Canto CCCLXIV

Occasionally, my sleeping baby girl
wakes alone within the darkened room,
lets out the saddest little drawn out wail

then falls asleep again. The summer moon
glints icily through our uneven blinds,
a helicopter judders through the gloom,

a dog across the road barks and then grinds
his canines against his new favourite stick.
There’s never a moment when you cannot find

something that’s crying out, but if you pick
a random living room, you’ll find instead
a roaring soul within a nest of brick,

a trembling lip, a hairline bead of sweat,
a knot within the stomach, a slight tick,
a mental rerun of a great regret

that will not be alchemised into talk,
nor find throat in primal, mammalian cries,
the expression rises within, then balks,

returns to its cramped cell behind the eyes.

Canto CCCLXII

The car enthusiasts amass below,
around a seventies gas guzzler.
The bonnet’s raised, the engine’s revs bellow

as I charge at full gallop down the stairs,
to demand that they play their games elsewhere
instead of waking up my baby daughter.

Twelve middle aged businessman stare
back at me like surly boy racers,
but that analogy just isn’t fair

as Jack the Lads will rev their souped up cars
in city limit, desolate car parks
beyond earshot of family homes like ours.

They kill the engine, head back to the bar
to find new ways to over compensate
for libidos that wane over the years

unlike the cars they choose to salivate
over in public. Two hours pass by
before the car’s owner retakes his seat

and revs the engine full blast before I
can make it to the rattling window
as he’s accelerating out of sight

as limp-dicked Clarkson clones are wont to do.

Canto CCCLX

Most of my diurnal moves are planned
with the intent of avoiding rush hour.
Oh, I know that makes me a lucky man

compared to those poor schmucks that must endure
the suit and trainers, white collar stampede.
This evening finds me heading out the door

to join the homeward office worker creed.
I’ll make no smarmy talk on the rat race.
I’ll stand aside, stay quiet as the dead,

but if you tut me, I will bite your face.

Canto CCCLIII

I don’t know how Bacon could have worked
within his hoarder’s hell of old paint brushes
and tins of turpentine, perhaps the stark

monochrome backgrounds of his canvases
could only exist in his painted world
and bland, corporate penthouse offices

where no artistic reveries unfurl,
despite the spot paintings and skyline views
of London streets where Foxtons minis trawl

for where the artsy types are moving to.

Canto CCCL

A young Korean couple, tall and slender
practice the same balletic exchange.
She twirls,  catches his palm, attempts to wander

beyond the bubble of his arms’ wide span,
then stalls at the meridian of his grip.
They catch breath then repeat the move again

about a dozen times before they stop
and repose on the station platform bench.
Across from them, I squeeze the chubby chops

of baby daughter,  off with mum for lunch
in Peckham Rye, two measly stops away,
and yet I wish our goodbyes wouldn’t launch

them out of my patriarchal embrace,
I wish instead the gestures would repeat
as the world freezes on its spin through space,

and life’s a dance through which we never part.

Canto CCCXLVIII

Usain Bolt, Ennis and Farah…
with their triumphs my scepticism waned.
Russell Brand, Spice Girls, the horror…

Hooray, I hate the Olympics again!

Canto CCCXLVII

The man at the shop is growing a moustache
so I give him the same knowing look
he gives me when he rings up my beer stash.

The fuzz on his top lip raises the stakes,
so  I must add to my own vice for booze
and buy some cheap cigars that I will smoke

at one AM through the khazi window.
I’ll pluck a men’s journal from the top shelf
or buy some condoms that I’ll never use.

If something’s found to hamper human health
for minimal pleasure, I’m buying that.
But I’ll indulge my temptations with stealth,

that is unless he starts to wear a hat.

Canto CCCXLVI

Pole vaulters, I do not effing get you.
Putting Freudian foibles to one side—
running a massive rod into a groove

to ride its twangy shock wave to the sky,
to arch one’s back over a trip wire arch
and effortlessly fall the other way,

does not strike me as natural or smart.
Although there was a time,  when fishing leaves
between two banks, about six feet apart,

I lost the sure grip of my size ten feet,
plunged towards the murky, freezing waters
and improvised a pole with my leaf net

to push to safer ground. My body hovered
above quivering lip, then plonked right in
to roaring waves of my co-worker’s laughter,

my wet pants stuck like lycra to my skin.

Canto CCCXLV

As the winners of mutual lotteries
of genetic and social privilege
compete before a billion worldwide eyes—

the Curiosity Rover comes of age,
beams back her Martian panoramic snaps,
that I glimpsed scrolling down a Facebook page

to make my escape through a finger tap
to view a world devoid or rain or snow,
more cause than podiums and victory laps

to sing, “Oh man, look at those cavemen go!”

Canto CCCXLIV

The sign above the child size boxing ring
proclaims the dictum, NO GUTS NO GLORY.
Outside the jellied eels and pearly kings

have been banished to Essex by the sorry
wonky haircut, hipster trust fund crowd.
Old photos line the walls, telling the story

of ABA champions, crime overlords
like Ronnie, Reggie, Franky in the days
before they ruled the roost and did their bird.

We’re advised to pack our stuff away
’cause “little fackin’ scumbags” might sneak in
and make off with it. I wonder if they

would change their stripes and make up for their sins
after a heavy session on the bags,
a few red mouthfuls into the spit bin?

Could some avoid the electronic tag
by wrapping tape around their unschooled fists?
Is training fit for soldiers or for dogs?

A year on since the riots, problems persist
despite the broom brigade’s need to forget.
The day that this club ceases to exist

will be the day the East End’s lost its guts.

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