Poems

 

Sky

we stood in your back garden
looking for shooting stars
on one of those early shy days

today the sun fights through
clouds on one side of the sky
half a moon stubbornly sits opposite –
a celestial staring match

I think of your lovely dresses
with their patterns
and the crockery in your kitchen

yesterday I watched a firework display
stood on a street corner
up into the same sky we looked at together
I felt like a ghost
everything reminds me of you

I called Samaritans on Christmas Eve
I feel like a mole that’s come out
of the cinema in the daytime

it seems as if it should be so easy
to bring a lost love back to life
like if you hold a dead but still warm bird
in your hand
surely all you need to do is stroke its chest
and breathe onto it in order to make it live again

the sky will always be there
the saddest thing is that
everything has happened before

 

Drifting

I stood at the bar
doing my pelvic floor exercises
they say it’s good for erectile dysfunction
I was hoping for an Easter rising –
it never came

I’d just drifted through Sainsbury’s
crying by the organic veg
somebody said ‘Jesus loves you’
she had teeth like Ken Dodd,
when will it ever end?

I walked through town
with my flies open
I wake up each morning
my stomach churns
it’s like a terrible film
everybody has turned into a hideous monster

there’s frost in the grass
the bird bath has frozen over
the moon isn’t quite full
but it pulsates
in slow motion
against the midnight blue sky

I wonder what you are doing right now

 

 

Hot Tub

I stood in the pub garden on my own
finished a cigarette and flicked the butt –
it arc-d beautifully for ages
in slow motion
and landed straight in the middle of an ashtray

another time
somebody Frisbee-ed a Jaffa cake towards me
I was in the studio
and it was about 10 metres distance
I caught it in my mouth

neither of these brilliant acheivements
were captured on film
and sent to You’ve Been Framed –

usually I feel like a wasp at a picnic
or a dead puppy at a school disco
so it would have been good for my ego

two girls on the train had been to a gig
they filmed it on their mobile phone
and replayed the whole show
on their nasty tinny harsh shriek devices
my ears were bleeding
and there seemed to be a weird
electrical wire fizzing in my brain

while this hideous noise was going on
they talked about going on holiday
and the main thing they were
basing their choice on
was whether there was a good hot tub

I wanted to flick burning cigarettes
and Jaffa cakes
into their stupid hot tub
I also wanted to cry
and there were about 100 stations
until my stop

Light

she stood in the middle of her room
it was mostly bare now
we’d taken nearly all her stuff to the car
she looked smaller than usual
in that empty sunless room
that faced the street

I took the 3 plants home
the ones that I’d bought for her
when she was sad

when I got back
I gave them lots of water
and put them in the kitchen window
within an hour
they were leaning towards the light

Moving

I got asked outside for a fight
I was on a moving train –
on that last train to West Worthing (via Lancing)
you take your life in your hands

a fascist beetroot-faced drink-fuelled idiot
wide boy swaggering show-off
was declaiming an unbroken
vile hate-filled torrent of offensive rubbish

I couldn’t stand it and I told him
when he asked if I wanted to make something of it
I pointed to the door, stations whizzing past
and said ‘after you’

the stark light of the toilet
made my skin look terrible
my pink dry eyes like a rabbit with myxamatosis
I always look better in the gloom

all these shits on the train are txting
or doing something with their phones
I don’t want to be here
the modern world makes me depressed

on the street
desperate people ask for money
I don’t know what to do
guilt is my default emotion

somebody I know has gone to India
she likes to help poor people
the underprivileged
it’s admirable I guess

another friend likes to travel
she takes photographs
all her pics are beggars or old people with wrinkles
‘they’re really interesting’ she says ‘and cute’

I can’t walk down the road
without feeling bad about something

the dog lies on the rug
the cat’s lick each other’s fur
and I put cream on my psoriasis scars
before I go to bed again in the spare room

Night Train

an electric lamp lights up a bush
by the side of the railway track
next to a glowing carpark
where somebody
is getting their head kicked in

Commune

The sun goes down towards the end of summer
beasts stand around in fields as cars whoosh by –
going to places or coming back
you look at cows and horses and goats
from the edge of your eyesight
concentrating on the road ahead
you daydream of a kind of commune
where you can start a different life –
you wish your new life was standing in meadows
stroking the necks of horses
who tremble and shiver like ghost fish

you can walk among pigs and geese
and sleep in barns with nervous cattle
who gently stamp and shift
as thunder rumbles the distance
and lightning sheets the horizon

2 girls sit opposite you on the night train
they are both texting on their mobile phones
their lovely faces lit up by the glowing screens
outside the window badgers and hedgehogs are coming out
owls and bats are flying
you want to be there with them
eventually you will go there
because you believe you’ve had enough

