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

Venus and Mars

I have to stay up “till midnight”
You will be asleep by then –
Then the watchman leaves into the streets
Overlooked by Venus sparkling over the city.

Midnight is a long time away now
As far as the North Pole in winter
Where the giant clockwork machine turns the universe
That ploughs through the fields, tuning up bones and larks eggs.

After two years of seeing each other you ask
1. Is there more to life than love?
2. Lets play hide and seek with the stars.

Sleep draining sleep; until Venus strikes her bell.
Dream of me as the thin wooden man on the battlefield
Struggling with the red eyes of Mars in the shadows.

Sleep, darling, sleep safe in your soft bed
While Venus sparkles above you – unforgetfull of this hope . . .

There are many friends to make

There are many friends to make

There are many friends to make
In an old peoples home
They sit waiting for you
Why should you be alone?

There are many friends to find
In an old peoples home
Knock and be let in
There are friends you’ve never known

Sit down in the middle
Of their common-room
Soon they’ll all start talking
– April, May and June

They’ll get so inquisitive
To find out who you are
They’ll tell all about themselves
How they’ve travelled far

You’ll have to drag yourself away
Drunk as if on wine
Promising to return soon
At some later time

There are so many friends to make
In an old peoples home
They all sit waiting for you
You will never be alone

I live in a world

I live in a world in love with the ancient gods
Mass industry did not bury them
World war was a cloak around their feet

*

Let us discuss the mountain of the gods
And of how many hands reassemble its pixels in the clouds

And remember how once, looking from the plains
Ancient man trembled to see a mountain
Lashed by smoke and lightning

And of how a man with the eye of a needle
Was staked out before them
In ominous silence

The strength of people

The strength of people
The strength of each person
The strength of people that I learn about
The strength of people who stay strong
Those on the high seas of dark nights
Those on the calm waters strewn with flowers
Amazes me, moves me
Teaches me, gives me a home
I find a home in other people’s stories
I find a home in other people’s experiences
For us there is no other home
Except in sharing what we do

If stones have the names of people

If stones have the names of people
If people leave their names in stone
If stones are the hearts of the dead
Is the heart of death inside the stone?

That’s how past times were hardened
Against the sea, against the moon light
In hardship and in depression
The stones formed on the seashore

Blood and gold are in the heart of kings
Who hatched from stones with leathery wings
With jewels hanging around their necks
Their teeth as sharp as flint stone chips

Can you walk upon a stony beach?
Without the suspicion you stumble on bones
Where phantoms cry in salty air
For from these stones are the souls of dawn

Let them out, those creatures of the dark

Let them out, those creatures of the dark
Seize them, free them, expel them
For you don’t know who they are
Or why they’ve stayed so long
Or what stayed wrong or any of their names
Or understand their lies, those vultures of Hades

Every mistake you made or succumbed to or had tattooed on you
Shouldn’t live longer than a breath of air
Or every breath you take will sustain them
As unwelcome guests in your hair
And all your breath will be stolen
As you cry a tear, an outcast of the atmosphere

The fears that build a nest in you
Behind the draperies of your mind
Road blocking every incoming light
Becoming your babies in their wombs of night
Evict them you can live without them
Just breathe in a breath of freedom; they tell you lies, you do not need them.

 

The Lombardy Poplars

I’m reading about how this wet April month
Has inspired the bluebell to burst out in effusion.
I think about the woods on Winter Hill
And the view across the winding river.

This depression deepens like a newly dug mineshaft
How deep are they dug into the earth?
Before the crop of darkness overwhelms
And the coal board closes it down.

Now you must be making a Sunday dinner
For friends from far and wide to descend on
While it pours with rain on Richmond Hill
And Canary Wharf Tower hides in the clouds.

If I had the eye of a simple pigeon
Could I focus on the coming sunset?
Could I flap two wings and fly away?
With nothing in my heart but tranquility.

There is Carolyn with those Lombardy Poplars
Her little blue eyes looking you straight in the face
Standing by the seven stumps left by developers
Who do they think they are that they buy and uproot?

I am down amongst their agonised roots
Those roots are like a mother to me
A mother who can no longer smell nice
A mother who will grow no taller.

The sky draws me up and out
The last of my spirit dances there
Above the seven stumps of the Lombardy Poplars
That are left for dead in Viaduct Street.

While Carolyn walks to the Reference Library
And in her Pennsylvanian accent asks for her books
Alone she asks for council records
As her eyes dig down into the foundations of government.

And Sean standing at his very own doorstep
Where a battle had raged for years
Over the names on his tenancy agreement
Finally won the right to stand there.

And Sean on his very own doorstep
How he kept the front door wide open that day
As if phantoms were there as his doorman
Looking down on the graveyard outside.

With his floor strewn with photocopies
That he highlighted in yellow ink
How serious he has become about their policies
That nearly made him homeless.

Then there’s Nick in his new flat
He’s got so many friends in to see him
Talking about music and making his films
And about his brother who breaks things.

While I walked across Weavers Fields
Alone with just a crumb of truth in me
How I felt that I was inside an ocean
Or with an ocean on the inside of me.

