Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Photograph Dream

In my hand, the photograph:
two smiling children, a young boy and his sister,
standing between the blue sky
and the green grass.

I find myself in the picture,
and now there is movement,
and the sound of laughter,
and sunshine happiness.

It all changes in an instant,
as it so often does in my dreams.
My sister, lost in time,
but found in this dream,

becomes a daisy-chain –
part colour, part monochrome –
its connections broken
as it falls from my hands, scattering towards the ground.

The boy, no longer smiling,
his sunshine face overlaid
with time’s grey lines,
alone once more.

Walk Into the Sea

Working on the theory
that everything is a metaphor for something,
I decide to write a poem about the sea.

I can hear it now, behind me,
the idle rise and fall of the Mediterranean waves;
waves, which, it seems to me,
aren’t really trying hard enough;
waves which can’t be bothered.

The sea. I feel it ought only to get a passing mention
in the somewhere else of a different poem,
rather than a whole poem to itself.

After all, what does it care?
Oblivious to its salt, its water,
the fish, the sand, the boats, the plastic,
even the sky which reflects off its unstill surface.

‘Another poem about me?’ it will not say.
‘Oh, how terrifically original.’

Maybe the sea is better used as a question mark,
or a little splash of colour;
maybe a blink and you miss it hint of menace,
or perhaps the suggestion of summer –
depending on the poem it crops up in.

But an entire poem?

While you were reading this, I’ve been thinking:
what exactly is the sea a metaphor for here,
in this particular poem?
Answer me that?

While you formulate your answer,
I shall turn to face the sea and walk towards it,
anticipating the enjoyment of the water
washing the sun off my skin,
before I return, cooled enough to finish this poem.

And as I walk into the sea,
I will think about the story of my father,
into a second bottle of whisky,
staggering into Dublin’s bay at some ungodly hour,
willing the waves to take him,
not quite yet fully resolved
to end it all.

No Longer Are They Mavericks

No longer are they mavericks
against the world’s conformity, but
self-ordained priests with lunatic obsessions
regurgitating turgid rectitude,
authoritarian and rigid,
bravely denouncing anything that moves,
their blandness sprung from decadence and wealth.
They know far better than to stick their necks out
(for fear of someone chopping off their heads).
Behold the cookie cutters of the cutting edge!
I watched their sunlight fail through open windows.


Rewind the clock, rewrite the page,
the autotuning of Comrade Corbyn,
Patron Saint of Varicose Veins,
   is complete.

‘The dance of the invisibles –
what does that entail?’ he drones/screeches.
‘You can’t rhyme cat with snail, friends,
   not even metaphorically!’

Inconsistent, nihilist non-poet:
of the no one, for the no one, by the no one.
Mensae, mensae, mensas; mensarum, mensis, mensis.
   Turn the tables.

Oh, That’s Just Terrible, Isn’t It?

Terrible music blasts out of speakers everywhere.
‘Here’s another terrible song,’ says the terrible DJ,
‘from a terrible year, by a terrible band.
Don’t enjoy!’

The terrible song from a terrible year,
played by a terrible band,
vomits out of the terrible speakers
belonging to the terrible DJ.

It makes a terrible day even more terrible,
and there’s no way to avoid it.
The terrible song draws to its terrible close,
but it is too late.

‘Even the sky looks terrible now,’
says a press-ganged listener.
‘The grass, the trees, loved ones –
all completely and utterly terrible.’

Everything is terrible and made more terrible
by the terrible sound assault.
‘It’s been going on for years,’ says a daffodil,
‘and you wonder why the world is now mad.’

Everything from Here Will Only Get Worse

In a bid to be ‘the bad guy’,
the Democrats elect Gustavo Fring
to be their presidential candidate.

‘To Beat the Fascists, Use a Bad Guy!’
his campaign slogan reads, in seven languages
(English, Spanish, English, English, Spanish, English and Mexican).

‘Fake presidential candidate
at twenty-past eight!’ Republicans screech.
‘Fake President!’ the Democrats reply.

Gustavo Fring holds presidential rallies.
‘Lock me up!’ he jokes. ‘Lock you up! Lock you up!’
the delirious Democrats chant back.

‘Build a Wal-Mart!’ says Gustavo Fring.
‘Build a Wal-Mart! Build a Wal-Mart!’
the crowd of hyped-up voters shout.

Gustavo Fring runs TV ads in praise of President Trump.
‘My name is Vladimir Putin and I approve this ad,’
says the voice of Elvis at the end.

‘They’re trying to get the meth-head vote,’ says Trump.
‘And the Netflix vote. And the Breaking Bad vote.
The actor vote. The whatever vote. Sad.’

Spoiler alert: Walter White Kills Gustavo Fring again
and takes the Democratic nomination for himself.
‘Vote for me or I’ll stop cooking,’ he says.

‘Let’s smash the blue-glass ceiling!’ he growls,
and the audience of Democrat meth-heads erupt.
‘Smash It! Grind It! Snort It!’  becomes his campaign slogan.

Walter White and President Trump run neck-and-neck in polls.
Their presidential candidate debates are sullen and edgy.
Walter White takes a commanding poll lead.

‘Anyone but Trump, amiright?!’ the TV hosts squeal after the election.
America has acquired a taste for the bad guy, with Jesse as Veep,
and Walter White winning is what everyone always wanted anyway.


The steady flowing stream of poetry
comes to an end,
obliterated by the gush and roar
of a waterfall of ideas.

I find myself almost capsized,
swirling in the torrents,
clutching my notebook life-raft
as we wait for calmer waters.

I cover my ears and close my eyes.
I curl into a ball
as we bump along rocks, eddies, currents.
‘Hold tight!’ I think. ‘We’ve been through worse.’

Chaotic movements eventually subside.
It is safe to listen
and to open eyes.
To unfurl.