Poem: Five Definitive Movements

November 29, 2021

 

Childhood is

a flat green blade growing from the stem of a plant,

the absorbing and digesting of

a body of myths

 

Adolescence is

the property of becoming self-luminous

in the recognition of

fire and hunger and strong desire

 

Adulthood is

the acceptance of the heat and light caused by burning;

a steady flow that rises

as the tide, and ebbs

 

Wisdom is

known only to those of special comprehension,

something very white,

a leaf blown across the firmament

 

Death is

the beginning of all things, the nape

that links the body of one life to

the head of the next

 


Poem: Martyr

November 22, 2021

 

He had long ago accepted the loss as permanent,

but that acceptation was merely a gloss, as yet skin deep,

 

not yet having bled into the very marrow of his being,

nor led him to that place of serenity.

 

His bitterness lay as deep as the roots of cedar in shale,

following tracks as distant and serpentine as the staged attacks

 

of true hackers working their miraculous juju through the internet

ether, and forever ending in a sad soiled grace.

 

And, though he could choose to confuse his loneliness with tragedy –

as if he were the sainted prophet of his own persecuted

 

exarchate in exile — it was but loneliness nonetheless,

and it hurt as bad as the arrows of martyrdom.

 


Poem: Having

November 15, 2021

 

I have seen the best minds of my generation squander their extraordinary talents on the marketing of consumer goods and the maintenance of shareholder value.

I have seen them abandon all pretence of worker’s rights at the behest of foreign and domestic bankers, Friedmanites from Chicago and MIT.

I have seen them relegate the environment to the dustbin, a victim in the race for quarterly profits and analysts expectations.

I have seen them treat safety issues as public relations issues, and seen them lobby to lessen their liability.

They have shamed seniors into wearing diapers, taught children how to smoke, and taunted teens into starving themselves to death.

They have sold goods that have killed millions, children, pregnant women, families, clans, tribes and nations, here and around the world.

They have spiked the waters of the masses with a poison called greed.

They have swallowed our ethics and morals and spat them back in our faces as branded goods for which it is right and necessary that we pay to display their logos.

You have contributed to their victory with every discretionary purchase, every dollar saved or spent.

You have accepted their world view with every envious glance, every lottery ticket purchase, every time you have watched a TV program starring “celebrities” or giving away a million dollars.

You have bowed to the inevitable with each ring of the alarm clock, each punch of the work clock, each end-of-week celebration.

You have become your parents, your older sister, your Uncle Frank with his shiny pants, your parents once again.

I have purchased things I could have made myself.

I have allowed my city to become plastered with advertising slogans, from store signs to billboards to the names of buildings and arenas.

I have dressed my children in designer labels, given then Elmo dolls and Flintstone vitamins, and let them choose CocoPops and TV cartoons over papaya and reading for breakfast.

I have enough of everything I need, and yet forever I need more; and

We have accepted all this bullshit, washed it down with the liquid lies of the liberal’s election hoax.

We have time and again made the wrong choice; time and again we have meekly accepted that the choices we are offered are the only choices possible.

We have been active participants in our own kidnapping, paying the ransom over and over again.

We have failed ourselves — and the bastards have won.  At least for now.

 


Poem: On Seeing A Photograph, For Remembrance

November 8, 2021

 

You were young men in the Guards

treading water in wretched trenches

swinging kitbags and rifles and broad silly grins

 

so young

that two billion volumes single-spaced wouldn’t be enough

to list all of life’s treasures

you haven’t experienced yet

and still you would die

right then

right there

doing right

or so you thought

as you lay where

no-one could tell where

mud ended and blood began

 

three and four generations removed,

we lay wreathes for your wraiths

on a hollow day in November

while the parades and the poppies

hallucinate

an annual landscape of memory

 

profound today, gone tomorrow

 

and for three or four days the flowers fade

and the greenery browns at your memorials

and then the work crews come

 

young men and women with guarded futures

treading water at minimum wage

swinging brooms and shovels and black plastic bags

 

and when the work trucks leave

your memory has turned once again

to cold undecorated stone

and nothing can ever change

the fact

that you died before you started living.

