Still summer

December 19, 2011

It was still summer.
The wind blew in construction dust
in a stream of profanity
that fingered my windowsill
in a Japanese subway game of
grope-the-girl.

Upstairs, men with thick fingers
used power machinery
cutting the day into ribbons.

in the holy space between houses,
a squirrel hissed at a cat

the neighbours watched news
instead of Dr Strangelove
on tv sets that filled my room
with mute light
from across the street

Somewhere out of mind
bombs were probably falling,
and one tyrant or other
was on his way
to getting dragged through the streets

there was shit to do
and people to have
but I couldn’t bear it;
the cheap port tasted like sugar
but I poured another three fingers
and closed my eyes

just for a moment

Shoes

September 18, 2011

I know she’s arrived when the buzzer
warns me
to wait
as she comes
up the stairs

I tell her I’ve just
ran the vacuum
so she takes off her shoes
and her toenails
are painted
deep red

I point to the sofa
a dirty old thing
used to skin and sweat but
I’ve turned the pillows and
we sit like royals
side by side

She tells me to get her some wine
but I haven’t any, not even bad one
so I make
her tea and
we sit
in silence
until the sound of my neighbor coming
stops flitting
through the floorboards

city drug

September 16, 2011

We fly in through clear skies
London opens spills unlocks
endless light strings and
I can’t stop watching
white and yellow lights spread wide like
some giant’s child that
willful and violent, laughs
having spilled the chains of gold
and pearl necklaces
belonging to his rich mother;
from jewelry box to chaos, in one breath or a thousand

One hour later, when I emerge from the underground
a full moon silently burns the three lanes of Warwick Rd
like a searchlight
while cars make their escape in sequence

Suddenly, she comes out
three doorways ahead of me
short skirt raven hair black leather jacket
body so thin
it makes you human again
and her high heels flash
bright red and play a staccato as she walks,
face obscured by darkness

She gets in a car and drives off.

This is the sickness, the City drug, the hunger
that makes you stick around – and I raise a salute
to the moon and the madness
while the corner shop owner frowns
at the young men hanging
outside his door

When the fires came

August 25, 2011

When the fires came
I heard on the news that
angels wore flak jackets
while men rushed men with sticks.
Stones were thrown.
cans were thrown
Planks were thrown.

Dogs attacked men
dogs were lost.
Boots crushed store fronts
goods were lost.
Fire!
cars were lost
homes were lost
lives were lost;
but not much else I guess

I sat in my sofa (a man of the people)
like a million prophets
with visions of tear gas, and batons
splitting heads
with the wrath of the righteous

My street was quiet
and lacking in boot and in blood.
When I fell asleep
I dreamt of cordite without smell,
kissing goodbye
to rubber bullets

Ringlets of smoke

June 6, 2011

She said “you’ve changed, I think. maybe
you look older.
No it’s not that.
I don’t know, something.”

She was drinking wine
and i was hitting the tequila hard
trying to confuse
the voices telling me
to stop and breathe

She offered her glass
But I wanted
the anger to blend with the swill
and I lifted the bottle like
men in the movies,
even though I wasn’t one

She smoked and
ringlets of poison
waltzed towards heaven,
only to dissolve.

I drank some more.
Maybe I needed to die a little
but I didn’t think so,
I needed to come alive
a little,
to stomp on some feet or
earn morning trophies

She looked away,
finished her cigarette and got another out.
She looked over to the couple next to us,
the guy passed her a lighter.

Cars drove past. People passed on foot.
We would not part
for another hour

A story for Biscuit

May 16, 2011

So Biscuit,
your daddy, he goes
to east London on Tuesdays to
a rented flat
in a house of brown bricks
where children play cops and robbers outdoors in the summer, and
women gossip and hang laundry out
their windows to dry.
Your daddy goes, Biscuit,
and knocks on door 22B

She lets him wait, Biscuit
She lets him wait two minutes, maybe five and then
opens the door
in her knickers,
lets him in without a word and he enters
without a word

So he comes in, Biscuit, and the flat
smells of smoke and her perfume
(like heaven)
Her black skin reminds him of coffee and gold
and her ass sways
as she walks to the kitchen
while his palms sweat
and his fingers burn

He grows hard, Biscuit, grows so hard
that he thinks he might die,
that his heart will stop
And Biscuit, I don’t know if he even
still likes her,
but a girl’s gotta live,
and daddy pays rent and he fucks like a prince.

When he closes the door to 22B
two hours later
he knows, and she knows
that they never
closed
their eyes,
even for a second

Travelling home

May 11, 2011

I walk through the city.
As people struggle home;
I’ve been told to tear it off, to shed:
Victorian flats full of mice,
right side driving,
girls bare legs in the winter –
shed it all like gift paper;
but I don’t know if I can

and I don’t know if I should,
will it eat me alive if I stay?
but middle class peace suffocates, even from afar?
but homeland is darkness too, of another kind?

I gasp for breath on the tube,
another mill horse looking for shoes and a carrot
just like the people
all around me, carrying
Their own. Problems:
that one’s fat, that one’s overworked, that one can’t get a date,
that one can’t afford school tuition, that one has a daughter that
blows her boyfriend every night on the other side of a paper thin wall,
all of us bees,
covered in
pollen of mediocrity and ticking clocks and advertising dreams and weekend hours;

Then this time frame closes
and I get off the train, and the fat lady gets off and some of the others too.

They say that there are no
winners left,
but that is a lie –
they’re everywhere,
just throw a rock, or buy a lottery ticket
And you’ll hit one for sure

Meet me

May 5, 2011

Meet me
at the cheap table in Brussels
when my cigar has ran out
and my glass is half empty again.

