Sunday 31 May 2009

Welcome back to the Black Clock Arms; every pub you've ever avoided.

The Black Clock Arms

IV. Babs

She knows she's only there as the inevitable
namesake but revels in attention lavished

on her by rough old queens. It's all natural,
rings sharp through karaoke notes.

She flashes her puce nails; works there
on the basis that she only pulls pints;

is wary of newcomers, who see through rouge
with clarity not befitting dim strip-lighting; prefers

the company of regular strangers, who don't see
her face, but never fail to compliment her nails.

The Black Clock Arms

III. Geoff

Geoff's shined velvet seat, black with polished dirt,
cools in the almost-night Black Clock Arms.
He'd lost touch with the flesh of himself until it started to brown.

He sits several feet from the people he recognises
but can't place the names of out here; their stories fade
in the light. His pint and his arse reach a unison of temperature:

one warming on the bar, the other cooling on a bollard,
while he realises how little he cares about the barstool
now the only place to chain smoke is here.

The only thing missing is a place for the smaller papers, spread
open and every sentence read and repeated over again
to kill the time he has more of, now, to himself.

Monday 25 May 2009

I shall be starting yoga again very soon, so this is apt.

To be still.

Grandstanding with my knees on my elbows
and in one of my favourite outfits—a skirt
I bought two of, a black cardigan—
I am at tipping point when I come to the realisation

that it's not about strength, but balance. And here, now,
I feel a little silly for the times I've almost toppled,
straining in almost-position wearing jogging bottoms
and a Pennywise t-shirt, waiting for the muscles in my arms.

Weightlessness, like someone said, occurs
firstly in your toes. The only thing that stops me
breaking my nose is knitwear
friction on the backs of my arms.

Sunday 17 May 2009


Waiting at Northside for you

There is only one red sofa and anyway it has the best view
of the green three-breasted women I can find. Every time
I've been here a man with a balding head has chosen 'luck' over 'love'
and would have 'sex' if only the option was displayed on the wall.

There is a buzzing in the absence of scream, and an awful lot of
blood, concealed and sanitised amidst the cartoon colours
of juicy hearts struck through; and a language of needles:
the backpieces, half-sleeves and cover-ups—the freehand fee.

A pregnant woman hums a tune either side of the mechanical whine
when the sudden burst door shouts a social conscience
Don't do it! There is a ripple of laughter but it is too late for you,
who emerges beaming and bleeding and ready for home.

Friday 15 May 2009

It's nice to be able to post more than once a day

Birthday Sessions tracks 5-18

Only that it seemed the right thing at the time,
to keep pressing record, to tempt out tunes
you only appreciated as halves in a fishpond memory
you had willingly drained, to wait the several phrases
before your fingers found their feet, to push,
to remember myself a childhood spent bouncing
on your foot under the pretence of making you stop.

But listening back, the tracks are mostly talking
and the beginnings are missing. And the tinny tunes
don’t convey the mythology of it, the smiling
recollection of it, the fairy lights and dark curtains
that turned everything cosy, the journey
we were all taking with you, the absences
that have since come clear.

I've been reading an awful lot of Donaghy.

after Michael Donaghy

They have long since lost the air of delicacy
you expect, but it is a common condition, the longing.
I too am convinced there is a word for them missing,
erased neatly except for the gap, but they are not metaphors.

They do not house importance in their swirling plastic storms;
remember how we stood that time with our most sarcastic voices
praising the value for money, the ‘igh quality purchases
we were mad to walk away from? It is just another way

of summing up a place for all the reasons you don’t recognise
in landmarks. Maybe we do hold them high above our heads,
but it is not carefully. In the same way we never visit
our hometown’s icons, they are long since plastic.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Cells speak.

Riding Out

We did not hear God’s words. If God spoke
it was not on a cellular level, but we ride out
with the rest of them on those intentions.

It starts here, we perform. A chemical reaction,
divide and replace. No words. Only ever
the endless balance, the timeless demands.

Forwards is not just on through the horse’s mane
and ahead into fields, but onwards into time as well.
We can see a lack of hope despite the hope

of thousands. We know this will not end well.
When does it ever end well? Function is repetitive
and not exact; we lose sight of the perfection

with every repeat. The future would do well
to take note, but we have no sway in the decisions.
You say we are remembered, but what is memory when God is involved?

A very new one, still fresh.

