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THE BLOOD LINE

Too  hasty  the

needed slake of blood

that binds  bonds

too sharp the ire

fuelled by the

unholy pooling

of shared desire

to hurt  to hurt  to hurt

thrice like navies

striking a stone

quelling the

viscous unease                                                                               

tasting the

aloe   the yew  the

deadly  shade  of  black

unknowing why

like Macbeth’s witches

thrice  more  they

strike the gentle woman

allowing the  dagger  gleam

to  stroke  the  phonic  air

of their shared remorse

from where  once their

soft sibilance and

smiles were given

freely for dessert

alas ‘tis said that  hapless  souls

so bereft of human understanding

they mistake the act

of  kindness  for  weakness

perish hungry not knowing

‘tis sad  to  take  to  your  lips

and drink the honey spoon

of giving  then  spit

their  contemptuous  lees

into the empty pot

of spoil  already reeking

an acid vengeance  so  vile

so  devoid  of  love

even their consciences recoil.

THE SHORELINE

A shifting thing.

A subtle, dangerous thing.

Something changeable, moody.

Unpredictable and likely

to knock you off balance.

 

No ‘pieces of eight’ coinage,

no pearls, or jewels.

No treasure but, possibly,

a nasty surprise.

Glass! Not yet loved by the sea.

Sharp as a butcher’s knife

slicing a toe.

 

Metal too,

lying in wait.

Poisonous with intent.

Waiting to bite vile oxide venom.

Coloured so beautifully

even the sea forgets.

 

Just there, over there,

a plastic shape.

Made to mimic art.

Artful but deadly.

A pretend personally 

borrowing guises.

Masking the ‘self' and

just waiting to be picked up.

 

So here we are.

Beachcombing

the embarkation

between land and sea.

Seeking a one-ness

with an element so huge

we need the Moon

to guide the way.

 

Walk on the

ebb of the tide.

Alone.

Be an entity of ‘one.'

Take on the might of

the world’s shoreline.

Draw that ‘line in the sand.’

 

Beware, though,

the

Undertow. 

UBERLEBENDE

 

Sonorous the dong of the long-case clock bidding us rise,

breakfast

             at

               nine.

In the dining room there are metal trays on a sideboard, exuding

heat 

     and

         steam. 

A copper gas urn, magnificent, sucks in air and plops out coffee,

 gritty

       and

            scalding.

In an orderly queue we select from the griddles,

hot plates,

              tureens,

                        a roll of bread.

Clutching my plate I look around the refectory table, seeking a place

to sit,

       quietly,

                to observe.         

She is sitting opposite me, still, silent – only her eyes move around the room,

watchful,

            wise.

                   opaque.

She wears a cloche hat, floral and grey, drop earrings, there is no hair that

can

     be

         seen.

Her jacket has jutting shoulder pads and wide pockets, her thin fluffy jumper

a

  pearly

          pink.

The table is now full, cutlery clinks, plates screech.   She takes off her jacket,

proceeds

            to

               eat.

I watch her; she’s oblivious, her elbows knobbed on the table. Her probing fork hurriedly scrapes away the remains

on

     her

          plate.

 I see her lumpy flesh; the uneven contours of her arms and breasts;

her

    empty    

            face.

In the soft hollows above her wrist I see the tattooed number, millions

upon millions long.

black,

        bitter,

                stark.      

She doesn’t wear a watch; no point, because she has survived and

passed

         through

                    time.

POISED OVER

THE VOID

 

I climbed a stair going

 

nowhere    passing

 

 a balcony falling

 

backwards   through

 

a hidden door on to

 

a wall-less ceiling

 

suspended over floorless

 

depths    through space

 

without ending

 

where a wire is strung

 

to twang my supple weight  

 

hitched to a hook   tacked

 

to a shelf and I am walking

 

not falling    and I am

 

poised over the void

 

balancing my life

 

kismet…

IN THE DARKNESS

She didn’t see

the figure’s

insinuation

of a shadow

 

She didn’t hear

the metallic

sizzling

of his zip

 

She felt the

might of his

body thrust

into hers

 

She tasted

her snot

her tears

his slobber                                       

 

She smelt

her fear

her blood

his cum

 

Now

in the

untime

of rape

they wait...

Pathos  51cms x 19cms

AN IMP IN GREEN TROUSERS

 

An imp in green trousers

Came, sat down on

The Heath one day.

