Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Who


The time comes around and around again.
The possibilities are endless, dozing in sunlight, 
The Who headline the stage inside my head.

In the morning I read the reviews. 
Fortunately, it was just me.


The Who and the desire 
to be alone.

Late afternoon in a winter mirror.
Like all wishes cast in the well
the rain came true.

Climb the spine of the hill.
The sky-fill water
lap, lap, lapping

the wind cuts, just like a knife.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Nor Ton

A burnished crash hat,
you know, the old-fashioned sort sans visor 
the same old imperious eyes, sidelong rooster
and a tash from Colonel Custer
yet somehow the sheepskin coat
builds a cosy Snow Man.

Only the legs in tight leather
look really rock and roll
the face more full
than I remember
someone who knows
after all these years
how to look after themselves

set to travel 
the fifty ways.

Friday, 26 June 2015

A Break From The Old Routine

As a form of distraction Dave took up his notebook and began to write. 

In the bathroom, his wife fills the tub to a level that is dangerously close to overflowing. After twenty minutes or so, she turns the silver wheel that releases the plug. 

For want of anything better to write about Dave tries putting down a few words about the water going down the plughole. Spiral and gurgle were two of the words written in spidery handwriting. He notices that these two words rhyme and the fact pleases him greatly. Then he pictures the silver bubble that forms in the middle of the whirlpool. This silver bubble looks like an eye that stares back at him unblinkingly. 

He puts down his pen and repeats the words spiral, gurgle, then adds whirlpool and leaves the room with no idea of what to do with these words. 

In all likelihood, nothing will come of it. What good are random words plucked from the ether without a good storyline to go along with them, a bit of dialogue and a measure of drama? If only a ghost would haunt the bathroom and frighten his wife or a car chase would ensue in the street outside. 

He reads for a while before going to sleep. His mind is only half on the words. Considering that he is stoically wading through The Idylls of the King while trying to quell a sense of rising panic that tightens a knot within his chest, it is perhaps hardly surprising that he didn’t manage too many pages before giving it up as a bad job and turning the light out. 

As he falls into sleep, his thoughts going round and round like Arthur’s table, he realises that he is repeating the words spiral, gurgle, whirlpool inside the sink of his head.

At 6:15 am the phone alarm shrills and Dave’s hand automatically reaches out to squash the button on the screen before the bleating noise wake his wife. Without pausing to think about it he rolls out of bed and heads for the bathroom. He turns on the tap and starts splashing cold water onto his face. The water turns warm then hot which is a cue to put the plug in. He continues running the water until he has cupped twenty handfuls onto his face. 

Inside his head, he counts the handfuls. When he reaches twenty he pulls the plug and rapidly scoops up as much as the water as he can onto his face. As usual, he has to remind himself that it is okay to stop counting at this stage of the proceedings. The silver eye stares up at him unblinking. Once the sink is empty he pats his face dry before turning on the tap again to brush his teeth. This time he counts to thirty before spitting out the fennel flavoured toothpaste. Rinsing the paste out requires more water and another count of thirty. 

 He pulls on his black dressing gown with the white stripes and pads downstairs to make coffee, pausing to note the time that blinks from the bedside digital clock: 6:28. He is bang on schedule. 

The coffee is made. He drinks two cups and takes further steps to wake himself up by punctuating the sips with drags from his electronic cigarette. He doesn’t feel that it is necessary to count these as the cloud begins to fill the living room. The caffeine and nicotine quickly go to work and give him enough energy to go back upstairs with a fresh pot of coffee to wake his wife. By now, it is 6:58. Still bang on schedule.

Dressing only requires a quick consideration of the day and the date. A new shirt if it is a Friday, fresh trousers if it’s the start of a new month.

The next hour passes like Its A Knockout. A series of infuriating tasks that can’t be cut short and have huge scope for going wrong. Somehow, the clock panicking towards 8:00, the children are seen safely onto the school bus with the correct books and lunches packed into their bags. Now it only remains for him to get on the right bus and head for work, the anxiety of what the inbox might contain spreading through his brain, the booby traps that might lie in the office to set his otherwise ordered life out of kilter.

By the time the bus reaches the city he begins to feel calmer. He gets himself lost in a reverie that involves the smell of the inside of a wardrobe and a heart shaped Wedgewood jewellery box. How to describe that peculiar shade of green that made the box? A sort of chalky olive green… and the smell inside the wardrobe turns into a tune, The Last Train to Clarksville… He snaps out of the tranquil state that he has inadvertently fallen into and realises that his stop is miles behind. He is even more surprised to discover that he doesn’t even care. 

Meanwhile the sun sits in the sky, a silvery gold unblinking eye.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Showroom Dummies

Dust in the crooks of their arms. Faces wear expressions that are neither one thing or another: it us up to you to project emotion onto their impassive faces in the same way someone sketches in the thoughts of a pet cat or dog. 

Black lines where heads join bodies. Extravagant wigs. Others have plastic ripples that signify hair. Mona Lisa eyes watch you wherever you go unless they are concealed by dark glasses. 

