Friday, 31 August 2012

Most Of The Time

In the extraordinary Song And Dance Man, Michael Gray describes how a Dylanologist once wrote that even without his 60s output, Dylan is the greatest songwriter. Gray takes the idea further by saying that even without his 60s and 70s output, Dylan is the greatest songwriter. He's got a point, right?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Welcome Home

Three days from home. Left in the summer. Got back in the fall.
On the street where we live, silence in our car.
A boy waits at the bus stop. He’s maybe six feet tall.
Looks familiar. Do you know him?
He looks at the black ground.
Doesn’t look up.
A red line, like blood
running from ear
to throat, travelling
the white country
of his neck.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Glass Eye

Stone walls threading the town.
The long road with big houses.
This is where the well-healed live.
Your father, the tolerant one
with the glass eye, wasn't he a doctor?

We sat on the wall and talked.
The afternoon turned colder
and gradually darkened.

The first stars saw us
still sitting on the wall
and then we went our
different ways: an even
longer road that so slowly
turned my eyes to glass.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Van Radio Relic

Blue Ford Transit no-one else was fool enough to own but me.
What do you expect? Who else would look a vehicle over in the dark?

Drove out of the city with no tax, no insurance.
Pulled straight out in front of a police car.
He's gonna get pulled, he's gonna get pulled...

What were we thinking of in those days?

Nothing, probably.
Seeing no further than the end of next week and Saturdays, slowly
trying to distract ourselves from ourselves.

Today I told myself that it'd all been okay.

I saw a black bottle in the firelight. Red lettering on the label.
She went along with most of my crazy thinking until
she realised we were thinking ourselves nowhere.

Here's a radio, another relic no-one else wants. It looks nice though.
The big transparent dial, the red and cream wood and fabric because
things weren't so plastic in that era before we came along unless you
were old enough to live through it that is.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

You Were Saying?

What then is to be said on this
evening where a plane trails through
the plentiful stars and we sit in
thin clothes becoming aware
that the season is drawing to a close? I stood
in the green and white light generated by
a burgundy and black traction engine the
belt powering the lights that illuminated
a piglet held like a baby in the crook
of the farmer's arm and the mucus snout
white haired pink body was offered to me
to touch causing smiles of delight from
the faces smiling down the night sky
making their hair look silvery against the
night sky it's the way the wheel turns, slows.
Stops as a pair of golden galleons sail
down a black river that flows through a
green field in the shadows of the slopes
where, so I have read, another fair took
place between the wars and the author
met with a woman and a child and in
that place received a premonition
that later turned out to be true.
Years later, in another country
there was a rusting rail set into
a concrete wall and I saw my first
lizard and there was no-one to tell
my keepers gone into a place beyond
my reach and even then I knew
delighted in the sensation
that some things could remain unsaid
not requiring any articulation
and though I've since tried
it's always, like a cold wind
following us home from a
Christmas church, stayed this way.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Blue Horizon


Songs sung
in caverns
set lines
who follow
chalk outlines
in the palest
of blues.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Quest of Great Celtic Mystery (Part Six)

I headed back to the tent to break the latest exciting Quest of Great Celtic Mystery news to Brian.

On nearing the tent I cupped my hands and said ‘Come out wi’d yer hands up!’ in my best Ned Kelly voice. Brian’s face sprang out of the tent. He looked very pale. He said ‘Did you hear that shouting?’

I showed him the tomb of the great king. Brian noticed that there were letters inscribed on the stone. We scraped away at the green and black until we read:

Here Lies
The Dearest of Dogs
Aged 11

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Quest of Great Celtic Mystery (Part Five)

I got out of the tent and walked to the wood. There was a little stream and like a true warrior on the Quest of Great Celtic Mystery, I washed my face in it. Looking up, water blurring my vision, I was surprised to see a lone tombstone. I walked nearer. The tomb was green and black with moulds and growths.

The tower of the ruin cast its shadow over us. By ‘us’, I mean me and whoever was sleeping in that tomb. It was an impressive stone. I began to suspect that it might be the last resting place of a mighty king. Who else would be given their own tombstone in a lonely wood within the shadows of a great tower?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Quest of Great Celtic Mystery (Part Four)

So where do you pitch your tent when it’s dark and raining and you’re standing in an unfamiliar street on your first night in a new town?