Horizon

you’re stuck at the bar
between a dull work colleague
and a shiny-faced buzz-eyed drunkard
who stinks of marijuana
both of them want to talk to you
your dream is to be left alone
or at least to be approached
by a pretty academic girl in glasses
one who studies American literature

you go outside
you think of your children
all growing up
a stranger tells you that he’s
getting his shit together
he’s having counselling
you close your eyes
everything fades like at the end of
an old black and white film

shadows will continue to slide
up the side of buildings
clouds will always move across
the moon at night
spiders still spin their webs in the shed
and ships will drift slowly
on the horizon for ever

I’m a Man

It felt like rain as I walked up
towards the station
late summer night time
it stayed dry
there was a homeless
man asking for money under the bridge
he had a dog with him
a most beautiful dog
white with shaggy hair
over its skinny skeleton

I had no change
in my pocket
and I had an ache in my heart
but I bent down to stroke the dog
she nuzzled up against my outstretched hand
her tongue licked my wrist
like wet glass paper
I’d been with friends
the dog’s affections made me sad
and I thought it was hard to bear
the sufferings of an innocent animal

I used to watch cowboy films with my dad
Saturday afternoons
after the wrestling
I would feel OK about the cowboys and Indians
getting shot
but soon as a horse was injured and fell
I was horrified and upset

I’m now a man
some women like a man who is tough
one that can cut down a tree
or fight a bull
I don’t care
I’m as sentimental as shit

Today’s Poem

Today’s poem is rainy wind
blowing a party balloon down the street
the dog asleep on a wooden pub floor
a man in a mustard yellow fleece
an upturned lamp
a row of empty ladder back chairs

Today’s poem is me perched on a barstool
after sheltering from the rain
reading the local newspaper
surrounded by buzzing fruit machines
raucous drunken conversation and
Eurodisco dubstep sound system –
then from out of the racket
everything swung into place and I sat up
a song came on
it was a Leonard Cohen song
one of those early ones
that broke your heart
when you were an adolescent –

people still played pool
shoved money in the one-armed bandit
and watched sport on the flatscreen TV
nothing obvious had changed
but it seemed to me that a kind of stormcloud
had passed
I smiled to myself
and carried on perusing the dating section in the paper

Drink

you know that time when you’re alone at a bar
happy to sit and have some peace
but after a while the pub becomes rowdier
people barge into you and
you get irritated by their harsh braying
and squawking and
laughing too loud
but a miracle happens after a few more drinks
and you find strangely that you love everybody
and you smile benevolently
with warm fuzzy eyes
and these people smile back at you
thinking that you are probably
psychopathologically deranged
and it would be best to play safe and
respond to your gesture and then back away
and you are like those smiling fools
in some secret sect
who walk around on air
looking at the sky with a
perpetual smug grin
superior and a bit mad
these are the dangerous ones

From a Window in Norway

from my bedroom window
I could see over the rooftops
funnels of the ferry that
took people to the Lofoten Islands –
in the town were several stores
and brightly painted wooden houses –
at night when the house
hummed with quiet
I looked out again
the ferry was gone
and a few streetlamps
leaked pools of light
onto empty icy streets

Raging

some of us may have been
battery hens
pecking at our own chests
or farm animals
bound whipped, electrocuted
and then we had our throats cut
some of us were hung upside down
outside butchers’ shops
or were children’s pets
tortured and tormented
starved and humiliated

I made friends with 2 donkeys
in Tallinn zoo
I’d been invited there
to make work
the donkeys were pathetic
and in bad shape
pacing up and down
in their concrete enclosure
heads hung low
sorrowful

it’s no wonder that some
people rage in their bodies
awkward
filled with anxiety
anger
frustration and confusion

Intolerance Eats the Soul

Bambi and Popi got attacked
by a gang of chavs
on East Worthing station
I wished I was there –

about 5 years ago when Bambi was a Goth
we were going up the stairs in WH Smith
she looked beautiful with her white hair
striking in contrast to her black outfit;
a dumpy witch in a peach leisure suit
stopped and stared
almost breaking her neck to get a closer look at Bambi
then she smirked –
I said to her
you shouldn’t stare
it makes you fat and ugly

Joker

I hate the summer
when those long holidays roll round again
nowhere to hide
it’s not so bad in the town
but
outdoors in the dusty blasted countryside
I feel like dying
or in parks
watching lovers like a pervert
my imagination depresses me

when I was a teenager
I would lie on my bed with the curtains closed
now every day feels like a month
today I sat outside a café
in the shadiest seat
a child walked by
she was about 5 and her face was painted
I don’t know what she was supposed to be
most of the paint was streaked
or had worn off in the heat
she looked beautiful like the Joker
as she slouched sullen and tired
all pouty behind her dad –
I’m waiting night and day

Woodpecker

I have this inner dialogue
going on in my head
all the time a constant maddening discourse
I don’t know what to call it
it hammers away inside my skull
I want it to go away
it stops me from interacting
it makes me confused
I’d like to learn how to meditate
but it chips away
minute by minute
reminding me what a wanker I am

