Fleeting fumbling writings

Poems and Stories by Chris Newell

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(The 70’s series) The fountain.

At the water fountain we waited
Our friend had been mean to us
He had joined the group we hated
So in assembly we gave him a bag of crisps so he must
Have a drink before long. We had bated
Him well and when he tore to quench his thirst
In playtime after art, before it could be sated
We smashed him till his bladder burst.
What a fountain.

Stephanie Bristow

Flared faced he charges at the finish
All ‘Bristow’ vest, braces, skittlegs
Tufts of hat black hair everywhere
And the donkeys bulging thick with fur cakes
Gallops past me and Stephanie
!sat watching
!at the derby
!in the rec
!by the river.

Eyebrows that hat black tufts like him
Cut too short for a girl
Her daddy is the fastest ever
Stephanie that loves me
She tells me she is a boy
!sat watching
!at the derby
!in the rec
!by the river.

Fast like her daddy so she had to be I knew
So I couldn’t love her back she was a
Strong kisser all the same and loud
Like a boy
So I gave her a bird book instead
!sat watching
!at the derby
!in the rec
!by the river.

Clever too her daddy like her I did
Her sums like him were like a boys
But she wore a dress with birds
Like a girl
So I let her hold my hand
!sat watching
!at the derby
!in the rec
!by the river.

She loved me
She said so
She told people
She did kiss me
She sat with me
!and in the river
!at the rec
!after the derby
we paddled like boys.

Another story

My dad’s spare dad leg is on my bookshelf
It has his sock on and is in a paper bag.
It reminds me that the rest of his dad body
Is in a purple box by the telephone table
But that’s another story.

My dad’s spare dad leg is on my bookshelf
High up so that people don’t peep at it
They might laugh or not – for dad
Was not funny about it except when a dog bit it in Wales.
But that’s another story.

Last songs

‘September’ Strauss played loud so she hears it in her room
Her chin, butter grubby from the scrambled egg that now slips from her spoon
Onto her blanket and chicken thin skin bruised legs bare nightie, tissues and crumpled bag
Her barely slippered feet in white warm socks, sits a body so limp, so lost, so sad
so graceless

This silken shadow of my mother
Gurgles and throths like a greedy toddler
Stretching her lips, her tongue, her teeth
She pain pours away her breathless grief
and grace

Not with self pity at her sickness
Her self silence, her self stillness
But the music, this Strauss, his September
Smothering her in the saddest joy to remember
Her voice and her mother’s voice singing Strauss
restoring grace.

An English churchyard on Christmas eve

Skinless sausages the dead lie frozen whole
Bedded in sensible rows like seeds
Fur white wrappers turf them over but its still too cold
They won’t grow in this weather

Coal for eyes, brillo frosted mittens and stiff neck scarf
Snowman is sat sad sobbing
“What a place to build a snowman”
he sobs to himself
“Hark the herald angels sing”
he sings and sobs to himself.

You see snowman did not enjoy Christmas
Because he knew he would only ever have one Christmas
And stuck in this miserable place at Christmas
Just made it the worse one Christmas.

Maybe we should consider holding Christmas somewhere else
For this snowman at least.

Bluekini blue

Offshore in a pedalo
With Maria who was new to me we pedalled a duet.
Shell salted tresses and toes sandy splashed
Bluekini blue, brown bottom and thighs, beautiful.

Over low breakers we bubbled
Out past the rubber lapped sea mumps
Lilo lounge parties playing ball
Past toys and laughing tiny dark girls strapped to burgundy bellies

Ahead a crack scar struck out the shore
And a sea cave sucked us in
She dives, I like a drip “me too”
Jump, a leg boned and flailing flop

Head up, small and brave she swims
I faint panting in my plastic sandals walk the water
Till the sea bed slopes away and I’m frightened but
In love we swim inside

An echo pool of mirror blue
Glass cold shadows the sun
While we swarm the warm water
And cuddle

Charm struck then and charm struck now
Bluekini blue, brown bottom and thighs, beautiful.

The eight fifty eight to Blackfriars

Beneath the hem of Mr Tuffin’s black placky mac,
Beside the steel laddered river, our rat
Waits for the eight fifty eight to Blackfriars,
Eating her baby boy rat bit by bit.

