The Duchess

There are kinds of poets who give poets
a bad name – not me guv’nor

Perhaps bejewelled ones in headscarves –
those hosts of salons or saloons –

Sorry – my attention suddenly dimmed

Those who do nothing for our honest lies
in verse – with Mr. and Mrs. Thesaurus –

knocking off – and out – in parked cars
No grandiloquent words for us plebs

Picking Fruit

There must be a word
for that gritty-ish crackling
of a blackberry’s uncomfortable
remnant – unground – jammed –
bloody unsuckable
from your pitted left molar –

stuck among soot succulences
and odd-chanced bitternesses
Seasonal pickers had a word
for every moment of pleasure –
and one for inequal measures –
such piques are now called love

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

Words for Mud

We trampled under re-tugged hoods
across even wetter exposed ground
like low-eyed parlour-set cattle

both of us making that slab slurp
as we pulled our sucked heels
from immeasurable puddles

Stoach – was it uttered as mud
and air and boots glued? – stoach
and slab – discarded once-words

now rarely spoken – only by smeery
glazes – by worn pathways
There Wealden clay will complain

as hill-walked hours wear it away
Time will eventually reverse to tell
what truly lies beneath our feet

Then all our losses will be obvious –
no flights – no travel – no sinking islands
on TV – we are making errors here

Lost For Words

A conqueror’s high esteem
of varied Pevensey shellfish

is marked up – still to this day –
when out catching pandles

Sussex’s fathoming in
Latin’s infectiousness – off pandalus

But reducing – a word in decline
in this part of the country

Something to do with grammar
schools and formal education?

There is no local voice
or old inflection –

no dialect in
our National Curriculum –
surelye

War Poets

Paul Verlaine’s Chanson d’automne
was coded – still popular poetry –
to give notice –

his long sobs of French-sung violins
declared an Allied invasion
to those listening

Whilst she never understood speeches
of love – and our common
mistakes –

I would rarely read to her – she rarely read
my mutterings – my weight-pared
compositions

She never understood what was being said
She found poetry too difficult
Her own résistance

 

E080919

Such Dug Up Stuff

I could bite on Mr Heaney’s
lust-sight of her

of lost flesh

of navvy-dug amber nipples

under hard-weighed stones
over her cracked oak-bones

which are not
my spoken words

Language is not my tight weave
of Sussex-ness

no fluttergrub’s spade
to turn my empty laine of chalkland

His words are kissed intimacies
in his Castledawson rooting –
in peat-dug dampness
of vowel-soundings

If only we could speak such –
with such – reverence and blind love
of a long-buried bog-stickiness –

then this would be my
other language –
one not yet fully known

14th February 2019

Held by a red signal in south London –
in a balloon of wifi – of library silence –
this being a price-hiked compartment –
a restricted remnant of empire days
still served up by rail franchisees

as our ticket collector mis-quotes WS –
Juliet’s soft words as cuffed banter
towards serving staff –
parting is a sweetest sorrow
and he then regrets these modern times
of –
changes to language – to luv cld b not bad

Then a roll forward like a sneaking suitor –
an incline takes us without that rumble
from diesel complaints – this carriage sways
over switched points – under lopped trees –
those leaf-spill hazards

alongside a thousand-thousand
other prunings met behind drawn curtains –
those many lovers’ shop-cut flowers
presented in cellophane in south London
on this Saint Valentine’s Day


EDITED 170219

I, the Draughtsman

‘The Irish have the greatest command
of the English language’ Discuss
Some West Indian poets may disagree
as would others from further ports
of our whore-explored tongue

This waking moment lets me wander
in a drunken reverie the words of Wallcott
but I haven’t dropped a touch in a week
apart from that sip of gin and tonic
which I was asked to consider for taste

In the house children clunk on floorboards
and the eager dog patters and follows them
My eyelids measure the paucity of my sleep
Later today my fatigue will make a grand entrance
just as I need to be alive to connect the lines