I woke up the next morning,
mouthful of strong cigarettes and bad whisky.
My lungs felt like lead weights.
it sounded like Tom Waits, singing in the gutter,
so I knew there was hope.
The sun rises
It rolls over me
It goes down and disappears
in the sultry, inert air
that moves not leaf nor hair
like the breath of the dead
or the sigh of angels.
The moon follows sun
The planets align
The stars wheel overhead
In the night’s darkest hour
when time slows down
to the separation of continents
or to the beat of broken wings.
An on-off night and a mosquito in my ear and I fumble in the dark and then it disappeared but now the night has gone for good for me as I lay there and think of what I have to do, what I probably should do and what I’d like to do and all the while a soundtrack is playing in my head and it’s Manfred Mann’s version of The Mighty Quinn which is not a bad song at 5.30 in the morning, although I’m yawning but now I really want to hear it but that means getting up and using technology and 5.30’s far too early for technology, after all, I’d only check the news and see big, fat Mike Pompeo bully another sick and twisted little country with sanctions, sanctions and, ah! stick your sanctions up your ass, fatty, so it’s no technology for me, like a smoker avoiding his first cigarette to let his lungs breathe, you see, and now I’d love a coffee now I’m up with the birds but I guess putting on the kettle is still technology but I could really use that coffee while my pencil scrawls my morning scribble across an unwritten page.
the year thins to an end
and I too seek closure;
of my eyes in the darkness
(well, temporarily at least).
My thoughts flash like festive lights in no order
and my mind considers things like political parties
and grey life under the Stasi,
of free-flowing intellectualism
and cold, uncaring capitalism.
I think of flights and holidays
and rhythmic train journeys
hurrying to their destinations
where destinies await the destined.
I think about the sun
and where the winter has gone
(It will be back to bite us on the ass,
I think about you and me
wind-blown from the sea.
but the waves do not.
The keyboard lies silent, like a long-closed factory, its worker-keys now unemployed, passing into disuse and irrelevance.
The pen lies on its side, like a dead soldier, a used-to-be who has taken an early pension, now laying in the sun.
The notebook lies closed, in a crypt-like embrace, its secrets hidden inside except; here there are no secrets, just untouched pages.
The once-writer lies on his side, a book in his hand, eyes skipping over the words someone else has written; and wonders.
Yesterday I felt the sea breathing as I watched the wind-strewn waves; some breaths shallow, others ocean deep. I fell into their rhythm and breathed in the salt spray and breathed out my soul in return: sea salt spray for my soul or what part of it I leave here. Today I heard the sea choking it’s breath no longer a rhythm but a slow death rattle. I walked in to it, embraced it but plastic caressed my fingers, tightened and gripped my hand and embraced me, as I wanted to embrace the sea. I pulled, and the plastic relented the more I pulled, the more it came but still the sea couldn’t breathe. Tomorrow the wind will still blow and the salt will still tang the air and the waves still sigh upon the shore and where once the seagulls cried the only sound will be the empty laughter of the few that profited from the many of those who took from the Earth and spat back its destruction. Yesterday I felt the sea breathing and wondered how long it would last.
The drip, drip, drip of the leaking tap,
tightened to the full yet still…
drip, drip, drip,
like some mad aquatic clock
or a water deity’s idea of a joke
and where does all this water go?
Does it race along the tubes and pipes
only to be unceremoniously
into some shitty sewage treatment works?
Or does it instead splash happily along
those tubes and pipes
and find itself jettisoned
into a little stream,
just a trickle at first
which is then joined by others,
left to the same fate
and together they form a river
which gets faster,
noisy, rushing water tumbling over stones worn smooth
and dancing over rocks and waterfalls
and down, always down until finally,
in the distance,
there’s the sunlight’s reflection on water
and the river’s pace gathers
and drives on
then, finally, pours into the sea
where the drip, drip, drip of the leaking tap
becomes waves upon the shore.
A fingernail moon falls down the evening sky
and now the wind has dropped,
from a bluster to a breath
as the frigid night descends.
The trees, immobile in their submission,
silhouette against silhouette,
branches handing like the arms of the guilty
as the frost’s frozen fingers
freeze all they touch;
and even the church bells are subdued.
A thousand firesides
lead like beacons in the night,
protesters’ torches in rebellion.
