Alone in the Shoe Repair Shop

Alone in the shoe repair shop
The child becomes a spider
Who carries an anvil
Behind the shop counter
That becomes a crippled clotheshorse
That gallops amongst piles of shoes’
In the unlit workroom
Where the smell of leather
Is as slick as a tin of Brasso
That spills over a box of rubber heels
Where the smudges of wax polish
Like burn marks are branded
In the cobblers heart of shoe leather

Alone in the Shoe Repair Shop
Another shoe jumps
Onto the upturned iron foot
As cobwebs cover the dead child
Who rolls in the eye of the cobbler
Who fills his mouth with tacks
While bleeding from his feet
Whose socks are bedraggled lions
Tearing the carcass of the rent man
Who rolled on the floor in flames
After a bible thumped against a door cupboard
Where old hammers are stored
In cake tins along with bankruptcy
That walks in the army boots
Of a Methodist preacher that echo
In a parade ground in France

Alone in the shoe repair shop
The child is split in two by a cuckoo
That turns into a Football Pools lady
As shoes fly at the clock-face
Carrying bags of nails
That dam up the floods of tears
Of the small child looking for a seat
Amongst the generation gap of black machinery
That dribbles oil and grease
Into the eye of a dead bantam cock
That pulls a Wellington boot
From a plague of birds in the fireplace

Alone in the Shoe Repair shop
The small child is a shattering windowpane
Where the distant sound of a town
Is falling into an orphan’s nursery rhyme
And fills the empty street outside
With powder puffs and nail varnish
As the tram cars whistle by
A tune like a broken pitch pipe
As girlie books fall from the thundercloud
That opens an old budgie cage
Hanging from a weeping willow tree

Alone in the shoe repair shop
Where the darkness drips like magnetism
Into the grimy sink
As earth worms cover the machinery
That becomes the loss of a dead bird
Who sings itself to death
In the lap of the lonely child
Who followed it into oblivion
Where a dragon lived in an old shoe
In a bowl of mashed potato

Alone in the Shoe Repair shop
The thick canvas machine belts
Rotate the earth
Beneath an avalanche of worn shoes
Piling up in the toy cupboard
As darkness falls on the street outside
As Christmas stuffs a chicken with a nightmare
That turns the small child into granite
And runs away from there
Into mists of forgetfulness

Blood Made Gold

When human warmth is normal
The full hue
When you walk into
The room of a close family
Their smells
Cover you in
Blood made gold

A blessed family
A home of human warmth
How their lives
Have relaxed into harmony
When every surface is alive
With layers of breath-touch-love
Reapplied daily
Burnished
Like blood made gold

This human tenderness
Fashioned into manifold affections
That paint the room
That watercolour the air
That sing a gentle lullaby
Of activity
Where relationship
Combines a hive, a nest, a den
Into a womb
Of blood made gold

How the beauty of the home
Is overwhelming
When it works
To fill your needs
When it grows quietly
Like a summer meadow
Between their lips
How different life is
For its family
Who lie for an eternity
A life of blood made gold

June 2019

I can smell my mother’s perfume

I can smell my mother’s perfume
It’s a memory from long ago
Tears try to well up inside me
But the pain develops too slow.

A memory mixed with anger
For her hard life like a tomb.
I can remember her in her best dress
And I can smell my mothers perfume.

A working class woman from Marlow
Crippled by the poverty trap
Crippled by a lack of affection
By the bad luck that fell on her lap.

She died wanting to know who loved her
It was the last words I heard her say
Her words were like the smell of her perfume
That I remember down to this day.

I can remember my mother’s perfume
A two-shilling bottle of scent
That I brought for her on her birthday
With the pocket money I spent.

When I was only an eight-year-old
She kept it as a special keepsake.
Now I have that little bottle of scent
Only half used up to this date.

