I am a firing gun, all bang and boom
That lingers through your ringing ears,
Inviting tiny shivers down your spine.
I’m dancing in your eyes, where sparks
Collide, where darker dreams can hide
Behind a veil of life and deeper meaning
Seems deceiving, framed in such a fading light.
I am a name among a thronging crowd of bodies,
Intertwined with power, fame, and sin.
I’m without logic; long devoid of my own time,
A concept lost at sea and weeping, once destroyed,
Now empty save for fleeting details, tempting costs,
All writhing in a wailing hole within me,
Somewhere deep I call my soul.
My watch keeps up with time on better days,
But those are rare, and little comfort
When the ticking sounds like panting dogs
Fade into wheezing stutters with a sigh, and stop.
I’m told the spring within is fragile,
Flagellated by the winding turns that set
The grinding cogs again against each other,
But, although it slacks, it shows no sign of
Cracking under pressure as it counts its passing years.
A whimsical possession, it attracts the gaze
Of strangers; drawn like magpies to its glimmer.
Face to face with jagged industry, they grace
Mechanical design with complimentary lines
From Hallmark cards and ageing social customs.
As the bitter owner, I must smile and nod
My lonely thanks and move along, my one-time pride
A crime against my better nature, waiting
For the moment that I need it most for it to finally
Give up the ghost and cling like ashes to my wrist,
And though I know I should resist,
I’ll fix it when it wakes beside me,
Lingering – both letting time go by.
A flu poem.
The right words chatter on my teeth, lie trapped
Beneath my tongue that hangs fire, pulls back
From the moment of bravado welled up in my throat,
My chest, my heart, all splitting seams and spluttered fits
Of energy and wit, both muted into boiling stomach shame;
Both crushed to flaring embers under guilt and
Gripping chains of insecurity.
What little I have left to muster forth comes trickling
From my lips like blood from lingering wounds;
All hollow sounds that haunt the air like
Scarred-up stains on flaking skin;
All carcasses that melt into the earth, still
Wailing, mewling, scrabbling at the soil
That swallows whole their loss without lament.
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When water becomes wine, I imagine
You’ll tilt your fair head, catch your specs
In your hand as it brushes your face,
And let yourself hang in the moment, amazed.
Those sack-laden shoulders might shrug
At the novelty, only in mimicry –
Wiggling out of the wall –
While your eyes travel northward
And off to the west, still only in jest,
But this time capturing truth through mockery
In the silk-lined pocket you bare in a gasp.
I’ll say ‘Oh! You pixie!’, and you’ll grin,
But inside you know it’s time to move on.
Bohemian wraps, perhaps? Oh dear,
Still locked in the past you wish were the here
And now, you post-modern creature!
Relish your time in youth, as you leap
From the train with a flail and a howl,
For those speak-easy fans, trigger-happy in wit,
Who have shown you indulgence
As you’d never dreamed it could possibly be.
Without standing on ceremony, though, permit
That I say it is you, old friend, that’s shown me.
The champagne was vintage, I’m told,
And I’ve scarce reason to doubt it.
But upon request, they should have said
Whether or not it was one glass per guest.
Now I’m sat on the edge of a building,
Feeling a little light-headed –
A bit of a pickle, to be sure.
Next time, I’ll stick to bourbon.
A true slice-of-life lunchtime encounter.
The man in Nandos didn’t smile,
Or even raise his head to greet me.
“Can I help you?”
Everything about him screamed
But we all wear masks, I guess.
There’s not much choice, really,
When you’re ordering in Nandos.
He sighed, and I knew he’d heard
That half-ass joke
Too many times before;
“In a wrap, piri piri sauce, no onions.”
It was too late to rectify
My woeful lack of judgment,
But I tried anyway, if only
So I’d walk away with food in hand.
Needless to say, I was disappointed.
Not sure he was, though.
They came for our tea,
All smirks and saucers,
Battering down the door
With stone-cold cosies.
They took everything,
Every bag, every leaf,
Every fragrant whiff
They could ram up their nostrils.
It took too long to brew,
So they killed the kettle
With brimming fury
And hard, limey water.
“Stop,” we cried, helpless,
“Please, stop this madness!”
They were having none of it,
Waving away our cries
With a free hand, reaching
Out for a jammie dodger.
Even without reading, we knew
Our fortunes looked bleak;
Reflected not in calm earl grey,
But in the gaunt abyss
Of jet black stony pupils,
Dilated, engorged on chaos
And weeping sugar-coated tears
Of bittersweet, ravaging joy.
I will never go fishing.
Taking time out from the world
With a rod between my knees
And a hat to shade my eyes
Holds no appeal to me.
An island in a crowd,
I’m always casting out,
And don’t need bait and hooks
To make my catch.
Sometimes, I might wonder
Whether I will be reeled in
From where I’ve wandered;
Whether all I need is
Pink and orange feathers
To draw in close and snag my jaw.
Just like that, suddenly,
Without any real warning,
I’ve become a real fish.
No use begging, ‘Let me go’,
I’m someone’s salty supper now.
He says he’s pleased, but underneath,
And shining through in drunken eyes,
I know he’s somehow sad as well.
Perhaps he thought he’d always buy
The drinks, strike up a swift rapport
With maids and tenders as they met,
And treat me to a frosted glass
Of amber-hued elixir. Now,
The man with means is me, while he
Waits patiently for bitter beer.
While he might shrug, and slump, and sigh,
I’ve never been a prouder son.