#GreeneKingPubs

These pulling places are rammed
by limp cocks and hard-to-hear voices

by forty-year-old bent coppers
and pitch-hoarse salesmen

feasting on glimpses of wagged butts
and – if lucky – being eye-felt back

as unsteady rounds are re-summoned –
until each wooden table holds it own

glass city of empties and knock-backs
All until that briefly-sweet inebriation

sours outside under high sodium lights
to illuminate empty fists and nose bleeds

and stage two kisses between strangers
All until that night’s confusions have melted

into soft-edge recalls and squeezed regrets
over sinks and basins – until we go again

The Chair

My fumbled-for decision of whether
to sit in my reading chair with my back
to my slow-to-rotting bay windows
took rare time to work out –
to atone

Do you face out –
sit there on show?
Or settle –
reversed to that view
with a low sun on any held book

But then not ideal for bright screens

So besort my riposte in that still-hunt

Only read off unpowered paper –
take bright retreats –
stay offline –
turn your chair from poking eyes –
write unplugged from all devices –
and leave biscuit crumbs
on well-thumbed pages

My chair can swivel

Not Undressed

Last night there was
an uncured intimacy
between three old lovers
of common threads
These damaged nights
are my fluid playground
of sex and rekindled
offset stuff – old urges
and displaced motives
which will take this day
to loosen off and unknot
from that second place –
reached far too early
when nightmares broke
whilst I was still dressed
and bound by my state
of delayed readiness
for those long night’s game
of subconscious plays

Chesil Beach

Will it ever happen? My voice falters
through this late illness
Oh to be reborn (higher)
as Mr Ian McEwan –

which is a fictional acclaim
of another person

Let us measure the worn pebbles
strewn by his ins and outs of moons
along his old pile – his stretched bank
of slipping shingle

See how his beached fishermen
can assume their sailed-to distance
away from where they launched off
just by looking at relative sizes
of landed on stones

like word counts – risen by worn tides
and daily changes of amplitude

He would not commit my fraud
of publishing self-edited works
Me – this writer of verse stories
sucking off my life of unsure
goings on

Florence – my guide who fumbles –
who will want to count out my medication
and place them in tight pill trays

We have drunk and spun
at London’s 100 Club
below brick-pressed soil
of Central London’s weight
lined in red from east to west
and back

again

We handled a soft give
of art’s sticks
which others call out as brushes
Now they are my voice

Her hands tremble when holding
blue porcelain before that tight vicar
who is leashed to his god by
a bleached-white collar

My strung semen and shame lies
on her virgin skin – a tugged garter
of exertions off cocksureness
I am Edward too-knowing
of only birdsong

led astray by my wife’s words
that we can live another life
of queers
by being separate – but still matched

Your married choice
was of a foolish husband
and an incomplete writer
Please read On Chesil Beach
to understand love

 

 

The White Houses

White immigrants are less-than-wraiths
casting no dark shadows in fever-run minds
of spooked politicians and border racists –
unless they live under foreign beliefs

They are then disowned as aphotic threats
to be that very fear of more is now enough
to allay relayed anxieties by politics and gods
These raw mistakes of old law-making deities

is seen in the spittle on their trembled lips
of rage – which mouth against differences in skin
and hallelujah songs from howled minarets
and synagogues – prayers of sprayed bullets

come to such gatherings – spitting evil’s phlegm

A Wedding Reception

This wedding party has fallen off –
Even the guests have had enough –
Mrs.Glenross sleeps in the lobby –
The hotel staff are now long-lost

An untied best man sways
to a two-fingered eye of whisky
which will be regretted before dawn
His rocket fuel is measured in shots

A fallen hareem in ball gowns
show once-alluring cleavages
as they take their turn to drop –
poison is coursing through veins

How many spouses
will still be married
come this honeymoon’s
half-sober morning?

A Crew

There is a slight run of resonance
with squared dips of catches –

it quickens with timed recoveries
along those rumbled turns

of leather-collared connections –
so that the forward lean-to-timings

lever everything to leant finishes
and the opening up of your lungs –

and we haven’t even talked
of power with the blade’s bowing –

We can master the cockboat’s turn
through hard rudder tips into the wind –

by finding strength in fixed ways –
by using the entry and exit in unison

Platform Five & Six

See it
See it
Say it
Say it
Sort it
Sort it

This is a security announcement
This is a security announcement

The next train on this platform
is the 15:41 calling at East Croydon
Gatwick Airport and Three Bridges


Remain behind the yellow line at all times
Remain behind the yellow line at all times

See it
See it
Say it
Say it
Sort it
Sort it

A Pathogen at Work

This year’s olive crop
is failing across Apulia
as older-than-Christ
groves are uprooted

to break the spread
of the end of the world
for sun-dried farmers
who bear the dark look

of bereaved parents
at their child’s funeral –
as their questions to God
are waved away at mass –

Their pontiff no longer visits
because Rome is burning
with rumours of disease
promulgated by priests


Dry

Bugger off to those soda syphons
claiming in January sainthood –
un-settlers of our sense of right
with their smug month-long cast
of sober teases off whipped rods –
with their dry false flies as bait –
those anglers now spreading
their dull-witted winter diseases
of no more indulgences –
drowning by their dry resolution –
But we have our thirst-fix gulps
from all-answering tankards
as they stare out at tame still water


Two Masterclasses

A.A. rebuked me –
Do not use ‘I’ –
that first person singularity
it’s not yours to rhyme –

It’s of the oppressed –
their turned-to-word –
for taking control of
that which is owed –

