Friday, 30 November 2012

When The Levee Breaks

If it keeps on raining the levee's gonna break...

Water pours from a gutter furred with moss. The water pours down onto a flat roof making such a noise that it's hard to believe that it isn't drilling down through the felt to fill the room below.

Things don't feel good in that room. The man who sleeps there has to deal with his own guilt. Try as they might, his friends can't do it for him.

In a drier time, moss had been pulled from the gutter, ripped from the felt and tossed to the gravel below. One piece, about the size of a beard, had become entangled in the spokes of a bicycle wheel.

Moss in the wheel of an old bike that hangs about the place, neglected like an abandoned dog, teeth and chain rusting in the rain. Once this bike chewed up roads, a computer clipped to the handlebars measuring speeds and miles. A mirror, now cracked, reflected the world left behind.

The race against time was lost.

There were storms last night. Gales wrenched the doors of the outhouses open.

The hairdresser says she couldn't sleep. The storm kept her awake. The salon starts to warm up now as the electric heater gets to work. She chatters on. The client wears black trousers that gather a harvest of hair.

The mirror on the wall might as well have not been there.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Maggie In The Woods

We are left with autumn. Three black trees bare of leaves. White lights shining like globes through the branches. Paths filled with rain water. The lowering sun turns the water bright yellow. The way through the trees feels blue and cold. There is a row of shops here as the path runs into the street. Yellow lights burn in the windows. The light illumines the white breath of those that walk this darkening road. Above a gun and saddle shop an old man with a white beard plays a tune on a box accordion. It makes no difference to those that walk below, but it stops you dead, sets the hairs on the back of your neck to rise.

Winter sees you on your knees, desperate for the year, its work, to end. This, of course, was when work was plentiful and you had no idea how you will one day, all too soon, come to miss it. You are sent out on an errand. The roads are slick as glass. You follow roads that lead to the green places and the temperature drops and the holiday feeling starts to work its way into your soul. 

You wonder if you'll ever get there, the roads being so treacherous. Here is the track. You leave the car. Walk to the higher ground with a bow saw slung over your shoulder. The farmhouse door is plum red. An old lady answers your knock. She can hardly speak her mouth is so crammed with toffee. As you start to saw, the first fine flakes of snow start in their falling. The white teeth of a horse clamp down on the tail of your coat.

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Salt Horses

The cold thing walked,
the railing with cold tending.
It wore rusting sideburns
and peppered its time then
lumps the road, sugars the lanes
with cubes
palms the dark in the
swirls of shops.
Has a mania for being bored.
Wears alms and black under hair.
Puts teeth to glasses.
Has black air hair.
Uses size to hide beneath cold houses.

In the dark shop those that walk believe
in his strange salt horses.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Circa 1983

White room, cold enough to see your breathing.

Cold houses were kept in those days too.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Lime Green Ice Cube Dream

safe to say
there were
no dreams
except for
an ice cube
in a tray
of lime

Thursday, 22 November 2012

At About 2.30

Severe weather warnings. Risk of flooding spelled in block capitals on TV.


Well, their predictions were right. At about 2.30 I was asked to take some books to the geography room.

These journeys always create a sense of trepidation within me. It means exposure. Finding and following new routes through the school buildings with its glass windows and faces always turning my way, eyes watching as I make may way trying to look purposeful and not at all lost as I confront the demon of disorientation that dogs me every step of way.

Through double doors. Down corridors and out again to where the playing fields are. The geography department is a series of mobile classrooms set down where the fields begin.

There's a grainy quality to the sky that is already taking on the coming of night. Trees at the boundary shake in the increasingly forceful wind that is turning, as they predicted it would, into a gale.

There's rain in the air, too. Beyond the hedge a ploughed field runs to the horizon. I stand for a moment. No-one can see me here.

I long to stay out in this rough weather. For too long I have been shut up in rooms and cars.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Cab Company

The radio plays.
Des drives, voices
in the cab for company.

He drives, smokes
when the voices said
Des, you're a long time dead.

He drives, expects that trouble lies ahead.
In the narrow places, the lights
of the oncoming trucks hurt his eyes.

Drives, approaches
Tollard Royal, misty with trees
where the rain breathes

and Des doesn't guess
as the road winds and thins
how soon long time is.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Camouflaged Waterfall

Blue and white lights suspended in the black silhouettes of the trees. You can't see the joins, the strings so it's possible to suspend disbelief and believe in these lights as a three piece combo busk away in the subway. A rolling drum, trumpet and guitar. They wear boiler suits and hats and it's impossible not to smile. At the subway's mouth the smell of something rich, velvety and sweet sold by a vendor who says a single syllable word I can't catch that hangs in the air like the crunching of a shoe in snow. A step leads up away from the path where a young man with scared eyes shivers in a blue sleeping bag and asks for change. A white boat glides up the river, its windows pulsing with purple and red light. Silhouettes of people dancing.

The black lightning scars the wall, tumbles like a khaki camouflaged waterfall.

