After Death

I never knew him, the man
with the cracked and craggy face,
Hollow sunken bones, he can
say he finished his final race
Pencil shaving eyes, and stray
nasal hairs that once quivered
Under sleeping breath, but clay
awaits what’s left and whithered

Mutterings and silent tears, how old?
is asked as if grief cares or knows
As he is lowered now, the cold
into the colder earth below

Memories as photographs, fading
in the history of his breath
Like the will to just go on, wading
through whatever’s after death

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Poem About a Politician

Skin thin, and sallow eyes
Slits to hubris and candour none
A shadow under heavy skies
Lost from where you must belong
A monument to jagged pause
A trigger finger, blast away
A fingernail at oozing sores
That edge towards a mass decay
The Caliban of this new dawn
The trickling puss of malcontent
A vista of all goodness shorn
Is the world to us you represent

From a Pennine Hill

It is very English from atop this hill.
Fields undulate like apple-skin waves
across the sea of dry stone, gale hardened
lands fertile to the slightest infiltratory touch
of damson, bramble, hazel and birch sat
beneath the menacing outline
of a Kestrel lingering with intent
on a single breath of Atlantic-born breeze.
They abide contemplative aside the rivers
that carve and slice their way
across the epochs, scouring for time’s lost arrow
amid the mossy banks and polished
chestnut pebbles that lick the flesh
of mallards, sturgeon and toads.
Amongst the pastoral and meandering
nature of the day, a holy chorus strikes up
in the cordial confines of Methodism. Patrons
convinced of a heaven they will not see
already in bloom around them.
Across the skyline takes us
toward the lands of cropped hedgerows
preserved fences where archangels Cuprinol
and Ronseal are worshipped and flora
are grown by miracles; the wild tamed;
the choice of colour, of name;
begonia, geranium, and the cloying musk of Jasmine
reaching to the wild garlic across the
valley’s uncultivated and frenzied land
The dusky ghost of coal smoke rises
disappearing among the burnished gold
of a dinner gong setting Pennine sun
bleaching skies a flamenco skirt scarlett
deepening and dying out in to the funereal
shroud of folded, star-lit night

A Step

The street becomes her
She bleeds into the unforgiving pavement
Break-back crack weeds hasten for cover
Buildings loom over her to gain a peek
Standing water seems to drag her to their depths
As tinted office windows give a tandem promenade
She, who is oblivious to that beautiful chaos
This place was built for her
She bathes in its civic tumescence
She owns the ground on which she stalks
As well as the slate grey sky above
And the point at which they kiss
And collide at the eternal void
Between candour and imagination
The echo of distant thunder mocks this grace
Of star crossed canvas rapture
A blissful misery descends from her breath
All beauty hangs upon it, all truth!
The fragrant death of troubling winds
Evaporates and the process starts anew

Conservative Politics

Black gowned and brim full of distaste he said “unleash the dogs of war”
No way to get your message through, not speech nor morse, nor semaphore
No art can beckon forth his empathy, No love can tempt his shame
Just fire from the pulpit and a jealousy that dare not speak its name
A sideways glance across a land that’s scarred and bitter waste
A memory of a simpler time through steps we cannot now retrace
This fallow land, this brutal land, where only malice grows
No more the milk and honey, just the bread and circus shows
The remembrance is poison to the veterans of class
Our two fingers and coloured banners and our phrase of “kiss my ass”
We broke our backs with poverty, we were callow in our hope
And we turned then on each other among the scraps for which we grope
But remember this if anything, for every victory for your scorn
We need win only once for our new world to be born.

Seacroft

The Evening Post called it needle city
I called it home
From the teetering blocks of Seacroft flats
To the dung filled, rat infested Wyke Beck
North Parkway was our Broadway
The arterial hum of blood
That blood often spilled in the car parks
Of the Fellie and the Pathfinder

If you didn’t know you’d think
Of pastoral scenes or coastal reveries
On the croft of sea
The Monk’s wood, the Kent mere
The village green and Pigeon Cote
Until Boggart Hill brings you back
To reality with a bump

There were syringes, granted
There were NF and Union flags
Burned out cars and poverty
But there were also daisy chains and sparrows
Butterfly hunts in the Beech wood
BMX’s, bonfires and the like
Every Christmas was gas fires and gifts
The rain was never cold and summers,
Summers lasted all year

Robin Hood’s Bay

Clambering over moss-decked rock
Unsafe slabs of Jurassic tumult
Funny how a small drop can seem
Like a leap of faith in later years
Down on to damp, cooling sand
A lapping, receding tide
Reveals a thin golden strip of land
Arcing away, tapering in to the rough northern foam
Rippled sand coughs out sea-polished stone
And dappled shells to suit your growing collection
Shards of pottery stand out, alien like
human jetsam struck ashore, lost
Like the fisherman who longs once more for the waves
Overlooked by the greying silent cobbles
Of a town named in a bandit’s honour
Robbing rich to give to the poor
As we rob our lives of moments such as this
To sit on silent sand and watch the shimmering sea
Reverse away from our crude attempt at life
Into a more humble, more complete being
To lay back and watch clouds dust their way
Across a lavender sky, blushing its way to a crimson dusk
And then night, as all settles and the shoreline
Marked only by a now defunct rowing boat
Quietens to a single sound of the shhhh,
shhhh, shhhh of the surf