Cold is the winter night
but is vanquished by the hearth of home
Following my recent negativity, two days ago I started writing a small fiction piece, something I haven’t done for a while. I wanted it to be light, happy and, I suppose, a little seasonal, despite my humbug sentiments which came through in my last couple of (apparent) poems. I wanted it finished for today, for a reason.
A small triangle of light fell across the boy’s face and he opened one eye, squinting. He looked at the gap in the curtains.
He threw the covers back and stuck his head through the gap; pale blue greeted him and not a cloud in sight. A perfect day for playing football in the park or riding his bike, if he wrapped up properly and his mother would see to that. He climbed off the bed, put on his dressing gown and picked up the comic he had been reading the night before, his feet finding his slippers as he shuffled out of the room, ignoring what lay in the corner. His mother was waiting for him, a box of cereal in her hand. The curtains were still drawn.
“Good morning, sunshine. You’ve a face as long as your dressing gown. What’s up?”
She placed the box on the table. Billy was still wondering about the curtains. He sighed.
“It’s meant to be winter, Mum. We still haven’t had any snow, it’s just sunny all the time.”
He didn’t notice her smile that appeared and disappeared while he poured milk on his breakfast.
“You should be happy. You can go out to play.”
“Dad said it was going to snow at Christmas, and it didn’t.”
“He’s not the weatherman, love.”
“Then he said it would on boxing Day.”
“He must have heard it from somewhere, Billy.”
“It’s now New Year’s Day and it’s still sunny.”
She picked the tea-towel from its hanger just as the cat jumped through the cat-flap, shaking herself. Billy didn’t notice.
“So, you looked out of your window?”
He spooned the last of the cereal into his mouth and finished chewing before he answered, to his mother’s delight.
“I do it every morning and it’s always the same.”
“Your little window, in your room at the back of the house?”
He scratched his head and wondered if she’d been at the sherry, like she had on Christmas morning. He opened the comic where he’d finished the night before. She turned the light off.
“Mum. I can’t read in this dark.”
“Open the curtains then, love. I’ve got my hands full.”
He frowned. Well, he supposed she did have a tea-towel in her hand. She was definitely acting strange. He put the comic down, walked over to the window and opened the curtain. His surprise was audible. Grey sky greeted him and the first flakes of snow were already falling.
“It’s been threatening a while but your little window looks out in the opposite direction.”
He stood, hand on the curtain, smiling as the snow became heavier. The grass on the lawn was changing colour.
“Mum, it’s starting to set.”
“You’ll soon be able to throw snowballs and make snowmen.”
Laughing, he left his comic on the table and ran upstairs, throwing open his bedroom door. He looked in the corner where his prize Christmas present, his new wooden sledge, waited for him.
So you start writing and you continue, word by word, one after another: 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and then…you turn your head away and BANG!, you hit the buffers, nowhere to go, no more forward momentum. You open up the story; it’s been two weeks damn it, not two years but when you look inside it’s like taking a straight razor and cutting yourself to see what comes out. 20,000+ words and there they sit, destined for the file marked ‘In progress’, along with half a dozen other 20K’s that came to the same end. It’s like trying to build a Lego house but someone’s blocked up the holes in the bricks.
The penultimate day of the year and I sit, devoid of ideas and inspiration.
Am I destined for a life of flash fiction and off-the-cuff poetry? Fuck.
Clock tick, ticking in the silence of the apartment
the apartments because there are nine in the block
I’m the only one awake at this time,
these hours where I should be elsewhere
not writing, or reading or dropping benzodiazepine for sleeping
my body aches for sleep
my mind tells my body to fuck off
get up, get going and do something
I’m on the sofa with a pen in one hand
a notebook in the other and a book by my side
the clock keeps ticking
to think that somewhere the sun is rising
somewhere else it’s setting on another day
the momentum of our forward roll takes us around
big ball of light and heat that keeps us here,
going nowhere except forward;
in space time, in real time,
(who’s got the time anyway?)
somewhere to the east of me the sun is coming up
somewhere to the west of me it’s going down
10,000 lives have just left
10,000 have just begun
we just keep on rolling. Somewhere.
split into two:
black and white
drawn and then fade
and become grey,
like the dawn;
if it ever arrives.
