The Stick

There are re-tightened circles
within my bind – my condition
of well-rounded concentric ripples
Feel them grip – feel with me

He laughs at my stick and walk
because he’s so very drunk
before an unequal fill of booze
ferments inside my empty gut

thickly – as if a dreadful influenza
but none of those highbrow fevers
Like when your own infected body
had been rammed flat by it

Now you expect me
to lift myself up from this floor –
out of spilt beer – for inspections
and more qualified interventions

all the while our state and yourself
still owe me back payments
for every too-long worked day –
which weigh on me as tired eye tolls

For those – and your destructive love –
put down a deposit to secure my loss
Pay out against my final demand
for a resilient stick to abet my steps

His Last Leaf

Frank Ormsby rarely writes –
only now by medicated spurs

set quick to the side effects
and his drugged obsessiveness

which are my nowhere-near-equals
to his northern placed verse

No more lined up by his diluted voice
Loud Frank left it at school

He opens up his vowel larder
of self-affirming stories

His Rasagiline’s rattle is double
of my dose – no ghosts yet

in the corner of my eye to fade
as Frank’s stand on his laid table –

then they briefly sit alongside him
until slipped back into mindful spaces

Frank works to avoid word boredom
with a poet’s fear of word silence

Farming Today

Under Glynde’s grey turbine
I know I am irrelevant

It is as if my chest’s creaks
are now unsure ship timbers

set grinding by lifts and turns
of blown low pressures

Her blades swoon over us
in that signature revolution

She asks of me a greater effort
to stand for any time in her shadow

Can you find a name for her grab
and snaffle of another westerly?

Words hurt you – they are your
turned blades in your turned head

And this act of standing upright –
above Gote Farm – is my anchoring

on these Downs of compromises
made between giving and taking

Words Burn

VLADIMIR: You should have been a poet.
ESTRAGON: I was. [Gesture towards his rags.]
Isn’t that obvious. [Silence.] 
Waiting for Godot. Samuel Beckett

A whole ninety-eight cents
have recently been credited
to my low-tide bank account
from Yanks’ penny clicks

on my must-do-better lines
in newly-hewn sob stories
without no strummed blues
which now appear to appeal

to a slew of red neck readers
who enjoy my so inconstant
complaints – in blank verse –
about my current former wife

A true trailer park tale – he typed
We are all trash novel writers
Burkowski still raises a drink
to the 3-year-old’s who’ll never meet

because his words burn
like my continued condition
and we shall meet – Charles and me
downstage without direction

Waiting Rooms

You’re not qualified enough
by your distrust of cocaine
and an ageing disinterest
in disreputable bedrooms

Stay in – keep it straight
and look after your kids –
make sure good things
happen on time for them

whilst others party
wearing white moustaches –
All those kissing cousins
bringing elephants into

relatives’ sitting rooms –
ones already disturbed
by dementia’s whisking
of related recollections

You will find a distance
in your moved-to postcode –
in new waiting rooms –
and by flexing your dignity

An Exhibition in London

‘I paused feeling exhausted and leaned on the fence…
My friends walked on and I stood there trembling with anxiety’.
Edvard Munch

There is a new exhibition
We should go
but Edvard’s far away church
and distorted pier will be unreachable
in my time of heightened anxiety

She had me put my own hands
to my head to mute her yawps
as her tirades lined the air –
set parallel under nature’s law

A coil of white flesh rolled back –
all of an inch – as deep as the edge
of steel that had lifted my skin
My wrist did not bleed – not at first
There are my insides
said in my as-child voice
And then the bloom exploded

That scar is a faded masterpiece
from my repository of old times
of innocence by slowness –
before this acceleration of fear
coiled me up in her homely asylum

We will travel up to London Bridge
on another day
and move through huge galleries
and then find a coffee shop
where we can sit without speaking

Four Years

Five-zero-three-fifteen –
my DX anniversary
of a ‘phone consultation
upon basal nigra’s role
in my slow-witted downfall
and other explanations
that Google had offered
over the previous few
years of not-knowing
how many search results
were not sponsored
by quacks and sawbones –
Now it is uneasy sleep
and dreams of running
which keep me turning up
to this annual event


