Reading Circles

Concentric – a new whirlpool-word
found in my father’s
handed down encyclopedia –

when images of Stonehenge –
in line-drawn illustrations –
caught my crawled attention

When an unknown word
required my whole body to shift
and find another heavy book –

an Oxford English Dictionary
to finger flick through to trace
between com and cop to find con

and to be infected
by our endless language
Do not leave me alone with Roget

London Sweats

A fan-cooled idle chauffeur
slumps
in his employer’s slick black
double-parked Mercedes

with its engine left running
for working comfort
as it stokes London’s
smoke-free zone

Kensington High Street
puddles
with our fat drops of sweat

See my old man’s back of death-damp –
patches of sweated whisky and beer?

They push me to seek
short-lived shelter
alongside a hundred others
of every nation
in air-conditioned shops
with wide open doors

We all become refugees
with changes in weather

Serpentine Paths

Today wary Canadian geese
avoid paddling screams
from lido-blue rowing boats

finding cooler shade ashore
and rich landed pickings
among flat pressed patches

of lawns below London planes
where an hour’s respite
was snatched
by shade-hungry office bodies

A flaked Royal Parks bench
holds a mother and her boys –
silent with ice cream smiles

Here we share recovery positions
as both boys bum-shuffle
to their right – making an old man’s
space

I see what I will again see later –
strangers’ glances at unknowns
Now at her clothes – her veil

I built this park – in my working days
I planted most of her trees
and laid clean sand for her gallops

I should be able to name
more than London planes
as my known path takes me
to David in Fitzrovia

Kissed Canvas

It is easy to cheat
any marriage –
try slicing your brow
with a clean bread knife –
then forever blink
blood-spat sights

Head spinning –
slo-mo – pugilist stuff
of gob and busted teeth
from a fast fist –
upon both sides –
my glass jaw breaks

My eyes are shattered
by tears and stresses
as if rabbit-punched
and left to wonder
about rules and who
has bunged the ref?

Count your prize money
and lift your belt
with a kiss to your corner
and your proud family –
I-never-could-have-done-it-without
and leave me alone

Like Greta

Find utter calm before fear
and be too brutally honest
with your known-self – first

Listen to bigoted bar-props
seething with Sussex-hate
about France – French – prices

Only lie to save another’s life
and carry all truth before you –
as a banner of fixed colours

Old men sip their local beer –
despising lives of foreigners –
none will summon them here

Innocence breeds wisdom
whilst that contrary state
feeds on greater ignorance

And then detailed discussions
of travelling – retired – through Europe
They always hate their neighbour

If Greta Thunberg stepped off her bus
and walked through this village of idiots
she would still carry her banner high

These old men of East Sussex mutter –
behind beer head white moustaches –
about another bloody foreigner here

Dairy Parlours

Sweet stinking cattle
of Brough Hill

our machinations
are latched on to you by
German engineering
sucking you near to dry

With such heat –
you should wear white –
this is now a foreign field
of burnt harvests

A limited release
of back catalogue
memories land me
among kids with Uzis

in Tel Aviv – then south –
to be met by my family
and dairy farming
without pastures

Seaford Beach

Do you want to sit on that strand
with me and my old sun-tarred men
of Seaford – bent to sipped coffees –
as Newhaven’s headland is scorched?

Or do you take a click-clack walk
into other light on your fuck-me heels
with no one man you really know?

Tipped families and broken open souls
forever perambulate up and in and out
along tugging – dialling-down – shadows
as you decide which is your way to take

And my eyes will wait – still wait to follow
your choice – my own steps only echo
if yours are not into that sunset’s pull

because my last light will always be
seated and fixed among my equals –
those smile-tanned and happy talkers
without a wet desire to set to flames

Our true separation commenced
when you went with old lustrous ways –
too many times – too easily – for my liking

Working Girl

We briefly spoke –
it was a Monday
and you were out
in Central London
sounding slightly
drunk – three gins
gone and done
but not asked
about on your
next day return
Instead – it was
calmly stated
a week later –
you had taken
your lover again
We were shopping
for our youngest
in Haywards Heath
A bombshell
in M&S was not
your worst ever act

