Ghost Holes

This bar’s serving hatch is always left agape –
tonight I see it is a varnished picture frame
holding unfair perspectives of the pirouettes
of the not-Degas barmaids in uniform black

In this pub’s cellar are floating phantasma –
I am often told – here under my pint-fixed feet –
below the boards – Orbital corner-of-the-eye
lights are known to cross the cold stones

They are – the old boys also claim –
fixed by the presence of the town’s tunnels –
those mislaid smugglers’ rat runs now
bricked up within the dead-end arches

Other spectres are regulars in the saloon –
they bother the rushed staff and punters
from their precarious stools – a feat in old age –
added up they would predate electricity –

and then they shuffle off – with chains of change –
shifting between the bogs and their tall thrones –
always back on their seat to summon spirits –
from the optics – but not with their pensions

Royalty

He is there – again – the ageless barfly
sat like a sore king at the wet-ringed table
where he fondles his tide-marked pint of beer
in the rooted grip of his right hand and

with each sup he plans to swallow time –
kept to Greenwich by his amber hour-glass –
well drunk – but he is still able to command
the Queen’s English – words not troops that is!

He is the clich̩ Рthe grounded boozer who wills
his wide-smiled laughter and loud intrusions
upon more innocent patrons – virgins in his game –
those who do not know how he plays the room

.. Don’t take the adjacent seat – don’t be fooled
by his schemes – of words and winks ..
For them he prepares to over-deliver
.. it is so well-known that he never listens
by dint of his loudness and eyebrow animations ..

And a woman – and a man – scrape chairs out
to sit across from him at his stained table –
and he now turns – with his sips of time to take –
and soon she is giggling at his crude stories
whilst her silent man stares at his glass

After half an hour they stand to leave the scene –
the man with a shoved handshake for the barfly –
to quietly let the pub’s royal drunkard know
that he is not wanting to fight – not tonight –

and the well-pissed king is left
to drink
on his own

 

#ExtinctionRebellion

You stood together
deep and wide enough
to stop cars from crossing
London’s tarred bridges –
leaving the delayed
Fucking! at your solemn belief
whilst blocking the concrete
arteries which cross and re-cross
that leaden slug – the Thames –
But the oil-soaked rags –
those still-connected papers –
only reported the traffic chaos

#extinctionrebellion
#RebellionDay

First Class

As my path-running dog bolts – yet again –
at the vertical thinning of grey squirrels –
I hear – and then see – those almostvermin kids
gather across the far side of the school fields –

where they struggle with bunched keys
to unlock the rattled and knocked store –
where the bright balls and corner flags
are piled behind the fist-drummed tin walls –

There the brazen – almost-male – chorus
of laughs and throat- bubbled testosterone –
of catching-ups – is loud before the blast
of Sir’s voice from afar – which pulls them

to five-a-side battles in their dark uniforms –
until the rattled shed is locked hard again –
I return from those few seconds of my school days
to see the dog waiting – I call to her on my way

Egon

Schiele’s quickened passing
at twenty-eight years of age –
just days after his wife’s death
and his pillow-propped sketch
of her looking back into him –

was more shocking to you
than his egregious
unfurling of women –
than his use of cadaver colours –
than his fists of cherry red knuckles
and brush-heightened nipples
in rude ochre brightness

His death scene was art –
like his eroticised life
where his place in it
was at the centre of sex
which he kept in twists of love –

of girls in their pulled-up stockings –
lifted tight – but not as high as
their dog-dark fleeces
on their ridged pubis regions –
which they pointed at – and into –
with their gnarled finger touches –

There above the not-quite contrite
cock-spaced curves – which he sculpted
in paint over yet another stretched canvas –
there in the air between their swayed thighs –

there lay those air-kissing sex-salted lips –
all his undressings pre-dating porn’s
artless forms –
there to feed others’ sexual pleasures –
those of the greedy male collectors

Cold

Believe in your child’s ghost –
but then let her spectre run
from the road-kill shock –
from the flare of the
body-struck headlights –

those halogen matches
will ignite her terrified flight
into the woods –
But don’t eye that place
where she first learns to haunt

in the permanent night
of tightly weaved birches –
where Nan Tuck flies afeard
of her burning death throws –

where the recently
spilt spirit runs
from the quick-kill road –
Who let the trees take the young
from our arms?

The wounding country lanes
kill our flightless birds
with too much winding speed –
She will be cold tonight

Social-ism

It’s .. trying to construct
a society around production
for need .. not .. for profit –
.. meeting people’s needs ..
I half-quote Tony Benn

Once I was in his audience
whilst back home
my father rebuffed
Wedgie-bloody-Benn with

his gruff-spoken shun
’bout the Leftie-in-a-suit
Benn spoke without limits
at the Co-operative Hall

way back in the slush-grey
twentieth century
of do-not-touch candles
and knitted gloves

in an endless civil war
of fists and banners
across flattened battlefields
far removed from us

Face-to-face politic
was the free-to-use fuel
against factory shut-downs
and mounting job losses

.. (Thatcher) did make war
on a lot of people in Britain,
and I don’t think it helped
our society ..

Now we trade insults
over sofa-space distances –
a hate we would not dare
to excrete out there in public –

no loud enough complaints
about neighbours’
ached-stomachs
with day-end hunger –

not of zero-hour contracts
worth near to nothing –
or the basic provisions
of dignity and stability

Instead we lament
the kiss of a celebrity –
caught on camera –
going viral like herpes

This land is cut open
under smartphone blades –
those knives blunt voices
which once were our aides

The Street Artist

Across the radiator-hot pavement
is his greatest work – ever
under the gawp of holiday kids
and the blind-sided motorists

They will not know how much
the snapping sticks of chalk
weighed in his eye-in-hand –
even on such days of sunlight

The pain in the painting is his
to hold – briefly – in his quick grip –
to get the artwork down and out
before it is worn away by use