We stood under a streetlamp. We were befuddled with beer. The street was lined with houses. There was an alley made visible by the orange light. It looked very black and could have led anywhere. Maybe someone’s yard with a big dog chained to a wall near the coal shed. A railway line. A cess-pit. But somehow I knew this alley would lead to a safe place to pitch our tent. A secret place on the Quest of Great Celtic Mystery, free from wrestling pacifists.

There are of course stories of friends who have got into difficulties with pitching tents in the dark. My friend Pete once thought he’d found a nice tranquil spot only to discover that he was the focal point on a rush hour roundabout. But Brian and I had got it just right. The alley led to a beautiful meadow with a river running through it. At the edge of the meadow, was the start of a wood. Rising above the trees, the tower of the ruin that we’d seen the day before.

The Quest of Great Celtic Mystery was back on.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Quest of Great Celtic Mystery (Part Three)

We were sitting by a stream playing cards. The was some kind of ruin in the distance and I thought that it might be a good idea to go and see it.

After a short while, Brian said 'Fancy a Guinness?'

We soon found ourselves in a bar that might have been on a film set in the Wild West. It was a long corridor of a place with men all lined up at the bar sociably ignoring each other. We took our places and the barman asked us 'what'll you have?'

I was considering the mystery of orange lemonade when Brian accidentally slid off his stool into the path of an approaching man who might have been a WWF wrestler on his day off. It was a hard job for him to get around the slightly disorientated Brian who was trying to regain his feet in the confined space of corridor. The wrestler said, 'Do you wanna to fight?' in the same casual tone that someone might say, 'would you like a drop more lemonade? ‘No thanks', Brian said. 'I'm a pacifist.'

'Ah,' WWF said. 'I'm a pacifist too.' Unfortunately, as he was saying these words, another hapless drinker tried to get past him and accidentally jostled him. WWF swung a fist at this newcomer to our impromptu peace conference.

We drank up quickly and continued on the Quest of Great Celtic Mystery.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Quest of Great Celtic Mystery (Part Two)

We walked along a white path to reach a place that looked like a town. The first buildings were some way off and we were very hungry. We shouldered our packs and set off down a road that had confusing road markings that nearly got us killed.

For the first week, the weather was sunny - as was Brian despite his ambition to see Galway being thwarted by three girls in the Dublin bus station. 'Is that the bus to Galway?' he'd said.
'Yes', they said.

Like fools we believed them.

Where were we heading? We didn’t know but there were pretty villages where people came out to wave as the bus went by. Feargal Sharkey was played a great deal on the radio.

The sun kept shining as did Brian. The Quest of Great Celtic Mystery continued. The only trouble was, we didn’t know where it was heading.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Quest of Great Celtic Mystery (Part One)

I’d made the trip twice. The first time was before I had a wife.

My companion looked like Brian May. Except that he had thinning patches in his frizzy rock star hair and he couldn't play the guitar.

We'd sat on the boat with a man who looked like Van Morrison. He had the same hat and there was something mysterious, poetic about him. Perhaps he was Van Morrison.

As we left the boat another passenger was saying something to his children. He looked like Elvis circa 1977. There was something funny about his voice and I didn't know what it was until Brian pointed out the obvious: 'He sounds like a Muppet.' He really did and when I realised this thing I started weeping uncontrollably.(1)

So I set foot on Ireland with Brian May, Van Morrison, Elvis 'Muppet' Presley and an uncontrollable fit of the giggles. The Quest of Great Celtic Mystery was underway.

(1) It's odd to note that the spell-check red squiggles Muppet if you don't use a capital. Muppet is a proper noun.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The White Cartoon Moth

that was the year when a white cartoon
moth came candle-flickering around
the blue sand arches, through the tombs,
where eyes of gold and steel
caused squares of rain to wash
the golden grasses

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Book Spine Poetry: Just The Sunset And The Hunter


Michael Longley - The Weather In Japan
Stephen King - Just After Sunset
Margaret Attwood - The Penelopiad
Davis Grubb - The Night Of The Hunter
Christopher Priest - A Dream Of Wessex
H.G. Wells - Three Novels

Just the sunset and the hunter
working the weather
searching the wells of night
for Penelope.


Plus, a tune that's been haunting me all day...

