Angel

featured in the poetry forum March 11, 2018  :: 0 comments

is a dog:
disturbed
canine, ASBO, punk.
We love her loose wires.
She has extra needs.
I thought I’d stretch
my neck out for her.

She ate my Apple Mac lead:
sixty five quid on top of Michelle’s slippers;
anything but the Ox Blood ten holer Docs.

I don’t get the jogger destruction gene,
or the random furry death squad triggers.
I think she’ll require understanding.
You can get a ‘dog’ MSc.

How she did the Houdini
was a sleight of paw. She just wanted
to tower over terriers.
Dogs have egos too.

I pretend to eat her tripe.
I wonder if she’s smart.
I’m the top dog, however,
at bedtime she divides us: gooseberry.

She has a two ton dog chain.
With skinny jeans and leather
I walk her looking like a CHAV.
I don’t give a monkey’s what locals
make of Angel. She has the best excuse
for how she randomises:
once a stray, now a daddy’s girl;
expect the odd surprise.

ASBO – a UK term, meaning anti-social behaviour order
CHAV – means council house and violent

editors note: In this world of "dog eat dog," it pays to have your own Angel. - mh clay

The generation gap

featured in the poetry forum January 3, 2018  :: 0 comments

On a barstool, recalling smoking on buses, to Joanna,
I suggest all workplaces, will eventually ban her habit.

By noting “no egg,”
“VEGAN” appears on the till’s LCD.
I make assumptions about her customer.

Words like “GAY” and “BISEXUAL,”
are cast, from a dozen feet behind me.
My radar’s sensitive, so I fake disinterest.

There’s a Tweed, flat-capped, and bearded young man.
Unlike me, he doesn’t talk to the blonde and braless,
Joanna. Age accommodates sociologically.

I mention “Bommy” night to her,
leading to weather predictions,
based on a wet yesterday.

It’s about mood: that common denominator.
It’s “old-git-ish” talk, not chat-up stuff.
Ironically, a beard aids the latter.

Dave Allen’s topical on Facebook.
With the middle-aged relating,
hipsters ponder Reconciliations.

Returning from the basement toilets,
I check music ads: “Margaret WHO? Joe WHO?”
I guess they’re no-marks. Some guy in an overcoat
heads upstairs. He’s BEARD in my peripheral vision.

He sings the Beetles: “Michelle.”
I’m wed to one. Past paranoia
forces me to decide, if there was sound at all.

I leave. In minutes a bun is spotted.
It decorates a young man’s head.
Then I contemplate the generation gap.
“It’s me,” I accept, quickly expanding “WTF?”, audibly;
and resigning to incrementing age.

editors note: It pays to be in touch with your out-of-touch-ness. Relevance is relative. - mh clay

Chatting to a spirit in the garden

featured in the poetry forum April 30, 2016  :: 0 comments

I can’t hear you
calling my name anymore.
It used to be as fresh as dew
from my breath;
a stream
dried up in silence now.

The panics have gone.
I sleep nights without sudden
sprung awakenings.

Forgive me,
I’ve moved my wedding ring.
Who would want me
with mind and body unfit
and with no capacity to provide?

Lucy puzzles me.
She didn’t seem to recognise you
in the home where you passed.
She’s missed you before;
on your long infections absence.
She’s only a dog.

What would we be doing
now it’s summer again?
selling up?
living in Morocco,
drinking gallons of mint tea in Marrakesh?
Joking, my parents wouldn’t bless that.

Incidentally, I didn’t go to church today. I might
have fallen out with them again.
I’m trying to accept
we all share this destiny,
but I’m only forty-five.

We’ve had a robin and a wren
nesting this year. I sit outside
watching the parents.
They fetch grubs.
I wish you could see them.
Maybe you’re here
a second ahead?

You’re listening.
For the first time
I don’t feel odd about being alone:
hope it’s Okay,
I’ve got a “Bestie” on Facebook,
like a sister you understand.

I’ve still got my problem with work:
honesty. I can’t present
a mask, it leads to pain.
Love should ALWAYS trust.
It’s not easy when everyone
is happy to kick sand
in your sun-blistered face.

Robin keeps landing on the washing-line;
a silhouette against a cloudless sky.
Even planes leave no trace.
He’s been eighteen inches away
once or twice.

Robin must love.

editors note: We all have ghosts to catch up with our time. - mh clay

Extortionate fashions

featured in the poetry forum February 4, 2015  :: 0 comments

Tattoo, tattoo;
I know my brain.
I’m going to let people see it.

I’m going to make
an irreversible decision.
I’m going to buy personality.

Surely if I have
curly-wurlies or barbed
wire bicep badges,
I’ll be praised down the pub
and considered cool.
Ken will have transformed me.

I’ll be a sheep.
I’ll post a Facebook status
saying I NEED another tat.

It will be hard
to go under the pin.
I’ll literally
be a martyr.

I know my brain.
I know my fucking brain.
I’m going to tattoo my forehead.

You can’t top that.
I’m the daddy now.
When I hit sixty I’ll be proud.

