Do you remember when?

Do you remember when You were scared Of adults
Of how threatening They seemed
Do you remember when – As an adult
Seeing them again In your dreams

Do you remember when You were scared of adults
You’d stop and run away Down another street
And the street lights Would come on And caste long shadows
And you’d look for a secret hideout To hide in

Do you remember when You were scared of adults
The mere sight of one On the way from school Would make you run
Because in those days You hardly saw anyone
And the dark nights Were trailing from moon to moon

Do you remember when You were cared of adults
Mother adults, Father adults, Both the same
No one ever spoke to you Or laughed at a joke with you
And all that adults meant to you Was pain

And do you remember when You became an adult
How you didn’t seem to fit Into your skin
And the face in the mirror Was a river
And the life you were given was a sin

I’ve only just learned about the cobras

I’ve only Just learned About The little cobras
Their parents Forget They had them
And their awful god Protects them

The little cobras In bonnets
Sliding along With walking sticks Into thickets
A dozen of them Under the tarpaulin
Singing Demonically About The ruin They do

In a year, Only a few survive: Grown now Into vipers
Dragging men Into underground Night clubs
Where the lord Of fire Condemns them
And uses their Blood as fuel

The little white kid

There is a lot Of loving To do
There is a lot Weeping Overdue
The little kid Inside me – bleats
The little white kid, Buffets and sways

The little kid Inside me
Has me by the throat
It’s a pity That I never Lived before
I ever knew Of little kids

Supermarkets Get up and run
When they see The little kids come
Oh, I had a lot of loving to do
The weeping is still Overdue

The dark side of childhood

It was on The dark side of childhood
That the little boy cried
It was on the dark side of childhood
That parents tell lies

That teachers liked to thrash them
And the police liked to grab them
And crying tigers pitied only them
And ran purring to their sides

It was on the dark side of childhood
That nightmares tried To burn them,
to make them mad
And to make them cry

With bullies in the corners and strange men in the fields
Only lonely children ever know how it feels
To be alone

Essington Park

and there was a policeman’s ghost in Birdcage walk
that followed me home along the railway track
of the disused railway line

and how did I cram all of the night
like a polyphene bag into my pocket

and what other disguises
does the dead policeman’s ghost have

when I was small I pecked like a bird
as I went and returned from school

at nothing really except grit
to fill my belly that as like jelly

I hated satchels full of homework
That I didn’t understand
And a school uniform
That was painfully too small

And like the angel in the book of Zechariah
Who explained the meaning of the vision

To little children playing in the park
Sliding on the slides and going round on the roundabouts
And not thinking of what kingdoms rise and fall

I talked and talked alone as the darkness grew
That seemed to grow over me like a blanket of sky sleep

Alone at night in the park a mile from home
Happier there than I’ve ever been anywhere

Lost in the mysterious disappearance of the sun
That diffuses and pops out and leaves evening in the park

So peaceful with the mothering trees
And the playground all to myself

Notes. Essington is just west of Mossley Estate across farmland, down country lanes etc. Mossley Estate is not mentioned by name on the map but is where it says Cranesbill Nursery. Broad Lane when I knew it was a lovely long and straight ancient tree covered country Lane that seemed to go on forever.

When a child

When a child
Sees no fire
In the grate
He turns
To the shadows
On the wall
And wonders
Which one
Am i

When a child
Is lost in the hills
And the night
Climbs out
Of its cave
He listens
To the voice
In his head
And wonders
Who am i

When a child
Is lost
On a train
With no label
He opens
A mysterious door
In his mind
And thinks
Where am i

The winter sticks

The winter sticks
Into the eye of the earth
Her mouths chatter
Cold as an Icelandic nurse

One has
Dark brown bark
Like the letter I
Broken in half
On the white page

I do not feel
The snows scissor pins in my hands
Next
Comes the footprints
Around the dead grey green scrub
Enclosed
By a black magicians curtain
Of memories deep well

There’s not a face
O love
In this picture
There is a mother
Mysteriously blue
In the poverty kitchen
And a Gremlins outline
As black as soot
Who returns each night
From Teutonic fires

I have
The eyes of a blackbird
As I sit in the old straw stuffed chair
Flitting my boy flesh
Wanting to sing
In the starlit room

The trusty heart

She kisses her doll
Goodnight
And goes to sleep
She dreams
Small dreams
Dreams that will grow
One day
Into bigger dreams
The doll has a name
Princess or Cinderella
Or Betty or Alice
But the doll
Is not a real person
It is only what she makes of it
And will make of it
Looking back one day
And remembering
Something more
Than an inanimate object
But the trusty heart
She gave it
Amid the chaos
Of childhood