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

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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

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

June Update

I self published two books in the last year, two collections of poetry. Swannui and Cygnus was a huge learning experience in terms of what it takes to produce a book. Advertising was difficult and actually getting local businesses to sell or even put a poster in their window was both embarrassing and frustrating.

My business model of selling the book for £4, £3 of which would go to myself and £1 would go to the store, seemed reasonable to me. I didn’t ask for stores to buy up stock. With my model they earn a few quid and look good by promoting local endeavors. Despite this I was told quite a few times that “poetry doesn’t sell” and that “we need the space”, which apparently meant that a 210mm x 148mm book would crowd the place out. The town council office even told me that they wouldn’t put up my small poster as they don’t advertise businesses, despite the massive garish poster advertising a carnival 20 miles away. The staff seemed to take issue when I pointed out the irony of this.

In spite of this I managed to get my press release into a couple of local papers (of the 6 I messaged, 2 used the article and 4 entirely ignored my email). It was all a little disheartening but I sold 30% of my stock and took the whole thing as a learning experience. It was my first book and many of the hurdles I had overcame would serve me well when releasing a further one.

With that in mind, at the end of last year I released my second collection; Be All; End All. This time, I only ordered half the quantity of Swannui and Cygnus. I promoted it across my Facebook, Twitter and on here. I went around with posters to every local book shop I could think of. Across five towns I only managed to convince the public libraries of each to stock it (the library of my hometown, Beccles, even returned the books to me).

Other interesting comments I had this time round included

“Frankly, it won’t sell at all so I’d rather not”

“The trustees don’t want any clutter”

and

“Is it about Norwich, are the poems about the area?” to which I replied that, as a resident of the area, there is no doubt that the location has influenced me. Apparently that wasn’t enough. So for Hell Yeah; Part Three I will produce an alternate version with every third word replaced by “Norfolk” “Suffolk” “Norwich” or “Waveney”.

I appreciate  thatthis can all sound a little despondent. I guess it is. Staying positive can be tough sometimes.