A Deal

If I paid you in cash
would that make
meeting up
an easy trade to do –

without those afflictions
brought on – again –
by your loud dam?
(How she stage-whispers

in your shell-like –
that ear-piercing hiss
about your choice of men
and your other failings)

You never liked her
enough – be honest – love –
your mother’s devotion
will not be won – not yet

If I paid you in cash
would you lie down
for me? Currently (I see)
there is no queue

but then my appetite
for easy ways
seems long spent –
Let me pass on that deal

Brothers

So we look alike –
a connivance by genes –
but he smiles under higher
cheekbones

He is (still) crowned
by bottle-blonde hair –
we both have enough on top
to brush aside – for now

We make such
similar guttural grunts –
as if our low voices
have just broken

But we have been
split
for so long
without knowing how

to deal with sour differences –
our slighting jealousies
and curdled
misunderstandings

It is up to wives –
and ex-wives – to try
and fix things
Spilt milk leaves a stinking stain

which is hard to lift
from trodden-in places
Perhaps our ways
will not cross again

Decade Measures

RIP Chris Bell d.24.08.87

A decade mislaid since his
lingering disappearance
then Latin’s alphabet surfaced
across a white stone – struck
below a dusty Israeli suburb

Ness Ziona stands over him
He had jumped his rusting ship
another twenty years before
leaving a trail for investigation

How he ever got to Tel Aviv
ending up an eager volunteer
only him and God now know
sharing – as they do a bench
slumped – stalbet – in a cemetery
under high apartment shadows

 

 

The Mother-in-law Joke

She then struck out
with an open hand
to land callouses
and a creased palm
flat and fast across
my unshaven cheek

Unexpectedly received –
her flesh-reddening hate
applied five digits wide –
a gold ring-smacked slap –
it was my mother-in-law’s
barely risible routine

All because my wife lies
so turning her sour love
into a vinegary mash –
Never live with a woman –
those joke-gifted words
rung from another time

And if that assault
had been my strike out
then jangled handcuffs
would now be mine –
inequality has
its slight advantages –
sometimes – for some

The Naval Architect

My eyes roll on a direct path
to my right hand – they always have –
ever since Dad primed my sight
to command made out lines

from a lightly held pen – or pencil –
across unforgiving drawing paper
for hours of inked-in absorption
and detailing – a hatched addiction

His small blue police notebooks
received judges’ commendations
for his architect’s uppercase script
and capture by diagrams of details

A ship’s profile was our introduction
with fore and aft guns and funnels
and his low voice-over was part
of my art class at our kitchen table

I make my living with that degree
passed by his mastery of capture
I am drawn from my father’s centre –
also without any qualification

Gaddy

Constance Mary Sad – Baker – Clark –
also known as Gaddy

pranced
through Europe’s dared-to
decadence

finding her feet
in those wide-flared seventies
in every kind of ballroom competition

Come dance with me!
Len called –
a nine scored five times

by a sweet Devon girl
who once graced low tides on
Braunton Sands

Mother and Child

Slunked – almost cursed
being its low artfulness
among suburban yards
and spade-ruled beds –

brushing its rusted pelt
and curling as if a stole
fixed around that fat neck
of some awful woman

There was a dead cub –
clubbed and bloodied
by a car – or a truck –
on that stretch of road

from Lewes to Glynde –
Still intact – but still dead
as rushed traffic passed
without crushing it – yet