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.

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

Hyde Road, Manchester

Malpas Street was assailed
in a sustained assault
once the Neo Liberals
took this city and our ports

The remaining red terraces
of parallel-lived lives
were flattened by the politics
and sold short by Tory lies

The bus rolls so slowly
cross the holes along Hyde Road
then past the brick-built islands
of those lost industrial gods

Down to the church of football
I pass unlit social housing
No one scrubs their doorstep
now we right swipe on our devices

 

 

 

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
.

Full English in Brighton

The bare strip lights and over-loud radio
nudge me into an uncomfortable state
in this low rent cafe

A grease-shadowed place

I stir my mug of tea and drop the spoon
into a water-filled pot of stained cutlery
as I have done so many times before

My order cooks loudly
in the best-not-seen pan
as the chat back there
gyrates between water rates
and about the old man

A square plate
piled high
(the dish a brown colour
which briefly worries me)
is placed on my table
with a nod to the few
sauces available