Country Lanes

Mad Max offered me shares
Fifty-fifty in a gentlemens’ club
I could
Taste their wares – test their tits
was his opening roadside pitch

Girls ain’t the problem –
undergraduates aplenty –
it’s the bloody bouncers
with their qualifications
That’s now our problem

Max is missing some teeth
his breath stinks of dog food
Turn on your heel, Mike
and carry on along this lane
Strange men lurk in Hailsham

This Effect of You

To J.S.

It is now measurable –
this effect of you –
by improved
qualities across my skin

You are layer-healing
a soft fixer of
my ripped tiers
and light filler of erosions

You are still as radiant
when back-lit
by another day’s sun
as you run to me

Across you
my dared fingers scan
with ten eyes more
than first had looked

This is our skin tale
of with in and with on
Our time teases us
by obligated constraints

Record it in a diary of sorts –
typeset in italic recall
Dance for me
and my eyes will join in

Waking Naked

To J.S.

Waking without you
stretched and pinned
like a readied canvas

bared and laid to light
to be brush-touched
is my missingness

Where my fingers dip
is temporarily lost
along with each kiss

placed as unsaid love –
that naked word
sits readied on my lips

Rental

Hear them – those
too-near rushes
of combustion over tyre-rubbering

There – beyond my fence
I am just fifteen yards
from others’ entered destinations

This is a hermit life
but one with too much –
too much man-made stuff – such is soon useless

My sleep has re-aligned
as it did thirty-odd years earlier
to that of shift workers – once more an hour earner

I am a slow returnee
to my hollow house
of paid-for slept protection before one more day

This Bank Holiday Monday
sucks on my date-fixed time
as I lie bared-as-born on my artificial lawn

I must plant
some lavender in pots
My garden is not an insects’ paradise

My skin will blemish
under our turned-to sun
as my spread chemical vest of UV block – of factor fifty

unlocks and rolls off
under man-made laws
God wasn’t always for burning our butt-naked torsos

A Dead Lover In Marrakech

L. RIP

Let me push a pin
through your ignored Torah
and hear you read every
mounted page about your
butterfly death

You will not

Let us escape from shuls
with my love-foolish help –
you as another migrant –
you beautiful Jews are artists
too with guilty divisions

My choice

of this avenue with no shade
It is scooter-and-horn split
from Miaara’s left dead
Let me bury myself in you
instead

If you must

What Flies Above

Thank you, KP

We were sent down by a tipped sign
along a flint-chipped footpath
on Seaford Head’s composed arc

where we were done – smothered –
along with other unwary invitees –
by crowning flights of insects

which stuck to spitting tongues
and set knots in our tousled hair
Another small equalling by nature

We could only escape that plague
of on-the-wing silent irritants
by upping our uneasy walking pace

Then driven salvation from behind
And a car’s slammed-door
for our shutting out of flying ants

We were ferried down – in his Subaru –
by our grinning artist on his return
to a gentler swarm at that Cable Hut

1,000 New Church Road, Hove

His twisting right foot
takes him past that door
where she had twice –
maybe more
quick-scurried through

up double-took steps
to a fat goatee face
which she’d anointed hard
with two monkeys’ worth
of her itching kisses

One thousand more
than he had accrued
in those thousand days
of running aways?

As his turned-on-heel
takes another’s embrace
which lifts him higher
as his suddenly-lover

No more counting
or care
of steps now rhymed
and left unnumbered

Sex Over Fifty-four

For J

I had not been woken so
by a kiss
in living memory
I am set alive
And other old weights
have been lifted
by her lightness of
kind eyes and soft lips
upon my ageing nakedness
unknown so
since teenage kicks were first felt
hurting
through unresolved desires
but we are now old enough
to not blush and to do it well
Sex was invented
in the sixties for us

Alt-cues

1.
Ill-faced white people settle
and preen in that afterglow
off their stoked shit-storms
as fools refuel on Facebook
2.
Deceivers take to easy airwaves
with urgency and loud spittle
as puppet-fisted politicians
unroll scrolls of lies on cue
3.
Carriers of an alt-right litany
cannot sleep soundly until
their prayers have been spread
For them – fear must be shared
4
We do not mute screaming
hit-buffeted streams
of spitting alt-voices
found by lost innocents
5
Your drawn eyes must rise
from teleprompters that blind
to see over such tilting screens
and to read between their lines

First Person Singular

From my Mass Observation Notes 12th June 2017

I am both fully awake and in pain at seven-forty AM
I am now learning a new word – Imprimatur
I am feeling a rough poem coming on
I am taking the rake of our stairs with care
I am making two teas in the fitted kitchen
I am climbing the stairs with two mugs of tea

We are drinking cooled tea in our double bed
We are discussing how much the day will cost

I am reading the headlines on my smartphone
I am now stiffly rising from our double bed
I am now stood showering
I am singing loudly to Clair from the shower
I am checking my emails as I dry my body
I am dressing as Clair showers and talks
I am listening to Clair’s words
I am listening to Clair’s tone of voice
I am watching Clair dry herself
I am telling Clair that I love her more than chips
I am leaving our house in a sudden rush
I am walking with my stick to the high street
I am at breakfast with four other husbands
I am ordering a Full English Breakfast and latte

We are talking about last night’s comedy show
We are talking about imported lawn mowers

