Alicia Also

Twenty years slipped
Since I last stretched
These pavements,
Hairs are the same
With less width
In the aching.
Four families moved
Through a house over there,
Its neatly squared garden
Where a fair woman fainted
And needed a sutre;
She relocated to Lincoln
And give birth to the ancient
Ways of the future.

The ghost house is there
On Precariousness Corner,
Windows all boarded,
Hoardings corroded,
The grass as grown over
As dreams of the homeless.
The children are children
Of those I grew up with,
But a good local ghost story
Is peerless and opened.
Schools expanded,
Red squirrels survived,
Ethnographic adoptions
But pine trees are always
The same and how they thrive.
The old lady who played an oboe
All through one winter
Is buried in our municipal way
Over the river, yet the oboe
Still has tunes to deliver.
Branches quivering in the breeze
Have unseen opposable fingertips
On musicians six feet deep.

Everyone here has new extensions,
Smartly paved driveways
And alfresco dimensions
In wicker and rattan;
The future transfused,
Indifferent, oblivious,
Anxieties gifted and brewed
As traits for the atheists
Whose numbers are swelling,
And bruised the religious
Whose numbers are telling.
Everyone has a disease we
Cannot see, which is that
Everyone steadfastly
Refuses to talk
To each other.

And there is the window
Where every weekend I’d rush
To see my neighbour Alicia,
Schoolboy crush,
Heartbeat in crisis,
Sufficient hormones to fill
The silver Cup of Dionysus;
Alicia also relocated,
This time to Bristol
Or Bournemouth or Weymouth,
And so I never took that one chance
To say something teenage and
Wishful. Alicia got married
And her children are older
Than I was back then,
Shy and less bold,
More innocent, yes.

Tuesdays, you can still inhale
The scent of soup drifting
From the east side factory,
Tomato or beef or oxtail tides;
Thursdays, winds change
And fish trawler residues blow
Over the town far and wide.
We drove there once to lay flowers
Where a nameless prostitute died.

All fixtures and fittings remain
Of memories kept for twenty years
Inside my mind’s shallow grave,
Yet while the world flew through
The universe delightful and bright,
I was left here, two decades behind.

The Endless Bar

All those before who fled,
What did they do to me?
They poured their troubles onward,
Red blood could part a sea;
Still, you’re in untended plots
In a quiet corner of Cheam.

How far I looked up to you,
A child at the endless bar,
We’d walk across midwinter tracks
When you couldn’t drive a car.
You tended donkeys with more care
Than family bruised and scarred.

Adults sometimes shed the skin
Their parents dressed them in,
But you glued your self to mine,
Inheriting your chin-chin.
Each evening when I’m drunk
With words, I think of you,

Hoping this is not the last drink;
Without words what can I do.

Flotsam Song

With cellular losses like flotsam
I could not see myself as old;
I had no thoughts to reach that far,
I would not be so bold, it felt
Like contemplations of reaching cold
And insurmountable peaks
Of Cordillera de Nahuelbuta
By driving a ’64 Ford Mustang car
Up those yellow buttercupped cols.

We had all this love to give,
Unused in their atoms’ aromatic fronds,
So this love was abused by the sea,
Our hearts of dark samphire drifted
Underneath the empty stars,
With childhood messages enclosed
On well-preserved papyrus.

When a product shipped in a box
Across the raging ocean
Disconnects, we search for lost instructions and scratch our heads,
Then hit re-start
And massage hope,
But there’s no restarting love’s long-lost hearts,
No manual, nor compass, nor rope.

Beachcombers found the seaweed,
Its on their kitchen window sill;
And jellyfish beaching swiftly bloat,
Being mostly made of water
They evaporate like coastal ghosts,
Leaving only purple rings in the sand
And a feeling that something was lost
And towards a far-off land afloat,
Where everyone is old,
And now and again I remember there
All that it meant to be young and alone.

First Day Nerves

Slightly shorter and undernourished,
Those seasonal times of year
When stationery sales long-lost flourished
And the oldest emotions appear.
A leather satchel handed down,
Holes and fraying handles;
A seismic shame my teachers found,
Reborn each day, self-vandalised;
I did not want the uniform,
I did not wear the sandals.
She kissed me in her morning-gown
As I stepped down from her seventh home,
(The dreaming-house they since demolished),
Without grasping who she was
Or whether she had abolished
Surnames and all that was stable.
Alphabets abounded then
And prayers preparing for Heaven;
Algorithms, and Boolean logic.
They said my head was in the clouds,
They said there is another puddle forming,
Beneath the desk, or sometimes a table.
No one read my later reports,
In their haste they emptied the office.
We escaped on our lunch breaks
To braid a chain of daisies in a garland;
Abroad, the battalions expounded.
I searched for non-existent patterns,
There was only the fray of the day;
Its textures took September hostage
And advanced into me this way.
All the decaying roots are buried,
The meadows abandoned in disarray;
In a fairy-forest, north of the border,
They recovered my head from a disused well,
For I never did find a better heavenly spell,
That day we unearthed a daffodil.