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something for the sixties

 

number one

 

there they are

     opening dustbins like christmas pressies

scattering garbage, oaths and passersby.

two of them having the best of three falls

over a corked tipped fag end [a number six with those lipstick traces]

draining and lobbing bottles in renfrew street

ignoring cars, pedestrians and policemens feet.

some are grouping, groping,

prostrate, intestate - nothing there to masturbate

cant even raise a fantasy.

a fraying trailing coat never made for five foot two

reveals cuts and bruises, yesterdays puke,

last weeks gassed up milk,

lice and stains to stretch your imagination

    age old salivation, spew and the odd smear of detritus

collected when rolling over dogdirt hisdirt ourdirt

socks with skin on the outside

& theres this guy with one eye and im sure even thats an arsehole.

oh and a badge with jesus saves.

 

if only the council would clear them out

sweep them up, put them somewhere.

preferably downwind

why not on one of those western isles london lawyers own?

or ailsa craig or under the carpet or culzean castle.

anywhere. but its got to be downwind.

after all this is the age of the welfare state

probes to mars, the kingston bridge, community art

     the six million dollar man.

 

why cant those those social worker guys

     those do-gooders, those sallyanners

do something constructive.

i mean like dry them out

fumigation

rehabilitation

cut off their balls, bring back the birch,

electric shock treatment, capitalist punishment

national servitude

send them all to ireland

or stuff them into cannons and fire them at the english

 

if only you could pull a cork from their arse

& let them drain away

     or hire a pied piper

& have them all conga into the kelvin

maybe if the dosshouses were smaller,

      but widespread

one in whitecraigs another in bearsden or kilmacolm

people could befriend them

invite them round for tea & bickies or a game of monopoly

make them feel wanted, needed, desired even.

 

i’m sure this devolution thing could work wonders.

 

number two

 

pushing on

eyes straining

trying to discern

obstacles

or madmen

intent on collision.

coping

with ‘bee bop a lula’

& that hand on the knee

isnt helping.

 

“say you guys

out there in murkyland,

watch out for thick belts

on flat ground

and roadside cafes.

wing and swing

through the gloom

with radio too much.”

 

on and on

relentlessly

through the slush

with other nightriders

on similar nightmares

 

 

with ‘sweet dreams baby’

on impact

even through

the bang and skid

& ‘how must i dream’

on overturning

 

in s l o w motion.

 

‘i hoped you enjoyed

the new spin

you lucky people’

with firemen hosing spewed petrol

‘do wa diddy diddy

dum diddy dumb’

‘okay you guys

on the A ok motorway

there’s been a slight

diversion.

some careless guy

left bits of him

& his machine

all over 200 yards

of junction 5.

naughty naughty.’

 

‘do wa diddy diddy

dumb diddys do.’

 

number three

 

father was a drag artiste.

 

in the evening after tea

he would wear mother’s chemise

and feather boa

and he would make-up 

 

not tartish

not

     over the score

slap it on and smear it aboutish

but rather

chic and alluring

 

his mother had been a chemist

and he had been brought up

in an atmosphere of t.c.p.

and max factor pan stick.

     anyway,

he would parade model-like

dancing lightly across the sitting room carpet.

 

his movements were very fetching

& mother would laugh lightly

and smack a hand on her thigh

in rhythm to the phonograph.

dad would respond with winks

and exaggerated gestures of gaiety

      clutching a flower

ever closer to his padded bosom.

 

he never performed professionally,

claiming his was an amateur fetish

used only to entertain

the sick, the poor, the senile

in community centres & arts labs

all over the city.

 

number four

 

voices cutting

through the rain

avoid the screams & splashes.

they shout messages

to millions of drama enthusiasts,

entertain music lovers

everywhere

but discreetly avoid

any mention

of their drowning.

 

number five

 

without waiting for me

my body moved

my hands made gestures

my feet shuffled

impatient to be going

funny i thought

strange

that this should happen to me

my mouth said something inconsequential

& i had trouble with my head

i felt my shadow on me

pulling hard

to shake me from myself

now though

ive grown used to this

knowing i cannot leave

without me

 

number six

 

see the workers handinarm across the road

stop at the schoolgate

ease the cross from their shoulders

& place it on the dotted line

they say it's good for you

exercises your democratic right

 

 

number seven

 

its not our responsibility

not our business

to help lame dogs

said mr & mrs fatarse

to their son rover

 

number eight

 

in the middle

of mass hysteria

the priest directed

his parishioners

to eat fried god on fridays

he asked for their promise

to swallow dogmas

with their holy water

 

number nine

 

royal he strolled to the corner

where a subject struggled with emotion

down with class system

politics

ergonomics

capitalist pigs the monarchy

& trousers too

     we’re all the same underneath

people like you at the back with poise & personality

prick me

f off you swazi git

way back to afroasia

he replied

royal he that is

    with his tensions off

massa boss to you blacky

he said

ivegot centuries of breeding in me

& he wandered off

kicking corgi arses

all the way up the mall

 

NEW YEAR

Fields of unstepped-on snow

blue light splintering its icy purity

- no muck spreading

- no loose ends

undermine its pristine beauty.

 

Four seasons race to end.

Blurred memories sliding by

highs, lows and in-betweens

a montage of journeys and events under an indigo sky.

 

You snap a picture

along the narrow country road

running scared and free

a sliver of dying sun star of the stuttering snow

PRINSENGRACHT

 

Faint chamber music,

the smells of cooking

and aromatic cigarette smoke

drift from an open window,

tall black shutters spread wide apart.

 

In an illuminated kitchen,

a woman stirs a pot on the stove,

steam rising from three others.

