The Pilot

Stunned by an off-keel tip –
but that was part of the deal
of any such heaved pull
under the pilot’s minimal steer
of his salt-pressed gig crew –

then the high wave-slams of
the clinker-laid hardwood boat
upon the vast ship’s tarred hull –
as if beating upon the pregnant
belly of a dark leviathan

Those men had won the right
to pull alongside – to profit –
to earn their paid return to the
dark harbour’s pints of succour –
but only with the turn of the tide

by half a dozen oars in that boat
timed by a hundred – or more –
counted out from the hefted launch
to that last profitable throw of rope
onto the huge ship of strangers

Bonfire

We cannot ignore
what we see //
We have to recognise
the slow creep
of ired white men
and equal women
who will re-stoke
their noisome hate
by piling their lies
in ideological pyres//
They will then torch
the shredded truth
lit with cupped
safety matches –
putting a slow flame
to stacked ‘papers –
those dried ink lines
of their justified vice –
set in monotype – far-right
under Jack-high cries//
We cannot be seen
to not see this
and to not raise
a more graceful mob

#BlackFriday

I crumpled – again – this morning –
with the endless news – which I cradled –
still warm – in my left hand –
then this unplugged device dimmed
to save on power usage

I stroked the sempiternal story
with a stiff finger – re-lighting it –
the act of scrolling – like teasing skin
with love’s lightest of touches
to bring a waking company to life

My roll-over nights of trickled
sweat-streams will be re-stoked –
Reuters reports of more kinds
of fucks – of over-heated ice
washing from those off-white poles

They now count the last of a species
on one hand – measuring the missing
in thin percentages – filling media inches –
which shift plastic – that advertised crap –
I crumple with such endless news

Marlow’s Complaint

My shins are singing out loud
like Potter’s skinned detective –
him – joyless in being bed-bound

I then picture the flowershop man
worth now – for now – half of his body
until his whenever-recovery

from a stroke – which found him flat –
He was able to stand so proudly
before that inside weakness outed

and laid the old queen on her back
in Eastbourne’s Sovereign Ward –
I hope he laughs at that word –

whilst I do not suffer such rounds
of writer’s block – no aneurysms –
nothing as vile as being bed-bound

 

Bar Work

For P.

//Grown men bear-hug
in the cinema bar –
this town’s tough men –
they stand held-hard
//with doffed back pats –
almost softly-kissed –
after sunken fizzed beers
after curried fears –
//and the curled-hair girl
quick-checks her sly glance
in the double door glass
of the flung entrance
//That beautiful woman
on the other sunk sofa
before heading out
sinks a sobering soda
//and I’d walk her home
above staggered kerbs –
struggling – still holding –
her wine-tipped words

The Dew Pond

//I have woken to
that occasional weight
of the chain mail
of another night sweat
//but now it is winter
my cycle-kicking
of the layered sheets
has no drying effect
//I lie in wait for a miracle
but revert to dancing
blindly to the bathroom
to dab my dew ponds
//This uneasiness
in my places of aches
of Song-writing Disease
could be helped
//by flicking the switch
but such light
such selfish luxury
would wake you
//As I towel myself down
I remember in waking
that you are not here
and will not be woken

Under the Sun

Come and watch us pick at
our scabs of bloody ignorance –
they will – one day – partly heal

to a red roughness of scarring
set to itch – a hint of melanoma’s
blasting shadow across our skin

We will not seek relief from shade
to offset such canker or cancer –
instead – we will strip and microwave

on those platters of plastic sunbeds
to a ready meal heat – whilst being oiled
and rubbed into a slept submission –

then into that unimaginable cul-de-sac
of pottering and beige waiting rooms –
where we will find mirrors far too honest –

set with our reflections of bare errors –
then to count the rings of under-eye skin
and we will know our burnt old age