Conflagration

Fill the grenade with grenadine
We’ll reutilise the war effort
Repair, recycle and reuse
In such imaginative ways
Yet if all our swords are ploughshares
And all our bullets turned to bracelets
We’ll only beat each other
To death with farm machinery

I’m all for hugging trees
Yet sometimes you need to carve out a
Spear handle and use the light from
That spare candle to whittle out a
Sharp point to penetrate and pierce

We won’t be here much longer
The way we carry on
Carrying out covert ops
Covering the tops of our
Hidey holes with thick foliage
Thin branches delicately draped
Across the entrance

And yet these new school
Retro, remade, post modern
Contraptions keep on turning
Ammunition into pencil sharpeners
And gasmasks into fishbowls
We can deny it all we want
But we all know we’ll need it again
Soon, wipe down the respirator and
Chamber the parer

Bear down on them with teeth bared
And our right to arms a necessity
When it’s been ingrained for so long
A culture built on blood
Soft, slippery surface to lay foundations
Upon
They did it anyway

Fine days and dark nights
Fly by without much more than a whisper
Flickering and flitting through
As we cling on to what we hold dear
Drag it deep down to comfort us
We’ll sit here watching the world burn
And brush dry tinder toward

A forest fire
Breathing in the pine
As it crackles and chokes
Into life
A conflagration for the flagburners
And the deathbringers
The wild, the hungry, desperate and dreary
No survivors set the world afire
And none of us ever expected to make it out alive

Health and Her

Take no photos, make no sound
One day you’ll realise
It’s better to live your life through the iris
Than live it through the lens

One day, one more day is what we all
Hope for
And not one spent in suffocating suits
With collar chafing tight
Around your neck
A millstone made of menswear
Bought for far too much in a store
For people who put store in counting coins
And ticking boxes
Instead of counting blessings

It’s not like me to be esoteric and meaningless
Crumble some creole into the mix
Natty words from a native tongue
Will wow the now crowd but I
Do it for myself and not for them

And if pleasing anyone but family
Matters more to you than your own
Peace and piecing together
Some form of fabric in which
You can live and lay down roots
Then three cheers for your cares
But I’ll take mine to the wire,
Waiting by the phone for those
Three words that nobody ever tires of

Heard in halting breaths
Between exclamations and sighs of
Delight, when we light up the fields
And call it a celebration
With flares, not bombs
And binding blankets that wrap
Us tighter than any razor wire

But it feels like home
Right here, in this moment
In this place, with you by my side
That house is three thousand miles away
Yet all I need is here, is her
All I need is my health and Her

Feline Fierce

One day you might need that hand
When you’re drowning in deep, dark
Water, waiting as it washes over you
Helpless and choking for a breath
One breath, yet you’ve wasted every one
Up until now and you’re thinking

Do I deserve another
How many chances do you get to prove
How mediocre you’ve become and how
Little you can add to a world so full
Of better ideas and nobler causes
I mean, it’s going to hell in a handbasket
And you were there every step of the way
Rubbing oil deep into the flaxen wicker

But you weren’t the prime cause in a world
Without a prime mover
Yet apathy breeds antipathy and your contempt
Could care less who started this shit
So perhaps every hand you snarled and spat at
Was a golden ticket, a chance that comes along
Once in a lifetime and you had your nine lives worth
You felicitous feline with fierce teeth and sharp claws

Matted wet fur dragging you down and sinking your shitty ship
All that promise and potential means so little
When you look up into the eyes of your saviour
And see nothing more than a flicker
Passing across a dull iris, dimly peering back
At the wretched wretch retching rhymes and rhythms
Onto a slate so discoloured and stained

From every time they tried to wipe it clean for you
And set you on your way with backpockets clinking
Fit to burst with the weight of ten-penny dreams
In a land not fit for dreamers
Who refuse to grow up or give in
Or mould themselves, weld their skin into the wheels
And cogs of this macabre machine

You envy the saviour yet they cannot save you
As you savour the favour of the cynics and nihilists
The cut throats and cute thoughts of those
Who think they know more than the little that they know
They keep rocking the cradle, the basket
That little handbasket whilst you play with your yarn
Yarn, yawn and drone on
About better places, times and things you could do
Seizing yesterday and doggy paddling into the jaws of defeat
With a smug little grin, singing “c’est la vie”

Glamor

Out-thought, outfought and out-gunned
Pinned down in a mental trench
With ammo running low
And the supply train backed up
Several miles away
Behind those hills

