Sunday, 30 June 2013

Riotous Titans of Rock, Saturday Night!

Skinny black jeans, sequins gold and green
doing the pyramid and peacock strut

the sun sets down on the farm,
sets on a flame-throwing phoenix

the day's blue sky clouds
tents shift to transport crowds
2000 light Years from home

Turn it up! Turn it up!
a totemic performance
of blockbusters and departures














my first attempt at writing a 'found poem' after reading a review in The Guardian of the Stones magnificent Glastonbury debut. 

Friday, 28 June 2013

The Early Riser

The transition from bed to bus never fails to surprise.

This morning, sleeping bodies, mouths gaping, exhaling garlic, last night's beer.
I hunker down and try not to think too deeply about my fate.

Something going on in the petrol station. Fire truck, blue lights. A man with a camera.
The bus creeps past until I see a Ford Fiesta rammed head on into the crumpled pumps.

We get to our destination. A Travel Lodge on the corner – rooms only £19 a night.
A fast road and the pavement divided to make a cycle lane. An act of stubbornness
always sees me cutting through a hedge to follow a dirt path through woods where
purple rhododendron flower.

The noise of the road abates and it feels like a load lifted from my shoulders.
A bird sits on the path and opens its yellow beak. I realise that it can't fly and
have no idea what to do.

The path follows a blackish river. Something makes me look down:
the biggest beetle I have ever seen. It freezes, the crab-like pincers
hanging in serrated air.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Lunch

King wears salmon pink jeans, the waistband hoiked up into his rib-cage. No laces in his boots. The tongues flop around like tonsils. The sole of the left boot smiles as he walks. His shirt sleeves are rolled up to his armpits. The love of his life pants on the pavement beside him. She needs no lead: she and her master are inseparable. Unless she sees a rabbit. Or a cat.

King has no love for cats or fear of admonishment from old ladies who have just seen their cat torn to pieces. In fact, he finds it a bit of a laugh.

King decides that it's dinner time. He says fancies chicken. The dog knows that the shop is a no go zone and sits by a rubbish bin. I follow King until he gets angry. 'Will you stop following me around and looking so suspect?' I wait outside. The dog keeps her distance. She knows I'm not in with the in crowd.

King comes out. Puts his hands down his trousers and hauls up three packs of roast chicken. Two pretty girls walk down the street and by the time we remember where we are the dog has eaten our share as well as her own.

King swears. Goes back in for more.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Plastic Eye

I must have been down here before a thousand times without really seeing it.

The postman says the place I need is on the 4th floor. Go through a smoked-glass door.

Can't miss it.

Grey phone on a grey desk.

Half an hour to kill so I head on back to the street.

Green bench on green grass. Light a cigar.
Shiver in the thinness of my skin so I get up and walk.

The path leads down to The Mayflower Theatre. Poster for a pantomime with stellar cast. Picture of Nigel Havers who hasn't aged a day since 1974. Julian Clary who has...

Turn back.

A stone hut that's had its edges worn smooth:
a sort of igloo gathering moss.
A wooden door painted red.

Time to go.

Cross a street where I once had an altercation with a cyclist who thought that he was exempt from stopping at red lights.

A bar with silver tables set on the pavement Mediterranean style.
Too cold for anyone except for die-hard smokers to sit at them.

I dial the number just like the postman said.
Wait at the desk where the receptionist
has been replaced with a plastic eye set in the ceiling.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Marbled Planet

Turn off the interrogation of light.
A set of step-ladders walk into a shelf
loaded with explosive magazines:
fashion, photography, interior designs.
A marble of planet with six silver satellites
travels through the night
until an eruption
lifts an elbow to hear
living-room detonations.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Ted's Jumpers

In the days before drugs and murder, Ted's jumpers were a nightly wonder.

It became something of a tradition to wait by the television, dinners steaming or congealing on our laps, to wait for the end of the West Country news, to see what Ted would be wearing.

'Ere 'ee is' Grandad would say as Ted came on and Granny would say 'cor, look at what 'e's wearin'!'

Old Ted would be there, immaculate white hair, to do his bit on fishing. Where the fishing was good, where the biggest had been caught, what bait we should all be using. But what we really wanted to see was what Ted was wearing.

Old Ted would sit under the heat and glare of the studio lights wearing, as befitted a true fisherman, the chunkiest jumpers that ever went out on a freezing ocean. And the colours!
The zig-zag patterns!