The Word Cowboy

Out with no phone –
out without
that device which is
my ready-coiled rope –

a slack spiral – a bracelet
looped into a throwable
lifeline – unknottable –

loose for when needed –
for my amateur attempts
to lasso my lawless
thoughts –

Each born-weak twine
twisted over many
weak-born twines –
into a thousand strands –
into one unbreakable line –

Verb-spun into itself –
into a readied tethering
which will bear
me – my word weight –
which will tighten
without a tug or hanging –

There is a knowhow
to such coiling –
which was my first
apprenticeship –
which now –
is my last attempt at art


A Moment – Now

In bed – laid on the edge of tears –
but we all are deteriorating –
so these are self-pitying tears
barraged by
this slow use of bagged words –

and you hum a short phrase
as the mobile phones light
our thicker faces

before drawn curtains –
still excluding the morning
and holding back the rush of time –

then
a text showing our daughter skipping
atop The Hoover Dam – she is lightened
by the scale of the world

as we discuss how this
truly affects the state of things –
once the daylight is admitted


And Disorderly

He visits lost priests
to mumble-in-vain
for what?
His loose-lip prayers weave
over tremble-woven fingers –

This is the church –
this is the steeple –
look inside
and see the people –

God’s gatekeepers
cannot force the bolts –
not slammed
gavel-struck ones –
so he carries his sentence

out in public spaces
as drunken stumbles –
Ready the stocks
they mutter to others –
He is a convict clapped

in cold iron hobbles –
Of his own bad choices
manacles left visible
to every untrained eye –
they see another barfly


 

Valentine’s

I just took a taste of my waking breath –
it is no wonder then that we do not kiss –

The ugliness of my rum state
places bitter tilts upon our old arousals –

I lay whet by a glaze – an unwelcome stain
on this pushed back duvet of night sweats –

My chest gives birth to salty pearls – loosened
by gravity – set to roll down my bare sides

as trickles – as if wept from woundings –
like precious piercings – but not five holy jabs –

though I do feel pinned by a carried cross –
Do not glance at my nakedness – how I am fixed

by the invisible itches and riveted scars
on my legs – I draw up the bedding – my body bag –

and let my skin rest from your listless look –
instead – I shall watch you dress first – then

I will rise alone and not take in the looking glass
until I have washed off the vilde oozes of blood

which I have picked under the night’s disturbances –
those red fruits of my rough sleep’s self-harm


 

Utter

I have always suffered
a mild clumsiness –
just now – trying to read
that line back – aloud –
it got rooted in my mouth –
not stuck in my throat –
not in my swallowing –
that feared future loss –

but in the lip-and-tongue
place of speeches –
I now have to think
the form of the word
to make the shape
of its known weight –
to make it heard –
this is no deal I wish
as part of my illness –

I hear the precision
of the speech therapist –
his repeat of the exercises
which I had forsaken
until now – late in the day
as my words stick
like soft toffees and cake
among my loose teeth


 

Parousia

This second life was ordained
by a drawn-out judgement –
an almost-expected epithet

for the quickened reductions
under my ever-thickening skin –
on dragged heels and hands –

Add Old Age’s uneven stockpile
of his enfeebling irritations
and so my time was reset –

And in this slowing restate
I cannot make any mistakes –
I cannot afford to fall heavily –

do not expect me to pick myself up
as quickly as the still-blessed do –
as I did before this epiphaneia

Übermensch

I will wake and fail to find my eased flux –
not without pushing up into discomfort
over breaths of ground-voice-as-grunts –
these announcements vex my tired wife
who needs sleep in my odd-roused hours

I sit upright – off the bed – to test myself
in the sweated night – I almost always assay
in the woken hours – contrasting the past –
adding to a never-published paper
about this ill-judged illness – it will devour

My recent history of being her own overman
able to embrace all with gusto and gratitude –
has been powered down – pathetically cut –
too much for either of us to truly construe
We wake to a slow down – no more superman

Pain Gardening

I closed my raw eyes
to suck upon this –
but drew too much
to hold my breath –

the spin off his wrist
of an over-spun stone –
pitched at my forehead –
he took me down –

of the shrill sharp slice
of a buried wheat chaff –
which burnt to screams
making me blind