I could have been an artist
or a cellist, or a saint,
but I wanted to line Ken Fleck’s pockets.
I’m fucking cool. I’ve got a tiger in my tank.
Your lack of ink must be boring.

editors note: It's all the rage; from tabula rasa to illustrated man. Ink, Baby! Ink! - mh

Straight, lost and stepping out.

May 19, 2014  :: 0 comments

Steve helped.
He was older and gay.
Beforehand I had my mum.
I didn’t realize Steve fancied me,
but liked his attention
which let me sit in bars accompanied.

Steve suggested
we went to Rocky’s:
a gay joint out of town.
You could be yourself there.

We had dull university jobs.
At Rocky’s I was introduced
to a camp colleague of Steve’s.

There was a single dancer in a bat-like coat.
I watched him spin mesmerisingly
and wanted to be him.

Steve beckoned me downstairs.
The vastness smelled of poppers.
Mustaches where pandemic; tight jeans,
black leather caps, waistcoats
with chains complemented,
in a packed sheep pen,
herded.

Drunk, I went home feeling alive.
The cabby asked me if I was gay.
I denied.

As I got older the depression passed.
Rocky’s, Steve and drinking
vanished; in that order.

7/9/12

You can tell he’s standing out in style

featured in the poetry forum May 19, 2014  :: 0 comments

to repel friends; in a dark
Gieves and Hawkes suit.
It gives it away, wearing
an ironed red shirt and blue silk tie,
in 25 degrees C plodding
down the street. With neat hair
and no shades to hide
his uninterested gaze,
he’s always on foot.
The height of the sun
is his P45. He doesn’t
want inclusion. In autumn
he’ll don his Crombie
with matching black
polished brogues.

I don’t know his agenda
but he’s a beacon
in a town of fast-food,
tattoos and hoodies.

22/7/13

editors note: Whereas clothes make the man, sometimes armor is made of clothes; protection from all but noonday sun. (Note: A P45 is a British document detailing termination of employment. However, we don't have one of these for Michael.) - mh

Same old same

featured in the poetry forum October 12, 2012  :: 0 comments

Venus is fading
like smoke
drifting
from a cigarette.

I’m out, looking
down the terrace row
that’s flanked by Venus
nightly.

Static structures cage me.
Damn them
and that glow
from the chlorine polluted baths,

cathedral high. Bleached
orange skylights
lead to a distorted heaven
and Venus disguised by pigeon muck.

Across the wasteland
windows flicker. Televisions
are strewn like dandelion seeds
planting their numbing attraction. Venus

is as rare as frog’s teeth
in people’s minds. I look to the sky,
chest open, then sigh as I see
Venus yet again.

23/3/12

editors note: The seductive siren, faded and fouled. Her song, too faint to arrest attentions; all eyes and ears attuned to the television toccata. - mh

The summer’s in doubt

featured in the poetry forum August 12, 2012  :: 0 comments

The summer’s in doubt
and I’m happiest in the sun.

Walking down Oxford Road,
I don dark shades.

There are young students. I’m a sad old git,
can’t carry off the trends now.

The summer used to last forever,
now time’s slipping by.

Once I drove an open top MG
in the Cheshire countryside.

Now I fantasise how life could be
if I were twenty again.

The summer’s in doubt,
more so year on year.

Don’t throw my smile back at me,
I don’t want to live on the margin.

I’m perplexed
and clinging on.

14/3/11

editors note: Keep looking for that endless summer long after the first snowflakes fall. - mh

Side-effects

featured in the poetry forum June 3, 2012  :: 0 comments

I can
xsense you,
xxyellow, one
xxxinch thick, curved.
xxxxYou’re not alone,
xxxxxthough the others
xxxxxxare too obscure. They
xxxxxxxdon’t visualise clearly.
xxxxxxxI’m dozing but I’m
xxxxxxxwell aware of shape
xxxxxxxunder my head, hiding.
xxxxxxxI’m fully clothed below
xxxxxxxmy quilt, and carrying
xxxxxxxmy Puma pen-knife.
xxxxxxxI slash your blue
xxxxxxxcover and white
xxxxxxxcotton inner bit.
xxxxxxxI even walk
xxxxxxxdownstairs
xxxxxwith you,
xxxxxbefore I
xxxxrealise
xxxthere is
xxno fruit
xin my
pillow.

28/2/12

editors note: Better a banana than a side o' bacon, methinks! - mh

Badge

featured in the poetry forum April 1, 2012  :: 0 comments

It would hang two inches by one,
of hallmarked silver, luring him into the shop.
It was detailed to the belly button.
The finely cast body made him sadden but excite,
when he saw Christ so clearly.

He bought a two foot chain for it,
and tried it on. It was modestly hidden by a shirt.
He smiled at the jeweller
and received no response,
as if their religions didn’t snap.

He wore it with pride,
but now it’s lying in his bedroom drawer,
neglected since his mania passed
one still, crisp
autumn morning.

The crucifix mingles with strips of lithium and risperidone.
He’d been taking those straight-jackets
since that turn of summer 98,
when his mind made runaway connections,
and he thought he’d finally grasped the truth.

2/12/01 – 13/7/11

editors note: Bedroom drawers are the smartest place to keep old emblems of passed enlightenment. Damn, I had to get a tattoo! - mh