My eyes are heavy
and my face is sliding
like some lost Dalí canvass;
long dripping clocks
leaking slow time:
in the long dragging night.
The sax-playing Santa
sat in the shade of the subway
blowing his way through Christmas classics
and then just some classics
with no mention of Christmas;
which is good.
I could listen to him all day
or even an hour
or even 10 minutes
but I can’t;
I’ve things to do
and people to see
and places to go
and even if I don’t
I have to be doing something,
and I can’t stop,
we can’t stop
because it’s Christmas
and there won’t be another one until…
well, this time next year.
Government lies and secret files
and prepare to wade through the bullshit
as it flows on down from above
There’s no responsibility in selling arms
to someone else
for them to kill someone else
and so the hands are clean
and the conscious is clear
Everyone’s friend is no one’s friend
and around it goes
Sanction this and sanction that
and “they started it first”
and “my bomb’s bigger than your bomb”
as if they’re comparing their cocks
in the changing room
and there’s still room to change
but no one wants to
It’s all government lies and secret files
and the dirtiest clean hands
you’d never want to shake.
Early Sunday morning walk,
Squinting in the morning light
Cappuccino with a double shot of coffee
and eyes that finally open
with the hoarse caw of the crow
and the hoarse voice of the barmaid
who must smoke a packet
or spend her life shouting
above the noise of the cutlery
being put in its place
as the coffee machine whirs
and the people sit
over their Sunday morning papers
as the cappuccino goes down
and the day opens up.
The stairs crush my knees and steal my breath
and I get to the top and I ring the bell
and I enter the surgery but the waiting room
is empty except for the noise
because the window is open
and the noise from the street competes
with the radio newsreader’s urgency
to tell me the headlines and I can’t hear them
but maybe it’s a blessing because
I don’t want to hear them because
everyone has a missile pointed at someone else
and it’s always someone else’s fault
and everyone is trigger-happy
or God-fearing happy-clappy
and it’s mine versus yours anyway
and now the smell of the floor cleaner joins in with the noise
and the headlines as they vie for my senses
and it makes no sense and my knees hurt
and I can’t hear myself think
and I can’t feel myself breathe
and then the doctor comes out
and asks me how I am…
I’m here, aren’t I?
I like to feel the cool air soothe my skin
as I stand outside on the balcony
and breathe the morning air.
I like to hear the leaves in the breeze-blown trees
chitter-chatter amongst themselves
in a language I don’t understand.
I like to see the rain roll down the window
and the streams run in the gutters,
now clean and ready to start again.
I like to watch the clouds chase each other
across the sky, racing in the wind,
making shapes only I can see.
Oh, and it’s Friday.
having nothing to say
yet you could talk all day
having something to say
yet no will to say it
staring at the pen that won’t write
or the keys that won’t type
or the pages that only turn
in the late summer breeze.
The deep-water sound of someone pissing from a height at 4.30 in the morning
before the first blackbird has it in him
to wake up and start singing
and no car hums the tune of rubber on tarmac
and the night has its own sound
a “fuck me, well hello again, it’s you” sound
and I join in the silence,
eyes wide open and mouth closed shut
and I breathe in and I breathe out
and it doesn’t do much good and I turn over
on my side and wonder if I should read by reading light
or just get up and kiss the night
so I say hi to my pen and paper and I want to write a story,
about the world and what goes on in it, within it
and all I end up writing, again, is my own.
“The sun’s coming up.”
“The sun’s coming up.”
“It does that, in the morning.”
“Wanna take a look?”
“No, I want to sleep.”
“You should see it, the colours and everything.”
“Pink. It’s bound to be pink. Go to sleep.”
“How do you know what colour it is?”
“Because it’s always pink. Clear sky, pink clouds, pink sunrise. Pink.”
“I’ve seen sunrises that aren’t pink.”
“I’m happy for you, really. So, get up or go to sleep, either way I don’t care about the pink sunrise.”
“You should you know. After all, it may be your last.”
“Well, we don’t know, do we?”
“Well that’s a cheery fucking thought. Thanks for that. How am I going to sleep now?”
“Just think, it could be your last sunrise and you’re missing it because you want to stay in bed and sleep.”
“So then just think, it would also be my last sleep and I’m missing it watching a bloody pink sunrise. Go to sleep!”