 

 

 


Poem: Instead Of Working

November 1, 2021

 

Staying quiet,

   —   stealing silence like a prayer —

The tented flag throws shadows

across my pen and arm.

 

Blowing bubbles,

   —  Stealing time like a burglar —

Watching kaleidescopes of sunbeams

instead of working.

 

 


Poem: Rolled

October 25, 2021

 

The woman with crow’s feet wrinkles

and smeared makeup

unfolded the billfold

removing the twenties and leaving the fives

— she had doubled her money and was willing

to leave him

cab fare home.

She waited a minute,

sharp ears listening to the spattering rain

and the flight of an early flock

flying north for the summer.

Slipping on the plastic green raincoat

she slipped out of the room,

leaving him undisturbed

in the empty barn

of his sex-sodden dreams.

 

 


Poem: Last Playboy of the West End

October 18, 2021

 

He stands erect

his jacket checked at the door.

Surveys the floor

where dancers more or less perform

to an MTV norm

writhing and circling by.

With his casual clothes

and his casual attitude

to casual sex

he is already a casualty

rushing headlong for an accident

and it meets him tonight in the form of

Barbara

a Barbie-doll beauty with C-cup breasts

and a heart full of

barbarous revenge.

She picks him

she tricks him

she licks

his ego

until he stands tall and hopeful.

He buys her a drink and engages in chat

while he makes sure that

he doesn’t smell too bad.

“Come back to my pad

and fuck me,” she croons

He swoons and tries to play it cool

but his head bobs up and down

like a fat man on a trampoline.

She drives

he strives to keep it in his pants

tries to make small talk

but just kind of rants

about nothing in particular,

his cock bent reticular in anticipation.

She parks and barks,

“We’re here.”

In the condo

he tries to fondle her charms,

but she wriggles from his arms.

“Show me what you got to arouse us.”

So he drops his trousers.

 

His flagpole slowly wanes in the breeze of her

obvious indifference.

Less than impressed

she refuses to divest

the clothes from her blessed

body.

Instead, like a cat, she screeches,

“Whaddya call that?

Some kind of bonsai?

I’ve had 12 year olds bigger than you, boy,

and 70 year old royals making me come.

So I’m not gonna sleep

with some self-absorbed creep

with a prick the size of my thumb.”

 

He went home by bus

didn’t make a fuss

just pulled the trigger

gave a small shiver

like the third orgasm of the night

It was the first thing he’d done right

all day.

 

 


Poem: Salamander

October 11, 2021

 

A bright orange salamander silently slithers

the length of the soft-pink stone-chip wall,

making faster speed than I could in this heat.

 

I sit, staring, mesmerized by this costumed athlete,

this splendid natural explosion of colour,

this distraction from the dull monochrome of my life.

 

With a desperate reluctance, I crack open the velcro

ties that bind me to the lizard, drawing back my focus

to include my companion and the unfinished wine.

 

“Let’s review where we are,” she says. “Yes,

let’s do that,” I reply from a distance, forgetting

where we’ve been in this conversation and why.

 

She clears her throat and continues:  “You and I

seem to be headed nowhere, neh?”    She pauses,

examining me for confirmation.  Perhaps I nod.

 

“As a couple, I mean.  We have to come to terms

with that.  We have to face the true nature of our failure

you and I.  We are not meant to be, that’s the point.”

 

I say: “I see.”   I feel her eyes burning me, expecting more.

Across the street, the afternoon shoppers flow in and out

of department stores and groceries and fish merchants.

 

“Well?” she presses.  “Am I right?  What do you think?”

I sip the wine, close both my eyes, and imagine

the cool cave where the salamander rests.

 

 


Poem: Magnetic North

October 4, 2021

 

 

You are magnetic north;

All my paths converge on you.

