Ancient houses

Hold treasures
dithery ghosts
that hide
the things you need
to then
put them in plain sight
when you don’t
creaks in floorboards
mad holes in walls
whatever
could have been there?
a sighing
in certain winds
cold corners
even spiders ignore
memories under
over wallpapered walls
impressions of heads
bodies
messages from builders
now joined the long dead
to enter a room
that a presence
has just left
though you are
supposedly
on your own today
and to not feel fear
upset
but to know
that ancient houses
hold treasures
without a price

Women

Have always been
a
if not
the
focus of my life
by absence
birth mother
running off to find better pleasures
than snotty squealing children
by presence
teachers
step mother
girlfriends
demanding authority
the right to be right
in all matters
some subtle
others not
these
have all moulded
my shape
presence
in the world
to unlearn
all of this
has taken centuries
of uncertainties
dead end paths
to avoid the glitter
of come hither
calls
not that I was unwilling
unwanting
of attention
looks
more
that after a certain point
the
is this all there is?
a man must
seek his own way
learn to avoid
the traps
feminine wiles
lure of female
rightness
of I know
how this works
façades
or die
a prisoner
of his own lust
to be a good boy
wanting a quiet life
to not upset
‘er indoors
words that in a better world
would only be said in irony
we are separate
male
female
and by our separation
we
define the other
to create
better possible union

Nettle Soup

I turned up,
not out of the blue
just a day later than I’d said
her folks put me in a room,
out back
away from the main house.
They weren’t being mean
just protective of her
they offered to feed me
but I didn’t want any fuss
so I made nettle soup
made it last the 2 says I was there
we weren’t drinking, or smoking
or fucking either
for that detail
I was
just glad to be
with her
and out
of the latest trap
I’d sprung on myself
Oh, and coffee
lots of coffee
we walked
brooded on a future
that would never come
to pass
and after the 2 days
I said goodbye
to never
see her again
or live
on nettle soup

you

You, you & you
bring my words
back to me
an opinion
I held, gave
many years ago
these tracks
are spoor
driven over
by time, memory
until obliterated
left for decay
but not for you
they have been carried
nursed
incubated
need them investigated
pored over
as manuscripts
carved by blood
yours
not mine

Choices

To go
every night
out on the streets
finding a cheap slut needing highs
a friend with coke
everybody with coke is a friend
remember that
its useful
especially
if you are the one
holding
& nobody else is…
I digress
choices
to go
every night
get roaring drunk
crowded loud bars
& fight a beer bully
in a damp alley
just because
you can
want to
the coke
makes it so
or
instead
ending up
the doormat
watching tv
& whining
there is nothing on
again
when you know
you could be
out on the town
rough fucking a stranger
because that is
how she loves it
dark, dirty, delightful
instead
you sip tea
& wonder
whether you can say
baby suck me
like you used to
but no
that’s not
how it is
these days
its work
in the am
an early start
for another day of the dead

Genus loci

Spirit of the place
I sat
high on a hill
surrounded by trees
green
the wind
thinking of mortality
seeing my death
that was
then
ever so close
resting my chin
on my hands
knees
listening to the sound
my blood
rushing
in my ears
when
a butterfly
red admiral
landed on my fingers
probed
settled
maybe
it came to me
if I had life for this
I had life left for me
I have fallen apart
many times
allowed the forgery
of daylight dreams
to invade this truer world
of butterflies
dogs staring at walls
being
the true weft
of our temporary visit here
these don’t wait
for things to become
the caterpillar
is a caterpillar
the butterfly something
else
entirely
if I can hear my blood
rushing
at least I have a heart
now all I have to do
is use it

Voice

There is always
somebody
You
are supposed to hate on
I was 13
summer working in a small
greasy engineering company
making tea
running errands
fiddling with smaller jobs
on little bits of metal
the guys were a good crew
and I learned
male camaraderie
the pranks
jokes
the getting the day to day done
’til payday
then my last day
& they’d decided
to pick on one guy
no real reason
as I recall
& I was no longer
to talk to
get things for him
he’d always been a good guy
to me
if anything
better than the rest
but today
I had to hate
It rankles still
the problem
wasn’t him
the other guys
it was me
but I had not yet
found my voice
found me
& god knows
that was going to take
a few years yet to do
& that is how
I see so many people
they don’t know
their own
voice
mind
& happily fall in behind
others who do
have
found their voice
& that’s why children
there is hate
Conflict
Jealousy
& why
We have Wars

Trash can man

One long summer working ‘on the bins’ carrying this big orange tub.
Filling it up with shit from your dustbin and flinging it into the dustcart, easy on the thinking, harder on the back.
They loved younger guys doing the job, we’d do it quick and not complain.
The older guys were hardened by the job, they’d worked through winters, the rain. Seen just about anything there is to see in a dustbin.
They had no time for us seasonals, come autumn we’d be gone and the hard work was theirs again.
One always comes to mind: he was short, with a greasy flat cap, had that curved back from years of carrying loads. His thing was knickers, if he found a pair of knickers he’d tie them to his orange tub, had a whole string that got dirtier, not that they’d been clean to begin. I can’t remember one word he ever spoke to me.
THE day, a couple of weeks in and we’d all found some kind of rhythm, hold those guys up and you knew it, we were a kind of team, a man team that hardly spoke but didn’t need many words anyway. You knew who and where you were in the pecking order. We stopped for the usual break, us younger guys would sit on the kerb, smoke and drag the usual shit talk
and
knicker man would pull sandwiches out of a box while reading a paper he’d found in a bin.
One of the older guys nudged me to look over at him doing this, his dirty hands reaching in to the plastic box and lifting up to mouth, nobody liked this, we all sat away from him, this was just too much.
He bit into his sandwich, began to gag, looked at it, pulled the bread apart and there it was: a dead bird, rotten, maggots spilling from the bite.
He puked. We retched, puked too.
He stared at each of us, fury, hate, violence to be had.
We looked away.
The foreman called us back to work, we finished the round in near silence. The shit would hit the fan back at the yard.
End of day, lined up like schoolkids in the site managers office. He was red in the face, horror in every word:
“what possessed you to do this?”
Silence.
“Who did this?”
Silence
More silence.
“If nobody says, I’ll dock each of you a days pay”
Silence….then:
“it was me” said the foreman, gangerman.
“just why would you do such a rotten, disgraceful thing”
Then,
then we all got docked a days pay anyway, because as the gangerman said: ”cos it was going cheep”
We all laughed ourselves stupid,
again.

Man

Man
I would just get up & go
out the door
without hesitation
explanation
no destination
just
out
& into
dirty streets in the night
grey grained two/three a.m.
these are not the roads
free pavements
you know
there is some movement
a little yellow light
even if it doesn’t reach
into the leaf clutter
corners
what I was hoping to find
I still don’t know
maybe love
an answer
enough
for the next
orphan day
I only knew
I couldn’t be inside
held
contained
more please
the quest
more
whatever it is
more of anything
available
an unsung desperate plea
I’d be picked up by the police
where ya goin?
where ya been?
whats in ya pockets?
I had nothing for them
no interest
of little mind
they’d let me wander on
with a cheery
‘we know who to come to
if things happen’
but I was happy to drift
no bother to others
no wish to steal
just the next step
in front of the other
on to dawn
with whatever
I had
to get thru’ that day
and then
over again
walking past closed rooms
dead houses
thinking nothing
but thoughts
half wishes
night dreams of
of
unknown
until one night
I kept on going
through
the next days
the next nights
the sea met me
and I stopped.
for a while.