Saturday, 12 September 2020

Falling Off

 

Falling Off

 

 

After picking a random tree at some distance

from where I stopped, he puffed up and set out,

his face halfway between anxious and proud,

 

but soon fell off with rueful shout, down and out

for the count, possibly at three pushed pedals,

plunging not even close and certainly no medal.

 

I told him he should expect some knocks in life

as he spat out gobfuls of grass then looked across

at his mother solo texting, unconcerned and lost

 

in some other time, anywhere but be here now.

I wondered where in the world his father was,

if that heart ever took time to think or pause

 

but guessed not and, maybe glad, set to again

watching as the glittering wheels failed to spin,

gravity pulling him in, rage written on thin skin

 

secretly knowing all seafarers are quite right in

albatross omens of tacking too close to the rim

to fall off heart’s edge in cartwheeled tumbling.

 

I assured him belief was the key, as he made

it to three, or maybe four before touching floor

then booting obstinate bike with petulant glare

 

before stretching out arms. I ruffled some hair,

shifted him full upright, gazing into the weight

of our problem, for the path stretched straight

 

to distant tree, while gravity clutched us close

in love and learning, an unspoken orbit of trust

that had yet to be broken, written in stardust,

 

and yet, it must. And on the third day he flies

forwards as the master, a jubilant shout at last,

leaves me puffed out and many years down past.




Monday, 31 August 2020

Board Game

 

Board Game

 

 

Why

now tell me that you want to play

some ancient board game again?

Was it the one you chucked away,

with vivid bright, primary colours?

Two counters to fall on one square

and you’ll miss your turn, be sent

back home to stick, twist and burn

in emerald flames of self-doubting

till it was all over bar the shouting.

 

Why

now choose to bring us here again,

nine months lapsing or maybe ten?

The struggle it takes to remember

only matches all the grief it takes

to forget and is scarcely worth it.

We could quickly dust it all down,

pull it out from beneath our beds,

unbox it with pursed resigned sighs.

Well, let us set out musty pawns,

disentomb some dog-eared boards

notched in neglect, passing seasons,

where it rotted in tears and reasons.

 

Why

now handwave and say it’s all fine

because any problem is solely mine;

a past only living in my dark mind?

It consumes time to express regret,

sure. So, shall we both sit opposite,

trotting our counters and complete

leaden circuits once more? Compete

friendly as rivals, cunning at poking

gentle jibes of perhaps only joking? 

Mirrors reflect imperfect silhouettes;

easily our hands could cup cool dice,

shake, baby, shake a six to sacrifice

in the name of stratagem or demise;

how long before, bright blinding light

bares Miss Scarlet wielding lead pipe?

 

Why

now get out of jail and, in passing go,

land on no chance at all? I know how

if you put your lips around it and blow,

you’re talking whistles and waterworks.

Away with Cluedo, and if you’re lonely

shake tail feathers among show ponies

on the beach, watch washing breakers

erase cheapskate hopscotch heartaches

of scores, written for you on the sand.

Many chances of winning thrown away,

until even fate refuses to throw or play

again; won’t even bother to draw lots

as to whether you make it home or not.





Tuesday, 25 August 2020

It All Makes Sense When You Are Near The End

It All Makes Sense When You Are Near The End

 


Placed deliberately side by side, two cylindrical nozzles stared at her like blind eyes. 


Weapons, she might’ve thought. With a black, hungry, wanton gaze that glowered from across the marble floored square that made up the living space of her apartment.

 

They did not waver.

 

As if anticipating their sound of thunder, she knocked back and swallowed a large amount of the drink in the glass beside her. Her hands did not shake, she noticed. Steady. Smooth and without trembling. Yet she winced at the sound the ice made hitting glass, in resentment.

 

But was it her face, or the one in front of her? Familiar in thought and deed, each looked at the other, waiting, waiting.

 

The clock on her phone waited, too, and told of a growing sense of inevitability, a crushing feeling of a road not willingly travelled but a final destination reached anyway. Everything inanimate seemed personal and imbued with a reckless malevolence.

 

You can see that deck of cards now in front of her and the darkening of the room as the sun retired, in indecent haste, replacing light with shanked bars of shadow that lengthened?

 

Yes, those cards. Not just an ordinary deck, they were…sinister. Born of a left hand like her own. Well that could be an advantage. The cards stacked, the seconds ticked, the shadows lengthened, the nozzles watched.

 

Now came a rumble of an impatient cough.

 

The deck was seized and shuffled. Perfectly openly, with fairness that there could be no claim of palming or sharping in some later, panicked mitigation. When those unwavering, observant nozzles spoke their final blank message, as she knew they must, when it came, there could be no plea of bias. Just stand or fall.