When he'd finished his piece, Ted would sign off with his catchphrase and smile the wisest kindest of smiles.

It took years for me to understand what it meant.

That's all for now. Tight lines.


Saturday, 22 June 2013

The X3 From Bournemouth To Salisbury

For The Wooden Boy

The bus shelter shapes a rain hide to observe the rain from,
see how it behaves when it thinks no-one's looking.
The woman behind wears a purple coat and starts coughing
in a way that makes me glad I'm standing upwind.
The red bus arrives, a golden crucifix glowing
in its destination board.

Step on board. Drop gold change into the collection box.
The priest driver places the wafer-ticket on my tongue.
Climb a spiralling stair to meet the stares of passenger gargoyles.
Fall into a pew at the back. Plug myself in to enjoy the service.
As the hymn gets going the plastic surrounds
of the windows transform into grey stones.
Heat of the passengers. Some sipping holy red bull,
others kindling sacred texts. The windows
stain with the breath we contain. Travel
through a green and pleasant land
until the bell says it's time to leave.

The tickets are all singles there being
nowhere to return to and only
nowhere, naturally,
to journey,
go on to.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Dust And Lamps

Desperate to escape the ice
I lie in dust and lamps

menthol notes
play on a piano

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Dave's First Marriage

The blade of the spade severs an earthworm.
Bleeding, writhing but still shining,
the two halves go sliding,
each their separate ways.
Go on living for another
sequence of glistening days.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Getting Away With It

As sure as Monday
follows Sunday,
these white hairs
are confirmation
that I'm not
going to get
away
with it.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Lost World

She wears a purple scarf in summer,
summer in the dying days
of a dying world.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Kilter Part Two (III)

One trap door closes and another one opens onto a world of dust and absolute darkness. In this wooden cave below the snow the weather creaks in and notes come from the piano. The music sends a shiver that's strangely like flying and the cold is severe but there's no option, now, but to keep on going. I wouldn't have it any other way, ascending the first frosted rampart indented with footholds for giants until a narrow way reaches the tops of the yews – so close you can hear them breathing, smell their berry breath as the first rampart completes the outer ring of a series of ever decreasing concentric circles. Here, you can, like me, walk for an eternity through roots, the bones of the trees exposed by erosion. What I walk on is a thin layer of grey clay spread on chalk where, here, our heads sensibly in the clouds we look down on coasting birds that in their turn look down on brown, frozen fields broken by bright green bands painted between pencil lines of graphic earth. The shaggy, wild heads appear over the ridge of the next rampart and we don't stand a chance: no way, not ever, out of this skirmish, to reach the middle. A beech tree broken and fallen builds a bridge between outer and inner. This is it. First circle completed but the air bites with hints of more snow to come as we descend into the first ditch and the sky always changing against the curving horizon.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

Kilter Part Two (II)

There was a smell of graveyards and weddings in the water's green perfume. Candle light bathed the walls of the Great Hall. Where now the plane? What news from the cloudy conferences?




Friday, 14 June 2013

Kilter - Part Two (I)

The windows clouded, the air turned tropical as our talk misted the glass. Trees were dripping with rain. The heater breathed its hot breath onto the glass as a hill made a downward slope that reached a sharp bend and we rolled into a village with antique petrol pumps. The clock face in the tower, above the slate roofs shone like a moon. Black hands pointed the hour, suggested a time that, of course, is always now. Artificial thunder made spacey sounds – a jet plane loaded with passengers holding cloudy conferences. The watcher on the wall picked up these messages through the headphones collected from far off dreamscapes, faint sounds that gathered to haunt the morning, flesh the morning's bones with the momentum temporarily achieved the preceding evening, the candles burning among the green water smell of graveyard flowers where one moment ends and another, as you soon shall see, begins.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Kilter (X)

Word – 'TRUNCATED' – block capitals within quotation marks. Who said it? Where did it come from? It led to trunk, hollowed out by a lightning blast. I used the colour of the lightning to shade the shape of my dream. Curled on the floor of the room while the man was still out there, watching, waiting, the lightning colour concentrating in the front part of my brain. Rills of brown earth that sticks to the fingers, the knees of your jeans, I mean my jeans – she says she wants me to stop describing my life as if it was happening to somebody else. Does this mean to take ownership of? The palest green tinged with bird egg blue. I wish for new ways to create colour – new words to create your own, to describe the green stalk rising out of the earth and the yellowish whitish brain forming on the stalk in crystals of rain awaiting the silver blade of the harvest knife. Again and again I return to the hollow tree, marvel at the phenomenon of century's old lightning, the near mortal blow but for the green shoots returning, the fresh leaves playing host to the brown owl I greet each morning and here the window clouded.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Kilter (IX)

