Wednesday, 30 April 2008

I've started a sequence.

The Black Clock Arms


Keith stands just outside the Black Clock Arms,
smoking a tab and wearing an immaculate set
of clothes. His metallic gold waistcoat goes perfectly
with the glowing fag-end and the plush blue
of his softest suit is spectacular against the fading
of the sky. Dan inside is belting any one of a number of
appropriate tunes but Keith's face fades to smoke
as his hand brushes the flower in his lapel. Essentially,
though, this is no scene of great poignancy. Keith

is just having a tab, and the drag-queen karaoke
night inside is hidden by the Black Clock Arms's
bathroom-style blurring windows. It's a Tuesday
early evening and now Keith has gone back in.
A pigeon pecks at his still-smoking cigarette butt.

Monday, 28 April 2008

A bit of an odd one.

Scene outside a cafe on Monday

There must be something there to see,
something in the pavement, maybe
its umbrella-black patches of drying rain or.
mud-filled cracks. Perhaps it's in the walls--
how unwashed they are and muddied--or
in the cash machine itself, its curved screen
blinking and a receipt flapping uselessly,
perfectly perforated. I have a suspicion
the fat man's suit shop is where the drama
is, but its a woman I finally settle on; her
tied back hair and ear-fiddling, her trousers
gathered at the crotch from walking, a flash
of glamorous salmon at the cuffs of a faded
fleece. Her six steps to the road.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

A short'un

Because of the wild sea air

It's only here, my half-home,
where my hair lies flat.

Back there it is always a curling
imitation of itself, my fringe parted

clean in the middle like a slice
out of a pie. Here, the clipped

breezes that bellow round city-
planned corners leave it straight

in defiance of a self
I haven't yet placed.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Raw from a Salsa workshop.

Many thanks to Joanna for the exercise.

From a distance

She seeks her own plumage and, many-layered
and dazzle-me varied, it catches my eye every time.
Characterised by consistently blue eyes, I listen
for the high-pitched imitations of her favourite
punk-rock bands all round the house, and often,
caught unawares, she'll be playing something
usually preserved to fill her own personal silences.
She thrives anywhere, but prefers company
wherever anywhere becomes; there are nights
when all she has are memories of long-dead
furry mammals and friend pretenders on the TV
squawking parrot colours at her still-blue eyes.

Her migrations are irregular but consistent;
her feeding habits inconsistent but regular, showing
little regard for the long-term effects of sugar.
She is obsessed with the infusion of peppermint
in hot water but avoids me and my attention.
All I know of her physicality is that love is not
enough without return, and she returns it rarely.

Friday, 25 April 2008

For Tracey

What else is there but belief like this.

She wore a fallen star around her neck, plucked
from the sky it was one arm short of magic. But still the magic
worked for him, and every time she called in and bought the usual

he recognised her enough to gift her orange. It took a while
but soon she realised the star had caught his eye, would feel
his gaze on it every time she glanced to her purse and the warmth

of recognition on his face. She nearly told him once
that it was only fallen as a marketing ploy she'd fallen for;
that the point had broken and she'd got it seconds-cheap.

The warmth in his face, though, was enough to leave it there; a smile
between their eyes and a star to hold onto on days like that,
when words are too much, and everything you touch is cold as space.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Don't believe everything you read.

To be still.

With my knees on my elbows and in one of my favourite
outfits—a skirt I bought two of, a black cardigan—
I am at tipping point when I come to the realisation
that it's not about strength but balance. And here, now,
I feel a little silly for the times I've almost toppled,
straining in almost-position in jogging bottoms
and a Pennywise t-shirt for the muscles in my arms
to obey my weight. Weightlessness, like someone said,
occurs firstly in your toes. The only thing that stops me
breaking my nose from tilting forward is knitwear-
friction on the backs of my arms. And I am thankful.

The news is on the telly, the rug is folded up;
my bum is in the air, I can hear someone coming;
I have holes in these purple tights and I am thankful.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

A bit of backdating.

At Northside

There is only one red sofa and it has the best view
of the green three-breasted women I can find. And every time
I've been here a man with a balding head chooses 'luck' over 'love'
and would have 'sex' if they only had the option on the wall.

There is a buzzing in the absence of scream, and an awful lot
of baby talk, one way or another. Everyone's an expert
but it's the language of needles that steals the show:
the backpieces, half-sleeves and cover-ups—the freehand fee.

A pregnant woman hums a tune either side of the mechanical whine
when the sudden social conscience of the local yobs breaks through
the burst-open door. Don't do it! There is a ripple of laughter from those in the know
and it is too late for you, who emerges beaming and bleeding and ready for home.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

This will be a year of late nights...

..where I consistently go to bed about an hour later than I should. I am already beginning to suffer.

Self Portrait in a Train Window

Monday, 21 April 2008

Home James, but it takes a while for the writing to catch up with me.

Another half-poem, slightly beyond notes and likely to change dramatically and be re-posted - but at least it's something!

Some men in Yorkshire, drinking.

Your mishap of company does not feel easy
though you're wearing the same jumper, a multi-
limbed expression of pints and pastel blue.
It's only the closeness of your heads when you sleep
that makes this a regularity - you come here
for the burgers and order them one by one; you
rub your half-shaved faces when deciding. You all
pinched my bum in my glass-collecting days, or
were caught shagging quickly on the back stairs once:
you are all wearing jeans. And what if I'm right?
From the corner of my eye here, it's enough.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Something of my current location.


