Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Gratitude for a change in sacrificial policy

 The fatted calf was massive,
 taking as it did, a detail of menfolk

near an hour to hump its oiled flanks up
the hill.

The fatted calf too was magnificent,
it’s tongue, pink as a virgin lolled and coiled
into perfumed priest hands.

This tongue was a prize worth having almost
as much as the gratitude of the village girls.


How would Larkin start this?
Musing on his need for a piss,
and the pitiful disappointment of our race,

but somehow taking time to replace
the frayed edges of a curtain, a derelict lot,
with a filthy stash of beauty,

which we stumble upon, furtively
(he likes that word)

exposing him for what he is;
not the miserable bastard of his life
but the burning Seraphim of verse.


That old man over there in the flat cap,
he was once a David,

based on the classical Adonis archetype
massive hands,

Small cock, tucked up in its marble pubes,
fixed expression,

now he’s got half the pub at his feet, its that
kind of place

and the din from the jukey isn't quite enough
to muffle

the sound of his old heart, cranking like
a knackered mower,

the blades don’t cut the grass as much
as fold it.

But mock him at your peril young thick beard
he’s waiting

somewhere in a mirror for you, ready with his
huge hands.

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Paper

Train slumped. Paper read.
Indiscriminate judgment 
judged as crap.

But still compassion leaks for those 
who’s stories come to light
like poorly fired pots, 
cracked glaze and empty of
the best intentions of the hands 
who set them as soft clay on 
the spinning wheel.

Why buy a paper for diversion?
There’s enough world here for that.
Enough sorrow in the window,
framing a reflection strip lit against 
retreating dusk.

And enough good news in the drained cups 
and novels set aside for bedside tables, 
somewhere West away, near sea 
and salt spit shackle shell walks 
that shoes tired of city puddles 
dream to take their feet too.

And though I know the hacks 
are crouched in cubicles 
only to pay their way, 
and school hopeful kids enough 
to earn the unquenchable wants
of the supplements,
I can’t help but wonder why they bother
fueling a hamster wheel in a cage 
where the door is always open.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Like Berlin Itself

Listening to David Bowie (Station to Station) 
bleak Thin White Duke,
glamorous wrecked, like Berlin itself
and the rain comes down,
and gin drains the bottle

all by by itself

I’m by myself

authored by, I mean,
like you are you see,


See how the paragraphs mount up,
becoming unplanned chapters,
the narrative arch no more visible
than the earth's curve from a church spire.

Stand back and observe your work,
read it quietly to old ladies on the bus,

mumble it from under an umbrella
at the adamant red of a traffic light

and in the background hiss of diesel engines
tearing up the puddles,

scattering their bits like a botched paper chain
on your jeans

you will hear an echo, faint at first;

the noise of your life
strong with beauty, surprised of purpose
having in it as it does, all the raw material of art,
though heavy here and there with history
like Berlin itself.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Silver Birch Tree

There is cold to come and cold there has been,
And the wind shakes the leaves
From the silver birch tree,

There’s frost in store to nip the buds
Tricked into the light by autumn sun
Sun which warmed the silver birch tree

And there’s rain to lash the poles where the beans
Grew thick and long and surprised you it seemed
In that old summer garden with the silver birch tree

Winter has come and there’s ice in the pale
The clods of tilled earth are as hard as a nail
While the bark splits on the silver birch tree

But Spring will arrive with bickering birds,
Its promise its new buds and a warming wind

So the leaves can dance free on the silver birch tree

That’s where I’ll meet you when winter is done
When snow meets the river and earth meets the sun
There in the garden you’ll find me, dancing for you 

and your silver birch tree

Saturday, 6 November 2010

For Beatrix, a picture

I have no advice for you,
nor can I give you images
because they belong to you
and are yours to give,
even though we take them
and store them to give them
present meaning.

You’ll decide how to picture this
and piece it from almost familiar angles,
in the home you grew aware in
in the stories your brother tells 

in the rhythm of your mother’s breath
or your father’s fear for others.

He has no fear for you
though he knows 

fear sometimes will find you
and its echo, though faint, 

will wake you.

You are forever safe inside this tableau;
the friends arranged, the broken bread,
the wine, the water and the touch of hands
to hands which form a line
to no mythical omnipotent force
more special, than the miracle of you
and the people in this picture who love you.