Country Pub

Before this evening’s
swell of punters fill
empty wooden tables

we solemn few near-sober
slow pint daytime drinkers
take our lost afternoon
over equal measures

of flat beer and crisps
as that occasional hour hand
slogs around to grind out time

in this low muttering pub –
until intuition says Go now –
before those commuters
turn up to sip more bullshit


One More

That first pint of Guinness sunk
far too easily as fat drunks sang
love songs and spawled their hate
from behind tips and taps of beer

here in my old man’s drinking club
attended by us – some retired saints
and some less retiring grey sinners
with our tall sworn tales as props

as we tell of outrageous behaviours
and my empty pint glass quietly asks
for just one more before dinner calls
from the house that is no more home

Beer Mat

What you readin?

A repine novel
This is my bar work
as larynx~stretched
guffaws
& shrieked screams
tie up eye~readied lines
Dont mix booze
& dry books
Youll re~read
one typeset line
far too many times
tween knocks of beer
& lifted rounds
of re~filled tumblers
& mispronounced
bloody foreign wines
Shot~sworn drunks
& their pissed~up lovers
make stabs for clarity
Itll never be possible
to take hold of
any one paragraph
for long enough
without that jolt
off slammed drinks
& loud slaps
of theatrical hands
on bared thighs

Put yer book down ~ Mike
it’s time for a pint

#GreeneKingPubs

These pulling places are rammed
by limp cocks and hard-to-hear voices

by forty-year-old bent coppers
and pitch-hoarse salesmen

feasting on glimpses of wagged butts
and – if lucky – being eye-felt back

as unsteady rounds are re-summoned –
until each wooden table holds it own

glass city of empties and knock-backs
All until that briefly-sweet inebriation

sours outside under high sodium lights
to illuminate empty fists and nose bleeds

and stage two kisses between strangers
All until that night’s confusions have melted

into soft-edge recalls and squeezed regrets
over sinks and basins – until we go again

Dry

Bugger off to those soda syphons
claiming in January sainthood –
un-settlers of our sense of right
with their smug month-long cast
of sober teases off whipped rods –
with their dry false flies as bait –
those anglers now spreading
their dull-witted winter diseases
of no more indulgences –
drowning by their dry resolution –
But we have our thirst-fix gulps
from all-answering tankards
as they stare out at tame still water


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