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.
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.
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.
A few weeks back,
and I would be stood
in a mist,
but this ridiculous
month of June
offers no such
as I stick-click,
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,
sets off the estate’s
choir of panting dogs.
A table of old Tories
in the Kemptown cafe
plotting the downfall
of your future today:
Grumbling ’bout democracy,
and ‘leftie threats’,
whilst wanking their pensions
on skinny lattes:
The last generation
to enjoy a grand old age,
they’ll spoon all the sugar
and ensure nothing remains.
The clock’s being replaced
on Uckfield High Street,
under Emergency Orders
it’ll now strike thirteen,
and then in line
with the ‘Bill of No Rights’
you’ll get a timely vote,
but only if you’re white.
The people of Uckfield
will sleep easier this week,
clocks will chime thirteen,
they’ll dream in doublespeak.
New story HERE
Just now in my pub
there was racist talk,
loud howl of ‘Nigger’
in context of what?
Not for the first time,
and not for the last,
this country is shite,
it enjoys hatred.
They are overshadowed by that evergreen giant,
the one thousand year witness to ceremonies,
to burials, and namings.
Coal was once hoarded where the hollowing
of the yew meets the earth. There, inside God’s tree,
they find a held shelter,
but the air is reduced, taxine within the yew’s
five propped branches, he is hallucinating
as he tastes her,
that passed mead of love, now drugged by her.
Add Odin’s ability to bind and unbind,
and a two millennia lie,
he has no defences left, hung, and crucified
by the centre of her which wets his fingers
in the yew’s compression.
There, tonight, across the red bridge,
I captured my ghost, pulled her hard to me,
under wings folded, her talons curled tight,
her fix on mine, her heart in flight,
there tamed under oak, one guarantee –
this ghost ‘cross the bridge will always haunt me.
I long for a ghost to greet me here,
halfway across the rust red bridge,
to challenge me now with a lover’s kiss,
which burns to red on my own dry lips.
Her hair to fall long, beyond death’s hold,
but her neck, her face a brush of cold:
and for me to lean into death’s cool mask,
for me to succumb to her breath of chance:
inhale the vacuum expunged from her lungs,
and I breathe into her my breath of song.