Rubber Soles

Paced – my set flat route
of pliable rubber yards –
of flashed-by-dashes
on my soon-endless run
on that springing path
of a conveyor belt –
then up an incline fixed
by my lightest touch –
but slowed by my death
in that sweated place –

My running times show –
but have yet to pass
an hour’s whole barrier –
so dragged down again
by my lack of breaths –
because all shared air
has been removed
by the greed of others’
sucks and thud-thud-thuds
alongside my rolled way –

their strides soon pair
my thumped heartbeats –
but any visible rage
from my pounding chest
is bagged in my t-shirt –
No pull of Lycra
across my male breasts –
Honest labour is lost
because this is not
cross-country running


E190219

Also on Medium

This Extra

It was not a full day of reduced daylight
but the briefest of natural moments
on that calendar date – which passed
half recognised – like the waning film star

who I stood in for – another nacreous man
on a never-ending day of falsified hours –
My value fixed by his cast shadow
whilst I wore identical clothes –

I was being paid to be his tincture
on yet another identical film set –
My tired looks – which matched the actor –
put me under a long spot of sodium –

My winter solstice was over-shuttered
by age and disgrace under shorter days
of cuts and no light left to take again –
My ways of finding extra time are over


E140119

#Guinness is God For Yer

I am – now – that Old Boy in the bar –
he who nurses an anchored pint –
who has time itself as a luxury
of sips every fifteen minutes –

those slow draws of his lifted Guinness
that drinking match of dark mass
and white-topped hair-on-head –
‘Youngsters take this tipple ironically’

Then the in-house mumbling alcoholic
stirs me from my reveries by my name
to ask about my illness – and Christmas –
both are twisting inside me – like candida

The quickened swill in my gut then blooms
to a weighty obligee to her seasonal beliefs –
and those of my degenerative stuff –
each then rinsed down by my cold stout

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

 

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

Royalty

He is there – again – the ageless barfly
sat like a sore king at the wet-ringed table
where he fondles his tide-marked pint of beer
in the rooted grip of his right hand and

with each sup he plans to swallow time –
kept to Greenwich by his amber hour-glass –
well drunk – but he is still able to command
the Queen’s English – words not troops that is!

He is the clichĂ© – the grounded boozer who wills
his wide-smiled laughter and loud intrusions
upon more innocent patrons – virgins in his game –
those who do not know how he plays the room

.. Don’t take the adjacent seat – don’t be fooled
by his schemes – of words and winks ..
For them he prepares to over-deliver
.. it is so well-known that he never listens
by dint of his loudness and eyebrow animations ..

And a woman – and a man – scrape chairs out
to sit across from him at his stained table –
and he now turns – with his sips of time to take –
and soon she is giggling at his crude stories
whilst her silent man stares at his glass

After half an hour they stand to leave the scene –
the man with a shoved handshake for the barfly –
to quietly let the pub’s royal drunkard know
that he is not wanting to fight – not tonight –

and the well-pissed king is left
to drink
on his own

 

Inside My Lover

I am entertained inside her lento lungs –
travelling alone and partly dusk-blind –
within her low suck of cooling breath –

I inhale her exhale of purest oxygen
and with it comes an unwinding –
an expansion of my otiose senses –

an awareness of this as existing –
of living things set around – but
obscured by the falling of the hour –

Now the manic chp-chp-chp-chp-chp
of panicked blackbirds to one side –
joined by the rude crows overhead –

that tuneless duet of birdsong is overlaid
on itself by others’ alarms and queries
which set off – concentric – around me –

As I tread – as I compact the leafy mucus –
which she absorbs into her membrane –
the fallen are re-sown by the plough
of my steps on this weaved footpath –

Her cold stew of re-use – of rotting down –
is nature’s re-design – it is not random –
be it the branched capillary urge
of saplings – or the fork of tipped boughs –

or the patterning of her cast off leaves –
already thick enough to hide the paths –
Now on cinders I miss the give of the mulch –
the weighted compress and its last sound

This Older Driver

I want our lowering sun to burn
for a much – much – longer last hour –
or more – and brighter than now

I do not want to be driving
on those sunken country roads
into the skulk of dusk’s gloom –
and then turned back through black

I wish to see clearly tonight where
the patch of tarmac starts and ends
on the threaded bends and turns –

without the switch of dipped lights
or the blinding others’ high beams –

they set me to groping
as a blind man gropes

I’ll weave between the unseen deer

Self Portrait

My naked body would look worse
only if crucified on Bacon’s canvas –

Because I conspire with my reflection
to blank out the sags and stretches
which later ageing has brush-dragged

so that my dark-haired belly bloats
with the crap and oil I cannot avoid –

I then wash it down with just one more
and the wine glass is half an egg timer
of emptiness – rouged red and framed

Last Day

It is the day after
the last red ball
and rain has found
the indentations
made by the size
eleven landings –
those measured
imprints on grass
which were placed
half a dozen times
in the hunt for another
man’s number –
And another summer
is ticked off
and recorded inside
the scorer’s book.

