My poetry is

my poetry is wavelengths down from the last trumpet
my poetry has been thirteen fields away from the western wall
my poetry is a million raindrops down from the nano-sphere
my poetry is fourteen cloaks away from a glass slipper

rising out of the lake like a giant key hole
travelling through the forest like a wind in the willows
circling the earth like an eagle carrying an oxygen cylinder
going home to Mum like a sack of coal in a pram

divided like a bar of chocolate between two little mouths
divided like two highways with no sideroads
divided like aa marriage with empty cupboards
divided like a family into different bumping cars at the fair

my bumping car has graffiti painted over it
my bumping car has had the seat burnt out of it
my bumping car is overturned in a scrapyard
my bumping car still has lights that flash across the other crumpled car bodies

there is a car body being taken to the police pen
there is a car body rolling over a mountain
there is a car body having its number plates stolen
there is a car body dismantled by ammunition and gunpowder

my poetry went down that road
alone and broken hearted
walking into waterfalls of madness
and crawling out of the other side

Here is my poetry of humiliation

Here is my poetry of humiliation
How carefully I’ve tried to preserve it
And now I don’t know what to do with it

Here is my poetry of humiliation
The thin line of glue holding me together
Becoming unstuck, a broken life

Here is my poetry of humiliation
Everything went into it
My whole life, my whole heart
The best that I could do at any time

Here is my poetry of humiliation
A clown couldn’t be more of a joke
A missing body of murdered work unreported

Here comes my poetry of humiliation
Come you coppers, tear my life apart
And trample me down

Poems are not films

Poems are not like films
They are the rare flowers
Seen in urban cinematography
The bodies of butterflies with plucked wings
Thrown into the sewer wind
Of the cutting room floor

editing a film frame by frame
You stop the sequence of stills
And zoom into a dark corner by a dustbin
There’s one of the little blighters, quick
Edit it out

If you waited to make a film from poems
You would keep a Hollywood studio
Working overtime
You would need a Nazi factory full of slaves working overtime
In a pyramid epic
And still your film would look like
The tracks of a yeti disappearing into the snowdrift

Penguin European poetry

It has taken a lifetime
To obtain nearly all
Of the Penguin Modern
European Poets series

I started in 1970
Buying one or two
From Hudson’s bookshop
In Birmingham
Pesoa, Rilke, Blok

With their portraits
In photo or sketch
On the front cover
They are the shadows
That walk in foreign languages

There are a few left
That I have not read
That by now
Penguin has forgotten

I used to read the list of poets
Printed on the back cover
With hunger
Wondering
Will I ever get to read
All of them

The list is now like
A memorial
To those fallen
In battle

My latest acquisition
In penguin
Modern European poetry
Is Guillivac, selected poems
Published 1974

These books of poems
Scatter
The road behind
Like the dead bodies of friends

Not forgetting
The translators
A calibre of men
As rare as the Greek heroes
That fell at the wall of Troy

Stamped inside
On the title page
In big bold lettering
This book belongs
To the British
Broadcasting corporation
Library
It’s all right for some

Poetry workshop time

Here we are
In poetry workshop territory

Write a poem about a cat
In quarto quotro tetro rhyme

Yes, go on reduce yourself
Its stupid child knows less than them
Time

Write as you may
Even a masterpiece
Of childlike imaginativeness

You will be neighed upon
As you recite your piece
Like a lame horse
That talks to geese

Translation is

Translation is treacherous
In the hands of those
Who do not trust their own ears
Who like to impress
With their education

While the ordinary man
speaks with more
Than one garden of words
Whose everyday ingredients
Are imported into speech
From the world around him

Translational architectures
That build structures
Out of plain sentences
Spoken by forthright speakers
Who were speaking in plain terms
Have created new conversation
Out of other people’s minds

Oh Lucky Poet

Oh lucky poet
With your good looks
And your good health

Some of us
Were Beatles
Some of us were
Stones

One of us
Was an ugly gnome

Oh lucky poets
Sitting on the floor
Of the assay office
Raking in
Armfuls of gold dust
To critical acclaim
And adoration
Did you not hear
The voice
Out of the wilderness
Asking
For nothing more
Than water

I tried too hard to give you my heart

I tried too hard to give you my heart
The remembered days that live in there
The delusions that seem so real to me
The truth that seems a lie to you

I’ve preserved my sanity in a memorial dream
I sent it by spacecraft into my hearts endless space
In a metal safe box as hard as titanium
In a container as small and soft as a bird

I’ve tried to give my heart to you
Its dusty dark streets where children play till late
Its realisations about my cherished beliefs

Its trust in giants, in gods, and heroes
Though some of the blood was poured away
Thick and hot onto the sacrificial floor
This I did when I knew you too well

I’ve tried to give you my heart
To you who exist in thousands of disguises
I try my desires on you
You flicker, flicker, flicker

In and out of reality
Back and forth from your book to your overcoat
You’ve walked out the door
Before I’ve even finished and you’re gone

I’ve tried to speak truly of paradise
Though but a single candle flame of it exists
In all the world in its time and its space
I’ve known it, I’ve known it, I’ve known it

There are 800 million people in the world

There are eight hundred million people in the world
They live in 800 million houses
There are 800 million living rooms with 800 million cupboards
There are 800 million rusty biscuit tins with 800 million forgotten poems

I have eight folders
They are crammed with poems and songs
And I am the author of eight folders
Crammed with poems and songs
The only response I ever get
Is ridicule, rejection and the put-down

What I want to know is
What am I to do with my life?
In such a hopeless world

2007

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