#poem #poetry #amwriting #witc15 provisional list

don't mind me - I'm just making a provision schedule for the reading at waterstones in bradford on June 6th - 11am - 11.30am


1)  Trombone Voluntary

On blue days, when the sun breaks the clouds,
I like to take my lunch by the courthouse.
You might call it a fetish. I crunch crisps
and criminally profile the coming and going.

What really draws me though, is the statue
at the centre of the square to Delius.
Every time I promise to listen to his music
and every time I never do. Instead, having eaten,

I circle the bronze leaves, with the green
and amber glass, and marvel at the beauty
of art; of art in a city without much -
even Sir Henry Irving died to get out.

I'm never sure if you are allowed to touch
civic displays. There's no red rope. I want to -
I want to - to contrast the heat and light,
find imprints of the sculptors fingers,

embrace the shadows of the stained glass
on the shit strewn slabs. But - I don't -
instead I jab it gently, so that if a court official
challenges me, I will say, "just seeing if it is bronze".

Today I am disturbed. At the mouth sized stage
of my second sandwich, a girl sits down,
on my bench; next to me. I at one end,
hand in crisp bag, sandwich hovering.

She takes the guitar from it's case, and
for no reason that I can see, begins to play
the Adagio, Concierto de Aranjuez No 2,
I know this because it was on an advert

and I liked it so much I bought the CD.
Not being the rude sort, I set my lunch aside,
and listen. All the while admiring,
and appreciating, Amber Hiscott anew.

She played the whole thing perfectly.
I thanked her, and said she should try busking.
"fffff...nuts to Leeds", she said.


2)  Musing In Ilkley Cemetery
No more on the hill the Middleton clan,
     now resting apart in municipal plot.
He to the left with the Romans and Catholics,
     she to the right among Protestant stock.

He passes his time amongst sisters and Irish,
     she spends her days with the cream of the mill.
And were they to rise, and meet on the pathway,
     they could look through the Ash to the pile on the hill.

Walking once more, hands crossed behind me,
     the A plots, the B plots and C's tucked behind,
reading the stones, somber and solid,
     eaten by moss and losing their shine.

Now here's a baby resting with mother,
     daffodils, and brambles over their head.
Laying untended, their family departed,
     'gone safe to the Lord', the legend there says.

A squirrel picks crisps from littered green packet,
      vinegar, bites and claws at its tongue.
Skirting the line of war fallen heroes
      into conformists I gladly move on.

Past teachers and doctors, inventors and shepherds,
     he was a pal of George Bernard Shaw,
her flag she raised with Garibaldi,
     his soul he saved building homes for the poor.

At last, I complete my ambling circuit,
     back once again beside Middleton sun.
Surely despite religious contention,
     husband and wife might lay here as one.


3) Mary Berry - not the cook

Mary Berry, pulled in tight,
knees together, face alight
to the tablet in her hand. Gears
grind, commuting daily, she fears
the woman to her right
demurely dressed, may catch sight
of the word Can Upset Nursing Team.

Robin Buffchest, alpha male,
sets his points to grease the rail,
enter through the female arts
of parts, unconnected to the heart;
which pulse, quail, and never fail
to excite, when coaxed under the assail
of manicured fingers.

Mary Berry, alights the train,
collects coffee, joins the trail
of business minded folk.
Finds her chair, hangs her coat,
assigns post its to the bin. Jane
relates another tale, this time the drains
overflowed and blocked.

Numbers come, and numbers go, feet
walk miles, round, beneath the seat
shoes on, shoes off, page after page.
Daydreams snap from looks exchanged
familiar faces, backs of heads. Meet
mid morning through the glass, cheek
held up by helpful fist.

Sushi time, crisps; orange juice without the bits,
Jane's behind, a book or more, Robin's tricks
she wants to know, when uninvited down sits
Damian from claims. Buttons checked. He insists
to know, the way to go, on Donovan and Hicks
and have they heard the cooler talk, about Peter Briggs?
Six months they say.

The afternoon slips away, toilet break
telephone calls, wriggled toes, time to make
solid supper plans. Visualize what's in the fridge;
bagged salad, pork chops, half a cabbage,
celery sticks. Decisions still to make, in the wake
of the numbers on the screen. At last it's time to take
her coat and leave.

Mary Berry, rejects the call, to join them all,
in the pub for Paul's birthday. Spoiled
for choice, she window shops, as she walks,
lost in thought, to catch the train. The seat she sought
by the window is free. Tucked in small
knees together, tablet out, she allows herself to fall
once more into the little game.


4) may

the rain so light is
so light it hardly noticed be
tickles the ransom
   and the bluebell
to fill this world of wood
   budding leaf pale green
with all the powers of the earth

no birds sing today
clustering within themself
taking shelter where they may

and in this silence footsteps
   against this thickening
   wall of summer
coming drown from the hills
    in the drying draining streams
of unreflected luminescent sky
the water may be of itself
   clean and clear as tears we cry


5)  Dusk
out beyond the samphire beds
    muddied shoes muddied legs
hang expectant over bridge’s edge
    dangling for crabs

saltmarsh ditch with water lapping
    seagulls hang with wings unflapping
sunset pink with all the trappings
    frame this gilded scene

beneath serene North Sea sky
    big brother emits triumphant cry
for mother with her net to try
    coordinate the catch

whilst over off a little way
    dad and little brother play
amid the mud and oozing clay
    throwing sticks and stones

the bucket fills at quite a pace
    as gentle sport becomes a race
with other families neatly spaced
    along the bridges' span

dad calls out in ballyhoo
    little brother’s lost his shoe
his foot is stuck in stinking goo
    right up to his knee

the can of tuna almost gone
    shadows match the sinking sun
its time to get our jim-jams on
    and into sleeping bags

from the tilted bucket pours
    two dozen crabs maybe more
scamper sidewards ‘cross the shore
    into the pitch dark dike

salt air breath conveys the talk
    of crabs and wormcasts as they walk
with tiredness not conceived or thought
    for custard creams and cocoa