Loose Change

I reached in my trouser pocket
and counted the coins
18 pence
it was past midnight
and I’d been drinking since the afternoon
I didn’t feel drunk anymore
and really wanted a last one –
I spoke to a girl
who was an anthropologist
she wanted to take up life drawing
it was Sunday night
everyone seemed to have gone mad
smashing glasses
falling over
I had to work in the morning

Freedom Curtailed

I walked across the garden
to the shed
to try and crack this painting thing
2 of the 3 cats asleep in Sunday morning heat –
as I unpadlocked the door
I noticed a bunch of feathers
on the ground
they were fine white feathers
I bent down to look closer
and saw that some
had pale turquoise marks on them
others had lemon yellow patches
I couldn’t think what kind of bird this was
as I poked around
I noticed the hollowed out
white blue yellow
bloodied and severed head
of a budgerigar

Owl

wind and rain
blusters a heavy roar against station roof
it’s difficult to light a cigarette –
when I was in Somerset last year
I went to a pub that was packed
with many different people
lots of old hippies
also young emos and punks
probably their children –
this woman asked me to join her table
they were a large group
it was kind of her
but I felt I’d rather be alone
I wasn’t feeling too confident-
I often put myself in the position
of an outsider
or I seem to be waiting at stations
bus stops
supermarket checkouts
bars cafes and pubs
music and traffic floating in the distance
tonight I sit on desolate
dead platform
legs dangling above it all
an owl hoots like
somebody practicing the recorder
it clears my mind
20 mins still before the next train
I feel I can continue
for a while longer

What is a Life?

I sat in a pub garden in Arundel
listening to drains gurgle
laughter from inside
on my own again
no wind tonight
a band was setting up
I did a poetry reading earlier
now I had to get 2 trains back
what do you do with a life?
I like to paint
I do the crossword
earlier I’d walked on the Downs
with the dog
got a puncture
waited for the RAC
found an almost dead body on West Worthing station
called 999
waited for an ambulance
I saw a man with a huge pair of breasts
bulging under his lilac polo shirt
he sat in the pub garden
talking to a very attractive woman
there’s a brutal and beautiful honesty
about the ordinary

Driving

once when I drove back
to Worthing on a summer afternoon
I passed a flock of sheep in a field
by the motorway
they were shading under a large old tree
some were laying down
others mooched about
they had all been recently sheared
and looked funny and vulnerable
their sad earnest bony heads
left me feeling rather shabby
shadows lay dead over the meadow
in the ramshackle field
of boulders and dry grass –
I often try to be amusing, amiable
but usually my heart seems to be caving in

Funeral

I sat in a chair
in the library
at the end of an aisle
keyboards tapped
the sun warmed my back through a window
a book about the German Expressionists open on my lap
a painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
my thoughts turned to your mother’s funeral
it was taking place at that very moment
you were there in Cornwall
I was looking after the girls
and the cats
and the dog
I thought the world was a place
of such terrible contradictions

Rome

Matthew invited us to his seminary –
he held a small reception in his room with olives and wine
later we had lunch in the canteen
spaghetti, salad and more wine
then he took us to the chapel
there were beautiful and gruesome murals
he showed me a box containing relics
he also played the organ which made me feel humble
and a little sad –
after that he led me to the bell tower
where we could look over the whole of Rome
and my heart sang like a bird –

in the afternoon the rain had stopped
and we watched a football match
between the Irish and Italian priests
I’ve never seen such a dirty game in my life

Planes and Boats

Today my daughter flew to America
my dad was having a cancer removed at the same time
the weather was filthy
sweeping rain and cold wind
waves thrashed and foamed
as flags ripped on poles
and trees bent almost double

when I was a boy
I liked to help my mum when she was baking
we’d peel big green and red apples
to put in a pie
and see who could remove the peel
in one big coil

on the way home from work
I drove past an old wooden boat
it was standing far from the sea
in a lay-by without a trailer
next to the motorway
it was painted dark blue

8 thoughts on “Poems

  1. ‘Moving’ is a bit desolate :/ I’m sure you muster a few laughs though when you read it publicly in your usual self depreciating way …. I remember you mentioning the incident last year. Hope you are okay at the mo x

    • thank you for responding – not everything is funny, in fact most of it isn’t funny, but people still laugh which is always good, and it’s better than crying I guess. I’m alright, hope you are well x

  2. It was lovely to meet you at last,at fishpolice, Gary and now i have glimpsed into the velvet underground of your heart.with love from gilly

      • It would be fantastic if you have time to read some of your beautiful poems at our tiny chichester peace festival on 21st june. yours cheekily and with huge admiration, gillyxx

  3. HI GARY, It’s Jan from West Dean poetry. Thanks so much you were absolutely stimulating kind and without ego! I have possibly an idea which I would like to discuss with you. Could you e mail me your number as I would rather discuss it privately. By the way your poetry is AWESOME!!!!!

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