Naturally, they all have perfect figures from which designer jackets hang loosely. You never see one that has a weight problem and can only wear elasticated jogging trousers.

Fixed stares are unsettling. 

This statement calls up the whole question of eye contact. At the moment I am in the dog house. I listen to a list of failings and stare at the floorboards, a vase of flowers and the cat licking her paws. Anything to avoid the stare of the hanging judge. 

Which triggers a memory of riding in a car and my friend’s Dad with his woodcutter beard saying ‘here comes the judge’ as we approach a pub named after some notorious gavel basher who sentenced many a man to the gallows for some trivial incident that would barely pass for a crime these days.

Some are more expressive than others. The men with long hair and bright baseball caps look like they know how to have a good time. You can imagine them knocking back bottles of beers around fires on beaches in summer. If your wife wasn’t with you some of them would risk the security cameras and whisper a quick joke in your ear and then immediately freeze again as you start to laugh.

Sometimes I pray for a mannequin that looks just like me. Do you know the Ray Bradbury story? What a thing that would be. The mannequin could go to the party and I could stay at home and no-one would be any the wiser.

However, it should be remembered the Ray Bradbury story had a chilling end. 

Incidentally, I didn’t write this piece. I’m too busy trying to figure how I can get out of this locked suitcase.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Longest Day ‘87

staunch the flow

put brakes 
on the pedal

cold dregs 
on campfire yarns

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Sports Hall/Xerox

The Sports Hall
The report card said – behind the façade of nonchalance
lacks aggression
Now the handwriting takes shape
the spidery scrawl
on doctor’s prescription pink paper

In the sports hall
tramlines and semi-circles
demarcate seemingly significant boundaries 

lose yourself in thought while apparently taking part is the key

the light is far from natural
the heel traps the ball
and you know what’s coming


It could be an ordinary moment like this one
the zooming down a corridor my brain already
four flights below wishing my body 
would hurry up. When we finally 
meet it is to worship at the shrine of Xerox

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Complete History Of Flight

There have been bi-planes and there have been space shuttles.
For a long time before, and for a long time after 
there were rooks, slate grey pigeons and chickens scratching.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Sunset In Your Kitchen

A year goes by in the flicker of an eye 
yet nothing really changes.
Others talk, the need to make themselves heard.
I sit in the old rocker and say nothing.

I try and measure the true distanced travelled.
Where have I been today? The feeling of relaxation 
that only comes from pushing myself beyond supposed limits 
and coming out the other side, more than alive.

The glint coming from the pewter on my wrist.
Memory layered on memory so precisely
that none of the edges are blurred. 
I sit in the old rocker and not say a word. 

I hear the voice of one I am afraid to name:
sends the same old shiver down my spine.
Instead of trying to decode your sun-muffled words
I imagine that my hair has grown long again.

I try and focus on the dazzle of your words.
An anxious hour burns through the windows.
An old-fashioned sunset turns back the clock 
as I sit in the old rocker and say nothing.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Brass Wind In A Fox Cub Shape

Tootling and doodling of some brass wind instrument 
improvising on Bird not within my comfort zone 
and it’s all I can do to stay with it as the lamps of the inn come into view. 

Curving a bend the headlights search the grassy verge 
and pick out the sleek head of a fox cub 
that looks more statue, stone 
than real. 

I run these images together in my sleep, an experiment: 
the brass wind in a fox cub shape before further improvisations 
that require and don’t require a score. 

Saturday, 6 June 2015

The Storm

A storm. Buckets of rain.
A shaking of trees.
A long looping branch starts to turn
a 100 pounder gun in a tank turret
slowly swinging through a Dalek arc
in the direction of the neighbour’s chimney stack 
that it can’t quite reach
so it stretches to give a final malicious shove.
The stack comes toppling down.
Cracks split and distort walls
the house resembles a wedding cake
that gets dropped in a game 
of drunken horseplay 
to roll across the wooden dance floor.

Then the sun sort of comes out.
No-one seems concerned.
All of the houses have their blemishes
slants and slopes, crooked windows and doors.

Life goes on just the same.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

A Low-Tech Poem

If you were to right-click
          - a phrase that will one day, almost certainly,
date this poem considerably –

then highlight
then copy
then paste

these words into Word

then go all out, live a little dangerously
and hit print

you could fold the page
into neat squares

tuck it in your shirt pocket
and carry it with you
as you go about doing 
whatever it is you do

with your very own
not connected 
to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi – these words will also, probably,
become quaint one day-

low-tech poem.

If the idea catches on
you can burn a few copies
for your friends too.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Trick

Yesterday was a row of paperbacks bookended with fire-breathing dragons. I woke at five and a version of daylight filled the room. I lay and thought for a while. The absolute freedom of the holiday week was over. I could no longer drift through the day. Appointments, schedules and peculiar tasks have to be completed. Difficult relationships maintained. The daylight wasn’t going to allow me to go back to sleep. And in getting up, reading a volume of the poetry in the bath, some form of freedom, holiday spirit lingered despite apparent restrictions. 

The trick is to not think too much. 


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 rockinahill@gmail.com for details)


Bunchgrass Press

Essential guides for the journey...