'What you reading?'

Voice like Ringo,

Laced with Glasgow.

 

'Auden’s poetry.'

 

Our willing hands mingled.

'I’m Thom, Thom Gunn.'

So began a summer of great content.

Sadly, by autumn,

Words threatening armament

Sheathed our loving senses.

 

When he was leaving

He gave me a pristine

Copy of Thom Gunn’s selected poetry,

Unopened, unrecited,

Too modest, he said!

 

I wasn’t to see or hear

A Gunn for a third of a century.

Not until I met his brother recently.

Shyly I told him of our

Meeting on Hampstead Heath,

Of delightful days and nights of

Fun and whimsy.

How we lay, naked, on his

Worn killim as he read me

The Rubaiyat of Omar Kyayyam.

Made it more authentic,  more romantic

He said!

 

And more, until…

 

Calmly, gently, Ander murmured:

'Thom came down from

Oxford in 1954

With his boyfriend.

And has lived in San Fransisco

In a clapboard, wooden house

Since 1963.'

'He knew the Heath,

We grew up there

But he wasn’t there

In 1970.'

 

Incredulous I stared.

So, if not Thom Gunn,

Who was it that stole

His poetry and had

His impish way

With me

All those

Hot summer nights ago?

Not an imp but an impostor!

 

What a joyous memory.

A BUTTERFLY WENT SPLAT

 

and it was such a loud splat…

 

It skithered down the glass - the scarlet

was fading,  and the black.

 

It lifted one thorny leg in a tired wave.

 

The antennae and the swivelling

head couldn’t comprehend.

 

Nor I, that it could die – that it

was, in fact, dying.

 

My eyes saw the yellow goo,

the faded wings, and I told it

how sorry I am to do this to you.

 

It fluttered on a thermal: a zig-zaggy

drop to the gravelly path.

 

And began a crazy… wobbly… walk… away…

 

I am sad as I lift my red-shoed

foot and stamp – stamp - it down.

OUR WALK IN THE DROUGHT

 

He was so wise, knowing it was only a mirage,

so we all turned left instead of right.

 

We burrowed our way into the gopher warrens,

sucked pebbles and licked our hands.

 

Sipped from prickly cacti at eventide,

drank our brothers’ pee from a rusty can.

 

He told us to follow his footfalls, compassed

by the Pole star glowing red in the sky -

some faltered, took a virgin route: quietly died.

 

Strafed sand raining down as dust half-blinded

the rest of us, walking to survive.

 

Walking into dawn light, silver and cold,

we could see our shadowy ghosts: mothers’

teats shriven; puckered babies; waxy kids.

 

Young men and women silent, tearless:

our old folk had died in the night.

 

He crouched at a yawning,

coaxed us in:  sand-less, dry,

rock living with colonies of scorpions;

transparent, tiny, barely-formed.

 

Too young to sting; we ate them - every one.

 

He told us to listen: the faraway roaring of

trucks on a highway; a speeding freight train’s

falsetto scream. High, very high, above us

an aeroplane’s droned.

We turned right, followed a road.

Found a rising spring.

I  KNOW THE LOOK

Yes, I know the look:

secret, hungry, sly, shy.

A look going deeper,

saying trust me.

We’ll trust each other.

No talk of tomorrow.

We know we would

like a night with dinner,

talk, laughter, thereafter...

The look intensifies,

the merest twitch of the mouth

and movements heavy as clay.

The light-lines converging:

and, finally, we kiss.

Yes, I know the look.

I

THE MARSH

 

Slurging on mud,

gouging reeds too.

Needles of ache

insinuating my face

through a torrent of nerves.

 

Feet slithering on broken

crab shells; sand, old mud,

old as the river god.

All pulling and caressing

young, eager toes.

 

Tidal water has canopied over

my head and my sad, dear, eyes

watches the beguiling sun

shimmer a smile on the dimpled

waves.

 

Everything is silent

in the land of fishes.

Silent until the swollen blood rush

of hushed air bids death enter.

 

Even the bladderwort, soft fronds

swaying silent as angel wings,

silently waits and tinkles a

wave of farewell.

Wait! Wait: grass,

river grass, coarse

and sharp as pampas

in my hands, pulling me up, out, out…

 

Sinuous feet straining to

hold a dance on the tide.

