Canto CCXIV

The baby shower games took a strange turn
when we moved onto motherhood charades
and one friend mimed the intense moment when

the woman crouches down for labour, splayed,
with something passing from her body’s centre,
only when knives and forks came into play

did the group shout in unison, “PLACENTA!”

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Canto CCXIII

The mind is like a muscle or a jaw,
you just down know how long you’ve had it tensed
until it slackens, like it did right now

when I was frying vegetables and sensed
that all that I was doing could be done
without all of this aggro, or intent,

as if I was a fly, constantly stunned
from butting hard against a sheet of glass,
who suddenly found the bloody thing opened

by some benevolent titan or goddess
giving me back to the wind’s highway,
the elements’ plaything, aloof and aimless

until the next window gets in my way.

Canto CCXII

Outlast the cans of Tennants in the paws
of the alkies perched on the memorial bench.
Outlast the greyhound, outlast the police horse,

outlast the other runners, never launch
into a sprint when you get overtaken.
Outlast the the stomached remnants of your lunch,

outlast your overpriced and worn out trainers.
Outlast the three skin reefers set alight
by overeager middle class teenagers.

Outlast this magic hour’s-worth of twilight,
outlast the keepers’ padlocks and the guns
that dealers stash in bushes, out of sight.

Outlast Herne Hill’s gentrification.
Outlast the techno singularity.
Outlast your urge for home. Outlast the sun.

Outlast the fad of Post-Modernity.
Outlast the cults of Jesus and Steve Jobs.
Outlast the fucking Duracel Bunny,

Outlast the silicon in Jordan’s boobs,
Outlast the half life of Plutonium,
Outlast dichotomies of Prole and Nob.

Outlast the endless death of Capitalism
Outlast the inbred farce of monarchy.
Outlast the zombie holocausts to come.

Outlast the heat death hum of entropy,
Outlast our destiny of perfect zero.
Outlast the doggerel of pish like me.

Outlast the bandaged wangers of the Pharoahs.

Canto CCXI

This stretch of the river has been known to send
artistic souls into a proper fit—
William Wordsworth couldn’t comprehend

the passersby whose humours were not set
aflame by its ripples as the sun dipped,
and Whistler’s kind of blue became a net

that smothered factories and passing ships.
Fast forward to nowadays and see them all—
the Creatives, understated but hip,

sat down around the Royal Festival Hall,
working on their latest masterpiece—
an application to the Arts Council.

Sometimes they look up from their Macbook screens
to see the river glimmering before them,
then return to the task at hand again,

already mindless of that slight distraction.

Canto CCX

I turn away and give him no reply—
the pisshead on the bus that seems to think
that I’m his best mate, or at least I try.

Even when these guys have missed a drink
they still sound drunk, as if they have forgot
how to act sober. I also have a chink

in my own reserve because I cannot
help but cut in when he gives his take
on the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh,

some old story about a famous fake
of his work from the eighteenth century,
“I’m sorry, but I think you mean Van Dyke”

And when a frail old man gives up his seat,
the pisshead says, “Oh look a gentleman!”
the man shouts back,” I’m a fackin’ ex marine!”

The next five stops pass by in blessed silence.

Canto CCIX

It isn’t quite the final scene in Scarface—
three hooded boys riding their bicycles
through a typical South London Estate,

three ghosts realised in black and white pixels.
Inside the shop, in full colour, we see
the final footsteps of the little girl

under fluorescent lights, then the melee
signals the gunshots that we cannot hear.
The final shot of the report displays

the mugshots of the three young men whose stares
hint that they occupy another world
to the twelve that have been wryly dubbed their peers.

Too much reality fractures the Real,
the boys lost so long in their fantasy,
that will shield them throughout their years in jail

from thoughts of precious little casualties.

Canto CCVIII

Forgive me for the lateness of this poem,
I had so much to do . . . okay, I lied.
I spent most of this wasted Sunday playing

a video game in which the living dead
descended in their droves on the Wild West.
I played the thing for hours, I was that bored.

And now, whatever pops from me is just
as undead as those pixelated hordes
that spattered when lined up in my targets.

Perhaps they’ll make a game called Lazy Bards,
where all the little poems you’ll never pen
suddenly leap out from your dreamy head

so you can blast them to oblivion?

Canto CCVII

Despite all of my binary tantrums,
cussin’ “da mainstream”, burning any bridge
there may be to the wine and cheese sanctum;

I still feel spoiled rotten and privileged
when turning Joe Public’s everyday spiel
into a poem, or when on a stage

of an out of town arts centre, to feel
the spark of life within the spoken lines,
the way they ride the slipstream vapour trail

to spill through the ear’s coils into the brains
of listeners. Whatever their reaction,
the poem lives, not as an inky page

nor performance. It lives as a connection.

Canto CCVI

My wife didn’t go outside today
so now she’s tidying aggressively
and I’m staying the hell out of her way,

try hard to take my bits of mess with me
so she won’t take a vacuum cleaner brush
at full force to my tender testicles,

which she’ll do anyway when she reads this.

Canto CCV

I hope that we will do this when we’re old,
walk through our manor at the Spring day’s end,
lob crusts at waterfowl around the pond,

grumble about the boozing youngsters when
they sway all giggly into our path.
We’ll fend off unleashed pitbulls with our canes

and tut as they defecate on the grass.
Then, as the last sunrays run flat and low,
we’ll bemoan how we’ve lost our golden past

until we hear the final, tremulous throes
of birdsong from the bower cathedrals
that shimmer in the final, hazy glow,

and in turn we’ll be ageless and enthralled.

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