Like a dysfunctional clock
you could strike at ten past four
or five past two
Your ghost and you
have no respect for time
just leap into my head as if
a signal bounced
from number nine
had changed the channel
back to you
for the last three minutes of a sitcom
so familiar that I know the words
and mouth them like
a ritual of resurrection
Mostly it was set in my place
though there was that one hotel
and the day I came to your house
like a final Christmas special
full of fire and love and laughter
As you drove me to the station
we could see the credits rolling
up the windscreen at the back to zero
I’m glad you come and visit in my head
it’s only reruns but they’re still sublime
I too have no respect for time
She wants to implement a dress code now
having slithered in just a week ago,
claimed a desk with a view of the orchard.
She’s started sending e-mail like a friend.
And she sings like the snake from Jungle Book.
Her coils are lithing round my office chair.
They leave pale scales, abraded, on the floor.
She’s squeezing me, constricting me to rage.
We’ve met her before in other gardens;
different faces, different sexes even.
It was her, that dead-behind-the-eyes look
as she hissed out ‘implement the dress code!’
Her name is Legion, or maybe Wardrobe.
‘Trust in me,’ she sighs. Holds out an apple.
he bought me percy pigs
but i don’t like percy pigs.
they’re pink and taste of vile intentions
smell like the seat of a pervert’s car.
he knows i don’t like percy pigs
and yet he bought me percy pigs.
they’re sweet as liar’s lips and
he should know i’ve had enough of those.
i’ve said i don’t like percy pigs
so why’s he bought me percy pigs?
he’ll have to eat them cold himself
like humble pie, words or revenge.
I don’t know why I let you drive me mad.
The meter started ticking when I flagged
your cab that night and it’s still running.
I’m in that seat beside you, cruising
neon days, weeks months of nightshift bonus.
Crankshaft oil and water, yearning fusion
by some absurd alchemical process.
Every time I slide into that old seat
we grate the spark to clutch, to rev, to go.
I hear the slamming of passenger doors
on a summer night but i’m here alone
waiting, road and streetlights, trees and I.
You are The Flying Cabman coming back
cursed every hundred days. There is no brake.
nestled in his hands, trembled
like a fresh mischief
hatched narrow into his head.
eyes tiptoed trepid
across the plumage, lying
perfect. wings outstretched.
but he had to release it
back to the shelf roost.
he has no real headspace for
pinions of that size
flapping words about the house.
one strong beat of a
cover could shatter his arm
or his perfect shell;
something might be introduced
that he’s not used to.
he might learn to fly himself.
then where would he be?
under the window there’s a car
with the noise trying to get out.
it has to be a man.
women don’t need to be loud to be noticed
and the music wouldn’t want to get away.
we’re watching corrie,
old enough not to need the theme tune
to rattle the panes.
david’s pushed his mam down the stairs
and he’s making his girlfriend lie.
he plays his mother like a blonde-stringed ukelele.
the car’s gone now
i turn back to the other street
but hear music escaping, sounds of pursuit
as the beat wah-wahs past like a
speed garage squad car
– but without the car-
during the adverts.
there’s an ‘oi!’ carried down the road by slapping trainers.
he stops to pick up random notes that
squeak and fade.
hang on! familiar brass. part two.
diedre’s been drenched by a passing vanman
vernon’s mates are jamming in the yard
overlaying that’s a tiny bass
beating like a ferret’s heart
‘where are ya? just you get back here!’
it’s behind our tv.
footsteps dissolve into the sound
of rita telling sally
that everything will be all right
‘you can always stay with me, chook
for as long as you need to.’
the rhythm slows to the beat of the credits,
nestles into the warm curves of a trumpet
august in my head is a blood red sun
winched down to the horizon by a crane.
outside my head is rain and the promise
of a month under construction. hard hats
and safety gear behind the cloud’s scaffold.
this year’s anniversary was shrouded
in grey and drowned by a thundering drill.
even the olympics are muted tones
seen in soft focus through the beijing smog
like highlights from the ‘most haunted’ sports day.
and yet in my head is the blood red sun
slotting in the horizon like a coin
behind the westway and the tower blocks
crossing their windows like a relay torch.
somewhere in a bucket in france are some pebbles
holding the da da da da of our love
whatever that da da da da may be.
we sat near the bucket with pain-de-la-something
and flicked in the pebbles one at a time.
making a wish with each buckety clunk
till the pain-de-la-something
and all of the wine was drunk.
what was my wish that i made as the
splish water splayed up the galvanised sides?
what was my wish?
that i could recall
the detail, the beauty, the all of it all.
we are cold smokers
all three wise monkeys doing
‘pocket no evil’
mr goodwin said
‘homework is a self portrait’
splayed examples like magician’s cards
then conjured us home
with paint and sugar paper.
i bore them like myrrh
it may have been then
the magic quickened, conceived
the thing or maybe
when he hung them all
on an empty wall, waited
in silence, then spoke.
his words have escaped
from my head like tricksy doves
but his face is there
and i recognise
his joy, his hunger for our
naive sleight of hand
because i caught it
like a bullet in the teeth
that was there all the time.