Rising, up and through water.

Wet, at last, living…

 

I am living. Yes, I am living.

Aged, but alive.

Wiser than birth pangs am I.

My soul came home.

 

I had escaped the land of the fishes.

Saved by the marsh.

A papyrus of gentle rushes –

Not even a scratch.

                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

GRIEF                                                                            

Grief makes me

feel sleepy,

half alive,

other-worldly.

 

Old and young

at the same time,

it feels odd, my

eyes feel cloudy.

 

Not a clear vision,

or too much vision,

empty, a void full of memories.

 

I’m awake, lying still,

there’s no movement,

no lozenge of

warmth on my thigh.

 

No reason for birds

to fly by but they do,

screeching a beseech

to someone else.

 

Not me, please not me.

I never want

to see those

alien eyes again.

 

They are too

powerful, too dead.

 

It’s time to pee,

make tea, sit musing.

NIGHT CALLS

 

Was that a steaming kettle hiss,

or a wet breath, sucking?

 

Was that a tittle-tattle

window rap?

 

Did that light

dim a moment?

 

Or a shadow

somewhere

in the…

 

HELP ME  please help me…

 

I can hear

bare feet missing

a step.

.

Hissing again, like pee.

No, old gas jets

pluttering.

 

Now a shock wind

past my face.

 

Was that my name then?

 

Their snide tutters

coming closer

but I can’t see them.

 

Only sounds, like

bulrushes brushing

the door frame.

 

What  was that?

It’s a wireless,

somewhere near my head.

 

My head is making

noises - like far away

tractors in the wind.

 

 

They’re here.

Over there.

 

Voices crackling like shrapnel.

Bud Flanagan,

tomb boom.

 

Scrape. Like an

old man’s belch.

 

So loud it sounds like my

chest wheezing.

 

A sneeze from the bin cupboard!

 

I can hear them

listening to me.

 

They’ve found me…found me!

                                                                             

I lived here…

 

I   lived   here… ONCE...

.

DETACHMENT

I live in a detached

house by the sea,

whose quaint

granite walls

seep sea spit

spat two

centuries ago,

and a dead

ship’s grieving

beams moan

to the sighs

of the easterly breeze.

 

I live in a detached

house by the sea,

with clusters

of entities stacked

thigh-high,

who play their

vocal chorus

in the seams

of the draughts,

in the creases

of the shadows,

even under the floors.

 

I live in a  detached

house by the sea -

dreaming about

a lover younger

than me,

who walks

causeways,

tram ways,

sometimes ancient

track ways,

but who will never

walk with me.

HIDDEN

I hide in the forest,

where none may

pass but you.                                                                                                                     From them,

from light lines,

even the darkness,

because I exist

in gloom.

 

I’m a wraith,

a figment,

a filigree.

 

I’m the

shy spirit

loved by the trees,

who know my age,

my wisdom,

but who

have never

seen me.

 

My presence

gives them

light in their darkness,

substance

in their shadows,

a quiet peace.

 

We soothe each other

the forest and me,

we grow old together,

we are dying together.

 

In the forest,

where none

may pass

but you.

 

Waiting...

THE VISIT

 

It was such a lovely day for the visit.

the smell of bluebells and warm rye grass.

 

No one spoke as we drove through the

Hertfordshire countryside. 

 

At least two hours from London, new

horizons already and a low mist.

 

We passed fields of stones, sheep, too.

Someone’s statues on a hillside.

 

Then we joked, ribald jokes, about the name:

Much Hadham.

 

‘slags’  and ‘old dogs’  laughed our Jakey.

‘Enough already’ said our father.

 

Silence again as we drove on,

we knew the way you see.

 

The tall gates closed on an entry system.

We wait, a silence, so unalarmed.

 

The pulleys oiled rasp divide the gates

and we accelerate, jumping through.

 

People sit on the grass, under trees,

no one  laughs, smiles even.

 

‘Grim innit.’ says our Jakey.

No one speaks.

 

And then we see her.

Standing there, just standing there.

 

Waiting, just waiting.

