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

Also on Medium

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


Also on Medium

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


Also on Medium

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
I quote verbatim Atilla the Stockbroker –
he put me in my place a long time ago

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

I cannot get close to the slam-generation
with their pert feats of rhymed memory
nor reduce my voice to their flat intonation –
I cannot do 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

#NewYear

What dya expect
from drunken kisses?
I touchd er black nylons
er sweatshop stitches –
Er ringd fingas fumbld
as er wet lips partd –
I gropped er net-arse
my rub o stiff chances –
but er give were short
in my piss-poor grip –
she paintd me shirt
as she threw up er drink