Country Lanes

Mad Max offered me shares
Fifty-fifty in a gentlemens’ club
I could
Taste their wares – test their tits
was his opening roadside pitch

Girls ain’t the problem –
undergraduates aplenty –
it’s the bloody bouncers
with their qualifications
That’s now our problem

Max is missing some teeth
his breath stinks of dog food
Turn on your heel, Mike
and carry on along this lane
Strange men lurk in Hailsham

Reading Circles

Concentric – a new whirlpool-word
found in my father’s
handed down encyclopedia –

when images of Stonehenge –
in line-drawn illustrations –
caught my crawled attention

When an unknown word
required my whole body to shift
and find another heavy book –

an Oxford English Dictionary
to finger flick through to trace
between com and cop to find con

and to be infected
by our endless language
Do not leave me alone with Roget

Doggerland

When swamped Noah’s Wood
has re-seeded above sea rises
When it has been reinstated
that connection

of Britain – no more a stoic island
able to gorge on separation
and cry out a huge difference
would be fixed

Such an implausible conceit –
with our warming and tipping concerns
seeing fast incursions of salt water –
no reunification is possible

Slumped and washed by a North Sea rush –
yet to return are men and women
hot in our blood – They sleep in silt
We were never an island race

#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

Those Other English

There is a malaise among those English
set sore by a too-shared saint and crosses –
spoken of in footballers’ reedy voices
at post-match interviews – post more losses –

Now Being English is not quite enough
for Pimms-pourers and pub-crawling bigots –
Cuckolded Englanders distrust each and all –
those past Offa’s Dyke and Hadrian’s Wall –

those who speak of The European Project
that obvious brain child of English logic –
Those truest English of English hate again –
they hate all foreigners – that’s how it begins


Quaecunque*

England now seethes
and demands the return
of old ways
in the face of the subtle
invasion
of the German-led nations

England always needs
a threat to Beachy Head
and rationing
to make sense of
itself –
a small state on a shared island

England forever resents
the hot Scottish breaths
and low Welsh
choirs demanding a quick
divorce
from their malignant union

England still breeds
men and women with inked skin
and piercings –
as if such self-immolation
will win
the heart and minds of others

England reclines
in metaphorical Anderson shelters
and pours tea
whilst tuning in to the BBC
World Service –
Nation shall speak peace unto nation

 

*The 1934 motto of the BBC – ‘whatsoever’


 

This Brexit Summer

Every upstairs window
was wide open
as if an exorcism
had violently willed
the throwing
of panes and drapes –

that unlocking
from the day’s hard heat
of still bedrooms
and even dark landings –
which up until now
were cool shelters

Such inflammation
is now an English condition
which is mishandled
in every negotiation
between couples
and sweated politicians

We will sit in shade
this July and not suffer
the rude temperatures
which expose flesh
and remove the duvets
but not for sex.

Any High Street

It has become a confusion
of charity store drop offs –
butted to trim nail bars
and empty estate agents –
and now this English town
has a gaudy tanning shop

The bench-rested watch
the parading mothers –
taking note of the too-bared
shoulders and legs
the unnatural colour
of those buggy shovers –

these age-anchored repeat
their Daily Mail complaints
about floods of immigrants
as the pale-faced punters book
to turn brown in the new salon
of not-very-English tans.