Friday, 16 November 2012

The Day Went By

like a blue plate
clumsily dropped
on a worktop
still slick from
being sponged

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


We sat
in front of the orchestra
that landed
                             like a spacecraft

              a flying saucer
in the arena.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Frenzied & The Diligent

Last night we went to see The Frenzied & The Diligent, a rather splendid skiffle group who did, aside from other things, marvelous covers of:


Sunday, 11 November 2012


Antique radio with its weak, long wave signal, was my constant companion.
The only thing I could get was cricket.
I knew nothing about cricket.
Had no interest in cricket.
But the mind craved some kind of diversion.
I listened to the commentary. Picked up how the scoring worked.
Visualised the action as surely as if I'd been there, sat on a bench in the grounds.
This listening become my ballast during the days, weeks, months that followed as I adjusted to the idea that she really meant it this time.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Peddle On

Green in the hedgerow. Brambles, berries. Dampness in the air. Arabesque tangles. They reach out, touch me as I peddle on through. Rain sprays from the silvery wheels, the black treads of my tyres. I wobble to miss puddles. With each revolution I lose the print and ink that's stained my thinking. The oxygen clears the brain: the sound of the spray, the tyres spreading the rain. I peddle on. The purpose of my journey recedes. I pass the green with the house on the corner. The house with the tall windows and white frames. An arched door. I can never see this house, the old schoolhouse, without remembering how I first arrived there. The bus parked on the green. Another autumn time. Jimmy. Running on Special Brew and weed. He was a sharp guy. Last year I saw the hearse that carried his coffin when I was upstairs, fiddling with the cuffs of my sleeves. My journey still continuing. It's easy to forget the years. I'm peddling along and it all comes back. Half a life time gone and underneath it all, I'm still much the same. Approach another landmark. A redbrick chapel with grey windows. Smell of the lavender bushes in the parking bay.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Plying My Trade

The unpleasant veneer of coldness spreads itself over our skin. the year, once more, is starting to fall away into, what I once considered to be, an enjoyable decline. I don't know what to do. In a couple of hours I'll be standing in a sleek room pressing buttons, giving a PowerPoint presentation.

plying my trade. Incorporating buzz words and jargon into my speaking. It doesn't come naturally. If I could, I'd blast dynamic and innovative from the dictionary. We're all cold, sterile as cologne. In all probability, once it's done, I'll come out of there feeling fine. Like I've done a good joefficiency is really my cup of dust and bone.

A mattress on a floor is my bed. A window, portal, gives a view of oak limbs and turning leaves. The smell of forest mulch, wood and tobacco smoke permeates my clothes.

my water gets collected from the barn.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The King's Barrow

a spiralling mound rising from the crest of a sandy heath.
the air is filled with the smell of bracken. The first time I went there, it was dusk. sudden movement of shadow. Rod said it was a night jar. I saw the shape glide between two clumps of bracken.

as was often the case, I made it a mission to re-visit the places that Rod showed me.

the road stops at a junction. no-one notices the hollow of darkness made in the trees. the iron handle of a wishing-well.

The sand was grey. tracks spread through the bracken. you're free to follow any of them. but in the end they all lead back to the same place: the foot of the mound that rises to the sky. you can circle the mound, make the ascent obliquely. or come at it straight on – the direct path that makes a dark line from foot through slope to conical summit.

they call it the King's Barrow. for years I imagined some king in golden crown and sky-blue robe sleeping in the earth. as you near the top, although it never looks far, your breath starts to work. there's a grassy peak, the green cropped short. often a tarry patch of burnt grass. the grass turned oily and black. charred sticks. this is a place for lighting a beacon. from here, there is a panoramic view of tree canopy, red cottages, and in the farthest distance,
the white tower.

Friday, 2 November 2012

The Collectors

I didn't know where we were. We'd left the car in a sandy enclosure and Rod, as ever, led the way. It was getting dark. The usual pretext for these excursions was to collect information. Rod could read the landscape like a book. The rare passages in dusty volumes where no-one else thought to go. This was Rod's blue period. We got lost in the dark. But Rod never lost control. He navigated us through the dusk. I don't remember anything we said but suddenly we were cruelly exposed. A security light flooded our mission. We were in the yard of a grand house and dogs were barking. We were on private land: the wrong side of the tracks but we got back to the car, clues safely gathered in camera film and notebooks without any confrontation. Another car had joined our own. We got into Rod's car without speaking. Got away from there as fast as we could. Holding our breaths until we were back on the road, legitimate citizens again.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Mayflower Theatre

Stairs rise past the theatre.
Low stairs, like a frozen elevator.
The theatre is shaped, illumined
like a Wurlitzer jukebox.
Glowing signs in purple, red and yellow.
The theatre dances. The poster above the foyer
depicts men in suits with powdered faces.
The steps continue on the other side of the road.
A cyclist comes down the road.
He's dressed like its 1974.
His clothes are styled as if for an industrial dispute.
His 1970s eyebrows curl up like black flames.
The frozen escalator rides on.
A wooden fence lines the way.
Pictures pinned to the fence.
Line drawings, portraits
of David Beckham,
Princess Diana. Elvis.
But done badly. 



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