Texas Storm Warning

An annoyance of grackles

Singing seven passions

In the closed room heat

Of an Austin afternoon

Long spindly legs hopping

Purple to black, in the frockcoat sheen

Of top hat Texas gothic

Calling down the storm

In this river rounded city

Of skeletal skyscrapers rising

A gathering of ghosts has come

Howling down Congress and San Jacinto

From freak beat shacks

And airstream outlaws

Riding city buses from the penitentiary

Saying ‘any day’s a good day, when you’re out of jail’

Faces staring from the sidewalk

Voodoo herbs and fetish dolls

Sprawled beneath the rollercoaster of I-35

A death’s head icon

Spilling dollar bills

There is turbulence and darkness

Thunder booms across the plains

Extreme weather moving in, be

Prepared to seek shelter soon

The timelords stand in circles, velvet

Suits and spikes of colour, beamed in

From the Vulcan, Armadillo

Butterflies swarm upon the

Supersonic highway

And some rough beast is slouching

Out of memory and myth and causing

Pressure drop, temporal drag

Watch the old men meet again

Lords of electricity

Channelled through peyote earth

And whitewashed Institution walls

They came in on tornadoes riding

To the psychic vortex of

This down home second coming born

Of stone jug oscillations, born

Of existential mathematics

Swallowing the sacrament

Come on- let it happen

Because you cannot judge the music

Come on, let it happen

For the music will judge you

Come on let it happen

You must take it all on trust

Come on let it happen

Let it happen to you

Sing I’m not coming home now

I’m not coming home

I’m not coming home

No I’m not coming home

(c) 2015.

Days

Days corrode into

Memory silica

Pouched against mould

Inefficient and grey

Sucrose internalised

Mayday uncertain

So many were eaten

By their televisions

Will I die by water?

Still moving through air

Still singing the reason

And grasping at clouds

This world is all littered

With feathers, I tell you

This brutal museum

Oppresses

(c) 2015.

Mythic Love Poem

Your skin is like motion.

Your hair is like Birmingham.

Your eyes are like some things which I think are similar to eyes but which are not eyes.

I love you.

Your lips are like incest.

Your teeth are like teeth.

Your nose persists, febrile equations, cellular harmonies seen along the curvature of space as a cephalopod gasping, details unknown;

Your cheek

Bones

Your rapid deterioration into charming dust

Still punctures me with globular wet disturbance

I charm birds for you.

I combine mythic food groups

Comb the vitamins from bearded centaurs’ hooves

I sink some piquant liquid drawn from Heaven’s glassblown artifice and bellow:

God I love you

Hold me like a helicopter

Let me rage inside your tongue

Your dogs are wide

Your Christmases are peaking

Let me lamp

And crucify your mineshaft

Lessons hunted

Burdens folded

Capering like basilisks

-Evaporate-

Does anyone believe in knees like we?

(c) 2015.

The Jangle Jangle Man

In the corridors of power

In the doorways of the night

In the closets of the famous

In the bathrooms of the right

In the mortuaries of childhood

In the bedrooms of the free

You’ll find the jangle-jangle man

His pocket full of keys

No single door is locked to him

From Broadmoor to Saint James

From Manchester to Maida Vale

He plays his secret games

The Prince and the Prime Minister

Both greet him with a smile

They love this jangle-jangle man

Such honesty and style

He fixes things for everyone

He might fix it for you

He’s something of a special agent

Old oaths to renew

He walks in daylight never fearing

Censure or redress

Here comes the jangle-jangle man

Don’t bother to undress

And no-one, not the Queen of Hearts

The Duchess cold and dead

The disgraced Leader of the Gang

The child laid in his bed

The wolf of the West Riding hood

The snatcher of our cream

Would stop the jangle-jangle man

From stifling their screams

Here comes the jangle-jangle man

He’s riding on the train

He’s running in the marathon

He’s passing notes again

The last man in the defiled church

Where innocence took flight

The smiling jangle-jangle man

Locks up

Turns out the light

(c) 2014.