 

You are the tropics;

my Cancer and my Capricorn.

 

You are the forests;

the leafy groves where my dreams dwell.

 

You are the mountains,

with heights I could not imagine.

 

You are the seven seas;

I bob on your waves and tides.

 

You are the equator;

the widest part of my existence.

You are my world.

 


Poem: Fanatic

September 27, 2021

 

 

Sitting bolt

upright

in the chair

the psycho

analyst

questioned me

in a game of

snappy

word association

 

            frost:tossed

            gold:bold

 

why did you

say that?

why not?

 

            tend:er is the night

            sleep:sleep

            shoes:Michael Jordan

 

did you watch

the game?

no, I was crazy

to have missed it

 

            air:Michael Jordan

            web:net

            net:basket

 

they make me

make

baskets.

Like I’m

Michael Jordan

or something

 


Poem: Dead Heroes

September 20, 2021

 


Frank Zappa, Jerry Garcia, Brian Jones
And all those Grateful Rolling Mothers
Taught me that play is serious business

That play lives in the moment
That play is life

That an extended bluesy riff
Is infinitely more important than a timeclock

That a jiving rolling rock tune
Weighs so much more than a brand new car each year
So much more than a mortgage
And a closet of three-piece suits

That Janis Joplin was more beautiful than Ally MacBeal

That Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix
died for our sins
that their deaths preceeded ours by just a blink
in geological time

that if music be the food of love
I am obese with passion

That a great rythym guitar is better
Than bad sex
And that great sex is even better with rock and roll pounding in your head.

Play on, dead heroes
Play on and on and on ….

 


Poem For Battle of Britain Day

September 15, 2021

We Shall….

 

If a miracle

or the toss of a coin

could have summoned peace

and coated our wounds with a soothing balm

we would not have been tardy

to accept it

in those forlorn days of 1939 and 1940

but as the umber clouds of autumn

turned first to dusky grey and then to the darkest night

of wartime winter

and then it’s spring again

and our boys again

are battling for the open blue skies again

and we settle in for the long haul

we accept that their sacrifice

shall not be in vain

and we pray not for a miracle

or a coin toss

but for victory

 

 

The original Battle of Britain Day was 15 September 1940.


Poem: Alphabetizing Two Worlds

September 13, 2021

 

 

It was easy to place History before Politics,

Medicine before Physicians; and

“Snow Fell on Cedars”

had to come after

“Escape From Alcatraz”.

But how was he to choose

Literature over Culture

or Astronomy over Alchemy?

And Asimov could go anywhere,

With his reflections about water

On the half-moons of Venus.

With bookcases brushing the ceilings,

And more volumes stacked halfway up walls,

melding the books, shuffling the pages,

was turning out to be the hardest part

of moving in together.

 

Amid the piles of unsorted memoirs he halted,

His unpacking abandoned.

He remembered the dancing, the dinners,

The walking.

It was easy to place Love before Duty.

 

 


Poem: Another Sunday Morning

September 6, 2021

 

 

the air

after all that rain

had the texture of twilight fireworks

 

glowing

gently above the ground

then bursting into a sun-splashed grey.

 

the chill

had gone while those

of faith pondered greater mysteries

 

and those

who preferred a faster tempo

drew other conclusions from the game.

 


Poem: Calculation

August 30, 2021

 

It’s the poor that give

to the poor.

Those who can actually afford it walk by

the outstretched hand and box

with sneering dismissal.

 

“Get a job,” they whisper under their peppermint breath,

knowing, as bosses,

they would never hire some bum

begging on a street corner.

 

“Have a nice day, anyway”

 

Spitting on a well-polished shoe

gets you six month’s jail time;

letting the poor starve

gets your picture in “Fortune”

 

Go figure.

