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.
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.
A Vegan Recants and Becomes a Vegetarian I wish I'd never Undertaken giving up Both eggs and bacon
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 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.
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!
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.