U-bend

My souring undersongs
seem to scald me
by bloody detestation
at more coughed-up ugly gobs

Swallowed pride rides low
on my short gnawed-at list
of to-dos and do-nots
as advised by my reviewers

Another plug was pulled –
it was tugged far too hard
Do not mix running water
and rewired metaphors

Is it still right to imagine
one’s other-half sucked
from this too-loud life –
stuck in a pipe to drown?

Then a body would slop
into the plumber’s pail
And he would turn to say –
There’s yer problem, mate

I would then tip it out
among such beloved flowers
and let our neighbour’s cat
choose whether to devour –

or play – with that wet corpse
But such afternoon fancies
are too sweet for my teeth –
my only solution is self-denial

How to Sell

She lifted one of his pillows
to fill her long-emptied space
Another shift to save her blushes
before an observant estate agent
stood before their split double bed

His leaning tower of to-iron
had been put away and hidden –
nothing stands for long enough
He will return his pillow to his side
and his sleep will be disturbed

Our Nation’s Favourite

Under vintage leafless beeches
you gauged your variations of steps –
it was too easy to tread unevenly
on a path of cross-hatchings

and line workings against sunlight –
there you dipped into a greyed intensity
of illustrative shadowing – losing our dog –
briefly – in a denser pencilled place

Then sweet eyewashes of flowerings
lifted your head – a sugared inhalation –
a thickened spoor of air-blue scents
poured from that ancient under-storey

You stood above ten thousand bright dabs
bent to old arts across a green daub
of workings among greys and silvers –
your count of a whole year gone

was marked by a favoured calendar shot –
another easy colour-by-numbers to fill
once you made your way back to our car
to tell of your walked losses and findings

Estate Agents

Your virgin fence panels went up
on both sides of our scored land
as flimsy ramparts to mark

your own extents and hard edges
before our house – our home – was split
by an auction – of sorts – of blind bids

You tipped complaining barrows of earth
into a hired skip and into low indents
as you oversaw each shored footing

for fifteen freshly hewn fence posts –
and at least a thousand splinter risks
You put everything into place

after your tie-knotted estate agent
had advised you on such necessary repairs
to achieve the best price possible

now that you no longer wish to live
in this haunted house with me
and with my unmet Ghost of the Future

Hawkers

Our frail back door sat double-locked
as I did not want another invasion
of pitched voices from passing-by
knocking salesmen

Her cheeping sister and clucking mother
hammered loudly – an unhoped arrival –
with hops inwards and trite explanations –
Them: Some small gifts for the birthday girl!

Me: Sorry – She’s at school
They were here for mere seconds –
slipping gift knots and propping cards
My offer of lattes was not taken up

Because they were –
In such – such – a rush
Our sat dog and I were stumped
by their removal to a local hostelry

when we do
a damn fine cup of coffee
and have our kind selves
as such – such – great company

Mr Cohen’s Words on the Matter

I’m reading Lorca’s poetry
whilst Leonard sings to me
on the hottest Easter Monday
since nineteen-sixty three

My poorer verse dissipates
dispelled by blows of blame –
She vaulted ‘cross my body
on her way to another game

He’s old enough to be her father –
she was fool enough to be his wife
Their papers have been posted
He typed out her loving lies

He will see her in that lawyer’s room
who’ll be paid to watch them fuck –
his hourly fee is twice as much
as she was paid to suck

Blonde-fucking-words

A too-bloody-loud blonde
stood gin-fucked at the bar –

stretching and over-pitching
her filthy lung-and-gut cackle

It was high-and-wide enough
to threaten every nervy glass

as she – blindly drunk – upset
those low murmurs of diners

who slyly turned to witness
her public orgasmic judders

She split atoms and chatter
and spilt wine across matting

as punters’ mouths dropped
with her heavy-footed acts

and re-enactments of others’
disgraced and shamed ways

Ariadne’s Clue

Ariadne’s ball of thread was called a clewe
that word being of an Old English source –
cliewen – which can mean a skein of thread

Now – no trial and error among your words –
instead my art is gathering your scatterings
of clues and insinuations – of what you said

before your lies fermented to find you drunk
Our shared bottles of removed inhibitions
took us both into a playground of sweated beds

They oiled your snare – your sour smell of sex –
your perfume to attract others under bindings –
those you bought to find pain without blood

I found your lace and black bits curled sullen
in a hard-knotted bag – One item – a mouth gag –
admits your desire for ill-use outside your head

As If She Had Struck Herself

Banshee my first thought –
followed by lunatic
and then spitting feathers
but was spitting nails better?

