A Bench Without a Name

My core temperature
has dropped
a few points –
Yes – I do allow for
seasonal differences

All the while
working timepieces
make veridical turns
between here and there –
ever evenly placed

like fixed hard chairs
in another time-sucking surgery
Sit with me –
It’s cold outdoors –
Stay – before my reminder to move

to face a dog-tired doctor
sat in another swivel chair
He / She will be leant forward
squinting – screen-reading
throughout my consultation

This giving wooden bench
faces due south
as if aimed by a pagan
rather than – truthfully –
at that required angle

to watch a ghost-stepped
amateur football match
After sitting in so many
bright muzak rooms
my huge catalogue

of Chairs Used
in Waiting Rooms
is now complete
[cancer wards excluded –
touch wood!]
I am ready to be published

Stud imprints in dragged mud
and ball-thumping boots
have mashed this playing field –
churned those naked goalmouths
with a good old-fashioned kicking

Standing is not too easy these days –
my cold bones
and low moans meet
Let us get to another bench
to talk some more about life

 

Medication Due Notification

My medication-taking
app’s notification rattles
as if shattered bones
pummeled in a bag –

like marbles shook
in school uniform pockets
to test competitors’ nerves –

as sudden as foul complaints
in response to
an unexpected doorbell –

it hits out – shattering at
a kid-tipped glass of panics –

like a parent’s blunt trill
of oft-repeated commands –

and it is a wake-up-to-me alarm –

sometimes fresh maracas in year six –

and then its repeat is more equal
to all of that mentioned before

 

Marbles

Dignity is my now tattered flag –
white by surrender’s tradition –
a message to my sworn enemies –
now limp over my fallen nation

You rolled unbroken like mercury –
vermillion in my palm – as poisonous
and ungraspable as quicksilver
You then scattered as if flick-struck

in a bent-to game of clicking marbles –
a crackshot with one eye open aims
to split our glass constellation
and to win with a swift ball bearing

My treasures rattled in an old sweet tin –
now my drugs settle in a smaller one
There are games set to be unwinnable
by that first spread of an opponent’s hand

Noted

From our solemn mediator’s
lined notepad – Just a cheap thing
he referred to his underlinings

He instructed you to observe
Some basic ground rules
now he knows how you are

Do not put aside your husband’s
neurological condition
His Parkinson’s cannot be ignored

It all went wrong weeks earlier
as you pulled out your own pen
when you wanted to Strike a deal!

It all went wrong when you roomed
not for love – a family trait – equalled by
sisterly disruptions of vows

I could not fix that drugged damage
when you stumbled from Brighton
Off your tits and smelling of builders

Our mediator knows who you are
as he gives me a look of concern
and says Are you able to carry on?

Selflessnesses

Do not be sofa bound
by reelings –
by spasms
off muscle contractions

under that uncommon label
of dystonia –
a low waiting room
for our stiff unknownings

Lift a half glass fully
to your lips
without occasional
spillings

Try to sleep for eight hours
without rum disturbances
and rise to daylight with ease
without drugs – without slowed fears

of standing upright and all
alone
again
each morning

Do not be afraid of night
or day
as your unseen naked pain
rides tight on your skin

First Person Singular

From my Mass Observation Notes 12th June 2017

I am both fully awake and in pain at seven-forty AM
I am now learning a new word – Imprimatur
I am feeling a rough poem coming on
I am taking the rake of our stairs with care
I am making two teas in the fitted kitchen
I am climbing the stairs with two mugs of tea

We are drinking cooled tea in our double bed
We are discussing how much the day will cost

I am reading the headlines on my smartphone
I am now stiffly rising from our double bed
I am now stood showering
I am singing loudly to Clair from the shower
I am checking my emails as I dry my body
I am dressing as Clair showers and talks
I am listening to Clair’s words
I am listening to Clair’s tone of voice
I am watching Clair dry herself
I am telling Clair that I love her more than chips
I am leaving our house in a sudden rush
I am walking with my stick to the high street
I am at breakfast with four other husbands
I am ordering a Full English Breakfast and latte

We are talking about last night’s comedy show
We are talking about imported lawn mowers

