Saturday, 30 June 2012

Bus notes 8

Each time the bus goes
past the City Hospital
     I find myself naked
     in the UV light
     but for the one sock on
     and a visor over the face.
The good laughter
and wrong comic turns
of the nurses hoped me to
a new kind of humanness
     before I walked, shining,
     on to work’s baby doses
     of quotidian disgrace.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


At the chain restaurant (trussed up French), she told me
she hadn't prayed for months. I said I wasn't praying too.

Here's us then, happy that with our bit
of unhappiness revealed,
we're one person closer to a common custom.   

     no instructions or magic patterns to make
     that old old sort disappear

     no holy potion to make us throw
     our own darts into the nothing there
     all smiles

Only the empty glass of average wine,
and the impatience
of the waiters sensing an hour extending.

Nobody ever gets the wage they ought.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Bus notes 7

      Three old women sit 
      beside themselves.
      One of them half smiles;
      the others won’t.
In singing together, “And can it be”,
they’re at war with the official exorcists.
      They could make a gold light
      burn all of us up
but they just keep on
with the song, wholly lost
in the tonal holy work 
and the remembered words.
      People are finding different ways
      not to hear.
The bus turns from the park
toward Winson Green
and the long, weighted line
of the prison wall.
      What on Earth is a hymn for?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A Postcard

                           We’re where we ought
                                                         not to be

                              All along the esplanade
                                               the heavy weather
                                            disregards our
                                                         little faces

                   big waves come       explaining nothing

                             We’re here with the old new sun
                                                         and sandwiches 
                                and cheap spades and the given time
                                            all turned over to misrule

                     On the beach
                             there’s no corners 
                                            where we're hid
                                   There's nowhere
                                                    but the lines 
                                                            are all rubbed out

                                                Our blue and dying anoraks 
                                  Our fresh skin clinging 
                                                  Us as aliens         

                                                                                A great bell is rung
                                                                          some place far off

                           The tree’s green spasms bless ache
                                                                          stain some and then
                                                                she goes back
                                                                                   to her shivers
                                                                 and bent branches
                                              A big shock of fuck off hair

             The counting songs won’t work
                                   with the rain going on and on

                          Each wave does break
                                              all in a tempo still
                                     The sea is not an animal at all  

                                                                  Here’s crashing for

                               the easy yoke

                                              the jokes unstopped 

                                        the tinned cream        

                                                                    the truth of eczema      

                                    the wet, dark slate

                      the old man’s first tongue lost

                                                the near to broken bellowing clock

                               As Taid types praises of Germania
                                                              tiny fingertips make pictures
                                     on the clean white wall      

                                                   Us as kids
                                                              in time
                                                    will come unstuck        


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Bus notes 6

The boys at the back are laughing
as if their laughter
ought to be heard.
They make it sound like pretending.
       Phone music scratches
       the people done in
       by a waged day.
There’s some showy book in my hands;
these eyes slip on the spilt words
to fall almost to sleep.
       Everything is knackered
       with it so close 
and the stated heat.
Tomorrow, couldn’t you just
not go in?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

This is history! The next installment

I bet you were gnawing off the fingertips in expectation. Well, the waiting is all done now, little ones. Come slake your thirst at the Bard's own Bong.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Bus notes 5

        There’d been too many coffees
        and the blood went at a rate.
Talking with Dad before: 
it was words heard wrong, 
the working hurts, a smashed up house.
        Some bloke by the doors
        was kicking out a foot
        with paper stuck to it.
The dirty water slid across the floor.
        We passed the Oratory
        and the lights were out
        and no one crossed themselves
        and everything was still
        in the light and the waiting.
I said in a too loud voice,
we’re all going the same way.
        The whole of the lower deck
        shut up quick and turned
        to look at the thin rain
        start to repeat itself.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Tales from the School of Art

Falling over hisself with
          his tumbledown longing
        giving out the raggedy signs
                      with a dirty brush

       Glamour, disarming
                  scorning the polished demand
    seeping between the fingers
                   held over the eyes

                     Blossoming: the burst sea wall
                remembered here
                        and here the hundreds of arcing stars
                      duffing up the hung up dark
            and the Norwegian girl
    drunk and
               in tears and
                   not in love
                       and not in love 

Tom Clark's Blog 2

Tom Clark has posted something from the Wooden Vaults on his blog, Beyond the Pale. There's been some marvellous posts over the last week or so (not that they are ever anything less than marvellous) and I would recommend looking up some of those past treasures.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Bong is Bard Poetry Competition

The lovely people at Bong is Bard are offering 100 US Dollars for the bestest poem/song/prose piece inspired by a number of curious links. To find out more, go to

Lessons in Epic

You’re worried about him.

In this heat, everything moves slowly.

There should be labels for the mistakes
that piled up as he left each room.

We’d had a couple of wraps
and he just kept going on;
his face was one of them weird masks.

Are there dirty roots now
where the tongue once was?

They’re always saying
there’s nothing to do around here.

I am in love with the thought 
of my failing you.

The air is thick with sociology.

I imagine you as a kid
out of your head on Tipp-ex or
asking the court to go easy after your
half-hearted mugging 
in the park.

You’re my favourite narrative
and I want you
to be angry with me.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

I smell blossoms and the trees are bare

     What is it that we’re supposed to be
     hoping for?

     There are no notes to hand.

     (I hear that back in the park
     they’re breeding courtiers at a rate).

The river isn’t a river;
it’s an accident.

     They did the best they could
     with what they got.

The kid on his tiny BMX, dressed up brash,
refuses the mysteries
with his thirty second stunt.

     Just to let you know,
     there’ll be birdsong
     at 5.37am.

     Do you ever do singing?

O what am I to you, sweetheart,
and, angel, what are you to me?

Tom Clark's Blog

Tom Clark has posted my poem Bus notes 4 on his marvellous blog, Beyond the Pale. If you haven't come across Tom's site already (if not, what the hell else have you been doing?) throw yourself in. It's very gratifying to have a poet and critic of Tom's stature pay serious attention to the work.

For all you Brummies and YamYams, he's found some great photographs of West Midlands buses to accompany the work. The image of Rugeley in the Sixties is the bestest.