For the sake of the children

Insanity has grown in me
Dumb as dead dogs on broken stars
Someone filled my heart with bangers
Then closed the wound with a spiders thread

I sense my mind getting small and alone
A perpetual machine of inner war
The bit between my teeth pulls tight
I eat my screams and latch shut a smile

Is there any way back to the broken home
With the balsam of love and laughter
The broken home they held together
If only for the sake of the children

A long time empty in my mind

The tear has travelled a long way
A long way home to find
The heart was a long time empty
A long time empty in my mind

Down the roads across the skies
Who knows how many times
It lost its way and began again
A long time empty on my mind

I miss the love I thought I knew
I miss the life I had
Like a train that lost a carriage
And rolls on feelings bad

You cut a hole into my life
And staked me to the ground
There’s no freedom in my heart
Even when you’re not around

The tear has travelled a long way
A long way home to find
The heart was a long time empty
a long time empty in my mind

2004

A song lyric in the hard travelling folk-blues mode
 

A WINTERS TALE

I’d give my life for a patch of sun
Coming through the window
Or a shaft from a skylight.
For its warmth in this cold winter;
For a patch of heat on my skin
Giving stark life to where
Now there’s cold miserable fat.
I’d give my life for this sunspot
To melt in its heat
As the snow does in springtime,
I would begin to grow
As this snow does in springtime
But just a little flow
To remind me of the summertime
And the warm touch of a young girl.

There is this open space
That I do not care about
Somehow I’ve gone through life and forgot something.
I have concentrated all my feelings
Into certain ways of life

And now I’ve discovered
I have this big open space
Untouched, left there empty
I can do what I like with it
I can shout into it whenever I like
I can use it to be free in
From the chains
When I want to say something, to dream something
I can love, I can laugh,
I can do all the things I never could before
Anytime, anywhere, to do anything
Because of this empty space I’ve discovered.

I’ve got to sort myself out
To find a way to straighten myself out
Then I will be a better me
I’m beginning to hate myself so much
Because I cannot love or touch the things
The people who mean to me so much
Properly
That’s all I want is the properly.

What shall we have for dinner tonight?
What would you like?
I’d like to sit by a warm fire
And eat a plate of conversation
With a handful of happiness
With truth as my knife and fork
And love for ‘afters
But instead it will be –
A television to watch,
A stillness unbearable,
As people think and say nothing but
“What shall we have for dinner tonight


I wrote this  when I was in my teens possibly its the first poem I ever wrote school leaving age but I kept it because it expresses what I was feeling then.

 

Role Model Blues

You can be sure
That if
At the top of the heap
There is
A Role Model
As dazzling
As the light in a chandelier
You can also
Be sure that
At the bottom of the heap
There are people
Struggling
In the confusion
Of the long and bloody tapestry
Of a losing battle

The harsh light

It was the harsh light of the morning after the bailiffs had taken everything
And the status quo moved back in with their taste for minimalism

It was the harsh light of the morning after the end of the school play
With the chairs stacked up against the wall as if nothing had happened on the bare dusty floorboards

It was the harsh light of the morning after when everyone had finished eating the party cake and drinking the party wine
When the guard dogs had been positioned in the yard and the security guard sat down to watch the security camera

It was the harsh light of the morning after with the lock and chain on the front door
when the new system is exchanged for the old freedom and decimilisation starts to replace the horse and hand

It was the harsh light of the morning after when the coaches were gone and the pubs were dead and the memory of those days slept under a newspaper in the forgotten streets of the past

And like a dream animal, I ran on all fours through the streets of the town listening for their voices, looking for their party faces
feeling abandoned and facing the armed ranks of the New Model Army alone

And the harsh light is owned by the new system and they whitewash the whole world with shredded paper and confetti

They destroy the bud

There are shadows on the stage of man
Who prune the branch of the rose
Who cut the flowers along with the leaves
So that no scent can reach the nose
And so the summer goes by
And many of loves promises die

The shadows paint the stage with knives
With loves blood and not true love
They wreck the course of happy lives
And hide beneath the assassin’s hood
They seek some sort of personal glory
In the death of love for money

And even embedded in the bed of love
Like, martial artists, they destroy the bud

You turn up

You turn up
Like a long-dead spy
From the grave
Whenever
People want privacy

You turn up
Covered in ear wax
With spit all over your face
And grubby fingernails

