Sheffield Park, East Sussex

The wide open workshop
was beyond my education
(three terms of metalwork
forty years earlier was never
any kind of apprenticeship).

Greased tools, backs bent to it,
at components, stripped elements
of dead men engineering,
here exhumed across scale layouts
of locomotive parts, almost lost

until men in overalls, and tilted caps,
pulled on levers and tools to fix
the lines from one shut station
to another, suffered, under Beeching:
to get the steam into the pistons:

Our kids milled, kicked at ballast,
and were more intrigued by a ring tone
than the scale of rod-shoved wheels,
and steps so high, halfway to Heaven,
for these men, so we left the engine shed.

Back

I have to step back
from the offer you make,
remove myself, now,
from that covert place,

return to the house,
leave fields behind,
stand at the window,
and draw down the blind.

I will stoke the low fire,
which throws no heat,
and turn from the hearth,
my retreat complete.

Mahnmal

Never an admission
that our past was wrong,
our history sullied by
bloody pogroms,

we pale British are
so full of such shit,
on a pissy island,
we have set adrift,

an old sucking leech
imbibing low souls,
this country,
this country,
this island of fools.

Free Swimming

What do you wear
when off to the pool,
something quite flattering,
or nothing at all?
Something to cover
your large modesty,
or Speedos – to test
poolside probity?
Or do you cover up,
head to toe,
because such is your right,
wherever you go?

Dancefloor

From above a radio drones
whilst the clippers whine
across the reddened neck
of the gentleman’s haircut.
Lined cars rumble outside
as gusts cross the threshold
and push the trimmings,
snips, hairy tumble weed,
from beneath the two-step
of the rug-cutting barber,
who never seems to struggle
with small talk on the floor.
Done, he attends to, brushes,
the now-vacated chair,
and gentlemen look sideways,
who is next on the dance card?

Solstice, Uncelebrated.

Today the sun tipped-up
at four forty-three,
kicking cats and dogs:
it then will scathe across
the sky for sixteen hours
and thirty-eight minutes
(plus eighteen seconds),
which will be the longest day
over a liquiescent London,
before dropping out
twenty-one minutes
after nine: hated.

Heated

A few weeks back,
this summer,
and I would be stood
in a mist,
but this ridiculous
month of June
offers no such
cool sleights
as I stick-click,
lop-sided, alongside
the sucked-slouch
of the muddied Uck;
then hollered at
by the diesel’s sad call
as it sights
the unattended crossing,
and all the time,
across Manor Park,
bedroom windows are flung
in an un-English surrender
to the day’s heat
still found in bricks,
as the padding fox,
so thin,
sets off the estate’s
choir of panting dogs.

Embargo

Normal service 
has been resumed
today the Beeb
does ‘other news’,
for this short time
they cannot bitch,
no Tory scorn
on Corbyn’s pitch;
Laura is muted
for a whole day,
but Kuenssberg readies
her hateful ways.