On Brighton Buses

Prince Petr Kropotkin

Is ferrying the workers

Back to the newly-declared Anarchist Republic

Of Moulsecoomb

The Driver is returning their fares

Dividing them equally among the passengers

Aubrey Beardsley’s squeezing through

Great pink labia tunnels

As giant cocks sprout up like trees

Along Saint James’s Street

Hermaphroditic aristocracy

Fuck opulently

Outside Morrison’s

In impossible positions

While their bus

Is conveniently

Delayed

Dusty Springfield quite ignores

Her pre-decided route

And cutting up Dyke Road

Sings her siren song out to the Downs

And closing his eyes the driver counts

To ten, a million

Mascara tinted teardrops well up

Around Seven Dials

And roll down to the sea

Norman Wisdom, skidding wildly

Careering across Grand Parade

Colliding with the Who

Patrick Hamilton is stalled

Beside the West Pier

Shabby and dissolute and watching

As Virginia Woolf goes down

Beneath the waves

Ralph Vaughn Williams

Hums hymns

To Hollingbury

Bob Copper roars in harmony

Passengers paying their

Fares on Adam Faith

Are told by the driver that

She don’t want money

She won’t tell them

What she does want

And even when

They offer her

Their hearts, then all she does

Is play it cool

The traffic now is backing up

All the way down Falmer Road

And they suspect that she’s making

A fool of them

“Well I’m offering you a diamond ring”

Shouts one, in desperation

“But all you do is turn me down”

“What do you want, oh boy?”

She quietly replies

“You’re going to town on me”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Pursuing Moriarty

Drives furiously across the Downs

Towards Beachy Head

They disappear into the mist

But no-one sees them fall

On Edward Booth all of the passengers

Are stuffed and mounted in

Grotesque positions

Clawing at the windows

The driver takes

Pot shots at postmen

He seldom misses

Omozap and Afterblatz!

On Jeff Keen’s bulging, dayglo-painted

Upper deck

Dr Gaz still battles with

Vulvana, rayguns blazing

Collages flash five frames a second

In the windows

As the bus careers across

The council gardens

Trailing silver foil and coloured

Plastic through eternity

(c) 2014.

God Bobfrey’s Gone

God Bobfrey’s gone like the smoke from childhood fires

Comforting cartoons when three o’clock brings winter darkness

God Bobfrey draw me scratchy felt tip motion memory

The milk that freezes in the bottles

Prompting ice cream morning glory

Ice erections forcing green top

Bottle caps off

On the redbrick windowsill

In the bare trees birds are watching

All the vanished sparrows pierce

The shiny foil and drink the cream

The snow comes down like dreamers’ eyelids

Whiting out the day but for the

Coloured rags tied round the bursting

Water pipes like flags and scarves brought to adorn

The crazy bulging dry stone wall

And when we jump from on the air raid

Shelter’s rusted corrugated

Iron roof, the snow will hold us

Soft and cold and deep

School stayed open and

We took our playtimes outside still

And threw ourselves down icy paths

Each sliding flailing bruising body

Polishing the glass

And everyone in class with bloody noses

Racing home

With snowballs hiding stones

Grudgingly I must confess

We need the middle classes

They are good at certain basic

Jobs in arts administration

When they’ve finished pissing round

In Brighton and in Shoreditch

“And actually you know they do

Work bloody hard”

And sometimes pay

For poetry

We were born of massive psychic trauma

The end of oil and post-war hope

Check the records: 69-71

Of Altamont and death by water

Paris bathtub, dream is over

Ali beaten, Vietnam

Nixon black and white TV

And all we hear is “got to get back”

“Horse with no name”

“Jesus was”

And “Let me off this”

Then Jeff Nuttall making black

Ice cream, this New Orleans style

Funeral for Pisces age that

Never turned Aquarius

And Hebden Bridge all head shops

Haunted by the crows of Hughes and Heathcliff

Lost before the floods

Let’s play Yorkshire Ripper

Hiding out behind the lock-up

Garages on the estate at night

I will attack you

Force you to the ground

We’re only eight years old, we know

He could be anybody’s dad

Killing little girls with hammers

Writing cut-up letters like

The Sex Pistols

And one day you will meet a man

Whose car will smell inside

Of sunburnt leather

He will take you on the moors

And touch you with his driving gloves

And he will show you stars and where

They buried other children before

You were born

And on the edge of things you’ll see

The factory chimneys rising high

And nothing else will be the same

The motorway will cover

Many sins

Get the bus from North Bridge to

The scarred top of the world

Where some men keep sad bony horses

In their council houses’ bedrooms

Where the walls are crumbling

And everyone sleeps through the same

Asbestos coated dreams

Where a black American

Still parks a Cadillac

Outside the pebble-dashed grey cul-de-sac

They say he was a blues musician

Laughs and gives the children spice

When they say sing us a song

Like “Elvis Presley, having a baby, sitting on the back seat”

