Being Eighteen

Being eighteen in 1982
was easier than in 2018 –
we had less stuff to plug in –
sniping critics were blocked
by the turn of a front door key
and loud parents muted by
the stereo being set to ten

Our whole past was aligned
spine out – but not in public –
on the overhead shelves –
bound in worn LP sleeves
to which we returned on those
solemn dead-end Sundays –
before it was switched on

Social-ism

It’s .. trying to construct
a society around production
for need .. not .. for profit –
.. meeting people’s needs ..
I half-quote Tony Benn

Once I was in his audience
whilst back home
my father rebuffed
Wedgie-bloody-Benn with

his gruff-spoken shun
’bout the Leftie-in-a-suit
Benn spoke without limits
at the Co-operative Hall

way back in the slush-grey
twentieth century
of do-not-touch candles
and knitted gloves

in an endless civil war
of fists and banners
across flattened battlefields
far removed from us

Face-to-face politic
was the free-to-use fuel
against factory shut-downs
and mounting job losses

.. (Thatcher) did make war
on a lot of people in Britain,
and I don’t think it helped
our society ..

Now we trade insults
over sofa-space distances –
a hate we would not dare
to excrete out there in public –

no loud enough complaints
about neighbours’
ached-stomachs
with day-end hunger –

not of zero-hour contracts
worth near to nothing –
or the basic provisions
of dignity and stability

Instead we lament
the kiss of a celebrity –
caught on camera –
going viral like herpes

This land is cut open
under smartphone blades –
those knives blunt voices
which once were our aides

Envious

My envy device knows me too well
just from the lightest of my touches –

She is engineered to conduct risings
inside my mind from sparked jealousy –

ramping up to shrill shocks of hate –
which will then swill around my unfit gut

and tease those last good microbes
into a lurching frenzy of brain cramps –

then I want to steal their smug smiles
which beam from their side of the world –

and she will be working so very well
at keeping me in her malicious circle –

and I will add fuel to her high pyre
by posting my oh-so-perfect life atop it all

*Inspired by@guardian and Moyra Sarner – thanks for the ‘envy device’

New England

They will soon take command
of the scattered pill boxes –
those red brick squatters
sat above river crossings –

built for strategic purposes –
and to fool the nescient
of a Maginot Line in England –
to withstand our invasion

There will be working parties
to restore the squat outposts –
drinking tea and sipping gin
as the last of Locarno evaporates

The new guard will take to parades
under friendly church hall beams –
taught to guide the landing parties
into concentration camps in Kent –

and you will shift the weight of anger
by reposting others’ indignant shouts
from your padded cell of social media –
which is how all of this begins

St. Catherine’s Sniff

I do not need to
Travel to California
To be struck by the low reek
From skunks,

Those striped creatures
Condemned by Jesuits as:
‘Not worthy to be the dogs of Pluto.’*

Here that crepuscular
Scavenger of the dusk
Lifts its too-proud tail
To squeeze

A malodorous attack
Upon us both:
‘The sin smelled by Saint Catherine
Must have had the same vile odor’**.

‘Hold your nose,’
I suggest to my wife,
But the foulness
Is already there,
Inside.


* **Thwaites, Reuben Gold, ed. (1633–1634). The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France 1610—1791. VI. Quebec.

The Wedding Reception

Today, the re-climbed height
of another British summer,
when buffed-up cars are steered
on a weeded gravel drive,
slow on that unmade road,

to park at a once-grand house,
where wedding guests gather,
those love-hungry witnesses
at the dressed-up ceremony:

Ribbons, flowers and cloth
hide all manner of hires,
including those who serve
the seated, the laughing
and the old, and still so unsure:

The band’s equipment, that wire-fest,
has been readied for later,
for phone-captured errors,
which will be viewed across Facebook,

but not included in the bound album:
The newly-married, etiquette-dressed,
are set on display, arrayed for viewing,
itching under garter and wing collar.