texts

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bunkers

open-armed to woollen thumps outside
we are a brocade of grimy buttons
below grinning stairs, fed on mushrooms

the klaxons were your breasts
when we lived on you, when we used to park
our bicycles against your cheeks

and your lashes, swaying hollyhocks,
dissected the scent of meadowsweet
while we discussed nuclear war;

moss spread like tablecloths
across your belly; you fastened a swan's neck
to a lily, had mirrors for ribs

but we couldn't afford the rent demanded
to live on your eyes
and dug other channels for access

we found musty apertures and cubby holes
to hide in; little drawers near your ears
(though they were full of fireworks)

we believed the war had stalled,
we'd never need refuge anyway;
so when it arrived, smoothing you to porcelain,

disputing your extreme territories,
your feet, your hands,
we shuddered your skirts into cupboards,

braced your spine across the door,
pressed black tape crosses on your lips,
crouched over muffled broadcasts in the dark:

they say you have bloody eyes now,
that your hair lies like broken spaghetti,
and shadows bury stretches of your skin

in their efforts to snuff out the sun.
but we know we won't be found -
secret, warm, inside your drifts of ash.

Gulliver 2007-06-20

When he washed up, magnificent, we brought in
timber, nails and rope to build a frame
about his bones; we strapped his arms, his feet,
his neck, afraid he might lay out his sex to piss

upon our town. By the time we put our trust in him,
he was resigned; and when finally released, he lay,
dejected, too tired to eat. We shovelled fast food slowly
down his giant throat. He grew fat, we despaired

as he clogged up. His sad smell spilled
like some horse-rotted jungle lily; gulls barged
for space on his bloated belly. Until,
one morning, we discovered him, passed away,

skin blistered red and grey by sun.
Gulls took his death as permission
to streamer his guts with beaks and, shrieking,
lash them out across the groynes.

Days ebb out; a cottage industry uncoils,
as if direct from marrow bone, to make predictions
based on lungs, his intestinal map across the sand:
signs of how the world will end.

His forehead shifts as sand retreats; his torso
shrinks beneath our gaze; and now his hollowed head,
with old-mastered gauze, caves in, collapses out of sight,
to leave a promise in the flats.



(with a hat tip to JG Ballard's The Drowned Giant)

My favourite thing I wrote in 2007

I do a lot of computer programming, watching DVDs and so forth. But I have a lot of passion for writing. I write a lot of poetry. I know it's not fashionable, but I still do it, whenever the mood takes me. Last year I tried to write for at least 5 minutes every day, with varying success: I eventually stopped doing that, but did carry on writing, sometimes poring over a single poem for two or three weeks while travelling to work on the bus. Occasionally I wrote something good.

This is what I consider one of the best things I wrote last year. I did it on holiday in Wales, sitting in a car park while Nicola and Madeleine were going to the toilet or something. They were away for about 20 minutes, and I put together various bits of imagery from the car park and the rest of the holiday. I then wrote it up a few months later. I like the result. I don't think it's too pretentious (you might disagree), though on reflection it is a bit overwritten; though I think it genuinely has a fair few good lines. Here it is.

Welsh car park 2007-10-28

Queen Mab complains to crows about the gulls;
hobgoblins lunge from mossy limbs
with knotted arms, heads like balls of twine

the brow of the landscape frowns;
pleats of forest shake down the crag's skirt,
a mountain's shoulder shrugs above an elbow lake

as secret waterfalls shudder pebbles;
starlings cascade from the oak like gypsy pegs
round caravan steps; a row of recycling bins -

helmets of buried faery kings,
or giants' trepanned skulls; slapping feet
on the caravan roof, the curved loop of the seagull's call

a smell of dust in a vast car park
tumbles into thin scent of dog roses, stroked flat
by rising wind; a fringe of cloud like an anemone mauls

the peaks; crab skeleton, flesh scooped out;
our skeletons, green with algae, in the estuary flats -
we drive away too fast, and leave these things behind

ONE (to be performed through loud hailer) (20/11/1991)

You come like steam
When the sun weaves
The sky into girders.

Unpacking like china,
We touch into waiting silence:
A warm black sound
That cheats the sun.


Note: Probably my favourite out of everything I've ever written. I performed this on a poetry tape my writing group did (called "Hacksaw Poetry"), though I didn't perform it with a loud hailer - I just shouted it through a cardboard tube.

SYJZWBITCNPQFNFHOUHNT (29/5/1992)

Since your jump,
Zoos went bust.
Itchy tigers cough,
Never pausing. Quiet flowers
Now fear horticulturists.
Of variety,
Have no terror.


Note: I include this one as it's an example of me doing some experiments. I used to generate a string of letters using the computer, then try to write something using the letters in that order.

A DISAGREEABLE PAINTER (7/9/1991)

They sat in tractors at night
Waiting for a whistle all night
Then came around
Took his door like a paper crane

Although he was sometimes very squinty
Although he was sometimes very squinty
His eyes dragged the light
His eyes dragged the light

He used the night like
An anaesthetic
He started sleeping at night
While they were waiting
They started hoping
They were falling for his joking all right

Although he was sometimes very squinty
Although he was sometimes very squinty
His eyes dragged the light
His eyes dragged the light


Note: This one was first written by me, then edited by my very good friend Richard Hope. Richard died very young (20th May 1998 - he was only 27), not long after we left University: he just collapsed while out running. I spent a lot of time with him at University, and even played in a band with him ("Quinn and Jane" aka "Giant Child"). This poem formed the lyrics for one of our tracks. I still think about and miss him a lot.

THE THIRTEENTH (13/10/1992)

Once you've lit it, don't go back
To the town of age.
Women strangle storks,
One with an eyepatch,
One in a musical landscape.
Tribes of gendarmes,
Gripping, cheap and funky,
Stroll the streets of polecats.

(In a sensible second:
A winged man at the window;
A giant child tapping
Insistently on my bedded shoulder;
A motorcycle resting
On the bridge of a nose.)

Imagine a biped walking
With hands in pockets,
Not
Thinking
For six months,
Waiting for his vocation,
Coming to his dreams.
Thinking of a woman
Indifferently. A kind smile
For everyone, he spends time,
He spends money.
He has a surplus of affection
Which he spends on his words.
He lives in the town of age
And loves the town.
He thinks he's sleek,
Listens to fur, watches policemen
Round up the women,
One with a patch,
One with a stork.
He cheers before he leaves,
Sensible as breakfast.


Note: I performed this one at a poetry reading.

AND WE WILL (5/9/1992)

Playing colours on the beautiful lawn,
and every lawn that is beautiful
is perpetually contemplating
the inside of the bull's fake head.

Fury of spent vocals;
Talk around morsels;
a dearth of speech.
The last holy American snouts the ground for silence.

Sad etiquette bitches still there are shrinking.
No Spanish King (or goo) in the red places.
You wait for it with your face,
angled have to lips and tongue;
your ears cluster with weapons.

Downstairs a group of pensioners perform a live radio play
as Juliet shins past, up the black pipe,
to meet her beard.


Note: I really like the phrase "fury of spent vocals", even though it doesn't really mean much. I often say that verse to myself, in my head, when I'm getting fed up with conversation (in general).

DEATH MACHINE (11/5/1995)

A bank in summer
A ripped underwear page
A magazine of lists
Things making noise

Bridge like tread of shoe
Hangs over them
Tatty rope, him on the end
Swinging


Note: I like the simplicity of this. It reminds me of the river bank near the house where I grew up in Spalding, Lincolnshire. That's what I was thinking about when I wrote it. The bareness of it evokes the boredom I sometimes felt living in a small town where there was nothing to do.

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