Her hand was sudden –
flat – iron-hard on my face
in such a swift upper arc
It was well-practised –

she was beating
every man and boy
who had ever dare ignore
her high pitch of orders

Those grey eyes revealed
a fleeting wince –
as if she had struck
herself with this hate

An instant recoil
of her upper body
as her buckshot rebut
kicked her back

And every crease
on her lined face
doubled up
She had struck herself

Taking Stock

Under such circumstances
as these in which we live –
an old skill of mine – of gauging

by tipping
chiming barrels in cellars
or more likely cold side rooms
of ex-forces drinking clubs
to blindly assess levels left

Under such circumstances
my senses should be well-attuned
to any watering of truth
in unsighted places

By eye and by hand – in
old weights and measures –
my work was to balance stock
and it was never greeted well

Yet Under Stars

My beer-slipped schemes drift
from under me – from my legs –
as if my intentions are blown

whilst I am at my high helm
of hard rope pulls – without her –
in my pain-clinkered craft

and it shifts to starboard –
now translated into my
Cornish-Sussex parlance

but it is a one-man adjust
of no more clean oar lifts –
dizziness and lost time steer

my walk before a freeze over –
I will not be stuck in her frost fair
Not locked in a once-flowing place

Yet under stars – we are our equals
with no cold differences
Under such light nothing matters

as my dead man walk continues
back to our flights of stairs
and drawn curtain stories

Your Dog Leash

As your Anacreon
I still say –
Keep on making
common mistakes

Dear Philomedes
do not let them
now burden you
with their regrets

They will pull on you
like my sculpting string –
binding you – stinking –
buried in another’s bed

stuck between sex work
and rattled corporate travel –
amid that hot seethe
in their holy places

Admit your error –
as it is if their praise
Your family are your enemy
by those cries of pain

found in child birth’s
one-sided game
It was handed down
by your foul-mouth mother

who uses the N-word
far too freely
I will not write out
her sparkling excuses

I seek my pleasures –
no had-I-wist words –
before a rogue seed
takes my ill-held throat

A Thankless Task

Here fifty-six lichen-dipped
granite bodies sunbathe –
some lean – some almost swoon
in April’s upset of unexpected weather

Here clippings
and rolled stripes of grass
mark long-sunk slopes
under headstones

A cartographer
had taken up mowing
and looked back
upon his day’s work

as a map folded open –
to be figured out
For him
that thought was wasted

There are no travellers here –
all trips are done
Quarter bells
serve no purpose

except to drown out
tinkling-bloody-wind-chimes
and
always ignored car alarms –

no one moves far
from these landmarks –
we are all within earshot
of cuttings of blades and spades

between those engravings
dead endings expose our half-thoughts
about stuff like
Crematorium or lawn cemetery?

#EasterSunday

He kicks his third found ball
outside our back door
beating an executor’s drum roll

before his imminent collection –
by his mother – to be dragged
to Grandma’s gathering of love

where elephants stand in rooms
and his overbearing relatives
pour their necessary champagne

and pretend that life is beautiful
everywhere – but don’t mention his father
or anything else to spoil this day

He will return with word bruises
but he won’t show them to me –
I have to accept his light kicking

#GreeneKingPubs

These pulling places are rammed
by limp cocks and hard-to-hear voices

by forty-year-old bent coppers
and pitch-hoarse salesmen

feasting on glimpses of wagged butts
and – if lucky – being eye-felt back

as unsteady rounds are re-summoned –
until each wooden table holds it own

glass city of empties and knock-backs
All until that briefly-sweet inebriation

sours outside under high sodium lights
to illuminate empty fists and nose bleeds

and stage two kisses between strangers
All until that night’s confusions have melted

into soft-edge recalls and squeezed regrets
over sinks and basins – until we go again

The Stick

There are re-tightened circles
within my bind – my condition
of well-rounded concentric ripples
Feel them grip – feel with me

He laughs at my stick and walk
because he’s so very drunk
before an unequal fill of booze
ferments inside my empty gut

thickly – as if a dreadful influenza
but none of those highbrow fevers
Like when your own infected body
had been rammed flat by it

Now you expect me
to lift myself up from this floor –
out of spilt beer – for inspections
and more qualified interventions

all the while our state and yourself
still owe me back payments
for every too-long worked day –
which weigh on me as tired eye tolls

For those – and your destructive love –
put down a deposit to secure my loss
Pay out against my final demand
for a resilient stick to abet my steps

Home Improvements

Your buck of a builder arrives
in his sign-written truck
they belong
to your dull stepfather –
both the van and the man

and in your imagination
you have used his hands –
calloused – to fix things
in your mind – everyone knows
how these things develop

You returned from a night in Brighton
red-eyed – smelling of men –
of booze and wrecked
He had driven you and your sister
home
Such a gent

The Chair

My fumbled-for decision of whether
to sit in my reading chair with my back
to my slow-to-rotting bay windows
took rare time to work out –
to atone

Do you face out –
sit there on show?
Or settle –
reversed to that view
with a low sun on any held book

But then not ideal for bright screens

So besort my riposte in that still-hunt

Only read off unpowered paper –
take bright retreats –
stay offline –
turn your chair from poking eyes –
write unplugged from all devices –
and leave biscuit crumbs
on well-thumbed pages

My chair can swivel