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

 

The Boxers

There’s now a looseness
of my limbs –
my flesh is tidal-tugged –
my skin’s forgotten fingers –
it doesn’t get their rub

She slugs her way through cities
knocking back – inside pubs
Testing weights and measuring –
she seems to get enough

I spit blood into my bucket –
they don’t say why it drips –
and I wonder if old Jesus
felt the nails as they ripped

Morning is my saviour
telling me that I’m not dead –
I wake her with my stiffness
but she’s not inside my bed

Self Portrait

My naked body would look worse
only if crucified on Bacon’s canvas –

Because I conspire with my reflection
to blank out the sags and stretches
which later ageing has brush-dragged

so that my dark-haired belly bloats
with the crap and oil I cannot avoid –

I then wash it down with just one more
and the wine glass is half an egg timer
of emptiness – rouged red and framed

Eighteen. Yesterday

You will hear bird song in Brighton
as you walk the mile home on Eastern Road
with a belly of beer as your low ballast

There will be winking cabs but your gut
will steer you and your mate a slower route
because the clean up bill would be too much

And your ears will be thick with shouts and
laugh-rubbished conversations in places
which were loud and sticky underfoot

The bingo hall will be dark because the old
are too clever to stay up this late –
all except your mother who will wait

A Man of the Last Century

You were balanced on a bar stool
balanced on a bar
as ambivelent south Londoners
watched you play guitar –
Tooting had never seen the like before

You ripped down a poster
from the high brick wall
and lugged the trophy back
We found it curled in the hall –
Terminator 2 in Gassiot Road

The wild night you leapt from
bonnets of parked cars
leaving your shoe prints
evidently marked –
the coppers took you in

We poured back pints in the
Whores and Gloom
kidding the tired nurses
we were the gifts in the room –
the Northern Line shook the urinals

The mother of your children came
and took you away
our child removed
to North London’s sober ways –
I have never seen the like again.