The clouds so low they pass through you

Paint graffiti on the wind, it’s thick enough

With Branwell Bronte, sinking pints

In Luddenden, the books

You’ll never write are washed

Out with the slops across the cobbles

Know they built the railways for a reason

Now you watch the trains all come

And go, and drink some more

And hate your sisters, till another

Seizure takes you

When I was younger I knew it

From shit, I think I was

Afraid to be unsure

I had a plastic dinosaur

And waited for the UFOs

And fathers say “I love you” now and

Television never ends and

Roobarb is in

Roobarb Heaven, but

God Bobfrey’s gone

Bob Godfrey’s gone

As well

(from The Last Auk and other poems, (c) 2013).

The Last Auk

Upon that barren rocky mount

That lonely tower of stone it thought

Would be a sanctuary

It peered at me quite disapprovingly

As though through great white spectacles

This old professor, stout, black gowned

Dusty with chalk

His lessons done

It did not run as I approached

But waited; not knowing

Its mate lay dead already in the shallow cave

That could have been a scullery

It was as though it had just rung

For tea and macaroons

And hoped she would bring them along

Since there was company for once

Perhaps mistaking me

In doddering short-sightedness

For its old master Wormius

Come to discuss embryos and unicorns

And throw the runes

Sir, you are about to enter into myth

Gierfugle, spearbird, little wing

Another bird will bear the title Penguin

In your place

While you shall be preserved intact

Highly valued

Numbered, housed and catalogued

All for the common good of man

What could be nobler than that?

Now hold still sir, your collar is on crooked…

They killed your last known sister

For a witch upon St Kilda

They were perhaps in some way right;

That this least favoured species

Should remain extant at all

Was a modern heresy

There is no place in this new age

For flightless birds

Only the strong survive, and those who are

Of use

Although this oafish creature

Lacking grace and speed on land

And exiled from its proper element, the air

Did serve our expeditions in Newfoundland, where

Upon that barren, treeless shore

Their oily bodies made fuel for our fires

And if they did complain

When forced alive into the boiling kettles, well

We heard them not

And so after three nights bound to a stake

The superstitious fowl failed to recant

Only gave out guttural croaks

And fermented some dreadful bane

Within her feathered cauldron- belly

Summoning a storm so dreadful

Even those rain-lashed rock-hewn fishers

Were afraid

And took blunt sticks

And beat the life out of the hapless bird…

Too late it sensed my true intent

And tried to run, too slow

It stumbled arthritically uphill

Towards the rocky precipice

High above the waves that roared and scrummed

Like schoolboys, spittle launched against the cliff

As if in the last moment suddenly

To ride the air with those ludicrous

Stunted wings

Black notes pinned as a jape upon his coat

Flapping frantically to claim

At last the freedom of the skies

I caught him first

I strangled him

He did not cry

This left only the final egg

How like a world it seemed, and yet

Misshaped, a mockery

Archipelagos all unknown

Spattered cross a milky sea

Ink blots of a failed cartography

A world without a future

Judged beneath my heel

(from The Last Auk and other poems, (c) 2012). 

First There Is An Island

She said she knew England
A road without markers
Her justice in pieces
Her magistrates smiling
She said she knew England
An arrogant cousin
In fishhooks and baubles
And tears for the chosen

Policemen are dancing
With bells on their truncheons
And floral print fuehrers
Bake cakes by the fire
The babies chant low songs
Of dread and despair
From pushchairs grown fat
On your Saturday dreams

England- the space in the mirror
The back of your hand
Turned over
Awaiting the cane

Monster munch and crazy paving
Freaked out on cider
And sunbeds in suburbs
Still grateful for bingo
And indoor plumbing
Eyes to the left
And feet underground

