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

 

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

Deleted Facebook

This phone feels lighter
after I deleted the app –
today I’ve restarted
with a single act

No pushes from Facebook –
that microscope
into others’ lived lies
and hashtag tropes

My thoughts were narrowed
by the blinkered view –
No yearns for ‘Likes’ –
No fear of peer reviews

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.

Twitter for Dummies

Forget them kids,
your latest results,
your failures are
the teachers’ fault.

Then finger the poor,
those necessitous –
the lazy grazers,
who benefit off us:

Shoot from the hip
your spiteful aims,
we are all makers
in this self-made game.

Bring your fury
upon others’ beliefs,
that hateful tweet
is your true motif.

Cuts

We re-loaded
the dishwashers,
as they re-loaded
the bombs,

outside
our smart homes
a covert snipping
began:

at first the truth
was subtly distorted,
and then the news
was misreported.

Coding was clipped,
hyper-links snapped,
Facebook re-liked
the on-line crap.

Let them use bombs,
sub-nuclear,
to help shift the focus
to a new fear:

Hear the bray of pigs,
this West’s old cry,
under the dropping
of lies from our sky,

then cut dictators
from negotiations,
severe all talks,
open the heavens,

let the sky weep,
flatten the earth,
another fresh harvest
of slash and burn.


 

Alan Bennett, Sheep & Me

“The electrical things have their lives too, paltry as those lives are”.
Deckard. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I am buff on the sofa,
with Alan Bennett (a weight),
I have turned him over –
he bears a wretched face.

I must make it clear
I’m not holding that man,
no, I grip his fat tome,
held tight in my hands.

By ‘tome’ I mean book,
no, not anything rude –
Mr B’s not my type,
he is a bit of a prude.

Yes, a real book,
no Amazon e-kind,
but the weighty covers
with printed lines.

Now my eyes are aching,
as are my bits,
and Mr B’s recall
are a dull diarist’s.

Once more to my bed,
to count ‘leccy sheep,
because late night reading
makes my eyes weep.


She Gives Away

That girl gives away far too much,
Stripped her secrets to mens’ wiped touch;
Cropped, pulled naked, her clicked-on skin,
She’s devoured by those to whom she gives in.

Subjected but free, no lens-locked soul,
Instead she is instant, no Kodak unrolled.

Her surrender of self, in her shared gallery,
Is the nearest they get to adultery.
Her angelic frame, slight but potent,
Holds down her men – mostly aberrant.

Subjected but free, no lens-locked soul,
Instead she is instant, no Kodak unrolled.

All men will take what they can for free,
As wed men delete their watched history.
They wake to dreams, and a cheated wife,
As the girl sleeps late to avoid real life.

Subjected but free, no lens-locked soul,
Instead she is instant, no Kodak unrolled.


The Echo Chamber

No single flat surface,
polished, inconstants,
chromed undulations,
unmathematical béziers
in every direction,
here enough space,
briefly leaving a void,
always re-filled by you
never a long vacuum,
a place for your small voice
and sharp intakes of breath
of equalised complaints
to be set free, to bounce,
then back on to yourself,
to make more sense
as they return, many times.


 

Turn Off


turn-off-the-news

Turn off the news,
shut down the feeds,
silence the radio,
unplug your TV,
look beyond bylines,
avoid the shouts,
blank out the posts,
turn from the crowd,
reduce all exposure,
pull down the blinds,
this day is yours,
remain safe in your mind.


 

Everyone News Gathers

Everyone’s making the day’s news,
the shooting of blacks and blues,
filmed in high res –
streaming on Facebook,
the mess, shot by voyeurs,
the fake film crews:

Addicted to a screen held in a palm,
kids swipe quickly through the harm,
as we, their makers,
‘Like’ killings,
to watch back later,
whilst the grieving
flick through psalms.

Social media is here,
the fifth column,
set now at too high a volume,
a channel,
without a controller,
now, turned louder,
always filling the news vacuums.