Tuffin’s brolley tell tails from his wrist,
Flaps his mac and strokes in clock time our rat’s back.
She laps it up, lost, rolls her eyes
And spits her baby boy’s teeth on the track.

Beside her his bowler black brief case
Shadows her drip full lip and pink pinny belly.
Tuffin’s turn-ups gutter with baby rat tat,
A fat pool platter laps the plat form .

Train pops pops in and Tuffin hops on our rat
She lies flat back dead in the track gap.
He sits in his spot, fat with rat family snap
On the eight fifty eight to Blackfriars.


Counting down

It comes on when the summer clocks go back dark
To then
Us three our hols day 1
Sat 2 and 1 – me and him and her
Flew in and now fast
Motorway coach window my forehead cold pressed counting,
passing, passing
no one.
Still concrete ruins, grey olive grove green
I feel the home sun setting to saddest, saddest sun down
49 package passengers
a trip in technicolour steps
Pisa, Florence, Rome, Venice, Rimini,
5 steps to go
Unbearably slow steps.
I can’t cry, I can swallow though
The heaviest, blackest sinking, sinking sun



Pressed between the corduroy calves of Man sniffling through a box of LP’s,
A golden labrador.
Dope eyed, old and creamy he lies out the Saturday boot sale
strumming ears tickled by chords of grass
while a sticky kid’s paw pats him
cautiously rifling his suede boned nose and liquorice lips.
Man thumbs past Jim Reeves and Classics for Pleasure a Readers Digest box set of
WWII songs truffling for rare jazz or Jap white labels.

Between the boxes swanking past
a flat faced mutt locked against buttoned leggings thin straps and orange ankles.
He snaps his displeasure at the ‘lab’ who sniffs on
caressed by the corduroy shuffling Man
‘Piss off’ the Lab mouthes safely.

He loves this just still summer heat.
The trickle of greasy sneakers, suedes and wet trainers, sandals, flip-flops
Grubby farts and mouth spills, nappy babies with milky mums and nylon grans,
Cheap stale bags with snotty tissues and chocolate
and turn-ups with cheesy crisp crumbs.

He loves man loves him loves here best. He loves this all.

Soon the best bit.
Bag of disks, deal done, they trot to bacon breakfast and queue at the cabin
Flat face trussed-under-heel to the orange ankles legging’s man’s friend
Shorts bare brick dust calves course with Mr Muscle.
Flat face whines and drools
Tea spoons planted in dish water brown stained
Seeped in sugar a sausage in bread
All for him.
Sucked down in a second.



Pop to shop at Munn’s in the village
Percil, Kellogg’s, paraffin, butter, Bonio’s, a few rashers, Bryant and May, Rich Tea
Boxed up and on next Tuesday, with a nice chat with Mr Munn on the doorstep and eleven and three pence
Unpacking on the kitchen table.
Then put it all on the sticky back larder shelves.
Keep the paraffin separate under the stairs with the hoover. Matches in the drawer. Smart.

On her own
Widow? Quite young. Divorced?
Two titchy Pekes sleep on her bed.
nice woman, quiet, always smart even
Out with the Pekes, “Morning.” “Morning.” “Cold brrr eh?”
Nice thick coat in camel. Smart.

She walks all the way round, the circle, down the Rise, through the wood, up the hill, across and down again, to halfway No.15…
Every day.
Tidy garden, smart, no flowers even in summer, to speak of –
Hedges, a gate – No. 15, The Rise.

But today she unpacks
Let’s the Pekes into the back garden to run about. Smart.
The doors are locked, puts on her thick camel coat

The one she wears for walking
Goes to the cupboard under the stairs
where the gas comes in and the electric
where she keeps the Hoover and a few bits
And gets the paraffin.
Her thick coat soaks it up so that almost none of it is wasted. Smart.
She goes to the drawer and takes the box of Bryant and May matches
Her coat catches and she burns slowly, like a candle.

Tomorrow her neighbours at No. 10 remember her.
Rosalind (Ros.)

Garden birds

Lying in the backless garden headless
Warm on sun fed scratchy turf
We watched as chubby garden birds
Flew in and did turns for us.

