Anacreontic for a Pandemic

The pubs are to reopen
Soon and thank landlord for that.
I can't move for bottled beer
That is cluttering the flat
And bringing me to the edge
Of alcoholic torpor.
Now I can queue, register,
To once more be a pauper,
Sup a pint or two of ale,
As I said to my mate Syd,
Right through my obligatory
Face mask, for only ten quid!
Published
Categorized as Poems

Arrival

Arrival

At last, you said, arrival.
The place was gaunt, no trivial

adornments, superfluous curlicues
distracting us from country views,

the long sweep of distant hill,
the air steeped in summer, still

as silence. We unpacked cases pleasantly 
weighted with those presently 

thrown on things
we'd brought to spoil us, panderings

to seal this as summer.
We were strangers here, newcomers

entering their escape
from lives of previous shape-

lessness. You brushed your hair out,
swinging the mane of it about

in a new found act of careless
satisfaction, as if you could bear less

the tight knot of work than this
first step to summer bliss.

The bleached, whitewashed walls,
the static-like, grating calls

cicadas made, the olives
sweet-sour smell like polish,

light, luminous and bare
as a white sheet, the air

a perfume of dust and roses.
It was like a place that half supposes

itself loved, half loathed, for all it is;
free, ascetic, full of lethargies.

I knew then we'd never leave
and I continued to believe

us there, even when back
in the cold city suffering lack

of light, astringency, darkness
scouring us out, remarkless

for whole evenings, as in our eyes
that gaunt place deposited it's lies,

it's blandishments, the ticking hope
of what is warm, an air you envelop,

savour, taunting us to submit.
The illusory, haunting, shape of it.
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Categorized as Poems

Serbia

Serbia

You said I should pick you up at five
but when I arrived to find you
still bullied by your work's endlessness,
I knew how little precision means
when timing the moment freedom strikes.
We sat at last, looking at the sea
the way an absconder does.
You took the cider to your lips,
toasting how the small ships passed,
their decks awash with fresh news.
Later we passed a pond where young
moorhens scarpered through the pondweed,
harvested fields skating with light,
that spot where a Saxon king was overthrown.
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Portent

Portent

I was ready to go out,
About to leave the flat,
Had done the washing up,
Had found my hat.

I had put my lenses in
And brushed my teeth (I'm sure),
Put on my coat and opened
The front door.

I stepped out for the Tube
With all day trippers gone,
When I noticed that I had
My slippers on.

Loading Strawberries 1912

Loading Strawberries 1912

For six summer weeks it's strawberry time in Swanwick.
The air smells sweet and sodden. June is sweltering.
Carts coming down Duncan Road clatter in line,
await their turn to pull longside the sidings.
Horses stamp and shake, pile their shit onto the road.
The Railway Hotel courts the growers thirsting
for beer after hours in the fields, fussing their pickers
into production. Their hands are grime and scarlet.
They stink of jam.
                  The loading is slow, baskets 
balanced inside the trucks. Then a sudden 
shout or fist signals a dispute. 
Someone is out of turn or settling scores. 
Growing's full of conflict, conciliation, 
grudges and gambling on weather, livings laden 
into these weeks. Families can be broken 
by a bad season.
                The line loiters to the train 
all afternoon, boys squeezing the baskets 
into small spaces until the steam is rising.
In thirty-six hours Glasgow will be gorging fruit.
The guard waves green, the signal has nodded.
The station porter sweeps turds onto his roses,
watches the departure, smiles with a knowing
that strawberries aren't the only kind of growing.


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Categorized as Poems

Flippin’ell

Flippin'ell

My appetites are pretty drastic,
I love to get sultry and hot,
Snapping my knicker elastic,

Saying yes to the fantastic
Idea of taking the lot.
My appetites are pretty drastic,

Quite verging on the orgiastic,
Which is a masculine plot,
Snapping my knicker elastic.

And sometimes by dressing in plastic
I almost succeed to garrotte.
My appetites are pretty drastic.

Without appearing bombastic
I like to think of a Trot
Snapping my knicker elastic

Before becoming gymnastic
And stuttering out his argot.
My appetites are pretty drastic.

I'm never unenthusiastic
And I've never been something I'm not,
Snapping my knicker elastic.

But before I become quite monastic
I'd love to ravage a Scot.
My appetites are pretty drastic
Snapping my knicker elastic!
Published
Categorized as Poems

Labourers

Labourers

For Arthur Knowles

On balance, we haven't much to give,
ground out of us more like, in shards of
labour we hardly call our own,
sold on like hand-me-downs, used up,
withered on the bone,
flesh weeping out of us like tears.
And when we're wrung limp,
lacking even the will to worry
more about others than ourselves,
seeing no sense in community,
we're left, allowed to grieve for the loss
darkening each corner of our lives.
 So what we have is what we have to give.
 We bend, we laugh, we work, we weep, we live.