Eremocene

It is impossible to maintain
a rooted perspective –
Heraclitus observed
as he openly wept

It is not the same river
but we are also
not the same people –
that will be my shooting stick

to lift me from stiffnesses
of age and old iniquities
Those rivers now rise
under too-warming urges

My car’s curved high glass
requires less screenwash
through summer-flown months
There are no insects to smash

All through it my kids sit blind
behind their bright-eyed phones –
we do not know how much less
they see on their screens now

Field Studies

We swam before fish
in that meandering
gutter of long runoffs
down from Kemble
in our eel-shone skin –
equal by breaststrokes
and coloured cold white
like a pair of split cod

I waited for you to lift
yourself from her wet veil –
a single upper body heft
in to warm air – mine to hold
from my low water-trod
vantage point – I’m not cold
and what a fabulous sight
Your butt-naked curves

Not mine to touch – to cup
Only when you have agreed
was my tugged at adage
But your own quick greed
countered my willyard ways
A few days later we rolled –
feeling almost drunk enough
and readied to break out

in an untouched pasture
of crackling dry grasses –
as our bare backs arched
But then we left untouched
What came next could not –
not then – it wasn’t in our reach
Not until older years of beers
and then hard sex on sofas

A History of Sex Education

We were taught to label opened plants’ parts
in our relentless study of misunderstandings
and delayed innuendo – ’til later zitty years
of sniggered connections behind bike sheds

My youth was a scruffy hedgerow of wank mags –
naked bodies spread – stuck by god-knows-what
under skin-scoring brambles – in rotting stuff
Now real sex whiffs – it festers – dank openings

No more impossible nudity – just a moonscape
of cellulite – never seen on those peeled pages
of Razzle – or Mayfair – once tossed into lay-bys
by truckers at rest – timed by a tacho’ clock

Today it’s free online – stapled body parts gone –
Still stiffly-fixed shots under poor exposures –
Still fifty quid in used notes to bend to their lens –
Pages of sex get stuck in browsers’ histories

My education in these matters formally ended
when my interest in other things put such aside –
like a childhood hobby that should be curtailed –
grown men should not play with models or toys

Hampstead Heath

We scurried across NW3
but not the low-laid Heath
of bricked-ish village-ness
of idealised introversion –
with loquacious City views

No – We took the buff support
of metre-high teak bars
before the flow of beer taps –
erect like those glass towers
stood in that visible rotten mile

We ripped at the greenery
of London’s low-rooted life
Scarred and weeping skin
from middle-class weekends of
pottering was not ours to wash off

This city is a rubbed scab
which if picked will bleed
from its red core and then fester
until a dry canker kills it off –
Once for all – as the Bible says

We slept with different women
of various sizes and weights
and woke to awkward breaths
and memory loss – some things
are best left on Hampstead Heath

First Year, 1970

Aged five to school – an unplanned addition
M. Bell – born into a monochrome 1964 –
just after real sex was bargained by Larkin –

Miss Green – my teacher – wore the latest
fashions – miniskirts and roll-neck tops
with cropped hair and big jewellery –

all co-ordinated above calf-fixed trends
of highly-shined high heel boots
and her daily sprayed halo scent –

Aged fifteen – my recall of Miss Green
was fixed again – seeing her once more –
she was still wearing 1970 well

when we passed in my dentist’s alleyway –
that red brick shortcut to the High Street –
but she did not recognise me – now fifteen –

A decade earlier she was my cool mother
on school days – she had set me to new words
and easy metrication – before my release

to longer grass and longed-for summerings –
She is now – by my calculations – locked
into her last few years – and still wearing
nineteen seventy


A Forecast

There will be a cold sluggishness –
not known since those tardy days
of queued-at red telephone boxes –

impatient lines still in that set chill
after autumn – which was in place
and felt raw ’til the following April

We kids constructed six-foot slides
by compaction and then an ironing
of the snow into break-neck ice sheets –

We knew how to travel back then
with flagged arms and slightly bent knees
and how to scream so bloody loud

We were tough – proved by bruises
under bloodied flaps of cotton and skin –
met by back door shouts and clipped egos –

admonished and shamed – sent to strip off –
to be hot-bathed by inherited remedies
of soap and TCP – but limited sympathy


 

The Orbital Road

The bastard Surrey countryside
was our dawn-to-dusk playground
of rust-stained ditches – of new paths
set down through welly-trod crops

out to where the horizon was lost
to woodlands – and to buildings
that had not been let to trespass –
not since the fitting of the green belt

to this part of the arse of England
but all that was dug up by navvies
sat in high cabs – forcing wide roads
across our churned playing fields

with their lurched one ton buckets –
set to feed on the tide-laid gravels
under the stripped-back veil of top soil –
We took to the clay and sand – until

in the channelled land – lunar places –
we found it to be a foolish choice
when they had to bring a donkey in
to pull a fool from the suck-quick sand


Being Eighteen

Being eighteen in 1982
was easier than in 2018 –
we had less stuff to plug in –
sniping critics were blocked
by the turn of a front door key
and loud parents muted by
the stereo being set to ten

Our whole past was aligned
spine out – but not in public –
on the overhead shelves –
bound in worn LP sleeves
to which we returned on those
solemn dead-end Sundays –
before it was switched on

The Wanted Ad

Some things are more important
than ability..

that line a would-be band leader penned
when pinned in by the curtain-drswn

suburbs of – perhaps – outer London –
or from behind striped drapes of Oldham?

Such calls followed the loss of real music
to MTV’s cathode-fixing rays

and her pure love of riffable looks –
so much so that artists succumbed

to that two quid call in WANTED –
in the NME – and more for

‘Smiths, Commotions ..
and or Pet Shop Boys ..’

yet unfound by any other bands –
They needed a bassist – smiling

whilst the drummer they required
would not be seen – just sitting