Freddie Mercury, aged 15

Posted: September 11, 2014 in urban poems

He missed those after school rituals,
fags behind the bike sheds, flirting
girls who had one more button undone
than regulations allowed. Not for him
following the crowd
into shops lifting what they could.

Down a disused siding sat an old signal box,
smashed windows, broken locks.
Taking dodgy wooden steps two-by-two
he raced up to his stage. Took off his blazer
hung it on one shoulder and gazed
beyond the terraces
at an audience only he could see.
One hand on hip,
he grabbed a lever,
yanked it towards his mouth,
mimed songs ringing in his ears.
Then throwing it forward and breaking free,
strutted through broken glass.
He stepped and spun on egg shells.
Twisted round and spun again.
Pouted before that final move.

Feet wide apart
head bowed to earth,
one hand reaching for the stars.

I bought a Bukowski quote pin badge

Posted: September 1, 2014 in urban poems

Charles, I know you’ll think I’m a twat,
but for all that it’s really your fault.
If you hadn’t been so pithy -
and before you ask, I don’t have a lisp -
I wouldn’t have bought it.
In fact somebody wouldn’t have been arsed
to print it. So there it is.
You who got drunk, whored and fought
your way along the far edge of poetry,
flaming the establishment in the process,
have become a commercial success.
All those riding on the back of your life after death.
Raking it in.
Boy, wouldn’t you hammer out a few choice poems,
your typewriter clattering in anger through the small
hours, cigarette smoke and whisky-scented air.
As it is I wear my pin badge with panache.
None of those other saps came up with
‘Poetry is what happens when nothing else can’.


End of the Line

Posted: August 11, 2014 in Poetry

Your bed is empty and bathed in an eerie moon glow.
Like an altar
with shadows of a darkened hospital ward fretting at its edges.


No-one at the desk.

For that one moment I am all life
mocked by the death I was too late to reach.
Another evening dash which this time missed its connection.
You never waited

for one final stilted conversation

one final goodbye

one last chance for me to chisel through your granite layers
and touch the beat of your heart.

Left behind is this cathedral space
still not big enough
for a hundred questions.
A thousand regrets.

Poetry in novels

Posted: August 4, 2014 in default

‘Some days are born ugly.’ What a great start to a chapter. And a few pages later the same author penned this poetic piece: ‘…red geraniums burned the air around them. The delphiniums were like little openings in the sky.’ The writer? John Steinbeck. I have come late into his fold. After being won over by Cannery Row, which I read several months ago, I am now reading his follow up Sweet Thursday from which the quotes come.
Once again we meet the likes of Doc, Mack, Ed, the Bear Flag, the Palace Flophouse … but it’s Steinbeck’s ability to take a group of disparate people (bums, hookers, drunks), set them in a two-bit ordinary coastal Californian town and weave a marvellous story that careers through a whole range of human emotions.
And the package is laced with some stunning prose – lines and phrases that, as a poet, you just wished you thought of!

Interestingly, when reading the current issue of Rialto this morning I came across a poem by Mimi Khalvati - Bringing Down The Stars – which opens up with the following lines:

As a mouse sniffs for cheese, so I, reading novels,
am sniffing out scintillas. Sometimes they are few

but enough to keep me going, at other times rare
and completely enchanting, whole pages, paragraphs,

bringing starlight down to earth.

Whether author or poet, words used well can just lift you into wonderful realms.

jul 20 perfect sunday

Haiku Central

Posted: August 2, 2014 in default

In a dense mist listen
and the river will whisper to you
Butterflies surfing sun-streams,
white ghosts
lacing flower to flower.
Out of a slate sky
rain hammers nails
into the window panes.
So let the stars stay up there,
you can still touch them in the river
Clouds drift over the ridge,
silent lands
searching for new horizons.

Surreal and fun workshop last night at Juncture 25 (our group of performing poets). We were given a list of people, list of places and list of situations had to chose one from each and then write a poem in 40 minutes! A point of note: Zola Budd was a South African who became a British citizen and was the world’s leading women’s middle distance runner in the mid 1980’s. She always ran barefoot.

She stands waif-like between a morose AA man
and the West Country Cornish pasty mobile.
It’s been raining.
Coming down like lions and hyenas,
she tells one disinterested traveller.
At least he was until he heard her say that.
Lions and hyenas.
Don’t you mean cats and dogs?
He regrets the words before they leave his mouth,
sees the trap of the surreal opening up before him.
He learns where she comes from,
it obviously rains lions and hyenas.
Then he notices a bucket full of sorry looking flowers.
Rained on, they bow mournfully over the edge.
Red blooms, yellows and night blues
bleeding rain onto the floor by the door.
How much, he asks.
But he’s not prepared for the comeback.
Whatever you think they’re worth. She shrugs her bony shoulders.
Grabbing a handful, he jams a tenner in her fist,
walks off shaking his head.
Taking pity on the flower girl
who has no shoes.