Chelsea Girl

Nico took me on a trip
across a leatherette couch
at young Mr Warhol’s
last gallery party
We sipped old absinthe
from filthy egg cups
with that desert blast
from Jim’s
selfish rasps of eremic air
played back through
Andy’s Bang and Olufsen
speakers
We didn’t talk that much
My wet mouth was fixed
upon her age-pitted skin
There was a second time
but she was not counting
scores in ninety eighty-one
once punks stole her songs

Before Digital

Revox B77 – high or low speed –
from my easier analogue ways
before everything got too fast

DN300 and DN360 graphic EQs
in 19″ racks – screwed and mounted
Even electric drills were rare

I could load a truck – but only after
being shown how to lift and turn
a case in the air
so that rubbed case knuckles fitted –

Tighter than Jan’s crotchless knickers
Sex wasn’t online or easy to understand
when fellow loaders joked – analogue days

Concupiscence

I study there in your sudor pool
which through this night is drip-fed

off your hips and thighs in twists
where your legs are no more your legs

but become – as shown in textbooks
your annotated groin – with pointers

Here is your barrow – lightly grazed
Here is your sliced mound – raw

In my geography – in my history –
in my biology classes – I looked away

Now – older – I work at my lessons –
although I am coming to them late

on this foundation course – of sorts –
of how-to and not-to evening lectures

You kneel down – as my flesh lectern –
and with your open mouth

help me regain my lost confidence –
under instruction – you guide me in study

To Sleep

Entwinements of sweat
fill this floatation tank –
flooded by drips off sex

as we lap at salt and skin
with gluttonous tongues
in our unbashful fucking

All we see is unseen
fingering and penetration
in our deep-diving minds

as we couple-up into eases
of our ache-numb limbs –
softening in worn lips

We fall into that sudden sleep
of found love’s discomforts –
Never wake from such reverie

Sex Over Fifty-four

For J

I had not been woken so
by a kiss
in living memory
I am set alive
And other old weights
have been lifted
by her lightness of
kind eyes and soft lips
upon my ageing nakedness
unknown so
since teenage kicks were first felt
hurting
through unresolved desires
but we are now old enough
to not blush and to do it well
Sex was invented
in the sixties for us

yo-yo

you you spoke far too soon
’bout your last sandman
’bout that last sandman
’bout your spare fuck man
you you spoke far too soon
’bout men and squirting sex
and bad sex in warm rooms
you you spoke far too soon
’bout a man ’bout your sandman
’bout your sniffed white lines
’bout men limp in your bedroom
you you drunk you you drunk
in a bar with a man not Oman
with a man whom you you knew
a first cousin on your account
first cousins count as last lovers
you you spoke after five hangups
you you answered five before were
five unanswered lies after lies after
you you gave it a week a week
post-valentines after your card
cards swapped rarely by you you
control-alt-delete you you soon

Other Rings

It is not always possible to shake off worn things
such as tightening bonds or shortening memories
Feel them slow on each hour around an empty ring finger
You lost a clasped diamond and made a claim for payment
whilst seeking an arrangement with a rich man’s mounting
On whom you’ll spin with ease around his old stiffening fingers
You were chanced upon – for sale – a maiden’s old tale
Seeking an agreement to include sparkling benefits
Diamonds are et cetera – whilst you lie beside strangers

That Farmer’s Wife

Tess was never an unalloyed maid –
not Hardy’s vessel of pure emotion
untinctured by innocence

Such country girls are as scarce
as a hen’s brightly bared tooth
Too hastily judged? Or not?

She was metallic – below – to me
When bared – again – by a kindred
lover – our fusion rubbed to rust

Divisions of men – such she kept
mapped close enough to feel – to plot
and find her way – only her eyes shut

whilst her barn doors swung wide
to near-unhinged arcs of openings –
as her balm of blood – of love’s slaughter –

blew out on her cousin’s stunk breath
as he bent with her to snort at troughs
aligned by credit cards – then blocked

All a loss – it is no more a sweet place
Not for me – Sour scents off her wetness
turn on Etkin-Bell’s ring finger

All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten
her odour as he wipes his creased brow
She dragged too many too close by lies

Takeaways

How shall I study
your offered body?
With intimate sight
through my fingertips

I shall measure your
almost-bare prospect
as a blinded map maker
set to plotting contours

Such thoughts ease
into my half-dreams
Each stroke takes me
by pathways on dips

then up to almost-chalk
landscapes of Downs –
stretched before slept travel
Before sleep’s other sights