Glen is now paying for all the breakfasts

I am walking back to the house on my own
I am now stopped at my favourite park bench
I am on my smartphone checking my emails
I am now standing up and turning to home
I am now back at my emptied-out house
I am suddenly greeted by our small dog
I am walking the dog up and down roads
I am sorting the recycling bin on the drive
I am lending Otto my Karcher pressure washer
I am walking up the garden to my shed
I am sat at my desk in my shed
I am sending and receiving emails on my PC
I am doing kid management on my smartphone
I am redesigning Cars3 experiential space for Goodwood
I am re-rendering FatBoy Slim’s DJ booth in Lumion
I am reading a new brief for a design to be completed today
I am walking slowly from my shed on uneven slabs
I am eating a rushed lunch of cold beans and toast
I am walking back up the garden to my shed
I am being hassled by clients by email on my smartphone
I am Whatsapping our kids to sort childcare tonight
I am opening my shed door and stepping up with care
I am sitting at my high desk whilst waiting for a reboot
I am listening to The Archers whilst working on my PC
I am hassled by another text on my smartphone
I am hassled by the wife to get to personal trainer at four PM
I am managing and meeting my design deadlines
I am rendering out 3D models in Lumion
I am designing an exhibition stand
I am listening Gardeners Question Time on Radio 4
I am making more more changes to Cars3
I am postponing the personal trainer on my smartphone
I am thinking about tomorrow’s poem

Clair is now back from her hair appointment

I am commenting positively on the change

Clair is setting me a countdown to theatre-leave-time

I am finishing what I can to meet my deadlines
I am now shutting down my PC

We are rushing to get out the house

Clair is driving our car
Clair is worrying about her mum
Clair is not saying much
Clair is filling up the car with petrol at Tescos

We are now in Eastbourne
We are watching the first half of the play
We are now sitting outside in the interval

I am watching a smoker light up

We are discussing the show

I am conscious that my legs are hurting
I am checking social media on my smartphone

We are now heading back in to the show
We are leaving the venue after the show

I am now stuck at fifty-three
I am now treated like I am eighty-three

We are looking for our car on the seafront

I am being driven home in the dark
I am trying to find out more about Clair’s feelings

We are now arriving home
We are entering the house in silence
We are being greeted by the dog

I am locking the back door
I am switching off the last light
I am climbing the stairs

We are now in bed
We kiss goodnight

She is turned from me

A Price to Moor

You have found
a preferred supplier
My observance
is contracted out

Small service
is true service
he said –
but for you
it was always in doubt

You took that
online attention
and confused it
with some kind of love

Now you live
in your house by a river
where mirrors
reflect your old doubts

I found your profile
beguiling
but then found
that you lied to us both

Serpentine Paths

Today wary Canadian geese
avoid paddling screams
from lido-blue rowing boats

finding cooler shade ashore
and rich landed pickings
among flat pressed patches

of lawns below London planes
where an hour’s respite
was snatched
by shade-hungry office bodies

A flaked Royal Parks bench
holds a mother and her boys –
silent with ice cream smiles

Here we share recovery positions
as both boys bum-shuffle
to their right – making an old man’s
space

I see what I will again see later –
strangers’ glances at unknowns
Now at her clothes – her veil

I built this park – in my working days
I planted most of her trees
and laid clean sand for her gallops

I should be able to name
more than London planes
as my known path takes me
to David in Fitzrovia

Pension Planning

When this gets real bad
and we will not see that –
not for quite some time yet

ten years was said to be
a good guide
Now half my path
left to that X-marked place

then it will be time to book
a Swiss or Dutch room
and neck a small glass

if my mouth still works

and find my best sleep
Do not live a whole life
less – that will kill me

Traveling Through

For DS

Soft disturbances by a welcome breeze
have woken me – along with crept daylight –
as my room’s weighted curtains dance

Rise – like Stafford – and write before
another day has been sucked of words
No slow verse
will earn me enough to labour to such

But on my back – my normality is a rush
of common complaints – not that difference
shown by my drags and drunken-ish ways

What would Mr. Sangster do in my position?
He would be up and rolling with his kids –
but then Mr. Sangster has secret superpowers

And another daybreak in my hand – as this device
brightens – clever sensors inside meet sunrise –
Another call to get up from my sloth’s slept pit

This ragged imagination of mine has risen
before my body – that is where errors are made –
too much thinking – William E. will expand