If you believe that everything solid here is on its way out
you'll see this picture I took of decaying arches
as waves that rust bench-nails clean from wood.
Beyond the inky black, though, of seaweed
creeping down the walls; beyond the sea-fret sky
in rockpools long-since clean of crabs, the walls are distinctly
graffiti free. The green of the rocks is slippery, fast, and
the length of time I sat and watched the fizzing sea is weighted
with the penny slot-machines that tinkled in the manner
of a distant fairground ride. You see, even the Vitadome is grinning
as it is slowly picked apart, one facelift too far beyond collapse.

Friday, 18 April 2008

It's strange what can happen after an hour of writing.

A man in an outdoor waterproof coat sits next to a woman with a perfect blonde bob.

It's only after the carefully timed removal of your coat that you seem to feel at home
here. I thought you'd got up to leave but you abandon instead the perfect shape

of your behind in mounds of coat piled on the seat beside your partner
who fingers the corner where the zip is now with purpose until you return.

It's taken a whole drink each to reach this point of layer removal, to the revelation
of your pink-striped top cut off at the sleeves and an overwhelming smell

of fabric conditioner. The woman you're with has clearly tried everything to rid
your scent from your public self. But at home, in quiet moments on wash day

she lifts your worn shirts by the sleeves and sucks deep breaths through the fabric,
her nose in the armpits, savouring the intimacy of every last molecule of sweat.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Holidays are not so much fruitful times.

So I haven't written a whole poem today, which is the first day this has happened so far. I haven't panicked about it, as I figure it is an inevitability. The deal, to myself, was always just to post a little something creative every day, and it is asking a bit much for that to be a poem every time, right? I'm asking the ether. It will, inevitably, only say what I want to hear.... And so, some notes. With a title.


Out from under the lights everyone is
peach-coloured, a normal combination
of skin tones. It's hard to know,
sometimes, whether this or that is
the real, but sweating a layer of skin
off can only ever be a part-time job
no matter how good the music.
Documentation is an inevitability,
along with the pints of water.
I might be mid-air in that picture
you took, but that doesn't mean
I never landed.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Train journeys are fruitful times.

here's one I wrote today for an exercise on the Guardian website set by Matthew Francis. It may appear again later as a revised edition before I send it away, but here it is for now.

The Gifts

Here, for you, a long slow sky at first; a flight
for your eyes into spectacle. Feel it open you up
like a thirst. Bring this awakening to your snow-dead
toes, to the contrast of the smell of burning hair.

Take next the sliding acceptance of horseback
and the horse's own gait into your spine. It is
my gift to you. Use it to fend off the taste
of long-dead clouds in your mouth.

You've shut your eyes by now, I can tell.
Feel the grave-walker bring you back
to life with a finger-tickle up your spine.
I'll count the hairs I've raised there one by one

whilst you escape the panic of a striptease
of flesh torn back to the bone. Stay with me, I still
have a few things left to offer. Ignore the voices
out of reach through the white noise, don't fish it

for the tune you think you know. Let the sherbert
betray its own pastel colour and shiver your head
out of death. There, you can speak now. We're all so pleased
to see you, like a happiness sky. There's still a smell

of pine-damp picnics left for when you're ready:
do enjoy at your leisure. Eat of nature until
you're full; don't stop until your pink cheeks
match the colour of a shepherd's delight.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

A cafe poem for my day off.

In full view of the books for sale.

Arriving late one boy takes position
as the grinning mediator, involved only
by not playing and with access to all the tiles.

This place, lined with spines of hints and names
lost once to golden notoriety, is perfect for this game
but they debate the existence of bonny

without checking once. Talk of Thai massage
is actually charming for their age: there's something
about the red leather sofas, the easy company

they keep. They're still talking words: horn isn't horny
just because of the crucial y, my toes and tea
exist now but are cooling fast. Talk turns to celery

while the boy without any tiles at all moves slickly
between them, easing letters into quiet conversation
and voicing
devolve so all of them can hear.

Monday, 14 April 2008

An exercise in looming deadlines.


The sky is yellow on days like this
when everyone is sadness black.
The walls bleed public words, defining time:
an engraving there, a peeling paper note;
It doesn't get any worse than this
murmuring past in bergamot breath.

Earl Grey is the only answer anyone has
and it pours freely in waiting rooms for fitting
after fitting of textbook grief. Hobbled
women in their petticoats shuffle
on and out, accessorise with cuts
of purest Whitby Jet.

After hours the tailors watch through grubby
windows, smiling their gap-toothed smiles.
The tufted ends of cotton rolls are the only
softness left. The sky is yellow on days
like this, when everyone steps out in black
and jet, dirtying their petticoats in mud.

Sunday, 13 April 2008


so it begins.

Thom in a studio somewhere

And here he is, a softness amidst cables, each one
a part in explaining him; each one a link to me
of the only sort we have: a kind of plugging in.

His life is not tangled up in here, but follows him around:
a friendly ghost that only he can see, left at the studio
door—it has lived quietly on his behalf for years.

I own him, you see, and even own the everyman
shoes that give away the actual wearing in the soles,
the photoshoot jumper worn thin at the elbows.

We could traipse, me and the rest, to the plaque raised
for him, but we won't. We could tread his steps, read his name
but that is all, the only solid thing he's left for us

of worth. It is possible to go too far back there, you see,
and bump into an actual truth: His freshface thoughts
in a workbook, his raised hand, too-big shoes.

But here are the faces of his own children
mouthing daddy through the studio glass now, here,
knocking furiously on the soundproof door.