The Scent of People

Larner feared removal
of the scent of people
in crowded wiki articles

Dumb grazing animals
hardly move from hoof to hoof
with their heads down

At this bar
three men sit
before chemical beer
misdirected and under-lit

Tommy Robinson spits
as poor aims are raised
by squaddies at politicians

and three men take turns
to buy another Peroni
without exchanging words

We know everything
by what we read and watch
whilst bent to scent-free pastures

The Reading Room

We are looking about
at a screen-stuck-to
silvered generation
of eye-glued viewers
in trawl-warmed hands

Those old phone huggers
sit logged in to online’s
click-bait refuge
of tittle-tattle and gossip
and foreign muckiness

under scrolled fingering
for rolled eyes of delight
and instant connectedness
to others’ risen anger

Those mobile surfers ride
on a curl of upper lips
and toothless sneers –
set high by published lies

Thursday – Overground to Euston

We travel sober through London Bridge – below
brick arches – on roads cowered by glassy heights –
Our cabbie blasts bent-to-smartphone bodies
back from near-hits on red-man crossings –

it seems that Londoners have now forgotten
how to see the threats beyond their implements –
We now live hand-to-eye – no longer hand-to-mouth –
no shape-to-spoken words – now embedded emojis spout –

We briefly find speed over the river crossing
and then turn left through the gold standard of cheats –
of fund managers – of clerics – of bankers and white Gods –
where every seat and bench in the low sun is arse-taken –

Thursday lunchtime is the dress rehearsal for Friday excess
behind St Paul’s – and in the eateries of Clerkenwell –
in the stained and new cafes – at exotic roadside pop-ups
and in smoke-free pubs until ten o’clock that night –
Our ride is time travel and a belching reminder that
we are in a handcart to hell – instead of the Underground


 

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 about 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 slag 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 –
such 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