Autumn Term

They make the slow haul uphill
with their shop-branded bags
of untried school uniforms

The boy bears his boxed Clarks shoes
as the girl lugs her sweatshop shirts –
freshly picked off Primark shelves –

Still with plenty of growing in ’em
was her mother’s observation
as she calculated the cost of it all

These slack summer holidays
will end not soon enough
for the parents – but not the kids

The hour-numbed regiments
will reform and take the school gates
in their battle colours of navy blue.

Kermode’s Lament

He walks the Croisette
between palm leaf shadows

this gloom-filled film critc
nursing a flopping hangover

A review for a near deadline
with just enough vitriol

next time this critic
will avoid the film festival

He promised the wife
and Fortnite-fixed kids

that never again
will he do this flick-trip

Instead he’ll drag them
kicking and screaming

to a safe place
which is way beyond streaming

The Beach

Arrayed like solar panels

but bearing the weight
of sunburnt Russians

these beach beds align
nation unto nation
before the Indian Ocean

bringing equality back
as fat men match six packed
and sagged women
note cellulite on sex objects

To drown the screams of Chinese
I put my headphones on

This Moment

Paul said that he thought
of Cornwall,
it was the sunlight
which set him;
the past arrived in bits,
unsweetened,
those that we trade
too freely
in our hourly estimates
of now;
with his recall
a shade took hold
and his being here,
lit, was gone.

Wine

The developed hills of Nerja
were not designed for me
(the me now rested halfway
on ascents and descents
in and out of the old town):

A quick trip to drink red wine
and pick at slapped down tapas,
as the silvered pensioners,
springing from bar to bar,
leave me blindly tapping.

The Mediterranean laps
on this unfinished coast
of collapsed kerbstones
and mismatched slopes,
Dali’s own theme park
of shadowy hazards.

And I make it back, alone,
with my whereabouts online,
via Google’s data pool,
for those I left at the bar
able to still pub crawl.