6)  To Tenby

that moment at the end of bleary chivvying
summer special on my lap sweets already half eaten
in that moment when with a thunk
unclunked or clicked we were sealed into our holiday

brown vinyl burning legs below my snake belted shorts
father's cigarettes virginian sweet ashen flicked midges
caught on the wind sucked back through the window
sugaring minnie the minx or ginger and numbskulls

all the while mother asking 'are you feeling sick'
brown paper bag ready in the footwell
with the tupperworn buttered ham sandwiches

into an A-road world of trees and hedgerows
square council housing jig-saw cottages new build bungalow
portico piles down long yellow driveways
and tractors and caravans bicyclists and muttered
white knuckling grip cursing lost time

through country towns with one set of lights
church clocks and women wandered markets
wearing chemically printed polyester

                        i spy sky road car 'can I see it'
and groans for the unguessed three cows drinking
five miles behind
as we ingested the size of the journey
and digested olympic breakfast pancakes fizzy orange
tartrazine brightness free lollipop
the afternoon sibling squabbling
the threats to sit still and put your feet down
then songs would begin

how young my mother was
as she slipped a fox's glacier 
                          into my fathers mouth

7) widow

he's more real than when he was there
those wisps of his scent in the chair
the cold bed

the things that didn't need to be said
in the unspoken mirror of feelings
half the peelings

half the portion and all the bed
in sickness and in health you said
his chair

now moved for the sake of change
and the ornaments rearranged
he's more real

when you shut the door and call
'I'm home' at that blank wall
within you

and without you as you face the world
the sense of strength and the aching ball
of grief

is more real now he has gone
as you escape to his side
of the bed


8)   Remembrance
the doctor says, 'your baby is not alive'
yeah I know
but it's the missus I'm worried about now

the Simpsons play on the TV in the side room
but you don't laugh
instead the missus lets out a wail
that no actress can reproduce
no cliche ridden bullshit will let you hear
no poetic crap about darkness
or pretendy metaphor nonsense

the fact is
that it's not what you think
losing a child

yeah you hang onto each other
yeah there's anger
but there's more fear

fear that 
not being kicked by that ball of hope
when you spoon in bed
will cut the thread
the umbilical of kindness
that makes cups tea
shares jokes
holds hands in the street

And no
you are not the same
when later you lay in bed
hand on her belly
wishing that fart
was a moving finger
a flickering eye
a thought

and you do despise the sympathy
the well meaning advice
the imposition of grief
the morons who say 'oh how dreadful'
'I can't imagine'
'you have to keep talking'

fffff - go away

and then there's the coffin
in the chapel of rest
and the instruction not to open it
because the veins are too small
for the formaldehyde
and you won't like to remember
what you see

which will not be that child
who was born dead
and lay in perfect stillness
on the blanket your missus crocheted
with the rattle you bought
in an idle moment of expectation

it will not be the child
with pink fingers
the scratch mark under the eye
that you imagine was done
when waking from sleep in the womb
and not when dying
those bowed rose lips
thinning and darkening
from which no sound ever came
in the few hours you spend together

that child who you dressed
in a white Sunday dress
with white tights
and white shoes
and tended
with all respect
and all duty
in death
because you couldn't in life

so you do what you are told
the coffin stays shut
and you kiss it
and embrace the sharp edges

and then a day or so later
tears rolling down your face
you lift it from
the hearse
it don't even cover the spare wheel
and carry it into the chapel
in front of your family and friends
and cry
and cry
and hold onto each other

and then the little white box
slides through the curtain
and you get ashes in a plastic pot


 9) for a dead child

where shall I take these ashes
   my urge is to the sea
   to the wide norfolk sands
   and trudge across the flatness
      on a receding tide
   so that I might have excuse
   to keep you

I will keep you close
   to my beating heart
      lay down on the wetness
      of drying sand
push my head
   backwards onto mussel shells
      so that I might have excuse
      to keep you

and when the tide turns
   chasing me to the land
I will find excuse
   why I never take you
   to the sea

                for I am you
and you are me

                and one day
                we shall be


10)  dawdling

laying here - stroking your back - as you sprawl snoozing
it strikes me how much you have grown

though you are still small enough to ride mahout on my shoulders
and tug reluctant on my arm when shopping

your face when sleeping carries those babyish curves
   you pull the heart at the smallness of perfect

      but you are definitely growing

just as I get used to the slim child
   you grow chubby
   branch out and up
and a new slim child appears

   you tell me that one day you will be taller than the sky
   I can wait
   for I love the smell of your hair


11)  spirits

the dead will feel happy here
two tone walls canvas chairs
oh yes we nod but don't declare
the dead will feel at comfort here

he's world reknowned the posters said
he can channel maisy dick or fred
to catch his eye fills you with dread
of world reknown the poster said

I long to see the ectoplasm
snaking lights of any fashion
this mouse-like man convulsed with spasm
I'm desperate for some ectoplasm

when they come they come in threes
medium, contact, summer breeze
a red indian killed at wounded knee
holding hands they come in threes
does the name george mean anything
he says he knows where you lost the ring
and all about that man from Tring
does this man george mean anything


12)  and today I shall be happy -
wear carnations for buttons
and say how-do to the robin
on the fencepost



The Blue Book