A Man in White

As I dropped over Falmer
I sped past a man in white
who was bent-double
among the weighted hedges

The descent past the stadium
was a collision of thoughts –
it then offered a roundabout
and i doubled back to offer

I rehearsed my approach
reminding myself of the place
and how I would have to slow
with hazards
with a wound window

But there was no man in white
in the place
only the waving of branches
under the charge of turbulence
no one on the untrod grass

Eating Out

Grown men nibble on ice cream cones
as a Chinese woman commands her dog
and two girls giggle whilst playing crazy golf

Below Volk’s Electric Railway
I drink coffee and watch the planet rotate

On the horizon the wind turbines move
to the onshore whip of nature into wire –
giving us that current and difference
which the rattling train line absorbs

Forever connecting nothing but thrills
the steel and iron of Brighton Pier
creates another kind of consumption

I fear for the woman with her stacked tray
of chips and teas as she crosses the beach
The gulls here are quite mordacious

Beachcombing

On the shingle-driven beach – I looked for shells – but found plastic

We are no more the guardians because everything we use returns

The indicant we find is a tide mark of oil-based products

As kids – we looked for rare treasures after the waves had retreated

Mermaids’ purses and seaweed – our stolen weather stations

The currencies of beachcombing are no longer nature’s ways

 

E221018

Parking Bays

David places the cones
at military distances
of old-paced equality
and makes sure the sign
which reads Funeral Today
is visible to all

It is a one way street
and not overly used
but it’s best to be sure
and there is nothing worse
than the blackened hearse
having to double park

Later in the day I watch
the staggered procession
of roughed-up mourners
making their way to church
on that road which has seen
the dead of Uckfield parked

Full English in Brighton

The bare strip lights and over-loud radio
nudge me into an uncomfortable state
in this low rent cafe

A grease-shadowed place

I stir my mug of tea and drop the spoon
into a water-filled pot of stained cutlery
as I have done so many times before

My order cooks loudly
in the best-not-seen pan
as the chat back there
gyrates between water rates
and about the old man

A square plate
piled high
(the dish a brown colour
which briefly worries me)
is placed on my table
with a nod to the few
sauces available

Tea at Charleston

A heavy shower traps me
it bolts me inside the car
under the fry of rain on roof

I am returned to campsites
and useless kagoules
those flimsy foldable coats

The windscreen streams
with hundreds of floods
and another revisit

when I was pressed
to the panes in my bedroom
where
on the wettest of days
the only sport was teasing
the fattening condensation
into vertical rivers
with my breath as mist

I find
the tearoom is closed

Sussex opens on Tuesday

A Place to Sit

His round carver’s mallet
rung out vibrations
and workbench chimes
as he forced his chisel
into the oak

Other redundant tools
hung
shelved
and sung with the whack and saw

We talked about art and ecology
and how they could combine
as he formed his perfect edges
against nature’s aged grain

He was crafting a bench
one commissioned to sit
in Alfriston’s book store

No plans or dimensions to hand
because this was true art

We compared the unwritten notes
of our marriage dissertations
and found that such study
provides no long term rewards

The Tin Roof

The tin top cottages
should be haunted

but the only ghost
is Hoogstraten’s

That man ripped the roof
off one propped home

and the adjoining one
was then left for him

Now stand the brick twins

with no tiles or grace

torn for Hoogstraten
and his resting place

On Luxford

The old boys’ bench
affords a wide view
of Luxford Fields –
of trees to the north

Here is my basecamp
on the ascent
over difficult terrain
of root-split tarmac

Dog walkers and kid strollers
criss-cross the scuff –
taking turns to shout
and to chase

Behind me shoppers steer
between tight spaces
of white lines –
UP TO THREE HOURS

Two boys on bikes gob
and then dare each other –
on their brakeless machines –
to ride the Tesco steps


E110119

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

Lag

In this removed state from sleep’s cycle
I wander drunk down the high street
picking my stick tick way past the woken
to sit in a barber’s chair and almost doze
through clippers and cuts of grey hair
to then return to the air and blown rain
to confirm I am here back in England.

