Labouring Under

There are no greater spurs to human indecency
than cheap shortcuts to wealth

be they lotteries or lies – they are muted calls
to hard work – to tilth

Plough blades rub to blunt – our ground is dry –
our blacksmith has gone

No more steady blows – that loss of his honest hammer
has left his anvil to ring with rust

Old fixed courses of love are smudged in your soft hands
on your quick-to-hold screen

where you advertise yourself to an online world of touches –
you’d resist them if in public

As if everything is circumvented by launches and innovations
as if every previous minute

of humanity is evenly compressed – every way is left to be forgotten
Everyone just wants to be rich

Rental

Hear them – those
too-near rushes
of combustion over tyre-rubbering

There – beyond my fence
I am just fifteen yards
from others’ entered destinations

This is a hermit life
but one with too much –
too much man-made stuff – such is soon useless

My sleep has re-aligned
as it did thirty-odd years earlier
to that of shift workers – once more an hour earner

I am a slow returnee
to my hollow house
of paid-for slept protection before one more day

This Bank Holiday Monday
sucks on my date-fixed time
as I lie bared-as-born on my artificial lawn

I must plant
some lavender in pots
My garden is not an insects’ paradise

My skin will blemish
under our turned-to sun
as my spread chemical vest of UV block – of factor fifty

unlocks and rolls off
under man-made laws
God wasn’t always for burning our butt-naked torsos

Ashpan, Texas

Your waking place
is a hollow-man’s town
with vacant homes
close to falling down

and solar-curled paint
peeling inside out
No drapes to draw –
only shadowed shrouds

That un-slept place
is your reading room –
all indexed resources
were wordlessly removed

There’s spines – there’s covers –
but no truth in sight
A baying Governor
set writ words alight

They say work’s returning
although don’t know what
They’ll be whispering lies
until you thumb your vote

Your feared sun sits low
but it left life peeled –
stealing a glossed layer
from that you had sealed –

taking your hours’ labours
with an eye-cut brush –
torching your hand of care
Your town is burning up

 

Sleep Walking

All simple pleasures of sleep
have now been reduced over
these past three days by work

and their changes to that work
as all my efforts are then undone
to be redone before their deadline

is met in that dirt of freelancing
No paid sick leave for us workers
of late hours and others’ foibles

Paperboy 1st April 1977

Here in this alarm-met half-lit hour
things still bide from other April Fools’ days

Do not forget failing spaghetti trees
on foolish reportage loops

Again those soft nudges on slow senses
of soote aromas off flowering bulbs
there drilled – then paraded by retirees

My sucking lungs hauled their scents
and cool air’s apparent emptiness
on my delivery round’s steep ascents
with a bag weighted by broadsheets

Even worse on Thursdays

Another run of The Surrey Herald
Thick – but relevant – before the internet

Impossible to fold in these gloves

Here at this tall window
slid up an inch or two
my increase in rigidity
dictates today’s route

Those sash counterweights
are strung through my arms

Still close – my childhood
of heaves and pumps of pedals
in that slog across Chertsey’s
seven low hills every morning

No more kneaded by a canvas strap
but instead rubbed by an illness
as I deliver my night-laid lines

Here at this window –
on this hill – in my hand
is my latest paper round
of rhyme-sour edits
with old ascents still considered

Our Slack Dog Sleeps

Our slack dog sleeps – again –
under backlit performing particles –
those flecks – peeled and rubbed –
bare floating remnants of us

in ramped tilts of warming beams –
up there – fine speckles cavort against
our sureness of earth’s old ways –
under ageing theories of gravity –

That free carnival of melancholia
almost pulls me down alongside
her – laid out on our made-up bed –
matching breath-for-breath –

to wonder under our lost stars –
This is my routine – my vie with time –
now – on common weekdays
after the exodus of kids – to try

to find flow from my inertia –
drugged by my hate of
my paid-by-the-hour ego-building
for lank corporate schemers –

those dullard committees
of amateur designers
desiring temporary cathedrals
built in the air out of dust –

by me – wearing the same jeans
for three weeks – no one sees
me bent to my desk with malaise’s
dirty weight of false deadlines –

No one sees me dipping my eye
to find brief relief in my word chapels –
small wonders – crafted from
their commissioned remnants


 

 

My Designs

I am abraded by a faux light
for my immediate set of tasks –
I sit at my cluttered desk

before that eye-bleach of pixels
framed on a twistable mount –
that rarely wrestled wrist –

I slump before it – weighted by to-dos
by deadlines for stage designs –
my fanciful constructs

in rented spaces for the business
of presentations – for buffed egos
and unfurled peacock feathers –

for fat chanticleers in sharp suits
and for ruffled hens in tottered heels
to preen at brand-gilded lecterns –

those podiums were once brushed –
leafed in beaten gold for unseen gods –
but I enwomb false altars in hewn MDF –

Set to stand – braced – for only one day
before a room of corporate disciples
who pray for the coming of closing remarks

#HustlePorn

You are a part of hustle porn
having once taken the dark oath
in a silent swearing-in

You surrender to twenty-hour days
missing every sunset in the week

You are schlepping overnight – there
imbibed upon their dripped breasts –
be they Yahoo’s or Spotify’s squeeze
in their rule of the way to work

You are pressed against the deadlines
with your suckled infant face

You dreamt of electric sheep
grazing on forever-rain rooftops
because you fell asleep reading
a novel – because you cannot sleep

Because your eyes are glued wide
open – because
You suffer hustle porn

The Boat

His boat had seen action in the East –
the reek of cooled sweat met him –
not yet mopped by long-damp cloths –
Never dried enough to work well

so that his first breath taken underwater
faltered – his onshore training failed him
making him cough like that last fag had
as he carried his black kit bag

He crouched to find the right height
at which he was to live and work –
now his skimming on the waves
were inked notes on his service record

This is how it started – it’ll make him –
those hours of constant perspiration –
a hundred nights of coffin dreams –
and still yet to learn Jack Speak