CALL FROM THE SEA

 

 

I wish you were here,

I wish you were not…

 

It’s the Sea who’s speaking,

my message in waves says:

 

Go away,

come, come a lot…

 

I will always remember ‘ee,

though some I’ve forgot…

 

So come see me on glad days,

grey, blue and sad days…

 

If I’m not here,

I will always come directly…

 

Come, ride my white horses

some days I may shout…

 

Whether I be a draining or a making,

‘tis better without clout…

 

You can always surrender,

how gentle I’ll be…

 

Come my sweetheart, my ‘andsome, my cocker,

my lover, my bird…

 

Come, come, come… swim with me….

(IF YOU DARE!)                                                          

DO YOU REMEMBER GRIEF?

 

Do you remember Grief?

Sad, misty eyes, always got the snuffles.

Used to be quite chubby but when I saw

him recently he’d gone to skin and bone.

 

…Always on the buses, down the station, on the beach.

Saw him in the Post Office last Wednesday, drawing out

His savings. 

Didn’t take long.

 

…Turns out he’s got s missus.

She looks as miserable as him.

Can’t tell them apart.

Funny really.

 

…Always muttering to himself, hardly ever speaks.

When he does voice like a crypt.

I wouldn’t want to see HIM

out on a dark night.

…You must remember Grief: skinny, short hair or long.

Lost it last year but it grew back.

Always in the chemist, up the doctors, down the pub.

Got problems – drink they say.

Poor bugger.

 

Saw him at Tescos the other day.  Picking over the

‘out of dates’ Saw me looking at him.

Smiled he did.

 

Then I bumped into him again last week.

He recognised me, stopped for a chat.

Asked me if I lived locally.

 

‘See you around’ he said.

Not if I see you first I thought.

But I said ‘yes, see you Grief – Bye.’

Remembered him yet? No?

 

He’s often standing by the War Memorial

but when you look again he’s gone.

It could be her I suppose. Poor Soul.

 

Try to remember him.

Always hanging about waiting for a train to come in,

or leave. Always catching the last bus.

 

Like last night he was in the bus shelter.

We got on the same one.  I got off

Before he did though.

 

Then this morning, I got such a shock!

Heard knocking at the door…

 

Opened it and,

Talk of the devil, it was HIM.

‘Hello’ I said ‘Are you lost?’

‘No, he says, ‘I was looking for you.

Can I come in a minute?’

 

‘Are you on your own?

I’ve got something to tell you.

It won’t take long…’

 

Oh, yes. You’d know him

If you saw him.

You can take my word for it.

 

Believe you me.

You’d  KNOW him.

If you saw him.

MANILLA PLACE

 

My mate Charlie Strode

lives in a box, a cardboard box,

a ‘des res’ - a Hitachi.

Comes with polystyrene walls,

and anti-damp sachets.

 

Ella Mount lives next door in a Sony,

a thirty-eight incher. Bijou,

compact, with nylon reinforcements

and big Velcroed flaps.

 

Tommy Grime lives next door in a palette frame.

Polythene windows and a raised platform

base, under floor heating too - if you

don’t mind the fug.

 

Pete Small lives in a White Knight combi

divided down the middle: fridge,

with poly walls one side,

freezer, with poly walls on the other.

 

Long Tall Sal lives in an Indesit.

Seven feet end to end - slim as a whistle. 

Lined with bubble wrap,

and she’s got LED lighting.

 

My new box is coming tomorrow.

A Fridgidaire.  Very basic.

No bells or smells.

Just two-ply manilla.

A snug fit though.

 

Probably my last one.

                              

KATH’S SCULPTURE

 

Lying there,

Forgotten – too old

For eating.

That Marris potato

Past its prime.

Just one of many,

Lying, waiting for

The compost heap.

Lying still,

Looking dead.

Almost, but not quite.

Somewhere a

Life force

Spreading a

Verdant stain.

Skin tone changed.

Gone now the

Chalky hew.

New tendrils, as

Tapered as aspen,

Weave up,

Towards the light.

Kismet for this

Tuber.

Arrested

By a hand

That picks it

From the many

And takes a

Knife – as

Sharp as a pin

And cuts

And cuts

And cuts

The glistening

Flesh into

A shape.

A tiny sculpture,

A baby dog –

Lolloping,

With baggy skin,

Too big feet,

A wrinkled brow.

 

Proud

It sits,

Carved to

Perfection.

Loved the

Moment it is

Given away

To stand

Amongst the

Flowers

And watched

Everyday

As white flesh

Mottles black,

And plump,

Puppy folds

Crease into

Ligaments,

Sinuous,

Shrivelled,

Old.