We Lay

We lay parallel on your sofa
as if raft-bound – beached –
rolled tight into hard intimacy –
into another urge of pushes
and pulls – you are so slight
that it seems almost fictional
An unexpected blast of verse
as rare as washed up ambergris
is our mute communion of sex

Field Studies

We swam before fish
in that meandering
gutter of long runoffs
down from Kemble
in our eel-shone skin –
equal by breaststrokes
and coloured cold white
like a pair of split cod

I waited for you to lift
yourself from her wet veil –
a single upper body heft
in to warm air – mine to hold
from my low water-trod
vantage point – I’m not cold
and what a fabulous sight
Your butt-naked curves

Not mine to touch – to cup
Only when you have agreed
was my tugged at adage
But your own quick greed
countered my willyard ways
A few days later we rolled –
feeling almost drunk enough
and readied to break out

in an untouched pasture
of crackling dry grasses –
as our bare backs arched
But then we left untouched
What came next could not –
not then – it wasn’t in our reach
Not until older years of beers
and then hard sex on sofas

Les Sonnetts Luxurieux

Is this her ultimate
act of sadomasochism –
his rest of days of pain?
Is his reply allowed

before her face down lies –
taking it from behind
which are – for others – kinks
and well-hidden discomforts

She pleads her case of cruelty
when such cruelty was her cut
and thrust by strangers’ cocks –
no matter what it cost

Claim innocence in such art
of milking men of all shapes
She craves to smell of roses
She wears her crown of thorns

which she pulls down – tighter –
enough to make a hundred blooms
Her sweetly-bled lacerations
are red jewels adorning her skin –

also worn within as rough scabs –
to peel off by her recall’s pull
That delicacy of altered memories
is her art to serve and savour

Other’s Endings

She said she resented him
swanning around
and her wearing fears
of his limped inability
to earn that old income
no longer kept her
tied to their settle bed

Instead – she rolled over
onto another handyman
for his stiffness to press
into her loosened skin
and for his shadowed face
to take her excited stench
to feel some connection

Afterwards – she said
it could’ve gone either way
when admitting her part
She bet on a wrong result
She needs so very much –
be it a ninety-pound man
or a fat promissory note

A History of Sex Education

We were taught to label opened plants’ parts
in our relentless study of misunderstandings
and delayed innuendo – ’til later zitty years
of sniggered connections behind bike sheds

My youth was a scruffy hedgerow of wank mags –
naked bodies spread – stuck by god-knows-what
under skin-scoring brambles – in rotting stuff
Now real sex whiffs – it festers – dank openings

No more impossible nudity – just a moonscape
of cellulite – never seen on those peeled pages
of Razzle – or Mayfair – once tossed into lay-bys
by truckers at rest – timed by a tacho’ clock

Today it’s free online – stapled body parts gone –
Still stiffly-fixed shots under poor exposures –
Still fifty quid in used notes to bend to their lens –
Pages of sex get stuck in browsers’ histories

My education in these matters formally ended
when my interest in other things put such aside –
like a childhood hobby that should be curtailed –
grown men should not play with models or toys

Hampstead Heath

We scurried across NW3
but not the low-laid Heath
of bricked-ish village-ness
of idealised introversion –
with loquacious City views

No – We took the buff support
of metre-high teak bars
before the flow of beer taps –
erect like those glass towers
stood in that visible rotten mile

We ripped at the greenery
of London’s low-rooted life
Scarred and weeping skin
from middle-class weekends of
pottering was not ours to wash off

This city is a rubbed scab
which if picked will bleed
from its red core and then fester
until a dry canker kills it off –
Once for all – as the Bible says

We slept with different women
of various sizes and weights
and woke to awkward breaths
and memory loss – some things
are best left on Hampstead Heath

Ploughing

Clasped – a cold buttock –
dipping to thoughts of others’
comforts – way before zeal
had become sloth-by-illness –

Working a younger body –
thinner – stiffer – bent to those
exacting tasks of hard love –
before this exhaustion set in –

Then visiting foreign suburbs –
eating with a woman and her family –
years before her daughter was born –
before we screwed –

before furrows of motherhood –
those folds of parenthood –
Old positions – long exertions
are no more first weapons of choice

She serves our meal as ritual –
common to others’ habits and grace –
Even with confusions under Hebrew
my understanding is here –

All records are coded recalls of sex –
of finding what had been lost –
then dug by honed ploughs –
all will be turned over once more


E160219 – Edited in Anthony Anaxagorou workshop at Verve Poetry Festival 2019