A Letter Home

I do not see this shaded life ending –
that which is being set forth by you
A plan of my restraint from expectation

to make me more comfortable
in a low shelter erected inside our home –
to protect you all from my hideous storms

I will not be laid out in the front room
in a God-awful wake of thirty years –
my very meaning slept away each night –

making daylight a drawn prelude to sleep
That is not my life – it cannot be the way
to feed my dignity and the thought of me

The Foreigner

This sun on me is a cure
helping my nails grow
and burning off that skin
which had been flaking

I am the foreigner
who scares the small kids
with his Englishness
and chrome walking stick

Older residents recognise
my dead brother in me
and stop to talk – or more
A grandmother touched my face

I read books the wrong way round
was one child’s observation
My kin have my eyes and brow
and are shocked by this mirror

Of Time

Our histories sit with us –
those unwelcome ghosts
We should not regret
their passing – that loss
If we foolishy embrace
unto any such crowd
then their knife – their gang
will bring us down

We should extinguish the flame
with wet finger tips
and promise the present
that the past has no grip
I am alone in these moments
taking each as my last –
secure that my future
is now planned by chance

Weather Warning

This apprehension rumbles –
one only audible to me?

I fear the threat of loneliness
Of old age’s inherent adage
being forced by the separation
which is executed under my hand
but has been otherwise decreed

I fear finding that all time has gone
and is then a compression to death
and then the flatline without recovery

I fear for the future of my children
because we have stolen their hope

I fear someone finding me frozen
in a bed
or chair
without them knowing me well

My Generation

There’s cash to be screwed off this ageing population
of us the near-needy – the to-be-nursed generation

Flyers and ads freefall from the ‘papers
promotions galore to entice us old-agers

Walk-in baths with a seat for tired pins
and packaway loos – such convenient things

Save now for your funeral and reduce the high cost
Insure your fucked body – shield your kids from a loss

They’ll sell off the house and divide the proceeds
Now dead your true worth – two holidays to Greece.

Care

What is he listening to today

the lad with the headphones

which are always on his head
as he strides to and from
the care home up our road
on seemingly shorter shifts

and forever fagging between them

then back
back to that commitment
in that same dark combination
of youth half-beard and sour look?

Honesty

As we suck in murmurs
I shut my eyes
the endangerment less
of that to cry

To explain in plainspeak
this fixing of pain
is to convert the Jews
to Christian games

Dinner is served
in a heated dish
as I drink red wine
which bleeds bullish

We hang the evening
like a bull in blood
the severance of such
is of all once loved

And I cry like a blackbird
that hazardous rasp
as tears hurt my face
in this regular farce

Parking Bays

David places the cones
at military distances
of old-paced equality
and makes sure the sign
which reads Funeral Today
is visible to all

It is a one way street
and not overly used
but it’s best to be sure
and there is nothing worse
than the blackened hearse
having to double park

Later in the day I watch
the staggered procession
of roughed-up mourners
making their way to church
on that road which has seen
the dead of Uckfield parked

The Neighbours

It was the caller ID
which daunted
for a moment
a selfish part of me

I went next door
to the possible passing

the one when I found
my neighbour’s
sick wife had died

But through ajar openings
and by calls aloud
I met her
alive
under scab formations

She had fallen
we all will
on a blood-marked rug
and had been hurried
to A&E

Patched

Now back
retuned to this bedroom
with supplements scattered
her able state was propped

Broken

I left to cut ham sandwiches
and delivered their meal
later
with an apologetic cough

The Secret

There are a thousand secrets
which cannot now be told

withheld in run-down hearts
and haunting tenebrous souls

He poured from the heavy bottle
that wine which was not blood

and broke the mouldy bread
to help soak the alcohol up

His life was changing shape
with the cut of floods and falls

all plots of pensions and peace
were not his
to now afford

He emptied that rattling bottle
of a pharmacist’s last count
and took his heartburn secrets
to a place upon the couch

No note
no one to read it
no confidences to be read aloud

Instead his pain passed silently
and his breath stopped in an hour

World War

That was a beer-warmed evening
underlined by an obese burger –
I avoided my return to the house
which echoed 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 was all alone
with my paper-wrapped chips
whilst varied kids wandered past –
So pissed off
followed by a lad who spits

And the ever-question hung –
Was I such a teenage-shit?
We all spat out many things –
The bin’s basket greeted me
into which I tossed
the greasy chip wrapper –
Nothing else smiled so much tonight

 

E241018

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

The Jam

Forty years ago
today
I knew boys who swapped
Tangerine Dream records
and others who spat punk

A comprehensive education
in a scrag end Surrey town
of smoke-rattled bike sheds

of wrong trousers and collars

of part formed love and loss

We all knew the girl who gave it
to the intelligent thug

she cried in maths and the bogs

Sex education still has no use

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 overexcited 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 NordernĀ  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]