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

New Terms

Whist you commuters
weary your lit ways
at ergonomic desks
and begging screens

I will walk out
to that richer idyll
that you can only visit
when allowed

You are locked down
by your WiFi streams –
even the commute
is more small displays

Those sealed views
from that fixed carriage
is the best you can do
on most weekdays

until the sullenness
of September dims
and the daily journeys
are seen as reflections

And the mid-term break
in October’s pointlessness
is the dark reminder
that holidays have been taken.

The Long View

I’ve relocated my drawing desk –
we lugged it to the front room
where it hogs the bay window
with the intended long view

I now spot parents and fat kids
off to retail therapists with bags –
I watch them plod down the slope
to then return – to ascend slacked

My foreground is neatly fenced
by neighbouring OAP purgatory
where septuagenarians snooze
in the blind-fitted conservatory

There none visit the anchored few
who shimmy on wheels and frames
to and from their short destinations
of bed to table and then board games

My own rest home is a slow torture
of afternoon sunlight through glass
but it is my now my preferred option –
I have a better canvas – of sorts.

Waking

This expected day is let in,
scratched at, half-awake,
as the mis-matched curtains
are tardily pulled apart,

to reveal, as pre-supposed,
an unwritten plaque of clouds:
Feet on boards and clicked doors
posit the quick-slow presence

of other family members
in this ritualised dance of risings:
As ever, I am unready for the day,
with no routine, as of now.

We

We, the now-diagnosed,
may be the dead men walking,
slapped, strapped,
labelled as a bit too different
by the uncovered disconnects,
which, compounded by stress,
and our near normal efforts
to be the original self, to be us,
may reduce our ability to fly,
but that doesn’t stop us trying:
we will pull on our waxed wings,
lift from the cloying labyrinth,
and shake off the weight of hubris,
to take self-esteem back, yet again.

My Work

My work, the drawn-up stuff,
takes me to chair-rattled halls
and outwardly fabulous hotels,
but these days I visit on-line
to inspect the not-right spaces,
to then conjure in the nothing
of their rent-echoed rooms
such ideas and extents of build
that will last hours, days
or weeks, but never much more:
My work, the drawn stuff,
does not last long, a soft recall,
like that of a night with an escort:
I let them fuck me with their ideas.


Drawing

Another day of distances
at my complicated desk,
workings-out/drawings-up,
a world, yet to be seen,
here conjured, cuff-rolled
under my sleights of hand;
I am a whore for every hour
at this, my digital alchemy,
turning fixed ones and zeros
into other fools’ short gold:
And when their rush passes,
designs met, now unamended,
I can then draw out my words

across other complications.


Heat Exchange


December bird song comes
through the slid-up sash,
cracked because of
the unbearable heat in here:

And I am advised
that I have too many layers,
which I am told to wear,
but ‘not now, my dear.’

I lie, a bed-bound choice,
under eyes so heavy they hurt,
as the house drains of voices;
I cool commensurately.

But I have work to do, as ever,
and I will recall reduced strengths:
I shall stand before my empty desk
to conjure, from nothing, creation.