We will sit in silence,
drinking slowly
Then I will reach out
to touch your lips and
you’ll tell me
That my hand smells of smoke and
that I should stop frowning
all the time

We will sit while the breeze
makes us colder and colder,
debating
whether the tattoo on the waitresses’ wrist is her only one.

Then you’ll tell me 
that she’s probably a slut anyway,
before we settle our tab
and walk home
through the empty streets

This is no Orleans.
the mirrors of the beautiful
surround me
In a cacophony of monkey voices
Dreaming
of minimalist sofa groups
Lust? Allowed, but through ethanol curtains
Desire – can’t find no parking space
Everybody answers their phones
and that’s a lie too
(voice mail smells like success on Thursdays)

mama, let me get thousands of roses,
your grave matters
are the only valid ones and
the Dog is out in the cold too
while understanding faces
Repeat last week’s lottery numbers and
the wronged
dream of shopping and spa treatments
Not me though,
I only want
The blonde across the bar

so tell me nothing, stranger,
we are children only of salt
and our blood and come
keep us from slipping
on winter roads

I walked up Regent street stopping
just outside the Burberry store
and watched feet tread the pavement
in a determined march
of the fed and the angry, holding
banners and Canon cameras with
five hundred pound lenses

The young, they wanted their moment,
And storefront windows
were being broken on Piccadilly, while
spray paint philosophy added
gravitas to the walls

Then the police arrived with Their Shields.
Their shields were windows and the men
looked out. Their eyes were square, and
who knows what the law thinks?

I didn’t feel like standing around anymore. I had no beef
with these guys here, or those guys there so
I stepped inside the Burberry store
while some of the people outside
got the truth
they desired
and others probably the truth
they deserved

The music made no sense

March 1, 2011

The music made no sense.
I was decaying
one lead beat at a time,
twirling downwards,
The drink in my hand
a dead weight
pulling me toward void,
in an autumn of Everything Too Soon
that I couldn’t stop.

Too old to offer a smile,
too young to matter;
nobody could break out of the mass
surrounding me.
their joy blanketed me like flowers
and they were right, right in
Everything They Assumed.
I was wrong though,
in what I was, and where I was,
like plastic tulips at a funeral,
and I saw no way out but
the bus

It beckoned – a cure for the panic of being here,
of the error
inside and out

I wanted to wring myself dry of me,
to be as pure as them,
but feared losing myself.
I was still a coward
and the fear I carried
was safe
for today,
with no direction besides that of tomorrow,
and tomorrow’s tomorrow

I stayed,
until the warmth
of being surrounded
by the movement of people
pounding a road my feet couldn’t see
repelled me beyond
the threshold
and I realised I was alone
in the crowd

I thought:
Is there a poem here?
but there wasn’t any
so I started walking
through the noise and ethanol mist,
Thinking of
Dogs
and that time
when I danced like my life
depended on it

66 Wardour Street, W1F 0TA

February 15, 2011

Freedom’s open till 3 am.
Then freedom closes.

Freedom opens again, at four or five the next day.
Hours of freedom,
as long as you can afford the drinks at
nine pounds a pop.
The laughter of the free is pearly,
their movement your movement while their longing fills you until you’re bursting with freedom, longing to burn the bridges or fuck in a toilet stall,
to the beat of a girl who kissed a girl

Freedom’s open till 3 am;
then freedom closes
You feel the oppression when
there is no freedom to be had,
and you catch a quick cab for a quick rub and a quick death and a quick goodbye,
coming home to an expired milk carton and
laundry and
email and
Life
that
does
not
stop.

And you long for freedom to open, even if it will close at 3 am

In Rome

January 25, 2011

I show my passport to an unsmiling
guardian who waves me through,
cross the border in silence.

The light falls somewhere else.

I cast no shadow as
One foot
then another
takes me towards the Centre
of the former empire that built roads.

Calvin Harris is in my ears and he gets all the girls
while my “I’ll be there soon” shoots out into the ether to
prime her embrace

Soon our lips will feel unfamiliar again,
and I will still smell her on my hands while
she
carries my bite marks back to the land
of beer and lawmakers

My dog barks in my memory.
I want to close my eyes
But the view allows only for wonders
as time
stands still,
while people exclaim and exclaim,
over coffee and wine and statues and houses and roads
that carry the weight of our photos,
and the fountains that swallow our coins

In Berlin

December 25, 2010

I get lost in the subway and
go north instead of south
for two stations, until
I realise my mistake at Nordbahnhof. 
Tentative steps take me
up the stairs,
then down the stairs, where 
the yellow tube light turns the edges of the platform green.

Three people pause their lives until
Train doors slide open.

a touch of the button
opens the embrace of the underground and
I step in to be carried away again

Peoples lives flow around me in German,
with no subtitles or voiceover.
The voice of the train is that of a woman, here as elsewhere 

I hope I’m travelling south again –
it’s all going south anyhow
one may as well go with the flow

Arriving in new York,
a thousand movies
smash
my head in a dance
of Chinese water drops.
The pressure is ecstasy and fear
and my adrenaline mixes with fertile reality in my veins.
For a second I’m alive
and people,
look beautiful.
and I wonder how long
it will last

In the meantime,
women shine at me,
the stoned junkie at two in the morning
isn’t so bothersome and
I get a sloppy hamburger while
twenty four moments a second
cut eternity into shreds and I hand
a hobo a greasy dollar

Next morning, the fat lady ice skating
at Rockerfeller Center at eight in the morning
is charming, somehow.
And the skyline
grins at me
with its teeth of far away lives
and steel and money

I speak to no one as I eat the streets through my feet.
On top of MY game
there is only silence.