Literacy

It’s been a while
Since I felt the pull
Of an empty page
My callous has softened
The ink-stain dulled
To a faded bruise
As if this were not
A tattoo
Of my own design
The leaking pen
And over-tight grip
Leftovers from childhood training
As emotions spill out
Between the lines
To blur their way
Toward the clarity of words
Where thoughts begin to take shape
And letters form
Exposing my inner turmoil
With the cool logic
Of too many cups of coffee
Too little sleep
And an over-abundance of sugared memory
I return to the paper and pen
A criminal haunting
The same scenes
Scribbled by heart
Until I am cleansed
And nothing
Not the rain in August
Nor my endless nostalgia
Can keep me down.

Counter Culture Cafe

The place where the antisocial
Gather to be alone
Each claiming a four-seat table
As space they can call their own.

We read, write and sip in silence
Observing our counterparts
Affronted by vocal violence
Where chattering children pass

I’m nearing the end of one cup
But pause while another stands
It wouldn’t be fair to counter
The pull of their drink demands

So queueing for table service
I duck to avoid the eye
Of waitress who makes me nervous
By bussing a bench nearby

We know those we see here often
But only on nodding terms
Some barriers never soften
And hand-shaking passes germs

Anxiety takes no notice
With all interactions dear
We pass out our days in closeness
And try to ignore our fear

We’re hardly inventing lonely
Though solitude equals peace
And we are our one and only
Unlikely to breed – we’ll cease

It isn’t a cause for wonder
That our generation stalls
When clearing one’s throat is thunder
Too sensitive for applause

And here in our counter culture
We’re safe from the fond embrace
We run from our awkward feelings
Too late to be in the race.

Saturday Sadness

You wanted to come here to show me off
Your symbol of success, transition
Working class no longer, toff
In all opinion, loud derision

So I sit and watch the bald patch
Slow expanding on your head
Your eyes both glued to latest gadget
Showing off your wealth instead

I sip my coffee, not as silent
As the trophy WAGs should stay
While strangers’ pallid faces highlight
All you do and all I say

There was a time, almost forgotten
By the one who paid today
I’d make you think and laughing rotten,
Lift your moodiness away.

When shining eyes met laughter lines
Two grins curved freely over cake
And sugar seemed less of a crime
With more forgive and much less take

Impious, I once held your gaze
Without the need for sabotage
Of smart phone: screen of lesser rays
Replaced your smile with time on charge

We sit and comment on our drinks
You read the news in silent thought
I wonder at these forty winks
That hold our lives to what we’ve bought

Perambulation

Surrounded by pushchairs, spoilt kids
Deep in nappy valley, Wandsworth village
Trendy boutiques flipping lids
For middle class to loot and pillage

The claustrophobia of pastel painted
Clamouring conversation-piece tainted
Opticians’ windows with ELC tat
To lure proud parents, “Daddy, buy me that!”

Averting eyes from tweenaged princess
Hide my face in coffee cup
My urge to flee a growing promise
(Get me out or I’ll throw up)

What happened to the intellect
Of parents’ educated class?
Did brain cells down aboard the jet
To twilight zone – kids’ yoga pass

For under fives and boring housewives
Mum’s career stuck in a loop
Of folic acid, UTIs
Her sex life reproductive – Super!

Men and women on the ladder
Treading upward, soon to seek
A loan for Jasper darling’s madder
School fees make them want to weep

And what’s it for, this quest for more
Advantage for their offspring’s start
In life upon a path so sure
No thinking needed, play the part

As you pass on to generation
All the same things you have been
Your name, possessions, worldly station
Nothing heard, nor said, nor seen

Out of Place

I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it
But personally it threw me
I even felt a little uncomfortable
Yes, even I – yours truly

Catching the unexpected sight
That lay betwixt my legs
With knickers heading ankleward
And sleep still in my head

A paperclip in a bowl of white
When you’ve been dreaming half the night
Perhaps in itself not so strange a sight
But staring up at me, not right

The world had lost what sanity
Remained to it – insanitary
Metal curves glinted through the blue-tinted
Water in the bottom of the lavatory.

Now how the hell did that get there?
All sorts of scenarios floated through
The sudden space between my ears
As I gazed in wonderment, sans clue

Out of place as an office tool
In the Monday morning, air-conditioned
Chill of a corporate bathroom stall
At odds with surroundings can be positioned.

A mundane mystery, unmoved here
It can’t be shifted by the flush
Of a girl in a hurry to embrace the pure
Delights of the kitchenette thermos flask

Filled with a mud-like java ooze
And the plastic snap-tub biscuit tin
In individual wrappers snooze
The office worker’s breakfast sin

Bought to bolster her resolve
To tackle the horrors yet in store
With an ever-abundant inbox, filled
Overflowing with weekend’s weighty chore

To help unravel the tangled threads
Of under-worded communications
By those whose double shift’s preparation
For the stats release to the waiting nation.

So what to do with this sad item
Displaced object, much abused
With little now to recommend it
Be retrieved and so, reused…

Poor Clippy, sadly suicidal
Jumped the rim and sank his shame
At such clear speech – misinformation
Too few letters to his name

Made redundant since the Nineties’
Macro software eased our pain
Now enshrined in more than pixels
From his ignominy, fame.

So-and-so used to be famous. I wonder what happened to him…

The face of an eighties screen god
Lately gone to seed
Proclaiming his perseverance
Propelled by a pressing need

To find his image one more time
Promoted to the heights
And finally be recognised
Back where he spends his nights

He sighs and sips his coffee
His shades kept on inside
In hopes of being spotted
By more than spousal pride

But doomed to disappointment
No autographs are sought
He finishes his drink in silence
Of a pregnant sort

And slipping past his escort
He slouches off to pee
Still unacknowledged by the crowds
That queue to buy their tea

He passes by the waitress
With no more than a wink
She fancies he’s expressed his thanks
For more than just the drink