Temperature At Thirty Three

Our shaded half
hides me from heat
Year in and out
we seek a shelter

My solution
is to meet curtains
right before
sunrise and shut

out each degree
increment of hate
and stupor
in this house

whilst others fling
and swing – by hinges –
openings to
let warm winds in

which is one more
difference – one more
theft made
by a cruel thief of time

Doggerland

When swamped Noah’s Wood
has re-seeded above sea rises
When it has been reinstated
that connection

of Britain – no more a stoic island
able to gorge on separation
and cry out a huge difference
would be fixed

Such an implausible conceit –
with our warming and tipping concerns
seeing fast incursions of salt water –
no reunification is possible

Slumped and washed by a North Sea rush –
yet to return are men and women
hot in our blood – They sleep in silt
We were never an island race

The Mother-in-law Joke

She then struck out
with an open hand
to land callouses
and a creased palm
flat and fast across
my unshaven cheek

Unexpectedly received –
her flesh-reddening hate
applied five digits wide –
a gold ring-smacked slap –
it was my mother-in-law’s
barely risible routine

All because my wife lies
so turning her sour love
into a vinegary mash –
Never live with a woman –
those joke-gifted words
rung from another time

And if that assault
had been my strike out
then jangled handcuffs
would now be mine –
inequality has
its slight advantages –
sometimes – for some

A Common Spotted Orchid

For JC

It is a highly successful
coloniser of wasteland
and not at all in danger

Both my Google Lens
and a quickie Wikipedia
yielded to your knowledge

Just an assurance of such –
there was no doubt in my mind
that you were right – none at all!

Seeing such beauty has an effect –
How can a thing so vivacious
be left – without being taken?

An uncommon allure
among easy rough grass –
there is more to this orchid

Such observations ran quick
as my eyes and mind
took you – assiduously –
from behind

Traveling Through

For DS

Soft disturbances by a welcome breeze
have woken me – along with crept daylight –
as my room’s weighted curtains dance

Rise – like Stafford – and write before
another day has been sucked of words
No slow verse
will earn me enough to labour to such

But on my back – my normality is a rush
of common complaints – not that difference
shown by my drags and drunken-ish ways

What would Mr. Sangster do in my position?
He would be up and rolling with his kids –
but then Mr. Sangster has secret superpowers

And another daybreak in my hand – as this device
brightens – clever sensors inside meet sunrise –
Another call to get up from my sloth’s slept pit

This ragged imagination of mine has risen
before my body – that is where errors are made –
too much thinking – William E. will expand

Lift Me

Cure me –
please –
of fatigue

If of nothing else – if you can –
without causing side effects –
leaving me somewhat replete

Climbing three runs of stairs
is now enough of a bind
to find me seeking out lifts

In this moment is my submit
to half-slept nightmares –
but I have to be awake to work

Lift me –
please –
from this curse

Walking Out

I turned to see you stood on your
corner plot of weeds-not-grass –
kind people call it a sedum lawn

with caresses of your bared skin
as mementoes to assay at home

My creased shirt was a banner
with two words – SLEPT OVER –
embossed in an uppercase font

No drugs required to lift my feet
from that drunken drag – my dance
down your road was pain-free

Looking Glass

Mistaking a neighbour’s
two-stroke strimmer
for another trapped bee –
one more season’s reck –

it too duped this side
of fingered glass panes –
just another easy
summertime error

I lifted a cold blackbird –
paw-rolled after impact
with that same window –
taking it from our path

to place its fragile body
under a pile of cracked tiles
from your tipping stack –
kept for future breakages

And later that day my neck
was burnt by sunlight hours
away from your sad spite –
that which has me crash

headlong into double-glazing
and collapsing on paving –
Another easy mistake –
not applying sun protection

 

The Naval Architect

My eyes roll on a direct path
to my right hand – they always have –
ever since Dad primed my sight
to command made out lines

from a lightly held pen – or pencil –
across unforgiving drawing paper
for hours of inked-in absorption
and detailing – a hatched addiction

His small blue police notebooks
received judges’ commendations
for his architect’s uppercase script
and capture by diagrams of details