And then I exhaled
to kill each instance –
a brief mis-direction
of my complaint

The Dew Pond

I have woken to
that occasional weight
of the chain mail
of another night sweat

but now it is winter –
my cycle-kicking
of the layered sheets
has no drying effect

I lie in wait for a miracle
but revert to dancing
blindly to the bathroom
to dab my dew ponds

This uneasiness
in my places of aches –
of Song-writing Disease –
could be helped

by flicking the switch
but such light –
such selfish luxury –
would wake you

As I towel myself down
I remember in waking
that you are not here
and will not be woken


E140119

Stair Well

I tipped myself into half of an escape
to sit alone on the in-laws’ stairs –
tilted there by my uneven troubles
from imbalances set by disconnections

I was taking myself off my thumped legs
and away from my sucks of short-fix air –
which set me to stand for a brief parade
among partly-heard party conversations

of drunk relatives – spiked by marriage vows –
loosened by the briefest of infidelities –
those with a younger man whose wife stood up
to beauty’s allure – she was there for measure

I put up too – with the racist uncle’s drunk ideas
for less than five minutes – not quite a cure –
but enough to get me to stand up again
and to leave him staring at an empty step

Audio HERE

Holding

The act of opening has to be
quite deliberate –
from the holding of the tin
of polish –
in your poor hand

to then apply the finger-end twist
to the blind key –
just enough contact and pressure
to turn to prise the lid

But over time the art bends away
and becomes less effective –
The mechanics do not last long enough –
not as long as the polish

Blunt

These day-in day-out mis-typings
of small tap-tap-tap screen pokes –
which I commit as my bad habit –
weightless stabs in this landscape
to stall that mental keel

warned of by my desk-set consultant –
My thoughts are in a dark waiting room
without a fixed appointment for entry –
sat for a last hurrah
before the freeze

I greeted her breezy – How are you?
with an unfair response –
I use this screen – my handheld shield –
for honest words – about everything –
I’ll always dig for verse
in this spade-blunting field

Zero Four Thirty

For a man who has done his natural duty,
death is as natural as sleep. GS

Here we meet again
you no longer a friend
you jolt – a waking itch
this drugged portend

This unnatural discontent
which sleep is for me
it is a sickly thing

It is as if rest itself
is my disease

It is as if my register
of a simple expectation
of a longed-for sopor
no more allows it to admit

Yet we will drift in daytime’s
impolite light
with eyelids weighted
by the night
just enough to stop me seeing things

This puzzle of so many pieces
which darkness has become
You – my new foe –
my agonist – my bedlam

E100419

Laid

It was as if there was no step
or soft seat that did not force
the deep stab and grip of pain
through his frame and thoughts

He had stood well for a time
but then the ill rip-and-burns
filled his limbs with that sear
which fuelled flames in turn

Bad as it was – it was not Death –
He led The Crowd to the pit –
felt his calves lock on the path –
and then sear as if then split

He rocked on his heels to ease it all
whilst he read to them The Truth –
as laid out in the lines for the dead –
but God’s words were still no proof

As the Boxed Man was loose of his ties
and was set down in the earth
his own spine screamed for a seat –
or to lie flat on the peeled back turf

By the time the priest got to his car
all of the Dark Cast were gone –
In the cold groan of the air con
he let out a tear to mourn

That was his last one for The Church –
it had turned its arched back –
to leave him to face an ill grace
and to tear up the old contract

The Living Will

My living will
must now be written –
whilst I command
my pen’s direction

I’ll instruct you Love
in my last performance –
I’m to design the setting
of my dying conditions

It will lay folded
under toungue-kissed glue
until my mind tips
from knowing you

You’re to take my scheme
from the secret place –
on the day my act
receives a poor review

You will sit with this artist
who has drawn so much –
and hold off rolled tears
for our last act of love

I am yet to hatch
the shape of my death –
But once its read out
I’ll have had a good life.

