Ducks in the city

our place
a paved yard
with a stone shed
& a girl
who didn’t care
either way
loved the idea of pets
so we bought
three ripe banana
yellow ducklings
fed ‘em on starter corn
& they grew
as they got whiter
well it had to be me
needed to trim one wing
otherwise they’d fly away
you have to learn that
it doesn’t come easy
& the ducks don’t
like it much
other stuff
what folk don’t know
about ducks
is how comical they are
they play games
on each other
fight for food
& they stink
will shit on anything
will nibble everything
I’d clean the yard
once a week
shovel the sawdust
into a bag
go to the tip
throw clean sawdust down
& eggs
every day
a new light green egg
they just kept on giving
the either way girl
time came
to end that thing
we didn’t have
she wanted to clip
my wing
tether me
though she wouldn’t
look after the ducks
or me much
the harder part
of killing ducks
is they don’t want to die
you try to be humane
make it quick
a snap of the neck
& done
but it ain’t like that
if you care
it hurts to do
much like love
even bad love is
much as
the either way girl
refused to believe
it was over
held no idea
of how little
she gave
thought her looks enough
I feel sadder now
when I remember
about those
dirty white ducks
in that city yard
than I do about
the either
though I understand
she hates
my callous ways


standing in the cold
breath clouding
last words
before we leave for home
the half lit world
just starting to stir
as we begin
to think of sleep
the night shift
is a hazy world
of in-betweens
never quite getting
the day
living like others
our hazy camaraderie
begins to break
we nod
in deference
to the work we made
stunts we pulled
games played
on each other
in the night before
to get through
the pain
that is working
while our loved
ones sleep
say goodbyes
head back
to our homes
rat holes
never to see
the light
like citizens do.

South Harting june 3rd

I haven’t been here for a few weeks now and I can tell the difference as I stroll along the path into the down. The recent hot weather and showers have helped the Dog roses and blackthorn to grow into the pathways lending a green shine as the sun bores through their canopy. As I walk further the path becomes darker under the Yews; my foothold more slippy as the sun cannot dry out the mud under here. Above the wind is whipping the trees back and forth to give the occasional bright flash of light before the canopy closes again.
At the bottom of the trail I scatter rabbits left and right, they haven’t heard me coming because of the wind. I stand and watch as they run, tails bobbing. The sky is open here, clouds scud across leaving fast weaving shadows of shade and light across the three lush green valleys that intersect here. I climb a bank to sit on top of a small hill to see further, across on the other valley slope are two deer. One is resting half in shadow and the other is grazing. I stand and watch for minutes, they appear not to have seen me. I sit and watch the wind sending tree blossom and leaves across the valley floor. Then I see two more deer; slowly moving across left to right. I lie back to watch the clouds racing over my head, the noise of aircraft and the distant road subside.
I wake up.
Grazing to my left is a baby rabbit, maybe 15 feet away, totally unconcerned by my presence, it continues to feed as I slowly stand up and stretch myself. I decide to see if the deer are still on the opposite bank, they are but now there are four. Big beautiful and red brown, two lying down and two feeding. Bright and bold in the sunshine. In late autumn I’ve heard the bucks braying here but never seen one, today I get to see what beauties they were calling to.
Its time for me to go, I begin my walk back again scattering more rabbits, some bigger ones this time, one sits beneath a thorn bush, pressing low into the ground and I gently walk away to not frighten them further.
Walking up the hill, back into the shade and cool, I stop to catch my breath and admire the rust coloured yews when I hear a snuffling, a rustling. There at my feet a baby badger is scouting the new undergrowth, feeding on whatever lies there. I can’t somehow believe this, I stand mesmerised as it rushes back and forth, creating its little path, I could reach down and stroke it, its that close. I’ve seen badgers before but I’ve had to work hard for the pleasure, this is incredible to have it playing around my feet searching for food. I introduce myself, seems so impolite not to when I am part of its dinner table, it stops, sniffs and then runs to hide behind a tree. This is comical; I can still see its body sticking out behind the tree. I leave, taking in the dog roses twining around the trees and waving in this late spring wind.


