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 clich̩ Рthe 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