I turn my pillow
over and over
and fuck off mosquito, you bitch
(it’s the females that make you itch)
and now the early morning crows
are crowing, or cawing
while the neighbourhood is still snoring;
and I’m turning
like an undecided Brexit MP
as I can’t for the life of me
so I get up
and stroll on the balcony
in my shorts
it’s just me and the crows anyway
in this summer heat.
The longest day,
the shortest night
The summer solstice.
The sun rising between two tall stones.
The Pagan rites of five thousand years,
Time keeping time
Too hot to sleep
A midsummer night’s dream,
Summer sticky heat.
The sweat from a thousand pores,
The longest day,
the shortest night.
This book’s “a real page-turner”
it says so on the back cover.
It’s not though really, is it?
Thinking about it.
It doesn’t turn its pages,
Pedantic I know.
Maybe I have writer’s envy.
I can’t write a page-turner
I can’t even write a page
Lately I can’t even write
Blocked like a drain;
Electric light, electric noise
The TV scream
and noise just hurts my ears
and tears my soul and
I can’t hear myself breathe
I can’t hear myself live
I can’t hear myself,
bass string pull
tic, tic, tic of the cymbal
as the brush sweeps the beat
blow Bird, blow
woodwind winding out to meet me
like a cold water splash to my face
or the clink of ice in my whisky
Wake up, stuffed nose, can’t breathe
can’t see, light switch, where’s the light switch?
Get up, still house, silence, silence
and the clock tick-tocks the night away.
Walk around, bare feet, cold feet
need a glass of water I’m parched.
Wine and bitter mouth, that last digestive
getting festive on a Saturday, as you do.
Sunday’s here and I’m the only one to see it
and when it’s time to get up I’ll go back to bed.
Not much to do but write and read and
Lester Bangs talks to me of Lou Reed
and The Velvet Underground.
Well, at least it’s Sunday Morning.
The black night draped
for the morning.
The first feelers of light
yet to be felt.
The first rays of the sun
yet to be raised
above the horizon,
as the long and tiresome
night drags on.
While the world outside
and me inside
wait for spring.
damp and cold January
I have a cough and I cough and I splutter.
Does it matter? Does it matter?
My cough plumbs the depth of my lungs in the night like my soul plumbs the depths of despair in winter and the clouds…
…and the clouds are pigeon shit-grey and they roll in then roll over then roll away and leave me…
bathed in monochrome
and the rain…and the rain.
It’s water and I’m dancing
I drank more water than what fell to earth last autumn
so we rain-danced for a drenching soul-cleaning and yet…
damp and cold January
let it rain, let it rain, let it rain
pour your monochrome down upon me.
That old adage about “write what you know” – I should laugh in its face and stick my fingers in its eyes.
I started this blog , as it says on the tin (well, the heading), as a pin-board for airing poems and flash-fiction first drafts and ideas. Of late, after a barren summer, I’ve hit a creative vein, with no idea why except it runs in tandem with another bout of worse-than-usual sleeplessness. I don’t want this blog to become a shrine to insomnia so things will change in 2018 (that’s two days and, possibly, two nights…).
This is this blog’s last insomniac poetic hurrah! If I couldn’t write anything else then I would stick my pen where the sun doesn’t shine. Luckily, I can and I have been (just not here, o bored and tired reader).
Have a great New Year everyone and thanks for looking in.
And still the treacherous night lingers on
and pulls me along with it
incapable of leaving me behind
in a dreaming world of slumber;
And still my words spill across the page
and takes me away for a while,
pulling me into its world
where pen and hand work in unison;
And still my eyes remain open
and my awakened mind rages
full of ideas that fall on paper
as my head wants to fall;
on my pillow.
and yet, and yet…
and yet I love these early hours;
the quiet, the still, the night sounds
– or early morning sounds – take your pick.
A slave to the whore of the morning
fresh on her rounds and as yet untouched,
the sheets still unblemished
and the rose cheeks of her sunrise.
Another year, another…well, year, I suppose.
Time doesn’t drift, it flies.
It flies in the face of life,
it flies in the face of all that we know
yet can do nothing about.
I’m older today than I ever was before
and I’m younger today than I ever will be again.
If we’re lucky we can hitch a ride,
but we can just as well walk.
The horizon is ever before us.
the road behind is barred
the road ahead is open
our worn-down heels will be our proof of our existence.