Above the Weir

The kayak wobbled
on the tamed river
as we paddled –
but out of time –
past bikini-strapped girls
and kids your age
whom we sat above
in our inflated craft

Within ten minutes
we had found
the quiet normality
of an unbroken tension
where water boatmen
skated in spurts –
here dragonflies dipped
to a secret dance
above our bright bow

We kept time for a while
and then you gave up
to let me drag routes
around low branches
and through narrowings –
I briefly quit with pain
so we were set adrift
against the nothing current
below the next weir

You held the ropes
as I tried to lift my weight
from the muddy berth –
but my legs could not do
what legs should do
so I dragged myself
up the herd-worn bank –
gripping grass clumps
to bring me ashore

I hold the memory
of that recent evening
as fondly as those of my youth
when I lived for the Thames
and her sly currents –
when I could cross
the tops of weirs –
but now I am reduced
to the sloth of the Ouse.

Holding

There are ripe callouses
on one of my palms –
a furrow of skin
in my walking stick hand

My limbs are nettled –
a tease of scratches
which paint my shins
with blood-dried patches

The constant cut pain
scythes my stilly squalls –
‘Just a walk to Waitrose’
is a distance too cruel

I lie fixed by the duvet
that weighty cover
Here reduced by time –
my sadistic lover.

Catching Butterflies

To catch a butterfly
takes a lightness of hand
which I try to employ
whenever I can

The reminder chimes
for the civic hall meeting
where the Parkinson’s carers
do all the speaking

Their therapy stirred
into cups of weak tea
and we smile politely
at the speaker’s ill ease

I’ll be the youngest
at this month’s farce –
still able to hold
a life trapped by glass

3am

These are such long hours
in this slumbered house –
that only I ever know –

so being only mine to own
when the wall clocks talk
to no one else but me –

there is no competition
for chairs or channels
as the left alone wifi flows –

I unlock the back door
and let the dawn air flood
the breath-staled room

shorting the summer’s heat
that had been held over
from another day now gone –

which was all that remained
of a small part of my history –
a short story I’ll never repeat.

Dry

The curled grey hairs on my chest
are wrapped in a heavy gown
and hidden along with my old sags

Now I can negotiate the stairs
without forcing the shame of my flesh
upon any other eyes on that journey

The verges are the most obvious victims
of this summer’s unending dry torture –
as the skin on my legs flake with the heat

but then blister into zits under the rubbed oil
that I self-prescribe to calm my cruel itch
from which there is no natural relief

I lay on the bed – I wait for my tea to cool
as my stretched out bared legs prickle
and call for rape under my scraping nails

Widdershins

‘The realm of the dead below is all astir to meet you at your coming’ Isaiah 14:9

I have turned against the world’s clock
and her perpetual request for following
and found myself with my back to her sun
My shadow’s stain laid like the Long Man

I am that untouched layer which obscures
but which time will shift again and again

I am part gnomon – being so subdued
that a blackbird lands in my cast of darkness

This shaded life is mine to command
as I take on the correctness of watchfaces
and counter the arguments for my decline
which are under the thin mantras she sings

I will cleanse with the Rephaim around me
in the baths in which my brother washed off
his own reductions in the last of his living world
and I will not take on her sour sung calls.

A Letter Home

I do not see this shaded life ending –
that which is being set forth by you
A plan of my restraint from expectation

to make me more comfortable
in a low shelter erected inside our home –
to protect you all from my hideous storms

I will not be laid out in the front room
in a God-awful wake of thirty years –
my very meaning slept away each night –

making daylight a drawn prelude to sleep
That is not my life – it cannot be the way
to feed my dignity and the thought of me

A (Steam) Fair Diagnosis

I noticed the tremor in his hand
which seemed to be driven
from his bone-high wrist

as if he were deftly turning
an invisible threaded nut
and spinning it quick
up to the bolt’s bare shank

His wife’s coffee was spilling
in that grip as he turned to me
and she took the tepid remnants

He smiled and announced
his own diagnosis just that week –
but he knew it well before –
how unwell he was becoming

The engineering marvels rolled by
under the sure wheel and steer
of coke-puffed mechanics

Each boiler and firebox was riveted
or screwed and wrenched as one
We tremored as the showmen rumbled

Echo

He was moved down
to ‘The Departure Lounge’
and we were reduced
to the daytime whispers
of his night duty shifts
as required ten years earlier

but then Dad was dying
and his bed was grounded
almost as if the next stage
was another eased lowering

