Canto CCCLII

The most the Jazz bar patrons see of me
is when I slink outside with a bin bag,
loaded with plate scrapings and nappies.

Imagine if I ran in, lost my rag,
and freestyled beatnik poems to the squeal
of saxes high pitched as slaughterhouse pigs?

I doubt we’d recreate the birth of Howl,
it would only kick up a local stink.
Today’s jazz isn’t counter cultural

it’s just a pop commodity, like Punk…

Canto CCCXXXVIII

The two of us set out on shaky legs,
to walk the park’s circuit before they lock
the creaking gates on strollers and their dogs.

The hour hand saunters close to eight o’clock,
you glance up at the twilight tinted boughs,
expressing equal wonderment and shock

at everything the world tosses at you,
while I am plagued by constant inner visions—
a hyperactive, neural CPU.

Our dual mentalities are not a schism,
we are instead a dual core processor
running the same operating system.

The daddy chip eschews aesthetic pleasures
to weigh up matters of utility.
The daughter chip is exempt from the pressures

of economics and society
and wordlessly admires the evening show.
That is until the slowing frequencies

of light sustains the eerie,  gilded glow,
erasing memories of the daily grind
and I am lost for words you’re yet to know

and for this moment, we’re of the same mind.

Canto CCCXXXVII

I’m landlocked to my flat by fatherhood,
and so my window’s ever present scene,
the Forest Hill estates and Dulwich Wood,

wears thin. If this is where my feet remain
I’ll let my palate play the role of hobo.
I’ve never set foot in the Philippines

but I can cook a mean chicken adobo.

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 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 CCCXXIII

I slow dance with my daughter til she sleeps
within the scant yards of our living room
as night falls slowly, distant car horns beep

and preconfigured streetlight haloes bloom
along the snoozy, residential streets,
where HD channels flick on and resume

their special skill of transforming our nights
into something cosily forgetful.
I won’t lay her down til her sleep’s as tight

as a Tory culture minister’s total
spend on poets that are still breathing.
A poem breaks the surface and unspools—

an effortless trickle, just like bleeding,
a slight nick and the metre does the rest.
It might just be the poem you’re now reading,

it’s certainly the next one you’ll forget.

Canto CCCXX

The bus driver goes sixty miles an hour
down the thirty degree incline of Knight’s Hill.
That lump in my throat isn’t one of fear,

it’s just the new location for my balls.

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 CCXCI

Despite the fact I caught the wrong train twice,
and nearly didn’t make it to the stage,
I still managed to stand up and recite

my poems to the sparsely sat menage
of Crystal Palace locals. Four hours sleep
per night has added years to my brain age

and yet the I faithfully play back the tape
of all those lines I wrote down months ago,
it’s like the only need my mouth to gape

before a microphone for them to to flow
out into the damp air like cicadas
hatched after those odd years lying low,

a buzzing hum of ownerless ideas.

Canto CCLXXXVIII

In place of a church baptism you get
a poky office in Brixton Town Hall,
no Holy Water poured, just an ink jet

printing your official names in full.
You’re in the system now, there’s no escape,
your first tax year will arrive on schedule

in sixteen years from now, no-one can wipe
a tainted record clean, but just remember
some aspects of your life won’t yield to type,

you can’t be crunched if you are not a number.

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