Inheritance

I write now with my father’s pen
Old steel has assumed my
Ragged pencil’s place
Smooth and worn in my
Calloused fingers.
Daughter at my breast
I remember my father’s stories
As my own swirl and foment
Beneath the creased brow
That is my other inheritance.
Not a gentle man, nor a good one
But a crafter of careful lines
Who spoke limited truth
To lasting effect.
What of him remains
But my own comfortable lies
Sweeter than fact, more palatable
Harder to deny than the
Elusive verisimilitude
Of others.

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.

Attendant Needs

The man who cleans the ladies’ toilet
Tries to stay invisible
Knowing he’s unwelcome, and
His job is somehow risible

An overflowing bin too ripe
With gravid, bloody stink
The stains that form behind the pipe
The vomit in the sink

The woman who mops out the gents’
Is handy with her fists
As banging on the cubicles
Helps lovers to resist

Temptations of a toilet dweller
Keen to wet their beak
With sins of flesh on offer
Even seasoned will’s too weak

Where users of facilities
One tries hard to forget
Don’t pass too close, as ill at ease
Our bladders we regret

And silent in our tinklings
Groans and grunts are magnified
Graffiti grows in sprinklings
Where we defecate inside

A Head in the Clouds

How ironic it seems
That a selfie of Jen
Has eclipsed other headlines
Of conflict again

It’s as if through a lens
Entertainment appears
To be focused on comments
By anchor and peers

Though our hungriest, game
For a laugh as may be
Under clouds and on Sky
Must disrobe for TV

Where it leads if it bleeds
All depends on the dress:
The front cover of Vogue
For a dazzling temptress

Or a reddit thread, late
Where true fans would agree
Little more than click bait
Will be all that you see

There’s a choice for the viewer
And it’s moral – how quaint!
Pick which story to follow
To see through the paint

While there’s Isis; the Syrian
Conflict goes on
And shells still fall on Gaza
All through Libya’s Dawn

Civil war slowly creeping
Through Ukraine and East
As the whole world sits, watching
Awaiting the feast

We have crackers and hackers
Stampeding both scenes
And celebrities dropping
Like the flies of their jeans

We may be quite discerning,
Pick a view to a kill
Or an intimate evening
With a very cheap thrill

When the freest of thinkers
Chooses girls in the buff
Over lifting their blinkers
To examine the rough

I’m amazed readers make it
This far through a poem
Without pictures explicit
To lighten the tone

So the best we may hope
For a future of peace
Is a world that’s too broke
To afford to release

All the weapons still stored
Under ground, as above
Though it’s MAD to assume
That when push comes to shove

Such assurances mean
There’s a soul in the flock
Still refusing the fruit
That’s created to shock

Here’s an uncivil liberty
Waiting to pounce
While the government votes
For less private accounts

Sharing of Resources

The partition or division
Of a simple china bowl
May require some precision
And decisions as you go

For the politics of office
Mean it simply doesn’t do
To burst in upon a colleague
When they’re going to the loo

Please remember there’s a door lock
To preserve our modesty
It may help avoid a sudden shock
When desperate to pee

In the privacy of porcelain
By all means take your time
Just as long as you’re secured within
That’s absolutely fine

Yet if you by chance omit
To turn the knob and hide your haste
Then I’m sorry for your snit
But don’t deserve that bitchy face

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

The Thought Police

I came across an article the other day that made me oddly angry. I can’t even explain why with any coherence, other than that the concept of ‘sex positive’ feminism seems to be curiously restrictive in it’s focus. Surely if one is being positive about sex, one is being positive about all forms of sex, including the kinky, the kooky and the downright weird. I rather resented the idea that one should feel shame for finding violence in the bedroom or BDSM appealing in any way. Of course I may be reading the article wrongly. I am certainly not pro-rape, but the idea of there being an approved form of sex (vanilla) really bothered me, and sparked a brief bit of furious scribbling:

I don’t appreciate a peeping Tom
Someone gazing in my eyes, declaiming
“Tell me all your secrets, kid!”
Prefer a bit of privacy when
All is said and done, for sometimes
Thoughts inside my head are not
Appropriate, need censorship
But this in no way means that I
Agree, approve, or will support
Your making up my mind, inserting
What you think I should have thought

Dancing around the bedroom in my pyjamas

Dancing around the bedroom in my pyjamas I pause to pirouette, feeling the scrape of the carpet, crumb-covered, beneath the ball of my blister-blighted foot, and I am beautiful. Without makeup, without mirrors, with no one to look at me or to stroke my ever-hungry ego, I breathe in the stale, book-dusty air, hear the tinny music of the radio, spy your socks on the floor, and, tutting to myself, march proudly onward to face the morning.

In praise of email

The art of writing letters to us now seems to be lost.
In part due to the postal strikes, and also to the cost.
For stamps are hard to come by, and envelopes expensive
And as we know delivery at times can be extensive.
Instead we have a new thing, an electronic toy.
So we can keep in touch despite the obstacles ahoy.
But somehow through the changes, our language has evolved.
Now we don’t spell our words out, but only write in code.
So now ‘I’ll c u l8r’, we often read out loud
Since spelling became optional, secrecy’s not allowed.
Thus I know all your business, even on the train,
In order to get the message, we need to make it plain.
Tis not the done thing these days to refuse an invitation.
By the time you’ve writ ‘washing my hair’, the train has left the station.