The Riverside Cafe – Lewes

That water-spinning hum
in The Riverside Cafe –
of draining dishwashers
and coffee machines –
is a prized white noise
needed by me to settle –

along with the welcomed
departure of a too-loud family
of urgent asks – of walking plans –
to wear their little monsters
down – nice and early
before unscrewing the wine

Counting clouds passes time
My children are left behind
and all my responsibilities
are dropped – as sticks off a bridge
Like letting go of wobbled bikes
Of not having to have an answer

Perhaps this areads my ageing
among us beige men of Waitrose
Perhaps this is my highest point –
aged fifty-five – twice divorced –
waiting at cafe tables to be served
by staff worth much more than me

My stick is impossible to store
in such places – a hook is needed
to hang my support – to stop it tripping
up those young bucks in aprons
Or I may lay it out at a reasoned angle
to trip those smug fuckers up

Fruits and Suites

We washed in an avocado-coloured bath –
we had never tasted that foreign fruit
back in nineteen-seventy-two – or three –
we were lucky to get to peel tangerines

It was a plastic suite – uneasily creaking
with our scales of weights of our pre-teen
occasional visits – each darkly recorded
by layered rings of both dirt and soap –

but warm with the water – no cold steel
or enamel suck – a discomfort favoured
by our TV-fashioned homemakers –
but – one hears – green baths are back

A Step-father’s Advice

They will spit forth
foam-flecked hints of hate*
to rattle old angry folk
by distractions – to vote –
it is as if Enoch Powell
were no longer dead –
as high-born cussing –
upper-class meddlers –
play the lack-Latin fools
to the baying stalls
and set off marchers
to resurrect working-class
empirical values
of tipped flat caps
to the lovely guv’nor
whilst we Remain-bowed
middle-classes – struggling
to foot our rising guilt –
doubly weighted by costs
of over-consumption –
turn our attention off
Do not enter politics
without a deep wallet


*I’m no longer Nasty, but please stop lying
about Nice by Boris Johnson’,
Daily Telegraph, 17 October 2002.
Thanks to Fintan O’Toole


Les Sonnetts Luxurieux

Is this her ultimate
act of sadomasochism –
his rest of days of pain?
Is his reply allowed

before her face down lies –
taking it from behind
which are – for others – kinks
and well-hidden discomforts

She pleads her case of cruelty
when such cruelty was her cut
and thrust by strangers’ cocks –
no matter what it cost

Claim innocence in such art
of milking men of all shapes
She craves to smell of roses
She wears her crown of thorns

which she pulls down – tighter –
enough to make a hundred blooms
Her sweetly-bled lacerations
are red jewels adorning her skin –

also worn within as rough scabs –
to peel off by her recall’s pull
That delicacy of altered memories
is her art to serve and savour

Farming Today

Under Glynde’s grey turbine
I know I am irrelevant

It is as if my chest’s creaks
are now unsure ship timbers

set grinding by lifts and turns
of blown low pressures

Her blades swoon over us
in that signature revolution

She asks of me a greater effort
to stand for any time in her shadow

Can you find a name for her grab
and snaffle of another westerly?

Words hurt you – they are your
turned blades in your turned head

And this act of standing upright –
above Gote Farm – is my anchoring

on these Downs of compromises
made between giving and taking