A ship’s profile was our introduction
with fore and aft guns and funnels
and his low voice-over was part
of my art class at our kitchen table

I make my living with that degree
passed by his mastery of capture
I am drawn from my father’s centre –
also without any qualification

Ashpan Texas

Your waking place
is a hollow-man’s town
with vacant homes
close to falling down

and solar-curled paint
peeling inside out
No drapes to draw –
now shadowed shrouds

That un-slept place
is your reading room –
all indexed resources
were wordlessly removed

There’s spines – there’s covers –
but no truth in sight
A baying Governor
set writ words alight

They say work’s returning
although don’t know what
They’ll be whispering lies
’til you thumb your vote

Your feared sun sits low
but still left life all peeled –
stealing a gloss layer
from that you had sealed –

taking your hours’ labours
of eye-cut brushes –
torching your hand of care
Your town’s burning up


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Furze

They grew low gorse
alongside their homes to
thorn-tie bright laundry
under drying high winds

Clym cut back high furze
and disappointed his wife

It is a rough plant for sure
but promises – or removes –
depending on your view –
kisses by force of fashion

It was an uncrossable border
in my common land youth

There was a story of a man
recovered from a thorny whin
by a coastguard helicopter –
help waved down by his hand

Furze flowers were yellow pebbles
for insects to skip between

It was my first time on Ashdown
in a too long time – and bared
gorse was my quiet surprise –
We have lost natural assurances

We once knew a season’s place
by month-ends and blossoming

 

Also here: Places of Poetry

 

Before An Alarm

I am abraided at five AM
to another sung summoning
of loud bird light beyond
my night-bared sash panes –

but was thankfully deaf
in those dark hours earlier
to returning songs of drunks
on their way back from clubs

with their waved polystyrene
trophies of spilling chips –
that mayonnaise trail of fun
runs drip-drip-dripped away

Let me slip from this long itch
and find release from stiffness –
as it was in my lost night
of splendent working dreams

Instead – only a cooling rinse
under that wide shower head
and then a return to this bed
and cold emollient for my skin


 

Russian Roulette

I’ve heard that at Oxford Auden slept with a revolver under his pillow – Elizabeth Bishop

A bolster-engineered solution works
for my now nightly supine issues –

no handgun is – yet – required –
but poets can be miserable fuckers

and that urge to fire off blank verse
in that hot scrum of an early hour

means my sleep is often disturbed
by crept thieves and angry ex-lovers

who do not want their ugly regalia
plastered across perfect bound paper –

or those others who steal my words
and pass off my breath as their own

No there is no revolver – no weapon
to set me to sleep with its close muzzle


Breakages Will Be Paid For

If we retune our focal point
to close-up local degrees –

before losses mount and tip –
we will shore our existence

Beauty is frail underfoot and
to be stepped lightly upon –

not a fixed distance of
uncrushable listed hillsides

Those huge labelled targets
are easily miss-able

Our urgent responsibility
is in within our short reach

of to-touch and other such
breakable display items


British Aisles

Among slow movers in Waitrose –
who have all the time in the world
to hunt and gather tea time’s treat
to eat under sheltered rooflines –

there is a muttered dignity in aisles
These retirees place select items
in shallow trolleys as they stop-go
Unhurried in their emeritus ways

In its café even us – such younger ones –
adopt the hushed reverence of age
and put off less urgent ‘phone calls –
a church service is about to start

Then fluorescents flicker and douse
and our light snacks are in a dark place
But those old shoppers do not stop
because such an act would be surrender

And their jokes flare up about shillings
and no one’s fed the meters
Their only way out is by those steep stairs
because no one trusts those German lifts


Blown

Throw them ever higher
into blue skies
to become black smoke
and blown particles

and do not care
about age – infirmity
or status of anyone –
just soaring margins

She turned into flight
as sooty confetti
A working lift?
Is this Heaven?

She saw London’s
sawtooth lower jaw
How cold she felt
dropping as ash

In her new lightness –
before wet dousings –
was a brief release
from profit seekers

but it wasn’t on her list
of urgent repairs and fixes
Those in high places
never read her misgivings