Pompey Love

Always third in line –
never really intended
such was my birth –
I am long disinherited

Time is our slipway –
greased for each build
It is a steep incline
for those low on love’s skills

Champagne in ribbons
burst on the bow
and then a spunked wave
to please the crowd

‘How long will it float?’
is not to be whispered –
‘Don’t curse the crew
an’ all who sail on er’

Their shouldered terrace –
my parents’ first home
still waiting to slip
into the port’s lapped foam

Across that hinterland
a tide of just-weds –
the wives of submariners –
a choice none understood

One night of holding
before his boat steamed –
it was sweated and lugged
til he heard her scream

The rude gulls returned
when ships broke the Atlantic –
they pull from tipped bins
a seamen’s tossed prophylactic.

GMT

I used to reset my watch
when flying over la Manche
An engineered engagement
of small clicks and twists –
spinning hours from the east
to Greenwich Mean Time

Our first rented house
was about a hundred yards
from that scientific mark
which cut a line through
my old school atlas
of blushed exaggerations
and empirical remains

This trip was a reset trick
of handheld smart devices
which knew the differences
and needed no fingernails
to lift the watch’s crown
and turn back lost time

Distances

We are existing on two shifting continents
still being dragged apart by the slow forces
of nature – her spiteful ways have set us asunder
through more than time differences and flights

This borrowed bed is without the weighted duvet
which you may have reclaimed in my absence –
I sleep under a single sheet and the turning fan –
I am woken on work days by tipping trucks

I am here to consider my place in the world
with the set distance fixed like a short sentence
from which I will be released – but still without
any solution to deal with my mounting crimes

A long call brings neither of us new insights –
only the confirmation that the future is foul
and my recent behaviour is another indicator
of everything that is wrong on our edged shores

I shall return weighted down by foreign gifts
to home soil – I will not step well across that space
which we cannot pull back together –
because the landmass drift still exists

The Shade

There is no word for this foreign heat
but under the dapple-shadow plantation
I find a ten minute retreat from our star

Here I sit and consider my options –
as a bead of sweat rolls from my chest
to track like an insect under my shirt

This is a playground for absent kids
with still swings and slides anchored
between picnic benches on which I rest

I consider my options with no haste –
for now relocated to this middle east
of loud relatives and small children

We are not sheltering in the same land
and I wonder if this half-turned separation
is my way of seeing the other side of the sun

Elicited

I have to measure my responses
and weigh the more foul energies

against those that lift me to you –
a conversion to a way with propriety

I should sacrifice for the lost dead
and keep their spirits at a burnt distance

and so find equilibrium in the overhead
tug and pull of ghosts and lost gods

but not give in to the religious fervour –
the lies of any other life but this one

The Winchester Goose

He would pay in cowry shells
and barter for love with time
as they exchanged such currency
the lies they laid made lines

She lay outside the liberty
of the clink and London’s wall
reducing down the value of
his late night wide-net hauls

The orders placed by princes
through their messengers and men
took her eyes from their line
and back to Bankside friends

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

The Wedding Guest

Two contrails cross over Croydon
as a childish whispered kiss
a wedding party walks the aisle
of this train to London Bridge

The bride is dressed all in black
carrying a bunch of flowers
and her rich perfume fills the train
as she necks a bottle of cider

The twenty minute reception
of small talk
of drunken laughs
of the booze flowing as water
to her lips and to her heart

 

 

Coffee in Brighton

For LB

First the shuffled shopper’s fanfare
that rasp of chair feet on pavement
and then finding a place for my phone
whilst not spilling my lip-high coffee
which measures
like a spirit level
my ability to perform the simplest things

In that fifteen minutes of talk
your beautiful honesty made me admit
that I have been a slowed down fool

The loud gulls swept around us
as they have always done in Sussex
those opportune white vultures
which pick and steal the best bits

You said that girls had been feeding them
down in the Pavilion Gardens
I have been feeding mine for too long

Ghosts

They say that there is a ghost
in every old house

That frigorific forms will rise
to meet with warm blood
and damp bones

an attraction

almost a magnetism

It is beyond any control

Love is a heavy haunting
which we meet unexpectedly
in bars and dark bedrooms

The ghost I knew was cold

which I did not tell the kids

She troubled the shadows
of our chattering family home

Late in the night I would run
three flights of stairs
Yes
me
the adult
fucking scared

BST

British Summertime
day one
as seen from this flint field

high above the Winterbourne’s
estate-dictated course

above the rush of the bypass

that continuous inland tide

Here I listen for the reduced birds
as seagulls are distance summoned
by the hip-jiggered tractor’s
turn of furrow

You have walked on
with me left here
above this valley landscape
with an extra hour of light

as if the clocks had stopped