Friday, 30 January 2015

The rumour



There was a whisper that you were coming
a rumour, a vague undertow
You can change things with your magic
That’s why we are afraid of you
We are too scared to let you in
The delicate touch of your soft hands
can damage us. It can burn our skin
and yet we talk fondly of your visits
You slow us down, force us look
afresh ourselves. You are no secret
On any street, you are an open book
Like an old friend who can bless or kill
you line the brook and lie on top of the hill

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Imagine


Just imagine if the rain did not stop
I would  float through life like a shadow
glide down a ribbon of light to the shops
I would enjoy going to work in my canoe.
Rye Lane Peckham would be my Amazon.
Like a modern hunter gatherer
I would paddle to Morrisons
to scan its watery aisles for treasure.
No clock but dawn would draw me from my bed.
With my lethal blow-pipe or dart gun
I would haunt the tributaries of Nunhead
Hunting for dinner – dangerous but fun.
To perfect my journeys, a new craft
her planks bent to the shape of my dreams.
She would be sleek and graceful, not like a raft
flit like a kingfisher down narrow streams.
Smoothed like glass with sandpaper and plane
she would be the turquoise queen of the rain.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Clouds


The brooding of clouds is a fallacy
but, there again, locked inside a house
in the held breath of a prolonged holiday
they can weigh us down, like an albatross.
Any yet I realise that I am not unhappy
I can fill the kitchen with the blues
with roast meat and wine-laced gravy
with red cabbage, with cinnamon and cloves.
Later, the wine glugged down
I notice my hands; something is wrong –
their slack skin like a Christmas goose
tells me, suddenly, that I have grown old.
The dark clouds are pressing in on me
they expand in my skull like a tsunami.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Today's manifesto

Sydney-style terror attack could happen in UK at any time, says David Cameron
PM says security services can’t always prevent ‘self-starting, sometimes quite random’ attacks like siege of Lindt cafe


Our efforts in this regard will never cease
I am now proud to announce … the war on peace

From today, let the drums beat loud
Let our hearts swell to the baying crowd

Non-violence is boring. Instead
Let us be locked in spasm of hatred

There will be no place for tranquillity
Let our watchword be hostility

Let us put an end to tolerance
All I am saying is give war a chance

There are no easy answers – fact
But a permanent aggression pact

Will ensure maximum production
And a permanent disruption

Of out-dated civil liberties
Of compassion and civilities

Hark, the enemy is the gate!
Remember, war is the health of that state

Monday, 15 December 2014

His life













That was his favourite guitar.
That was the place where he sat.
He would play at night, usually a 12–bar.
Often, he would share the sofa with his cat.
That was where he parked his car.
He tried to be warm and fed like all of us –
perhaps to be like his father
to be secure; to push back chaos.
Like him, he always looked for a bargain.
That was where he watched TV.
He would drift, gently, into oblivion.
See where it is hollow, the old settee.
No-one told him different. He had no wife.
Those were his things, his habits, his life.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Ballad of Orpheus

Orpheus strolling with his lyre
Sees a notice – poets for hire
Interviews in the library
 
He thinks that’s just gig for me 

He hopes they’ll like the way he sings
He buys a plectrum and some strings
Feeling chilled and pleased as punch
He goes to Wetherspoons for lunch


An hour later he’s back inside
He didn’t have an easy ride
Churning round inside his head
Are the words that they had said


It isn’t that we don’t like you
There’s just no call for what you do
By that we mean your style of rhyme
It isn’t hip-hop rap or grime


You need to cover urban stuff
You’re not edgy or rough enough
Buy a leather jacket mate
Pretend you’re from a tough estate


The juice of Dionysius
Soon befuddles Orpheus
He sits and broods depressively
And breathes the smell of poverty


He had outplayed the Sirens' song
But now his music is thought wrong
He must tell Eurydice
That no-one likes his poetry


He decides to pawn his lyre
Or better, burn it on the fire
No-one wants to hear his tunes
The lonely man in Wetherspoons


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Dressed to impress


Basking through winter skies
catching the sun, your metal skin
has the angular thrust of a shark’s fin
poets should celebrate your glories.
Rising on stilts above an agora
your pleasing palette of orange and green
seems to reconfigure the street scene –
you are a temple to Athena.
As if this were ancient Alexandria
you are home to a million stories
a towering knowledge repository.
You are a magnet, a cynosure.
Dressed in your coat of verdigris
you impress, you are Peckham library.