I remember it in her cabinet
By the wall of the old spare room
And I’m taken back to my childhood
By the memory of my mothers perfume.

perfume
my mothers perfume bottle

From the unloved country I came to you

From the unloved country I came to you
From the land of the crushed chrysalis
Where the deformed butterflies cry
At their images in the cool water
Who never could fly and fill the deserts
Crawling from one edge to the other and back again

This unloved country where all of mankind’s hate goes
Where it rains hate from around the world continually
Upon the butterfly people crushed
Like lovers caught in a holocaust
Blackened they emerge like surrealist sculptures
Hollow of anger, hollow of hate

Having had the love sucked out of their bones
I come to you on their behalf just to tell you this

My father’s time

My father’s time
Was tyrannosaurus Rex
That terrorized his earth
Was the empty eye sockets
Of a skull
That he alone saw into

It was an ultra precious
Mercurial metal locked into a box that he alone owned the key to
It was a very special venerated god
That he would never talk about

Time in his eyes
Was a hard thing to own
And a hard thing to give
It was hoarded like Inca gold
In a blood soaked room beneath the altar

His eyes, the eyes of one who was a rebel
A fighters eyes
He fought against time all his life
In a ring surrounded by death clapping and cheering him on

He never won a fight against it
He saved what was not won
As if it were the inanimate object
That broke all the bones in his body
He saved it like the memory of a precious enemy he wanted to conquer
He saved it as if it were arrows and fountain pens standing in the pools of his blood

His eyes, his eyes said
His eyes said of time
His eyes, his ferocious eyes said to me of time
Beware of it and treat it with respect
It is the unconquered enemy
It is nothing

It’s as if his own farther
Were time itself
As if it were the fists of his own father
Beating up on him

It’s as if time itself has replaced love
And was coming for him
From a long distance away
To fight another round with him

But out of all that conflict
Out of the scraps of it left behind
He fashioned a timepiece
Hammered and tooled by experts
And he gave it to me as the only gift

And some days it eludes me
For days on end time eludes me
But, occasionally, I can grab it by the tail
And I will work it like a mule

WINTER HILL

I wake up in the morning, bright and content
I go through my routines like a child soldier
No worries, no regrets, no leftover anger
Then I touch water, warm flowing water

My whole body tingles with a sensual sorrow
The encampment of the day opens, a light turned on
I feel the days gone by like a heavy anvil inside of me
Stalking me down into the forgotten past

As if I no longer existed and had no heart
When my childhood ended and my adulthood died
And my adventure in love was cut down like a tree
And buried in the fire of a family hatred

I got off the bus in Marlow
Where my mother grew up as a girl
I went to the information office to ask for directions
Someone gave me a map and a train timetable

Then, it was a twenty-minute walk to my aunts
Embarrassed by tears streaming down my face
Trying to hide my face away from strangers
As the irony of this first visit since childhood pierced me

I couldn’t remember which cul-de-sac it was
Where as a boy I’d play the fool with my Aunt
I walked back and forth for another twenty minutes
Trying to understand the system of door numbers

Finally I knocked on a strangely familiar door
My aunt let me in feeling uneasy the same as me
My cousin finished his bath and then drove me through Marlow
Visiting Gypsy Lane where my mother lived a long time ago

We went past the church where my uncle is buried
And then up a winding wooded road to Winter Hill

I remember my Moms instructions at her funeral
For her ashes to be taken back home to Marlow
For her ashes to be scattered in Bluebell Wood
Ashes that I never saw, a death I never witnessed

So I looked down the steep slope of Winter Hill
As my cousin pointed out the spot
Where my father and brother scattered her ashes
Scattered her ashes on Winter Hill

Not in the security of woodland where in spring
Bluebells cover the ground with life
But from the Winter Hill where the wind will blow
And loosen her ashes from the steep slope

Loosen her heart from the town she grew up in and loved
With hardly a hope that her remains will still be there in a years time

And my auntie complained about the situation
And said she’ll never go again to Winter Hill
But I will and I’ll stare across the valley
And call the wind to return my mothers ashes
To return them back and leave them
To return them back to Bluebell Wood
Where as a girl she played a long time ago
So I can sit amongst the bluebells and grieve at last

1998

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