The hand that

Held the knife

Lies still.

Kath is alone.

Past waiting.

The moment

Quiet,

When

I till

Her

Sculpture

Back into the

Earth.

 

Eulogy to Kath Kelly  

RIP12/2/2011                

THE JOURNEY

 

Your name hangs heavy - as thick as a miasma in the air

breath motes vaporised syllables spoken between us

hushed memories broke surface seeking an outlet

squeezed through my tear ducts, formed snot in my nose

my tired pubis swelled with an ache as old as Eve

shucked ancient chords of déjà vu...

We left a time train of thought standing

on a platform waiting to rail away into history

before I – finally - said goodbye to you.

LISTENING TO MY QUIET

 

It shut out the train load

of baggage when I left home.

 

Already years of de-railments,

side-trackings, ice-on-the-line.

 

Empty, freezing platforms.

Waiting for love.

 

Waiting for that homely chuff, chuff

of steam, already spent.

 

The homely every-day pong

of tired old carriages welcoming warmth.

 

Railing away to be with you.

The new era begins.

 

London, my mother, awaits.

MONSTERS

 

People who smile with cruel eyes.

Feigning surprise

At your kindness.

 

They’re twitching the air with

Eagle delight.

Waiting for a fall,

Any fall.

Preferably your fall.

 

They’re standing in tandem.

Too afraid to attack, alone.

Yet ready in a trice

To spit in your face.

Claw your throat.

 

Eager for a reaction are monsters.

THE ROSE-TINTED

SPECTACLES

 

Sat high on her nose,

so high she saw the sun glisten

and converge into twin orbs -

almost celestial their vision

as they watched, waited,

dipped in coy deference,

rose again, polished and

powerful – almost invincible

in their ability to perch

in their eerie safe from

flaying fingers clutching

an arm, defying cruel

gravity waiting its turn.

 

The rose-tinted spectacles

tilted in the mist, couldn’t

get a bearing – sought

to regain their balance, find

a centre-point, seek

out solutions, raised their arms

in supplication, changed their

position, sat lower on her

nose – to wait out the

murk and misdoubt

steaming their lenses,

clouding their vision,

fearing the worst.

 

The rose-tinted spectacles

slithered and slid

down they fell,

down, down,

into a place neither

knew – to where the

air was clear, where

her resting cheek

smiled, and her thoughts,

clear as crystal,

recognised you.

Cornish Shag  p.c.

THE MARSH

 

Slurging on mud,

gouging reeds too.

Needles of ache

insinuating my face

through a torrent of nerves.

 

Feet slithering on broken

crab shells; sand, old mud,

old as the river god.

All pulling and caressing

young, eager toes.

 

Tidal water has canopied over

my head and my sad, dear, eyes

watches the beguiling sun

shimmer a smile on the dimpled

waves.

 

Everything is silent

in the land of fishes.

Silent until the swollen blood rush

of hushed air bids death enter.

 

Even the bladderwort, soft fronds

swaying silent as angel wings,

silently waits and tinkles a

wave of farewell.

Wait! Wait: grass,

river grass, coarse

and sharp as pampas

in my hands, pulling me up, out, out…

 

Sinuous feet straining to

hold a dance on the tide.

Rising, up and through water.

Wet, at last, living…

 

I am living. Yes, I am living.

Aged, but alive.

Wiser than birth pangs am I.

My soul came home.

 

I had escaped the land of the fishes.

Saved by the marsh.

A papyrus of gentle rushes –

Not even a scratch.

VOICES IN THE MIRROR

 

It didn’t happen suddenly -

it crept, like your smile,

slow and sublime, 

into my mind: those soft, tender

eyes mirroring mine.

 

They were lovely, those early

hurried words; breathless,

sometimes like leaves

surprised by the wind,

lifting us aloft.

 

We began to share

two lifetimes of vignettes -

just tokens but more

for you so sad,

feeling loss.

 

And so it was, this

gentle sharing until,

one day, the sights and

sounds went away,

I didn’t see, or hear

 

the voices in the mirror,

or heed my body’s warning

until, too late, I saw

your eyes seek those

of my friend

 

and my friend,

preening, tilted

the compass,

kissed me

and delivered the ‘coup de grace’.