We give them names
And whispered lives with voices
Played raucous on sloping tiled drives
To nested semi’s with gutter moss ponds.
Pouting they screamed and fanned
Neighboured each other with pecks
Cooed and keened song-flowers of love-birds
Till the sun slipped and they slept.

We lay on as the kitchen window curtain lit
And she shadowed and peeped out to us
Frail, fair, hair red, smiled to see us
We smiled back and waved
Our damp bed rose but we played on
Birds gone.

Now half one hundred on
Back on sun fed scratchy turf
We sit polite pairs in chairs with cake and that
Remembering the chubby birds
With voices that fly in turns
Despite the day, past, days, this day’s passing.

But a window shadowed curtain rests shut
And the birds sniff and laugh but can’t sing
They hang about here
Duff, Elsie, Sid, Hillier
Silent still all, with June gone.


In the bungalow down south, near the sea, with springy short lawn and a shed
In a room that should be for eating, a bed, two beds and
A low shelf, brow thick with varnish
It rests.

At night it hums darker than daytime.
Warm coils push the time along but it’s still only 9
Like me
And I must wait till
They or him or her are here to sleep near me

So my ears telescope the silence and some strains seep through
Tv people laugh
Grandad coughs his guts up
I lie taut in nylon sheets and a maroon shiny eiderdown

I know my clocks and this one isn’t right
It runs/hums without stepping, avoiding the cracks
No/. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 counting out the dark till a sandy slip of light wakes me up
Or I dip into dreaming until switched on to wake

The dining room is beef and blackberry rich with roll ups
Time is trapped by the fug. And the hum…
It burrs 9.15 past 21, 30. Fifty four. Then
Bong clock 10. Tv news strikes and vol. up

Tock. One half of one hour to pass
Grey topped voices assert against the hum but it’s louder now
No docile pussy purr it scratches, acid etching the varnish
The TV wrings back landing a fat punch
My air is knocked out and flat on canvas
I am beaten to nearly to deaf as

Grandad coughs his guts up on his way and
They or him or her are here to sleep near me.
Breaths silence the hum and I switch off.
In the bungalow, down south, near the see with springy short lawn and a shed
It will be morning and we will get a bus to Sandwich.


Posted with BlogsyPosted with Blogsy

Hear to see

This is pretty much incomprehensible to anything other than a DECTalk Speech Synthesizer. 
If you try really hard you can probably pick out a few words from the phonetic spelling 
in Arpabet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arpabet. 
Frankly I would not bother as hopefully this serves as an "enticing" placeholder 
until I upload the spoken version - which I should add is taking forever to produce.
I don't want to put up a translation as this poem must be heard, 
read by a machine and not read, and heard in the head of a human.

[:np :ra 160 :pp 200 :cp 100 :dv ap 120 pr 150] (ignore these instructions to the synthesiser)

[ay aem ax t'uwrixst (`/fraxm! /W`ehl! [:ra 220] `yu kaen /pr'aabaxbliy) t`ehl [:ra 160] `ay g'ehs?] 
(this line reads "I am a tourist from, well you can probably tell I guess.") 
You are on your own from here onwards.

