Poetry Blog by john short

IN THE DUNES

IN THE DUNES

 

The boy's eye caught movement but

it was only his parents in the dunes,

clumsily attempting to sunbathe, fumbling

with bikini straps, shades, suntan lotion.

 

Someone in school had lied to him

that butterflies only live for a day;

he saw one near the sea that evening,

felt sorry for the fate of its beauty.

 

The next day he roamed all around,

e...

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ROSE

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ROSE

 

My love is like

a crimson rose

and no one knows

from whence it came

 

nor where it goes -

a rose in winter

solid as Frankenstein's

monster, a frozen thing

 

that spent

its lifetime hiding

like a garage spider.

I didn't chide her

 

the garage spider,

but now the rose has

said hooray - come out

to play, has seen

 

its own refle...

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THE DOGS OF ATHENS

THE DOGS OF ATHENS

 

More than a city

a cluster of cities stretch

onwards through space,

one sprawling into the next,

so many areas

I've never set foot in

and west of the electric line's

a foreign country;

you see the names of neighbourhoods

on yellow buses passing

this evening square

where, instead of Nokia,

the street dogs are connected

by a different...

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TRAP

TRAP

 

Pardon me for ringing you

but all my friends are dead.

It's strange to be sitting here

in the place where I was born

 

and no longer know a soul.

They were sand through glass

you see. Now I'm like an invalid

who struggles unheard,

 

consigned to oblivion, yelling

in silence, exiled on the spot

and every new day I cease

to exist again.

 

 

...

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BENT OVER GEOGRAPHY

BENT OVER GEOGRAPHY

 

When off school sick

dad would bring me toast

in bed before he went to work

then leave me crumbed up

in a world of dreams,

ear stuck to a transistor

as the day went on its way

beyond closed curtains

in the blind distance

of car horns and shouting

over garden fences.

I'd suck mints if boredom

and loneliness crept in

or season permit...

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BANK ACCOUNTS

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BANK ACCOUNTS

 

Hello it's us again

the cranks peddling myths,

the people of no validity

with the audacity

to defend ourselves.

 

Them again.

Why can't they just shut up

and pay their Council Tax?

Stop meddling

in things they don't understand.

So-called activists, Independents

daring to resist our plans.

 

But we'll sort them out

and paint them in...

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THE OPEN ROAD

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THE OPEN ROAD

 

I tread an open road in Spain

with walking boots

and canvass rucksack,

fresh loaf, cheese and wine.

 

The pebble track unfolds ahead

then leads to unknown

towns and villages up north.

 

A stream runs to my right.

It sparkles in the morning sun

and follows the road forever

like a faithful companion.

 

Romantic at heart, I dream

of D...

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WORLDS APART

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WORLDS APART

 

Safe in a tower somewhere

a woman writes about anger

while on ground level a woman walking

home from work gets a police check.

 

Made to produce papers, abandoned

for three days in a cell, bedroll and blanket,

no chance of a phonecall either.

 

But egotism rolls around the tower

she paints it beautifully with blackened rage,

scars of privilege ...

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TWILIGHT

TWILIGHT

 

I'd like to walk into that house

over the road where a lamp shines,

quench many whims in fact

but extra vibrant years and brief dotage

are nothing more than fantasy.

 

I took photographs every day in vain

but didn't spot the change.

Too old now to keep bulldogs

I recently acquired a Chihuahua,

last night dreamed a cloud of fragile birds

that sang o...

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AIR IN THE MORNING

AIR IN THE MORNING

 

The morning air speaks loss;

slides through a sunlit moment

as eyes open to her memory.

 

From across damp fields

shrill hammering signals

a disconsolate world

where trees stand huddled

under saturated clouds.

 

Sharp black wings

tear the sky with flight;

a feathered firework erupting

until the air would burst

from its heaviness.

...

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PORCHES OF SUBURBIA

PORCHES OF SUBURBIA

 

She's delivering leaflets again,

urging residents to oust their charlatans

who'll vote through a bad deal

then claim they had no choice.

 

The people here are house proud,

they all have pretty porches and loiter

in back rooms until they think she's gone

then emerge to examine the leaflet.

 

In her old country they'd be outside

at this ho...

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BARRIO SANTIAGO

BARRIO SANTIAGO

Jerez de la Frontera

 

In the catherdral shadow

a woman peels limes

then washes them

at the blue fountain

as an angry sun burns

shapes on stone.

 

From dark passages

a bright guitar

emerges into afternoon,

arpeggios glittering

across the water

like momentary fish.

 

It predicts your path

past broken balconies,

ragged skirts, ...