And – A.A. then said –
There’s too much ‘the’ – too –
‘The’ is a word
which only dead poets
should use

But J.G. had reproved me –
a short while back –
The ‘the’
is missing –
it makes your poetry slack


Found in Birmingham

[A prose poem]


Here is an old white male using his poetry to ease off drugs and dropped lines – verse defined words – his strips in place – in plied lines – to avoid being lost in a rush and buff – of being set to in slow motion – fixing over him – sat above him – then floating signs which point at him – they light him in garish neon – and flicker with shouts – this old white male crows – this white male quietly denies bright white goods – this white male will now – as one man – apologise for chains – for tied ropes – for pricing bent heads – this palliation is not for any racist whom he knows – those he hears – those foul loud spat speakers – he can see their white spit – sickly double thinkers – there is white hate paint on the tip of every finger of pint tipping beer drinkers in his ghost town – he reads their glassy foamed thoughts as they form – because we all emit that local illogical eye illness – passed down – lie to lie through ill brewed words – and other such ways – our white lied said inflexions are caught in our history – the way the world rhymed and how our thick ears cock – but ignore white crows


 

Lossy

So this internet thing –
it is not perpetual –
those coded points
are subjected to atrophy
by compression –
of post-reposts –
a shrinking by interactions –
a constant thinning –

as offline moments thicken
with time’s hand-hefted
brushwork —
see – original composition
is super-fogged
by varnished layers
of obfuscations —

My dark-slapped lacquers –
upon my rubbed recalls –
are words-on-words –
becoming dried-hard glazes —
Even instant-spun thoughts –
such attempts – gloss over

finding not enough
clarity to remain –
all will fade under the loss
of servers and by untruthful views
of clicks-by-bots —
These words will not last long enough
to work for us


 

Enclosed – Sheet of Instructions

That parquet floor you laid –
you refused to keep to
Enclosed – Sheet of Instructions
It is now lifting and separating —

Your brushed-off mistakes –
of not taking time to bond – to glue –
to set – are now a dozen fault-lines
across our hall and living room —

You have posited tectonic plates
in each space – where you bent and knelt –
jagged shadows of slow shifts away —
Others’ prayers are with our marriage


Last Rites

His wife told him – on Sunday –
that she bedded another man –
last Monday –
A bloke who –
if named now –
would see
them both equally shamed –
before their shared families –
It’s almost bloody biblical –
He said –
It’s not their first go –
at such stuff –
they’ve done it before then –
and often –
Finding out last time –
his advice to his wife was –
Never again – Never – Please –
‘Cos of who – ‘Cos of place and
‘cos every other circumstance –
She’s away working –
He told me –
I don’t have a bleedin’ clue
what happens now – Sorry –
I needed to – dunno – offload –
Pretty crap stuff –
I nodded –
Then his gallows laughter –
Nice way to end a tough year!


 

The Village Hall Players

Three empty tables –
without decorations –
set equal – spaced
with sweated men
at squared-up ends –

They are quick to each
shot with fenced returns
off slightly comical bats –
facing up to their other –
posed low in a mirror –

with backhand – forehand
and wrist flicks of a ball –
that metronome tick – set
by the smacked kisses
of celluloid – rubber – wood –

measured eye-to-hand over
the stretched – pitiful – nets –
to gain advantages ruled-in
without any higher umpire
by meeting white-line edges

to beat an inverted opponent –
although both well-matched –
but not enough to claim a draw –
there is always only one winner
between men playing at tables


White Gloves

Words are not
field-dug hoards
or fragile relics –

to be held offline
in bound spines –
for those educated

and up-it classes
to have – to hold
in cotton gloves –

then returned
to turned keys –
& slid back into

rosewood cabinets –
We will own
our every word


 

Our Slack Dog Sleeps

Our slack dog sleeps – again –
under backlit performing particles –
those flecks – peeled and rubbed –
bare floating remnants of us

in ramped tilts of warming beams –
up there – fine speckles cavort against
our sureness of earth’s old ways –
under ageing theories of gravity –

That free carnival of melancholia
almost pulls me down alongside
her – laid out on our made-up bed –
matching breath-for-breath –

to wonder under our lost stars –
This is my routine – my vie with time –
now – on common weekdays
after the exodus of kids – to try

to find flow from my inertia –
drugged by my hate of
my paid-by-the-hour ego-building
for lank corporate schemers –

those dullard committees
of amateur designers
desiring temporary cathedrals
built in the air out of dust –

by me – wearing the same jeans
for three weeks – no one sees
me bent to my desk with malaise’s
dirty weight of false deadlines –

No one sees me dipping my eye
to find brief relief in my word chapels –
small wonders – crafted from
their commissioned remnants


 

 

More Waiting Rooms – Please

[A prose poem]


East Croydon could be LGW or the upstart crow Milton Keynes station – each we passed through to BHX – those visited identikits of brand-stamped sub-city intersections – of yellow lines and low-hung fixed-font signs – there are no seat comforts – no – no more on any platform – no shuttable waiting rooms – no blistering braziers – a common risk in ’72 – when our choices were gas fumes or freezing – Provide us with indoor benches and free heat at connections – Do not risk-assess our comforts – Do not then tell us to stand and wait before the cold blasts of fast-passing services


 

Mr Murray

Sitting with Mr Murray in February sunlight –
under new blue skies – we met at a word church
which boasts a blue plaque for Mr William Hutton –
Bookseller – the first Historian of Birmingham –

Mr Murray’s words sweep the clean streets –
You know .. We could be anywhere in the world –
below fawn high rises – in Sydney – in Hong Kong –
no city surprises me!

