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

The Anti-Social Conscience

Fear of flying
In the Erica Jong sense
Is not wrong – even for hardcore feminists
We are all intimidated sometimes
When faced with the prospect
Of successful seduction
In an post-AIDS era.

Fear of flying
Bugs with the power to infect
The next generation with long-term consequences
Is a logical response to a natural phenomenon
So we avoid the tropics, where possible
And wear trousers, long-sleeves
And poisoned perfume.

Fear of flying
To exotic climes
With local customs
Hostile to strangers
Would appear an acceptable
Response to the xenophobic
Fury of others – so unlike our own.

Fear of flying
Seems perfectly reasonable –
A socially acceptable phobia for a reduced carbon footprint
Unless, of course the sufferer happens to be
The passenger in the next seat (adjacent to me)
Quaking in their Birkenstocks,
Passing gas, and sweating cobs.

Winnipeg

Cry me a red, red river
A river of dust and bones
Of hearts that bleed and shiver
From broken and bruising homes

Blow me a kiss of willow
To echo a mourner’s moan
The ache of an empty pillow
Another child’s fate unknown

Cry me a red, red river
To fold me within its bed
And comfort the cares that slither
Through thoughts of unending dread

Bring me a message, finding
Too late what you had to face
My anger a knot, a binding
A coiling of thoughts that race

Cry me a red, red river
Reflecting a distant star
A chorus of souls, a quiver
That calls to me from afar

Paint me a cold moon rising
Surrounded by frozen waste
Still warmed by a hatred, blinding
For victims that leave no space

Cry me a red, red river
From words that no longer mean
An end to the dreams that linger
Its path a forgotten scream

Soothe me to sleep through Winter
To wake in the roar of Spring
With gifts that are carved to splinter
Where birds cannot bear to sing

Cry me a red, red river
And lay there upon this shore
The past where I long to wither
And hold you again, once more

This was written for the Red River Women.

A Little Number

Before I was born
Just a twinkle
In the universe
Of possibilities

Reflected in eyes
Both bluest grey
And olive green
Did you know me?

Or was the I of me
And mine all one to you?
My seedling promised,
But unplanned

Was a meeting of
Hearts and minds
Foretold in song
To bardic strains

Or merely Cast
Upon the plain and
Simple lines
That sprang and pranced

This two-fold dance
Of fire and ice
Your foreign couplings
Kept apart

By Mother Earth
Who did not dream
Of feelings torn
From the widening

Womb-like walls
And shallow shores
Of an underground
Kingdom

Nuts and Colonels
Carried away
With crowns of pine,
From slender hopes

To careful, caring
Tender traps in
Wadded cotton
Whose snoring sheets

Wedded Pluto’s
Darker dreams to
Persephone’s Oblivion
Before there was me

Flounce, Fluff and Flattery

There is a world of difference
Between those who seek the
Company of women
To bask in it
Hanging on their every thought
As one transported
By the beauty
Of a strange and fantastical mind
And those who fancy
A quick in-and-out
Ego-boost before
Zipping their feelings,
Upping sticks and moving on
To the next conquest.

The difference is obvious
Even to the most casual observer:
One is the stuff of
Fantasy and freedom
Of late-night talks
And deep discussions
Long philosophising over
Personal projections
Maybe with a bit of
Barefoot dancing
And a casual pinch of laughter
Thrown in for good measure.

On encountering the other,
I will take the lonely
High road to nowhere
Hiking in stupid, pretty,
Too-tight shoes
Risking my own skin
To preserve sanity
Rather than share transportation,
Food or drink
In exchange for temporary
Flat-footed flattery
With bondage-grade
Strings attached.

I enjoy womanisers
Who enjoy women
In all their complexity,
But have no time
For bed-notch chasing
Egotists with
Straw for brains
And cloth for ears.

