On the Meridian

It is a valorised thing –
according to Tesco’s
stuck clock –
it keeps all minutes
at ten past each hour

An upturned claw on top
of the brewery’s
brick chimney
sits finger-ready to grab
electrical strikes

as charged forklift trucks
whirl and rattle
quick around that
barrel-high yard
to meet loading outs
and unloading empties

where white smoke
from Jenner’s pipes
almost declare rogue
Popish thoughts
without bonfire boys
in that lazy town of
timeless martyrs

Men with beards –
each worth a tall story –
gather in cafes –
some sat high inside –
some sit outside
under chalked signs

How to tell such saints
and vagrants apart?
Hipsters and tramps
trading shit for kicks –
that stink of piss marks
their short-distance

The Ouse runs up and in
muddied and quick –
as if time’s rule
has been put in reverse
whilst so-special shops
sell out of bow ties
and string

to men and women
who prefer to spend
their Lewes Pound
– Keeping it local
they also voted for
One Nation Conservatism

If you stand still
for long enough
on Cliffe Bridge
the world and his wife
will pass you by –
ten times –
in both directions

On tidal urges
from her river’s mouth –
and in unseen particles
from a local incinerator –
all that Lewes renounces
does – in time – return


Pinned to https://www.placesofpoetry.org.uk/

The Impatient Plant

The Himalayan Balsam’s scent
clogs – a laundry swill of smells –

lingering – invasive – out-of-place –
underlining the call to action –

Since its foolish introduction
it’s no longer welcome here

Almost sticky – swollen with pollen –
it waits with near-primed seeds

until it fires ripe-wide explosions
finding further incursions

Balsam Bashing – its removal –
is now a nationwide fixation –

The bent stem-cutters – the pullers –
are impatient traditionalists

who tug – with gardening gloves –
working hard at their final solution

Above the Weir

The kayak wobbled
on the tamed river
as we paddled –
but out of time –
past bikini-strapped girls
and kids your age
whom we sat above
in our inflated craft

Within ten minutes
we had found
the quiet normality
of an unbroken tension
where water boatmen
skated in spurts –
here dragonflies dipped
to a secret dance
above our bright bow

We kept time for a while
and then you gave up
to let me drag routes
around low branches
and through narrowings –
I briefly quit with pain
so we were set adrift
against the nothing current
below the next weir

You held the ropes
as I tried to lift my weight
from the muddy berth –
but my legs could not do
what legs should do
so I dragged myself
up the herd-worn bank –
gripping grass clumps
to bring me ashore

I hold the memory
of that recent evening
as fondly as those of my youth
when I lived for the Thames
and her sly currents –
when I could cross
the tops of weirs –
but now I am reduced
to the sloth of the Ouse.