 

Fingers scuttered forward like scorpions and dealt the top card, then the next, and both were laid on the table in front of her, face down. She supposed a nonchalant look might be best. Remembering to use her right hand in the chance it might offer some sort of benefit, she took one of those offered.

 

Turned it up.

 

Queen of clubs. Pretty decent and quite high. She allowed herself an inner smile.

 

The other hand took the remaining card and flicked it over casually. Ace of spades; well of course, so let it be that, let it be that.

 

Blown it. She must use her right.

 

In studied reflection, the calm face opposite knew too, her opponent looking back at her, a half smile forming, deep lines of grey age meshing into a cynical, threatening mask. Glancing pointedly at those two shooters, arranged side by side, the hand reached and with a decisive jab, started the countdown.

 

Nine minutes. Nine minutes to contemplate what would happen when the numbers clocked zero.

 

She didn’t feel anything acute. Since this had started, she had always thought that, when the moment came, she might do. Doors had been barred, there was no way out. It had been like that for some time now. All her movements were being tracked and traced by unseen shadows. Even wearing masks, blending into the anonymity of the crowd was next to useless.

 

No, she felt a strange ennui.

 

The clock ticked. Seven minutes before they fired automatically. But which would be win? Nothing for it now, but to sit and wait in front of them. One would be first, the other second, and there was some chance that at the given moment, she could act. In front of her, her silent adversary similarly waited, brows furrowed and frosted like a winter field, presumably having exactly the same thoughts – but how could you ever be sure?

 

She desperately wanted that drink, but as her hand moved towards it, the face in front of her shook almost imperceptibly, raising a finger to the lips.

 

Six minutes, then five.

 

So it had come to this and now she riffled regretfully through the memories of those courses she had life's waiter take away with a disdainful toss.

 

She had chances, no doubt of that; choices made. She could’ve packed a burner phone, switched it off. She could have followed the rules.

 

And what of marriage, love, children? Well, what of them? She had not taken that safe road like many of her friends; always crazy, always the first to be different. So, no, she had countenanced reckless decisions, picked up her pen, written much of many an affair, brought numerous accounts to book – little child, running wild - and now here was the result. A locomotive fixed to her track but hurtling towards her in an oncoming tempest.

 

Two nozzles, both equal, but opposite. Which would fire first?

 

So many things in life are unpredictable, she reasoned, and one could never know certainty. When would the venus fly trap close and what movement of the fly would trigger it? The plug of a volcano’s crater, pressure building relentlessly, until the moment half an impulsive mountain exploded into the sky to curtain the sun. Even a geyser called old faithful could one day sue for divorce from its marriage to time.

 

And, yes, there was that, she smiled, remembering those occasions when she had, knees aching, stroked and stroked, worked hard with her tongue, never sure of the time she would hear the stifled groan and it would all be over, in a wet, salty puddle.

 

Two minutes. She leaned slightly forwards, but so did her rival, as if reading her mind.

 

One minute, thirty seconds, fifteen, then none.

 

On the sound of the alarm, she hurled headlong for the weapon like a striking serpent. But the other hand was quicker. It wrenched the shooter, flicked a switch. Too late, the second spoke its message whilst she desperately grabbed at it - grabbed at it and knocked it to the floor.

 

“No!” she screamed.

 

With a gentle, lengthy hiss, the automatic air freshener gushed a sweet fragrance of apple and cinnamon into the air from where it had fallen.

 

Mabel kicked it with her left foot in frustration. She glared into the mirror and put the other back where its black nozzle continued to mock her.

 

Grabbing her phone, she swiped it from clock mode to call and jabbed the screen a couple of times, listening to the electronic purr. After a while, she spoke.

 

“Bill? It’s utter shite.”

 

“What is?”

 

“You cannot switch off two air fresheners simultaneously before they fire, in the way you said. It’s bollocks and a complete waste of time.”

 

Bill chuckled quietly to himself. “Well it’s not as if you’re pressed for that in self isolation is it? After all you’ve eight more days of quarantine to go.”

 

“Oh, fuck off.”


Thursday, 20 August 2020

Tom Thumbelina

 

Tom Thumbelina

 

Wind whispering his consciousness

primps plump pages in skinny kiss

pinpricks the warm peel raising hair

delicious lite crisp bite of appley air

he grins those lessons wrote there.

Delight at each falling silken thread

speaks in books that should be read

lighting so slight draws tissue webs

with thoughts cocooned within two

she melt ice cream in swoony June.

Texts must sing of ha'sixpence songs

from a manuscript pages girl belong

old soft Motown grooves panting cry

suckling at my soul see where it flies

pull open petal rose and both will die.

Sticky a stickleback trickles drips like

Tom pushy Thumbelina in drippy dyke

shoves a thicken plastic in leaky holes

pouring on rubbery putty into moulds

finger driven cracks with sealing wax

crumbles for the want of what it lacks

when many will mumble acquired taste

commemorate such a muttered waste.




