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Poetry

In 1990, Banga-boys gather on the street corner;

Spring Bank West.

Pauline’s Gift Store, which was in itself an accidental pun,

Sits closed for dinner time.

And everybody round here thinks them sandwich bars,

And coffee-based café’s can STAY in the big city, thanks.

This is the sort of place where the Kurdish families

Will take over the chip shop, not start another kebab place,

And the motorway’s designed for the traffic of the 1950’s;

Speeds of up to 70,

Smash in a container on the backseat,

And a 2 minute 15 second break in the engine procession.

 

In 1990, a flock of gulls flies over

the dentists practice.

A new kitchen is installed at 112 Newland Park.

It’s hard to point at what’s changed in this landscape,

When you’re part of it.

It’s sometimes easier to note what hasn’t changed in this city.

A football crowd in 1990 is just as annoying

As in 2015.

And Beryl has still got that old typewriter

In the attic.

By now, we’ve even forgotten

Why we put our loved ones in the ground.

 

In 1990, a coach which left at 8am arrives 25 minutes late

For the bingo hall on the edge of Whitby.

Grannies, with

Fanny-packs

Gossip in a way mundane, but pleasing,

Slightly monotonous, but moral,

And they buy each other cups of tea, saying “I’ll get it next time, alright chuck?”,

Merely to make a fuss; just to break up the afternoon.

Across the street walked a guy, now forty,

On a lost weekend. One camping trip

Amongst many that year, with

Paul, Adrian and Jenny. He considered how the elderly over there

Would know nothing of the drugs

He would soon be taking.

 

And when it was time,

He came home to the maisonette,

And perched on a seat by the window.

Lighting up a cigarette,

He added to the 55 years of tobacco grime

That has gathered from smoke floating up to the top of the ceiling.

Outside,

The crowd were making their way back.

 

March 2015

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Curtains close, It’s three.

The shop has a couple of hours life left

And the bookies wife left

Tea in the fridge.

The water – eventually, it calls all those

That live in this town. Clerks, porter-maids

The lot of them.

The desolate, the super-grannies. broken bastards

And even the simple minded.

Like an orbiting mass that swallows all that it surrounds,

It floods their heads at night, and the folks of the city role down the stony streets

To their host, the coast.

When the sun comes up – well, it’s the usual drill, isn’t it?

Bicycles clank, kettle’s are stuck on,

Basins become littered with a week’s facial hair… the lunchtime bell.

After a bit, any electricity

In the air starts to wind down

And the pubs serve up their final dessert.

The begin begins. It seems to be three again.

Decadence is a real thing.

We’ve seen it, with our own eyes.

But our eyes become blind to the things we

Love.

 

European decadence leaves a trail…

A trail of leaves in a rusty park

Is something eternal. But the people are

Thanking their lucky stars. Stars? Yes

Don’t think they have aligned and colluded for you

You are the residue, the growth inside

The festering tub. And the tub has to be

Washed out every once in a while.

But before this, there is

Decadence.

 

It is in this that we may set a scene.

Children in white, crosses round their necks

Run from Chapel to the fountain square,

Catholics give wine to their children, but only on a Sunday.

Disgrace can be decadence, but it’s not always. So the woman who

Champagne’s in the morning and wanders the high

Streets at midday is feckless. But we can allow for it.

She’s forgotten her Chinese handbag,

And it’s not even

Three.

 

Meanwhile, men on scooters begin to think the Colosseum

Was made just for them. It’s not a monument to a

Fallen empire. It IS a falling empire, funded by gift

Shops, German tax dollars, Scandinavian exchange rates.

The sun beats down, as ever – or so

We’re told. Everybody likes a little pizza.

And that gorgeous piano is there in the apartment block

Foyer.

 

But nobody can play it. Many who did

Play have forgotten – and the young today?

Well, they’re concerned about their hair coming through,

Electronic drugs, loves, and getting through tired,

Old religious practices, than learning the piano.

This is what European decadence sounds like, to both ears.

A failed composition, but with the machine

That engineers it’s existence still turned on. Gas is on low.

Except for the gas of the chatter about class,

And good breakfast places, the secret loves of

Mary the receptionist, and do you think

That name will last forever?

 

March 2015.

The damp rose with the morning warmth

As little green men flash,

The neon sign that was made to destroy

Night and day,

And the red ones too

Halting fierce ambitions, to get to work

Preventing the momentum of the day,

When it’s only a 5th the way through.

 

For years before I had missed

Bustling church congregations, five minutes before the hour,

An old Italian truth-holder delivering to many,

Few really hear, he’s not Italian, Hungarian but

Lived there all his life and

A shimmering light whilst he honest hotel lady

Opens up, the place dusty again and the ever-tired

Prostitute shuts windows, pulls blinds, craves oblivion.

 

And it seems infinitely more can happen

In the heat of the morning, where

Falling leaves cement the groundwork for a while

And the place isn’t informed bout’ the

Infinite scorn of the news, for a while

And the sun rises, cash-tillers groan

Imposters impost, compost dries, giving rise to

Another day, a day of coke bottles in the wind.

 

Sep 20th 2013.

They came to their houses with pick axes

And you looked on with pride

I saw them waving their signs, hooting horns

And knew I’d won

 

This time round

But wasn’t always like this

Once was proposed to you a bomb,

And you took it as your call

 

More of an insider calling

Because that day you didn’t hear

Reasonable protest, legitimate concerns,

Shrugged off like a boring week

 

And in the quest to fill every page

Entered my vision field, cut you made

Today, so I could win again

Hearing you made it into fertile lands

 

And you make me have to admit

You labour all my senses.

Find me an occupation

And move him out that big house

A real hurdle to clear this time

New laugh for a fresh faced crowd

 

I can’t put up with what others put up with

But ignore my pain

So find me someone to be

I can talk to them normally again

 

Find me an occupation

A useful claim on my body

That asks not too much of my head,

So the others I can somehow study

 

And late at night do you think I could do cards?

Like I did with that drunk driver

Get into household objects, make Polaroid’s

Or go with the grain, every common striver

 

I sometimes remember what school was like

When I see some kid’s young face

The path of most resistance

In this long and churlish race

 

Find me a job, concrete life

So I’m kept up at night, not keeping

When I’m in a cloud, I can only remain silent

A sleepy felt prick, hardly feeling

 

If we screw up yesterday’s newspapers

Can’t we screw up yesterday’s news?

Find me an occupation

‘Cos that’s a simple cruise

 

And you must feel that sense of duty

Perverting the room and the streets

For a cure we walk off with boys

And top ourselves up with sweets.

If you see me get up and stand by the morning window

I am remembering the accents of one-sided phone calls

And afternoons with mother

And what I was doing on this day, or that day

The details of an old house, an old friend

And how soon it would take for life to resume.

 

In those moments, you may take me

For I am on autopilot

Tying to think of some metaphor for

Watery lips, cucumber smile

Secret reflections, unspoken connections

And whether dreams satisfy

The real needs of my heart.

 

Or whether that was all just fodder,

Fodder for some listless afternoon

Or another short poem

With places and cathedral backrooms

Where men turn their wants

Into allegorical nursery-rhymes.

 

They don’t want to realise how soon

Life will resume

At best they know it’s like a

Half-forgotten old holiday trip

With some quirks, some follies

And their dreams can only be – lost to the world.