Dirty Dancing

They’ve made a stage production

of a movie that was insanely popular

when you were growing up;

the trends of your youth now

have a retro curiosity to them,

like some sort of museum oddity.

 

Your music is now called classic rock &

your favourite albums are referred to as seminal &

when a young band covers one of your old songs &

you sing along your kids look at you strangely &

wonder how someone as uncool as you

could know something that they think is theirs.

 

Records have moved through CD to mp3

but a vinyl collection is to be held in awe

& video became DVD, & now blue, Ray,

but the movies are just remakes.

 

Nintendos are now called Wiis,

Mario has risen bigger than Jesus,

& Apple is the product of choice

for the middle-class edgy set

pretending to be artsy.

 

Now your rock stars are suffering from

old people ailments or reforming

for reunion retirement fund tours.

Bowie & Cohen, Prince & George Michael

all rang out their final chords.

 

Your favourite hangouts

have now been taken over by

cliché hipster cafés

selling pretentious single origin drinks

but you can’t smoke or joke about

how contrived their record collection is.

 

One day they might

make a stage production of your life –

a black comedy

directed by John Hughes.

 


First published in The Frequency of God, Close-Up Books, December 2017

 

Crackles to Life

Under years of dust, at the back of the garage,

next to the old wardrobe that now holds garden tools,

on top of cardboard boxes packed full of things that are

no longer useful but too good to throw away,

rests the old record player.

 

I pull it from the mess of bits of bicycles & old picnic baskets,

peel a record from its musty sleeve

& it crackles back to life sending out forgotten analogue signals,

cutting through time at 33 RPM.

 

Now I’m talking ‘bout my generation[i],

Carnabetian[ii] dreams & satanic sympathies.

Poet punk psychedelic stereophonic shamen

carry me back to days of innocence & ignorant abandon.

The songs have remained the same[iii], but the years have moved on,

the doors may not be cleansed but the possibilities are still infinite.

 

So the scientifically precise mp3 player bloated with all its bits of data

can wait until I’m back in my car driving to work.

 

For now, I sit in the back of the garage,

in the chair we had in the living room before the one we have now,

I sneak a cigarette so the kids don’t catch me,

drop the needle, spin the black circle[iv]

& float back to a life that has been stored,

no longer useful but too good to throw away.

 


[i] Towshend, Peter. I’m talking ‘bout my generation. “My Generation”. My Generation. Record. Brunswick 05944. 1965.

[ii] Davies, Ray. Carnabetian. “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”. Single. Record. Pye 7N 17064. 1966.

[iii] Page, Jimmy & Plant, Robert. The songs have remained the same. “The Song Remains the Same”. Houses of the Holy. Record. Atlantic. 1973.

[iv] Vedder, Eddie. Spin the black circle. “Spin the Black Circle”, Vitalogy, Record, CD, Epic, 1994


Published in The Interpreter’s House Issue 63 (October, 2016)

Published in The Frequency of God, Close-Up Books (December, 2017)

 

Homeless

I am a thing / not a thing

elevated to the status

of object / product

a float between what

you’ve seen / thought you saw

.           / ignored

 

the error of our ways

is the tragedy of our days

how long until O becomes Q

until the realisation gains a tail

& the question of de-evolution

is reconsidered by apes

on a production line

 

look, squatted in a shopfront

under discoloured blankets

the disgrace of our lives

thrown from the line

I am a thing / not a thing

 


Published in Page Seventeen, Issue 12, November 2015

Published in The Frequency of God, Close-Up Books, December 2017

 

When I Last Spoke to Cocteau

for Jean Paul De Santi

 

When I last spoke to Cocteau

he told me about a spin-

-ning game he played

as a child,

.           I laughed but Cocteau

just smiled –    then serious

he said “I wrote to Satie

the other day   but I don’t expect a reply.”

I told him I’d been to Arcueil

just after Satie died,

found a pile of unopened letters

near where he worked.

 

Cocteau didn’t want to talk

anymore & said we should

go for a drink

he pointed to the end of the street

where a piano played the sound of clouds

 

but I was too tired.

 


A version of this poem was first published in Writ. Poetry Review, 5 January, 2015

The above revision appears in The Frequency of God, Close-Up Books (December, 2017)

A video of the earlier version is available here

An audio of the earlier version is available here

 

& Art Floats Away Like Love

Casting a street light shadow,

he leans against a wall

in a street gone to sleep,

plucks a soft tune on an

old guitar, sings, and drinks

in the resonance of the night.

The notes are like echoes, ghosts, smoke in the air.

 

… meanwhile, across town…

Hunched over a cafe table,

on a serviette he sketches

the woman across the room.

In blue ink alone he catches

the gleam in her eye as she

dreams her own dreams.

He folds the picture under his cup just before he leaves.

 

… in another place…

He watches the people,

imagines their lives, talks

for them, creates histories,

drafts & redrafts poems

for them in his mind, but

never speaks a word.

In silence, the poems fall as tears from his eyes.

 

& art floats away

like love.

 


Published in ZineWest 2014, October 2014

Published in The Frequency of God, Close-Up Books (December, 2017)