You’re knee deep in
The shit you’ve been spouting
And the shovel you hold is the
Only weapon you have to hand
So keep on digging
Deep, down

Where your mental fortitude meets
The furnace that has long since
Been abandoned
It’s no more than a hatstand my friend
You are just a pretty face
With all the lacquer run thin
And the wax weeping from the canvas

Plainer than the plains and planing down
The sand, taking a belt sander to that
Rusty old brain box and you’ll crack it open
To find you’re two screws short of a shed
And you’re the not the sharpest tool

Weave your glamor
Cast your wide net and hope they’re
Ensnared
Unaware and meeting what you’ve
Allowed to approach their eye

The ewe and I graze greedily
Munching, chomping down in the pasture
I take turns with the tern on my back
To guess why we graze
Yet the ewe that is you
Plaintively bleats back
I’ve heard that we follow the herd

When all that you’ve said
Cannot be done
When every river bed you’ve followed
Has run dry and the road has ran out
When you’ve exhausted all hope
And that body lies limp
Remember that you did the best with what you had
Which is more than many or most

Crickets

We’ve all found places on porches where crickets click
And in these dreams the sun is setting
With a pinkish red hue, hazy and bathing
Us, as we bask, blinking as the last of the light
Slowly slips away

Clutch that cardigan tighter, slung over
Sloping shoulders as you lean back
And put your back into the swing seat
Sip on the straw and run thin fingers
Through rich ringlets of hazel brown

Relax and breath, and breath and relax
Little gasps of life enter your lungs
Between the drags
We’re living in the gaps between the day
To day, as each day ends

Whilst this weather holds
And whether you’re still holding her hand
When the seasons change
There’s no reason for ruining rhyme
With a shot of reality squeezing through the catheter

So click, clack and skip away little cricket
Grasshopper, locust or whatever you are
When you’re at home in the garden of my home
As the sun sets and the tide of evening
Takes hold, you’re still sat warm and waiting

For all of this to end, for that alarm to shriek
And buzz, as you stumble into life
Head-first and blurry as it washes over you
The clamour and scuttle of it all
You envy that locust, that cricket

Sat there on your lawn in the dusk
Chirruping, chiming away
And recognise that it’s not the girl
Nor the drink, but the insect
Who truly defines your nights in the gaps

After all, after the blast
The clicking and chirruping is all you’ll hear
Not her, not even the swing of this bench
But only an insect, a noise
To soothe you to sleep with a beer in your hand

Injure Eternity

Sometimes it’s just a matter of time
The time to take the time
To embrace the time
Having time enough that time is well spent

It’s a currency you can never have too much of
Or, if you think you have, then remember that
On your last day, with your last breath
A thin smile creases your ripped lips
As you think
How lucky I was, how blessed
And how great a fool

To think I could have had too much
Of a good thing
The greatest thing
And a far wiser man than me once said
When he was wandering the woods
And playing in trees
As if you could kill time without injuring eternity

On that one thing
And many more I’m sure
He couldn’t have been more right
Now and then we all have the time to write
To right the wrongs of words we never said
To say out loud the mantra that is crashing through our
Heads

But when few enough hear it and fewer still
Care, it becomes harder and tougher and well,
Leads to despair

So forgive me when these jaded green eyes
Impassive, pass right through you
I’ve seen far more than I care to see of apathy
And far too little of life to have a valid opinion
Not every poem can be a battle hymn
Not every verse can shake you
And this line is no elegy
Just promise that you’ll find time for me
And I’ll take the time to keep scribbling along

Spurting verses that sound better in one’s head
That on the pages that nobody has read
If rhyme doesn’t sound wrong then look for
No reason more
Than surface meaning not surfeit layers
Nor anything buried deeper
Than the skin
I’m just here to scratch itches not open up wounds

I’ve taken alliteration as far as I can
And wordplay innovations no longer hold you in ovation
I’ve shown all that I can give
And given far less than I should
Though it’s more than most care to hear

Perhaps

Perhaps we’re all tired of faces pressed against
The glass, fingers clinging to the edges
Standing atop roofs, ready to fall flat
One last time, one last push, one final stand
With backs against walls and many metaphors
More living for the sake of imagery and allusion
Alluding again adds to alliteration
For one mind too tired and tied up in over-thinking

Pushed far too far and with too little to show
But these battle scars which cut skin deep
Red blinking eyes look north and east for an escape
Anywhere but here, within or without a clue
Clearly caring for form beats flavour

