Saturday, 31 March 2012

After The Swinging Party

One thing’s for sure: some people have an amazing capacity for talk.
Take Jane for instance. After the party, we brought her home for coffee.
At 2 am she was still at it, talking, talking, talking…

‘Well it’s not too bad. I get bored, but hey, I’m going to Italy in March!’
‘I’m not worried, but God yes, it’s getting harder…’
‘Of course, the children think he’s disgusting too…’
‘This is his third marriage and there’s another child away.’
‘I’ve got a bit tucked away…’
‘He’s in Brighton. I don’t know what he’s on but …’
‘He’s an air-traffic controller.’
‘We move in different circles…’
‘I really should get some new glasses. The other night, driving home…’
‘Black horses standing in the road. Well, you just can’t see them…’
‘I’m surrounded by fields. It’s very rural where I am.’
‘My lodger’s called Len. He keeps himself to himself.’
‘The other night I came home and he’d made me Spaghetti Bolognaise!’

I’d like to say that this is where the conversation came full circle.
It didn’t. But it must have come to an end somewhere.

You could ring her now. Start her off all over again.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Road Movie (Travelin' Light)

A fat motorbike beetles down a corridor made of trucks and one foxy convertible.

What catches the eye is the antenna welded to the crash helmet. It supports a box of camera tricks: the rider is filming his journey, recording where he is going which will soon be where he has been.

High-speed tar, Gaudi shapes made by the crash barrier motion.
Flashing white stripes.

Let’s go back for a moment.
The helmet – or crash hat as we once called them during a more rebellious period of our lives, is ball-shaped like a silvery planet. The world goes on inside. A core of brain and tissue. Optic nerves connected to the metal antenna connected to the satellite eye recording road.

Otherwise, either side of the obese black tyre, panniers bulky enough to carry a printed database of all the souls living in the kingdom.

And atop these black boxes with silver latches, black bin bags that
shimmer and morph in the airstream.

You’ll have to use your imagination here to decide what’s being carried in those
bags that make bike and rider look like some kind of strange insect.

A silver scarf trails over his shoulder.
It flaps like a dying bird, waves goodbye
as the bike vanishes into the metal horizon.

The strange road movie gone forever.
Despatched to wherever.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Sunset Surprise

There was always a mirror hanging
over the basin in the downstairs bathroom.

This morning the mirror was gone.
It’d been replaced with a framed painting
of an abstract sunset.

So when I checked my reflection
it came as something of a surprise
to see myself as an orange sun going down.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Two Moons, Blue Mountain

Two jugs of coffee; Feel it, speeding me along.

Jim introduced me to a lot of things my mother wouldn’t have been pleased about. Once he came in and I was lying on the fleapit that I called bed. ‘Ere’, he said. ‘’Ave a snort on this.’ Without thinking, which was often the case in those days, I did. Sniffed from a brown plastic bottle with a gold label. There was a sharp, chemical smell and the strange sensation that my head was about to launch straight off my neck and hit the ceiling. Jim beamed at me with his Labrador eyes. ‘How long, how long does this last?’ I said. If it was to go on for much longer I felt that I might go mad.

But not everything Jim introduced me to was illegal. He was a champion beer drinker. He favoured beers brewed in the north that came with names such Old Satan’s Pig Swill, The Badger’s Bottom and Viking’s Mucus. However daft their names, the results were always devastating. One night’s foolishness saw us sitting cross-legged at either end of the pub’s inglenook hearth that was decorated with brass coal scuttles, toasting forks, warming pans and other such claptrap designed to make the place feel authentic. As long-haired enthusiasts of The Hobbit, we thought we’d use the fire for what it was really meant for: keeping us warm while we were drinking pints and smoking pipes. Naturally, the customers and the girl behind the bar didn’t fall for our authentic rustic charm. When we were finally thrown out of the place, I swear there were two moons.

Another time, he took me down to Boscombe. It was a seaside place of junk shops, second handbook shops, coffee shops and tobacconists. What more could a man need?

Jim said ‘this is the place’ and pulled me into a cafĂ© with orange vinyl seats. There was a lot of wood in the place, pine cladding running up the walls and hiding the ceiling. The waitress approached us as if we were rats. She recoiled as if bitten when Jim said ‘’Ave you got any Blue Mountain?’

It would be twenty years later when I’d remember the name of the coffee Jim had asked for. ‘We don’t sell it’ the girl had said, probably silently adding so please go away. But now I have some. It wasn’t, as I’d decided, a figment of Jim’s imagination. I made myself a jug of the stuff.

Jim, I don’t know where you are now, but once again, thanks. The results are still devastating.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Rain Check

When the pupil of a cat's eye broadens, there will be rain.
- Welsh superstition

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Rain’s drama falls in a scintillating curtain, sun still shining
shimmering the wind picking up speed, glossing
the brown leaves that start their soft spiralling
descending in a whispering falling.

Miracle of whiskey light in the aftermath.

Slow-motion afternoon, playing
out its mysterious radiance,
the old sun-rain dance.

The acupuncturist is called.
Arrives with his box of pins.
Performs the old voodoo trick.

End of the show.
Blinking in the light.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Office Chair

Sometimes I think that it wouldn’t be so bad to swap places with the office chair. When the last of my colleagues leave, stopping the lines of tubular light, the air will start to tick.

Dark particles will settle like dust and fill the corridors and rooms like sea invading a sinking ship. Museum silence while the chair that’s turned into me goes home to his wife and kids.

In the morning, they’ll arrive in ones and twos. Each of them will have something and nothing to say. Some of them will donate a hat, coat or scarf to my friend the hat stand. After that, they pretty much leave the thin fellow alone. But I tell you, I’m the lucky one.

