
Return me to boozers
with their beery truths –
avoid gentrification –
and all it consumes

Conquest Hospital

Robert Richard Rollins –
I was born nineteen thirty-four
struggled with the name –
El-dwabe

He worried out loud
that he’d forget
the surgeon’s
Egyptian-sounding name

As he was wheeled –
backwards for ease
he again apologised
so profusely to the nurse

for his failure to recall
I forget names –
the consultant …
El-dwabe

He Really Did

He really did not know
for how much longer
he could hold on to her
and still be dishonest

He had walked far more
than he had drunk –
but still staggered
along the loose path

off which his love for her
dipped like a slunk ghost –
then she was there –
caught by a car’s high beam –

then she was inverted
like a shadow between trees –
as if his recall of her
had been politely dimmed

as if they were long-divorced
from each other –
that common vote for failure –
which is the wedded norm

The Commuters

Our Ikea-padded cells
should guard us from self-harm –
but instead they fuck with us
in cubes of coupled calm

Each of us fitfully sleeps
in our over-familiar beds –
we pick at our clipped wings
feathering empty nests

We rise to expected alarms –
our daily rude refrain –
to stumble without consciouness –
to queue for time-warped trains

In cattle trucks we stand and sway –
our iprods poke our eyes –
blinding us from seeing
the pastures passed outside

London Bridge – we rise to screams
as the wheels rub on the track –
we shuffle from the shouldered stalls –
spewed out – we can’t turn back

These Lessons

‘Love is a skill¬†rather than an enthusiasm’ – Alain de Botton

She is giving me lessons
in love without hate –
but my teacher is failing me
for my schoolboy mistakes

The morning was fractured –
my compass wouldn’t twist –
I failed to find answers
and she would not assist

My notebook is ink-stained –
I scribe off my left –
I crib her taught words
but I always forget

The air is mite-lighted
as I pull from her mind –
this classroom is silent
as my learning unwinds

Four by Four

I sought the purport
of a four-letter word
after coming across it
in a loan long-expired

I looked to definition
in its Wikipedia entries
of disambiguations
in need of citations

But do not believe
everything with labels
not even a short story
of four vocables

Love is an impact crater
on the far side of the moon
Love was a film
starring Salman Khan