Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Moss

Flight paths following plough lines
Beyond long horizons,
disappearing into haze.
Land as flat as the roar of traffic.

I am washed up on this island
of riotous hedgerows and fly tipped waste
Stripped bare peat land and swerving arcs of tyre marks.
I am sinking into the nowhere between places.

I do not flinch at hollow crack of gunfire.
We are over the border.
Between the lines.
This is a nation state of warning signs and fences.
Sunbleached hand scrawled threats to would be intruders.
Razorwire in the wilderness.
The distant growl of an opened throttle rising to a whine.

A principality of faceless metal barns, deep ditches and plants that leave welts and blemishes on springwhite skin.

An outpost of hidden glades, light and green and cool, silent.
Blossom fallen on sun baked ground. Blooming branches basking.
Undisturbed.




Monday, 21 May 2018

Reedbed

I remember cutting through reed lined paths, empty of strolling pushchairs. I remember cutting corners on roads stripped of traffic. I remember the silence of junctions and the blankness of pavements. 

All that was needed were weeds and shattered glass. All that was needed was a few burnt out cars, a few forced shutters, the wail of an alarm like a tiny bird crying for dead parents. All that was needed was a flickering in the corner of my vision, a rustle, the whip crack of a broken twig and I'd be alert, alive to primal instinct and reaching for weapons or ready to flee. 

The cat lounged on a wall, I swear it had an eyebrow raised. Quizzically. To where had they all gone? 

Mile upon mile of silent engines, untouched toys behind garden fences. Bus stops just yawning empty spaces. The world like an unwound clock. 

An old man sits on the lock gate and soaks in the quiet. He looks up as I approach, alerted by the crunch of rubber on the compacted gravel. He is one with the pitch painted wood, the moss and tiny, tumbling plants. He is clay and wool and red brickworks, coal smoke and infant mortality. Tin bath and demolition. Space race, Elvis new fangled, father in the trenches, November Sunday a silent day. He watches me and I feel like an interloper. Imperceptibly he nods and resumes staring out over the brackish water into the bramble and tangle beyond. 

Her death was novelty. Fuck off no way, get to fuck, don't take the piss novelty. Her death was have you heard did you see I reckon it was currency. Traded snippets of gory details. Last words, tangled bloody photography. Her death was nothing to me. 

The land beyond the cut is rugged and brutal. Shoved and smashed by digger and wrecking ball. A moonscape meteor site surrounded by forgotten fences, snipped and bent. From here belched smoke, here great long clanking, hissing, lurching trains were drawn in and repelled. A place of importance. Whistles and shift times, long standing union men and boys learning the ropes. Lines of bicycles, gas lamps and morning mist, evening rain, slippery cobbles. Spitting and swearing, the panic of an accident, the grim duty of informing the relatives. Underpay, malnutrition and vast profit. This was somewhere. A whole civilization buried under sickly turf. 

Not even worth landscaping. Not even worth a plaque. 

Tiny birds skim and take even tinier insects from the water. I drink from a plastic bottle. The sun is coming high and the stillness is such that the world seems to turn under my feet. 

I do not see the brave faced child marching. His little world broken. The little child whose face says that he knows that no magic or money can turn things back. I do not see that for many years. I do not want to see that. 

I see fields of rape stretching away, yellow blankets laid over the earth. I look for scrubland to savour the contrast. I pass the walls of sheet metal walls of scrap yards and hear the bark of dogs always on edge and always on chain. Waste guarded. I wonder who would want to steal a crushed car. 

I head further, past sleepy coppices of shady trees, banks of ivy and back yards with rubbish tumbling down to the bank. Past the overgrown coal sidings, smashed lanterns atop listing wooden poles, a few marooned trucks from another time rot slowly on rails dull rust red. Look along them is to feel slightly sea sick, weaving slightly on woodworm eaten shifting sleepers. Twisted history next to the shining, straight to London, high speed electric pathway.  

A business centre. Clean glass. Dark. Denying any vision of what's inside. Enterprise. Whatever that means. The corner of the building is cut to a sharp angle. It looks vaguely like a ship beached. This is not a land of ships. A land of barges and slow silent plodding, of dark tunnels and roof collapses. Of wheezing, hacking, blood and spittle death. This is not the land of ocean liners. 

A red brick wall is bowed. It looks like it might slide down the bank at any time. Plants sprout from cracks and mortar. Woody stemmed, resistant to twisting and hacking.  Minnows flickering. Herons watching. 

I make for the town. I want to see the empty streets. I want roll slowly down the middle of the road in the full glare of the sun. I want to catch my own childish footsteps still echoing from 15 years before. This is a waking dream. A paradise. 

I am too late. The roads are filling, the world is flooded. The dam has burst and the silence is drowned. Shutters raised, doors thrown open, useless fluorescence blinking into existence, barely seen in the sunlight.

A strange feeling of grief. Of indoor faces blinking into the light. I feel oddly out of step. I am smiling. I am the rhythm of pedals and the slow pace of thought. I am not sad. Every thing is a little distant. 

The silence was fragile and so is life. 

I do not remember any more.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Lethargy is endemic/this is the future, the future is now


An antennae scans beyond the horizon.

The packing crate is shifted in the hold of a cargo flight, moving as far as it can against the cables and ties restraining it.

Blood is rinsed from hands, the water returning to clear in the stainless steel sink.

He cycles in a mask. Coiled aggression channeled into carbon fibre.

We hear words: “When I visit the shop
and they do not have what I want,
I feel a sense of hopelessness.
I feel as if my whole life is a failure”

Cars cruise idling at 80mph. A sliding tapestry of stitchwork lights, heading in opposite directions.

