In The Gutter

The earthy slime in the gutter
sprouts unshaven clumps of grass
with a ragged mosaic
of muddy green lichen
above its wavering shoreline
left by winter’s headlong flows
with their sour odour of rubbish bins.
The murky torrent drags along
cigarette butts, bottle tops,
drink cans and sweet wrappers.

Only the urchin matchbox
strains to change its course,
its corners grasping green clumps
to steer its own path and
choose its own port;
fighting its fate while
other captives are defeated
by the relentless tide.

Other riff raff litter is swept
away to the gutter drain grill
to be scooped up by the council staff.
Behind a tall green tuft
the matchbox twirls on
an aberrant eddy then
hooks a sharp corner
around thick stems,
waiting for the sun
to bake its world dry.

In The Gutter

In Back Room Drawer.

Moving house again !
I always say “Last time!”
then a pragmatic world
sends me off again.

With cartons spread around
I look in the spare room
chest of drawers.
Elderly shirts, trousers, sweatshirts
not yet too old to wear again.
Sewing thread, buttons, needles and scissors,
fabric ends from the days before
Asian sweat shop clothing,
before fabric and dress pattern prices soared.

Tucked amongst them
an old brown paper bag
taken from place to place.
In it I find my first pair
of “slip-on” shoes
with no straps or laces
to grip my low arched feet.
Bone coloured, my first shoes
not brown or black.
In high school I was
now old enough for them,
a step towards
the high heeled shoes of
early teen craving.

Battered now, their low heels
worn at the outer corners,
relics of an exciting tie when
I knew at last I was
moving toward adulthood.

They would come with me.

In Back Room Drawer.

Poemness Of Poetry

The poemness of poetry
is an indescribable thing
analysed and pondered deeply
by academics ,students,
by earnest working people
trying to write at nights
or on their days off work.
Laws  and judgments
considered or intense
are laid down but
reach no final consensus
on what is or is not poetry.

The poetness of poets
is difficult to describe,
although commonly tried
by poets and experts
real or self designated.
Is it inner angst ?
Or despairing lovelorn loss ?
Is it fascinating detail
in everyday moments ?
Is it times of intense feeling ?
– or just being ?

Words sounds ?  Word lists ?
Word patterns ?   do they make
poetry ? Or clever vocabulary ?
Similes or metaphors ?
How do you express
the nebulous mass
inside the writer
in finite alphabet letters
in finite dictionary words ?

Until the poem has been written
you can not start to tell
which is poem or
who is poet ?

Poemness Of Poetry

Moving Day

Moving day here all too soon.
My job like many has vanished
only the city now has jobs.
Up at the crack of dawn
I do last minute chores.
The removal men arrive on  time
talk of planes flying into
New York towers some hours ago.
Sounds like a movie spectacular !
They and I keep packing,
no radio, TV, or phone,
no papers at the corner shop.
Pothead next door calls over the fence
that New York was attacked by terrorists !
The pot’s addled him this morning !
Removal men’s time is money which
unemployed people can not waste.
We drive my chattels to the city,
unload them in the tiny flat.
No phone again ! Ring telco from
my neighbour’s phone.

At last I find a newspaper. The photos
show two towers in New York
built on solid foundations,
each one surrounded by clouds of
black smoke, of white building dust,
with flames blazing from their upper windows
and singed sheets of paper fluttering down.
Reporters tell of planes ramming into the towers,
of people jumping or falling
from those high blazing windows.

My shaky towers of home and work
continue to disintegrate.
I learn new skills in a new job
and now get far less pay.
My new home is older, smaller
than the home I left behind.
Home networks fall apart,
some reconstitute.
A year later my life is
unrecognisable from what it used to be.

Moving Day

Writing Space

On the comfortable couch
paraphernalia spreads out
beside me and over the
coffee table in front of me.
A lined pad, pens, pencils,
paperclips give me
materials to record what
I put into words.
A book spills out doodled
scribbled ideas, internet
prompts, to kick start
the  unrhythmic explosions
trying to fire up my brain.
A ring binder clutches drafts,
papers clipped together
for each poem.

My mind seeks out
mature adult thoughts
suitable for poetry –
but  surely these are a
matter of perception.
The four year old whose
knees no longer fit under
the handlebars of her
much loved tricycle is
travelling a rite of passage.
The old man whose
formerly active body
has seized up with arthritis
is in a heartfelt life crisis.

I stare out the window
at the fence and next door roofs,
at the changing skyscape
whose clouds mimic
the wafts of ideas
floating across my mind.

Where do I start ?

Writing Space


My regular old age income
from a strict government
sets me free from
the fears of unemployment
the demands of boss and clients
from the need to go to
other towns and countries
for paid employment.

I am free to live in this little flat
and pay its living costs.
I get up when I wake up.
no one is concerned.

I have no car
no glamorous clothes
no holidays on foreign soil,
three redundancies ended those.
My home is simple,
no modern decor or
kitchen accessories.

Yet I feel newly released
sitting with a cup of tea
gazing out at the soft blue sky
at flowers and leaves
waving in the wind
outside my living room window.



Retirement Flat

This little flat is my home
now I live on my pension.

Three bedrooms’ worth of
household contents were reduced to
two bedrooms’ worth for storage
while I worked abroad.
My boxes and furniture are now
packed in so tightly
it’s hard to squeeze
from room to room.

Square by square
in this rubik’s cube
I ease contents from boxes
into cupboards and drawers.
The Salvation Army take the overflow.
I empty bookshelves,
move them again,
then return their books
Daylight comes through windows
as I take boxes
down from sideboards.

I am slowly fitting into
the glove of my flat,
the sleeve of my pension.

Retirement Flat