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Poetry

want to be this
this and nothing else
fans of black approaching
flanked by rows of
smudged streaks of electric light
not trying to find words
or to moderate actions
no longer fearing to encounter
phantoms of past failures to do so
hurdling over bars of light
spectres of shame

want to be earth
smacking its lips
thirst slaked by piss
solemnly watched over
by tiers of fir

want to be slabs of stone encroaching
and the rustle of plastic-wrapped bouquets
the awe monolith
awe distance
closed
the two diverging triangles of light
watchfully cutting the night
the unnameable night

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Plain English is stranded
unsure of itself
at a party
watching Extended Metaphor and Obscurity
across the table
grinning friends
swimming in each other’s liquor laced breath
each goading the other on
to surreptitiously pour
more and more
vodka
into Diction’s glass
Rocking
back and forth on their stools as they
watch her
struggle to keep her composure
she hiccups
and clumsily rushes
to cover her mouth
Diction blushes

Extended Metaphor and Obscurity
turn to each other
gleeful gleaming streams
of yellow laughter escape through the gaps between their fingers
mingling in a tingling singularity
of hilarity

These are a subset of possible instances of communication
that are likely to fail
Or less precisely
these are the things I struggle to communicate
Yet somehow
I expect you to find them
if you carefully comb the voids
between my lines

These are
the tentative struggling
steps of a newborn calf
not graceful enough
to release
from this windowless wooden barn
For I cannot bear another accident
another bone riven
driven though translucent skin

If I wait
until it is ready
it will be
yet another
lumbering blind bull
there will be nowhere
nowhere for it to go

Meanwhile I sit
in my fusty
lightless room
my hunger gnawing at my patience
and eventually I cut
cut my losses
and eat tender veal
as I sit in the gloom
of my fusty
lightless room

These are those
of which I cannot speak
and must pass over in silence
only
to change my mind years later
when
again
their time is gone

And still I expect you to read
what’s written
in a blind man’s handwriting
between my lines

Why even bother at all
when I can smother the scrawl
I call content with form
if content to adorn
blank pages and empty spaces
with similar sounding words
arranged in patterns
changing in paces
like a shifting flock of birds
I can dig myself so deep
that the slope’s too steep
to climb out
and I don’t have the strength
to throw rhyme out
skin’s worn and fists clenched
shirt’s torn and sweat drenched
loose blisters and blood
as I twist in the mud
lunging to the beat
of my spade’s every thud
plunging into peat
I moil in the mud
and I toil in the muck
my spade starts to stick
in clay that’s thick
thick enough to be brick
jolt kick and alarm
as a sawtooth wave
judders up my arm
must be bedrock
but only the dead stop
can’t reach a deadlock
panting in the dim light
my skin-stripped grip
still manages to cling tight
again I fling
my shovel down
I hear a ding
and feel a sting
as it’s flung right back
leaving me stung and slack
but I recoil and redouble
in the soil and the rubble
with every sharp
stroke of my spade
my frayed nerves are flayed
my thoughts disarrayed
but one remains
at the forefront of my brain
I repeat the refrain
that somewhere at the bottom lies
monotony lobotomised
somewhere at the bottom lies
monotony lobotomised
somewhere at the bottom lies
monotony lobotomised

My engine is primed – the margin is narrow
I drive my pimpmoblie the wrong way
up the one way street we call time’s arrow
to me at fourteen with something to say
about reading books or my computer screen
or my attempts to look without being seen?
These things don’t matter
they’re not general boy’s chatter
they’re not TV, football or violence
Why not just sit here in silence?
But I was never one to think before I spoke
I would teeter on the brink of being a joke
saved by a brain that’d sometimes produce wit
or intelligence, but my peers didn’t give a shit
unless it was a yo-mamma joke or snide remark directed
at a teacher – or self-mockery for fear of being rejected
It occurs to me now that it was considered cool
to use spoken word as an expressive tool
among young rappers in the burgeoning grime scene
but I was about as gangsta as burgundy is lime-green
But I could have just picked it up from my environment – in retrospect
and moulded my youth around rap in a vain attempt to get respect

Heading for East London in 2004
give a young me advice
thought I really wanted to do so much more
this’ll have to suffice
It was the most tough of decisions
I really wanted to drop in on Chaucer
tell him of post-structuralism
and the death of the author
And after that – feck it
give antidepressants
to Samule Beckett

Hello little man whom I used to be
reeling from an Injury called puberty
life doesn’t seem viable
not even liable to try at all
wishing your parents used contraception more reliable
than withdrawal: coitus interruptus
but we can’t let self-pity interrupt us
Just lie – saying your parents continue the tradition
and why – because they bang on your door
while you’re in a compromising position
on your bedroom floor
with the sket next door

Let’s practice – shall we?