Mr Murray isn’t sat with me – here in the sun –
not in St. Martins – not in the Old Rep’ theatre –
but contained beside my small biro’d thoughts –
with my inked finger on his Waiting for the Past –

Talking to strangers is my constant disease –
Sitting with old poets an occasional delight –
those small distances stepped through cities
lay deeper word footings in my travelled mind


 Edited 200219

Thursday – Overground to Euston

We travel sober through London Bridge – below
brick arches – on roads cowered by glassy heights –
Our cabbie blasts bent-to-smartphone bodies
back from near-hits on red-man crossings –

it seems that Londoners have now forgotten
how to see the threats beyond their implements –
We now live hand-to-eye – no longer hand-to-mouth –
no shape-to-spoken words – now embedded emojis spout –

We briefly find speed over the river crossing
and then turn left through the gold standard of cheats –
of fund managers – of clerics – of bankers and white Gods –
where every seat and bench in the low sun is arse-taken –

Thursday lunchtime is the dress rehearsal for Friday excess
behind St Paul’s – and in the eateries of Clerkenwell –
in the stained and new cafes – at exotic roadside pop-ups
and in smoke-free pubs until ten o’clock that night –
Our ride is time travel and a belching reminder that
we are in a handcart to hell – instead of the Underground


 

The Ascension – St.Martin in the Bull Ring

Before that art-by-light –
a conceit of Burne-Jones
which is framed within lead –

before the builders’ thrums
from the other side of
that tall story of saints –

commissioned under strict
instruction that it should
bear no oxen –

it was possible to feel
the touch of his brushwork –
of his mixing of skin colours

to be lent them by dipped winter
backlight – as it was designed –
to feel dried paint on my face –

those pigments rear-projected
into a warm kiss of soft gobos –
then my own-ish ascension

into an understanding of being –
under that church’s vaulted height –
My creed warmed – half-confirmed

within that minute of grace –
of time’s fusion of experience
and of being there


 

A Bull Ring Recital

Into God’s house below the Bull Ring –
it offers automatic doors
which open to a wild piano recital

before empty pews – set C of E stiff –
aligned and tuned to religious creaks –
here only stained sunlight warms

as fat chattering volunteers spit
in tongues – the pianist is subsumed
by her memory-art of ivories and wires

as half a dozen souls – hard seated –
do not dare shift lest it upsets
her selfless performance
which – when ends – is not applauded


E160219

The First Racing Turn

We can start with the basics –
the lifting and full leans on oars –
but before long we will have to dig
and pull at less certain surfaces
out at sea and under the command
of racing rules – those set demands
of distance and clockwise turns
around anchored buoys – whilst
in smacking earshot of others’ boats –
those crews that can pull away –
under almost-mechanical techniques –
those we have to hone – Our finest victory
will be the first finish we achieve –
and then we will know how to row

My Designs

I am abraded by a faux light
for my immediate set of tasks –
I sit at my cluttered desk

before that eye-bleach of pixels
framed on a twistable mount –
that rarely wrestled wrist –

I slump before it – weighted by to-dos
by deadlines for stage designs –
my fanciful constructs

in rented spaces for the business
of presentations – for buffed egos
and unfurled peacock feathers –

for fat chanticleers in sharp suits
and for ruffled hens in tottered heels
to preen at brand-gilded lecterns –

those podiums were once brushed –
leafed in beaten gold for unseen gods –
but I enwomb false altars in hewn MDF –

Set to stand – braced – for only one day
before a room of corporate disciples
who pray for the coming of closing remarks

The Lash

We will – now – we will be read like tea leaves
swilled in a bone china cup and saucer
We – the forcing twins will find a paradox –
the mirrored – the paired inept

Us – the repeated – the sighted mis-readers
of too many – many shames – our mistakes –
under a cooling off – of weightlessness
of false sways – of our un-weighings –

here the sickly heavens will heave –
taking us – bowed into a curved white bowl
of moaned throat prayers –
cold mantras between each lost mouthful

against our friends – Falsified? –
Of exultations –
upon that hard – that bare hardness –
so we spew kisses –

there on the glossiness – the unclean porcelain –
as our bloodless faces pair
to the low level of beer-darkened water –
There – one more soundless drowning –

bereft of any of the bubbled screams –
into the suck-suck
of breath-dead air –
our lungs will now surrender as lost

and we shall pull our heads
from this bent reverence – then –
then –
we will find succour in tap water

Freight

I favour the white spaces
between my words –
my loose goods trucks
left uncoupled –
let to roll into others’
classification yards
under the pull of inclines –
ridden
by the freighthoppers –
you few readers
of these lines
who find the hewn floor
a brief comfort –
and me – another traveller –
of sorts – I sit alongside you

Lined

The parallel profiles
of the fifty to sixty linden trees
are bitten-thin by the wind
at this time of year

but their ever-tall alignment
of bared trunks
is still my local fixture

There – spaced by landed
strides off an owner’s count –
along this now hemmed-in route –

once a sublime wide avenue
to a grand house –
ridden up forty-ish years earlier
by a princess –
Sporting Life by her side

Now it is the route to a
sprawled estate
of modern servants
who push their buggies
and pull their dogs
along the uneven surface –

a shaded path
for the good half of the year –
for the other bared months
it is fifty to sixty sundial
shadows – if there is sun –

I haven’t counted the trees –
each a timer set by a lime
in the low winter light

I Cannot Laugh Alone

I cannot laugh – not here
under deeds-squared –
not set right by brick walls
or shared boundary lines –

