Ex-Albania

“I like your face.”
The stranger smiled
A friendly eye
In a hostile world
Not to be ignored
At the end of a week
Whose gentle slide
From bad to cess –
Pitiable
Until she could feel
Herself yawning
Over the abyss
Clutching at nothing
More than the last
Frayed threads of temper.
Clearing consciousness
Not minding this overture
To a careful discussion of
Meteorologic insignificance
And closing with
Best wishes for
The weekend’s rest,
“Thank you” she said
And meant it.

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Musical Chères

Searching for my roots
Through old records
I pause, ears cocked
For my muscle memory
Awaiting the right decade
Simon and Garfunkel
Soothe my silences
Leonard Cohen for my
Loneliest of nights
Lucio Dalla nostalgia
Juliette Greco and Piaf
For flights of fancy
Childhood Winters in Paris
With a pianist thumping
Square-toed rhythms
Ballet port-de-bras
Watery arpeggios to mock
High arches, pale faces
Pink noses and blue lips
With Tchaikovsky diluted
We shivered on the parquet
In a sea of legs and faces
Sprung floors and tall mirrors
Threw our joint grimace
To the feeble footwork
Of the adults at the barre
Then Fleetwood Mac’s
Rhiannon echoes past
The jazz records listing
To the left of the top shelf
And as the sound swells
I raise my hands, start to turn
Eyes closed, I dance
Delighted that for once,
Nobody is watching

Mercury Falling

80% of me
Won’t pray for snow
But traitorous 20 cries
‘Bring it! Let’s go!’

Legs in blue lycra
Are goosebumped in fear
Reports boasting figures:
30 year nadir

I can’t stomach weather
That threatens my nose
Through four socks and leather
I can’t feel my toes

My wardrobe unravels
In layers of scarves
And yet on my travels:
Girls sporting bare calves?

‘Tis too much to ask
In these perilous times
For our corporate taskforce
To dress for these climes

If sensitive skin
Must be tortured anew
Then I’ll work from my duvet –
The least they can do!

The Overlooked

The frostbitten urban landscape equals poetry for the unequal.
A land of opportunity, of quick fixes and slow deaths.
Coated in slogans, we make our way through the world,
Cushioned from the harsh blows we are dealt by our velour-clad thighs,
Our Nike, our Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger.
Waiting around in the cold for a better future,
Watching hope fade away, going up with the smoke rings we blow.
Banded together, we brothers and sisters, by a common goal
It is not our apathy that sets us apart from society,
But society’s abdication of responsibility towards us.
And we wait, some in hope, some in fear,
Some having lost the will to fight, some only steadfast with faith in failure.
Whether our own, or that of others on our behalf.
It’s all one to us, marching without a banner, fed on an over-rich diet of empty words,
Our minds undernourished by rhetoric, and our hearts raw and bleeding.
Our ranks swelling with every step, every door closed to us, other avenues barred,
We gather together in a column, with low morale and high birth rates,
We shall yet overcome, but what will we win?
For to conquer the world is not enough.  One must also learn to live in it.

Love in a cold climate

Frostbite in the morning, wake with icicles on nose
I see breath in the bedroom as I fumble for my clothes.
Some people might view our affair as no more than a fling
But when the boiler’s broke in winter and you’re suffering
A portable hot-water-bottle, when all’s done and said
Is hardly to be sniffed at – so we ended up in bed.
Perhaps when sultry summer comes we’ll share this spot no more
As love born of necessity will melt away, mid-thaw.
But until nights grow warm enough to sleep apart, my love
I pray our hearts and minds in constancy stay hand in glove.

A breathing space while waiting

I take a breath, to clear my head
My stomach sings a hungry tune
My eyes are tired, my legs like lead
Freezing here beneath the moon.
I wish I could awake my mind
Some beauty I should love to find,
But closed-up shops
And ticking clocks
Are all the night will offer me.