inner-city youth for two years
gonna’ spit truth for all ears
blazing marijuana in my pyjamas watching batman
while peeling a banana – yeah I cotch like a badman
I don’t blaze to escape the crushing banality
the squalor and stress of urban reality
and never to quell my social anxiety
It’s a spiritual ting – so suck on my piety

Now that we’ve flexed
our verbal muscle what next
A superfluous verse
far from terse
where we nurse
our ego with superlatives
and inflate our self-worth
’till it’s likely to burst
tempting – yes
but let’s try the alternatives

Hard to give form
to me and you
in rhyme
when we’re torn
in two
by a gulf of time
What can we do with this
Let us try a new tack
remove our differences
and see what’s still intact

Left bereft except
for a fear of theft
GBH and assault
unable to brawl
unable to bolt
we stall and we fall
and it’s somehow our fault

“What you got for me – bruv?”
Let me see – bruv
I’ve got page upon page
of repressed rage
scrawled down from a young age
pacing my flesh cage
Looking for an outlet
You hear that strange sound?
I think I’m breaking out – lets
go to some waste-ground
where you’ll meet my gaze
through the midday heat’s haze
Then you’ll glance
back at the fence we slipped through
Now’s my chance
I reach my hand down into
the scrub and long grass
and grab an old brass
pipe – swinging it in a wide arc
it collides making a loud sharp
metallic crack – you start to sway
and fall with a dull thud
Wolf-like – I bare my teeth and bay
because I can smell blood

I swagger over to meet
you as you stagger to your feet
and beat
you to a pulp
watching you gulp
on teeth from your gums
and blood from your tongue
like warm salty spunk
from your dad when he’s drunk
Your mouth’s hanging open
like I’m telling a joke and
you’re waiting for the punchline
(Brap!)
Wake up in a months time
sill supine – this time on a hospital bed
staring blankly – whimpering – nodding your head
and your mother’s crying
you’re a mewling retard
“You looked fine until
you started drooling sweetheart”

Now let’s practice our diction
Yeah I know that’s a “posh word”
my social background
pops back up like a flushed turd

I’m not writing fiction It’s not diction
It’s slang – I’m not prang
that you’ll think I have no authenticity
because I wasn’t born in this city
and ‘caus I don’t roll with a gang
white as chalk tryna’ talk like I’m black
Think I might baulk at my lack
of melanin – no – too much adrenalin – too busy telling them
that my rhymes are tight – and they’ll never unravel ‘caus
I’m down with the kids like the late Jimmy Savile was
I set the buffest trends in the roughest endz
you can ask my friends but that depends
Do you really want to risk a brisk stroll
through a grey and abrasive shit-hole
that’ll choke you down and rope you in
It makes Beasley Street look utopian

I wrote this in late 2011. It was intended to accompany a hand-made doll, adding to its character.

Fragrant fabric of tangible touch
Fluid and life-affirming
Tremulous ineffable pulses jolt
Each smile sweet-tinged
light-clad

I sit and drink
the interchange dry
They never notice my slack presence
Half-leech
half-furniture
Vicariously
I feed my vertiginous void
Plump goes the husk

If I try I will splinter
They will smell my falsity
and enact that stale crucifixion

So I drink my fill
and vomit word by word
it’s too rich
Call me Maudlin
Parasitic
Verbose

My words are all I have
and even they are borrowed

I wrote this in late 2011. It was intended to accompany a hand-made doll, adding to its character.

Up Hourly
from a sunken home
hollow tower, twisting, long
to glaring warmth or eerie gloam
A form once vital, study, strong
each step – each tendon taut as twine
sallow skin sheaths withered string
Final threshold beneath the dome
A patient, punctual rope does hang
accustomed to his wizened grasp
The curved lip swings slowly, briefly to shine
Tradition’s each tug spends a song, soon sombre
sadly
lost to
time

This is important:
Drawn, scratching and frail – exposed as entrails to rapacious gusts.

INPUT NOT RECOGNISED

Please understand me:
A welling of lachrymose flesh-pot to grease the cogs. To lay down my sallow burden in a warm nook.

INPUT NOT RECOGNISED

Etiolated-sapling fingers, with delicate, blushing innocence, search for sunlight. Do you contain sunlight?

INPUT NOT RECOGNISED

You are obtuse. I speak the language of flesh- not clocks.

INPUT NOT RECOGNISED

We aren’t that different. We both lack codecs. I especially. Why else would I be doing this?

INPUT NOT RECOGNISED

Nothing meaningful can be expressed in the language of facile flesh or the language of clocks. The language of my flesh is dead- unknown. Moreover, it doesn’t merit study.

INPUT BOT RECOGNISED

The language of my flesh yields blankness, incredulity and at most, pity.

INPUT NOT RECOGNISED

It has fled
Not far
Outside the greasy window
It dances with empty electric light

Nocturnal cloak flowing
Motley of bricks
Texture of tarmac
Motion a breeze

It throws a grinning glance
darting hither and thither
my eyes an elegy
as the strand grows more tenuous