London Sweats

A fan-cooled idle chauffeur
slumps
in his employer’s slick black
double-parked Mercedes

with its engine left running
for working comfort
as it stokes London’s
smoke-free zone

Kensington High Street
puddles
with our fat drops of sweat

See my old man’s back of death-damp –
patches of sweated whisky and beer?

They push me to seek
short-lived shelter
alongside a hundred others
of every nation
in air-conditioned shops
with wide open doors

We all become refugees
with changes in weather

Serpentine Paths

Today wary Canadian geese
avoid paddling screams
from lido-blue rowing boats

finding cooler shade ashore
and rich landed pickings
among flat pressed patches

of lawns below London planes
where an hour’s respite
was snatched
by shade-hungry office bodies

A flaked Royal Parks bench
holds a mother and her boys –
silent with ice cream smiles

Here we share recovery positions
as both boys bum-shuffle
to their right – making an old man’s
space

I see what I will again see later –
strangers’ glances at unknowns
Now at her clothes – her veil

I built this park – in my working days
I planted most of her trees
and laid clean sand for her gallops

I should be able to name
more than London planes
as my known path takes me
to David in Fitzrovia

Like Greta

Find utter calm before fear
and be too brutally honest
with your known-self – first

Listen to bigoted bar-props
seething with Sussex-hate
about France – French – prices

Only lie to save another’s life
and carry all truth before you –
as a banner of fixed colours

Old men sip their local beer –
despising lives of foreigners –
none will summon them here

Innocence breeds wisdom
whilst that contrary state
feeds on greater ignorance

And then detailed discussions
of travelling – retired – through Europe
They always hate their neighbour

If Greta Thunberg stepped off her bus
and walked through this village of idiots
she would still carry her banner high

These old men of East Sussex mutter –
behind beer head white moustaches –
about another bloody foreigner here

Dairy Parlours

Sweet stinking cattle
of Brough Hill

our machinations
are latched on to you by
German engineering
sucking you near to dry

With such heat –
you should wear white –
this is now a foreign field
of burnt harvests

A limited release
of back catalogue
memories land me
among kids with Uzis

in Tel Aviv – then south –
to be met by my family
and dairy farming
without pastures

Words for Mud

We trampled under re-tugged hoods
across even wetter exposed ground
like low-eyed parlour-set cattle

both of us making that slab slurp
as we pulled our sucked heels
from immeasurable puddles

Stoach – was it uttered as mud
and air and boots glued? – stoach
and slab – discarded once-words

now rarely spoken – only by smeery
glazes – by worn pathways
There Wealden clay will complain

as hill-walked hours wear it away
Time will eventually reverse to tell
what truly lies beneath our feet

Then all our losses will be obvious –
no flights – no travel – no sinking islands
on TV – we are making errors here

Temperature At Thirty Three

Our shaded half
hides me from heat
Year in and out
we seek a shelter

My solution
is to meet curtains
right before
sunrise and shut

out each degree
increment of hate
and stupor
in this house

whilst others fling
and swing – by hinges –
openings to
let warm winds in

which is one more
difference – one more
theft made
by a cruel thief of time

Furze

They grew low gorse
alongside their homes to
thorn-tie bright laundry
under drying high winds

Clym cut back high furze
and disappointed his wife

It is a rough plant for sure
but promises – or removes –
depending on your view –
kisses by force of fashion

It was an uncrossable border
in my common land youth

There was a story of a man
recovered from a thorny whin
by a coastguard helicopter –
help waved down by his hand

Furze flowers were yellow pebbles
for insects to skip between

It was my first time on Ashdown
in a too long time – and bared
gorse was my quiet surprise –
We have lost natural assurances

We once knew a season’s place
by month-ends and blossoming

 

Also here: Places of Poetry

 

Breakages Will Be Paid For

If we retune our focal point
to close-up local degrees –

before losses mount and tip –
we will shore our existence

Beauty is frail underfoot and
to be stepped lightly upon –

not a fixed distance of
uncrushable listed hillsides

Those huge labelled targets
are easily miss-able

Our urgent responsibility
is in within our short reach

of to-touch and other such
breakable display items


An Untitled Insect

It once had a name –
by dint of those
orange-tipped wings –
and on my tongue’s tip too –

a too-rare flitted hurdler
of garden hedges and fences
No one else cared

Such is our loss of simplicity
that even a vibrating bee’s hum
seems misplaced – mechanical

Our young dog was spell-bound
by a fat black house fly –
I no longer swat them