You went ahead
& did it
writing in the note
how you’d researched
the detail
& I’m still not there
in the place
where I can support
your decision
& yes
it wasn’t mine to take
there were a hundred plus
to say goodbye
& not one
would’ve denied
you comfort
in your last days
but you took
yourself away
kept it all in
& denied us
our care
our thoughts
we knew that life
was not going
how you’d
planned it
whose does?
& I was hoping
you’d get through
over yourself
into that place
where all of us sit
in life
goofy faced
& laughing
look at WTF happened
to our plans
but hey
no transigimos con la traición
for a friend
I once felt
as part of my family
& was hoping
to meet again

slotting nice words into rows

They sit & watch the box
my loves
mother & daughter sharing
tv experiences
while I sit
in other rooms
stringing words
to lines
or lying
I understand
from that same tv
that these shows
are shared by millions
are the best thing
and i
of course
just can’t get
don’t understand
that staring at flicker
is life affirming
like small talk
nice dinner parties
I guess I never have
not being built that way
though I do get
that the tv
telling me of it’s brilliance
is like those tired poets
slotting nice words into rows
rhyming with brilliance
but still can’t raise a flicker
telling me
how great they are.

So you want a Rant…

I’m sick of ‘cool.’ Maybe it’s an age thing. Perhaps I’m passed it, passé, whatever: Cool is done. That cold sickening clutch that kept me in the face of mirrors and the thrall of  boutiques (Ouch) and menswear emporiums is finished…
Cool has cost me many things in its time, sex, love and many new experiences. In exchange, fumbles: embarrassment and hot despicable secret yearnings that but for being ‘cool’ may have come to fruition. Stuff Pulp Fiction: “Are We Cool?” No, We damned well are not.
Instance; aeons ago I dated a woman for over 2 years, (lets call her Alice) we were ‘cool’ in that we had opportunities to date others, sleep with others, If you’ve ever tried cool you know that musical score. Then I met a new sweet thang and said goodbye to Alice, six months after that end, the new sweet thang and me were living together and Alice calls me, desperately needing to talk she said. We met, and she told me “I’ve always Loved you” and “could we get ‘it’ together again?” But for cool I would have called her a stupid bitch, told her to get a life, instead I took the offered shag and became embroiled again in a relationship going nowhere-‘cos that was the ‘cool’ thing to do. (‘Chorus: I can handle it’)
Eventually she met somebody even ‘cooler’ than me, he could ignore her completely, forget his medication and roundly declaim limericks in marks and sparks, believe me: I could never compete with that level of cool.
I later dated a Bulimic Alcoholic Sex Fiend with Drug problems, hey, I was swinging then. She screwed my friends, stole our money, crashed anybody’s cars, and threw total wobblies in the least generous of public places. When I ran, (succumbing maybe to my first uncool phase) hepcats criticised my lack of backbone, threatened to withdraw my Rayban privilege. Though none of them picked up the baton, they were aware of her drawing power as out of control Virago and wanted the cachet of being close to such a fount of chill. I stayed home Saturday nights for a while-always the first sign of being out of the loop. Watch out for it. If you find yourself saying things like ” there’s this really good documentary…” you’re there: almost becoming yourself.
Being Cool did have its upside though; I’ve shagged strange women in stranger places, arrested almost. (He needed to watch first) Woken up in strange towns (and times) not knowing how we arrived there or better yet how we were going to get back to wherever it was we started from. Those faces have gone from me now, cool does that, cool desperately needs new faces. Friends know you fart, get scared of heights, butterflies, the shape of strangers heads on the bus (yes, your friends know you’ve ridden the bus in total fear of cowlicks and that pee stain on a strangers trousers) cool needs people who don’t know these things about you and are in need of fellow conspirators to hide their own Laundromat size guilt pusbags of neuroses. Cool means an end to long term friendship, cool don’t cope with ‘fucking up’ How I got both terms in one sentence is difficult enough, to have both in a relationship: no way.
No way, yes way, cool means talking silly, all that asshole stuff from movies, but to base a life on? I see ‘cool’ folks in cars headbanging away, yep, to Bohemian Rhapsody, post-modern or not, Irony in that particular case is not cool. Get a life, oh shit; there I go again with the patter. Cool is passing me by now; I catch the grins from schoolkids as they check out my lack of dress sense, crap haircut, lack of labels and utter lack of yo-yo… So, what am I left with? All those years of attempting street suss must have left something behind, I think its this: Real smarts stem from an inner state of Grace, the knowing that the doing of something is good for me or another, cool is the doing for the sake of show for self or others.
I’m glad I’ve lost it: Will You?

