Saturday, 21 November 2009


They didn't know what they were getting into, the day the 1920s came. The 1920s arrived with its bags packed and they politely offered to serve it tea in the orangery. That was a mistake. Very soon they were smoking cigarettes from amber holders, drinking gin and tonics at two in the afternoon and talking in clipped radio-tongues. The 1920s merely lounged in a bamboo chair and watched the bobs get cut and the lips turn red.

Then the 1930s arrived and things became awkward. The jollity and the Charleston and the records and the flinging pearls faded to rations and bunkers and telegrams containing News. The 1920s and the 1930s did not get on. One day, in the orangery, they were found arguing over the wastage of butter. Things were said, waistlines were lowered and raised again and again all afternoon. Eventually the 1920s threw a tin of corned beef at the 1930s which missed (partly due to the three gin and tonics the 1920s had consumed before tea), crashed through the orangery window, ricochet off the Anderson Shelter and landed amongst the potato patch that had been so willingly 'dug for victory'. The 1920s packed up its things in a carpet bag and marched out the door, leaving behind nothing but the sound of clinking pearls and the scent of Chanel No.5.

It did not take long for the 1940s to turn up after that. It looked the 1930s and shook its head. Things were about to get nasty.


The stars! The stars; swelling and clear.
The stars that hang and disappear
Like the lighthouse gaze that opens and shuts,
As an eye to and from sleeping and dragging the dust;
The house of a star that they netted and kept
For the sake of the boats and the wives that They left.
But the void was not filled and the velvet sky cried;
"You've taken and left me with a hole in my side!"
And forever The Sky had to do just to gaze
At the star from her belly on the shore of the seas.
And the star knew no better, being just gas and air,
But The Sky kept on wailing - for fear! For fear!
She knew of the terror the seas could induce
When the winds picked up and the waves were let loose.
And when night such as this occurred on the Earth,
The Sky couldn't watch - foreseeing the worst.
But her star never knew her maternal plight -
For she was only atoms and light.

Her mother bore more children to remedy her pain,
To fill the space where the Earth Star had lain.
But the fishermen never knew of her tragic disgrace
For she was just a vacuum in the fabric of space.
For The Sky was only the absence of light
And her children just physics made visible by night.


Shore, shore, sure
drinking salt water
and trying to rhyme
swimming between green
making ale from kelp
and sawdust
and watching things be made
and waiting for an accident
to happen
-accident me please-
and diving without trying
and drawing
a line
in the sand
and running through locked doors.

I Never Was Good With Wires

I've tried holding my breath on the escalator
And holding my nerve as I jump.
I've tried keeping my buttons in boxes
And ignoring uncomfortable lumps.
I've tried listening for mice with my head on the floor
And hearing the days as they pass,
And licking the batteries that should spark the tapes-
Containing The Times - now elapsed.
But nothing worked to make it tick,
Nothing fired the coals.
All of this just left it lying
With limp connectors in fabric folds.

I've tried closing doors when sunsets bleed
And cooking flotsam soups.
I've given my salt to soapy-cuts
And pasteurised the boots.
The iron filings didn't work,
And neither did the sand.
The butter only made a mess,
And the acid burnt my hands.
Still to nought my toils all led,
Still nothing in there stirred.
The cogs and spindles lay splintered still
And no whirring fizz occurred.
The machine remained only parts-
Collecting settling dust.
The inevitable decay began-
Kept company by the rust.

Once I tried not trying,
But failed for paradoxes sake.
So I tried forgetting, failing
When reminded by the ache.
So it lay again unmoved again,
Except for shadow's slide,
And I tried constant trying
Just to pass the time.

Just to pass the ages
Until the mechanism twitched,
And yet I am still trying,
As I'm yet to find the switch.


And the sea shall sail, shall sail its ships
To lines of sight that fade to haze
When adventuring starts with failing tides.
And we can finally set away.
Our homes lie with loves - scattered to change.
When our wings catch the updraft
Our bellies won't weight us down.
"Spire, socket, seed" goes the spell.
Make a hammock from sail-cloth and
Launch in sleep.
And we shall hunt as pack, as tribe
For home, for light to set the place.