I am not a poet

I’m not black, not gifted, not even young
Never carried a knife to school, nor a gun
Have yet to feature on the ten most wanted
In the hit parade, no mention, by the tabloids I’m untaunted

For the paparazzi never follow me
Don’t flash my scanties for the scallies snorting coke at a party
I can move quite freely round the city streets
Nobody cares about my politics, my weight or bad habits

So you see I don’t meet the entry criteria
Just don’t belong to this mass-hysteria
Nobody feels guilty for my persecution
And I can’t expect apologies or contributions

I never sniffed glue, huffed paint or tried to get high
When there were chores to do, I did them, when I earned I put some by
My youth was not exactly what you’d call misspent
I never caught religious fervour, I’m not trying to repent

My dad stayed home while my mum worked late
We survived without the help of the welfare state
I never got fondled by an errant priest
Not been arrested for possession, prostitution by police

So you won’t see my poems in the magazines
Nor my biopic on your TV screens
For my stable mind and my legal status
Have put me into some sort of poetic hiatus

I can scribble it all down, every golden word
But it is nothing but frustrating if I try to get them heard
For the world is only int’rested in marketing a brand
And the labels all prefer to form their perfect, packaged band

Yeah, I write rap lyrics but I don’t perform them
So my street cred is a lie worn by some kid whose fans adore him
For the master wordsmith that can represent
Who gets his bling and ghetto styling from a Knightsbridge gent

Don’t try to kid yourself that I’m some kind of poet
I’m not down with any peeps, not cool, and don’t I bloody know it!
For nice, polite, well brought up, and hard working women
Can only write the life they know, and that won’t sell a single poem.

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Loneliness of the long distance lover

Try to put into words
The hole in back of your soul
When fish ain’t talking to birds
No love to patch it up whole

Our feelings sleepy with time
The distant land lies between
Though we both claim things are fine
They’re not as cool as we seem

Sure, it’s a lonely old world
Nights on the couch with the cat
Re-watching boy meeting girl
Romantic comedy’d out

A TV dinner for one
Served on a tray with a spoon
Sat picking every last crumb
Until you’re sick of the room

Midnight brings tea and a book
The cat asleep in your arms
Nobody coming to look
At what remains of our charms

And there’s no note to demand
No ransom number to call
The roll of tissue on hand
For when the tears start to fall

My Uncle Fred Flew

This poem is written based on a familiar family anecdote from my great uncle Fred, who was a pilot in the First World War (RFC) and absolutely hated flying, but tolerated it as the lesser of two evils.

My Uncle Fred said
There are few things as crazy
As teaching a man how to fly

But nevertheless
He felt fresh as a daisy
While soaring around in the sky

For he looked at the ground
Through the canvas and wood
And was sure that his way was the best

He insisted it sound
If not ethically proved
So the Flying Corps flew on his chest

For it’s better by far
He would whisper to Nan
To be perched in the lap of the Gods

And be laughed at and scorned
In each pub, club and bar
That be shot at and drowning in mud

So when given the choice
To be burned to a crisp
By a passing balloon and cigar

He had taken his chance
Floating up in the clouds
With the birds and the air and the fear

And he swore a strong oath
At the powers that were
Irresponsibly running the thing

For he must be a fool
To be choosing to trust
In a glorified tent, wheels and wings

Yet he couldn’t deny
While his faculties ruled
That it made far more sense to steer clear

Than be ‘trenched in a war
In a hole in the ground
With the other poor buggers down there

My great grandfather was also involved in the First World War. He joined the Canadian infantry under age and came home full of shrapnel, having been promoted very fast for a seventeen year old, twice left for dead on the battlefield, and stripped of his dog tags by mistake, so his family got quite a shock when he returned from war as they had been told he was among the fallen. He married a nurse as was relatively common (and sensible in his condition as he had to live with the shrapnel all his life). I never knew him personally, as by the time I came along he was no longer with us, but by all accounts, he was a man of relatively few words and infinite patience.