Composite Mother and Child, with Pieta.

SHE

 

She

bought

a tiny

bird box.

And nailed

it to the

garden

wall.

 

One day

she saw

blue-tits

nesting.

Soon,

a noisy brood.

She watches

a fledgling fall,

and gently

carries it indoors.

Mewing and

stroking its tiny

head she lays it

in a metal cage.

The trapped

baby tit cries,

its frantic parents

peck the glass.

 

She films

bright eyes,

teetering feet,

skittering, flittering,

thrumming the bars.

She films the

yellow, green

and blue of

flashing wings

as desperate

family tap in vain.

The little bird

bites the bars,

wings akimbo,

tendons stiff as a wire

She listens to

the fading cheeps,

the fluttering wings,

the pecking, slowly die.

 

She thinks tomorrow

I will collect the photos

and put them in an album,

and call it ‘Tweetie Pie’.                                                                                                      

CALL FROM THE SEA

 

 

I wish you were here,

I wish you were not…

 

It’s the Sea who’s speaking,

my message in waves says:

 

Go away,

come, come a lot…

 

I will always remember ‘ee,

though some I’ve forgot…

 

So come see me on glad days,

grey, blue and sad days…

 

If I’m not here,

I will always come directly…

 

Come, ride my white horses

some days I may shout…

 

Whether I be a draining or a making,

‘tis better without clout…

 

You can always surrender,

how gentle I’ll be…

 

Come my sweetheart, my ‘andsome, my cocker,

my lover, my bird…

 

Come, come, come… swim with me….

(IF YOU DARE!)                                                          

IAN GRIMSHAW JUNIOR

 

He sits, slumped, in my seat.

A stringy lad, big green eyes

and smelly feet.

 

I oust him with a cool stare.

We exchange seats, smile.

Settle down.

He offers me a mint.

 

Pulls at a grubby pink holdall.

‘me mams’ he says, ‘I’ve never

been further than Oldham.’

 

I offer him a sandwich.  ‘No, ta.’

‘Are you going far?’

‘I’m going to Minehead to see me

girlfriend, she’s a fishmonger

in Asda, an she’ll be wanting to

show me off.  We’ve nought seen each

other since Christmas.’

 

 ‘That’s nice, is it a special occasion?’

 

‘Me grandda died on Wednesday, he’s

out of pain now.  It were ‘orrible.’

‘All me family said ‘ave a break and

me mam paid fer me ticket.’

 

‘I’m really very sorry to hear about your granddad.’

 

He nods, his green eyes mournful.  We share

another round of mints.

‘I put his death in the paper, it went like this’

 

IAN GRIMSHAW

Died Wednesday, 27th June.

Beloved husband of Winnie.

Father to Jimmy and Maureen.

Dear grandda to James and Shaun.

Dearly loved friend and neighbour.

Funeral on Wednesday 4th July,

St. Andrews, Rotherham.

At 2.30p.m.

Tea after at Old Staff’s.

Everyone invited.’

 

‘What do you think?

That cost me a hundred and eighty quid

that did.’ 

 

‘I think you’ve done your granddad proud.’

 

‘Ta, I’m saving up to have him tattooed

on me leg, here: Grandda, one in a million,

million. R.I.P.   That’ll cost summat.’

 

We share another mint.

Touch elbows and thighs.

 

And wait.

Fledgling Gull -  N.A.G. 2013

THE MESSAGE

 

I’m listening to

 

a chirruping wind,

 

bird-song,

 

cats, whistling air...

 

Your voice heard

 

on the telephone

 

in another room...

 

You are talking

 

to me, saying

 

my name, though

 

you can’t hear

 

me listening. 

 

So wanting to

 

cry out, to

 

say to you:

 

I love you.

PRISONERS

 

A legless bumblebee

fandangos in tight circles.

Her legs are paralysed.

Her facetted eyes swivel.

Her hum’s a falsetto.

The yellow and black fur

‘stares’ brittle spikes.

 

The vixen stoops, the wire

cuts deeper – has  gnawed

almost to the shin bone.

She stops, pants, spittle

corrugates her maw.

She mews in supplication.

blood flows, crusts, stinks.

 

A withered, waxy toad

lungs bellowing, gulps

dry, smothering earth.

Her lidded eyes blink.

So sad, so human: toad eyes.