[hx’ay r’eh<250>z<150> kaelixf’owrniyax.] [s’aend, s’ihlixkaxn, s’ahn.] [hx’ihr tuh s`iy dhax p’iy<200>r<200>!_<200> str’eyt axhx’ehd)aend ‘awt tuh dhax ‘ihnxglixsh ch’aenel, t’uw f’ayv s’ihks gr’eyskeyl, ay aem relay<200>axbliy ixnfowrmd.] [ihts ehnjhixn’iyrd (axgehnst dhax t’ayd, dhax s’aolt, dhax sh’ihnxgel.] [w`iy aar “ao<150>l<200> hx’ihr.] [hxihm, hxrr, hxrr, aend miy, aend `iht.] [[:ra 80] miy, aend `iht. [:ra 160]] [ihts n’ayn*t’iyn ‘eytiy s’ihks, aend `ih<180,155>t<200> :np ihz w’ahn.] [miy,`ay aem tw “ehntiy w’ahn.] [ihn may \p’uh<100>sh<100>cher<220>r dh’ow.] [[:ra 200}`ay aem pr’ehpt (frr dhax r’eyn,`aol r’aept ‘ahp,l`ayk ey bf’ih<150>sh<200>,ihn gr’iy<120>siy<120> p’eyprr.[:ra 160]] [hx`iy p’uhshixz, sh`iy s’ahks (aan r’aak)aend sh`iy fl’ihp<100> flaaps, sh`iy hx’ahmz.] [fr’iy<200> (frr miy<200> _<200> /bl’uw /b’aejh, `yu /s`iy<200>.] [t’rrnstayl t’ihkaxts)aar /spr’aak<100>iytixd _<200> s’aaft, ch’iyp, aend [p’rrpel p’aasaxz.]] [‘aarsixz<100> _<200>(wihth /k’owts)aend /sk’aarvz)aend /s’aendelz.] [m’aen#)m`eyd)aend /str’ehchiy n<150>’aylaxnz, dh`ey s’iht)aend p’iy<250>r (wihth dhehr /’iy<250>rz<150> (aet miy<200>.] [r”awnd w’iy g”ow<400>, [:ra 180] m`eyd (frr w’ahn (aet ax t’aym.[:ra 160]] [ax /g’ey<200>t<200>( frr /miy, aend `iht, tuh g`eht (ihn.] [dh`ey m’aw<200>nt miy ‘ahp)l`ayk ax /k’aw#boy \tr’eyn, [:ra 200]th’rrmaxz, k’aemrrax, b’aeg, b’uhk,m’owr r’aak (frr/ hxrr,hx’aet, (frr /hxihm, aend /hxrr, b’aetrriyz, _ `aend /ih<200>t [:ra 160]] [hx’aenxixnx hx’ehveliy (ihn k’aenvaxs )fraxm dhax /hx’aendel /b’aarz. ax b’eyzh b’aaks. _<500,>d’ehk#taok v’rrzhaxn t’uw p’oynt z’iyrow)ihz r’ahnixnx.] [/w`iy aar y’uwzd tuh /iht.] [dhax t’uwrixsts t’rrn tuh /s`iy<200>.] [ _<200 , 150>wax<350 , 200>t, :np dh`ey s`ey, _<200 , 150>wax<350 , 200>z dhaet?] [may krr’owdixd ch’iyks)s`ey `iht `aol.] [_<200 , 150>’ow<350,200>, s’ow<350,200>riy. `ay<350,200> hxaev n’ehvrr hx’rrd w’ahn (baxfowr [_<100,152>d’rr<500,152>d’rr<500,128>d’rr<250,128>d’rr<250,135.6>d’rr<250,152>d’rr<500,256>d’rr<500,256>d’rr<750,203>:np] [w`iy r’ow<200>l ‘awt.] [sh`iy hx’ahmz)aend hx’ahmz, ehmb’ehraxst r’iyeliy, sh`iy wihl n’ehvrr)f’aynd iht f’ahniy.] [sh`iy s’ahks (aan r’aak) aend l’owdz dhax w’aokmaxn.] [gr’eyselaend.] [hx`iy p’uhshixz axs ‘ahp dhax b’owrdz, p’aest dhax p’eyntixd f’aetiyz)aend dhax b’ihts (axv fl’ehshiy w’ehtnaxs), towrd dhax pr’aw.] [n’aat r’ahshixnx, n’aat r’eynixnx y’eht, baht dhax \pr’aamixs /(axv, dh`ey s`ey?] [hx`iy t’ihps hxihz hx’ehd hx’ay#w’uhd, tuh s`iy dhax bel’uwnz, n`ow dr’aaps /y’eht.] [aend l’ow#w’uh<150>d tuh dhax b’oyz, axbawt tuh \kr’ay,dh`ey th’ihnxk.] [g’eypixnx, l’aefixnx, r’ehdiy tuh sw’aalow dhax w’ihnd.] [`ay f’ihl (ihn.] [dhax b’oy (ihn dhax b’ahbel, _ dh`iy<250,120>z aa<125,120>r dhax<125,120> d’ey<,120>s<100> (ax<250,120>v<100> m’ih<125,120>rax<125,120>kel<250,95>)aen<125,95>d [w’ahn<125,107>drr<125,120>.] [w`iy s’/ihnx.] [dh`ey,l’aef.] [parsrrz /b’ay (wihth l’aaliyz)aend str’ao k’aeps.] [n’ey<220>viy str’ay<200>pt sh’ow<200>rts kl’ihnx tuh p’ihnxk bl’ihstrrd /th’ayz.] [k’aofiy ‘ays, l’ihkt tuh p’iy<200>ks.] [dh`ey s`iy<150> miy<250>, `ay hx’iy<250>r dheh<250>m.] [`ay wuhd l’ayk tuh t`ehl.] [`ay aem dhax dixf’aolt v’oys.] [p’rrfehkt p’aol.] [ax b’ey<250>zh b’aaks.] [hx’ihr (aan dhax p’iyr, `ay aem hx’ihr tuh s”iy.] [`ay /r’owl.] [‘ayrrn, r’ahst)aend ‘owk, `ay hx’iyr `iht.] [aan dhax s’iy<200> s’ayd, `ay hx’iyr dhax s’iy<200>.] [`yu s`iy `ay aem /bl ‘aynd,] [d’iy, t’iy, ‘eh<170>m<100>, ‘ehf, m’ehlaxdiyz, str’ayk ‘ahp),aend `ay l’ihsen.] [hx`iy ihz /sp’iychlaxs.] [w`iy st’ihk tixg’ehdhrr.] [m”ahnxkiyz.] [hx’aenxixnx (fraxm k’aenvaxs str’aeps )fraxm dhax /hx’aendel \baarz, s’aymaxn, n’aat p’aol.] [hx`iy k”arnt s`ey<250> hx’ixm*s”ehlf, axv /k’owrs.] [‘ay /m’ahst.] [ay aem p’rrfehkt /p’aol.] [Chx`iy ihz s’aymaxn.] [ax d’uwow.] [_<500> duw<250,203.2>,duw<120,203.2> duw<120,181> duw<120,181>, duw<120,161.3>, duw<390,161.3> duw<120,152.2>, duw<120,152.2>, duw<120,135.6>, duw<390,135.6> duw<120,120.6> duw<120,120.6>, duw<250,107.6>.] [ax praxsth’ehtixk.] [n’aat ax l’ihm,n’ahthixnx pl’aestixk.] [‘ehr)aend br’ehth, m’iy aend `iht g’ihvixnx v’oys, hx’owldixnx f’owrth.] [ay l`ayk dhax s’awnd (axv may ‘own v’oys `iht s`ehz.] [hx`uw w`uhdent l`ayk /p’aol.] [p’rrfehkt.] [st’ihl.] [dhax \f’ihshrr f’owk, l’iyn)aend st’ihk.] [dh`ey,_<250>w`eyt.] [r’aadz)l`ayk axnt’ehnaxz tw’ih<150>ch<150> tuh dhax k’rraxnt, t’aot, dh’ey w’ey<200>t /t’uw<300>.] [w`iy<150> p’ ae<250> s (b’ay<400>, _ ax hx’ahmixnx, r’owlixnx, s’ahkixnx, s’ihbelaxns.] [[:ra 100]/aw’tsay’d (ihn, /baxhxaynd gl’aes. [:ra 160]] [[:ra 100]/b’eybiy gl’aes b’aobelz s’iyrd s’ihndrr t’aa<200>f`iy), aend bixn’aenax r’aak. [:ra 160]] [m’awthfelz dhaet ch’aep yrr t’aonxg.] [[:ra 120] ih’nsay’d ‘awt (baxhxaynd gl’aes)aend, [:ra 200] t’uw, f’ayv, s’ihks, gr’eysk`eyl p’iyks)aend spr’ey. [:ra 160]] [dhax