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 that 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 retail 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

Words Burn

VLADIMIR: You should have been a poet.
ESTRAGON: I was. [Gesture towards his rags.]
Isn’t that obvious. [Silence.] 
Waiting for Godot. Samuel Beckett

A whole ninety-eight cents
have recently been credited
to my low-tide bank account
from Yanks’ penny clicks

on my must-do-better lines
in newly-hewn sob stories
without no strummed blues
which now appear to appeal

to a slew of red neck readers
who enjoy my so inconstant
complaints – in blank verse –
about my current former wife

A true trailer park tale – he typed
We are all trash novel writers
Burkowski still raises a drink
to the 3-year-old’s who’ll never meet

because his words burn
like my continued condition
and we shall meet – Charles and me
downstage without direction

Valentine’s

I just took a taste of my waking breath –
it is no wonder then that we do not kiss –

The ugliness of my rum state
places bitter tilts upon our old arousals –

I lay whet by a glaze – an unwelcome stain
on this pushed back duvet of night sweats –

My chest gives birth to salty pearls – loosened
by gravity – set to roll down my bare sides

as trickles – as if wept from woundings –
like precious piercings – but not five holy jabs –

though I do feel pinned by a carried cross –
Do not glance at my nakedness – how I am fixed

by the invisible itches and riveted scars
on my legs – I draw up the bedding – my body bag –

and let my skin rest from your listless look –
instead – I shall watch you dress first – then

I will rise alone and not take in the looking glass
until I have washed off the vilde oozes of blood

which I have picked under the night’s disturbances –
those red fruits of my rough sleep’s self-harm


 

The Decision Makers

I’m lost – Danny Boy –
in this town of my birth –
I’m being pulled apart
by others’ decisions –
by the inflexible rulings
of fixed-people-in-jobs –
I could clip their pinned ears –
but it is not allowed –

due to time – human rights
loom at my now left half-life
in these – so – disunited
flagging kingdoms –
of offset Scotland –
of partitioned Ireland –
of phlegmatic Wales –
of moribund England

Now – they say –
connect by the internet
which eludes my grip –
not my old way of working
because that has been
swiped by the change –
under time’s circled stress
on my devolving thoughts

Rubber Soles

Paced – my set flat route
of pliable rubber yards –
of flashed-by-dashes
on my soon-endless run
on that springing path
of a conveyor belt –
then up an incline fixed
by my lightest touch –
but slowed by my death
in that sweated place –

My running times show –
but have yet to pass
an hour’s whole barrier –
so dragged down again
by my lack of breaths –
because all shared air
has been removed
by the greed of others’
sucks and thud-thud-thuds
alongside my rolled way –

their strides soon pair
my thumped heartbeats –
but any visible rage
from my pounding chest
is bagged in my t-shirt –
No pull of Lycra
across my male breasts –
Honest labour is lost
because this is not
cross-country running


E190219

Parousia

This second life was ordained
by a drawn-out judgement –
an almost-expected epithet

for the quickened reductions
under my ever-thickening skin –
on dragged heels and hands –

Add Old Age’s uneven stockpile
of his enfeebling irritations
and so my time was reset –

And in this slowing restate
I cannot make any mistakes –
I cannot afford to fall heavily –

do not expect me to pick myself up
as quickly as the still-blessed do –
as I did before this epiphaneia

Under the Sun

Come and watch us pick at
our scabs of bloody ignorance –
they will – one day – partly heal

to a red roughness of scarring
set to itch – a hint of melanoma’s
blasting shadow across our skin

We will not seek relief from shade
to offset such canker or cancer –
instead – we will strip and microwave

on those platters of plastic sunbeds
to a ready meal heat – whilst being oiled
and rubbed into a slept submission –

then into that unimaginable cul-de-sac
of pottering and beige waiting rooms –
where we will find mirrors far too honest –

set with our reflections of bare errors –
then to count the rings of under-eye skin
and we will know our burnt old age

Holding

The act of opening has to be
quite deliberate –
from the holding of the tin
of polish –
in your poor hand

to then apply the finger-end twist
to the blind key –
just enough contact and pressure
to turn to prise the lid

But over time the art bends away
and becomes less effective –
The mechanics do not last long enough –
not as long as the polish

Blunt

These day-in day-out mis-typings
of small tap-tap-tap screen pokes –
which I commit as my bad habit –
weightless stabs in this landscape
to stall that mental keel

warned of by my desk-set consultant –
My thoughts are in a dark waiting room
without a fixed appointment for entry –
sat for a last hurrah
before the freeze

I greeted her breezy – How are you?
with an unfair response –
I use this screen – my handheld shield –
for honest words – about everything –
I’ll always dig for verse
in this spade-blunting field

In the Eye

Women slip from winsome
under their senescent faces –
their hands steal the looks
off youth’s eyed-embraces –

They pleasure in pastimes
of tease-tricks and flirts –
they command your heart –
their hard rules will subvert

I want to reach out
and trace your lined beauty –
of furrows and laugh lines
worn freely at forty

I will kiss your eyelids
of stitch-tightened skin –
because here is your beauty –
it is still within

The Fly

The fly hummed her old song of death
as she jacked in the room’s still air
in a quickened patrol overhead
of absurd dashes and acrobatics

I considered my chances of a kill
but her own sense of time saw me
in slow motion – a sweated animal
of missed flails and wrong swats

Then she was gone from my space
because death was not here – not yet
But she will endure and then retrace
her plotted flight to my last warm breath.

Weather Warning

This apprehension rumbles –
one only audible to me?

I fear the threat of loneliness
Of old age’s inherent adage
being forced by the separation
which is executed under my hand
but has been otherwise decreed

I fear finding that all time has gone
and is then a compression to death
and then the flatline without recovery

I fear for the future of my children
because we have stolen their hope

I fear someone finding me frozen
in a bed
or chair
without them knowing me well