The Point

We’ll begin this time with the atmosphere—I am too tired
to consider the vastness beyond, though you do seem to be pointing
upward, outward, towards existence itself. But you say no,
you are not pointing at that. I bring the focus closer and clouds come clear—
I see ducks and the obligatory ice-cream cone. But no, you say, not that
not that
. The tree, I think, and I begin to try to figure out which leaf
it is you’re asking for – because it is an ask, it seems to me, though not
a big one. What would I want with a leaf? you say. What interest would I have
in that?
I am struggling, seek the answers in tricks of circumstance.
The window, perhaps, the glass. The very thing I am taking for granted. No.
Your finger, then, the nail upon it. I set up my own laugh as I search your face.
Is it that?. Your head is shaking, side to side to side, your eyes are sad
with decline. I am firmly in the room, the walls are puce, the smell a distraction
from the truth of it. My laugh is still waiting. It must be, then, the cells of you.
The failing, flailing cells of you, dividing, slowly slower. Your hand, still pointing,
wavers. Your heart beats on. Take care of the pieces, you say, look to the future.
I follow your point backwards up your arm and on to your stubbled face.
Why is it the future is always away, up and out?

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Dancing, photographs.


Out from under the lights everyone is
peach-coloured, a normal combination
of skin tones. It's hard to know from this,

sometimes, which moments to acknowledge
as real, but documentation is an inevitability
in these digital times.

I might be mid-air in that picture
you took, but that doesn't mean
I never landed.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Something and nothing. Probably not much.

from music #3

We’ve gone down low again, but this time with theatrics.
There is manipulation in chord progression, aspects
of sound that are not agreeable to the dizzying heights of relief.
We are not in it for relief, but revel with the worms
and the darkness, the filth shifting into subversion from embrace.

Dear cells of mine, dear body, is this how it’s meant to be?
Somewhere wholly imaginable in the muck, sharing
lack of surprise that there are voices speaking to us from the dark?
This must be the answer because there is nothing else.
How easy it is to turn from the sky. How clear its incomplete deceit.

The reply is not un-looked-for, but it doesn’t come as echo
from above. We live with it or feign surprise. We aim for the dark
because we want to be much as we started: microscopic
in proportion to importance; unable
to pull ourselves together in time to answer back.

Monday 4 May 2009

Some other poem about a distant place.


Everything solid here is on its way out.
If you believe that, you'll see this picture I took
of decaying arches as a recent history of waves
that rust fat nails clean from wood.

Beyond the inky black of seaweed creeping down the walls;
beyond the sea-fret sky you watch in rockpools long-since clean
of crabs, the walls are distinctly graffiti free.
The green of the rocks is a signal of how fast you could fall;

the length of time I sat and watched the fizzing sea weighted
with the penny slot-machines that tinkled like a distant fairground ride.
Even the Vitadome is grinning as it is slowly picked apart,
one facelift too far beyond collapse.

Another revision

They’re hardly touching

It's only after the carefully timed removal
of his coat that they appear to feel at home.
He gets up, abandons the perfect shape
of his arse in mounds of coat piled on the seat
and a woman with a blonde bob fingers the corner
where the zip is with a nervous purpose.

It's taken a whole spritzer each to reach this point
of layer removal, to the revelation
of his pink-striped top cut off at the sleeves
and an overwhelming smell of fabric conditioner.

The woman has clearly done everything
to rid his scent from his public self.
At home, though, in quiet moments on wash day
I reckon she lifts his worn shirts by the sleeves
and sucks deep breaths through the weave,
her nose in the armpits, savouring the intimacy
of every last molecule of sweat.

Sunday 3 May 2009

Something new for me and for you.

Letter to a troublesome heart

Dear heart, please do not betray me
whilst I breathe with others in this room.
Please do not presume dominance
over the needs of my other organs. You do not
dictate my actions. I am going to try and take
good care of you, carry you more gently
than strictly necessary. I am not averse
to your slippery beating in my hands. Do not be alarmed
at the hole in my chest – I am cutting all your ties
to my emotions. It is for the best. I feel
there is a lot we can learn from one another
as separate. Please calm down. The pressure,
I know, is getting to us both.

Still it seems you deign to tell me how it is
these days are unsteady and unknowing.
I do not want to hear it but cannot block you out.
How easy it is for you, unfeeling and inevitable;
rhythmic and relied upon. There is blood
on my shoes but even that is not enough to distract.
I don’t know, any more, what I have to offer but
dear heart, surely there is something,
an arrangement we can come to?