Pension Planning

When this gets real bad
and we will not see that –
not for quite some time yet

ten years was said to be
a good guide
Now half my path
left to that X-marked place

then it will be time to book
a Swiss or Dutch room
and neck a small glass

if my mouth still works

and find my best sleep
Do not live a whole life
less – that will kill me

Pinned

Her long-rooted shyness
stopped her donning angel ways
in Israel – on an Arab feast day –

but it nudged my shading
behaviour – so I took to flight
supplied by Yochai Matos –

to soar over Jaffa’s coast
and land after my exodus
from clippings in England –

ask Yochai if he offers his span
for touch-downs or for lift-offs
or just for Instagram groundings

Not stuff for my wandering mind
pinned by light and blue wings –
my weight blew away

Words for Mud

We trampled under re-tugged hoods
across even wetter exposed ground
like low-eyed parlour-set cattle

both of us making that slab slurp
as we pulled our sucked heels
from immeasurable puddles

Stoach – was it uttered as mud
and air and boots glued? – stoach
and slab – discarded once-words

now rarely spoken – only by smeery
glazes – by worn pathways
There Wealden clay will complain

as hill-walked hours wear it away
Time will eventually reverse to tell
what truly lies beneath our feet

Then all our losses will be obvious –
no flights – no travel – no sinking islands
on TV – we are making errors here

seant mareis ovv safvhmptn

Mye eezal warz nawt
desynd
t b carid sholda hie
+
nawt espeshli throo v rare-d liat
distrikt ov bernin brite
bollbs een windas
+
Mii wiv vis
craws ovv jeesus uun mye
sarw sholda
+
sum propa arrrteests
splatz ov draied peynts
adid t mye sholdard wayt
+
mye myned wandard
wivv sudin urjjjees
fa company ov eh woomin
+
yehs ov cors
un arrrteest paezs
fa wimin t laye naykid
+
fa imm t luk kloze arp
baat
arrrt is mie urjjj
+
nort secks
wivv owt luvvv
wynck wynck

Lost For Words

A conqueror’s high esteem
of varied Pevensey shellfish

is marked up – still to this day –
when out catching pandles

Sussex’s fathoming in
Latin’s infectiousness – off pandalus

But reducing – a word in decline
in this part of the country

Something to do with grammar
schools and formal education?

There is no local voice
or old inflection –

no dialect in
our National Curriculum –
surelye

That Farmer’s Wife

Tess was never an unalloyed maid –
not Hardy’s vessel of pure emotion
untinctured by innocence

Such country girls are as scarce
as a hen’s brightly bared tooth
Too hastily judged? Or not?

She was metallic – below – to me
When bared – again – by a kindred
lover – our fusion rubbed to rust

Divisions of men – such she kept
mapped close enough to feel – to plot
and find her way – only her eyes shut

whilst her barn doors swung wide
to near-unhinged arcs of openings –
as her balm of blood – of love’s slaughter –

blew out on her cousin’s stunk breath
as he bent with her to snort at troughs
aligned by credit cards – then blocked

All a loss – it is no more a sweet place
Not for me – Sour scents off her wetness
turn on Etkin-Bell’s ring finger

All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten
her odour as he wipes his creased brow
She dragged too many too close by lies

Insurance Matters

For @Dru_Marland (Blog)


Here – almost – an immolated whale
found bare – beached and dry

She is still – no stuttering breaths
of engine or pumps – cold dead

Almost a mounted catch on display
No slightness – no sway – no slippings

by lullaby currents or crosswinds
off loosely tied mooring ropes

For once – barefooted – landlocked –
awaiting brushes and touches below

as they look for ingress and pitting
from galvanic action – They mutter

as they chalk up indicative lines
on her rubbed clean underside

You agree to fixing sacrificial anodes
Done – then you are lifted with a rush

as your craft is back to old waterways
for another thousand days of drifting