London-based poet and photographer, born in 1979. A secret lemonade drinker for some time, Alex has performed his poetry in Liverpool and London, and to any number of unsuspecting drunken gatherings.
SPLITTING LOGS A response to Daljit Nagra My inheritance, This yellow-handled axe Works best – it rents the wood Like multi-fibrous flesh. Not Quite alike, almost a matching set, The logs split like jigsaw Teeth, a patchwork quilt, or Hatched eggs. The handle sits On the heel of your leading hand As though you are shaking it. The left Steadies your grasp. Remember: Keep the wrist ice-rigid On the down-stroke, your fist Firm to the handle’s roll. First Pull the head back above yours, And know that dropping it will Kill you deader than a headstone, And pledge your blood to the Earth. With both hands holding The end of the swung axe, push Down (the lead hand must slide To grip the neck as it bites). Allow Yourself to become a piston, recoiling Over the time-flung discs of fallen Trees, your forked legs true To the pivoting trunk of your waist. The power comes from here: Prising nature apart, making Matter into space. If you are Doing it correctly, your wrists Won’t jar as the axe-head Chops fire-ready chunks Of the broken wedges. Beware Of splintered chips as you gather And leave them in a sheltered Place to dry. If the light goes Dim, do not risk your toes, Go in. A woman will be waiting. For you there. But if you stay out Your bunched shoulders Will begin to branch, and grow: soon My clothes shall fit you, son. THE HUNGRY EYE For Walker Evans Their hearts are in these beating pages: A flipping population of printed faces Composed and arranged on ageless stages. The union graces silvered places With wealth signaled by these shuttered Irises: old windows of worlds affecting The then and new, each in its time flattered By the flash of another hunter, collecting Matter in a latter day black box recorder. The mechanics of the mind switching blinks Into clicks, making order of a time’s disorder, A chink of light setting history free. Think Of them, like you, stepping Over borders, below signs, through crowds, Documenting how we are, mapping Who we were. What became of us and them? Now. Umbrella City It is stair-rodding on the roads of Palermo So we step out of the rain into a department Store to steal a piss in the toilets, and try on One or two things. By the time we come out The rain has hardened. A street protest passes, Its banners washed white, voiding its demands, The crowd breaking up, whistles diminishing. In their pompous uniforms, the caribineri look Restless, but cracking skulls would be pointless On a day like this. From a shop window's safety I admire their belt buckles, night sticks and gleaming gun Butts, their damp epaulettes. What does it take To turn off compassion, I wonder, to murder; Would I have the gumption, the acumen, The pure chutzpah to batter a pacifist in his Or her bed, but then the moment passes, Like the carnival of politics but unlike the rain, Which hammers on to everyone’s horror. Only The umbrella vendors are enjoying themselves Making a decent fists of selling 1 Euro shop- Bought umbrellas for 10 Euros a pop, Hurrying hither and thither in sunglasses And sandals like sherpas with herpes. After being asked for the hundredth time If I want an umbrella, in my saturated combat shorts And wet canvas shoes, and evident discomfort, I realise that I might indeed have what it takes To break someone’s neck with my bare Hands. I imagine it would be like wringing water From a twisted tea towel into a washing up bowl. I don't test the theory. I am wearing impractical shoes, And Palermo is known for a law and order Of a different form. Two days later I fly home Like a doomed bird, my umbrella stowed In the hold, safe as houses. Carpe diem We rarely if ever speak these days but When my uncle hit fifty last year he Fell into a funk. I remember my mother, His sister, called me specifically to talk About it. “Your uncle Jez”, she said, “is A bit low at the moment. He doesn’t Know where the last fifty years went. Be sure to send him a card. And a present Make sure he knows you care.” My uncle is Also my godfather, so I feel a degree of Beneficence. And like me, he began to go Bald prematurely, so I feel an additional Empathy. So during my lunch break I Strolled to Borders and stole a copy Of Saul Bellow’s seminal work ‘Seize The Day’, which I duly sent avec card. I didn’t receive a reply. Some months Passed before we met next, at Xmas, And when I saw him he said he didn’t Understand a word Bellow was saying. I demurred and changed the subject. Now I wonder, what ails him more: That he’s lost fifty event-less years Deferring his whims and fancies Without making a dent on the world Or that he’s living with an heiress Almost twenty years his senior, Who has a large family and may Still outlive him? Perhaps the Bellow Was a touch close to home after all...
All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.
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