As village boys daring do The shadow boys, dank on the street-end night, garner down the unlit back-alleys of evening, cold and ashes, the bonfire of their village days. Kazoo-minded of the comb-toothed doors, closed upon of the buzz of settled, mumbling, middling, maudlin lives, they graze the footsteps of the ancients. For sure, they were stepping beyond the edge of darkness in a bravado of daring do, a reincarnation of “we are The Boys”, at the apogee of the bell curve of life. Gripped by the scaffold of a raucous epiphany. Toes on the top board, devil-may-care above a torrent of testosterone, coursing through the canaliculi of their tiny minds; and momentarily they are mightier than the night. Although, you’ll note, never too far from supper, or the wink of the scullery light.
It’s not fairground The ratchet millipede ghost train, one way only. No way back, through the clattering doors. Cue siren, wooo oo wooo How can one fear the pouncing ghouls? When they are from your cobweb album, with the shadow of your past in every shot. wooo oo wooo Clattering back into the sunshine white knuckled fist and a nonchalant smile. See girls - piece of cake. Fair grounds it is not.
A dead young seal upon the beach. A grey cadaver of sadness. A discarded bag of moonbeams. A turgid, sand-teared, madness. I can still see it lying there. I can still see its empty eyes. La mort en mer. La mort beneath sea skies.
The moth in my hand stopped, chained by the dust on my fingers. Its fluttering receding with the moon, that it will never chase again. The dust is mine, but the prized moth, that I thought was within my grasp, is now the moth and moon of a tragedy. Forgive me.
Roll and random the grating pebbles of my mind, oh rip-roaring madame sea, our swim each day. In your perennial churning tides I find, my restless muse, that your whispered words say what you discern deep in the depths of me. When you release me to the biting winter wind, and when the sun sighs that I am free, only then can I write my poetry, and for all eternity you see. Draw the storm clouds down into the bay, spill the pearl gull necklace upon your wildest spume. The aberrant gold of light upon my face, to have and to hold, to know what I assume, that there is no other way for me to explain the coma that is life, to grasp where the words come from. Madame mystery sea, I am now your slave. But is it just a wet dream, that you will ever be my mistress?
Bedside in the hospice of Autumn. Late sad flowers hang on the last breath. The russet leaves of an exfoliating cadaver float down upon a frosty quilted sorrow. That crushed ice sparkle of Spring, tight in hope of buds, a dream. Sleep now my lovely, for Autumn has passed away.
It was her grieving for dad that brought the doctor. Guilt at the death of your cariad. Me? I’m just an interlocutor. It’s for the best. The psychiatrist said they might be able to fix the depression, no, no, the anxiety, right? Alas not both. So try the medication. It’s for the best. At the threshold of the ward you were smitten by the stigma. Frozen to the spot. Statue hard. I pushed gently, “Come on, it’s OK Ma”. It’s for the best. For weeks the anxiety was a tragic comedy. You did not want to be there. “Take me home” an aching tragedy. “You’ll be better soon”. “There, there”. It’s for the best. Side effects, so the district general. The mad lady calling in the far end bed. Different pills, joint and several. “I wish I was dead!”. “Shush now”. It’s for the best. Back in the “mad house” she said. The pallor of another sad pill. Our hearts bled. She did not deserve this. Still, It’s for the best. Weaker and weaker, week by week. Rattling between each hospital. Growling now, unable to speak. The care, ever so gently regimental. It’s for the best. A bed blocker, so, if it’s OK with you, then we suggest a geriatric bed, more suited, and then the quietness. It’s for the best. A wraith now, with a patch of morphia, fast asleep. Then the sangfroid all-night watch. The last appointment so to keep. It’s for the best. The last breath we did not miss. Then the wait. For another that did not come. The warm, cold and final kiss. Goodbye mum. It’s time to rest.
I am going to kiss them he said.
And he did.
And I did.
Oh, I could go on and on,
but the time warp is closing.
Because it doesn’t work.
It doesn’t work for you.
It doesn’t work for me.
It doesn’t work.
You kiss your girls and
mine will kiss me.
60 years apart
If a poem has a lock, then bid it depart.
Do not fumble over the combination
of words that might drop the tumblers.
Embrace the poem that unlocks your heart,
that bids you enter,
"come on in, no need to knock".
Sit with them long into the night,
in tock with the grandfather clock,
quickening the remember embers,
so that when they flare,
you may lock them in your heart,
the words the key upon a look.
<Audio> The village remembered, of moon and sun, of pulpit and pub. Trains that pass in the night. Saddle tanks that rape the whistle darkness, below the running sores that gutter the white guts out of the fox-stoled village. Firemen, soaked in red sweat, shovel coal into the boilers on the single line, released by the signal box key, handed, signal man to driver, pouched and shining. Sliding along the frosty rails between Dante’s cupolas, belching and flickering under the pulse of clouds. Tall chimney fingers that claw at the coke sky. The sulphur, the sulphur, the colour of old men’s phlegm. The pub men, dart-shadowed on the window, or in silhouette, busting their way to the outside privy, their pint-sized thoughts running one handed, down the stalls, groaned in deep breaths down the walls of their valley. The morning, through the bottom of their glasses, glows far away, sad upon their laughter. The raucous goodnights to bed, until their work boots beat the wet pavements of dawn. The dusk pubs, the light at the end of their tunnel vision, a thirst throughout the day, today and every day. The classroom children flutter, and leave the sun to wander the empty slag-stoned streets, the cobbled soles of the village. Polished on every doorstep by scarfed mothers with pails full of gossip and knowing nods of so and so, and so it goes, on and on. Father, mother, daughter, son. Chapel, church and pub. The beauty of the beast, that was my village in 1950.
dark and stormy outside bright and dry inside outside the storm subsides inside the dark tears well again to sting the pages with the wheals of my words dark and stormy inside bright and dry outside open the window wide and let the thoughts reverberate