21

I was 21
Sent to jail for not paying fines
motorcycle related charges
too fast, too loud,
riding a dangerous machine
they were determined to
put me ‘in the system’
& they did
I got 5 days
Went in Friday afternoon
in a queue for the shower
The guy in front says:
wot y’in for?
& laughs when I tell
he was a burglar
the guy behind a murderer
killed a man over an ice cream route
cos there’s big money in this
that quietened me down some.
Sat in a cell over the weekend
telling tall tales, learning new
an hour a day in a circle walk
rolling cigarettes
drawing slow breaths
the sun creeping over
stone grey high walls
& over thinking
If this guy asks me
for my dessert
He’s got it.
they let me go
on the Monday
with a train ticket
and a cheque for cash
for almost the fines
I hadn’t paid
being young
& time of no issue
I thought I’d gained
but it took years
for the system
to forget about me.
If they ever have.

Apology box

Can there be an apology box?
where all sorry’s can be made
a place to say oops
and then move on
as
I don’t see the point
in going back
finding people
I may have once hurt
to appease
placate
mollify
for misdeeds done once
(sometimes twice)
because I’m pretty sure
if I was rotten
they deserved it
or were being plain bad
to me.
Maybe then
there needs to be a
Fuck you box
And an
apology box.

No One

No one
I wanted to see
the road open in front
and absolutely
nowhere to go
its
not excitement
nor dread
more;
where do I want to go
today?
I fear that I am dull
because I see that
In others eyes
the call to nothing
nothing new to say
new thoughts: none
I am not content with this
though there is full
acceptance
the road welcomes me
it has new twists, turns
stops, starts and demands
that I be fully awake
maybe, just maybe I feel love
and call it Harley Davidson.

The Call to beige

I see it all around me, the fading
from colours that matched them so
the call into slacks, proper shoes
cardigans, windcheaters in beige.
I guess it’s the call to buy clothes
‘that will see me out’
The desire of comfort over fashion
the letting go of the daily anxiety
how to present in a hustling world
away from comfy slippers home
when the call comes upon me
I’m hoping the firing squad
will not be far behind

mourning son

I didn’t expect to mourn him so
those large hands that beat me
those eyes that bored into my soul
his anger that consumed me
kept me so long in fear
yet
I was the wayward one
& all this is gone
Left to memory
& forgetfulness
Like visiting a town I once knew
where memories come to haunt again
we never know our parents
the who they really are
tho’ they insist they know
every inch of their child
I guess we’re both wrong.

Voice

Her voice
slow, soft
a northern whine
of a young girl
moving for elbow room
pressure or manipulation?
In this relationship.
Or she
softer than night silk
monosyllabic
pleasing, easing
herself out of control
canoodling to union
tho’ she means to leave
the ending decision to him

The Kids

Here come the kids
with attitude
cool clothes awry
chewing gum & alt style
hair just that little bit
different
than the next
I’d love to whisper
into cool ears
indifferent souls
that this is the way
trouble starts
& I’m sure
That would excite them
further.
Some will grow through this
up & out
and a silent few
won’t
for them
the difference
is
what matters
the teachers
police
the ones who feel a
authority
as
their guiding force
love these kids
it gives them easy
targets
places
to act out
their own shit
with little fear
of reprisal
cos we all hate
the cool kids
unless its
us.

no name

I find it hard to name
what it was that I had
cos at the time
I didn’t know I had it
& now
at the blunt end of the telescope
I can’t see back far enough
to see what it was
an idiocy
a self belief
whatever.
Whatever it was
it
gave me ability
to hold a crowd
ne’er do wells
wanderers
gypsies
together
enough to seek
sometimes, find
the other
than the other
on offer.

Motorcycles

I was very young, possibly four or five, somehow escaping the house,
There is no memory of anybody being there to stop me.
Walking into town, through dark streets feeling no fear,
just thrills of being in this other, dark, grown up world.
There were coffee bars back then, smoky, warm, bright lit places,
full of not quite adults and music, loud music, laughing people.
Outside were motorcycles, black and chrome, smelling of petrol, oil, danger.
Inside were young women putting on lipstick, brushing their hair, beautiful.
They would find me, hug me, try to take me home and all I wanted was to stay.
There I was safe, warm, amongst the leather, the petticoated and bitter coffee smell.
Later there were uncles, neighbours with machines like these but they lacked
context, the places that gave motorcycles meaning.
Then in ’69 it all came back to life: Easyrider.
Sat in a small suburban cinema, sneaking in subterfuge as old enough for the rating.
There were three of us, cowed silent, drinking in the high colour, surrounded by
sounds, sights, that meant everything and nothing to a teenage kid in this half dead
greyed out northern England town.
After that it was all over, there was only one thing I wanted to do, ride the highway.
Looking for adventure, that couldn’t happen, I was too young, so it was bigger bars
on my bicycle, brighter clothes, attitude out and about.
This found me trouble with the old ones, authority, just about anybody that wanted to
fuck with a young kids dreams, as you might know: there is No shortage of those
people in this world.
At seventeen I got my first proper motorcycle.
I rode it that day, 200 miles through the busy back roads from t’north to the south
coast of England.
Stalled it a couple of times, almost had a few accidents, almost was enough to keep
my heart beating, but I made it in one piece.
There is no going back now.