A Deal

If I paid you in cash
would that make
meeting up
an easy trade to do –

without those afflictions
brought on – again –
by your loud dam?
(How she stage-whispers

in your shell-like –
that ear-piercing hiss
about your choice of men
and your other failings)

You never liked her
enough – be honest – love –
your mother’s devotion
will not be won – not yet

If I paid you in cash
would you lie down
for me? Currently (I see)
there is no queue

but then my appetite
for easy ways
seems long spent –
Let me pass on that deal

Brothers

So we look alike –
a connivance by genes –
but he smiles under higher
cheekbones

He is (still) crowned
by bottle-blonde hair –
we both have enough on top
to brush aside – for now

We make such
similar guttural grunts –
as if our low voices
have just broken

But we have been
split
for so long
without knowing how

to deal with sour differences –
our slighting jealousies
and curdled
misunderstandings

It is up to wives –
and ex-wives – to try
and fix things
Spilt milk leaves a stinking stain

which is hard to lift
from trodden-in places
Perhaps our ways
will not cross again

Decade Measures

RIP Chris Bell d.24.08.87

A decade mislaid since his
lingering disappearance
then Latin’s alphabet surfaced
across a white stone – struck
below a dusty Israeli suburb

Ness Ziona stands over him
He had jumped his rusting ship
another twenty years before
leaving a trail for investigation

How he ever got to Tel Aviv
ending up an eager volunteer
only him and God now know
sharing – as they do a bench
slumped – stalbet – in a cemetery
under high apartment shadows

 

 

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

The Mother-in-law Joke

She then struck out
with an open hand
to land callouses
and a creased palm
flat and fast across
my unshaven cheek

Unexpectedly received –
her flesh-reddening hate
applied five digits wide –
a gold ring-smacked slap –
it was my mother-in-law’s
barely risible routine

All because my wife lies
so turning her sour love
into a vinegary mash –
Never live with a woman –
those joke-gifted words
rung from another time

And if that assault
had been my strike out
then jangled handcuffs
would now be mine –
inequality has
its slight advantages –
sometimes – for some

The Naval Architect

My eyes roll on a direct path
to my right hand – they always have –
ever since Dad primed my sight
to command made out lines

from a lightly held pen – or pencil –
across unforgiving drawing paper
for hours of inked-in absorption
and detailing – a hatched addiction

His small blue police notebooks
received judges’ commendations
for his architect’s uppercase script
and capture by diagrams of details

A ship’s profile was our introduction
with fore and aft guns and funnels
and his low voice-over was part
of my art class at our kitchen table

I make my living with that degree
passed by his mastery of capture
I am drawn from my father’s centre –
also without any qualification

Mother and Child

Slunked – almost cursed
being its low artfulness
among suburban yards
and spade-ruled beds –

brushing its rusted pelt
and curling as if a stole
fixed around that fat neck
of some awful woman

There was a dead cub –
clubbed and bloodied
by a car – or a truck –
on that stretch of road

from Lewes to Glynde –
Still intact – but still dead
as rushed traffic passed
without crushing it – yet

Estate Agents

Your virgin fence panels went up
on both sides of our scored land
as flimsy ramparts to mark

your own extents and hard edges
before our house – our home – was split
by an auction – of sorts – of blind bids

You tipped complaining barrows of earth
into a hired skip and into low indents
as you oversaw each shored footing

for fifteen freshly hewn fence posts –
and at least a thousand splinter risks
You put everything into place

after your tie-knotted estate agent
had advised you on such necessary repairs
to achieve the best price possible

now that you no longer wish to live
in this haunted house with me
and with my unmet Ghost of the Future

Hawkers

Our frail back door sat double-locked
as I did not want another invasion
of pitched voices from passing-by
knocking salesmen

Her cheeping sister and clucking mother
hammered loudly – an unhoped arrival –
with hops inwards and trite explanations –
Them: Some small gifts for the birthday girl!

Me: Sorry – She’s at school
They were here for mere seconds –
slipping gift knots and propping cards
My offer of lattes was not taken up

Because they were –
In such – such – a rush
Our sat dog and I were stumped
by their removal to a local hostelry

when we do
a damn fine cup of coffee
and have our kind selves
as such – such – great company

As If She Had Struck Herself

Banshee my first thought –
followed by lunatic
and then spitting feathers
but was spitting nails better?

Her hand was sudden –
flat – iron-hard on my face
in such a swift upper arc
It was well-practised –

she was beating
every man and boy
who had ever dare ignore
her high pitch of orders

Those grey eyes revealed
a fleeting wince –
as if she had struck
herself with this hate

An instant recoil
of her upper body
as her buckshot rebut
kicked her back

And every crease
on her lined face
doubled up
She had struck herself