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


Country Pub

Before this evening’s
swell of punters fill
empty wooden tables

we solemn few near-sober
slow pint daytime drinkers
take our lost afternoon
over equal measures

of flat beer and crisps
as that occasional hour hand
slogs around to grind out time

in this low muttering pub –
until intuition says Go now –
before those commuters
turn up to sip more bullshit


Stops

Another thirty-ish minutes of life
lost to indecisions
By my lethargy
By her rough mis-reckonings
of tightly wound watches
and bare clock faces

You will never get it back

Did I ever want it thrust upon me?
Did I ask for that rum half an hour?

You have no choice in time’s ways

That furled-up woman was also held –
stilled – by a sudden summer downpour –
without coats – they were anchored
as rainwater oozed into a tidal rush

down Crowborough’s shined tarmac
The butcher called out to them –
I’m taking the canopy down! A joke
I won’t buy pies from Him again

Under library clocks her heart stopped
for a few seconds – even her pulse –
and no breathing – nothing was working
But it was a mistake – merely a pause

Another thirty minutes of unaccounted
being alive will be inexpertly multiplied
becoming a whole day – a whole year
of slumbered nothingness
and then turned to sleep
once time is tamed by her old age


The Riverside Cafe – Lewes

That water-spinning hum
in The Riverside Cafe –
of draining dishwashers
and coffee machines –
is a prized white noise
needed by me to settle –

along with the welcomed
departure of a too-loud family
of urgent asks – of walking plans –
to wear their little monsters
down – nice and early
before unscrewing the wine

Counting clouds passes time
My children are left behind
and all my responsibilities
are dropped – as sticks off a bridge
Like letting go of wobbled bikes
Of not having to have an answer

Perhaps this areads my ageing
among us beige men of Waitrose
Perhaps this is my highest point –
aged fifty-five – twice divorced –
waiting at cafe tables to be served
by staff worth much more than me

My stick is impossible to store
in such places – a hook is needed
to hang my support – to stop it tripping
up those young bucks in aprons
Or I may lay it out at a reasoned angle
to trip those smug fuckers up