I cannot find a common rip –
no throaty response
to such drivel – no haw-haw
to ear-struck offences

I am talking to myself
in these late-night poems –
which are witchcraft-wishes
for under-dark flourishes

Laughter is a primal grunt –
we are bared-teeth apes –
but do not admit so much –
that would be straight

We can’t afford the weight
of any such conflagrated
head-butts over trolley aisles
or school pick-up lines

I do not LOL alone –
in this cast of red blocks –
because the clocks tell me
of the so-serious ways

Early Morning at Abbey Mills, c.1928

In memory of Elwin Hawthorne

It must be an early summer
recollection
with the sun so high
on tin roof contours –
before the gauze and filter
of veiled vapours –
settled by less-puddled
watercolours –

The torn foreshore
is a bared cross-section
of London’s tidal visits –
sunken Roman traits –
that wallow of empires’
drowning of ways –
which were then re-built
for the Industrial Age

The Best a Man

Let boys be damn boys
Let men be damn men
@PiersMorgan

Let our quick fists and sly cocks
damn us all –
Let young men sport superior
sneers and hate –
Let our sons expect the birth-right
to high esteem –
Let our male egos distend under
our close-shave chins –
Let our wives – our mothers –
our daughters –
Let them down by
letting ill-bestowed egos rule –
Let me not be damned

Insect Hunting

There was that microcosm
fixing my dawdled childhood
in which I centred myself
in a kneeled-to wondering

as unidentified insects
routed in and out – between
bent blades of variegated grass –
and in that airtight stillness

nervy sparrows let me forage
alongside their skits and hops –
until we were all fed enough
by the microscopic wonders

and then I unhinged
my tight focus – pulled back –
unhooking from nature
as Concorde halved the sky –

that white flechette – fustian –
slapping pigeons from the trees –
it was another sudden brutality
in my sub-sonic childhood

Professor Seagull

Joe Gould’s swag bags of pearls
were only bags of bags of bags –
they were his carried-out emptiness
of the never-written writer’s words –

but he could speak seagull fluently –
having learnt the dockside language
of New York’s scavenging finest –
taking their shrill wind-scatterings –
setting them to his Cherokee stomps

His claim to have written such a vastness –
ten times longer than the Bible
and then to carry around such a thing –
was this vagrant’s bagged possession

#OpenMic

In a rather cruddy function space
above a time-stale pub in Brighton –
sat uneven – at beer-stained tables –
we sipping poets of no published note

fingered our place settings of paper
in folders – our kicked headstones –
Here Lies M.A. Bell – and other writers –
who died slow deaths of dull rejection –

There is no air or space these days
for me – from the other side of poetry
quoting verbatim Atilla the Stockbroker –
he put me in my place a long time ago –

There sat – that fusty room’s rum alien –
in my coat – offering quatrains of fear
about warm croissants – and disease –
and Del La Warr – and surrealism –

not getting close to the slam-generation
with their pert feats of rhymed memory –
my voice not near their flat intonation –
do not attempt their shopping list poetry


Paid

Bend to the paid work in hand
and watch your hours fall away
as if they are pearls spilt off string –
those drops off your tilted head
under the fast-running shower –
in the hour before you commute –
until those sped beads are nothing –
And do not ever – ever – attempt
to be a true artist unless squared –
unless you are recompensed
for the selfish hours given to art’s
endeavour – it was Van Gogh’s failing –
not putting money first

The Commuters

Our Ikea-padded cells
should guard us from self-harm –
but instead they fuck with us
in cubes of coupled calm

Each of us fitfully sleeps
in our over-familiar beds –
we pick at our clipped wings
feathering empty nests

We rise to expected alarms –
our daily rude refrain –
to stumble without consciouness –
to queue for time-warped trains

In cattle trucks we stand and sway –
our iprods poke our eyes –
blinding us from seeing
the pastures passed outside

London Bridge – we rise to screams
as the wheels rub on the track –
we shuffle from the shouldered stalls –
spewed out – we can’t turn back

Turn

She turns to let the bird go –
as if it would leave
such half-robed beauty –
as if it would be robbed
of a close indulgence
like us cocksure things

and I can pick up the scent
from her underarm sweat
as she rotates – so as to let
the creature lift from her –
as she turns away
on her bare bone heels


Inspired by Michaela Ridgeway’s art @michaelasian

This Builder

I am a too-quick builder –
one without the weight
of an elbowing canvas bag
of inherited tools –

Mine are not recognisable
as such – no textured grips
of moulded plastic
over cold-formed steel –

My way with these agencies
is by an ill-lightness
of slightest finger touches
on the tablet’s screen –

I chisel and cut without blows
until I slip – step back –
to see – and read – some
over-engineered words –

The curtain rail in our bedroom
dips unattended –
It no longer serves
any purpose

No Room

Through this sludge-week
before your lit Yuletide –
this path of slopped rain
sucks hard on my boots

as I traipse in my circles
of the dog-dug conditions –
through which I’m set fast
by your barked-out orders –

Only return home
with a well-cut one –
which will not then tip –
not ’til the twelfth day –

Such held superstitions –
erected by lost Popes –
were claims on short nights
over our pagan ways –

I’d rather keep cold gods
from the warm living room –
I hold no love
for your desiccated tree

#Saifullah & Son

Six hundred and fifty
now reduced to forty –
there the forgotten
forever prisoners

under the tight grip
of our Guantanamo’s
barbed existence –
to be kept alive –

in your own grave
Saifullah’s words –
until the end of time –
until the buried future