Trad Family Values (Trigger Warning for Sexual Assault)

Just lie down and take what is coming to you
You are what you did, so we’ll do what we do
It’s justice in action, reaction that’s true
Too carefree? Consent! That’s a license to screw…

So grab her and hold her, we’ll strip and unfold her
To shame her and mould her until she is colder
And never, forever, will she dare to tether
Her hopes to a world run by men for their pleasure

For women are worthless, a hot mess of curses
Who pepper discourses with breathy remorses
Before we’ve an ear for our sisters or daughters
Let’s hear from a father (who’s worth our resources)

We’ve room for opinion from lowest caste minion
But suffer no slights from a beardless cotillion
Whose lips tell us lies underlined in vermilion
Until our frustration will brook no Brazilian

Aesthetic. Pathetic, we seek an emetic
For things so erotic they threaten ascetic
Erratic, and segregate tastes so prophetic
We hasten to hide how out-dated our ethic,

Our very existence. No matter the million
That march to a man to protest latrocinium;
We lie on our laurels; inviolate vision
Society’s structure investing our mission

For power that lingers for hangers and clingers
On scales that still favour us dissolute whingers
We’d rather waste time and resources on mingers
To hide behind preachers and ponces’ long fingers

As patriarch beams in the light of the dawn
With funds for a future of cultural norm
Where birth heralds gifts for the fortunate pawn
Ignoring the cries of their less favoured spawn

The female, though fated one half of our destiny’s
Much underrated when it comes to progeny
Gains more of Percy, than man’s greater mercy,
Imprudent, heretical, breeds controversy

These creatures that litter the cracks of society
Were cast-off to bear any bare impropriety
Innocence spares them no bolt of anxiety
As toys for affections of gendered variety

And what of the male as he wanders the land
Silver spoon in his mouth, and a viper in hand
Teasing Eve at his leisure, all going as planned
A man for all seasons, the first of the damned

So clothing was tattered and fluids were spattered
By elders and betters, by people who mattered
Unwanted attentions that blistered and battered
Assault is a compliment, you should feel flattered!

Tradition dictates we must buy them by rite
Postponing delight for our own wedding night
But those who are wayward and troublesome might
Be the better for all that you force on them. Right?

By the width of her bosom or breadth of her seat
You can tell what she wants in her life is your heat
Just ignore what may pass for false modesty, cheat:
If she struggles, you’re stronger, why beat a retreat?

What use is a woman that beggars belief?
But an ornament, decorative, for relief
(And it isn’t a rape if you aren’t a thief
Of virginity), so she’ll submit to your brief

And untalented fumbling, your grunting and mumbling
For out after dark, her experience humbling
Is nothing she doesn’t deserve, just a tumbling,
Yes, shame is the answer, to curtail such crumbling

Societal pillars, though riveted girders
Are challenged with change, so before we go further
Afield for our leisure, let’s talk about murder
And those whose encounters may help feed our fervour

But careful, what soft thought may break through this wall –
The footsteps grow louder, the voices still call
For a change to opinions, stacked for a fall
Bring an end to such violence, once and for all

The Secret Ingredient

The girl that cooks bakes cake and pies
And plays at house and tells no lies
That can’t be wriggled into line
Parading truth and saving time

The girl that cooks makes soup and stews
That chase away the taste of blues
Her kitchen hums with spitting fat
She works and cleans and strokes the cat

The girl that cooks whips up dessert
And bandages the parts that hurt
When all the world is making war
She’s tossing aubergines in flour

The girl that cooks is canny, chaste
Her sauces never go to waste
No eggs are dropped, no milk gets spilt
Her apron strings are edged with gilt

The girl that cooks with fiery flame
Whose every nuance tastes the same
Is ready with another dish
To feed you meaty, wholesome fish

The girl that cooks is clever too
She knows what suits won’t always do
When with a smirk upon your lips
You peck her brow and grip her hips

The girl that cooks in every room
Will not be left alone so soon
While every mouthful, reels you in
You’re caught within her roasting tin