I didn't fancy it much, lying in the unmade bed. The rumpled sheets, the black shadows where someone else had lain put me off. I sat on the floor and waited. I slept a cold, shallow sleep. When I pulled back the curtain again I saw that the man was still there, waiting, watching. His foot was still up on the wall. He could have been a statue. Except something had changed. I could see that he was wearing headphones. He was waiting for the messages that travel through the dark to be picked up as dreams. I remembered the silver saucepan filled with bubbling water, the gas budding into a blue flower. Grains of rice submerged in the foaming energy of heat and water. The spaces between the grains and the self-conscious feeling that formed in the vicinity of these watery spaces. I thought about the word I had written before putting my pen down. The man was still there, watching, waiting. The headphones were picking up signals in the dark. It's a safe bet that he had heard the word that had written itself into the protective, sacred circle of my thoughts.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Kilter (VIII)

Here is the darkened room that looks like the aftermath of something that's gone wrong because someone has followed the instructions too literally. My Granny once told us about a nurse who'd been asked to fetch a warm cup of milk for a patient. Dutifully, she warmed the cup, filled it with cold milk and gave it to the patient. The darkened room was, in some indefinable way, a victim of a similar piece of thinking. You could tell it was so by the way the bed was unmade, the sheets rumpled in the moonlight. The bed was near an open window and a white curtain moved in the breeze. I pulled back the curtain. The sea looked very black with the moon babbling on the surface. A wall ran along the promenade. I could see a man standing there, one foot up on the wall. He was wearing chinos and had carefully sculpted hair. He was looking out to sea, watching, waiting.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Kilter (VII)

I spent a lot a time on the road – when I wasn't sleep-walking into disaster. It was a handy way of being at work and avoiding work. I crossed a motorway bridge, saw the six lanes that I would soon be joining laid out below me. Some effect of the sun and rain on the road's surface made the scene strangely vivid, extra-dimensional. I crossed the bridge like a child looking into the pages of a pop-up book. The natural, child's response is to probe the picture with a finger, run it around the edges of the shapes that made the scene. Maybe even tear it. My mind was working in much the same way. I wanted to rip the day and make my own mark on it. Greenish clouds were melded to the sky to make a sort of tunnel. Jazz piano played on the radio, the soundtrack to my own personal video being played through the car windows. Suggestion of movement in the green corridor of trees. A liquid motion from a buzzard with breath-taking wingspan. The music took me into the greenish tunnel that led my thoughts into a darkened room penetrated by moonlight.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Kilter (VI)

Day One. I was given a choice. Which desk would I like? There was only one desk that faced a window – the triangular window that I had drawn without thinking. There was a view of an old flint wall and a building that had once been a chapel. Naturally, I chose this desk and watched the comings and goings from the chapel. There was a whole family living there. The man strolled out at sometime around ten in the morning wearing denims, his shirt always hanging out in the style of old men who still want to look cool. His wife had black hair and was always in a hurry, scurrying out the gate carrying a jute bag. Various teenage sons came and went. Sometimes I heard their voices. They were all well-spoken. The man would come back an hour or so later with a folded newspaper. Unlike his wife, he was never in a hurry. Everyday, at some stage, a van would arrive delivering some new toy. A wide-screen TV, a tree, boxes of wine, a mountain bike. A grocery van would also come by once a week. Bags and boxes of food. I wondered how this man managed to spend so much time at home. How come every day was like Christmas. Sometimes a man in a pinstripe suit would call. He was always smoking the biggest cigars I had ever seen. Meanwhile, I continued to build my empire. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself having managed, so I thought, to have escaped them all at last. How wrong can you be?