Lift Me

Cure me –
please –
of fatigue

If of nothing else – if you can –
without causing side effects –
leaving me somewhat replete

Climbing three runs of stairs
is now enough of a bind
to find me seeking out lifts

In this moment is my submit
to half-slept nightmares –
but I have to be awake to work

Lift me –
please –
from this curse

Before An Alarm

I am abraided at five AM
to another sung summoning
of loud bird light beyond
my night-bared sash panes –

but was thankfully deaf
in those dark hours earlier
to returning songs of drunks
on their way back from clubs

with their waved polystyrene
trophies of spilling chips –
that mayonnaise trail of fun
runs drip-drip-dripped away

Let me slip from this long itch
and find release from stiffness –
as it was in my lost night
of splendent working dreams

Instead – only a cooling rinse
under that wide shower head
and then a return to this bed
and cold emollient for my skin


 

Fluxus

My heated tears contain stomach acid –
piteous shit – feeling sorry for myself
having thrown my empty gut’s content
into the piss-plated Made in Italy bowl

They will not scar my face – we only fear
such long-term effects on our throats –
heightened instances of – that is enough
for now –

Sit with me as I pop my evening’s dose
of slowers and helpers – shaped as pills –
and pray they stay long enough to kick in
and get me through a night I need

I am still sucker-punched – struck as such
through this day – but needs must
so let me sleep and find a brief peace –
I am sorry Son for saying I want to end it now
It comes and goes


Stops

Another thirty-ish minutes of life
lost to indecisions
By my lethargy
By her rough mis-reckonings
of tightly wound watches
and bare clock faces

You will never get it back

Did I ever want it thrust upon me?
Did I ask for that rum half an hour?

You have no choice in time’s ways

That furled-up woman was also held –
stilled – by a sudden summer downpour –
without coats – they were anchored
as rainwater oozed into a tidal rush

down Crowborough’s shined tarmac
The butcher called out to them –
I’m taking the canopy down! A joke
I won’t buy pies from Him again

Under library clocks her heart stopped
for a few seconds – even her pulse –
and no breathing – nothing was working
But it was a mistake – merely a pause

Another thirty minutes of unaccounted
being alive will be inexpertly multiplied
becoming a whole day – a whole year
of slumbered nothingness
and then turned to sleep
once time is tamed by her old age


Measured Life

Under a stiff corrugated sheet
was a lizard king – an envy green –
coloured in by me of your wild place

hidden by your bungalow frontage –
Bungalow is a foreign word
replanted a century ago in this country

Your garden is an eyed up tunnel –
what the Scottish call a howk
dug out by regard to your gate to Sussex

Your offered photography competition
places me in my last century Surrey
of huge distances lain in eyed safaris

when we met insects in squared up inches –
propped on our grass-moulded forearms
Such measurements were lost – until now

And then a sumptuous dragonfly stages
her circumnavigation of your soupy pond
to bring me back from my I-Spy enquiries


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

Yet Under Stars

My beer-slipped schemes drift
from under me – from my legs –
as if my intentions are blown

whilst I am at my high helm
of hard rope pulls – without her –
in my pain-clinkered craft

and it shifts to starboard –
now translated into my
Cornish-Sussex parlance

but it is a one-man adjust
of no more clean oar lifts –
dizziness and lost time steer

my walk before a freeze over –
I will not be stuck in her frost fair
Not locked in a once-flowing place

Yet under stars – we are our equals
with no cold differences
Under such light nothing matters

as my dead man walk continues
back to our flights of stairs
and drawn curtain stories

The Stick

There are re-tightened circles
within my bind – my condition
of well-rounded concentric ripples
Feel them grip – feel with me

He laughs at my stick and walk
because he’s so very drunk
before an unequal fill of booze
ferments inside my empty gut

thickly – as if a dreadful influenza
but none of those highbrow fevers
Like when your own infected body
had been rammed flat by it

Now you expect me
to lift myself up from this floor –
out of spilt beer – for inspections
and more qualified interventions

all the while our state and yourself
still owe me back payments
for every too-long worked day –
which weigh on me as tired eye tolls

For those – and your destructive love –
put down a deposit to secure my loss
Pay out against my final demand
for a resilient stick to abet my steps