The Pilot

Stunned by an off-keel tip –
but that was part of the deal
of any such heaved pull
under the pilot’s minimal steer
of his salt-pressed gig crew –

then the high wave-slams of
the clinker-laid hardwood boat
upon the vast ship’s tarred hull –
as if beating upon the pregnant
belly of a dark leviathan

Those men had won the right
to pull alongside – to profit –
to earn their paid return to the
dark harbour’s pints of succour –
but only with the turn of the tide

by half a dozen oars in that boat
timed by a hundred – or more –
counted out from the hefted launch
to that last profitable throw of rope
onto the huge ship of strangers

#BlackFriday

I crumpled – again – this morning –
with the endless news – which I cradled –
still warm – in my left hand –
then this unplugged device dimmed
to save on power usage

I stroked the sempiternal story
with a stiff finger – re-lighting it –
the act of scrolling – like teasing skin
with love’s lightest of touches
to bring a waking company to life

My roll-over nights of trickled
sweat-streams will be re-stoked –
Reuters reports of more kinds
of fucks – of over-heated ice
washing from those off-white poles

They now count the last of a species
on one hand – measuring the missing
in thin percentages – filling media inches –
which shift plastic – that advertised crap –
I crumple with such endless news

Bar Work

For P.

//Grown men bear-hug
in the cinema bar –
this town’s tough men –
they stand held-hard
//with doffed back pats –
almost softly-kissed –
after sunken fizzed beers
after curried fears –
//and the curled-hair girl
quick-checks her sly glance
in the double door glass
of the flung entrance
//That beautiful woman
on the other sunk sofa
before heading out
sinks a sobering soda
//and I’d walk her home
above staggered kerbs –
struggling – still holding –
her wine-tipped words

Confirmation Bias

Bias – it is our twisted keel
set into that unequal sea swell

and then – quickly – us-confirmed
by our whirlpools of story-telling

as inner-chilled monologues –
Those inside off-stage voices

will whisper too many untruths –
which are not to be corrected

by any offline editor-to-speech

The Wounded

(A nod to @tonyhoags_LPS)

I am – I think – also wounded into speech –
by limped-off difficulties – by disconnections
away from my pages – I admit my ply of lines

of instant fixes – of weaved words into verse
My tipping point – there by daylight – re-set
after dull errors and other such mistakes

it is my NHS-wrap of lightly cast plaster
to mend – gripping – my snap-bone moment –
or – the tip of talcum on to sweated flesh

I am no more hiding from the heated fallout
of my dull errors – those bombed mistakes –
my day-to-day words are just housekeeping

What My Words Are For

Die Grenzen meiner Sprache
bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt

Did Wittgenstein mean –

‘The limits of my language
mean the limits of my world’ –

or – in other translated words –

‘the limits of my language
stand for the limits of my world’ –

and then later he then stated –

‘the limits of my language
are the limits of my mind –
All I know is
what I have words for’

#HustlePorn

You are a part of hustle porn
having once taken the dark oath
in a silent swearing-in

You surrender to twenty-hour days
missing every sunset in the week

You are schlepping overnight – there
imbibed upon their dripped breasts –
be they Yahoo’s or Spotify’s squeeze
in their rule of the way to work

You are pressed against the deadlines
with your suckled infant face

You dreamt of electric sheep
grazing on forever-rain rooftops
because you fell asleep reading
a novel – because you cannot sleep

Because your eyes are glued wide
open – because
You suffer hustle porn

#ExtinctionRebellion

You stood together
deep and wide enough
to stop cars from crossing
London’s tarred bridges –
leaving the delayed
Fucking! at your solemn belief
whilst blocking the concrete
arteries which cross and re-cross
that leaden slug – the Thames –
But the oil-soaked rags –
those still-connected papers –
only reported the traffic chaos

#extinctionrebellion
#RebellionDay

Egon

Schiele’s quickened passing
at twenty-eight years of age –
just days after his wife’s death
and his pillow-propped sketch
of her looking back into him –

was more shocking to you
than his egregious
unfurling of women –
than his use of cadaver colours –
than his fists of cherry red knuckles
and brush-heightened nipples
in rude ochre brightness

His death scene was art –
like his eroticised life
where his place in it
was at the centre of sex
which he kept in twists of love –

of girls in their pulled-up stockings –
lifted tight – but not as high as
their dog-dark fleeces
on their ridged pubis regions –
which they pointed at – and into –
with their gnarled finger touches –

There above the not-quite contrite
cock-spaced curves – which he sculpted
in paint over yet another stretched canvas –
there in the air between their swayed thighs –

there lay those air-kissing sex-salted lips –
all his undressings pre-dating porn’s
artless forms –
there to feed others’ sexual pleasures –
those of the greedy male collectors

The Street Artist

Across the radiator-hot pavement
is his greatest work – ever
under the gawp of holiday kids
and the blind-sided motorists

They will not know how much
the snapping sticks of chalk
weighed in his eye-in-hand –
even on such days of sunlight

The pain in the painting is his
to hold – briefly – in his quick grip –
to get the artwork down and out
before it is worn away by use

Units of Measure

It is this moment – a problem of
mine – in my stumbled-to-stand –
when I rise to a lowered sobriety –
to another false swing of swagger
into the blind tight turn to corners
of sharp right-rights and then-thens –

I am stuck still – counter-stopped
at the gloss-bald white worktop –
to find-and-twist – to dead-head –
another French label – volute
from contorts in cellars – such snobs –
at eighteen quid-ish of so much –

So very much more – bottled up –
Another grip on her narrow neck –
she opens up to a wine bled red –
a gutting-burn of drunk guilt
as I surrender to my mild hangover
which is my waking anal fist

Kurt

So it goes – from the
slaughterhouse cellar
under Dresden –
At that safe depth –
with Werner Gluck –
his half-relative

An unholy war
as narrative – but
it has no time line –
it makes no sense –
until historians
claim a victory
from those events

Grandpa stood
with the PPU –
he fought in fields –
not foreign felder
he eyed the loam
from his pacifist shelter

On the other side
an enlisted man –
my dead grandfather –
shelled on thin sand

Pablo

I wasn’t looking for Picasso
but I found him – seated –
whilst my Spanish was poor
his English was gilded

Please – Monsieur Picasso
Call me Pablo – he gestured
at the world and her wife –
Could I ask you one question?