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Kilter (V)

The window I had sketched was triangular. When I looked at it again I saw the poppies once more. But something was wrong. The windows in the great hall where we had met the master had been tall and oblong. So why had I drawn a triangular window? The noise of water boiling in a silver saucepan bubbled into my thoughts. I turned down the gas and picked up my notebook. I wrote There are always these spaces – charged, I think, with a sort of responsibility. I put the pen down. This was not like being in the sacred, protective circle. I felt self-conscious. Feeling this way was absurd considering that it was just me, alone in the house. I went through to the front room and sat in the old armchair with its floral patterned cover, holes worn through from years of hands resting on the arms replicating the tears in the knees of my jeans. The pan was still bubbling but I couldn't hear the water any more. I realised why I had drawn a triangular window. It came from a delicious April morning when I had taken the first steps along the linear road towards building my empire. I should have known that it would end in failure. Empires, as the history books show us, have a habit of collapsing.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Kilter (IV)

The day was over. Everyone got up to leave. But I barely noticed. I'd reached a zone where the house could have burned down around my ears without me feeling the slightest bit warm. I was alone in the room, the poppies – pink, red and pale blue had stopped swaying. I looked down at the words that were in the circle that I had drawn.

Replace the BBC. Pick up your news from an alternative viewpoint.

They could have been written by a complete stranger for all the sense they made to me. I'd also drawn a sketch of the window. Then:

Poppies – chalk soil – the cycle of a poppy's life?

MUTE

The master was gone. Everyone was gone. I waited for the load of my feelings to stop shifting and settle back into place. It was time to go and I remembered, as I put on my coat, the last thing the master had said. With the help of the fortune teller, her deck of cards, we could set off on the next stage of the journey. Pre-destiny and conscious/sub-conscious choice...

The others were gone. It was time for me to do the same. But with this constant re-invention without resolution, where was I to go now?

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Kilter (III)

We discussed the failure, the non-glamour of the cul-de-sac that is a life spent following a linear path. We discussed how a friend had his debts cancelled, was given the freedom to live in the here and now but at a terrible price that none of us, however burdened, wanted to pay. All the while, a fly buzzed around the room. I could see wild poppies in the fields beyond the window. The master recited some lines of poetry from memory. He stood on one leg and held a bare foot in his hand. 'Maybe', he said, 'this uncertainty, this... anxiety is just how things are...' The fly kept buzzing arabesques around the room. No-one seemed to notice it. We talked of beeswax, thread and bones. Ideas set down in the sacred, protective circles that the master had created. The grass in the fields started to roll. The poppies swayed. The weather, all out of kilter with the season as if anticipating what was coming next.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Kilter (II)

The master said nothing. He put his bowl of half-eaten cereals on the wooden floor. The bowl filled with milk and flakes of sun-ripened corn. Harvest in a bowl. He smiled, then got to his feet. With his forefinger extended, he drew an imaginary circle onto the floor. Then invited us to draw a circle on a fresh page of our notebooks. Here, within his imaginary circle, and within the circles we had each drawn, we had created a sacred space. A place of safety. Protective sacred circles in which we were invited to record our innermost thoughts without fear of being made to feel foolish. Each person put pen to paper and began to write. Ah, the therapeutic sound of collective pens rolling words onto paper! The odd sound of thought becoming an almost tangible thing in the room while the master became invisible, invisible to our eyes but a presence in our thoughts. I took up my pen and began to write.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Kilter (I)

We were led through a room painted in Wedgwood green that reminded me of the heart-shaped box Grandad used to keep his cuff-links in. A pink conch grew on a windowsill like a surreal ear in a Dali painting. Anna told us to wait as she ascended the spiral staircase to see if the master was ready for us. Shortly, she re-appeared and said that we could go on up. We followed the stairs until we came into a great hall with a black baby grand piano set up on a dais. The far wall was made up of tall windows. The master sat in a black chair like a king on his throne. He was dressed in black and had nothing on his feet. He was eating a bowl of cornflakes. I wondered what the master would do next. I wondered what my first words would be. I knew that I had to choose them carefully.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

One Stone Olive Green Head

Black shapes of trees. Flint, slate, stone in the meander of a rambling song running with a stream singing of waking, waking in the north and in the seeking of this silver voice we come to the slant-roofed farmhouse with lamps burning in the windows, the curtains all drawn and a mill-stone leaning against a stonewall wears a quarter in grooves. Inside under low smoked beams the fire burning we are shown into an inner room with no windows where stones and bones are stored in white boxes the artifacts wrapped in white tissue paper like new shoes. One stone olive green head placed on a shelf starts to sing its voice raising dark shadows to join trees as a candle flickers, pulses in the darkness of the room where there are no windows but an endless view that begins with the black shapes of trees.

Rodney Legg with part of his collection

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Morlock Oil

Morlock Oil
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The Quest Of Great Celtic Mystery

The Quest Of Great Celtic Mystery
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Furrow

Furrow
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