Three decades on
and I now look to a room
which is equally flawed
but my expected years
are not that finite reduction
of a terminal Illness

I struggle with this shift
from first floor to ground
but it will make life easier
for all in our household
I say I struggle with this shift

I, the Draughtsman

‘The Irish have the greatest command
of the English language’ Discuss
Some West Indian poets may disagree
as would others from further ports
of our whore-explored tongue

This waking moment lets me wander
in a drunken reverie the words of Wallcott
but I haven’t dropped a touch in a week
apart from that sip of gin and tonic
which I was asked to consider for taste

In the house children clunk on floorboards
and the eager dog patters and follows them
My eyelids measure the paucity of my sleep
Later today my fatigue will make a grand entrance
just as I need to be alive to connect the lines

Only Being

I convalesce under the counterpane
with the play of evening birdsong
and that blood rush roar of jets
lifting the propped sash higher

The late light on the roofline tiles
is almost that Mediterranean red
against the flat chalk-blue sky
but I am rolled up in Sussex

The same songs will find me
waking in the same place
as the light and sky are turned
and the curtains are ripped

Then this moment will return
of me laid low by the small efforts
which others do not notice –
I have lost the art of only being

Checks

Earth Wind & Fire boogie
in the muted waiting room
But no one dances here

Adverts for vaginal creams
and local dry cleaners
rotate on the large screen

A mother instructs her kid
The patience in her command
fails for ‘naughty little girls’

An elderly couple openly flirt
in the propped-wide doorway
and exchange a loud kiss

My hands turn numb and stiffen
as I wait my turn for ten minutes
of a qualified person’s attention

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

Weather Warning

This apprehension rumbles –
one only audible to me?

I fear the threat of loneliness
Of old age’s inherent adage
being forced by the separation
which is executed under my hand
but has been otherwise decreed

I fear finding that all time has gone
and is then a compression to death
and then the flatline without recovery

I fear for the future of my children
because we have stolen their hope

I fear someone finding me frozen
in a bed
or chair
without them knowing me well

Planning Permission

I look up at in-need houses
but have to correct myself
as I do when I see the hills –
they are no longer
in my striking distance

My perspective is robbed
being weighed by the weights
which are my lead boots –
these heavily polished toes
which are re-scuffed by this

You see me slowed on the street
but still smile at our lives
and take me out to get drunk
as families quietly fall apart

There is no reason to fail on this
quite inglorious road trip
unless you get fucked
by an incurable illness.

No Natural Death

“For a man who has done his natural duty, death is as natural as sleep.” Santayana

Here we meet again
you are no longer my friend
you the jolt   the itch   the portend

This disappointment
which sleep is for me
it is a lonely thing

It is as if rest
itself
is now my disease

as if my unwritten register
of simple expectations
no longer allows its admit

Yet I will drift in day time’s impolite light
with eyelids weighted just enough
to stop me seeing

This puzzle of so many pieces
that each night has become

This my lost friend is you
my agonist
again

 

Bank Holiday

The curtain moves as if asleep
those slight adjustments

but set by breeze
which is laced with the heat

promised today
over the news

Roads will melt
old men will fade

skin will burn
to such rude reds

This is the latest I have lain
after another night

of the new normal
of wakings and stiffness

in the places of which
Leonard complained

Honesty

As we suck in murmurs
I shut my eyes
the endangerment less
of that to cry

To explain in plainspeak
this fixing of pain
is to convert the Jews
to Christian games

Dinner is served
in a heated dish
as I drink red wine
which bleeds bullish

We hang the evening
like a bull in blood
the severance of such
is of all once loved

And I cry like a blackbird
that hazardous rasp
as tears hurt my face
in this regular farce

The Tin Man

I have thought of taking
unthinkable leaps

forced by this impedement
which reduces each step

I have examined myself
in a cracked black mirror

allowing for distortion
what I see is not anger

I have changed under this
my short-lived affair

Rejection is armour
which I now have to wear

Broken

And these awakenings roll
from stones into movement

of cruel stretches to unlock
my fixed hands from the straps
of an accelerated illness

as my skin crawls with insects
within the scratched at tingled layers

and no tablet on earth can fix
the inner unrubbed itch

no cream can offer emulsion
enough to bleach the nettle beaters

except for her mouth on mine
and a foreign breath to confuse

Wine

The developed hills of Nerja
were not designed for me
(the me now rested halfway
on ascents and descents
in and out of the old town):

A quick trip to drink red wine
and pick at slapped down tapas,
as the silvered pensioners,
springing from bar to bar,
leave me blindly tapping.

