Thoughts from an early morning train

Thoughts

 

Thoughts from an early morning train

 

Strange how certain things – whilst falling apart –

take on shapes that almost seem deliberate,

as though planned that way, as though this

were merely a truer angle to see them from.

A reassembly of ideas. A reversal of mirrors.

So you become the terrified hare cowering in

the tractor wheel ruts as the carriage spears by,

not the owner of the jaded eyes witnessing it.

You always have been. You see holes now

where once there were pegs, an illusion of

opportunity created by yourself, by your own

shadow sweeping across the picture as you pass.

 

first published in Across The Margin, 2017

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Three poems up at Stickman Review

Anthony Brown, editor of Stickman Review, has been kind enough to include three of my poems – “Driving around town, 2 a.m.”, “Eddie’s” and “In which you are still leaving” – in Volume 17, Number 1, which has just been released online.

Big thanks to Anthony for finding space for these three amongst some very fine poems indeed. I’d particularly recommend checking out David Lohrey’s “Saturday, the 19th or the 20th”.

 

Metro

Danger of death

Metro

 

A life’s script runs abruptly out of lines. No need to worry.

Neither dropped bottle nor platform smash as they collide.

The broken man has drained away in overlapping episodes.

 

A final seizure rattles the jawbones, breaks two teeth,

and the sorry bladderful seeps down the shapeless trousers,

painting its temporary stain across the concrete.

 

Only God hears the silent, glacial cry. This and other things

are and will be over. Turn your head. No need to look.

Life has eaten dignity all away, leaving death to go hungry.

 

With the night’s invasion complete, the men who come

from nowhere will come, scrape up the flaccid corpse,

leaving bottle and platform behind, and disappear back

 

into the unspoken shadows. The collective memory is reset.

No need to dwell. Our Metro is still warm and efficient.

‘Attention,’ says the sober voice. ‘The doors are closing.

 

first published in Here Comes Everyone (Transition Issue), 2016

Overcoat

Overcoat 2

Overcoat

 

It was autumn in my endless year. I was under-ripe,
an empty bucket. So I bought an overcoat belonging to

a dead man. I gave a five pound note to his crushed-up
daughter, and released it from where it was hanging,

all limp and unwanted, in a hidden closet, next to
a woollen suit and a defeated army of collared shirts.

The sweetness of the lining against my shaved neck
offered a first kiss, the stretch of bottle-green cloth

across my unsteady shoulders, an embrace, of sorts.
Wearing it with black shoes punched with silver buckles,

and a shirt whose tight cuffs never quite stopped making
my wrists itch (though I was glad of the distraction),

I toyed with a bashfulness easily mistaken for arrogance,
took the first, tiny steps in a long, unmapped journey.

 

first published in Bluepepper, 2017

All breakages must be paid for

Shoes

All breakages must be paid for

 

Too much shiny cloth gathered
between the trouser legs and
around the ankles of the
inevitably off-the-peg suit.
Too much product on too little hair.
Asked to stand a step higher
by the serious photographer,
he clings on to his bride,
half like she’s a chainsaw
in the poorly co-ordinated clutches
of a novice, half like she’s
something unimaginably fragile,
and no amount of tenderness
will prevent her future destruction.

 

first published in Love & Ensuing Madness, Rat’s Ass Review, 2016

Big, shiny, new hospital

Big, shiny, new hospital

Big, shiny, new hospital


The notion may have briefly flickered, the way things do,

in an architect’s mind, in someone’s office, to make it

look breath-taking and lovely, like a Roman villa,

or a new baby, plump and perfect, who might be born there.

 

They surely considered it, momentarily at least,

until that meeting with the accountants, with the planners,

so what finally got parachuted into the grey fields

by the motorway, nervously watching the new estates,

 

empty business parks and billboards shouting out about

Development Opportunities from 0.5 to 9.0 hectares”,

looks more like what it is. Although the smooth lines aspire

to the classical, and the off-white concrete could be marble

 

from a distance, it’s probably better this way, factory-like.

If I live badly long enough in this town, they’ll end up processing

my faulty body in there, or sending me back to the manufacturer,

my warranty having expired many, many years ago.

 

first published in The Cannon’s Mouth, Issue 61, 2016

 

For Shaun

For Shaun

For Shaun

 

The first time you heard about it, the story was

he’d done it in an abandoned shack somewhere,

then later, in a garage. You saw the logic

in that. You saw the load-bearing possibilities

in its wooden beams. There was a movement

of things you could neither hold onto nor

let go of. Several years had passed in any case,

and your paths – never running exactly in parallel –

had diverged even beyond your imagination.

Yet at least they had once crossed, and you

find you instinctively remember him the other way.

His gloved fists, pendulums at the end of

cigarette-coloured arms, lie steady beside his

red trunks. The twin wells of his nostrils seethe,

dark curls bobbing above the bridge of his nose

as he enters the ring, with its examining lights,

looking like he has a fighting chance for once.

 

first published in Wildflower Muse, 2016

Temple

 

Temple 2

Temple

 

Her body is a temple, apparently. Well, good for her. Mine isn’t.

Mine – if you must have a metaphor – is a bus station:

 

think Chorlton Street, Manchester, circa 1987, those sooty,

sinister fumes collecting in every dead-end airway and doorway;

 

puddles in potholes shimmer with spilt diesel that will neither evaporate

nor soak away, while the cancerous knees of sick concrete

 

creak under four storeys of ugly parked cars. In the gents’ toilets

of my brain, an unwashed old man with a four-pack of Skol,

 

sways dreamily as he chunters his mantra to the visiting passengers,

who piss nervously, before hurriedly shaking themselves dry.

 

first published in Alliterati Magazine, Issue 18, 2015