MY TROUBLED MIND

confessions are self-serving

Category: Poetry

Leo’s last day

-We do the shit, waiting for the sun, bam, easy life – Leo sits on two water kegs – Fuckin’ hell, thirty degrees to the face, it’s hard, ah, putain, wow – Last day on South Beach, he’s been here almost nine weeks, no licence living in a stationary van, Gang Starr plays, stove set on the floor, the most black coffee hits my stomach, nausea slight, Marlborough  smoke expands like time inside, I lie back on towels, t-shirts, sleeping bag pillow, light comes in strong down the right windows, Luc reaches for watermelon brought in from outside, Leo elbows on knees, nods to bass line – I’m going to start doing my shit – To no one in particular, met with silence, a slurp of melon, turns his head and stretches long tanned arms back to rest on driver’s seat headrest.  Past him the woman I saw topless changing with big dog, bumper sticker – Good planets are hard to come by – Middle aged, whistles to the dog baseball cap purple top no bra, Luc jams to trade – they gonna see-ee – soul singer, bass line rolls away, Michael Jackson style, bottlecap graces the floor, though it’s been swept – In my mind-d – Leo sings, grabs a vest, shunts it into his face, inhales, yelps – One year of stink! Papa was a rolling stone! – Head bobbing like a strutting pigeon, flicks a shirt out and a spray of crumbs and scraps of plastic fly everywhere, scatter my journal – Sorry man – Luc hocking up phlegm, spits it onto the tarmac – Words can’t describe the feeling I feel, oh glory, Hove! – French guy I’ve forgotten name of stands outside reading my copy of Dennis Haskell seriously, hands it back some minutes later without comment. Open sour cream crust paperweights smoked salmon, baguette exposed to the air, joint smokes like a thread from a silkworm into the air, track begins – Is someone listening? Okay … – Dirty towel beige, blue, brown innocent dirt streak hangs over bumbag, tooth brush rests outwards like one side spooning lover. Vested man, 30s, backward cap mirrored glasses and trimmed beard looks in, away as he passes on, backs out in big black late model Jeep, Leo returns, stands outside with didgeridoo 30° into van, Luc flips his guitar to back and tap taps the wood with fast fingers, shouts something in French, Leo back, searches for a lighter, lifts some jumper up four inches, barely glances underneath before replacing it, repeats with the next item the same.

Railway sketch

Railway station in a country town, flagstones wide, dark and wet with rain. Cast iron bolts suffocated by thick beige paint, flaked with age.  Train delayed 11 minutes, passengers sleepy and few in number, apathetic to delay or even cheerful, ‘it’ll be alright’, lo holy British stoicism if only in this crouched corner.  Gentleman across platform studies paper, widespread khaki slacks and slightly bruised red brown leather shoes asunder, thin and aged hand peeks out of overcoat to grip paper tentatively, though firm, like a mouse’s nose out a crack in a wall.  Grey hair not too thin, combed, skin sallow and liver-spotted, chin a wreck of flesh after many years sitting reading papers no doubt, dignified in its way. Pages turn slowly as he bends to his serious study of another day’s events, quiet and watchful as a predator.

Bag for life

My cashier was a tall woman of around 27,
the tips of her hair were brittle as ice chips
and her teeth small and discoloured.
I made a nonchalant gesture
with my bank card pincered
between forefinger and thumb
as if to say ‘let me use this’
without opening my mouth.

Next to me a mother,
I don’t know how class works these days
but I’d guess upper-middle,
was 10 pence short of her shop.
She wanted a bag for life, ‘here’
I said,
and handed her the silver coin.

I felt pretty good about myself,
scampering across the road
so she wouldn’t meet me outside
and be forced to thank me again,
and I kept feeling good
all the way home,
even for the duration of the extra block
I have to take
to avoid the homeless
man sitting like some frigid Buddhist
on my street.