Rhythm and meter will meet her as she falls short
Measuring the distance between iambs and I am
Too old for this ship, sailing through rocks and ravines
Glacial pace and taking on water far faster than I ever knew
Was possible. When apathy breeds antipathy and damn you
For not writing something universal

Fan fiction for flunking fantasy freaks
Would sell better than those ornate scribblings
Those little words, those little books you write
Ain’t that cute, hey did you read that new vampire book
Wow, weren’t that deep and isn’t that guy so cute
So perhaps I don’t want to be part of that discussion

And writing on the fringes is something more valuable in
The end, and perhaps it’s past time you realised
That it will be long after your end that you are appreciated
Or even noticed by many who saw the advert in their weekly
Paper but paid no more heed than they do for anything
That exists outside their dimly lit day

Born with no exotic name nor exciting accent
I’ll never be the darling of those who
Dangle dactyls from their necks or place
Trochees on trophy shelves, heaving and held up
By maple in their mansions
They have traveled the world, darling
And aren’t these people so rich in culture, darling
Now take a photo of that one, darling
Look, he’s crying, dancing his traditional dance, darling
Let’s hear what he has to say, darling

Perhaps being all that you can be and nothing
You are not, will win races in the long run
As you pad along this dusty marathon track
Barely able to even see the numbers on their backs
Mouth dry, muscles tired, bones heavy
Better hope you’ve got some more left in the tank
Better hope you saved some for the swim back

Innocence

It was yesterday or the day before, years before
We sat there on his bathroom floor
Her head in my hands, huddled
Legs drawn up beneath my throat
Chin resting, waiting, compact and cocooned against
The knees which had sat so neatly on the linen

Drawn up,  held up, hoping for
A life in which silk sheets stained slower
And young lives were harder to colour with
The blotting blood of innocence lost
In a sense of the word, perhaps it was
Never found

We walk out into a wide world with
Brighter beaming lights than we had
Ever wanted or hoped to see
And still, when the metaphors merge
With the reality
You’re still sat there
Holding her head in your hands
On a cold tiled floor

At midnight in May
Never so scared or learning so much about
Who you really are as you did in three hours
Aged fifteen

Hearing her heartbeat tick, tock
Stutter, start, staggered pumping blasts
When it’s more than you can bear to hold
Her head up, let alone your own
It isn’t about you anymore
Or her for that matter
It’s about this, this whole thing
This deep mystery, this cosmic mess
That keeps us all constantly on the bleeding edge
Of a razor blade
You’d best get used to this

What they don’t tell you is;
Nobody is ever ready
For this dark ride through narrow streets
This game of life

Skies

We see the same sky
You and I
Watching as the horizon
Blends with warm ocean
And aren’t you glad you’re laying here

That tanker out there
What do you think they’re
Thinking when they sit there
Watching and waiting for a call
To come to shore

Why do you think I care
She said as she traced a thin line of
Sand across
Her belly button
Idly caressing and eyes on skies
Distant, daring and blinking blue
Eyes
Behind Ray Bans that could define my life
I breathed deeply and furrowed forth

If life is a game
Are you winning or losing
I asked her
She sniffed and drew her arms around
Her knees
Poised, taut and drawing it out
I’m playing and that’s better than most

She left to the right
My feet dug in the sand
By the shore
With the sun and the sea and the scene
Still the tanker sat motionless
So here I lie with my eyes on empty skies

Less Talk of Oceans

Chitter, chatter away gasbag
More mephane for merciless mercenaries
Who’ve seen no more of war than
What appears on their nightly news
Their views askew as

They buy the agenda, whichever agenda
Is sold to them, the consumer, a consumable
An expendable asset in the war of error
Where an enemy becomes an ally when you add oil
Bold boys, big bags of blood from British barracks
Buy another inch of sand

Young men with hopes, dreams and cares
Families, such young families
Two bags for two gallons of the black
Blood money because oil runs thicker than water
Whilst the red runs and stains the soil
Strap a medal on it and call it honour

So, less talk of oceans
Crossed, paths found and plowing a furrow
When you’re just digging graves
In which we bury common sense and
Two twenty year old lads from Scarborough
Who saw a flash ad and a paycheck to show their girls

There are no trenches here
We’re on new battlefields now
This is a new kind of war
Their war against us
Whoever we are
Whatever our skin
Culture, creed or god
When their god is viscous fluid

So fight the good fight my brave boy
Infidel, imperial with a bulls eye on your back
And a price-tag round your neck