He looked me up and down –
sized for a suit – or a kiss?
Maybe eyeing my fixed shape
for his oiled redress?

Was it – ‘Inspiration will come,
but it must find you working?’
Or – ‘Inspiration exists,
but it has to find us working?’

His eyes were hard marbles –
set polished and buffed –
I was stroked by his gaze –
those eyes were his touch

which re-set the truth
which now took me down –
Realmente importa?
A smile then a frown

He loosed a curled dove –
his brush was speaking –
‘Inspiration exists –
but it has to find you working’

Turns

I returned the ripped heart
of Saint Laurence O’Toole –
canonised post-mortem
for acts whilst entombed

As Archbishop Lorcan
he acted well in hair shirts –
and in shroud-wrapped death
he performed miracle parts

Another found-reliquary –
I gave it back to the nuns
Religion is theatre –
but it’s not the West End

This Parish

We stick to the leaf-kicked route –
a parting of the dry sea of leaves
cleared by dog-following boots –

We tack down its meandered drop
to the time-softened abyss –
plugged not by God – but drains –

where a watercourse once hollowed
the hillside into this shallow dean –
before the slugs of tarmac upstream –

Here the irregular plots of silver birches
ignore the fallen old lady in lime green –
this is the parish of ineffectual giants –

these natives – a copse within the woods –
are a finger-daubed fearful tribe in white –
chary – waiting – as if standing ready –

listening for the infected invaders
from other places – for intruders
who will bring other such followers

to spread the canker and pestilence –
which was not the way things changed –
not until we changed the weather

Hangover

There is an almost mist of ghostly off-loadings –
like pellucid Nan Tuck – or the long-lost Lord Lucan
My night now haunts me as a half-recalled dream

I breathe and count steps – taught by Seneca’s NHS –
Let only your body wander – don’t admit useless thoughts
The dog bounds due east in her leaps at life’s time

Unseen from overhead I’m no more standing – erased
under glances of passenger lists –
I am lost in the skinned canopy’s leaf-bare branches

I am then ducking below berry-weighted evergreens –
where the temperature drops by one or two degrees –
and still the weakened sun scathes my misted wine eyes

Naming Rights

Should I give a name
to those stolen logs
and breaks of wood
which were dragged
and then laid in place
in the muddiest parts
of our dipping routes?

They span the indents –
the heel-suck puddles
in the uneven paths –
Not bridging boughs
too stepping stones
I will leave it now to
a far greater authority
to find the best thing
to fill that word space

#bbcqt

Hear pile-up politics in a thick lathered buzz –
Question Time’s audience is a scream-streamed TX

Almost over-directed for a hyped-up reception –
Our screens are re-tuned to TV’s deception

Below the radar into our licensed homes –
finding the softest – in our sofa-slumped zones –

Some people will toss their floating votes –
they’ll re-tune held views via the set-top box

to long-lost frequencies of old-school racists –
an angry audience with their for-TV faces

Envious

My envy device knows me too well
just from the lightest of my touches –

She is engineered to conduct risings
inside my mind from sparked jealousy –

ramping up to shrill shocks of hate –
which will then swill around my unfit gut

and tease those last good microbes
into a lurching frenzy of brain cramps –

then I want to steal their smug smiles
which beam from their side of the world –

and she will be working so very well
at keeping me in her malicious circle –

and I will add fuel to her high pyre
by posting my oh-so-perfect life atop it all

*Inspired by@guardian and Moyra Sarner – thanks for the ‘envy device’

The Butchers

There – baited by the thump
of traffic several times –
it looked more than dead
with its striped pelt ripped open

There between the rush
of commuters and trucks
magpies took greedy pleasure
from the brock’s speedy kill

There the spill of pink inners
across the black tarmac
was a shiny reminder
that this pile was once alive

Here on my return journey
the carcass is less – now bated –
but not by the mischief of birds –
instead by a compaction of cars

Shortcut

Dream holes and desire paths –
those spire views and bared routes –
those modern urban lay lines –
guiding light and human shifts –

letting sound and choice drift
until the unbuilt gets put down
and our tracks are lost to tarmac –
when our reveries are blocked up –

once the empty churches are sold
and the open parks are enclosed
by signs halting walking on grass –
we will lose the ways we made

Late Out

This dessicated path
is an off-white scar
under the moon’s phase
of waxing gibbous

Boots and tamed dogs
have worn this route
into a grass-bare map
which I read by that light

The holding flightpaths
of man-made meteors –
of ephemeral accords –
circle among the clouds

The transmitter mast blinks
with a beast’s red eye
shaming Arcturus and Mars
so even those stars fade

This as the bypass hums
a song of our war won –
our tilt against creation
by over engineering

Ali

This latest named storm
is as magnificently loud
as Seaford’s raw shingle
when overturned by tides –
but now it is tipped across
the highest of these trees
which emit fearful creaks
and then offer a low footfall
of snapped touchwood