The Mediterranean laps
on this unfinished coast
of collapsed kerbstones
and mismatched slopes,
Dali’s own theme park
of shadowy hazards.

And I make it back, alone,
with my whereabouts online,
via Google’s data pool,
for those I left at the bar
able to still pub crawl.

Note

Yes, no stick. No. More pain:
But you did not ask, although I offer
full disclosure, a guided tour of this
ever so slight inconvenience:

Just above the statutory distances,
but they will shorten along with more
outward signs which should
reduce your doubt.

But for now I will dance off indicants
you’ll never see: I will dance with them
until I die.

Special Assistant

Special Assistance at an airport again,
no obvious symptoms above his pain;
minimal tremor, not dyskinetic,
a second class patient, almost pathetic.
‘Dad, can I ride on those cool little cars?’
‘No son, it’s just for the old and infirm.’
‘Dad, that man is the same age as you,
but he’s sat in one, so it can’t be true!’
‘Ah, some people are ill, but don’t look like it,
think yourself lucky that I am still fit!’
‘Dad, when you get ill..’
‘If, if, if!’
‘I’ll drive you everywhere, super-fast-quick!’

Stick Note

Without my stick I’m ‘looking so well’,
it would appear to those who can tell:
As this imprisonment crafts weighty plans,
my exeunt is writ by another’s hand.

That hand which I use to place the stick
is a hand which fails this conjuring trick,
in a wrapper of skin, flesh and bone,
the pain is unseen, the strikes full-blown.

Walking too fast

He slow-sputters back
as his day is reduced,
but she won’t agree
his speed is removed,
because it is easier
to stride at her pace,
and when she slows
to show no grace:
all empathy removed
by her barbed remarks,
‘Of course you’re hot
in all those layers’;
and he’ll shuffle home
not wanting that bed,
because their marriage
is long-slow spent.

We

We, the now-diagnosed,
may be the dead men walking,
slapped, strapped,
labelled as a bit too different
by the uncovered disconnects,
which, compounded by stress,
and our near normal efforts
to be the original self, to be us,
may reduce our ability to fly,
but that doesn’t stop us trying:
we will pull on our waxed wings,
lift from the cloying labyrinth,
and shake off the weight of hubris,
to take self-esteem back, yet again.

Under the Woods

Among the ragged shadows
of the canopy umbrella,
cut by the leaf-shaped gobos,
here that broken sunlight will die,
increasing neck-breaking risks
as I avoid tripping up on
worn rib roots along the paths:
here the blackbird hacks
with its cut-cut-cut alarm call,
and my rescue is almost assured.

The Poll

That drab civic room,
where we had voted,
here the Parkinson’s
support group met:

a chesty (badged) lady
offered us coffee,
pamphlets were handed,
flicked, to be kept.

A clipboard was passed,
to take names and numbers,
and to indicate interest
in meeting again:

My wife bent down,
plundering her handbag,
pulling out a tissue,
here the ending begins.

Walking on Water

Arlington Reservoir vibrated,
that low bowl of gust-cut waves,
the quantity now the difference
to my previous walk here,

that and my end-of-day inability
to route march any more:
as a kid, returning from school
they called me ‘Bell-fast’.

A stared sparrowhawk, high,
worked miracles to remain in place:
I am the opposite of that bird,
landlocked, working to move.

The gravel scuffs, my soles wear,
it hurts, even in these boots,
and because I have sent myself
back before the rest, I must

sit at the car park and wait.
My youngest is the first to return,
and to hide my accelerated pain
I ask to be taught to skateboard,

and as I stand, held by him, unsure,
the wind drops, and I balance 
as on a small boat, not quite Galilee,
but hoping he still believes in me.

