Why we poppy

A red flower on your breast
Feeding thoughts of war
A century of life lost young
Defending freedom

In European mud the first seeds
Bloom among youths’ blood
Ensuring rights and laws upheld
Defending freedom

Yet wars and wars again
Beset our Earth, doom our kin
Piling dead poppies on the pain
Defending freedom

As a century of poppies passes
Blurring right’s, a little out of focus
Battles reign for Aurelian
Defending freedom

The great Suffolk train ride

A residual stink
That acrid jarring of smells
Grating receptors and flashing memories
Of narrow escapes
Close shaves
The clawing tendrils of inertia
Rancid in manner
I squeeze my eyes tight, grin
Embracing this funk of what
Might have been.

We pull through Manningtree
Wondering the ghosts haunting
It’s industrial might
Desolate journeying through
Time’s very decay
In this error of modernisation
Thirty years dilapidation
The dead in the Dedham Vale

How well your dark flocks of sheep
Crowd your secret
As far removed from clouds
As your dark wet brickwork alleyways
And menacing piping
Anyone claiming this outpost of progress
Will need time and
Wealth to mobilise your dunes
Of crumbling rubble
Scrape habitable
Your vast concrete footprints
Me and my passenger friends
Flee North, hammering the short stretch
Of track left ‘train-friendly’
This far East

I love speed
Trees wave furiously
Frozen in streaks
Passing this great machine
We tear past bikers and dog walkers
The fluorescent smear of joggers,
Of heath-jumpers, bowl by the window
As a bright feeble January sun
Sweeps through the innards of our carriage
Painting faces and seats
In chilling reds and oranges
Until the next clutch of housing or industrial estates
Breaks those marvellous red beams

Inevitably someone impresses the brake
A forest of pylons
So gantry’s encase this slow snake.

Thoughts Are Few

And inconsistent;
largely light, reticent.
Struggling through
some lonely night –
I try to think; so on I write!

Music plays me,
curling strayly,
lost in worlds I cannot own.
Mindless – flightless –
walking slowly…
Soft in brains puss brought to show!

Short and tragically
we peer contemptuously:
Laugh at sordid, life-lost lightly.
On my grounds
I’m sure my folly
when the night brings losers; jolly!

Parallel

In another room
An age away
Another us
Rips the night apart
We curl a tune
And drag
A line of thought
Limping like a broken dream
To drown, face down
In our puddles of beer and tea
Washed ashore in perpetuity
on our islands of cakes
In those valleys of skunks

Through a portent,
Unfathomable universes,
Diverse from ours, away,
Another us
Reaps the rewards of climbing the stars
Of sacrifices moody and unwholesome
Compromising breath of the soul itself,
Each in reward for renown
For compensation so vast and improbable that
merely reaching the heart of others,
Has immeasurably enhanced
The quality as well as status
Each of us – in this other world – enjoy.

Some blurred echo of those thoughts
Expressed above
Retain a tenuous grip in the
Blank planes of
My particular memories.
Forging bearable apology
For having squandered
Such time
And exhausted such energy.

The Clear Out

She has bags of bags, filled with shoes, Christmas wrappings, old cards
And new ones.
Bags of overplayed records and unopened letters.

We keep clawing into the gloom and dust:
More bags, half open boxes, stuck to this sticky insect-shell-carpet,
Deep in the fabric of the long dead.

Box after box…
Some with bags in, some have letters, reams of aims,
Bags of dreams.

There are more shoes, a crimson coat of majestic massiveness.
Here is a box full of bags from the eighties filled with toys
– Battalions of soldiers in disarray eyeballing teams of alien muscle-men
Through the decades.

And last of all, wrenching the newspaper floor with it,
Dragged out from beyond,
A decomposing leather hold-all, filled with photographs.
Beaming childhood hopes, tiers of school pics, camping trips,
Instants of hurried-through birthdays and flashes of Christmases.

I clamber back. Kneel back, and, hands on knees, take a breath.

Our treasure-haul has piled up in the bedroom,
One trove stacked on a chair.
Inhaling the gasps of long ago,
The chatter of ages fills my nostrils,
Hits the back of my throat – the depths of memory
– And I gulp down more,
She shuts the bedroom window, Which abruptly suffocates us.

*** “Go get a bag then.”
Her hands already picking over the bones.

Another bag. This one heavy with dark implications
Heavy with its Black.
The crisp pliable plastic of sacks.

I bare my mind as I reach into the kitchen cupboard, downstairs.
Here dark, personal, thoughts swim.
So, again, upstairs ripping one finality after another off the roll
We empty years of what-ifs into these terrible cocoons.

We stay for days jogging back and forth
through shared and forgotten events.
All that’s dead is gone, all that’s dust is dead. In a bag in a box
In a hole. There’s a dream that once lit up her head.

 

 

4:20

A return to attempting to find my poetic voice. We have come to the end of a string of Beck’ Beat Poetry events, which have been a series of fantastical occasions! Enabling me and others to meet and hear top-class poets from across south London (and Hackney)!

Here is the 420

 

Silence

You, my blue lipped beauty
Stare glassily at this sky of fading fluorescence
Of panels and screw coverings
Sharing your long dead warmth with steeled neighbours

In my head your laugh is raucous
As I trip,
or burn another meal
Like how you snorted that day Paul fell off his new bike
Poor Paul
Or when Isobel helped us to decorate;
Daubing delicate pink prints on your mum’s new faux mink jacket
Hilarious

Noisy
Always
Laughing in my head

Not now
With that fine sheen to your fading makeup
So as you stare on
At your terrible cocoon
The silence left is closer

The noise in my head of you
Is loud
Ringing
Deafening
And eternal somehow even from your beautiful blue pout