These tall variations
take each sucker punch
like hardened pugilists
with their bent bones –
whilst whipped saplings
spill their dried germen
as they cower and crowd
like ingrateful men
sheltered from a fight

I sit to rest my shuffled legs
and shut my blasted eyes
to truly see what I can hear
as the stripped off leaves
fall in layers around my seat –
each arrival noted by the puff
of a soft landing on another –
In the hush of this ripped storm
I find my ancient connections

New Terms

Whist you commuters
weary your lit ways
at ergonomic desks
and begging screens

I will walk out
to that richer idyll
that you can only visit
when allowed

You are locked down
by your WiFi streams –
even the commute
is more small displays

Those sealed views
from that fixed carriage
is the best you can do
on most weekdays

until the sullenness
of September dims
and the daily journeys
are seen as reflections

And the mid-term break
in October’s pointlessness
is the dark reminder
that holidays have been taken.

Sunday in Seaford

There the sunburnt woman
sits alone – her cheeks inflated
and colouring to that near-pink
of shrimp-stained flamingos

whilst two older ladies draw
their lines in snapping charcoal
on bared sketch book pages –
each hoping to record beauty –

two on art-pressured sheets
and one – later – in the mirror –
England’s ruddy south coast
still blushes as if caught out

The tradition of seaside decay
settles alongside the ageing folk –
curling as flotsam – delineating
the ragged edge of our known world

And here we locate ourselves
in a bolted and braced beach hut
to watch the dog walkers and seekers
parade in opposite directions

Turn Left

I take the dipped fork
of near-identical width
but this left path is falling
and narrowed in breadth

It follows the slope
of the redundant stream
where the hills ran off –
once-washed – bare reached

But now drainage and driveways
have altered old flows
above ancient rights
there is no such urge

I pass standing iron –
a fence absorbed in a tree –
it needs no hard posts
in that adopted place

There’s a weighted trade
in these heavy woods –
between man’s intervention
and her constant response

A Diversion on the Road to the Dead Sea

We drove due east
past the concrete wall –
by the older stones
which marked the fall

of carved-up gods
honed by man’s cold sword –
through the broken centre
of this confusing world –

here restricted Jews
and Muslims had bled
under scythed prayers
of crusading men –

Rose water was scrubbed
to reclaim the rock –
to wash from the slabs
the foul tread of a god –

When the mosque was burnt
in a war on the dome
a madness was found –
Jerusalem Syndrome

Hopes raise and implode
back to rubble and dust –
Forty centuries of walls
have never been lost


E170119

Under Buxted House

The gouged stream ran more loudly
than on our last slogged hike –
that rush was the first signpost
on this Sunday-worn path –

I had chosen the wrong boots
for the rain-slip and clay-stick
of the surface which had changed
after the previous day’s storm

Here the invasion of knotweed
was secure in these conditions
unlike my own slid footings
over roots and low branches

The moss sides of tree trunks
were theatrically intricate –
as if that last heavy downpour
had instructed them to thicken

I was thankful for my dog –
and my walking stick – both found
ways amongst the cake mix mud
to routes left unaffected overnight

I do not have names for all that I saw
Nature does not care for me
and refuses to give up her confusion
for us walkers of man-made breeds

The Bared Craters

Here under the canopy are exploded craters
where fickle nature has fought a short war
pitting her one-sided strengths to uproot
in an onslaught against these ancient woods

She reins victoriously with the long surrender
and now directs those flaking birch to fill the gaps
and for brambles and fern to hide the fallen
with their late summer re-sized leaves

When we walk here in the scowling winter
there will be no hiding her raged brutality
as the tipped roots are again exposed
and her brutal battlefield is uncovered

Meanings

For each life to have significance
it needs to be led by awareness

Do not stand off from others
like those diffident observers

You must embrace loved moments
as you move through slowed days

of small actions and interactions
so your short time is truly valued

There is an art to such attention
which is not taught at any school

Let your magnifying glass pause –
learn from the immodest instances

Tie the loose laces of another’s shoe
into the tight knot that they prefer

Become versed in their fingered turns –
how their interactions are directed

You should not steal their thoughts
as you stumble in their taken steps

Only consider how they measure
from their own eyes looking back

And live without your own thoughts
colliding in this time with inner fictions

Then you can walk at your own pace
with – or without – others

Out of the Woods

The soil is dry and compacted
under the last threadbare fall

The laggard stream clogs
between the dropped branches

The cow parsley – and others –
stand as unpicked summer fossils

The weighty berries tease
among sharpened brambles

August should now stutter
into the slow rot of Autumn

But that immigrant heatwave
has not shifted from us

The seasons are so confused
by our greedy interference.

The Dog Walk

I mistook a dropped box of Durex
and the discarded instructions
as a rarely spotted fag packet

My two dogs poked their snouts
around this additional litter
and moved on without direction

This – our diverted morning walk
of squats and leg lifts en route
with me tugging on their long leads

I was a stalled stunt kite flyer –
crossing and uncrossing the strings
as they knotted ahead of me

The weekend gardeners buzzed
and clipped around my obligation
of giving these two their flight

Attention

Heed half-attention
to these written words
and the breath it takes
to read my thoughts

Here in the present
at which you look
stay aware
of my conjoured tricks –

which we now see
in separate worlds
joined by my verse
and nothing else

No hardened borders
or long-haul flights –
so turn off the clock
to find more time

Then walk with me –
but not too fast
past Thoreau’s woods
to face what has passed

as it now collides
with the present
and our time is filed
as misplaced moments.