Dew

There has been no rain overnight
but the underfoot dew is enough
to darken both my boot toecaps
and to soak the dog’s knotted hair
as she bounds into blind prospects
of hedges and low distractions
And I look up at the underbelly
of another aircraft on another path
and do not envy their chosen route –
I then shout out for the dog’s return.

After a Party

The wisest of the kids
had reset our house –
so that my scratch-forced
early morning ritual
of back-door-and-dog
was quite normal

The unexpected waft
of an outside chill
was the only thing
I found misplaced –
that and a small bowl
of rolled fag butts

which I’d suggested
be left outside
when I had patrolled
their dying party –
consciously sniffing
at the air for drugs –
only tasting
the boyfriends’ sprays

Earlier in the evening
I had bolted myself
in my dark study
as the various volumes
of the engineered event
were subject to
the same social forces
we adults endure –
but at a different pitch

The dog had scratched
at my side of the door
as I sank even lower
on displaced cushions
and kid-shifted furniture

My brief entombment
was almost equal
to Egyptian disarrays –
alas for me there was
no mass of splendour
or promise of some
sort of waking heaven

Attention

Heed half-attention
to these written words
and the breath it takes
to read my thoughts

Here in the present
at which you look
stay aware
of my conjoured tricks –

which we now see
in separate worlds
joined by my verse
and nothing else

No hardened borders
or long-haul flights –
so turn off the clock
to find more time

Then walk with me –
but not too fast
past Thoreau’s woods
to face what has passed

as it now collides
with the present
and our time is filed
as misplaced moments.

The Fly

The fly hummed her old song of death
as she jacked in the room’s still air
in a quickened patrol overhead
of absurd dashes and acrobatics

I considered my chances of a kill
but her own sense of time saw me
in slow motion – a sweated animal
of missed flails and wrong swats

Then she was gone from my space
because death was not here – not yet
But she will endure and then retrace
her plotted flight to my last warm breath.

Emptied

There was a tin of Swarfega
under the kitchen sink –
its opening the notification
of Dad’s tinkering

His wrenched weekend battles
with ageing Austins and Fords –
as an amateur mechanic –
were his ongoing wars

He was sometimes frustrated
by metrication’s foray –
and I was equally stumped
by his imperialist’s ways

He became a man of peace
as he stripped his oiled guns
with no sprung swear words –
loud expletives unsung

He would put his bearded cheek
onto the cold wood and weigh
the heft of barrel loadings
and teach his lungs to wait

The engineering of Brownings
he’d refit with no complaint –
in his hands and soft breaths –
he exhaled and taught aim

At the farm – with my boys –
I put up targets with care –
There I taught them how to shoot
and shared my Dad’s zephyr

3am

These are such long hours
in this slumbered house –
that only I ever know –

so being only mine to own
when the wall clocks talk
to no one else but me –

there is no competition
for chairs or channels
as the left alone wifi flows –

I unlock the back door
and let the dawn air flood
the breath-staled room

shorting the summer’s heat
that had been held over
from another day now gone –

which was all that remained
of a small part of my history –
a short story I’ll never repeat.

Fixings

A bare bulb hangs by two wires
over the bathroom mirror
as a reminder of his absence
with that unfinished fitting

I walked between the rooms he built
and am now that rare ghost
having flown back to my home
of other incomplete projects

The future is never reached
as we flounder with tools to build
our small palaces and shrines
in which we wander on our way to die

Any High Street

It has become a confusion
of charity store drop offs –
butted to trim nail bars
and empty estate agents –
and now this English town
has a gaudy tanning shop

The bench-rested watch
the parading mothers –
taking note of the too-bared
shoulders and legs
the unnatural colour
of those buggy shovers –

these age-anchored repeat
their Daily Mail complaints
about floods of immigrants
as the pale-faced punters book
to turn brown in the new salon
of not-very-English tans.

The Long View

I’ve relocated my drawing desk –
we lugged it to the front room
where it hogs the bay window
with the intended long view

I now spot parents and fat kids
off to retail therapists with bags –
I watch them plod down the slope
to then return – to ascend slacked

My foreground is neatly fenced
by neighbouring OAP purgatory
where septuagenarians snooze
in the blind-fitted conservatory

There none visit the anchored few
who shimmy on wheels and frames
to and from their short destinations
of bed to table and then board games

My own rest home is a slow torture
of afternoon sunlight through glass
but it is my now my preferred option –
I have a better canvas – of sorts.