The Scent of People

Larner feared removal
of the scent of people
in crowded wiki articles

Dumb grazing animals
hardly move from hoof to hoof
with their heads down

At this bar
three men sit
before chemical beer
misdirected and under-lit

Tommy Robinson spits
as poor aims are raised
by squaddies at politicians

and three men take turns
to buy another Peroni
without exchanging words

We know everything
by what we read and watch
whilst bent to scent-free pastures

Being Eighteen

Being eighteen in 1982
was easier than in 2018 –
we had less stuff to plug in –
sniping critics were blocked
by the turn of a front door key
and loud parents muted by
the stereo being set to ten

Our whole past was aligned
spine out – but not in public –
on the overhead shelves –
bound in worn LP sleeves
to which we returned on those
solemn dead-end Sundays –
before it was switched on

Old Devices

We’d race to get the telephone –
stating our number as rote taught –
our mother in her poshest voice
but rough for sister talk

Relative news transmissions –
but not intended to be heard –
I knew nothing of kindred facts
’til I stole truth from her words

We were ignorant between acts –
maybe flattening an irksome book –
we’d stare through the yellowed nets
whilst half-tuned to loosened talk

We tugged at the reluctant drawers
where our history was lost and found –
there tucked between old table mats –
sepia smiles were loosely bound

News bulletins marked the hours
or were shoved through the letterbox –
that narrow window on the world –
ink fears of the Eastern bloc

Ignorance was a short-lived bliss
in those disconnected times –
no algorithms on our wrists
to redress the truths and lies

Deleted Facebook

This phone feels lighter
after I deleted the app –
today I’ve restarted
with a single act

No pushes from Facebook –
that microscope
into others’ lived lies
and hashtag tropes

My thoughts were narrowed
by the blinkered view –
No yearns for ‘Likes’ –
No fear of peer reviews

St. Catherine’s Sniff

I do not need to
Travel to California
To be struck by the low reek
From skunks,

Those striped creatures
Condemned by Jesuits as:
‘Not worthy to be the dogs of Pluto.’*

Here that crepuscular
Scavenger of the dusk
Lifts its too-proud tail
To squeeze

A malodorous attack
Upon us both:
‘The sin smelled by Saint Catherine
Must have had the same vile odor’**.

‘Hold your nose,’
I suggest to my wife,
But the foulness
Is already there,
Inside.


* **Thwaites, Reuben Gold, ed. (1633–1634). The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France 1610—1791. VI. Quebec.

God on Facebook


Franzen calls it ‘a private hall
of flattering mirrors’*,

where we stay active enough
to feel the love of others
over the internet’s radar,
we exist, returning,
as low blips, heart beats,
these fleet sightings
of us, the low-followers
on the swipe,
are very necessary;
we the un-celebrities,
to whom the Gods dictate.


*Farther Away

I V*w*l Fr** T* My C**ntry

*ngl*nd, *ngl*nd,
y** *gn*r*nt f*cks,
r*g*rg*t*t* ‘Th* M**l’,
th*r* y**r tr*th *s pl*ck*d:

‘H*m*s for Wh*t* Br*ts’,
                                 ‘F*ck the d*rk-sk*nn*d’,
‘*f th*y *r* M*sl*m,
                                 d*n’t l*t ‘*m *n’.

*fr**d *f th* w*rld,
th*s* n*me-c*ll*ng r*nts,
k**p th*s, ‘y**r’ *ngl*nd,
‘c*s *t’s * pl*c* *f f*ck*d c*nts.


 

Happy Families

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” — From Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut

Published on Facebook,
a happy deal of cards,
a knave-free life,
for his re-fixed wife,

whilst we looking ‘Likers’
know the truth –
no honest comments,
because that’d be rude:

We transmit our pleasure,
but rarely the pain,
eighteen-rated marriages
are never Facebook-explained.