 

Sipping red wine,

clicking a mouse on a mat,

a middle aged man

in a black striped business suit

contemplates falling markets.

 

A massive chandelier

too big for the narrow room.

floods the dining table with light.

salad, bread, fruit and cheese,

a pitcher of water

unopened bottle of red wine,

cutlery, napkins, glasses,

two lighted candles and a cat,

an orange tom with a white face,

fill the large wooden surface

The woman’s eyes are red -

mascara trails stain her face

 

KEISENGRACHT

 

At the end of the canal, bright lights glow

in ground floor windows

on either side of an imposing glossy black door.

 

In one window an elderly couple,

sit at a table eating soup and bread.

A fire, sparks flying, roars in the grate.

Two yellow birds circle each other

in a white cage between their plates.

 

The other window reveals

a young family preparing for dinner

the mother, hair piled high on her head

flicks open fresh linen

to place on the table.

She and her daughter - unsteady on her feet,

tug the cloth into position.

 

The man, a baby on his arm

collects plates and cutlery

to lay on the striped surface.

While he works he sings

and dances the other child around the room.

A West Indian, tall and heavy,

he seems surprisingly agile -

graceful in his movements.

 

The woman, her daughter clutching her skirt

draws the curtain closed. 

Above the door, the welcoming lamp flickers

A light bulb nearing the end of its life perhaps.

 

Waag . 12.30 - Thunderstorm

 

In the busy yellow-tiled cafe

the old man with his checked cloth cap

and fifty something-year old

striped wedding suit,

takes a large blue handkerchief

[or small table cloth]

from a bulging pocket

to wipe tears from the eyes

of what could have been

his ageing spinster daughter.

 

She, in turn, dabs the corners

of his loose, full-lipped mouth

to remove evidence of tomato soup.

 

All around, smartly dressed people

chat and smile and sip skinny lattes.

 

Man and daughter stand up

Slowly, noisily, unsteadily

leaning on each other

for support and comfort.

Blue fabric like a cloudless sky

trails from his top pocket.

 

Deja-Vu

 

Doctor Hauser stares vacantly,

a catheter in his breast pocket.

Behind him looms the menacing shadow

of Sonja - his wife, his muse.

The patient is highly charged

with a nervous energy,

her sinewy features drawn,

anguished hands contorted.

 

A macabre tension

in the slow wringing of his hands

belies the avalanche of thoughts

raining down in Hauser’s head.

 

The woman’s gaze is strangely familiar,

intimate, inviting, erotic -

like Sonja before she robbed him

of reason - of innocence.

 

With all the precision

of a surgical operation

he slides the instrument between his ribs.

and fades to black.

 

“Shall I leave now, Doctor?”

the patient asks in her husky voice

rising from her chair,

making for the door

her perfume, sweet and sickly

leaving her presence in the room.

 

 

First Cut is the Sweetest

 

In sweet dream moments

the woman in the looking glass

returns my gaze

invites me in

lips unmoving

eyes staring

smile frozen

more questioned than answered

 

Sometimes

when my back is turned

and I say she is beautiful

she metamorphoses

into Pinochio

his nose

invading my space

bruising my spine

 

Often though

as I trace the lines in her face

with red-nailed finger

she purrs like a kitten

 

In my nightmare her beauty fades

melts like chocolate

disintegrates

unravels

revealing an inner self

twice the size

half the ego.

 

Seated Figures

 

Taking the photograph

was the easy part.

A wind blew her spotted scarf

up and over her beaming face.

Eyes watering behind broad rimmed glasses

cheeks glowing like a coal fire

A ribbon - like her hair -

lank in the rain.

 

She shouted - cheese -  to his calls

for more expression.

The flash in time

would lend the raindrops

impressions of fire flys

or a shower of meteorites

frozen in orbit

around her head

 

Easing her gently from a perch

high on the outstretched knee

of a reclining female figure

he wiped her face dry

with a generous white handkerchief

smoothing creases from her coat

tucking in the fluttering silk

which threatened to engulf her.

 

Kissing her lightly

on lips and cheeks

he pressed into her outstretched hand

a chipped and worn white cane.

 

MUSEUM VISIT

 

Three painted ladies

sitting on a bench

listening to the same audio tour

           each

slightly

           out of synch

gazing abstractedly

into the same painting

by one of the Dutch Masters

- one fifth sea and ships

four fifths sky and clouds.

- the odd seagull dipping

in the breeze

or the slip from a sail

 

scratching powdered noses

with crimson-nailed fingers

- in unison - the three

push sagging spectacles

up and over bridges

 

They sigh -

contentedly

shifting their collective gaze

to a still life -

dead ducks and tired lemons,

mirror and polished pewter tankard

the three stand as one.

 

Turning to the left

the ladies position themselves

fanning fevered brows with catalogues

 

Ludolf Backhuysen 1631 - 1708

‘The Vrijheid and other ships

in the roads of Amsterdam’.

 

Woman thinking deep thoughts

 

Crowds of people

buying sighing internalising

lying dying justifying

some people

meeting greeting cheating

bleating mistreating defeating

so many people

oh-mying oh-whying good-byeing

testifying crying denying

too many people

milling swilling top of the billing

thrilling chilling killing

people

Taking

one day at a time

one large step for humankind

a leap into the unknowing

looking for meaning

seeking a solution

chasing the dream

others

in glass bubbles

try to avoid four horsemen

bearing down

fast


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fingers chilled, frozen heart

red streaked darkening sky

a swarm of shooting stars to the north

lights the winding purple path

to bedeviled sanctuary.

 

Spires above the tree-top line

vibrating in vivid flashing colours

struggle to maintain some dignity

in a land of fire crackers,

drunken revellers

and rockets to the moon.


 

   
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