We Are The Boys

We are the boys born
in the bellies of hydrogen bombs
swigging weekend beers
and not worrying about the world,
look at us go!

Poking powders up our noses,
tiny plastic packets of “ANYWHERE BUT HERE”
ignoring, ignoring
the chemical drip in our throats
that ticks like a hot engine cooling.

Even our reflections are tired
of our unfounded confidence,
our masks hang limply
like half melted candles, off our faces,
and have you noticed
those ones as young as 21
looking absolutely knackered?

Our testicles hang comically
in mirrors like alien or ancient artifacts,
and those lucky enough to find craters
to try to make love in
do so, no less cowed of the dark
than our fortunate forefathers,

though the idea that dawn
could bring some form of reprieve
is a notion as antiquated as that of magic,
or miracle.

When you’re not here

I listen
to the senselessness of never-ending traffic,
to the way the fridge murmurs its thanks
between burps
as it slurps down power.

I listen and I watch
my hand-me-down fry pan,
filled and simmering                 on one side
like the first draft
of a resignation.

Sent my love downstairs

On my back
Studying the ceiling cracks
In a student’s house.

Sent my love downstairs
To fetch roasting carrots
Spitting orange,  honey smothered
Soft, black crisp outside
Brown toast, butter melt ooze.

Where is she?
I shouldn’t be left alone in this head,
On this night,
In a room so hot
With dishes piled so high.

#1

My ears are cupped in headphones, hood up,
the radio’s drowned
in the river of mid-morning cabs, buses, and rain.

Down it comes in droves
onto my jeans, wet through,
I only catch a word or two
over the wind:
Diabetes, Lucozade, Sugar, Stew.

Coming to my own conclusions
sloshing alongside Chinese Kitchen,
muddy yellow dragon,
no lights, no sweet or sour scent,
sign on the door reads
CLOSED.

Spring poem

I’m outside,
on the corner slate flower bed purple as burst plum,
conjures mother, lent, exhausted
on the speckled countertop, jousting with a can of prunes
juice drip teasing out a crack in the tin.
Pregnant and constipated,
little Isobel on her way, labrador alive!
Huge moaning skull, soppy silk ears, sad brown eyes,
busted arthritic limp, stomach rolling like a black sea.

My forearm’s over my eyes, sun sharp and new.
First English spring, no Welsh, British, who cares?
Many do, the lines in the sand
seem deeper year on year,
like slits carved in supple upper arms,
out of sight and out of mind.

 

Fish & Chips

Rambling mad under the threat of spring rain
Dirty old field, ploughed, pulling up last year’s dirty jobs
City slush grey sky, and the skylark sings
Fevered, flapping upwards full of guts
Bold backbone and hardy in the gusts
Air cool and eyes tight, cheeks pinched
We gotta go
Jolly Roger, sign clanging, cod bites ‘famous’,
Kid in there, eye glasses, eight or nine or years old
Mother fixes his collar, and here the chips
Fresh from the smooth amber glow of boiling beef fat
And salt shaking escaping down newspaper folds
Dad lifting potato with finger and thumb pinch and suck hot
Squeezing vinegar in there, down brown cone swamp
Tart first chip smoking open mouth tongue dance
Steam to the street stagger homeward bound.

Butterball

You’re on the edge of my bed,
I can’t describe it,
you’re balled up and tomato pink,
my baby
my butterball, crying.

Am I autistic or just obtuse?

Probably a foul cocktail of both,
probably from all the red wine I drunk,
probably from the way I smile so smug,
you hung on my arm like I deserve you.

I’ll take advantage of your sweet neurosis,
I’ll let you bet against my house,
benefit of years and confidence
in all the beers I drunk.

God I’m proud, and oh so cynical,

typical of single males in their mid-twenties
secretly all so desperate, aching
for warmth like yours,
under the covers, something platonic,
nothing sexual,
just something to take us
out this tasteless plastic world
and place us some place
peaceful.