She tries to flex a

shrivelled thigh – fails.

 

The little white mouse

claws at the wire.

Her tiny pink hands wave,

palms up – begging.

Evening shadows fall,

she tries to nest.

The cold frost settles.

 

A home-bound pigeon

streams off-course.

The coast tilts, a landing in view.

She gathers her bearings,

follows a migrant flock.

The quiet man smiles:

tonight her dues are due.

 

The collie dog whines a

muted, miserable lament.

The house, dank, cold, empty,

reeks of human depression -

shades of animal, too.

The dog taps a soliloquy

on the vinyl floor – lies down

and sighs himself to sleep.

THE LIFT

 

We got on in the basement.

You know, where they do the scanning.

Down in the bowels.

Only the service lifts go there.

 

And the people of course.

Those still standing, those

who’ve delivered someone.

And those who’ve just been scanned.

 

Everyone stares at the pneumatic doors -

oiled as silkies, moving in tandem,

closing in, shutting out – as silent as thought.

Nobody speaks and then:

 

‘I suppose you’re a little bit radioactive,

you’ll be glowing in the dark.’

The young woman smiles at her joke.

Pleased with her self.

 

The older woman

stares at the doors.

We all stare at the doors.

We are all silent.

Primo Levi. Survived The Holocaust

.

EYES

 

It’s a lock-in,

a glowing, tender,

moment of awe,

when something

ocular circulates

orbs of thrall and

fear, and I try to

break the seering,

yearnings -

act, like normal,

sense, sense

again, the profound

depths, the depths

beseeching you

to let me

love you -

begging you,

begging you,

to love me, too.

SPACE ODYSSEY

 

Is that you

speaking to me,

shifting tired diphthongs,

enlivening panoplies,

 

circling the synapses,

moistening the memory cells,

talking to us, lovely sounds

that marshal a chosen word,

 

so welcome, so vibrant

the movement of air between

us as we listen, think eons

in a moment, laugh

 

at all the thoughts that occurred

to us when we were far apart?

.

SPACE ODYSSEY

 

Is that you

speaking to me,

shifting tired diphthongs,

enlivening panoplies,

 

circling the synapses,

moistening the memory cells,

talking to us, lovely sounds

that marshal a chosen word,

 

so welcome, so vibrant

the movement of air between

us as we listen, think eons

in a moment, laugh

 

at all the thoughts that occurred

to us when we were far apart?

I MUST RING YOU 

Before I forget.

How are you?

I’ve been meaning

to call to ask how

you are.

 

How are things?

Now that, well, you know.

We’ve been so

busy, what with

the bathroom and walls.

 

I heard your car

and thought

if I don’t do it now

I’ll get so caught up.

 

We’ve got such a mess

to clear up – you see,

and it will take ages yet.

I must clean the paintwork.

 

So how are you?

Ahh, I knew you would

still be grieving.

It’ll take time.

 

You had her for

such a long time,

you will miss her.

 

I’ve got such a backlog.

Haven’t even begun the

backyard, such a mess.

 

Anyhow, when you feel

like it come over, o.k?

Or we’ll come over to you.

Whatever.

 

Did I tell you

we’ve had to throw

every drop of kitchen

water outside for three

years?

 

Well, can you imagine…”

“No.”                                                                                

FOR COUSIN LYDIA...

 

A mackerel sun

risen over yesterday's

fish market,

herring gulls' carolled

in the bay:

flats and sharps,

missing a beat.

 

Quiet streets remembering

yesterday’s last-minute dash

to the Co-op at five to ten;

glasses clinking in the ‘Swordie’.

 

A woman's  bawdy laughter,

with a suspicion of pain,

echoed up the window panes –

tinny, shiny

and glowing

for his delectation.

 

Today it is New Year's Eve,

a long ride to honour a date,

thinking empty roads and

aqua-planing - not relishing it

much but resigned.

 

A quaver in her aged voice:

‘are you still coming, please

let me pay.’ We argue, and I

feel her verve to give, yet again,

slip quietly away.  We eat,

talk laughable nonsense.

With sleight of hand, I pay.

THE WATCHERS

 

 

The waiting room listened:

Clack, tick, clack, tick, clack…

 

A youthful person appears

wearing heavy-metal heels.

 

The ‘clack-tickers’ are

buckled, ugly, militia.