Standing on the steps
To the art school
Like a grinning paederast
Hoping for a grope

You turn up
With a dark air about you
Appearing from a hidden corner
A lurker
Worried about discovery
Knowing how to
Hide your face
In your crumbling debris

You darken the morning
Of those who see you
As they wonder
How you turned up
At exactly the wrong moment

In America when the walls

In America when the walls came tumbling down
Walls
Not as visible as the Berlin Wall
Walls made of the void between high and low
Like how roads divide a city
Roads can be walls
A road between old council buildings and new apartments
A road can become a boundary in the minds of people

In America the walls
Built so high
Fell down
Like a symbolic, invisible
Wall of Jericho
During a symbolic, cultural, social earthquake in society
When people were fighting for more freedom
From what lived within the walls
Jericho was a fort that controlled the territory
It was a ruling class, a class system, a system of ruler ship

In America, when the walls came tumbling down
What did people hope to see?
A man in the bath
Lovers in bed
A fatherly figure stepping forward to shake their hands
Like a mould
The walls fell away from the city
To reveal a worm embedded, wood lice-ridden, ant-infested
Divided political system
So huge, so massive
That the ordinary people
Wanted the walls rebuilt
Fast

2020

Inspired a little by Joan Didion, The White Album, published 1979, chapter 1

 

 

Stephenson Street

I had to seek work where industry rules
Where the moons glow on a winter’s night finds a kindred world
Where huddled men and women trudge down Stephenson Street
Rocked by the thunderous arctic trucks
The tall cabins where the godlike drivers stare ahead at the morning light
over highways that sing their journeys in the wind of wheels

I see the wreck of Stephenson Street
No Blackbird sings and no crows can breath
A layer of industrial waste covers the ground
As fearful as the dust of a Bodicean ruin

The Docklands Sauna amongst the wreckage of lorries
The Turkish bath by the crushed wooden pallets
The Public House by the troughs of rainwater in the gutters
The Bridgehouse Hotel with the electric pylon in the little garden

The Walsall Electric Distribution Center in the stillness of night
The goods yard where two stumps of poplar trees
Shriek in the sky strangled by electric cable strung across their stumps

The level crossing welded open where thistles grow in the carcasses of sleepers
Then the magnificent Parcelforce warehouse
A fortress here in the industrial wasteland
Whose lights glow all winter long

Rape cries the land by Canning town
Death cries the rat who chew its dead body
Stay clear cry the birds whose lungs are sweet
Who avoid the open graveyard that would swallow them like quicksand

The River Lea flowing through a gangrenous, septic knee joint of industry by the Thames
The Tube rail coaches that pass by as angels over a battlefield
A drab ugly flyover of more imposing brutal power
A town as crushed as a dead man’s broken grate

The barbed wire on a lamp lit pub
The skip lorry in by the building
The Offset Litho printers yard littered with scrap paper
Squashed plastic bottles, lumps of concrete

As if there is moonlight and nothing else
As if there is love and nothing more
As if dreams were broken and births flooded the night
As if the attractions of women made the world grow dark
And the wreckage of Stephenson Street was made dark and beautiful in the night
By the work of passion and the rise of lust
By the threat of abuse and the satisfaction of desire

As their ebony skin in the ice crystal moon
Were engines of magic engineered by sex
That laboured through the winter’s night
Like complex machinery of waiting hearts

(The metaphor of human sex is this wasteland)

The Rolls of barbed wire on the high wall
In the street light at the dark public house
The skip lorry fixed on the roof of the office
Like a bird on a nest surrounded by the dung
A wheel less cab a broken garbage truck
A trailer on bricks a lorries wheel guard
And who are these people leaving the Sauna
On a winters night amid industrial waste
Getting into their cars on Stephenson Street
Talking about their illnesses and saying their good-byes

The four feet of the pylon standing on the grass
The moon shining on the rusty plant machinery in the yard
Love comes back to me as a shadow dance
It likes to remind me of my past failures
It loves the moonlight on a cold December night
It feels like a many-clawed angel in a whirlpool of vertigo
It shuffles truth and emptiness together
It strings experiences together like a necklace
It grows from calamity down a pot-holed road
Covered in rainwater and lamplight
To the echo of the laughing moon