The Sleep

I am naked on our bed,
upright, pre-slept,
at the gracious request
of my funked body:

It asks, politely,
at first with a flicker
across my eyelids,
felt as light tremors,

then it rudely produces
enormous weights,
conjurer’s tricks,
strapped to my arms,

followed by an elephant –
it places that, too easily,
across my bared chest:
Now I am breathless,

on awkward pillows,
on those between knees;
I claim this space
for my night’s reprise.

No Angel

He endeavours to be
one who ‘can’,
not a bit-part, paused,
not half a man,
not battled to bend,
with rusted mettle,
he’ll hold her at night,
unmasked and settled:
No more a young man
in the place reserved
in God’s waiting room,
which others deserve:
Grant a slow decade,
ten years of good life,
please God, he asks you,
for his kids, and his wife:
Re-set their happiness,
that for his spouse,
he won’t demand space
in your over-filled house.

First Hour

I boot-up from an ill-night,
one of disturbances, of pain,
under unpolished dreams,
to the unnecessary brightness
now lighting domestic chaos:
my slept agitation seeps
across the bathroom, bedroom,
and then mills about, recalcitrant.
I carry over the dreamt infection
into the first hour of each day,
my crude night’s spilt-illness
will dissipate, but only under
woken, worked-on, distractions.

Plye pen againe

Under this reduced hand,
my writing slightly askew,

(less old script from my fountain pen,
loosen your grip, man, to let the nib scrape
without the chisel effect of an inky furrow)

I shall claim a small victory
over this place
by a return to legible verse,
by lifting my plough,
bracing,
and taking the next line straight.

Bonfire of Certainties

A bonfire of all certainties
has been built under me –
of timbers – by unseen hands –
crossed over and lain
on a cold heart – that core
of devoutly-snapped sticks

The ninety year old fell
and they discovered
her riddle of cancers –
She shouldn’t be alive
But her bonfire was doused –
I’m happier  – she sung –
I have assurances

This told to me as I was driven
by the old woman’s nephew
through Puglia’s stone veins –
I saw my own pyre lit –
and you – my wife –
have to bear the still low heat
of this
the slowest of fires

Downhill

He is accelerating
into a compression
of constant slowing,
of rusted muscle,
and crumbling time.

He sees a narrowing
which you, an assured,
ignore at your peril:
there is no five year
warranty on your life,

you are not immune
to any of this, no matter
what you do at the gym,
in sweated Lycra-hours
of wrist-tracked time.

Beaten

I half-stand ring-centred,
in our squared kitchen,
just upright, aware of the
transmitted box of blows,
these roundings upon me,
and that scream-spat radio:
Yes, I feel beaten, as though
I should throw in my towel,
now surrender, step down,
no longer the heavyweight,
me, the former title holder,
in these endless rounds.

Emma’s Driver

She made an Uber man cry
(only by being her true self);
he had to remove his glasses
to wipe, to drive his tears

because (he had assumed)
she was drunk, or drugged,
it was his mistake,
he needed to say sorry.

If those tears of a cab driver
were pooled, or swabbed,
could we, the ill, employ
such floods to end the pain?


Watch this video, please..

Wrecked

Too long adrift
on my life raft
of tapped thoughts,

short-winded,
burnt by the sun
and unseen salt:

A rudderless man,
with sickness induced
by this tidal ride

of the curved
and empty horizon,
then struck wave-blind.

The slap and shatter
of seawater
are lunacy’s call

to me, displaced
in the wreck of my body,
a drowning fool.

The Back Door

For AM, an apology

Again door-stepped, and you, a good man,
guide my regrets, which I wept
(unlike like my foul-flat egress)
onto your quick-stained shoulders.

As my carrier you guided me up
to the sunlit seat where my shame was
burnt off. All quite unexpected,
as was my recall of the tossed

unfair words which I had spat at you.
And after, to lighten those weights,
I delivered, by tremors’ hand,
a small token towards better taste:

a simple gift to aid forgiveness,
which may settle, for us, eventually,
to be re-lifted, swallowed back,
as tears are, then wiped to avoid hate.