Eclipse

I danced my weight home
to a no-eclipsed Moon
whilst reports of Her crimp
were reduced – removed

Her amber qualities
here timely-abused
by a shifted Earth’s
slow sun-spun cruise

As we sweat into sleep
and tug on warmed fear
please pray for a God
who will rain on us tears

If no good will fall
on our field-wide droughts
then pray to the Devil
for floods to drown doubts

Expect little beauty
in this high hemisphere –
whilst long winds spin
the clouds quite queer

And if all such plans
only map out to dust
then take to the lake beds
and imagine them lush

Drink the low waters
which form as warm pools –
but do not imbibe
the next epoch of fools.

This Brexit Summer

Every upstairs window
was wide open
as if an exorcism
had violently willed
the throwing
of panes and drapes –

that unlocking
from the day’s hard heat
of still bedrooms
and even dark landings –
which up until now
were cool shelters

Such inflammation
is now an English condition
which is mishandled
in every negotiation
between couples
and sweated politicians

We will sit in shade
this July and not suffer
the rude temperatures
which expose flesh
and remove the duvets
but not for sex.

Early Rising

I let the cool air in over the parquet floor –
my temporary mistress for these few hours
before the sun fucks her rude heat
back into our brick and glass box

I said we’d need blinds to counter this
warming of the morning face of the house
But my pronouncements were stale –
like unpalatable coffee breath kisses

In the room without windows we had sheltered
from the fallout of this sky-dropped summer –
there for an evening of radiation off the TV
which in itself fed the ice-threatening heat

At this hour the bedooms are containers
of the sheet-shoved and half turned over –
where the poorly slept bodies simmer
and adjust to itched consciousness

It is only five o’clock but the sun has risen
at this point on the turned earth’s surface –
Soon there will be words about the weather
and requests to fix the sprinklers will be made

BN1

BN sweats under this carbonised heat
as hard-hatted men kick up coughed dust
among those lost floors of Hanningtons –
that now-gutted department store

I sit in Brighton Square where I hear
every nation parade as the coffee
cakes the inside of my mouth –
a bitter rake across my taste buds

Still the Italian girls chatter
in loud tongues – untroubled
Their volume drops when the jack hammer
is suffocated by the lunch hour

My eldest arrives from her office
for our lunchtime that is becoming
a regular retreat for me from Sussex
and her own escape from her desk.

Science Block

Surface tension
gives water droplets
that almost
spherical shape
A sphere – I was told –
has the least
possible surface area
to volume ratio

My science lessons
were not elliptic –
the strains on the class
were uneven –
instead we received
rough instruction
from miserable teachers
on secondary pay

Biology lessons had a tang
of flesh
and chemistry
was a measured stench

Back from Israel

At three thousand feet
I peck at a tray of crap
as the girl next to me
pokes her laptop

Her typing is rapid –
she’s re-writing scripts
I rinse food with wine
and leave the worst bits

A man swings his baby
in a hipster sling
parading his manhood
as an accoutrement

I cannot sleep
even drugged by booze
on this return
which I do not choose

To Deny

That preterist way
of completed schemes
here sound as raw
as infants’ screams

I watch the place
where parakeets nest
in weighted boughs
they make protests

Those trees which grew
a heightened shade
on this claimed place
which Jews re-made

The pool’s loud shouts
a stone’s throw there –
to that shared space
we now repair

Here parents stand
in thigh-deep games –
their inflated kids
play out their day

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

Luna

‘Slumped’ would be a good description
of my state after the coffees were delivered

I cried as little as I could as we dissected lives
which crossed and recrossed around us –

like those thousand circling aircraft overhead
with thousands again also slumped in the sky

The restaurant was empty enough for tears
and for private speeches about why I cry

I am now the sad old man in this odd kinship

Eating Out

Grown men nibble on ice cream cones
as a Chinese woman commands her dog
and two girls giggle whilst playing crazy golf

Below Volk’s Electric Railway
I drink coffee and watch the planet rotate

On the horizon the wind turbines move
to the onshore whip of nature into wire –
giving us that current and difference
which the rattling train line absorbs

Forever connecting nothing but thrills
the steel and iron of Brighton Pier
creates another kind of consumption

I fear for the woman with her stacked tray
of chips and teas as she crosses the beach
The gulls here are quite mordacious

Workshop Lines

These words are also chiselled
but it is still an easier art
than his hammer and tilt

His eye is in the oak’s own grain
at cuts and gouges to open –
as my vowel sounds now close

This floor is a drift of cuttings –
those slimmed timber edits
out of which his art unfolds

My on-screen deletions
do not pile high in corners
but are only known to me

Hyde Road, Manchester

Malpas Street was assailed
in a sustained assault –
once the Neo-Liberals
took this city and the port

The remaining red terraces
of parallel-lived lives
then flattened by politics –
sold short by Tory lies

The bus rolls so slowly
over holes in Hyde Road –
then past the brick islands
of bust industrial gods

Near the church of football
I pass grim social housing –
No one wipes their doorstep –
we only swipe our devices


E150119

 

 

Virgin England

‘Get permission from the ticket office
to travel on this train’
sums up this queue-fat England
of intransigence and new rules

Here staff cannot show emotions
or make their own on-the-hoof decisions

The green biro’d ticket was waved on
an hour later by a shrugging millennial

Class resides on trains and in politics
those two parallel English antiquities
which feed off each other
and equally upset the low users of both

The woman serving in the galley
of processed food did so with a smile

That was my only uplifting Virgin moment
.