Monday, 28 July 2014


OK, let me explain.  This is a poem that refuses to lay down and die.  It won't resolve itself - it's been in my 'to redraft' pile for about eight years now.  About four years ago I made the mistake of thinking that it was resolved and got a version of it published in "The Delinquent" magazine, but despite their seal of approval I still wasn't convinced.  So I reworked it again.  And again.  And again.

The version you can see below is the latest version, and whilst I feel that my mind is far too weary of the whole idea to really do anything better with it now, there's no guarantee that I won't come back to this again at some point in the not-too-distant future.  In the meantime, this is probably as good as it gets.

Those colourful talking birds,
they come to you in the middle of the
night, fly through the open
sash window like mis-fired
darts from the street corner pub,
scuffle and scrape beaks and
claws across skirting boards like
finger bones on wood.

They murmur their
demands in voices like a
choir of schoolgirls
humming the national anthem
slowly, out of tune
with each other, plead with
trembling beaks like
tweezers delicately gripping at
the splinter of a truth.

They bother like all beasts
bother, climb to kick at the
ghosted screenburn of
bad old ideas, tug the
sheets in the compass
direction of your last lover,
morbidly mutter the
name your parents would
have called you had you
been deemed worthy of it.

They stole your instinct
at birth, and are now
acting on it, indefinitely,
reaching for a conclusion
you have been denied.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Love Optician

(There are a few poems I've written and performed live, initially to an extremely positive response, only for the positive feedback - and the applause and sometimes laughter - to wither and die on subsequent airings elsewhere. It's almost as if something in the first shot could never be replicated, either through some fault in my own delivery, flaws with the poem itself, or me just striking it really lucky with an overly supportive audience at first.

This is one such. Scrapped in 2009 because it was creating way too much of a sag in live sets, it will probably never see the light of day again unless a few people drop me some comments begging for its return. Yes, I realise I'm not doing a very good job of selling it, but with old, long-dormant poems my attitude becomes more laissez-faire. You either like it or you don't, and it's no skin off my nose, frankly. Yeah, how do you like THAT? Remember, this is all free online content, if you want the freshest and the best, give me some money. Turn up to my bloody gigs, buy the latest magazines that have my current material in.

On the subject of opticians in general - I used to have a terrifying optician for many years who was deeply snappy, impatient, wore grey faded cardigans and smelt faintly (or occasionally strongly) of sweat. She was the inspiration for this poem, it's very much her stern voice and tone. Once during a live intro I joked that having a really glamorous, charming, highly likeable optician would perhaps be welcome for a change. Not long after I made that announcement, it happened - I turned up to the opticians and was confronted by an astounding beauty who was reassuring and extraordinarily friendly. I then had to try and deal with spending time with her speaking softly into my face, breathing down my ear and looking me in the eyes while the lights were all down. I was in a relationship at the time. I still am in that same relationship now. I couldn't get my contact lenses back in afterwards I was so flustered and flushed. It felt worse than the usual arrangement, guilt-inducing somehow, even though I'd done nothing wrong. So be careful what you wish for - in practical situations, mundanity is usually the more favourable option). 

I’m going to make everything
all blurry now.
Don’t worry.
That’s quite usual.

Now come with me.
Follow me
on to the street outside, and
walk amongst the traffic.
It’s OK.
I’ll guide you, and
sometimes I’ll lie, but
what kind of man doesn’t
suffer the odd knock 
or scratch?

Now we’ve got to know each other,
so let’s hold hands.
That’s it.
And we can go back to yours, and
I can look into your eyes and
tell you what it is you can’t see.

While you’re blind, I’ll
jemmy the skirting boards
from the walls, reveal the
plaster that is pale,
untanned by the warmth of
your breath beneath, and
etch obscenities in
forgotten languages by
compass point, before
replacing everything again.
No, it’s not a curse.
I don’t do hexes, dear.
I just like leaving my mark.

Do you see?
Do you feel better for your new prescription?
Can you see what you couldn’t before?
Equally good!
I have to go now, but
I’m sure, if you’re sensible,
you’ll see my assistant in
six months time
for another check-up.