Thursday, 13 August 2020

Beyond the Border / Inside the Box

 Beyond the Border / Inside the Box


Butterflies are about their quiet business

amongst white trumpets of bindweed.

 

It weaves tangle clinging sallow shoots,

parting from fences easily where it sits

once tackled and sheared and shredded,

lacking deep reasons about why it has

serious claim to not being labelled pest

amongst the rest; this suckering cuckoo.

 

Beyond clatters a horrid discord of noise;

two mutts released, one dog and a bitch,

you cannot disentangle which from which,

a rigid yapping knot of unmuzzled snout

fastspin tumble dried in colours blurred

become a blackwhite pebble dash brown

clunky double act of fairground clowns.

 

Rushed airhead hurtles round and round

this fenced in piece of badly boxed turf,

accusing one blade of grass or the other

of trespass, violations of blood brother,

earth mother; clawing up wanton clover

in haste to uncover any hidden intruder.

Trill echoing din, both shriek ceaselessly,

bound off brick walls, repulsed by hurdles

drooling; each pants, take turns in girdles.

 

No stone untouched, pouncing on seeds,

nutshell bombs from twittering magpies,

amusing themselves in lofty detachment,

glitter sleek swift above, to sail clear skies

amongst the drifting cloud of butterflies,

listening to futile bindweed of inane order

from inside the box; beyond the border.



Saturday, 8 August 2020

You’ll see Glimpses

 

You’ll see Glimpses

 

if you

consider those promises

of  never coming back

you might see glimpses

 

like you're gazing awe struck

upon Mount Olympus

where mighty Zeus himself

sat pondering fortune

before he demanded

soft soap pillows to

cushion that buttock cutting

iron maiden summit

 

and Sisyphus slapped in

a chit requesting a day off

while Atlas probably packed

an olive oily rag to soothe

his hot burning shoulders

on days that dragged by

and it’s well supposed

that Prometheus receives

chain mail now and then

 

so that every year a card

marks each passing of

another birthday with love

but frost’s bite never thaws

for Christmas brings more

never leave without hitting

your head upon the door

 

 where there could be glimpses

post trial by judge and jury

of short peers long on walks

dishing harsh sentences

spoken lack full conviction

even when sent down in ink

show how much it stinks

 

of lies now on those days

when the wind’s blowing

her breath east cool west

warming hot satin sheets

of soft desert sandpaper

to polish dull mirrors clean

for someone looking back

who if fire wasn't stolen

maybe flinted a few sparks

 

glinting in bulging pockets

glimpse a traced rogue's grin

beckoning come on in lover

and we’ll spoon beside these

curved pocket nail scissors

never think to scythe acres

 

of people once known

for scribbling in backhand

their black words of disgust

 in terms of oh that’s just lust

but in the Gods we trust

look he’s shaking her so deep

with love’s little earthquakes

trembling in deep tremors

wet fracking open cracks

she’ll not get any sleep

 

tonight dispensing pillows

oily rags and chain mail

by the container load

for some little more than

well reasonable prices

might wink and convinces

us that if nothing else

you’ll see glimpses.



Friday, 7 August 2020

Jenny

 

Jenny

 

And I’ve been staring so hard at one single tree

for these many years, made painful excavation,

looked vainly for signs of its previous perfection

methodical in study of calluses, knots and debris

 

I quite forgot there’s forests out there still to see

unsullied, like you and maybe me. Here though,

disaster, circle centred by ghost target crossbow

in cherry red as heart’s prey. Jangle useless key

 

deep pocketed, fidget fingering, verge side cold

beneath shady summer’s yellow sycamore leaf,

watch juggernaut’s thunder hauling boxed lives

of tupperwares unaware of pistols and blindfold,

 

he is, even now, sparking up that last cigarette.

But crossing the road, a vision all in pinky black

distance, dodging bullets, scrutinising my back,

all hips, lips and busty; me assessing any threat

 

as she pigeon coos, from down past, my name,

rolling her consonants wet, around tart tongue

like sec champagne, because she wasn’t wrong

and she knew it was me; I still looked the same

 

even from several years distance. If rolling tyres

had tread deep grooves in my more beaten face,

well she smiled anyway, reached across to trace

where a line might guide travellers back to fires

 

thought drenched. A real girl, straps and curves,

deep valley eyes highlighted in sceptical shadow

black, etched, who knows which way she blows,

but life flashbacks in that instant, all active verbs

 

murmured in sighs, reliving all that cut and thrust

shows with sly looks, hot breathy words, rigid tips

cutting through moist pink top and if it should rip,

well there would be willing hands she might trust.

 

She told me she could’ve fixed this car, no sweat,

left with a wink and a promise of some other day;

who dares say? Still if angels are but a dying tree

we gaze on in futility, all forests live on in Jenny.