The Walls

We wiped down the walls to remove the tobacco shadows

from all the cigarettes you smoked after dinner

when we’d sit around and you’d tell us your stories.

 

We filled in the holes and removed

any impressions of the pictures you’d hung;

the photos of our school days, holidays, birthdays,

the portraits of innocent times,

ignorant of mortality.

 

A coat of paint, a neutral beige,

now muffles all the whispers of the life we had,

back when you’d tuck us in at night

and tell us you loved us.

 

After the sale we’ll divide the proceeds

according to your will

and go on with our own lives,

in our own separate houses.

 


Published in Door=Jar Issue 9, Winter 2019

A Moment Among Megabits of Data

I took a photo of you with my phone,

caught a particular moment,

but the photo fell into the binary abyss,

lost in the digital fray of ordinary days,

of smart phone functionality –

among megabits of data;

emails & txt messages;

facebook updates & twitter tweets;

among MP3 music; &

apps to access my bank accounts.

 

Months later while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room,

not wanting to watch daytime TV

or read old gossip magazines,

I swipe through my phone,

thumbing my way back through time,

and there you are,

in that moment,

and I wish I could remember

what I did

that made you smile

so much.

 


Published in Door=Jar Issue 9, Winter 2019

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