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!976 (1) Long Hot Summer (1)

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Hope Revisited

The found couple sat on a bench, holding
hands. It was a July English estuary seafront

and they were amongst screeching children,
feral dogs and the smell of fresh doughnuts.

Old now and rugged up against the wind
they resembled a monument. Both were scared

of talking in case of being misunderstood.
A falsetto seagull swooped, hunting for chips.

And then this happened.

I’m sorry...

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Hope's Eve

Dirty old river
must you keep rolling
beneath a setting sun
for the boy who waits.

Mod suited, Chelsea booted
outside the Friday night hum
of trains traversing this way, 
                              and trains conversing that way.

He knows these arteries.
The tides and the tracks 
of London’s bloodlines.
He can count the pulsed veins.

As he stands, he is so nervous
that he puf...

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Mexico 1970

There were rumours
of decimalisation.
A new decade in modernism
at Manor House Junior school.

It was the summer of 1970,
of Esso World Cup coins.
Fools gold for gallons.
My Dad didn’t own a car.

My best friend's name was Zolly.
He had a Rediffusion colour TV.
A yelping dog called Bugsy,
a softened bosomed mum.

And Rosa taught me to dance,
swallow a pickled herring.
She wore her...

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England's Dreaming

I was telling Gareth Southgate
only this morning about
the convenience
of having my weekly 
train ticket on my phone.

He said that I had made
a sensible choice. 

He was also pleased
that I make myself a ham
and pickle sandwich for my lunch. 
Although he suggested
the occasional Scotch Egg.

We skipped down the lane to the station –
our hands were almost touching.

Gareth sniffe...

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Colouring Book

Colouring Book

 

Wherever I’ve stood.

Buttershaw, New Orleans, Basildon.

I’ve always looked for the people

who knew truths. Not Gods, but folk

who could tell the story of the Blues.

 

I could speak of theirs and mine.

But over time, I’ve reached a point

where history only informs. It’s how

and what we do next that matters.

When we turn from blue to gold, perhaps...

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18th Pale Descendant

18th Pale Descendant

 

Maybe she’ll prize me a tattoo.

A red rose for any other crime.

She can score it on my shoulder blade.

Let it weep from time to time.

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We Will Be Men

We Will Be Men

My love and I go fretting
after the late summer sun,
then into the dusk of the
West Yorkshire towns.

Morley, Horbury, Dewsbury.

The night turns
but the warmth sticks, 
releases the musk of 
suburbia’s dying roses.

The windows are open
and I will once again try
to speak of the years that
take their toll.

Of the boy born from the
slabs of Essex.

The long ti...

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!976Long Hot Summer

Other Colours, Other Clocks. After W.H Auden

Other Colours, Other Clocks
After W.H Auden

A summer funeral home in a pound shop Essex town.
The flowers are chemical, the doves bleached pigeons.
We are a family in conjured grief, gasping at heated facts,
tasting an electrical breeze. “There was bloody water down 
his sink and ripped up reminders surrounding his bin.”
Here is love’s finality, its knife, needle and rumour mill –
scarri...

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Shame: After Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King

Shame
After Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King

I’ve tried to step out the shame of this. Even now the guilt piles
high like records racked on an old Dansette. I was a youth lost
in a bedroom mirror, my James Brown moves flickering light
bulbs, fuelling hate in the building site politics of my father. 
For this, I became his family secret. The boy who surrendered
to the funk and the darkness of ‘Blue...

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Monday Morning in the Rain

Summer slow day

and smiles are hard

to give, where nothing

is said and done.

 

We cannot find new

ways to triumph,

where joy is staring at us

as if an alien.

 

Bloody England.

A belief in historical

fiction, where three boys

kicking balls are to blame.

 

 

 

 

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Love is a Verb

You can say the word, love,

until it loses all meaning.

 

‘I love you this

and I love you that.’

 

But, it is in the doing.

The action of the word.

 

Love must be felt in flight.


 

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England's Dreaming

I was telling Gareth
only last night about
the convenience
of having my weekly 
bus ticket on my phone.

He said that I had made
a sensible choice. 

He was also pleased
that I make myself 
a sandwich for my lunch. 
Although he suggested
the occasional Scotch Egg.

 


 

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Frank on Parole (after Tom Waits)

Frank on Parole
after Tom Waits

Frank despairs at the untuned ukulele.  
The solitary instrument of desperate men. 

He’s up next with poems dipped in petrol. 
His ex-wife hasn’t shown up just yet. 

So, Frank reignites those old spirits –
all Halloween orange and chimney red.

That godammed heartbroken ukulele player –
still weeping for Tammy Wynette. 

 

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Lunar Negotiations


From one of those days

that you wouldn’t feed

to a mangy, starving dog.

 

                          To one of those nights

                          where that same little dog

                          gnaws dry on a skinny old bone.

 

Knowing all too well it's one

of those bones that you’ll

have to learn to walk without.

                         

 

       ...

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The Worst Words

If I ask you whilst our sun
drops – dripping its bleed
into a brown-loathed sea
what the worst words are.

You will perhaps shrug your
shoulders – look at your shoes.
It’s not, I don’t love you.
It’s not even, I hate you.

I will say the worst words –
when all is red and rusted –
when the tide retreats to reveal 
the shells of us will be, I don’t care.

Perhaps you’d tighten those l...

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Codes

From Dewsbury Moor to New Orleans,

Frosty Jack, Romanian Bourbon. 

Filleted skunk swooned upon a breeze,

all mustard lit in white urban.

 

We rage hard on tongue come toothless codes.

Offer kisses then ball up our fists.

Short odds between a frog and a toad.

You’re either torn or crossed off our list.

 

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Gloria Wilson

 

The diggers at Black Cross
waiting for grief that climbs
its reason hilltop bound.

Sting of the hot funeral tear -
cold rain on wild-red curly hair.
Yes. She’d drink the cinema of this.

The waltz of born bluebells,
a stalled train before the tunnel.
Bending this season to her end.

 

 

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Languages 

 

It’s early evening. I’m meeting
a man to discuss iambic.

He offers a drink and I refuse.
He asks why not, of course. 

I say one will lead to another.
Then to cocaine - then to crack.

Then to heroin. 
Then to black.

Let’s discuss iambic, I say.
My parameters are pentameter. 

 

 

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Helter Skelter 

 

It all began so very well
on this blossomed Easter Day.
Which led to a misunderstanding - 
in a quietened, difficult way.   
 
Tiptoeing the Pacific shoreline,
Hannah gripped her black plastic locket.
Showed him all her sacred stories 
that were hidden within her pockets. 
 
A plastic six-legged spider,
a chewed Chewbacca pencil. 
A love letter from the tiny boy, 
her dreams of b...

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