Glen is now paying for all the breakfasts

I am walking back to the house on my own
I am now stopped at my favourite park bench
I am on my smartphone checking my emails
I am now standing up and turning to home
I am now back at my emptied-out house
I am suddenly greeted by our small dog
I am walking the dog up and down roads
I am sorting the recycling bin on the drive
I am lending Otto my Karcher pressure washer
I am walking up the garden to my shed
I am sat at my desk in my shed
I am sending and receiving emails on my PC
I am doing kid management on my smartphone
I am redesigning Cars3 experiential space for Goodwood
I am re-rendering FatBoy Slim’s DJ booth in Lumion
I am reading a new brief for a design to be completed today
I am walking slowly from my shed on uneven slabs
I am eating a rushed lunch of cold beans and toast
I am walking back up the garden to my shed
I am being hassled by clients by email on my smartphone
I am Whatsapping our kids to sort childcare tonight
I am opening my shed door and stepping up with care
I am sitting at my high desk whilst waiting for a reboot
I am listening to The Archers whilst working on my PC
I am hassled by another text on my smartphone
I am hassled by the wife to get to personal trainer at four PM
I am managing and meeting my design deadlines
I am rendering out 3D models in Lumion
I am designing an exhibition stand
I am listening Gardeners Question Time on Radio 4
I am making more more changes to Cars3
I am postponing the personal trainer on my smartphone
I am thinking about tomorrow’s poem

Clair is now back from her hair appointment

I am commenting positively on the change

Clair is setting me a countdown to theatre-leave-time

I am finishing what I can to meet my deadlines
I am now shutting down my PC

We are rushing to get out the house

Clair is driving our car
Clair is worrying about her mum
Clair is not saying much
Clair is filling up the car with petrol at Tescos

We are now in Eastbourne
We are watching the first half of the play
We are now sitting outside in the interval

I am watching a smoker light up

We are discussing the show

I am conscious that my legs are hurting
I am checking social media on my smartphone

We are now heading back in to the show
We are leaving the venue after the show

I am now stuck at fifty-three
I am now treated like I am eighty-three

We are looking for our car on the seafront

I am being driven home in the dark
I am trying to find out more about Clair’s feelings

We are now arriving home
We are entering the house in silence
We are being greeted by the dog

I am locking the back door
I am switching off the last light
I am climbing the stairs

We are now in bed
We kiss goodnight

She is turned from me

Fraxinus Excelsior

Here – I have been orange-dotted
as if another fungal-blighted tree
Spotted on for obvious lesions

My fate sprayed – eyed – to-be-cut
and then left to rot – an alienation
for the good of these woods

My body bears an odd contagion
as does our less common ash –
as does our elm – both under threat

as am I – stuck – until my balding crown
is tipped to unstable and then falls
to leave me without my honest Cordelia

Below Victoria

For J

A loosened thought
was unexpectedly set adrift

like a sea-wetted sandal
sucked into whisked white foam

off foolish seventh wave treaders –
those salt-splashed day trippers –

as my viewfinder caught you blown
and turning to me – iso-fixed

in my camera as it framed that
installation under which you stood

You as my suddenly important art
buffeted upright below an artist’s

weather-required turned response
My portrait of beauty in Brighton

Decade Measures

RIP Chris Bell d.24.08.87

A decade mislaid since his
lingering disappearance
then Latin’s alphabet surfaced
across a white stone – struck
below a dusty Israeli suburb

Ness Ziona stands over him
He had jumped his rusting ship
another twenty years before
leaving a trail for investigation

How he ever got to Tel Aviv
ending up an eager volunteer
only him and God now know
sharing – as they do a bench
slumped – stalbet – in a cemetery
under high apartment shadows

 

 

yo-yo

you you spoke far too soon
’bout your last sandman
’bout that last sandman
’bout your spare fuck man
you you spoke far too soon
’bout men and squirting sex
and bad sex in warm rooms
you you spoke far too soon
’bout a man ’bout your sandman
’bout your sniffed white lines
’bout men limp in your bedroom
you you drunk you you drunk
in a bar with a man not Oman
with a man whom you you knew
a first cousin on your account
first cousins count as last lovers
you you spoke after five hangups
you you answered five before were
five unanswered lies after lies after
you you gave it a week a week
post-valentines after your card
cards swapped rarely by you you
control-alt-delete you you soon

Like Bookends

In another waking moment
with five AM forcing light outside
my conscious breath found
an angel’s littered question

How many of my earliest
friends are still alive?

Coruscating queries – lit fears
address us slightly older men –
of loss of crowning thick hair
oh – and recent deaths of muckers

Bill baulked at Paul Simon’s song
of ‘old friends sat on a park bench like..’

I had one pal hang himself
and another fall from a height
whilst others have taken to tumours
and less humorous routes off

My hairline is still a low-set feature –
light verse on such matters suits me

Ageing is that earthing and digging
forcing us all to bend under groans
as we push on equal spade widths
on that same cost of soil to everyone

No dead human kept his riches for long
They will clear your grave of treasure

A wise Israeli once advised me
Do not make it your precious métier
to outlive everyone in your world
No one will be left
to be impressed – לילה טוב*


*Goodnight

Other Rings

It is not always possible to shake off worn things
such as tightening bonds or shortening memories
Feel them slow on each hour around an empty ring finger
You lost a clasped diamond and made a claim for payment
whilst seeking an arrangement with a rich man’s mounting
On whom you’ll spin with ease around his old stiffening fingers
You were chanced upon – for sale – a maiden’s old tale
Seeking an agreement to include sparkling benefits
Diamonds are et cetera – whilst you lie beside strangers

Coffee?

He walked her to her car
because his rare chance –
a quite rude assumption
of a kiss could improve

Their talk skipped to weather
and about recent high rainfall
and that expanse of blue sky –
those age-old silence fillers

They stood facing each other
He fumbled under his bravado
with a quickened giddiness
of mid-teen awkwardness

even at – his guess then –
their nearly-fused ages
of just over – or just under –
their shared centum of years

How keenly he craved
to sip fresh desire – at his age –
in a pay and display car park
having over-run
his paid-for time