Bethnal Green 2000

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

A reprimand from the absent guest at the A.G.M

You invited yourself along and all that you do came too. Carolyn’s shrub, wet with pain, you passed by as if you wore the night like a fairy tale. Now what have you done with the oyster of your mouth? Counting the steps of my vertebrae up to the moon that rattles in my brain amongst the deadwood of words; A white lie in the dream of corridors echoed through the old building like a rampant albino nettle. The piano played like a skeleton in the hunger of my heart; the music was a dark closeted room of loneliness; Despairing in the maze of rooms in my identity of ice and fire. A spoil of war put at your feet by the red ghost of love.

How often unfairness drags me through prison walls laughing
How often has unfairness blunted my own words in my own heart?

Tired alone and defeated by the stress of cats mewing in my brain
I left you to the spoils of war fashioned out of the ivories of my bones.

Now you have formed a mystery with me
Your inbred arrogance slips through the closed door like bath water.

I can hear the voices of the roses inside
But all I’m given are the pledges of distant voices.

My imagination is plastic and it is clay
It is formed into whatever you want it to from.

If I were a man made of glass windows
The world would see the fool inside in his red fur coat.

But it seemed like a normal day to Jehovah
And I seemed like a grain of sand in a fire.

 

2000

Spitalfields Music Festival 1996

TO CATHY, STUDENT OF THE CLARINET.

You have the same voice now
As when you were a girl
You are the same person now
As when you were a girl
Your new found beauty of form and face
Makes you want to search for love
With the urgency of a swelling ocean
As if that vast emptiness
Is the emptiness your heart has found

You see a reflection in the calm sea
You dance sweetly in high heels
Across the glassy waters surface
Joyful in your new maturity
Innocent as gentle snowflakes
Melting in the warm sea
Where armies of fish swim
To the lands of dreams
To war with the surging rivers

Then you fall in love
You grasp at shadows
That weave and fly
You dart like a sea bird
To capture those fish
But who is he
What does he think?
As he swims with armies
To the land of dreams
With young girls following

12 June

TO HONEY THE GUIDEDOG

LOCKED OUT OF HAWKSMOORS CHURCH

The evening was a lantern
Where a weak light let a thousand
Shadows dance, a bodiless dance
To the harpsichords silver tone.

Under the churches portico I sat
Caring for a blindman’s guide dog
Who’d gone through the door
Into the concert inside.

The setting was theatrical
Thistle light burnt through the darkness
The essence of music falling
Into the empty sanctuary.

The churches disrepair
As a million hungry memories
Of Dickens destitute and poor
Filled mahogany gallery

Thirsting for a spiritual drink
The strong smelling breath
Of fallen unrepentant men
Filled the soup rooms in the crypt

Turning their backs upon the scores
Of recital and of cantata
While the blind man’s guide dog whimpered
Waiting for his masters return

The guide-dogs loyal love
Hotter then Hawksmoor’s architecture
More dependable then the human spirit
That let these walls crumble

12 June

YELLOW UNDERWING

What if the moth
Never sees the moon?
It’s not your time
Born in the month of June.
Yellow Underwing
Dead upon the pavement
The moon is due soon
In the summer night sky.
Will it send you spiralling?
Soaked in silver light
Tongue curled like a dragons
Eyes like satellite eyes.
Yellow Underwing
To you the blackbirds sing.
Where did your spirit go?
Where did your spirit drift?
To leave those Yellow Underwings
To startle the street,
Made of tissue paper
Made of talcum powder.

Children much like you
Have been casualties too
Fallen under the scythe
Of rush-hour blindness.
Yellow Underwing
Where does your spirit drift?
Let me open my palm
Let me catch it upon my palm
Let me take it back home
Let it flutter there
Around the light-bulb
With wings all aquiver
Made of coloured silks
Dusted with scented talcum powder
A lover in the night
Sending signals to the moon
Restless for some tender care
Restless for delight.

Yellow Underwing
Pretty Underwing
To you the berry filled blackbird
Sings a song in passing
That saw you born;
That saw you fall
Clumsy from your sleep
Under the scythe
Of rush-hour blindness;
Smaller then a tiny flower
Your spirit circled and went away
To leave your painted body
To fade from natures gallery;
And does your tiny spirit
Fade away like a flower?
Or like a seed is it saved?
To sleep beneath the earth
Yellow Underwing
To sleep beneath the earth.

12/6/96

Evening light was fading

Evening light was fading
Violins played endlessly
Tension grew continuously
Isolation grew a lucid dream

Evening faded, violins played
Tension grew in fading light
In elongated stretched chords
Church vibrated continuously

Violins threw gladiatorial nets
A stampede of tension, rapid of sound
Loneliness blossomed like Bittersweet
Hung in the isles like repentant dead

Violins played continuously
Evening light faded endlessly
Tension grew, a public execution
The lucid dream engulfed the church

Muscles vibrated like steel strings
Flesh quivered like sound boxes
Air was strewn with molecular graffiti
Pins of sound like arrows of battle

Violins played endlessly
Tension grew continuously
Breathless out of control
Then they ended suddenly

June