Soul eaters

they will try to take your soul
for what?
a petty promotion
over you
or maybe they’ll lean long
on you
sure I can do this
for a little while
you think
while plotting escape
as they crank on
how wonderfully great
they really are
as they seep
trying to get
in you
soul eaters need easy ears
to pour their thin thoughts in
strong shoulder to stand on
ideas to bolster their own
their self status does not come
from within
any deep place
sense of self
so need a stepping stone
to confirm their sense
of place in the world
no matter
how much your protest
this soul
is not for sale
your presence confirms
never forget that
if you stick around
you will be worn down
that’s how erosion works
on stepping stones

thats the spirit…

Sometimes, things in life just cohere, come together. I’d been working in a hostel, sleeping there three nights a week, it was a caretaker role. Ten ‘til eight the next morning, keeping a watchful eye in case of fire, fights between residents and oppor-tunists who would try to take advantage of the vulnerable residents. A position of great but no powers. This isn’t about them.
I’d been there about seven years, starting in my student days where the quiet over-nights gave time to write essays and the dissertation. My room was a sparse twelve by eight, single bed, bedside locker, small wardrobe and a sink. And to emphasise its utility they kept the mops and vacuum cleaners in there too.
In the latter years I’d had disturbed nights, waking to my room full of smoke that dis-appeared as I blinked myself awake. Slight sounds of crying that too evaporated as I woke and sought where they came from. These I accepted as single incidents until the night I heard a voice.
The voice was low, a murmur against the night: ‘I want my daughter, I don’t know where she is, please help’ and that put the willies in me, now, today, I feel a shiver, like I did back then. I was more than a bit scared. I got out of bed, put my pants on, checked the corridors: nothing. Went back to bed. I didn’t hear the voice until a few weeks later, the same message, sounds of crying and would wake up, put the light on and it would be gone. I didn’t tell my work colleagues, thinking that they may think me worthy of medication.
The coming together was with one of my students-I’d gone from being the student to teaching. Derek was a great oddball, a flaming haired torrent of odd ideas and plati-tudes, he’d always be at the centre of discussions on life, its meanings and what it all meant. He was a spiritualist who held the notion that all religions held but a splinter of the original diamond that was the truth. He was great fun but you wouldn’t want to be alone with him in the kitchen at a party.
Eventually I told him of the events at my hostel. He offered to bring his posse to try to help, I mulled this over, knowing my employers would not appreciate such a group visit, so he suggested I try to respond to the voice. She spoke again some nights later, so I asked her what she wanted and she cried more, saying she’d lost her daughter in the war and did not know how to find her. It is an odd feeling, in the middle of the night, talking to the air, not knowing if you are indeed quite mad, hear-ing a disembodied voice from 50+ years ago telling tales of the war and death. I needed help.
Derek and his odd friends arrived late one night-I felt I had to ensure all residents would be unaware of this visit and not just to be sure my employers would not find out.
They sat in a circle of five as I sat on my bed observing. They settled themselves and then began offering to help. It took a while and then they called to her, called her to them, then called her to the light. It has become a cliché now, the calling to the light, but in that moment, I understood that her journey was incomplete and she needed to move on. It was odd, I was observer and involved, apart yet immersed and as they called her, I suddenly felt her pass through me and into their circle and then…gone.
They sat a while longer. We talked, I gave them my thanks and they gave theirs to me for giving them chance to help a lost wandering soul. After that there were no more disturbances, no more smoke, voices or restless feelings. Derek offered me a space in his group, a place to develop my clair‘audience’ my ability to hear voices. I went to see if I did have something but seemed to have nothing, except at the end we sat and waited to see if we had any ‘messages’ for others in the group. I felt an urge to tell one woman that her house contract would fall through that the seller was not to be trusted. It meant nothing to her. Other oddments too fell on unwanted ears. Oh well eh?
The job at the hostel came to an end soon after that, I had a quiet leaving party until my colleague who slept there the nights I didn’t, told me of her disrupted nights, of sounds, lights and fear. How she hadn’t slept in that room for over a year. I felt a re-lief that It wasn’t just me and told her of Derek and his ghostbusters and that it was over. She hugged me, said thanks, she too feeling absolved of madness.
Later I told Derek of this and he looked at me oddly, ‘you still doubt?’ he said and shrugged to let me know that it was weirder to ignore this truth than holding conven-tional views.
‘By the way’ he later continued ‘you know your messages in that group? The ones that nobody could take? We met the following week and talked about them, you were about ninety degrees out on the people you gave them to!’ I never went back to that group, the need, the pull was not there, what happened next is another day, another story.

this mug is mine

this mug is mine

would you want to see
this older face
across the table in the a.m?
I recognise my charm
in the dark
between sheets
and your choice
in these things
at night
when we were excited
to do the bumpy thing
but now the heat is gone
its coffee and toast
will you want to see
this face again in the a.m
or will I be
another finger
in your lying memory
of lovers past.

what else?

What else is youth for?
laying out under the stars
staring into space
scaring yourself
at how insignificant you are
knowing that nothing
you can ever do, say
will alter
the firmament
much like
your life
in front of you
will hold no meaning
for anybody
else but you
or possibly
a tiny circle
that you will create
which is
the tiny parcel of sky
you see as you lie
in the long grass
late at night