Stops

Another thirty-ish minutes of life
lost to indecisions
By my lethargy
By her rough mis-reckonings
of tightly wound watches
and bare clock faces

You will never get it back

Did I ever want it thrust upon me?
Did I ask for that rum half an hour?

You have no choice in time’s ways

That furled-up woman was also held –
stilled – by a sudden summer downpour –
without coats – they were anchored
as rainwater oozed into a tidal rush

down Crowborough’s shined tarmac
The butcher called out to them –
I’m taking the canopy down! A joke
I won’t buy pies from Him again

Under library clocks her heart stopped
for a few seconds – even her pulse –
and no breathing – nothing was working
But it was a mistake – merely a pause

Another thirty minutes of unaccounted
being alive will be inexpertly multiplied
becoming a whole day – a whole year
of slumbered nothingness
and then turned to sleep
once time is tamed by her old age


Closing Times

Now – be forever consigned
to coughed-up-banter nights
at your threadbare old boys’ club –
propped behind spewed pints
of pump-drawn gut-brown beer

Your bent still good arm lifts
three quids worth of bowel-stripper
Last orders
and so a knocking back of pints
from unequal paid down rounds

And then that hundred-yard stagger
off to your desolate place –
a much less enticing thought
than just one more pour of best

A background outdoor chat
leaves you stood stock still

Now shuffle once more
with your pocket of shrapnel –
to be put in that jar in your hall

A Thankless Task

Here fifty-six lichen-dipped
granite bodies sunbathe –
some lean – some almost swoon
in April’s upset of unexpected weather

Here clippings
and rolled stripes of grass
mark long-sunk slopes
under headstones

A cartographer
had taken up mowing
and looked back
upon his day’s work

as a map folded open –
to be figured out
For him
that thought was wasted

There are no travellers here –
all trips are done
Quarter bells
serve no purpose

except to drown out
tinkling-bloody-wind-chimes
and
always ignored car alarms –

no one moves far
from these landmarks –
we are all within earshot
of cuttings of blades and spades

between those engravings
dead endings expose our half-thoughts
about stuff like
Crematorium or lawn cemetery?

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

The Riverside Cafe – Lewes

That water-spinning hum
in The Riverside Cafe –
of draining dishwashers
and coffee machines –
is a prized white noise
needed by me to settle –

along with the welcomed
departure of a too-loud family
of urgent asks – of walking plans –
to wear their little monsters
down – nice and early
before unscrewing the wine

Counting clouds passes time
My children are left behind
and all my responsibilities
are dropped – as sticks off a bridge
Like letting go of wobbled bikes
Of not having to have an answer

Perhaps this areads my ageing
among us beige men of Waitrose
Perhaps this is my highest point –
aged fifty-five – twice divorced –
waiting at cafe tables to be served
by staff worth much more than me

My stick is impossible to store
in such places – a hook is needed
to hang my support – to stop it tripping
up those young bucks in aprons
Or I may lay it out at a reasoned angle
to trip those smug fuckers up