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LOVE AND LOBSTERS

LOVE AND LOBSTERS

 

I love you in the car park

of a popular supermarket chain,

 

then often in the Judo class

where you usually go to train.

 

I love you cracking lobsters

with a twentieth century hammer

 

and later in the wine bar

after twelve tequila slammers.

 

They say there is no future

as the seas are full of plastic

 

and all of us will per...

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RESISTANCE

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RESISTANCE

 

We used to raid the freezer

in that dirty garage but cement

and dust made him cough.

 

His mother was a puritan;

he'd sniff and splutter when upset,

dance defiant on the car roof

then run off to town

giving her two fingers.

 

Winter mornings across ice,

spitting steamy gobs

through a face-hole in wool

with pale knees shivering

out of coa...

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BURGER QUEEN

BURGER QUEEN

An old photo snapped

in front of that plastic bubble sign,

 

our first date being the last time

I ate flesh: no more traumatic gristle

 

and though you were perfection

in heels, a pale silver dress

 

my carniverous girlfriend

you persisted with the meat habit

 

so years later, still together

you criticise me for courgettes

 

said at the ...

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SALAMANDER

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SALAMANDER

From dripping dawn to milk churn

to sheep and village fountain.

From orchard and empty

mountain road to gurgling cherry town

I carried a yellow-black fire symbol

through deserted evenings in

hidden streets where men put away

their tools with an apprehensive glance

until at last we met and drove

the winding road to Olonzac

and sat next day in the bar

o...

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BEDROOM ROULETTE

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BEDROOM ROULETTE

Peering through old glass

into empty space and silence.

I used to love that accumulation

of ancient heirloom furniture;

Spain's history casting shadows

on a family by their open fire.

 

There was always shelter here

no matter how late the flight arrived

and with luck you could escape

the bugs - a kind of bedroom roulette.

Creaking passages snake...

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BISCUIT FACTORY

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BISCUIT FACTORY

Here one learns a new vocabulary

tinwash, tray off, mobcap,

swiping in and stacking down.

 

Some of us arrived for a month

one spring and stayed forever

like jaded nomads finding pasture,

needs met, horizons ending here.

 

In ghost-infested rooms

the newcomer gets lost, disorientated

by the sprawling tangle and pulse

of peculiar machinery

 

...

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ROMANCE IN A SANDSTONE TOWN

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ROMANCE IN A SANDSTONE TOWN

 

I woke to a vision of Mexico

now I see it's more like the Orient

but they keep the prices low

and didn't change a thing

 

so after coffee we can shelter

from the sun in China City,

buy pencils or cheap underwear,

an electric fan with a week's guarantee

 

or browse in that enormous bookshop

with the noisy drinks machine

at the ...

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PART OF THE COURSE

PART OF THE COURSE

I guess he was

just no good at it:

stood on every board

that creaked,

banged his knee

on the coffee table,

collided with silver;

he might as well have

worn a striped T-shirt

and carried a sack

marked swag.

So when they caught

him, sprawled

in the rose bush

and led him away

he still hung on

to his dream

and vowed to try

and...

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ADIPOSE HARRY

ADIPOSE HARRY

At an early age he learned

the folly of swimming in wrong circles

and how some languages

have no word for webbed feet.

 

I'm going to leave you

Adipose Harry, his wife says.

You are morbidly obese.

Look past appearances, he protests.

I have a heart, pure and good.

Yes, but it's enveloped in fatty tissue

and you'll most likely die.

 

He waddle...

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CHANCES TO LEAVE

CHANCES TO LEAVE

 

Hunched over his ouzo, unshaven

as the steamer pulled away on visible blue.

A guy who's going nowhere, you said,

meets every dawn with negativity.

 

Later we sat upstairs while Kumiko picked

through rubbish on the beach for fun.

Less of that scrap, you shouted down,

not everything is sculpture! Then turning to me:

At school back in Denmark we fou...

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THE GIRL FROM GALLIENI

THE GIRL FROM GALLIENI

 

The town looks run-down

this rainy weekday morning;

a single street climbing

to nowhere special,

an old boulangerie,

some sleepy Asian shops

but the church door

extends an invitation

so I step inside to breathe

the incensed silence

of wood and alcoves

 

then without a word

a vagrant poet appears

from behind the church,

his...

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THE SACRED ART

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THE SACRED ART

There's poverty meandering 

the streets of this town;

tired hands wrapped around sherry

in the Pre-Raphaelite graveyard

overgrown with summer and cutbacks.

 

The church is two-tower unique,

one ancient, one merely old

and here they come as punctual

as clockwork, the bell ringers

advancing up the path.

 

He's under the Gothic arch

a touch dru...

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