The girl that cooks must take the blame
For ruining your filthy name
Enticing you with food so fair
You hung your hat and took a chair

Hollywood Rap

Push me to places
I ain’t seen before
I’ll paint on some faces
To look like your whore

But deep in my mind
There’s so little you see
I keep it locked tight
Holding onto what’s me

The terrible things
That we do in this world
Are only a symptom
We pass off – absurd

So I’ll do my worst
‘Til I’m hailed as the best
You’d think we were cursed
But we’re just like the rest

And I can breathe magic
Just give me the word
It smells rather tragic
But haven’t you heard

The twisting of sisters
And mothers and misters
Is brotherly love
With a burning that blisters

It’s time for my act
So get ready to listen
My mould has been cracked
I’m the last one to glisten

With genuine feeling
That’s cheap by the dozen
You’re welcome to healing
But no kissing your cousin

I’ll take you to heights
Just to jump off the top
And tell you of sights
‘Til you beg me to stop

There’s nothing to do here
And less I can build
But I’ll keep my mind clear
And my body filled

With poisonous substance
That’s hardly substantial
You’ve really no beef
The whole thing’s circumstantial

It doesn’t make sense
When I come from this background
But who cares for pence
When you’re far from the fair ground

The going was rough
I thought I was a goner
But nothing says tough
Like a second-hand Doner

I don’t mean to pry
But why are you still reading
When you could be flying
And fucking and speeding

Nobody cares
So what if I get careless
I’m doing my thing
And it’s none of their business

You just keep paying
The price of my ticket
It’s cheaper than praying
And you know you can stick it

Something to declare

They’re closing the borders
And checking for crime
We’ve signalled our orders –
Each kiosk; its sign
For twenty-one days
On the honour of those
Running far from the virus
No quarantine slows
Here’s the health of a nation
Held palmed in your hand
Shaking; quaking relations
That no one can stand
Find they’re no longer welcome
While terror’s abroad
Though the shape of their income
Is what we applaud
It’s a risk to our public
Unhealthy and pale
No banana republic
With goodies for sale
Will be bribing their way
Past the guards on the line
Who know only to say
“Gosh, yes, everything’s fine!”
Though you’re likely to bring
Things that may cost the Earth
Still we can’t let you in
More than our job is worth
As the siren is sounded
The gates clang at last
All asylum for hounded
A thing of the past
We suspect you of sheltering
Dangerous germs
So we’ll lock down the sweltering
Under our terms
No sex, please, we’re British
The same goes for fun
And in case you seem skittish
I’m holding this gun
With no end of compassion
Our hearts on our sleeve
We’ve resources to ration
So, kindly, just leave.

Manchester Noughties

By popular demand, here is the next instalment. This follows on from Out-growing.

A bolt from the blues
And there he stood
My long-haired, brown eyed boy

More trouble than he was worth
But oh, he meant the dawning
Of a brave new world to me

Black-clad from his boots
To his faded tee
Proclaiming the road to Hell

Hours spent revelling
Skin on skin
Tracing patterns on his chest

In post-coital bliss
As our sweaty limbs cooled
The disc spun its Dream Theater

And dirty, sticky
Sheets stuck
To our grinning faces

I felt so alive in those moments
Clambering over his dozing form
Twitching the curtain aside

Peering out at my world
Spying on the backyard
The comfort of a familiar scene

His middle-aged neighbour
Hanging out day-old washing to air
In a crowded corner

Grey skies over damp rows of workers’ cottages
Pegs and pots of geraniums
A battered bathroom chair

He took me places
We went to concerts
Wandered the aisles of the supermarket

Hands in each other’s pockets
I wore his jeans and shirts
Over my naked skin

Danced in the rain in bare feet
And walked through Moss Side
Nightly, after dark

Just to wake up by his side
So lost in my own happiness
No street life ever bothered me