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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

A breezy refrain bellows unexpectedly

Within this deserted vacuum.

Only a faceless few are left now.

The suited man, I have decided, is a workaholic

In the throes of a traumatic marital breakup.

His face is stern, captured in a

Generous film of sweat;

The brow is furrowed, folding away his troubles,

Whilst a shaky left hand sources his top jacket pocket

For a filtered cigarette.

He takes one tentative step forward,

Coughing violently into his crumpled handkerchief;

A present, perhaps.

I look openly into his diluted eyes

For I can be no more than five feet from

His drunken silhouette.

My back aches from the lousy support

Offered by a half-eaten chair peppered with cigarette burns

And blemishes of discarded chewing gum.

Without the safeguard of his office place

He can lie to his mind no further;

The loving words, the mistress and the failed promises

Breach his false divide and pull a heavy tear

From his self-pitying conscience.

As the train pulls into the platform,

His shadow leaves this emotive portal;

The truth exposed, the darkness lifted,

Paving the way for new proposals.

I turn away from this scene and look for my ride.

The light is dim and tempered.

I try to find my way past the panic-stricken mother

Who stands rooted, like a statue of inconvenience,

In my path to the ticket barrier.

She leans to her right-hand side with certain poise

Wise to my exit strategy,

While her scruffy child runs amok in the distance,

Wriggling on the floor and silent to his creator’s cries for calm,

Cries that are swept up by the chugging sound

Of my night escort, ready to relieve me

From this macabre scene of chaos and breakdown.

I take matters into my own hands.

My arms extend horizontally and then lift to

Push the women forcefully out of my eye line.

Her mouth opens briefly before my growl tells her

To walk away, to tend to the hooligan child that she volunteered

Into this world and continues to fail.

Its midnight, the air bites and pricks at my

Shirtless arms and I can’t be fucked to be civil to these people,

Not here.

I breach the turnstyle and smile meekly at the paper stall man

He nods courteously before packing away tomorrow’s history

Into a battered wheel barrow, as if taking out the family rubbish.

The carriage is close now;

My feet rapping rhythmically with every step.

I quicken my pace, feeling the eyes of all

Who have passed through the bowels of

This station settling upon me, offering

Their darkest secrets.

I scrape away the moisture from my top lip

And pull the rucksack close to me.

Turning behind, I see a train departing and

I think of the people inside and what will become of them.

I close the door behind me and pick the

Nearest place from the choice of empty

Seats and breathe heavily.

I cannot help but feel that something profound

Has happened to me here,

Something lasting.

I flick my fingers on the drop down table and

Try to engage in the mundane and normal,

That most horrid of things – the routine.

I think of the weeks ahead but my mind

Clouds over and a sickness builds in my gut.

After what seems like an age,

A ghostly whistle finally pierces the dank hush;

The train creaks forward, reluctant to carry

Its cargo away into the dark covers of the night.

I hope never to come back here again.

– 2006

 

This was written on the train coming back – late at night – from London Paddington. I recall feeling a great sense of loneliness walking through the vast station alone, with night settled and odd characters shuffling about in ones and twos. I then began to think about all of the stories and personalities that must have passed through this portal at various points in time, including the tears, the joy and all other emotions fixed to those moments – all of them ghosts from the past.

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 Two hooks support each half of curtain

Creating a slump in the middle of the bay window

Like an open wigwam

 

An opportunist shaft of morning sun

Energises the smeared glass pane

Uncovering a secret world

 

Inside the house

A grey moggy dances through the newly cast shadow

Enthused by this rare opportunity of play

 

Something glistens momentarily:

A name tag tight around its neck

His name is Patrick – Patrick the dancing cat

 

Minutes pass before Patrick returns to his bed

Fashioned from old newspaper cuttings

His time-laden gait riddled with sadness

 

My eyes tighten to block out the sun

As I watch events from outside the house

I scour for other signs of life but the clouds have hurried the sky

 

Perhaps I am being told to leave this place

But I can’t

This is my job

 

The grass licks my suit

As my feet float towards

The front door

 

I am calm and unemotional

I long to feel something deep

A human response to what awaits me

 

But after thirty years

And no tears

I hold out little hope

 

Particles of gravel crack beneath my feet

At the front of the house

And I sigh

 

The granite walls

At first warm and welcoming

Now feel deathly cold

 

While flower boxes that once soared to the skies

Now sit like coffins

Stacked on the window ledges – the soil impotent

 

It is as if everything has stopped here

Time redundant

A fading memory

 

I push the open door

And punch the light switch

Without thought

 

A simple kitchen table is occupied by black and white photographs

Of a handsome moustached man

The smell is repugnant but I am used to this

 

I run my hands over the photographs

And think about the neighbours and postman

Who turned their backs on this place

 

Patrick sits watchfully in the next room

His burning yellow eyes study me closely

This intruder to his realm

 

I jump with alarm as a grandfather clock chimes

Delivering the present to the past

The light to darkness

 

My hands are now shaking

And the white easy iron shirt

Sticks to my sweaty torso like a leech

 

I take three steps forward into the lounge

And a figure emerges in a wooden rocking chair

Positioned within touching distance of my right hand

 

A set of narrow

Boney fingers sit on the arm rest

I try to speak but no words will form

 

The lady meets my gaze – she is eighty, at least

Her face expressionless and I find it hard to tell

If she is dead or alive

 

In her open right hand is a piece of paper

Which I take

And read:

 

“Vladimir Vlaskylov – the famous Russian born playwright and novelist – died peacefully in his sleep last night. He was 84. His celebrated career spanned 6 decades, all of which were spent with his wife, Jeamme Tvotski, who survives him. A full obituary will follow in Saturday’s print.”
 

I extend my arm and offer the page back to Jeamme

But she has turned away from me

To face the window

 

The sun outside has become brighter

And I welcome the warmth

As does Patrick, who leaves his bed

 

I focus on the tear that has stopped

Halfway down Jeamme’s cheek

And I check the pulse as a token gesture

 

Her eyelids close easily under my touch

And I wonder how long she waited in this chair,

And if she will be with Vladimir once more

 

I sit down in the light with Patrick

Who rushes against my arms

His purr like the sound of a swarm of bees

 

When the station calls

I ask them to send an ambulance

My voice cracking slightly

 

I feel the warm tears that pass the side of my face

And reflect on the moment before calling my wife.

I tell her that I love her.

– 2006

 

This was written in Provence, France, after myself and my father had visited a house that he was considering buying. The house was a beautiful cottage, however the garden was overgrown and the inside neglected. The old lady who owned it seemed to exist in another world; her eyes glazed and her mind occupied. In almost all the rooms were pictures of her and what I assumed to be her husband, who it appeared from news clippings, had been a playwright. It seemed clear that she was dying of a broken heart, waiting to be taken away.

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