on point

somewhere at the edge of the swamps

I’d be sixteen out on my first navy camp

loving the canoeing up river

one pan cooking exploring the woods

until came the night exercises

I was good for hiding with guns

flash bangs set off by hidden wires

ambushes guerrilla warfare

but when they left me at the crossroads

with a tilley lamp & a message to give

in the pitch black except for my soft circle

listening for feet on the path

& they’d been given instructions

of which I was unaware

sneak up on him give the jitters

which every single one of them did

coming out of the undergrowth

walking on grass beside the path

when they came to relieve me

just before the dawn

I’d almost worn myself out

character forming they called it

the bastards

not the fortunate ones

such as the Mary

who laid me down in the long grass

using the only power

she’d ever known

to keep this young boy of 13

caught & tied to her throne

the Mary I’d travelled thousands to see

caught by the booze

trapped in her thirst for life

too tired tied to meet the real me

not the ones in the autobiographies

clogging up the bookstore shelf

meeting strangers in the park

chance encounter at the right party

who helped them create their destinies

extending open hands to deliver them

from their inherent misery

we are not the fortunate ones

for us is the sifting of the mud

maybe one nugget hoping to find

living lives dredging something

we can live by

these things you should never do

I went there

slowly back to where I was born

local cottage hospital

& that was no more

new houses planted on the spot

another place & time

the street I remember playing in

ragged homes now holding age

tired at the edges

& not a face I could put feelings on

the field I built my bonfires

had forts warfare battles

gone

everything from there

now needs be held within

all external evidence vanished

sentiment holds time in place

places years & faces

& I know I wanted changes

yet I never knew

I needed something to hold onto

too

Pink Floyd

he’s read all the books

listened to the early work

is in love with Syd Barrett

the mythos of the man anyway

& we’re almost on the same page

though he can’t help himself

reading from notes in the margin

written by some obsessive

late on a long spliff’d night

& I tell him the bits I know

the rifts between Roger & David

the sacking of Richard

the rhythm of Dave M thudding

keeping the thing on track

but he’s hearing with 21st century ears

sensibilities politics & fears

& the music he hears

is not what it was

in those years

the switch from mono to stereo

how that all shifted the mix

when this first came out of the radio

the dansette sat on the floor

we had to listen tight

over & over

see if we could get it

understand what the band were doing

proto anthropology students

on the trail of space alien spoor

trying to fit what we got now

with what had existed before

& it didn’t

there was a jar

between then & the new work

which created the excitement

this was new this was new

& we had to move

progress with it

or get out the way through the door

where what he hears

fits into patterns

created back then

before

his here & now

she seemed quite sweet

until I got her

between the sheets

& then

she disappeared from view

one of those pretty girls

masquerading as women

wanting liberation yet

never having worked out

her own sexuality or needs

& I didn’t want to take

anything not freely given

as the feminists had told her

all penetration was rape

& along the way

something sad had happened

to make that seem true

though she seemed happy

to comply with whatever it is

that men want in that sweet arena

& worse

she was quite upset

when I told her

I did not want her now

to maybe come back

when she had some ideas

some clarity

on what she wanted

if a woman

has a right to self determination

I guess I do too

the poets life

these things you gotta do

in the poets life

here on my knees

cleaning the crapper

the dust & stains

difficult memories

holding her hair as she threw up

things she could not hold onto

her sitting there crying again

unable to explain the why

& him the writer of the truth

cuddling the porcelain party night

uncaring about the line

forming in the hallway

the moments of relief

letting go of pasts mistakes

hoping for good resolutions

the poets life

here on my knees

praying again cleaning the crapper

fetching water pushing the broom

like a good poet need be

fuzzy wool blankets

wandering just wandering

where whatever wanting

what was happening

just around the next corner

the next corner

those teen years

waiting for something to do

wrapped up in numb

forever told

you are between things

kid times hard times adulthood

wanting something anything

to sharpen up the day

times in your bed

your legs wrapped around me

warm fuzz of excitement

most times I couldn’t breathe

& then you were gone

taking the heat blankets undone

stuck working the nine to five

caught in the half-asleep crowd

then the numb came back

cocooned me for a year or two

hoping for luck the come up

how could I find you

if I couldn’t find me?

da club

you know where it is

who goes

gets included

& know for sure

who gets through the door

& more importantly

that you won’t

not a question

of clothes manners money

more

are you one of them?

went to the right schools

colleges university

on the back of daddy’s

foundation family funds

in a line going back in history

the in crowd

made clear

because you

are not there

that night at the crossroads

the man in my ears

is telling me of his hell

travelling blues the women

the drugs the booze

living in hotels

& he wants me to feel

some kind of sad

sorry for the sucker

how hard his life is

those hours on the stage

playing stuff he wrote

only yesterday

when he got the people

putting their money down

they worked night shifts more

telling him he’s great

they’d give their life for

& if I can give it to you

straight on the level

you & the devil

you made your deal

that night at the crossroads

& if it don’t suit no more

just turn out the light

there’s more thousands waiting

will run up the steps

won’t whine on their feels

be pleased to be there

getting their words out

pleasing us the crowd

everything falls away

time is rust

oxidising beliefs

politics

sexual desires

wants

personality

lifestyle

& it creeps

in slow dust

inertia

until one day

you look around

wonder

how did I get here

become this?

& time snickers

there in the wings

you thought you had her

& instead

she has

will have you

every last drop