 


Poem: I Used To Be Homesick

August 23, 2021

 

I used to be homesick

 

for the smell of the old Sainsbury’s butchers shops, the sawdust, the red raw hands of the fat-armed butcher’s boys;

 

for the extinct pink Financial Times and the Sporting Life, for their columns and columns of incomprehensible numbers and symbols of form and potential, neither suitable for fish and chip wrapping;

 

for the smell of the Tube tunnels as a rushing train pushes warm stale air across faces and platforms;

 

for the hop skip and jump it used to take to keep drinking all day in the days of the mysterious licensing hours;

 

for the certainty of location in a spoken voice, always the region and often the very suburb or streetscape;

 

for the red squirrels in the parks and the water rats in the ditches and the horses that pulled the rag and bone mens’ carts on a Saturday morning;

 

for the hordes of rednosed rawboned hoop-shirted hooligans whooping it up on a Saturday afternoon, street level nationalists;

 

for the exciting stink of the Standard Wallpaper Company fire way back before the clean air acts when the thick smoke billowed invisibly within the choking smog;

 

for Toots & The Maytals and Cliff Richard & the Shadows, and the Yardbirds and the Uxbridge Fair, for Eel Pie Island, the Marquee Club, and the Orchid Ballroom, Purley;

 

for the taste of raw beer hoppy and alive in an alehouse more ancient than America where ₤100 is a busy night and the beer and the bread and the cheese are homemade;

 

for the rank taste in the mouth when the gasholders were full and leeching and the air smelled green;

 

for Prince Charles and Coronation Street, and Mastermind and Marjorie Proops and the Sunday Mirror and the Evening Standard and the Guardian crossword, and the suckers getting taken at Piccadilly Circus;

 

for eel-pie and mash, for meat-and-potato pies, for streaky bacon and fat-filled bangers, for two pieces of rock and six pennyworth o’chips, for Bisto and Bovril and Daddie’s Sauce, for Marks & Sparks Christmas puds, for hot runny custard, mushy peas, black pudding and kippers;

 

for the china chink of cup on saucer across the village green as your team takes to the field in whites and off-whites and green-stained creams, running and stretching and yawning off the dozen pints of the night before;

 

for the narrow roads and tiny cars and miniature houses and rose gardens and muddy resorts and back lanes where it is safe to walk.

 

I used to be homesick before you.

 

 


Poem: Unwinding The Thread

August 16, 2021

 

Memory is

the first traitor

 

It is such a waste

to undo the syntax,

to untie the tender meanings,

to try to catch the logic

that meant little then

and nothing now;

to wonder what

was meant.

Was there a

design back then,

that leaves no traces?

 

Memory is

the first traitor

 


Poem: Grandmaster

August 9, 2021

 

The plush vermillion drapes

were pushed aside momentarily —

a passing shoulder, perhaps,

or a microphone cord —

and a brindle shadow fell

across the hushed room.

He looked up from the false ivory,

looked out through the frosted glass,

and one tiny corridor

of his labyrinthine mind

wandered at the sudden, shrill, iridescent glow

of life outside.

Moments passed,

and this moment passed;

the drapes fell back,

and his full deliberation returned

to the quickest kind of death

he could inflict

on his opponent’s queen.

 


Poem: Exchanges

August 2, 2021

 

Needle exchanges

are just

stock exchanges     really

 

stock exchanges

for those

dispossessed

those on the

margin

 

like over-stretched

brokers

in a bare    market

 

leveraged hedges and

currency options

are

derivatives

no different

than heroin from opium

 

stock exchanges

are just

needle exchanges

juicing up

a different

clientele.

 


Poem: Hard Times

July 26, 2021

 

It’s hard to distinguish the fragrance of Geurlain

from that of pan-fried potato latkes

when you’re beneath a barstool

amid the boot-crushed butts and spilled beers.

 

It’s hard to carve an eagle when the tempest

of emotions coats the back of your throat

with a cold glue that no creative

surge can moisten nor free up nor reduce to tears.

 

It’s hard to say what tipped the scales, what failed to

gel, what failed to gather to you the crowds

you needed for your performances

since you screwed up so many times over so many years.