World War

That was a beer-warmed evening

underlined by an obese burger

I avoid my return to the house

which echoes to a party of kids
and the small dog’s commands

In the kebab shop they cooked

just for me

as the Turkish news feed rolled
and on my phone Syria choked

Again

in Elizabeth Gardens

I am all alone

with my paper-wrapped chips
and a skulked fat black cat

whilst varied kids wander past

so pissed off with a nameless one

followed by a lad who spits
on to the well-fucked tarmac

And the ever-question hangs

Was I such a teenage-shit?

We all spat out many things

The bin’s basket welcomed me

That glossy plastic greeting
into which I tossed
the greasy chip wrapper

Nothing else smiles so much tonight

The Thames

I drag my wooden ride
to where the water lies

to that lowest of tides
before the tsunami’s rise

I rowed the swift Thames
with blistered palms
and calves of dark blood
where the runners harmed

We swam with the current

avoiding the crafts

in that summer of love
in which I held the shaft

Nothing has changed
as I push out this skiff

Nothing will alter

I have nothing to give

Linings

The daily rituals return
like when I took
the wooden rule

not quite up to the job

that knobbled edge to run
my fountain pen against

the over excited Indian ink
would leave me to blot

those small stains
are inverted now
found on my sleeve

the toothpaste specks
are my page-ready mistakes
as I bend to this sink
making good this new day

to lay out
line by line
my life

The Mass of Men

Inspired by an interview with Stanley Kubrick by Eric Nordern  for Playboy in 1968

The odoriferous sound
of others’ discomforts
may force to reduction
your gnawing intolerance,

but instead you must find
a sweet tone of acquittal
by listening much less
for their off-key approvals:

No more the simplified
repeal of nursed rhymes,
but a tune you’ll compose
when not feeling for lines:

Their trip on indifference,
when felled by jealousy
over others’ flat arias,
there you’ll find armouries;

strike this shone torch,
to guides with beams,
illuminate everything,
even old-echoed screams;

you’ll now light your voice,
here in the brightened throng,
to end at the same gate,
but with a much richer song.


[Poem #862]

Addlestone

That distant town was my playground,
at Darley Dene I scuffed my knees,
returning, scabbed, to 6, Essex Close,
Addlestone, Surrey, England, Earth,
and our three storey police house:

I revisited the road on Google Earth,
unsuprised by its reductions in size,
but as that tripped child it fish-eyed
in the scale of the upgrade it was
to our family of five men and mother.

We schooled in the grey shadow
of the ever-scruffy Surrey Towers,
where Bill D tossed off his pet dog,
knelt, he said, in the oft-stuck lift:
That beastial act he reported to us,
he so wanted to be a milkman.

On a school trip, of distance and steam,
they had stuck signs up in the carriages
to mark our booking, stated ‘Darley Dean’.
Our loud comments about the mistake
are all I recall of that summer excursion:
of Addlestone, I just have shadow

We the Grey-haired

We the grey-haired,
but fashion-aware
men, of a certain age,
the would-be punks,
back then,
or heavy-coated,
liking Echo, Bjork,
and then, a bit later,
almost wax-quiffed,
a suede-headed
Morrissey lover,
or confirmed hater,
tugging our loneliness
and unsure,
still unsure about stuff,
but not music,
just politics and love,
still trying on fashion
and making mistakes.

Rainy Days

The commuter drag
through Haywards Heath,
nose-to-tail,
we queue before death,
we the cocooned
in our leases of life,
counting the weeks
until the holiday ride:
Succour found in Waitrose,
and down at Screwfix,
then a fantastic night –
thanks to Netflix.
I will wake in darkness,
and return home the same,
my weekends are spent
to validate this pain:
I squander my fortune
before I no longer work,
I save nothing for old age,
my pension’s a joke.