WAKING WITH THE DUSTMEN

a birthday poem for TJS


Moonset, out there.

Already they are on their way.

Maybe women also wheelie back and forth

with bins to empty, and return.

Settled, foetal, you cling to the cardboard hem

of flat-pack dreams:

an unfilled mind riding the Alpha waves.

A slant of light squints through the louvres of your blind –

darkness begins to lift.

 

There is juddering outside.

You’ve seen that monster – lifting, tipping – eat before,

and turn deaf ears on it.

But all your time-torn wiles to win back sleep

are useless as a punctured tyre.

From under snugly covers, grudgingly

you pull yourself up, strand by strand;

realise that comic handstands are a skill

beyond your years.

 

iv. 2024

the last ex-pat in Costa Del Sol turns his thoughts homeward

with apologies to Leonard Cohen

 

Come, my sisters and brothers,

let us govern Britain,

let us apply our best minds,

let us discharge sewage in Downing Street,

let us make the Lords a torture chamber

      until – one by one – they all confess,

let us purge the Labour Party,

let us make Europeans speak English

      not only here but everywhere,

let us promote the dark races

      so – when they take control –

      they shall be magnanimous,

let us make content for TikTok,

let us all be tourists,

let us float across the Channel on a Li-Lo,

let us whisper sweet nothings to the enemy,

let us cast bullets in men’s sheds,

let us sell Irn-Bru to the Third World,

            (Do they know three of our national leaders                                             were women?)

let us terrorise our colonies,

let us merge republican with royalist,

let us not show a white flag,

let us demand a written constitution

      sponsored by Bet365,

      with prize for the most ground-breaking                                                        suggestion,

let us threaten to join the U.S.A.

      then chicken out in the nick of time,

my sisters and brothers, come,

      our best minds are waiting for us

      like sleeping bags abandoned in shop doorways,

let us give them purpose soon,

let us keep a world-leading silence

      beside the Thames.

 v. 2024

LET’S BUILD A KITCHEN FIRST

I drew a straight, red line clean through my own name. It had longtime been listed there. The world in my fist no more.


We have arrived at a terminal moraine. Unprepared, even after ten years with a smart phone. No stile or kissing gate in sight.

 

You experiment with a brand-new look, apply fresh make-up. I pass your instruments, but do not know what they are called.

 

The view from the back window is almost the match (I say) of the one before. Even if it falls away to a ditch, not a river.

 

Splashdown! An echo of fallen debris. We pick out what is clean and useful. Our new infrastructure – durable as a glass hammer.

 

Why is the light on a timed circuit? Every five minutes, we are plunged into darkness, and one of us must switch it back on.

 

These constant interruptions. I am layering moussaka (made from leftovers) into a dish.             Is this a thing?         8 / 10 respondents say “yes”.

 


 iii. 2024

UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

the sky will be yellow. Regardless how you squint at it, tomorrow shrivels up

 

and men in branded, hi-vis tabards will have permission. Don’t ask what for, or why,

 

or seek to demonstrate some other way. There are new laws they’re not afraid to use.

 

Until further notice you will be crippled with bunions, grow deaf from ear wax.

 

Your teeth – on a diet of kitsch and fakery – will rot in your head and fall out.

 

As you wait you can watch the concrete crumble, while grievances congeal like old chip fat.

 

Until further notice you must guess your best line through the flooded potholes, trusting

 

your tread will ride the shameless lie beneath – the one untold. Do not be deflected,

 

none of this is your fault. Blame loafers by Prada, Timberland boots, the endless drone

 

of glib apology. Round the corner, a shadow cabinet of wax figures –

 

you will hear from them soon. Until further notice there may be no better choice.






iii. 2024
 

PLACEHOLDERS

[Ouray Meyers, Untitled]

 

under starry blue cold


a huddle

masks the rising light

three women look back

rebozos meld like a graceful flag                               a ziggurat

                                                                of bleached adobe

from ladder-linked terraces

                                                                distant men gaze out

 

in the middle ground

figures gather round a fire

meltwater

 

     ice-white boots                                     a foot tapping

 

 ii. 2024