Some days are meant for difference. Doing something a little off-kilter, an unexpected swerve from the usual routines. This could be something huge – the decision to don a dress and wellies and head to Sainsbury’s for a spot of lunch in the cafe or something minor, walking a new way home or slapping a long-forgotten CD into the stereo or, if you’re feeling VERY daring, perhaps having a coffee (gasp!) instead of a cup of tea. Although this will never come to any good.
So in this spirit I am going to do something a little contrary in this “blog” (I still hate the word), something that I am not going to shout about and something that I will most likely regret. I really should be bringing you up to speed on all things High Tide-related; there is lots to say and the excitement is building as we approach the shoot but to be honest, there will time for this in future weeks. So much so that you’ll probably tire of anecdotes about a hilarious incident with the clapperboard or when I fell over on a cliff-top and rolled in sheep poo. Bet you can’t wait! So tonight, I am going to swerve from the road of predictability, from the tracks of duty and faithful reportage, to confess to you all, dear readers around the world that I WRITE POETRY.
Phew, I lighter already. I am glad I told you.
I started writing poems aged seventeen to get girls. It really was that simple. Sometimes it worked. Oftentimes (I love that Americanism – I really don’t know why it has fallen out of use in the UK) it didn’t work at all and I was left looking just like all the other tossers who failed with women, except that I was worse because I wrote terrible poems and had silly hair. I was like a spotty Coleridge but without the talent or the enthusiasm for opium.
Anyway, here are some poems from the past fifteen years or so. I am not going to contextualise, explain or let you know which were successful. I am just going to write a few out below. And you can read them. Or choose not to. And then we can move on. Thank you for your patience.
You looked so fragile as you
rolled yourself up into a ball
upon our sofa, legs tucked
under your chin and eyes
piercing a space somewhere
high above my head.
You have no idea how much
I wanted to throw my arms
around you and tell you
it would all be okay.
Sepia French Cafe
Shuffling starchly into the decaying room,
I shun tourist eyes and local smiles.
After a moment of weighty contemplation,
I pick a green corner seat and light
a phallic cigarette.
At the edge of a dusty mirror
I can see wax seeping from my moustache.
Very slowly I raise my hand and scrape
the debris away from my lip; trembling, I
draw on my phallic cigarette.
Through blue- tinted smoke a vision approaches:
Wrapped in black and frilled in white,
I order a cognac and specify the correct glass.
The vision scribbles, smiles a returnable smile, and I
tap my phallic cigarette.
As I sip and smoke I begin to feel the warmth;,
I loosen my spotted tie and unbutton my waistcoat.
Cooler, I stare at the liquid before me
and slowly begin to swirl it around the glass,
whilst clutching my phallic cigarette.
I hear a vague sound, but think nothing.
Sharp steps begin to approach but still I know nothing.
A breath of Chanel breezes into my nose and
(the tourists love this bit)
a black purse is thrown onto the table
making me drop my phallic cigarette.
I look up and she sits down.
After drinking my Cognac she stares at my face
and I notice the gap in her dress.
Vitriol pours from her lips and pausing,
she lights a phallic cigarette.
I wait for the anger to pass.
(It always does) and extinguishing my phallic cigarette,
I reach across to find her hand and
lean toward her sepia lips.
Repelled, she slips away with sadness in her eyes and
The photographer jumps up from behind the bar
and the scene is cast.
The smoke thickens.
And the tourists go home happy.
* * * *
The blu-tack is beginning to fail,
and as I stick the card back onto the wall
I notice the expressions for the first time.
There is a story in that, I think to myself
as I light my phallic cigarette.
Poem for Jim Burns
I have met a new poet.
Jim Burns is (or was) his name;
if alive today
he is sixty one.
If he’s dead then
I’m very sorry;
not for old Jim
but for his family,
they must be sad.
He writes (or wrote) poems,
just that. Nothing else.
No grand statements,
only the poetry of his life,
of children, weather and flowers for his wife.
Words arranged amongst line drawings,
pictures of the naked seventies,
and nipples that would scare young children.
Jim’s poems are brief
yet perfect. Thoughts jotted
quickly for posterity before
the peas are cooked
or an evening of glorious sex.
That’s about it for Jim Burns.
If he lives then I hope he’s well,
but if not, I hope his death
was like the final lines of his poetry:
simple and aching with peace.
Number Eight (of eight)
I will never forget the last time that I saw you.
Mum held your hand and I nearly cried as
Your face cracked into that beautiful smile.
“Hello Gran. How are you?”
The smile waned and your brow
creased into furrows of concentration.
A long pause.
“I am feeling much better, thank you”
You then threw your head back and
opened your mouth in a silent laugh
only stopping to raise your hand slightly
and exclaim “lamp shade” at a startling volume.
We laughed. All three of us.
We had to.
How else could we cope,
Or hope to understand the
Insidious disease that had taken your
Mind so cruelly and left you
Slapping the tray like a baby?
And as you weaved your head in meaningless circles,
You paused briefly and looked into my eyes.
I could see the grey fog hugging your retina.
I only hope that the image found its way
Through the mist and you knew it was me.
But sad as it was,
What made it okay,
Was for those few minutes
I knew you were happy.
But I know you are even happier now.