727 plant machinery

The cliffs and plateaus of love
The long dark walk down a polluted road
Where mountains of money glint like bad teeth
Impatience and anger tear at my eyes
The feet of memories are heard running down a street between the clouds
And all the time life’s pain is joy and loneliness together
As I hang between the two and fear falling to my death
Just as the light shines or just as the light goes out

Shadows take my place in the flirtation
They leave holes in my soul where I see the past
My mind is so alone and out of orbit
When people’s eyes are blank and filled with mistrust
Down the industrial road (George Cross flags) in the winter moonlight
Where the Royal Mail vans go scurrying like young blind Robins

The P&O palace flaking white chalk shell
Placed over the entrance to a hole full of worms
The Trans-European arctic trucks
Parked in the sheds like Solomon’s horses

The Advance Bakery van scurries on by
Passed Motor City a dead as a dud rivet
Passed the Marshall Offset Litho
Deaf as a dead jaw in a desert of dirt

And look at the shooting star that fascinates
A meteorite of love in the womb of the sky
The solid light of stars as untouchable as air
Can I breathe your light into my mortal body?

17.18

The green and white dump truck by the printing shop
Advance finishes

A strange body, the night sky, clear as glass
Cold as an angel’s blood, deep as an angel’s eyes
Big as an angel’s heart, a mind filled with stars
Then as I looked over my shoulder that shooting star

Closer now to the sorting office another pylon planted by the car park
The steady stream of people and cars, an army, a refugee column
Communication is agony at work nothing but the basics is required
Now I am one with the polluted land

Depressed like it, but not captured
Not like the abandoned teenager I once was
Who had no night and no day
Whose heart was as dead as a used match

Night and day are clear to me now
They highlight the industrial land with light and dark
In the light I see the stamp of man’s names in the earth
In the darkness I see where their love is wasted

Tube train, tube train, going nowhere
Night, rain and brain drain with dirt in the air

The Durham Arms – ale and beers, homemade lunches – quiet
Tall wire fence capped by barbed wire of Charles Kendal’s freight LTD locked up windows and doors
Docklands steam and sauna Ladies night on Wednesday Authentic Turkish Bath
Gas trucks parking in Ives Road, or diesel containers
Of diesel fuel stood on bricks of Diesel Fuel Distribution
Litter drifting in the breeze
A bag hooked up to a wire fence flapping

Reliant engineers
BT coils of barbed wire with the plant rusted machinery in yard some covered by plastic
Pylon up lit in grisly green in haulage yard
Isle of dog’s arctic truck backed into small yard
Woman stands smoking waiting on corner
Now people stream over the railway bridge from the tube station

If you add up all the look of all the people who work here at night
They come to nothing
The waning moon

The end of the last shift was depressing
The way the work force was fragmenting
The line manager took sides and went home
An argument began over the music

The street sign says welcome to Stephenson Street
To the Sauna and Steam bath the best in town
I stumble over a sandbag on the pavement
Three car wheels scattered by the road
The Durham Arms is lit by the street light
Ales and beers and homemade lunch
Charles Kendal Freight Ltd.
Protected by a tall wire fence capped by barbed wire
All the doors and windows boarded up and behind iron grates
Then the Docklands Steam and Sauna, Ladies night on Wednesday
The Authentic Turkish bath on this street of wreck and ruin
Gas tankers parked in the side road
Stationed on bricks in St. Ives Rd
Of the diesel Fuel Distributors
Litter drifts in the breeze, a bag hooked by wire fence flapping
Reliant Engineer, BT, security zone, coils of barbed wire
With plant machinery in the yard some covered by plastic wrapping
An Isle of Dogs Arctic truck backed up into a driveway
One of the pylons lit up in grisly green light
That stands over the street like a giant on a battlefield
This one abridge the haulage yard

A convoy of cars stream over the bridge
And veer round the corner into the driveway
A Parcel Express arctic lorry swings round the corner to the gateway
A woman stands waiting, smoking
More people from the tube station streaming down the hill and down the iron stairs
The looks of all the people their eyes as dark as the darkness
If you add up all of our looks
It all adds up to nothing
The waning moon is bleeding into the night
A frosty crystal light from its shadow
I show my pass at the gate and walk into the sorting office

2000