Fog

December 28, 2011

fog comes
down over towers
like children’s hands
that reach towards your mouth
in hope of catching
all your sleeping breath
while bored commuters
warm the world
by shivering in harmony
on mornings
when I watched you sleep
as I was leaving

Advertisements

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

November

November 5, 2011

It’s still too easy
to aim west but go east,
waking up in Stepney Green
like a man in a river raft
going for the narrows

When you cross the bridge to the other platform
your internal compass lies
and your stomach lies
but you know
that the heat has gone on
in two small rooms in Earls Court,
and you count the stations go by
like prayer beads
in a mantra of movement and chance,
while strangers avoid your eyes
clutching the freesheets

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

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

After dinner

December 12, 2010

Around ten thirty we emerge from the restaurant
full of crab meat and oysters and shrimp.
A queue is blocking our way and it’s cold in London,
colder than I remember
blue claws reaching inside every layer of clothing –
a merciless reminder of suffering oblivious to appeals

We push through the line, politely.
It’s full of these young girls – identical fabulous dolls – straight hair, straight backs, high heels, short skirts, makeup, gloriously mechanical in a
Henry Ford take on lust on a conveyor belt towards loud music and alcohol
once the black maw of the club swallows them
one
by
one

Why they are standing here and
who knows what they’re looking for
not me I don’t.

Their long legs defy cold and night
and their impatience makes air tremble.
Their anticipation steams and my breath steams
and Heat
escapes escapes escapes
all around us and we can find no answers
here, or elsewhere

We walk away full of wonder,
He gets prepared to travel.
I get prepared for solitude.

We continue with our goodbyes

The search

December 5, 2010

We went out looking for Mary as the snow started falling. We had received no SOS and had been greeted by radio silence for years. Our chances were slim and we had no map or pointers, but we knew that finding her was our only chance. We shared a look of determination, as snow swirled around us in a current of yesterdays yearning to melt into black sludge on the ground.

Cold fingers were gripping the heart of the city, and the blood flow to the extremities had ceased hours ago. People were still all around us, mouths open, the paralysis of the sky spreading from face to face.

My jaw was set and so was his, although his tail was still held high. The pockets of my parka were filled with the necessities of the search – mobile phone, flashlight, beef jerky and liver snacks. My boots yearned to tread the sludge, and his paws had been rubbed in ointment to protect from the cold, salt and moisture.

We were looking for Mary, but we did not know where to begin. We had not heard from her for several years; the reason we were in this city was no reason. She had last been seen here by us, but that didn’t mean that she had not been seen later by somebody else, somewhere else. We shared another look of determination, I nodded at him and we set off.

All around us, the people were still, mouths open, bodies frozen solid already, and we navigated the street carefully. We knew that to touch them was death. To understand them was death too, and when he lifted his leg, letting the yellow stream hit a pair of frozen black suit pants, we became slightly more human.

The snow was still falling, and we were no closer to Mary when the disaster happened. My hat got caught on the outstretched claws of one of the frozen bodies and a snowflake hit my forehead, melting. The wetness brought back the memory of digging his grave and I remembered that he was gone. There was no sound, no movement, just frozen bodies surrounding me. The snowflakes fell silently.

I was alone in the city, the only warm soul left and I was cooling rapidly. I was no closer to finding Mary. I was no longer sure why I was looking for her. It was getting hard to move. People were still around me, frozen solid. 

I wondered where Mary was.

untitled

November 4, 2010

Car horn sets the tone
heavy handed guy
Leaning on it for added emphasis;
Some fucker two cars ahead
making a slow turn or something

but

BMW drivers do not step out to step up
This neighbourhood only knows
anger indoors

In other neighbourhoods, a taxi driver
and a parcel man will step out
to shout and push;
Waltzing for a fight, hoping to get stopped

I ne’er interrupt or gloat.
When a taxi driver and a lorry man
step out to step up
I feel only love.
for both of them

Their anger is my anger
their passion blazes, harsh and alive
and
Moths and vampires flock to it