War

I do not want to go to war
He smiled at me through tears
I’ve seen what happened from before
I’m frightened for my peers

Together we’d a summer spent
Had known a bond grow fast
I knew his pride would not be bent
To sway him from this task

So off he went with regiment
All shining faces, banners bright
And banging drums, and good intent
My soldier boy, afraid to fight

But I did send to keep him sharp
A friend, brave dragon green of wing
To see his bullet missed its mark
That boy might yet know home again

Through battle fierce and strong he fought
My faithful dragon at his side
His comrades fell but no harm caught
The cloak of scales my boy did hide

With ragged charge he led the cry
Though enemies did gather round
To show that boys who fought must die
And dance upon his burial mound

Then dragon flew to meet the rows
That stood upon the field of blood
And raked their hearts and called to crows
To feast upon what men lay dead

Close-minded, mean and skilled at arm
The enemy held steady rank
But boy could come to little harm
While dragon-breath uncoiled and stank

The sulphurous and pungent depths
Of dragon lungs gave forth so vile
A stench of smells, a googolplex
Of odours creeping closer while

My boy stood safely from the wind
That wafted death along the line
It stole the breath from all who sinned
In thinking my boy less than mine

And thus the war was cheating, won
As dragon saw my boy safe home
To give a mother back her son
Not let his sweetheart lie alone

My dragon yet has other chores
To keep a creature from his cave
For well-equipped with fangs and claws
The dragon may pretend he’s brave

Fracking Alternatives

I’ve been wracking my brains
Why we should need to go fracking
When there’s so many planes
To such a many sided coin

Sure, it fracks up my mind –
There’d be more sense in car-jacking
And a good deal more pleasure
Gained from jumping a groyne

But now it seems at the sea
When off in holiday glee
We’ve such a need to sit sulking
We no longer enjoy

The sport of hunting for shells
Of turning green at the smells
Splashing past nappies and tampons
That we pass at the buoy

Yeah, Blackpool’s not such a gas
They’ve fracked the lights and the glass
Until the Biggest of Dippers
Is a red saveloy

The very thought is a joke
We leave the dirty Big Smoke
And spend our cash on a cuppa
While the ground spills its coke

No refunds, no money back
When your vacationing snack
Has turned the tables, bit the big one
With a seismic attack

It’s all a plateful of fun
Beneath the cool English sun
While you can ignite the water
That you get from the tap

Kidulthood

This is written for all those among us who had to play two parts at once, that of the child, the so-called dependent, and the often contradictory role of the full-time carer.

I pity those people
Who never were children
Who never knew life at its best

When rules were unknown
All the days seeming golden
Decisions meant – wearing a vest?

Maturity settled
Like dust on their shoulders
Through circumstance beyond control

And taking the reins
In the place of one, older
They gave up this part of their soul

So small wonder, the faces
In various places
Seem aged beyond years on this Earth

It’s hard for a kid
Doing all that we did
While absorbing an adult’s self-worth

Wordcount

A challenge of words
Daily mileage to clock
When accustomed to torrents
May come as a shock

It appears that such distance
Brings a limit to speed
And more haste, fewer sentences
Grammar and greed

So I packed up the monitor,
The keyboard and mouse
And I, tentative, ventured
Outside of the house

As I strolled to the shops
In a shower of drizzle
My memory pops
At epiphany’s sizzle

A notepad, a new one
With freshly ruled page
And a packet of biros
Will surely assuage

My brain’s seeming outrage
At such a production –
Line focus to fiction
Instinctive and touching

The odd one out

Thirtysomething, sane and settled
With a house, a partner, cat
Suddenly in hostile ground
‘Mid twentysomethings’ silly spat

No compassion, new companion
Spent a decade, getting fat
Understanding sorely lacking
Image all, or on the mat

Children playing games and cracking
Jealous, unprepared for that
Which comes to those who seek a reason
To offend a stranger, flat

And yet may age bring more than wisdom
Social skills, a bit of tact
To end a quarrel, out of season
Takes a woman, not a brat

Life Cycles

Grabbing life by the pedals
With no chains to break through
Slipping, sliding past medals
With one goal, tried and true

Just to get through the city
Home in time for your tea
Though the bicycle’s pretty
It’s not really for me

For the traffic’s horrendous
And the weather is bad
Exercise, yes, tremendous!
But I’m not bloody mad!

I tried it twice in the summer
With too many regrets
For though the speed was a hummer
There’s a bummer: Tourette’s

Ev’ry vehicle encounter
Be they quick, be they slow
My vernacular banter
All too willing to flow

As I zoomed past the kiddies
On their way to first class
Educational ditties
It was not gonna last

So I’m glad for the saddles
That we see on the street
But for safety, I’ve had to
Swear I won’t try to beat

Track records for the expletives
That came splattering when
I biked from Clapham to work
Then back to Clapham again

Appetiser

Sometimes I really struggle
Not to rhyme with toil and trouble
I don’t mean to burst your bubble
But there’s telescopes to steal

And it need not really matter
If I end things with a clatter
For I’ve other dreams to scatter
That may show you how I feel

Do try to see my point of view
What I may write ain’t up to you
Vocabulary seasons stew
Until a sentence may appeal

To more than literary taste
For modern verbage dislikes waste
Then with the settings all in place
We’ll serve a very tasty meal