POETRY

Rain,

and a dog grew, green in Carpenter’s weed,

from a crack

in biscuit-crumb tarmac,

a boy flowered on the

lead, nose bleed, skulking on, shrugging

brambles in snug alley.

 

Hazel branch flaps with

the patter of squirrel, tickling

leaves,

prayer flags inciting wood-

pigeon flight, fat chestnut gut:

boy looks up

 

from feet-planted soil,

the diurnal roil of black and white,

blow and boil,

wet and wetter,

rain,

 

and the dog grew brown,

and yarrow-flower withered to moss-

speckled stone – and seagull-spat fortune –

a carved pebble amongst

carved pebbles

henged in yews,

 

and the dog, green, grew.

DEATH OF A HERO

The whip-crack of the thread, the
pin snapped like a rib
and we saw the cloud for miles, billowing
like pipe smoke trapped
in the big, beat-up Black Country.


Some reached for the top shelf book
expecting a hollow hiding place but
most threw stones at the goof in the bullet-proof house;
besides, the buck-toofed lay told
us the troof – and the gallows-maker lives on.

 

A year gone, the tears turn to wine,
(after all, we
toppled the bronze, a whip-snap of the rope)
and the crowd grows and smiles, bubbling
like a bath bomb in the drip-tray.

 

The hero’s limbs rotting in the wooden box
on silk in the mud of the Black Country.

Written on my S9, walking the Coleridge Way

Earthy pine

peppering

the salt slats of my seaside nose;

my feet rocking sick in

quick mud

afloat

in the fluorescent glare of my green and blue

Asics;

 

it’s not that I would sink in

the woody mud of the Quantocks but

I’m supposed to glide

on a nimbus or not break ankle

branches on Coleridge’s

swift Somerset movie –

 

my body will still feel

the twisting tendons in

the bracken shrub of rubber or

compact cow pat of leather –

 

but I was sold in virtual ink

behind plastic glass

recovering from the 9 – 5 which paid for them

 

(perhaps Samuel was sold cow pats

behind the glass window –

the 3d 2d’d until 9).

 

I look down to the silicon vine entwined

around silver birch,

my own clock of moss surrounding its

pixelated face,

pollinated

by androids telling me I did what I did –

 

I’m not against it,

 

even if it’s just a dream

about

when I was present

 

where the winding paths of Great Wood,

lined with green

caterpillar

pinecones,

smelt wet with

neglect.

The Walking Dead

Fat soldiers in down jackets, we truckle and mutter, on iron

track, past the awoken rooms, typhus louse-nips,

like huts on a school camp, nettle stings;

or perhaps the film set where,

hope-hungry,

bronze men sweated, splayed on the fat screen.

 

A dead baby droops from the slow troop’s arms, bobble hat,

and coos,

dummy spat.

I laugh, break sombre to smile;

turn with mother and brother, death march into barn, where

Poles await liberation.

 

Free to side-step

Mengele

at the head of the table,

where barns like arms tentacle,

nailed.

 

Bricks spill, Lego vomit –

multicoloured seeds disperse, clicking landscapes –

the chamber’s broke open in the browned oak forest, acorns

cracking and clicking,

an apologetic fire. A white frost, the gauze of this Halloween

costume –

 

Then the party’s over.

Fat North Face, two boys laugh in Italian –

possibly the girl.

Big handed Russian talks open,

Face-time’s Crematorium IV, kicks gravel balletic

and falls in line on the iron track to the historical gate.

 

I downloaded the Walking Dead to watch in the hotel, and we

truckle along, and mutter,

 

but one young woman cries and perhaps that’s enough.

POEMBIRD

Sea salted and
coursing with the tide,
the water sneaks and
beaks, cutting into land,
Brue and
Parrett form Somerset lines,
side-roads into Burnham,
tufted with river grasses,

seasonal flocks and solo-dots
waddle and swoop and loll and stop and tan and
fan with the wind,
fattened in the town’s holes and pockets,
the Pipits, the Godwits,
the Martins and ‘Chats,
long legged stride, short legged paddle;

Jack Snipe peeps his bill
in
the
silk sheen of the flats,
pulls a worm
- like fisherman’s fly line lugging cod against the current -
‘til glug socks the air;

Finches, Tits, Plovers
corner
the wind,
trip under shadowy willows at Apex lake shores in the
glassy midday sun of late summer, hammocked
and deckchaired, strained
arching
branches;

a Kingfisher chances,
splash of blue streaks the park,

and old Swans and Seagulls,
white-nosed Coots and Mallard,
speedboating on an Autumn eve,
crisping leaves under fat-webbed wellies,
whilst a toddler feeds the birds;

and loner walks the wind of asphalt path up and
under lime arch to Brue,
dog snatches at orange gravel before
stalking the young stranger in the sky:

Little Egret flaps heavy satchels,
makes the slow, healthy lifeline over Parrett and
lands proud shapely statue,
black pin beaking the air,
neck snaked strong
in a pool of Brue,
makes a home here
like the pale, wrinkled traveller seeing soul
in Burnham’s elbow,
finding friends and family;

and sometime Grebe, 
Heron, 
dinner-jacketed Oystercatcher,
as rivers vein into the arm of the Channel,
the tea-stained sky shaping round on the syrupy sea,
milked with cloud,
the Swifts animating the dusk,
the strobe flapping of pages,
in
and
out,
exhale
and
in;

yet some come and go,
the broken yellow-beaked Albatross,
pulling a muscle in a journey too far,
rescued and splinted
in one of Burnham’s homes

and like a tourist
soon back out on the limb,
and away over abdomen of the Atlantic
never to touch the elbow again.

London's Late Night

I spy thick black ships

trawling through the sky,

looking through the new hole

in my belt.

 

My finger still bleeds,

or is it Stanley's blood

from when I poked

him in the eye?

 

But Stanley's ship

has long sailed,

taken

by the virus,

 

the one

he stabbed me with,

leaving me with nothing

but his knife

 

to crack tins of soup

in the dark,

to make new eyes

in my belt,

 

the only work

I'll give myself,

now they've forgotten me

to go fight the Afghans,

 

left me to the dust,

to the pleurisy

infecting London's left lung,

with nothing but Stanley's knife.

A Dear Friend

It still works today.
It hasn’t the kick and stick of last year,
nor does it control my resolve.

I often think the red-robin
of Jane’s breast takes me there,
but of course it doesn’t,
I’m not so perverse,

and should I fly the straight path –
maybe learn a Latin Language –
I might rediscover myself
a world too late.

But then the shape shift and
curve of Jane’s continent is alluring
in its Burlesque,
a kiss in a tissue,
a beating strawberry in a champagne flute,

and I drink from her stained glass,
tarnished – nicotine fingernails opening the
damp curtains in her crumbling house – and
she wants me to get drunk.

But it is not the taste of her breast,
or lips,
the coffee in everyone of our hangovers,
the clash of stained teeth,
the wine smile of sad clowns,

it is the wrinkles that crinkle and sprout from her eyes,
and the black smudges,
telling us each time it has happened,

when the house is lighter,
and the rest have left
to reflect
on their
own thinning skin
or their very own Jane’s mottled skin;

it is the cracked nails digging into my back
when tears blur the pancake;

it is the cigarette laugh
in a teacher’s lounge,

the warm breath gone bad –
not bad enough to not love.

Yes, it still works today,
not with the stick and kick of a year ago,
and not in the way we would like.

He Didn't Sleep LAst Night,

not even for one second.

Belly swollen like a sandbag,
the doctor’s floodgates didn’t work.

And he didn’t cry last night,
the plastic marbles held it in,

and I poked at his eyes
like a boy with his first bowling ball,

poked at mine
like a man with his last, pulling a
muscle that ran up my arm
to my neck.

 


Two nights,
and not a second of sleep.

Pores wide and closed,
dry bark hacking into my ribs,
and,
digging deep with his chin
(I pushed harder back),
he touched my lung
and winded me;

when he closed his eyes,
I could breathe again,

when I closed mine
I didn’t notice.

Old Shoes

If I had six months to live,
would you help fund
a bottle of rare absinthe?

Old enough for Van-Gogh to have bought – but missed –
A shelf too high up for Toulouse-Lautrec to have reached,
too expensive for Hemingway, in his early days,
found in a cellar under the rubble of a cafe?

That I might drink and leave the world
unseen...

I’d need no memorial, tomb or urn,

nor the Parisian setting
for my session,

just the dank of my depression
in my bottom-floor flat,

nostalgia for light,
and ink to express the taste, the herbs, my thoughts,
prior to the ancient high?

By all means join me.

If not,
perhaps we can concoct
laudanum?

Coca Cola

A spare to Jerusalem,

his fat cheek, tense and wet,

hands bloodied from nail crunching,

 

enough to win it back.

 

Not that the Old Man cared,

too busy wiping his sneakers clean,

wiping green, thinking fours, sixes

 

wicket re-rack,

 

like in ancient times,

before the sweet puritans revolt,

before Ruth cut the cloth,

 

out over the corn:

 

they crunched on the irked farmer’s peanuts,

cut teeth in the feeding frenzy,

to the drum and the bugle’s blow,

 

and the land was reborn.

 

Not that the boy cared for it,

sipped his drink and cried a burp,

the rest laughed and belched back, game,

 

even us Jefferson dreamers.

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© 2020  Lewis Coleman

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