And Disorderly

He visits lost priests
to mumble-in-vain
for what?
His loose-lip prayers weave
over tremble-woven fingers –

This is the church –
this is the steeple –
look inside
and see the people –

God’s gatekeepers
cannot force the bolts –
not slammed
gavel-struck ones –
so he carries his sentence

out in public spaces
as drunken stumbles –
Ready the stocks
they mutter to others –
He is a convict clapped

in cold iron hobbles –
Of his own bad choices
manacles left visible
to every untrained eye –
they see another barfly


Also on Medium

Valentine’s

I just took a taste of my waking breath –
it is no wonder then that we do not kiss –

The ugliness of my rum state
places bitter tilts upon our old arousals –

I lay whet by a glaze – an unwelcome stain
on this pushed back duvet of night sweats –

My chest gives birth to salty pearls – loosened
by gravity – set to roll down my bare sides

as trickles – as if wept from woundings –
like precious piercings – but not five holy jabs –

though I do feel pinned by a carried cross –
Do not glance at my nakedness – how I am fixed

by the invisible itches and riveted scars
on my legs – I draw up the bedding – my body bag –

and let my skin rest from your listless look –
instead – I shall watch you dress first – then

I will rise alone and not take in the looking glass
until I have washed off the vilde oozes of blood

which I have picked under the night’s disturbances –
those red fruits of my rough sleep’s self-harm


Also published on Medium

Utter

I have always suffered
a mild clumsiness –
just now – trying to read
that line back – aloud –
it got rooted in my mouth –
not stuck in my throat –
not in my swallowing –
that feared future loss –

but in the lip-and-tongue
place of speeches –
I now have to think
the form of the word
to make the shape
of its known weight –
to make it heard –
this is no deal I wish
as part of my illness –

I hear the precision
of the speech therapist –
his repeat of the exercises
which I had forsaken
until now – late in the day
as my words stick
like soft toffees and cake
among my loose teeth


Also published on Medium

In Earshot

I stopped – I heard the playful howls –
the breaktime hollers from a school –
but my ear-to-the-past
was then frittered by the wind’s shift

which rudely imposed on my
awareness the speeding hum
of rubber treads on the sunken bypass
and flat warnings of vehicle reversing
further dulling the innocent revels –

I lent on a wall – A much-needed breather
I would explain to anyone asking of
my unsteady condition –
To lift the cramps from my legs

and still – the shouts were blocked –
now by a car’s revs over rumbling humps –
but – as quick – the wind dropped
and I turned my head to the past –
once more -with closed eyes –

the blind man’s map – which had shaken
itself as if it were a sail unhitched
from eyelets –
was now doldrum-flat for me
and my sensed route
returned – I do not need to see the road

to know the course for me to rove –
in reverse – over five decades
without this shortened gait of illness – of mine –
I was never – then – one of those sick kids –

The schoolyard was set silent by the whistle –
then to giggled-at-desks – it was penny plain
as I took to learning and then to believe
that our futures were guaranteed to be huge –

I looked up at the vast blackboard and was lost
to calculations and big new words
that succour has been ignored for too long –
my concocted life has left me without
a belief in learning –

And if my first school was heaven – my chance
gone – then I know now – just by listening
that I can find the gates
and find my desk – again –
with my name etched by a held compass
till kingdom come

Parousia

This second life was ordained
by a drawn-out judgement –
an almost-expected epithet

for the quickened reductions
under my ever-thickening skin –
on dragged heels and hands –

Add Old Age’s uneven stockpile
of his enfeebling irritations
and so my time was reset –

And in this slowing restate
I cannot make any mistakes –
I cannot afford to fall heavily –

do not expect me to pick myself up
as quickly as the still-blessed do –
as I did before this epiphaneia

√úbermensch

I will wake and fail to find my eased flux –
not without pushing up into discomfort
over breaths of ground-voice-as-grunts –
these announcements vex my tired wife
who needs sleep in my odd-roused hours

I sit upright – off the bed – to test myself
in the sweated night – I almost always assay
in the woken hours – contrasting the past –
adding to a never-published paper
about this ill-judged illness – it will devour

My recent history of being her own overman
able to embrace all with gusto and gratitude –
has been powered down – pathetically cut –
too much for either of us to truly construe
We wake to a slow down – no more superman

The Lungs of God

I stand under this vault
of our common church –
off-centre on this sea-girt isle

Our stone tradition of roofing
is more to do with fools’ fires
than Heaven’s weight

Here the light is insipid –
no tang of incense
only the blue miasma
off flume emissions

My legs tire – but find no pew –
no tuffet to take me
to the path’s cathartic
kneel-down call

#Guinness is God For Yer

I am – now – that Old Boy in the bar –
he who nurses an anchored pint –
who has time itself as a luxury
of sips every fifteen minutes –

those slow draws of his lifted Guinness
that drinking match of dark mass
and white-topped hair-on-head –
‘Youngsters take this tipple ironically’

