Canto CCCV

This is the poem I write for myself.
I have no following but if I did
this poem would tell them to go to hell.

It will not stop the wars or feed the kids,
nor will it spark a moral for today.
This poem really doesn’t give a shit

about the zeitgeist nor how it might rate
against its siblings. It’s free of content.
It has no cornerstone to celebrate,

nor does it spew out vowels so it can paint
a visual feast impossible to sight.
But keep looking for meaning if you want

or if you’ve time. Good luck with that. Goodnight.

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Canto CCCIV

In the bar diagonal from us
some white men play some inoffensive jazz
for punters to mull over with a glass

of inoffensive wine, dressed up smart-cazh.
Parker’s skag fueled duende has grown cosy,
a well loved set of timeless standards. Trad.

Not that we hear it as the sax man blows it,
what with the sirens flitting between hells
that bookmark these red brick, Georgian houses—

it must be kicking off in Camberwell,
boisterous in Brixton, war in West Norwood
and tazer time in Streatham and Tulse Hill.

My daughter takes to staring at the clouds,
the definition of pre-lingual thought,
the way she stared at me when seconds old.

I don’t believe in old souls but I’ve bought
the idea that some of us come pre-packed
with some old wisdom that cannot be taught.

She’s wise although she’s yet to build a stack
of playblocks on our living room carpet.
The sirens fade, the cosy band change tac

to Miles’s Kind of Blue minus the trumpet.

Canto CCCIII

How strange to find my freeze dried, cynic heart
warmed by the presence of my fellow poets
converging on the Thames to lend support

to the idea that the poetic spirit
is expressed through so many fractured tongues.
The words fly over our heads but we hear it,

the underlying music, the slight drum
of metre. Later on, I spin off reams
of blank verse under late showing June sun

for everyday punters, who want their dreams
and anxieties welded into stanzas.
The game is simple, remember their names

and never pretend that you have the answers.

Canto CCCII

Now is gone a moment, then it’s back.
The nose knows now, your precious eyes play tricks.
Between the past and future, now’s the crack.

Now’s always the time for politics.

Canto CCCI

The baby’s slept all day and all last night,
apart from waking for a change and feed.
The hot damp air, thick clouds churn up the light,

the rent goes up next month some fifty quid.
I read about ontologies of time,
the present exists as the slight divide

between the past and the future to come,
but at the same time neither tense exists
apart from the endless continuum,

the sprawling, rolling now. Who can say which
of these two differing presents can be true?
Is present just a long thin thread to stitch

the past to the future or the blue
expanse of endless cloth that both are scrawled on?
The truth is that it just comes down to you

which now that you have chosen to live in.
Dwell on the now and it becomes immense,
dwell on the past and future and its gone,

though dwelling either way won’t pay the rent
nor keep it rising well above inflation.
The low clouds thicken just above my head

and all ideas are above my station.
See that’s the problem with ontology,
you never figure that your contemplation

will be disrupted by reality.

Canto CCC

A subspecies, a thin wind battered branch
sprung from the tree of life, has gone extinct.
Your home island that gave Darwin the hunch

that pushed special creation to the brink,
is destitute without your round footprints.
You’re set adrift, far from the recent stink

of greasy fingered eco tourists,
after wide lensed cameras replaced the guns
that bagged the naturalists’ prized exhibits.

George,you weren’t the only lonesome one,
though your death serves as something to remind
us that our own short lives will soon be done

and all that live are the last of their kind.

Canto CCLCIX

Sunday is our opportunity
to traipse about our manor and behold
that the gift of human fertility

is not just ours, what with the motherload
of Babybjorns and buggies on paths,
a multitude of sprogs, chubby and bald,

even the hipsters are fertile enough
their skin tight jeans can’t kill off their erections
and their sperm’s not too hip for honest graft

or swimming in the orthodox direction.

Canto CCXCVIII

Sixteen years ago, a ragged youth,
I was a bunch of nerves, itchy and frisky,
if only those same years had made me smooth

as they have done with this wee dram of whiskey.

Canto CCXCVII

All lights are out across the flat except
this touchscreen beaming back into my face
and all is silent as my daughter sleeps,

her little sighs and hums will never cease
to move me as I struggle to find words
to slot my stray thoughts neatly into place.

Perhaps the truest poetry occurs
when each noun makes the last one disappear
and doings are undone by each new verb

til all that’s left to say is “now” and “here”.

Canto CCXCVI

How soft bellied and bookish I’ve become,
these years since I last left the council yard.
My tattoo turning green, my scrawny arms,

my mind fetid with all those printed words,
the grey pulp of knowledge. Don’t get me wrong,
I ploughed through books back then, my prole glare bored

into volumes while polluting my lungs
with tea break roll ups. I learned out of spite
for all those that thought poetry belonged

to the academy, packed up, air tight,
insulated from the social real.
I liked to punch above my mental weight,

to treat knowledge as something I could steal.

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