Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Who


The time comes around and around again.
The possibilities are endless, dozing in sunlight, 
The Who headline the stage inside my head.

In the morning I read the reviews. 
Fortunately, it was just me.


The Who and the desire 
to be alone.

Late afternoon in a winter mirror.
Like all wishes cast in the well
the rain came true.

Climb the spine of the hill.
The sky-fill water
lap, lap, lapping

the wind cuts, just like a knife.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Nor Ton

A burnished crash hat,
you know, the old-fashioned sort sans visor 
the same old imperious eyes, sidelong rooster
and a tash from Colonel Custer
yet somehow the sheepskin coat
builds a cosy Snow Man.

Only the legs in tight leather
look really rock and roll
the face more full
than I remember
someone who knows
after all these years
how to look after themselves

set to travel 
the fifty ways.

Friday, 26 June 2015

A Break From The Old Routine

As a form of distraction Dave took up his notebook and began to write. 

In the bathroom, his wife fills the tub to a level that is dangerously close to overflowing. After twenty minutes or so, she turns the silver wheel that releases the plug. 

For want of anything better to write about Dave tries putting down a few words about the water going down the plughole. Spiral and gurgle were two of the words written in spidery handwriting. He notices that these two words rhyme and the fact pleases him greatly. Then he pictures the silver bubble that forms in the middle of the whirlpool. This silver bubble looks like an eye that stares back at him unblinkingly. 

He puts down his pen and repeats the words spiral, gurgle, then adds whirlpool and leaves the room with no idea of what to do with these words. 

In all likelihood, nothing will come of it. What good are random words plucked from the ether without a good storyline to go along with them, a bit of dialogue and a measure of drama? If only a ghost would haunt the bathroom and frighten his wife or a car chase would ensue in the street outside. 

He reads for a while before going to sleep. His mind is only half on the words. Considering that he is stoically wading through The Idylls of the King while trying to quell a sense of rising panic that tightens a knot within his chest, it is perhaps hardly surprising that he didn’t manage too many pages before giving it up as a bad job and turning the light out. 

As he falls into sleep, his thoughts going round and round like Arthur’s table, he realises that he is repeating the words spiral, gurgle, whirlpool inside the sink of his head.

At 6:15 am the phone alarm shrills and Dave’s hand automatically reaches out to squash the button on the screen before the bleating noise wake his wife. Without pausing to think about it he rolls out of bed and heads for the bathroom. He turns on the tap and starts splashing cold water onto his face. The water turns warm then hot which is a cue to put the plug in. He continues running the water until he has cupped twenty handfuls onto his face. 

Inside his head, he counts the handfuls. When he reaches twenty he pulls the plug and rapidly scoops up as much as the water as he can onto his face. As usual, he has to remind himself that it is okay to stop counting at this stage of the proceedings. The silver eye stares up at him unblinking. Once the sink is empty he pats his face dry before turning on the tap again to brush his teeth. This time he counts to thirty before spitting out the fennel flavoured toothpaste. Rinsing the paste out requires more water and another count of thirty. 

 He pulls on his black dressing gown with the white stripes and pads downstairs to make coffee, pausing to note the time that blinks from the bedside digital clock: 6:28. He is bang on schedule. 

The coffee is made. He drinks two cups and takes further steps to wake himself up by punctuating the sips with drags from his electronic cigarette. He doesn’t feel that it is necessary to count these as the cloud begins to fill the living room. The caffeine and nicotine quickly go to work and give him enough energy to go back upstairs with a fresh pot of coffee to wake his wife. By now, it is 6:58. Still bang on schedule.

Dressing only requires a quick consideration of the day and the date. A new shirt if it is a Friday, fresh trousers if it’s the start of a new month.

The next hour passes like Its A Knockout. A series of infuriating tasks that can’t be cut short and have huge scope for going wrong. Somehow, the clock panicking towards 8:00, the children are seen safely onto the school bus with the correct books and lunches packed into their bags. Now it only remains for him to get on the right bus and head for work, the anxiety of what the inbox might contain spreading through his brain, the booby traps that might lie in the office to set his otherwise ordered life out of kilter.

By the time the bus reaches the city he begins to feel calmer. He gets himself lost in a reverie that involves the smell of the inside of a wardrobe and a heart shaped Wedgewood jewellery box. How to describe that peculiar shade of green that made the box? A sort of chalky olive green… and the smell inside the wardrobe turns into a tune, The Last Train to Clarksville… He snaps out of the tranquil state that he has inadvertently fallen into and realises that his stop is miles behind. He is even more surprised to discover that he doesn’t even care. 

Meanwhile the sun sits in the sky, a silvery gold unblinking eye.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Showroom Dummies

Dust in the crooks of their arms. Faces wear expressions that are neither one thing or another: it us up to you to project emotion onto their impassive faces in the same way someone sketches in the thoughts of a pet cat or dog. 

Black lines where heads join bodies. Extravagant wigs. Others have plastic ripples that signify hair. Mona Lisa eyes watch you wherever you go unless they are concealed by dark glasses. 

Naturally, they all have perfect figures from which designer jackets hang loosely. You never see one that has a weight problem and can only wear elasticated jogging trousers.

Fixed stares are unsettling. 

This statement calls up the whole question of eye contact. At the moment I am in the dog house. I listen to a list of failings and stare at the floorboards, a vase of flowers and the cat licking her paws. Anything to avoid the stare of the hanging judge. 

Which triggers a memory of riding in a car and my friend’s Dad with his woodcutter beard saying ‘here comes the judge’ as we approach a pub named after some notorious gavel basher who sentenced many a man to the gallows for some trivial incident that would barely pass for a crime these days.

Some are more expressive than others. The men with long hair and bright baseball caps look like they know how to have a good time. You can imagine them knocking back bottles of beers around fires on beaches in summer. If your wife wasn’t with you some of them would risk the security cameras and whisper a quick joke in your ear and then immediately freeze again as you start to laugh.

Sometimes I pray for a mannequin that looks just like me. Do you know the Ray Bradbury story? What a thing that would be. The mannequin could go to the party and I could stay at home and no-one would be any the wiser.

However, it should be remembered the Ray Bradbury story had a chilling end. 

Incidentally, I didn’t write this piece. I’m too busy trying to figure how I can get out of this locked suitcase.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Longest Day ‘87

staunch the flow

put brakes 
on the pedal

cold dregs 
on campfire yarns


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