Walking down the road of your name
Past crimes glimmer through the mizzle
Letters, hoaxes
Diaries abandoned by April
Fallen through history’s trapdoor
Snapped up by the crocodile king

Cities are mazes
The Minotaur sadness
Futility creeps
But we follow the string
And the carvings-
Lumbered with it
Not too shabby
What’s your poison?
Early morning café grease
The cosmic wheels
Pidgin shouting rooftop prophet
And the writer
Writes of man
And setting out
The rites of Pan
Still shadow-tied
And nursery
Tea total
Oil and blood
And pirate logic
Tick, tock and barrel roll
Still past the pole star
Lost boys waiting
Zippo rag
And shanks all glinting
Play the music
Louder now
But cannot hear the hook
He cannot

Here we are on motorways
On rail replacement
Buses, here we are
Our scrying mirrors on our laps
And here we are
Gone binary
Gone flatscreen instant message
Junkies, here we are
On Easyjet
Gone global
Viral
Here we are
We’re crashing all the programmes
Eating up the world

‘Spare some change,’ he said
And teatime drunk I dropped
Some silver in his hand
‘I didn’t actually expect
You’d stop and give me anything’
He half apologised, but pleased
For the first time I looked at him
His oceanic face
His eyes still swimming
With the tide of youth
But blood-dark scabs
Like Islands
‘Here be Dragons’
On an open map
‘Good luck,’ I muttered
Fatuously
Hurried on
Into the dark
How many changes can we spare
To spoil a god
We kicked out years ago?

And England, well
I never met her
Though she dressed me
Kicked me in the shins
And ran
I found some pennies in my pocket
Half a conker
Sunday shame
A rusting button badge
I sometimes wore…
But now I’m nowhere

England- where?
England- what?
England- who?

Half the world still screaming out
In terror when they think of you
If anybody thinks of you
At all

Roast beef and mustard gas
And in the mud at Glastonbury
Twenty thousand died
Their bodies hanging on
The metal fences
Just on the first day
They closed the gates
Brought back the Beatles
How the crowd all cheered
‘All you need is love’ their leaders sneered
And from the stage they opened fire
You can see it on TV
The slaughter going on for years

First there is an island
Then you are the island
First there is an island
Then the island
Is you

(from The Last Auk and other poems, (c) 2012). 

Bad Poetry

That clumsy, schoolgirl
Stance
Knock-kneed, one foot
Folded
Across
The other;
Your proud, piss-taking smile;
The first Cure album
Spin the bottle
Barely-breasted, naked darkness
And that funny noise you used to make
You later said meant
“Kiss Me-”
The smallest stormcloud
In the air
Between us;
The maddening
And never more
Arousing smell
Upon your neck
Or hair
The night
The church
Burnt down
And the back of
Your knees
In uniform;
And groping under duvets
Burning incense
With the lights out
Half-term phone calls
Bus stop rain
Your mum downstairs
Your sweat, my semen
Dried
Upon your thigh;
The pages of bad poetry
So much better, in a way
Than anything
I’d ever write
Again

(c) 2011

Young Malcolm

And every night young Malcolm prays:
“God give me dirty books and brothel creepers
Give me a revolution- make it sharp!
Give me buried urges to uncover, things that don’t make sense
Oh god though I am just a poxy ginger yid from Stamford Hill
Give me a part to play
In History’s mad glamorous parade.”

Begin at the World’s End
And work your way in
To the centre
All London imagined
From suburban spite
To Soho shame
Release the alchemy
Of unfettered desire,
Mr Guilt and Freedom
Know
That clothes can make the moment and
The city is a wardrobe of
Images, so
Wear what thou wilt is
The whole of the Law

Begin with the premise
That all Art ends in failure
But some of us will fail
More gloriously than others
Stealing meanings
From a country
Frightened of its own reflection
Turn them inside out and show
Them naked, hollow
Dreadlock bop
Zoot Suited Hitler
Dream the mob
The Mutant King

Beneath the paving stones the beach
Beneath the skin a savage heart
Beneath the façade- what?
Another mask?
And every night Young Malcolm plays
Another part
Solemnly says
“Let other boys grow up, grow old
Not me,” he says
“Not me.”

(from Hard and Holy, (c) 2010).