Canto CCCXXXVI

You’ve smashed the record, won over the crowds,
you used to be no-one, but now you’re the star.
You’ve rendered a nation of sceptics proud.

Now stand for the anthem. Pee in this jar.

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Canto CCCXXXV

In the next room my life’s great love exhales
a weary song to wind my daughter down
and with that melody the world unspools—

the sky reddens beyond the thin curtain,
our growing baby’s coos become slow breaths
before the song itself has come undone.

The evening’s dimming leads me to reflect
on all the human voices that I’ve known
that never will be able to attest

their verdict on the man I have become.

Canto CCCXXXIV

There is a beach I dream of now and then,
the run down sort, well past its glory days,
cream teas poured for aging denizens

still anchored to their Daily Express ways.
Only their dogs are dumb enough to splash
about in the silty, sub zero waves.

To tell the truth, I’m not fond of the place,
it’s more the fact I get there on the bus
to interchange within a field of maize

bisected by a road devoid of cars,
no pavements or buildings to be seen either,
no sightings of the local populace,

just me on my Todd at the bus shelter,
waiting for the empty double decker,
the obscured face and mumbles of the driver…

Sometimes I get the waking urge to make a
return to the beach that doesn’t exist.
I spare no wistful thought for shoreline breakers,

it is the no-man’s bus stop that I miss.

Canto CCCXXXIII

A cheer peels out from a tower block window,
I don’t know which exactly, nor which nation
just blundered their way to Olympic gold.

I get home and switch to the rival station
and let out a little cheer of my own
as Roger Moore skis off the snow capped mountain

to open up his parachute again.

Canto CCCXXXII

A poem is a slender shred of paper
twirling through the slender thermo currents,
almost invisible amongst the capers

of all those hooting hordes, those heaving torrents
of bodies filling up the stadium.
It snags on a wire fence with flitty patience,

awaits the bedrock of a human palm.

Canto CCCXXXI

I don’t have any sandwiches in foil,
nor a favourite bench to scoff them on.
I never stop to breathe when on a stroll,

nor when I’m on a slow paced evening run.
I like my neighbourhood as a slight blur,
with stuffy lectures hissing through headphones.

My name ain’t currency in my manor,
it’s not even a penny on the ground,
although I’ve sometimes stooped to snatch a tenner

without missing a step while on my rounds.
They know my face from the few times I show it,
though my name ain’t one of the usual sounds

on locals’ lips. I’m not the “local poet” .

Canto CCCXXX

I never, ever moaned about the rain,
I liked unfurling black, umbrella wings
over my metre wide psychic domain;

loved how grass verges flushed and gutters sang
their warbly baritones. My pasty skin
could breath in those conditions, felt no pangs

of severance from our blazing mother sun,
the hydrogen homestead, our atoms’ maker.
We might be made of stars but life began

within the churning plenitude of water.

Canto CCCXXIX

The last time I tackled this book of poems
(another copy, from the library)
was on our Honeymoon—the distant foam

(beyond our sunbeds, hissing at the beach)
was laced with jellyfish; the throbbing tide
would drag us quickly off, out of the reach

of any rescuers that might have tried
to dredge us back from the South China Sea.
The lines could never catch, perhaps my mind

was still softened by jet lag, so I’d sleep
until the clouds blew in from the rainforest
to send us back to watch Malay TV

as Orangutans shrank into their nests
and binturongs wrapped their constrictor tails
around thick, swaying trunks as the tempest

blew over in time for our evening meal.
Right now, the sun is squinting through our blinds,
the bills come in and undergarments flail

as the wash cycle clicks from rinse to spin.
Even our little girl, dozing next door,
has come to know the torpor of routine.

The lines that sailed over my head before
all spark to life as I read them again.
Some poems fail on bright, exotic shores—

they need the dry tinder of the mundane.

Canto CCCXXVIII

The only sunset we see from my flat
is reflected from the stacked windows
of tower blocks on a housing estate

in Forest Hill, about four miles or so
across the leafy swathe of Dulwich streets.
I doubt that I will ever come to know

the little lives played on the twelve square feet
of carpet in their cosy living rooms,
or whether they are taking in the sight

of the sun vanishing behind our roof.

Canto CCCXXVII

If someone robbed me of a spare few quid
to go towards a fancy dinner spread
and offered me a spring roll, I’d take it.

So while you’ll never see me live or dead
down Stratford during that loathsome fortnight,
I might just watch it on my TV set

and hate it nonetheless. I paid for it.

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