Two Marbles In A Cave Of Green Leaves

A bird clicks like two marbles in a cave of green leaves.
A buttery light spreads on the white sheet of a bed.
The house creaks with contented motions,
so slight that only the ear can see them.
The hours continue like a long soak
in deep salty green water.

There’s nowhere to get up to.
There are bodies left behind white doors
but their owners won’t be back for awhile.

Friday, 10 August 2012

His Best Volcanic Suit

He was wearing his best volcanic suit.
Black sections like tectonic plates
laced together with larva.
His fingers played power chords,
sent scorching notes around the auditorium.
Sent them flaming into the audience, forged
a burning ballad and the crowd waved
hands that blazed like suns,
the swaying motion reaching
the satellites recording the scene
a million miles below.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Jelly Cauldrons

I peddled hard, not even daring to take the time to look at my watch because my foldable Raleigh bike was turning into a witch.

The back tyre had sprouted a growth: a rubber bulge that bristled with strands of steel.
The wheels started cackling and the road decided to join in. Roots of trees made the tar ripple and dip like goosebumps on the skin. The road was scared of my witch bike. What to do? Keep on going of course!

So I peddled on in mad hatter haste, cycled faster trying to outrun the spell that some meddlesome crone had cast on my bike. But it was no good! The saddle started to croak, the handlebars became a cloak and the harder I tried to peddle, the more my legs turned to jelly cauldrons hissing and spitting with a black cat boil and trouble.

Fortunately I was in possession of a good stout lock. I chained the bike to a drainpipe running down the wall of the department for applied linguistics.

I'll give the situation a day or two to calm down, see how things pan out.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Sky Cat's Mouth

The sky is ridged like the roof of a cat's mouth.
A cloud of midges swarm, get swallowed
in the pink-blue throat.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Cat Crisis: I Tell You, This Is Serious

We've got a fat cat with no tail.
The neighbour has a two year old sports car.
It's a very beautiful midnight blue and sleek as a shark.
The neighbour polishes and waxes the car
so that it almost gleams in the dark.
The decal on the bonnet winks
like a tooth in a toothpaste advert.

I've got an old car. A Citroen.
It has a dent in the passenger door
from trying to cuddle a concrete pillar
in a multi-storey car park.
The driver's side wing mirror
is held together, barely,
with bailer twine.

All of the driver's side is scratched to hell
from where my wife doesn't leave me enough room to park
so that I have to scrape the sides along the hedge.
It's an old car. I'm not precious about such things.
It's been a couple of decades since my car
gleamed in the daytime, never mind the night.

The man next door is one of those upright types
that leave very early in the morning as if dressed for a funeral.
If he happens to see me, maybe when he's rubbing some
ointment into the metal skin of his sports car,
he'll do his best to pretend he hasn't seen me.
If this isn't an option, I'll get a curt nod and a hello
that's loaded with as much sincerity as a footballer's
statement when he's just transferred to another team
for 170 million pounds a week:
'oh it is a great honour to play for Manchester...
which one did you say it was? Oh yes, United!'

So where does the fat cat without the tail come into all of this?
Well, he's getting on a bit and we're beginning to suspect
he's losing his once razor-like mental faculties.
For sometime now, he's been taking to sleeping on my old Citroen.
Maybe the bonnet, sometimes the roof.
His claws create wonderful abstracts in the paintwork.
Sometimes he scratches himself and bits of ginger fur cling to the car.
The fur's tenacious stuff. It stays embedded in the scratch
depressions even after high speed rain journeys down the motorway.

Lately, the situation has got so ridiculous that the cat forgets to wake up.
He doesn't hear the passenger door bang when I get in –
the driver's door doesn't open any more.
He might look up as the car goes into reverse.
But it's taking him longer and longer to realise
that he needs to jump off.
This morning he was still lying on the sunroof
as I pulled out into the main road.
Tomorrow he might be riding the rainy motorway
adding his body to the fur.

But it's right now that I'm having the real agony.
From my vantage point of the upstairs window,
I can look down on the neighbour's funeral shark car.
The big fat cat with no tail sitting contentedly on the roof,
scratching his ear and sending ginger fur flying.


Morlock Oil

Morlock Oil
A new collection of stories available now . Click on image for details.

The Quest Of Great Celtic Mystery

The Quest Of Great Celtic Mystery
New Chapbook Available (email for details)


Bunchgrass Press

Essential guides for the journey...