Each morning she puts her loveliness into my silver arms. I hold her the whole day long as her fingers peck like hungry birds at the letter-seeds she scatters onto a white screen of snow.

Friday, 16 March 2012

A Poem That Comes In Any Colour You Like

Gold patterns in a tin.
Marvellous colours,
cellophane waves,
a glowing shading
a tree of silhouettes.

A silent blue stretch in the dark,
a standing part cylindrical.

The shadowy waves waiting.

Cotton to cotton, the lines
spin gold through
the drum of this room.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Sparse Life in a Pale Cottage

In deference to the environment, she stops using her car.
In deference to the environment, she stops paying her gas bill.
In deference to the environment, she stops paying her electricity bill.

(After ignoring the FINAL DEMANDS they cut her off)

The cooking is done on a wood stove in the front room.
The chairs are church hard, the rugs removed.

In deference to the environment, she stops burning wood.
In deference to the environment, she starts eating raw food.

The weather turns.
Her health declines.
The children stop visiting –
citing hard chairs as the reason.

Her friends stop calling.
If they do, she hides
in a backroom
not knowing
her shadow paints
the bare floor.

environment, mary, environment, mary

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Practical Types

I swear Steve’s hair gets whiter every time I see him.
But apart from that, we are different in nearly every other way.
He’s practical, you see? There isn’t much he can’t do
when it comes to wood, paint, metal and glue.
In a younger, more arrogant period,
this difference made for an ideological conflict.

The town’s artists were scorned. Who kept them in
lighting, their cars and boilers running?
That’s right, practical types like me
who put magnolia on for you
while you wander the forest
lonely as a mushroom.

Now Steve takes his time looking
at a painting on my wall. He likes
the view of the blue black river,
how she’s glued hessian into the water
to give it texture. Then he sets to it:

lifts a layer of screed, chips away
at the concrete, jack-hammers
a trench to lay copper pipes
that will pump life into this
old room so that the story continues.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

An Invitation

I’d been dead for quite some time when I got this invite asking me to come back down. I didn’t have much else on so I said okay.

It was an easy trip to make and I was soon walking down the old familiar streets. I wasn’t sure how long I’d been gone but the cars all looked pretty much same.

Someone was standing at a bus stop reading a newspaper. The headline didn’t faze me either. The same old thing was going on when I’d last looked at a newspaper – before I’d died that is. I clocked the date and counted the months backwards until I had six fingers held in the air. Half a year!

The only change I really noticed in this time was in women’s leggings. They were all wearing these zigzag patterns like cartoon TVs that needed tuning. That was about it; that and the fact that it felt funny standing here not breathing.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


When you are young, death is a big deal. You hear of someone dying and it sends a strange tremor through the head and heart. ‘He’s dead’, you say, trying to digest the news that goes down like a piece of rubbery steak. When the messenger leaves you alone the idea of someone being gone makes the blood pump in your ears as if you’ve just received a blow to the head.

In middle age the effect is much the same. Although death becomes more common-place, it doesn’t get any easier to deal with.
Such was his thinking as Dave parked his car in a gravelled lay-by with its panoramic view of the forest. The engine rumbled on for a few seconds after he’d turned the ignition off. The valley narrowed into the distance and black and white cows were dotted here and there as if strategically placed to enhance the view with a considered composition.

Other people were gathered in the lay-by. They were standing in a circle as if viewing some kind of event like kids in a schoolyard crowding around a fight. An old woman in a purple headscarf had a mobile-phone clamped to her ear and was relaying the scene to the outside world. Dave got out of his car wondering what all the fuss was about. He kept his distance but was close enough to make out two ginger kittens being fed canned tuna from a plastic spoon. They were smaller than the hand that was feeding them.
He walked on into the mouth of the valley, heading for a stripe of trees that lined the horizon.

The wind sounded louder in his ears as went further down.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Difficulties In Maintaining Symmetry

The fat girl had never heard of U2 before.
She’s got a real old-timer who can’t
make it to his seat without the aid of his stick.
Some kind of ailment makes him shake, twitch.
‘What would you like?’ she says.
‘A number one all over?’ she repeats
translating the toothless mumble.
God help her, she holds the shaver
close to his shaking head.
Far away, a farmer
drives a red harvester
through a field of wheat
making the clay tremble.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Down Your Highway

One jug of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee;
Speeding me, down your highway.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Gravel Daughter

Car green old
rides and travels 
a road in the throat
to find your gravel
daughter.Top of Form

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Between Time

The rattle of a moped,
a continental sound
heard in this cold city.
It revs and revs,
picks up speed.

It is not winter.
It is not autumn.
An in-between
time then.

Cold is a foe. It gets
into the body,
the blood and bones.

Turns roads
into rinks.
Congeals fuel,
causes engines
to slink.

Wait here, will you?
Need to scrape this ice
from the screen.
Sounds like a saw
eating wood.

Breath wells in misty wreathes to garland the lights glowing from the dash.
My eyes keep getting drawn to the ragged tree with its tatter of leaves.

Yellow, lime, brown.

The bark is almost black wearing its sheen of damp moss and lichen.

The spire on the church
is a rocket. One day soon
it will leave the earth.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Night Disturbance

There’s a sound that means no good:
someone wrecking something,
in the front yard, metallic scraping.

A kicking, cursing goblin-crumpling sound.

The next thought is the car.
Why does she never lock it?

Pull back the curtain.
Nothing but the shivering street
glistening with orange rain.

Look for the tell-tale sign,
glow of the interior light.

Nothing but dead car
empty yard, lines
of long shadows, night.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Sun Dial

Soft light shapes
a parallelogram.
Square clock in
an inch of frame.

The hour,
clear of shadow,
twelve eclipsed.

Red needle
ticking to


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