Timed Theft

These words will not be my sick complaint,
not my dull litany of low-dulled pains –
neither bellows of my half-swallowed fears,
no sandman damming floods of tears:

Instead, I will lift prizes that others miss,
those wasted seconds which they dismiss.
This is my crime spree, my timely dance,
I snatch, a poacher, trapping every chance.

Join me, in theft, even you, the still-fixed,
let us steal time before no time exists.
Please hold the torch high, it shakes in my grip,
aim the weak beam at that prize which I seek.

See there, in the shadows, a life’s remains,
a lost loot of time – which is mine to gain.
I will take such disposals, all so discarded,
and burn it with verse, now herein, recorded.

These words are the ticks of my observed tongue,
all that remains of our days that have run:
I reduce the weight of my loathsome disease
by stealing the life that others leave.

The Inheritor

I let my grey hair over-grow,
wear out dead man donated clothes,

I occasionally tap paths with my worn-down stick,
missing the beat of my off-time limp.

I’ve been re-set by a strangle, unseen,
I am less of a man, a reduction in mien,

offended by nature not playing it straight?
I eye the barrel of pain’s aimed complaints.

‘Life’s unfair,’ she spat out the words,
a line which I’ll refuse to rehearse.

But forty years later my recall has grown
of my mother’s bile rising, I swallow my own..

Life is fair, it is in agreement,
until we are held up by our parents,

then their bias, that family axiom:
We make our own lives by not repeating them.

I let my grey hairs over-grow,
wearing out dead man donated clothes.

For My Physician

You, with gilt-framed diplomas,
please sit for my dull certificate:
I am to lecture you about pain,
since your grasp is so inadequate.

It is the norm, we are born to screams,
the cuts and tears in every childbirth,
in which all mothers are victims:
Dear physician, you are too averse.

Here I sit in your consulting room,
where you ‘tut’ at me about booze,
as I twist under angered muscles,
my nerve-ends twitch, hurt, adduced.

All the time within my skin,
are such thrusts throughout my frame,
spiked and sliced, in feet and hands –
my digits gloved in pangs again.

When taking notes in my lecture
feel the smooth scribe, no hard design,
unsuited for people like me,
struggling to pen ‘anodyne’.

The Fighting Temeraire

Apart from the obvious creases,
and immediate grey effects,
a flabby jowl from rich indulgences,
comes the breaking of our extents:

Once loose, no plot, our lives,
now rotting in unsure depths,
so we face a towed-to future,
to be beached in shallow dread:

The Fighting Temeraire repeated
on the walls of sheltered flats,
reprints from London visits,
an obsolescence, reduced to scrap.

Do not put me in a care home,
those stinking broken berths,
let me ease off, with the pull,
let me drift without tow ropes.

Medicinal Purposes


This empty bottle
is the evening’s measure
of my own drink units;
I am going against
the approved dosage,
proving salubrious,
whilst prescribed pills
bring on such nausea,
akin to a hangover.
This morning’s disposal
of that cleared bottle
is my recycled marker,
of an evening passed,
to this new day blessed.

The Late Shift, Again

Another ridiculous o’clock
finding me drawn at my desk,
hauling creativity and effort
from finite resources that,

when I am slow and upright,
need my re-engineered stick,
but not here, sitting, making
other worlds and other places

to help win Soho agencies
their prizes, small fools’ jewels:
My rude award is their money,
ninety days later, if I’m lucky.


 

The Visitor, 1984.

Recall is now grey scale,
but I once dreamt in colour
without any gnaw of limp,
or hint of restricted reach:
back when stiff was good:
And I would wake to this:

Eight AM, clear-road Sunday:
Floored up the A316,
in my stripped-down Landie,
roof-less, screen-dropped,
me, blown, almost removed,
with the doortops off:

I circled, again,
old Trafalgar Square,
to corral, with fumes,
the climb-shined lions,
those I once ascended,
(now boxed snapshots).

I then accelerated
under Admiralty Arch,
to bomb down that drive,
The Mall, a red carpet
of tarmac, on my whirred
agricultural tyres,

fast past the Jacks
of Buckingham Palace,
and then out, away,
to the Home Counties,
where my rough thoughts
took someone else’s wife, again.