She speaks: “I feel as if I must buy something. To validate the visit. To validate me. To validate my needs”

Half built buildings stand by. They wait. Wires hanging, gaps where their windows should be. On pause.

The river bends here, and as it careers around the corner, it sheds foam and bleached sticks, bottles, the head of a doll, a filthy traffic cone. Sunk into the sand is a trolley. Coin still in the slot, but too far, too treacherous for anyone to dare a retrieval. Risk outweighing reward.

We hear words: “It is not so much that I want to define myself. More that I want the job to be finished. I want to sigh and place down my bags. I want to fix myself a cup of tea”

Clouds of starlings erupt.

A child careers up the path, legs looking as if they will go from underneath them. Behind him trudges a parent, pushing a buggy with the resigned air of a ploughman. The child stops, exhausted and just sits down. Right there. Just sits down. As if that’s something you can just do, as if you’re allowed to just sit down and stop because you are tired. There and then.

The robot arm moves back and forth with a high pitched whine. Swiveling and plunging.

We hear words: “It is everything. Y’know, just I want to breath out and say, there it is, that’s what I need, I’m safe now, I’m provided for, I’m safe.

Moss grows in guttering, little purple stalks, tendrils reaching for light. Moss grows on. Slowly. Surely.

The book is taken from its shelf, flicked through, turned over and dismissed. Placed back, in the wrong place.

The church is empty. A single candle burns. The donation box is light. It smells of old stone and old books. It deadens sound.

A satellite dish hangs, rusted and useless on the corner of a pebble dashed building.

We hear words: “It is that I will have to go, again, to take that risk again, to face that feeling again, that whole tension and indecision, the ring road, the which lane, the finding a space to park, the when should I go, now or later and what if they don’t have it and I waste more time. What if I waste more time, when I just crave to be, finished. To sit down, breathe out and rest. Finished. Done. Over.”

The television plays at the end of the aisle. It is so big, the picture looks ghostly, belying the promise of clarity and sharpness promised by the paper banner that obscures a third of the screen.

The plate is pushed aside, wiped clean, mopped up. Blank now but for knife and fork.

The clouds rise from a doorway. A break.

The punchbag is thumped and thumped and thumped until her knuckles are red raw, salty sweat stinging her eyes, hair matted.

We hear words:“In the most empty of places I find peace. I am at one amongst places devoid of any spiritual meaning”

The traffic light is temporary. It is obeyed.

Leaves pool in the grid, swirling in grey water.

He dives and breaks the surface with barely a splash. White tile echo is dulled as he streaks through the water and rises to the surface.

Somewhere in the thicket, there is a fox and it’s cub.

We hear words: “I don’t know where things come from. Where they get it from. I want it to be there, on that shelf, but I don’t really know what it is or where it came from”

A kid is playing the trumpet. He’ll never be any good, but he hasn’t yet realised that. The agonised noise is frustrated but hope keeps him going.

A clock face is reflected in a puddle.

An escalator glides emptily till an elderly lady gingerly steps aboard, rearrnging her bags from two hands to one to allow herself to hold the rail.

Listen closely and you can hear the sound of an ancient river under the manhole cover.

We hear words:: “I don’t know where things come from. I don’t know how they get there. I don’t know anyone who makes these things, but I just want them to be there. Then I can sigh, breathe out, release the weight from more arms, sit down, slump, into the embrace of the sofa, fix myself a cup of tea, let my shoulders relax and drift into a dream knowing I am done, I am finished. I have what I need and I do not need for anything”

Red light reads lines. Turns lines into numbers. Numbers become some kind of meaning somewhere. Somehow.

An ant scurries in no particular direction. Lost. Instinct gone. Backward and forward. Hesitant.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Doonhame

Waif on a bike, far too big
wheels back and forth across the road
Scowling into the rain
that is turning the recycling into mush
Discarded bottle is crushed under his tyre
As he mounts the curbstone, he spits,
Flicking his rain soaked hair from his eyes, spit and flick in one movement, like the fire and recoil of a pistol.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Breathless for Jesus.



Plate glass, space station shut.
Hermetically sealed.
The things inside
Vacuum fresh.

Outside, I slowly rotate in zero gravity
Orbiting aimlessly.
Oxygen slowly running out
Waiting for the airlock to open.

Things: just in
Things: marked down
Things: which speak
to my very own soul.

I could sharpen the contrast
Recolour the lines
touch up the colour
of my fading self

Or strike out boldly
in a new direction
Rebirth by receipt
and removal of security tag.

I could browse,
muse and wonder
sheltered from static storms
and solar flares of doubt.

Tilting my head back
to feel the warm air
under the archway
I would feel myself relax

becoming purposeful,
strong and vital.
Doing my duty to myself.
Being kind to me.

But the doors stay sealed
and I am lost.


Thursday, 15 March 2018

Cul de sac

You will you limbs to move
desperate concentration
an unheard mute message
to a lumpen stolid body.
slumped slack stringed puppet
awaiting the next awful scene
in the grotesque mannequin cabaret
A ghoulish ballet of exquisite torture
In which you must inflict
outrageous acts of depravity
in the name of who knows whose unseen hands.
You are paralysed
Head on your chest
Looking inward
Blaming yourself
for what you are made to do.
Maybe if you do exactly what you have to
they will leave you alone.
But still
You think
You await
a flicker
a twitch
anything to tell you that you are alive.

Monday, 12 March 2018

The hum of the fridge.

Behind the couch lie things
forgotten
abandoned
unsearched for
unmourned.
Choking in a layer of dust
remnants of another time.

The house is quiet
distant barking dogs
the hush of cars on a wet road
if there was a clock
(which there is not)
it would tickkk-pause- tockkk

slowly.

Like the waves that lap against palid grey slick sand
tide turning
you standing safe
then submerged
in cold water
numb and breathless.