 

One boot’s straps

have been left undone.

 

She waggles the gaping boot,

exposing a skinny, mottled shin.

 

The loose strap tick-tacks

on the vinyl floor.

 

Nobody gives a toss.

 

Everyone eyes the clock and

counts minutes of their wait.

 

An itchy screech from a velcroed

pocket this time, slow, slow…

 

Like a burlesque: duh, du, da, da, dah…

 

She produces a tobacco pouch,

Rizla papers, a plastic lighter.

 

Attention! Eyes swivel,

lips purse, legs uncross.

 

We watch her tiny fingers smooth a rizla,

tease out golden threads of tobacco…

 

Arrange them neat as matchsticks then raise

the curled ‘rollie’ to her lips.

 

It’s a pulmonary clinic.

A smoke-free zone.

 

A puff from her would

destabilise a platoon of waiters.

 

Everyone

gives a toss.

 

It rests on her knee,

this deadly white worm.

 

A chemical weapon leashed

on the knee of this bolshy waif.

 

Who’s just watching the clock.

 

Just like the rest of us,

watching the clock,

Just waiting.

 

 

 

PANIC

 

Slithering, slithering,

skittering

like a whisperer’s

echo,

that one

quiet sibilant

of a sigh

rising from

cells imprisoned

by memory

already

in disguise

masquerading

as quietude

slyly denying

the rising,

unseen threat

that insinuated,

slithered some

more and

overcame

me – until

I recognised

that childhood

moment when

you tried to

enter.

A ‘MERRY MAIDEN’ SPEAKING.

I’m as merry, merry,

Merry as can be.

Come on ye now, come

See my sisters and me.

Come see us cavort

In the sea-salted mist.

Come, make love in our

Circle, we do like a good

Tune. We’ll watch and

Cheer thee by the light

Of the moon.

I’m as merry, merry - merry as can be

Come see us

Change shape by

The light of the stars.

Come count us

Fine maidens,

An hour before dawn.

When one of us creeping

Away for a while -

For some say the

Tally is never the

Same.

That the

Missing sister is

Spirited afar to

Court a lone stone

Down near St. Loy bar.

I’m as merry, merry – merry as can be

If you listen hard

You’ll hear them

Down in the zaum

A lapping and a

Grinding – sounding

Like shingle on the shore.

Now ‘tis said our

Reputation to make

The barren swell -

Or for a maiden crone

To touch a knave

And then watch his

Seed well flow…

‘Tis said to ‘ave been around for

Centuries but my

Andsome  none of us

Can tell;

There is one thing I

Can tell ‘ee though!

We’re so bloody cold

In winter no bugger

Will come and see us

In the rain and snow.

BUT…

I’m merry, merry – merry as can be...

Stricken Gull  24cms x 17cms

Fledgling Gull   Newlyn Art Gallery 2013.

Studio view  Open Studios 2018

Mother and Child unfinished 2018

Raku sculpted bowl - smoke fired 1993 pc

'Eve' burnished terracotta pc

For Rosie and John RIP

Black-winged Gull bowl 50cms x 26cms

Leviathan - 2018  70cms x 54cms

ANOTHERLAND

 

 

The stroke struck at one o’clock…

 

Seeing the sight of darkness,

the light unknown.

 

Numbing the pain before it began,

the hurt that never came.

 

Saying a word without an echo,

another saying nothing.

 

Thinking a thought that had

lost its destination many times ago.

 

…the sight of a smile

heard in a dream

…the weightlessness of fingers

and the movement unseen.

 

Reaching for a hand that isn’t there

but that leads me into another land.

 

Sensing a gloom that’s going nowhere,

a shadow that has been hiding.

 

Opening the pages of a book without words,

hearing words without a book.

 

…a frame of mind

that looks like a picture.

 

A night time without dreams,

it happened again yesterday.

 

I am walking the path before it began

and before it went away.

 

Hearing the wind losing its way,

the sound of emptiness.

  

Watching the sea shallowly breathe,

as it waits for the evening tide.

 

Remembering a gentle look that

hovered between the days.

.

Feeling a smile going inward,

a heartbeat catching up.

 

Waving at someone,

someone waving back.

Thank  you for reading my poems.  This is it 

until the summer months. Time to work the clay... 28th February 2019

Primo Levi - Auschwitz survivor