Then the in-house mumbling alcoholic
stirs me from my reveries by my name
to ask about my illness – and Christmas –
both are twisting inside me – like candida

The quickened swill in my gut then blooms
to a weighty obligee to her seasonal beliefs –
and those of my degenerative stuff –
each then rinsed down by my cold stout

The Dew Pond

I have woken to
that occasional weight
of the chain mail
of another night sweat

but now it is winter –
my cycle-kicking
of the layered sheets
has no drying effect

I lie in wait for a miracle
but revert to dancing
blindly to the bathroom
to dab my dew ponds

This uneasiness
in my places of aches –
of Song-writing Disease –
could be helped

by flicking the switch
but such light –
such selfish luxury –
would wake you

As I towel myself down
I remember in waking
that you are not here
and will not be woken


E140119

Stair Well

I tipped myself into half of an escape
to sit alone on the in-laws’ stairs –
tilted there by my uneven troubles
from imbalances set by disconnections

I was taking myself off my thumped legs
and away from my sucks of short-fix air –
which set me to stand for a brief parade
among partly-heard party conversations

of drunk relatives – spiked by marriage vows –
loosened by the briefest of infidelities –
those with a younger man whose wife stood up
to beauty’s allure – she was there for measure

I put up too – with the racist uncle’s drunk ideas
for less than five minutes – not quite a cure –
but enough to get me to stand up again
and to leave him staring at an empty step

Audio HERE

Holding

The act of opening has to be
quite deliberate –
from the holding of the tin
of polish –
in your poor hand

to then apply the finger-end twist
to the blind key –
just enough contact and pressure
to turn to prise the lid

But over time the art bends away
and becomes less effective –
The mechanics do not last long enough –
not as long as the polish

Blunt

These day-in day-out mis-typings
of small tap-tap-tap screen pokes –
which I commit as my bad habit –
weightless stabs in this landscape
to stall that mental keel

warned of by my desk-set consultant –
My thoughts are in a dark waiting room
without a fixed appointment for entry –
sat for a last hurrah
before the freeze

I greeted her breezy – How are you?
with an unfair response –
I use this screen – my handheld shield –
for honest words – about everything –
I’ll always dig for verse
in this spade-blunting field

Laid

It was as if there was no step
or soft seat that did not force
the deep stab and grip of pain
through his frame and thoughts

He had stood well for a time
but then the ill rip-and-burns
filled his limbs with that sear
which fuelled flames in turn

Bad as it was – it was not Death –
He led The Crowd to the pit –
felt his calves lock on the path –
and then sear as if then split

He rocked on his heels to ease it all
whilst he read to them The Truth –
as laid out in the lines for the dead –
but God’s words were still no proof

As the Boxed Man was loose of his ties
and was set down in the earth
his own spine screamed for a seat –
or to lie flat on the peeled back turf

By the time the priest got to his car
all of the Dark Cast were gone –
In the cold groan of the air con
he let out a tear to mourn

That was his last one for The Church –
it had turned its arched back –
to leave him to face an ill grace
and to tear up the old contract

Catching Butterflies

To catch a butterfly
takes a lightness of hand
which I try to employ
whenever I can

The reminder chimes
for the civic hall meeting
where the Parkinson’s carers
do all the speaking

Their therapy stirred
into cups of weak tea
and we smile politely
at the speaker’s ill ease

I’ll be the youngest
at this month’s farce –
still able to hold
a life trapped by glass

Echo

He was moved down
to ‘The Departure Lounge’
and we were reduced
to the daytime whispers
of his night duty shifts
as required ten years earlier

but then Dad was dying
and his bed was grounded
almost as if the next stage
was another eased lowering

Three decades on
and I now look to a room
which is equally flawed
but my expected years
are not that finite reduction
of a terminal Illness

I struggle with this shift
from first floor to ground
but it will make life easier
for all in our household
I say I struggle with this shift

Incrementals

It has been a month
of slightness and shifts
which can be described as
‘incremental deterioration’
in my overall condition

pain and rigidity are my bedfellows
and lovers
those bitches who snap
and squeeze at me in measure

it takes a toll on others
I know

my masked face shares
such small messages

Broken

And these awakenings roll
from stones into movement

of cruel stretches to unlock
my fixed hands from the straps
of an accelerated illness

as my skin crawls with insects
within the scratched at tingled layers

and no tablet on earth can fix
the inner unrubbed itch

no cream can offer emulsion
enough to bleach the nettle beaters

except for her mouth on mine
and a foreign breath to confuse

Eye Wash

And here it crawls

almost through me

laying old lead pipes
to siphon and drain
and to slowly poison
my seed free mind

the routing of pleasure
away from my centre

to a floodwall

built high

to contain this dark wash
of rolled on tears