Liggers

It was too easy to accidentally
stand stock still in Blondie’s
unlocked dressing room
at a fleapit corporate gig –

their’s – another £100,000
act – should-be-has-beens
but always being better than me
by dint of being so old cool

and untouched by rushes
of lame fame-struck stuff
off us eighties peak-teen kids
Now dull mums and dads

we recall a loucheness
on Top-of-the-bloody-Pops
We ached for sex – not knowing
their’s was breathless lip-syncs

We predated MTV’s tape heads
and VHS and widths of Betamax
I saw her standing – she turned around –
Debbie’s lips still blew my mind

Grandpa? Not Yet

Look! Waking white etens are tailwind-struck by onshore gusts. That tall flock of unfixed turbines. Into Kemptown they will march by France’s orders beyond La Manche ..

A readied Grandpa story – not yet –

not now – not pinned – not aligned
above high tides by unseen wordy fixings –
by birthdays – yet again – by cakes with candles

blown out – Once more – and finally out
Those one-legged giants were plummeted
into cedings – by borings into seabeds

through lost layers of petrified trees
into our once-forests washed off-shore
Let me tell giant stories to your children –

about hundreds of acres before this began
Our grandchildren do need to learn
that history is scribed beyond this land

Perfect Skin

This skin on my foot
is turning to cratered scales –

like that of F’s
re-homed grandpa –

with his octogenarian husk
flaking from
his bared feet and shins

as if he had been set adrift
on the sea and salt-burnt

That old combatant held court
in his Surrey nursing home

thirty five years ago
His layers of recalls and of dust –

his remnants in a rented room –
have long been hoovered up

Perfect
perhaps there is hope for me yet

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

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

Commandments

Discard anything
that gathers dust
Do not drink alone
Do not fall in love
Avoid shouting
at inanimate objects
Sleep early – sleep sober
Wake without regret
Eat what’s hard to make
not what’s easy to buy
Stand in others’ shoes
of every possible size
Lust is not ageing’s
last flung measure
Fix your moments
in longer pleasures

On Church Street

Shortly after closing time
outside my unknown church –
feeling a stone’s frore
off dead men and women
upright as chiselled recalls

and staring – all – in disbelief
at that zealous parish priest
who dolls up as a spectre
A welcome departure
from his-biking leathers?

Do you fancy a whole Sunday
of such wanton dressing-up?
But – note – none of that
purely Anglicised-God-stuff
No vertical iron pressings
No M&S slacks in ageing beige

I am not of that creamy dotage
marked heaven-ready
My dark walk is guided on
by each clack-clack-clack
of my tapped black stick –
no more standing as a stone
Satan will catch me
if I stay too long

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