She hands me the change.
The two coins bounce off the rubbery counter.
I catch them mid-flight.
You should be in a circus, she says.
I am, I say.
I mingle with clowns every day,
juggle my bills,
keep the customers satisfied,
drive around in an old jalopy,
put on my happy face
as buffoons bluster their way
through a pandemic,
get up in the morning
and start all over again.
What a performance!
She smiles at me nervously.
Anyhow, have a good day! I say.
You too, she says, as I walk away,
beeping my rubbery red nose.
That’s all you can do.
It’s like being bundled
in the boot
of a car,
taken by an alien
You’re abducted, baby.
in the arms
Go with it.
Don’t freak out.
Work, paint, sing.
Whatever’s yr thing.
pic courtesy of The New Yorker
You used to call out when we had sex, he said.
You would raise the roof and ululate.
Street lights would flare, power lines fizz
with excitement, fruit bats rise from their roosts in alarm.
Whole shrouds of them.
Why, even the bed shook as if it were coming.
The very veins in my wrists wanted to pop.
It’s awfully florid, the editor said.
It’s meant to be a romance novel, not a porno.
Can you tone it down a little?
I am a thief
a thief of words.
Watch out for me.
I am never at rest.
are my ears, my eyes,
the streets of my city.
I scan for the unwary face,
the frown or smile
I listen into conversations,
I elicit confessions.
I watch for
the unguarded sentence,
the revealing phrase.
I am the one with the notebook
opposite you on the bus;
the one with the slightly intent look
at your side.
Watch out for me.
I am the purloiner of language.
I snatch words
and use them as my own.
I am the poet, the novelist,
the thief of words
* from my second book, 1990. Longman Cheshire
On the shortest day
I take the longest run
between one jetty and the next
and back again
rest myself against the rump
of a dune
listen to the sea shanties of the waves
while a mermaid appears, rises above the waves
swinging her wild, wild hair
in the sun-drenched breeze
until spotting me she coyly slips
beneath the water.
The jetty wades a little deeper into the sea
to catch a glimpse.
On the shortest day I tell
the tallest tales.
The cat left no suicide note
unlike the farmer who died
in the same way
head swathed in cling wrap
like a cellophane mummy
he met with foul play.
His wife the killer — Insurance —
eager for a big pay.
But who would asphyxiate a cat
& dump it by the riverside
where dreamy poets wander
& children play?
M is in her cups.
Any moment now, the kookaburra cackle
the cutting off, like a hoon driver on the highway.
But for the time being I’m holding the table, telling the tale of the silver hammer beneath the front passenger seat of my car, what happens when my girlfriend spots it.
The little group leans forward, intent.
But it reminds M of something and she’s hyper now, jumps in, raucous.
This time I’m ready for her.
I took a photo today I’d like to show you. It’s for you, I say.
You did? Really?
Yes, I say, bringing it up on the screen, passing it across to her.
It’s what you do when you cut people off, how you make them feel. It’s kind of a metaphor.
She has a close look. Ouch,, she says. Lopped?
How’s your girlfriend going? she asks tonelessly..
Pam? Yeh, she’s okay, I say.
You seem to need somebody, she says. A wife, partner, a female friend.
And you don’t?
No. I must be stronger, she conjectures in her haughty voice. I can live with myself. I don’t need anyone.
Loneliness is a morose companion, I add.
She says nothing.
pic by Joey Monsoon courtesy of Pinterest
Pounding the pavements of Portland,
grim, gaunt , hunch-backed,
no singing, cheery, Disney
hunchback of Notre Dame
bandy-legged, bushy eyebrowed,
Quasimodo, orange vis jacket
looks like an angry bee.
It wasn’t the person from Porlock; it was my aunt
Who got on the bus, brought my poem to an end.
My notebook slumped on my lap as she told me
The long sad story of a friend.
When she got off I had my chance but this young bloke
Sat next to me, iPod blaring, hair swooped back.
It was the White Stripes live from Splendour.
How could I not listen ? It was Meg and Jack.
But then a cross-eyed biker got on, hair in a rat’s tail,
Skin graffitied with tatts. How could I not look?
His arms a graphic novel. Then a woman got on
Shouting into her mobile, angry as ‘The Angry Book’.
The sad sack on the other end was out for the count.
Luckily Coleridge didn’t board this bus
while he was dreaming ‘Kubla Khan’. He wouldn’t
have written a word. The poem would be dust.
- picture courtesy of Pinterest by TheTatt