Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Hayes Street Farm

To James

Is it nostalgia or memory
that guides me to the stables and sheds
rusting machines, the mountains of manure?

At the city’s edge is an informal economy
where chickens can wander freely.
Once, everywhere was like here.

Maybe it’s the stories of my father
that I remember. But I often feel
that I have been here before

fixing up an old tractor
or bailing hay with a pitchfork
hustling a living from metal and straw.

I follow a crude sign to the car boot
through stubbled fields like corduroy
and hedgerows yielding their autumn fruit.

They say to us obligingly, ‘help yourselves’.
There is no air con in this shopping mall.
Once, they were our supermarket shelves.

Fringed by hawthorn and elder
the rutted track is leading me
to the farm pond; its hidden treasure

strangers brought from some icy wilderness
bright fish, like fragments of sky
lending the dusk their silver brilliance.



Thursday, 17 August 2017

Clown and doll


Once there lived an orange clown
in a white house on a hill.
The puppet man who ruled the world
spied his foe, the china doll.

‘They’re going after Jefferson
one day they will get me too.’
He shouted at at the hapless toy
‘And so you Goddam freak: fuck you!’

The doll’s skin was like porcelain
his pursed lips like a cupid’s bow.
He liked to taunt the harlequin
on who would rule the puppet show

‘Your words don’t mean shit to me
or your fucking rodeo.
Fuck your white supremacy
I’m gonna fucking kill you bro.’

The angry clown snarled back in pain.
‘Now I’m getting mad,’ said he.
‘Your word are very threatening.
It’s me who who runs this nursery!

‘I’m gonna make it bad for you
hotter than Kardashian
meaner than a rattlesnake
with fire like you’ve never seen!’

The harlequin laughed maniacally.
‘Whose the fucking loser now?
Come on boys, let’s lock and load.
Seriously, we’re good to go.’

The china doll was calm and still
despite the wailing sirens' sound
heaping morsels on his plate
hidden safely underground.

He did not fear the puppet man
or his weird orange glow.
He listened as a city burned
in a bunker far below.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Gravity

Please do not blame me for being old.
My life just happened, like gravity.
The apple that falls from the tree
slowly loses its brilliance.
Each moment should be savoured and yet
it is good for us to remember
that the past is actually still there –
the mind chooses what to forget.
How we feel now is how we felt.
Wet fur, the scent of lavender
the leather and dust of an old car
are offered on time’s conveyor belt
unburdening us from mere chronology.
The present lives in our memory.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Please do not blame me for being old

Please do not blame me for being old.
The apple falls from the tree.
It just happened. It was like gravity.

Once, spinning in euphoria
I rode on everything.
The horizon did not interest me.

My years are like your seconds.
Decades passed. It was not meant.

You rise, slowly, to the top
of the Big Dipper. And then ... the descent.

While I was not looking
my life seemed to fall away.

The sounds and colours that are strange to you
once were a novelty

Please do not blame me for being old.
It just happened. It was like gravity.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The cheaper sort

At the moment things are hot
They’ve made me lose my job: what rot

Oh the rank indignity
Sajid Javid who is he?

How dare he dish the dirt on me
I said to him just wait and see

The plebs’ attention span is short
All they want is fags and sport

Give it a week, or maybe two
And they’ll have over things to do

But no, he wouldn’t wait a bit
He’s stitched me up that little git

I said to him, what’s all this for?
We’ve heard this bolshie talk before

All that ghastly tenant power
We tarted up their sodding tower

Sprinklers and a fire test!
They’ll be wanting gold bars next!

Designer labels, super cars
Fine cuisine and cocktail bars

They are plebs, why should they be
Living in royal K and C?

Lazy beggars on the lam
Send them up to Birmingham!

I was at the Treasury
And Cambridge University

You don’t get to the PM’s door
By wasting money on the poor

So why all the sodding fuss?
More for them means less for us

I need my rural liberty
And life in Surrey don’t come free

Fox hunting is my favourite sport
The shares this year are falling short

That’s why I did it with no thought
The cladding? Use the cheaper sort

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Accountants














They must have some kind of life, but who knows
Church on Sunday, cleaning the car, a dog show?

It is one of the mysteries of the office
They reveal less than a goldfish

These people do numbers, not words
Their seeing eye merely records

More piscine than human, they don’t give back
A friendly hello is viewed as an attack

They are like Easter Island statues
Who put them there, who knows?

And why? It’s a complete frigging mystery
Don’t ask them about last night’s TV

To live frozen in silence must be hell
Someone should tell them, work is life as well

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

A clay pipe

For Chris

As news of the invading Dutch fleet 
travelled slowly across the city 
the pipe was snapped by one who is long dead 
and forgotten. A remnant of history.

Sluiced from a storm drain into the river 
bowl and stem were touched by eels
layered in invisible jeopardy
a shifting pavement of slime and nails. 

Years passed. New outrages were observed.
The man who blew out lungfuls of air 
died somewhere and was buried.
At night, the sky thundered with war.

His tiny act went unrecorded.
Each tide brought new whispers and rumours
until one bright London morning 
I found his clay pipe stem, on the foreshore.