Falmer

It is drizzle

almost

the fine rainfall which is fixing
as the mass of coats and hoods
pass around the stadium
in an unholy circled attendance
at Saturday’s Mecca

Pies and chips

washed by beer

and kids swigging at bottles

now weaned from their mothers
to attend this mainly male church

Here to learn the hymns
and repeated mantras
passed down

No matter

Weights

I thought Fuck It
and pulled in at the pub

I found the weight
of a heavy beer
more appealing
than dry dumbbells

here the men were dead

glued into stiff poses
by the LED screen
as Man City kicked badly
and missed crisps fell
from their mouths

In the morning I will pull
three hundred calories
for us all

West Pier

It may have been the 1970s –
it may have been Brighton –
but no one can confirm
when my father saved a pier

I was railing high –
navigating the gaps in the planks
with a slender fear –
a cheap thrill
as you walked above the sea –

and below – under the bolted timber –
waves hypnotised the iron work

The tang of salt over candyfloss
was taken up like Friars’ Balsam
through your head –
as we passed the rides
Dad saw smoke

a daft smoulder rising up
from the deck
and we stopped – bent –
to look for timbers –
for them burning

but it was just
a cigarette butt
still curling

PC 883 -as he was at work –
called out to an attendant
and the fag was drowned
with a red bucket –
marked ‘FIRE’

 

E311218

Brighton 1 – Watford 0

This concrete and steel
oozes last week’s freeze
where I sit with my pint
high in the East Stand
having travelled with my boys

but they are already perched
on the folding seats
as I wait for my beer to push
me there via the toilets

where scarfed men shuffle
and queue in silence for urinals

there they unwrap and rezip
after pissing a few quid
before the match
on to others’ left pubes

these gents hope beyond hope
for a home result
as they wash down those hairs

Verge

As if there was enough death
to recall at this time of year
there is another one to add
to the villagers’ engraved lists,

but she shall not be set to stone
in a public place, instead placed,
for now, in a far-removed room
to wait, to wake to dried tears;

she will not cry, or laugh, again,
pull faces, look for the moon,
take a selfie, be misunderstood,
she will not cry, or laugh, again.

Sky lines

Bared, here in the sky,
as if upturned, roots
inverted, then left,
a myriad of black veins,

spot-clotted by lime leaves
and the left behind roosts
of the gone summer’s birds:

Like those casts they make
of ant colonies, dead-fused,
but these reached branches
are the uttermost fingers
of the stood still giants.

Bonfires

They tripped the village
with explosions overhead,
tipped hip flasks, brimming,
and they smoked cigarettes:
Like wayward teenagers,
but with a greater rage,
the sisters from Sussex
resisted middle age.
She said: ‘There is one life,
but a single span!’
So they sucked on spirit
and exploded again.

BN01

I only know I am walking in Brighton
because the numbers 74 74 74
on taxi cabs semaphore the fact
that and the Number 24 is in club mode

It could so easily be east London’s
red bricks and lunatics
pumped bars
shops of tat and shops of coffee
with scooters outside McDonald’s

and pairs of staggerers off to shag
whilst round the back of the Co-op
people raid the big-mouth bins
looking for out-of-date two-for-ones

If I was younger
if I was single
only ifs
I would struggle less with urban stuff
which is Brighton’s after-dark equality
to every other smacked-in city

St. Catherine’s Sniff

I do not need to
Travel to California
To be struck by the low reek
From skunks,

Those striped creatures
Condemned by Jesuits as:
‘Not worthy to be the dogs of Pluto.’*

Here that crepuscular
Scavenger of the dusk
Lifts its too-proud tail
To squeeze

A malodorous attack
Upon us both:
‘The sin smelled by Saint Catherine
Must have had the same vile odor’**.

‘Hold your nose,’
I suggest to my wife,
But the foulness
Is already there,
Inside.


* **Thwaites, Reuben Gold, ed. (1633–1634). The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France 1610—1791. VI. Quebec.

Return

In The Griffin the staff tossed a ball
across our route to the empty bar,
girl-to-boy, boy-to-girl, and back –
a four-way playground match
of childish throw and catch:

The landlord muttered an apology
as their game was put away,
and from adjoining rooms came
the sound of lunch being scraped,
and of coffees replacing plates.

We then found ourselves alone,
only gin and beer to accompany us
in our own pub game of catch up,
our days apart were recalled
as we tried not to drop our ball.

Early in Uckfield

So, they were gathered early
in their Sunday best
for a christening,

and she said that kids
can be so irritating,
as she sipped coffee in Costa,

and then she complains
about the churches
which let children run wild:

He asks if you can rip a new fiver,
and the man with the plummy voice
jokes about fake Euros.

Then an American accent plays
within this cobbled troop,
with his knowledge of money,

as one of their kids, jacketed,
wanders among the group,
with a straw, Irritating them all.