w’ihnd n’oyz dr’aaps.] [dhax b’oy (ihn dhax b’ahbel, ihn dhax ch’ehr, aan dhax p’iyr, ihz p’uhsht p’aest.] [sh`iy, sh`iy, hx`iy, hxihm,`iht.] [[:ra 140] pr’ehs st’ahd ‘ahp (wihth ‘eh`giy k’aalrrz ),/towrd dhax \pr’aw. [:ra 160]] [fr’aegmaxnts (axv \f’ahn<100>fer<200>, n’aw fl’aet )axgehnst dhax spr’ey.] [w`iy /\l’uhk, sh`uhdent st’aap t’uw m’ahch ‘/ehniy#wey.] [ax hx’ehltrr sk’ehltrr st’iymz)aend /s’ihn<200>xks.] [/dh`ehn.] [`iht spr’eyz t/aa<200>psay<200>’d /daw<250>n _ v”rrtixkelz /naw.] [dhax k’aenvaxs s’owks `iht /’ahp.] [`iht ihz /r’eynixnx.] [w`iy l’uhk (towrd f’owrwrrd, wayl ‘ahdhrrz t’rrn, b’aekixnx ‘ahp (towrd t’awn.] [n’ow f’rrthrr, axks’ehpt (frr dhax ‘eybel b’oyz)aend axs.] [dhax r’eyn)p’owrz (thruw dhax sl’aets)aend (dawn.] [d “eyn”jhr)d”uw n”aat d”ayv.] [/ao<300>f dhax r”eylz, `aol (axv dhehm.] [n’ow m’owr dhaen skw’iykiy /t’ehnz.] [`ay hx’iyr `iht.] [b’oyz t’aytliy sk’ihnd, r’ehdiy tuh p’aap.] [‘owldrr w’ahnz b’iycht)aend b’ehnsht, r’aept ‘ahp)aend pr’uwft, s’iht `iht ‘awt.] [ahndrr dhax p’iyr, dhax t’eh<300>nz<100> b’aa<200>b (axbawt.] [s’ehvaxn sp’iyrz (axv ‘oyliy ‘owk)aar t’ehrixbliy kl’owz, aend dhax b’oyz b’aab kl’owsrr, aend p’aa<250>p, `ay hx”iy<250>r `/iht.] [dh`ehn, r’aept (ihn gr’ey w’uhliyz, w’eht, aend /r’ehd.] [st’iymiy, kr’ayiy.] [dhax t’ehn)ihz p’ahnxkchrrd, /l’iykixnx.] [may hx’aar<400>d, dr’ay<350> , b’ey<400>zh<100>, tr’ayz tuh k’aol.] [`ay skw’iy<150> k ixnst’ehd.] [s’eynt jh’aan)ihz (aan hx’aend, baht r’eh<200>d r’ahnz (thruw dhax sl’aets, [:ra 50]dawn ‘ay<300>rrn, r’ahst)aend ‘owk. [:ra 160]] [`iht p’owrz, v’eynixnx, dh`ehn sl’ihks.] [dhax b’oy<250> ‘eh<100> mptiyz.] [`ay hx’iyr `iht, aend n’ehvrr)fowrg’eht `iht.] [dhax bl’ah<250>d)aend b’oy<300>z /tr’ey<200>l<100> /aof.] [/karst /aof (frr th’rrtiy y’iyrz, dhax v’ey<230>nd p’iy<220>r<100>sl’ihps st’ehdiyliy.] [dhax g’eyts<100> _ r’ah<200>st /sh’aht.] [dhax l’ae<200>st sl’ae<200>ts /r’aa<250>t.] [ihn t’aym f’ay<300>r<100> s’ihndrrz dhax’owk, aend dhax s’iy \b’oylz /r’ah<250>st [\r’ehd.]] [axnxk’ahpeld, ‘aar b’iht hx’aenxz (aan.] [w`iy st’ey<300>.] [w’ehl, way n’aat.] [d’ey<200>njhrr ‘ax<250>n’sey<200>f str’ah<200>kchrr.] [/Koynd’eh<200>mnd.] [aend `iht /sh’awts.] [t’uw<300> b’ae<300> d w`iy st’eyd (aan aend w’ey<150>’ tixd, baht `ay k`uhd hx’iyr, aend s’iy, dhax s”iy, fraxm hx’ihr.] [dhax f”ay<200>r, m’ihst axs.] [n’ow#bahdiy ‘ehls st’eyd.] [axs’yumd l’aast.] [t’uw b’aed.] [aar k’aofiy<100>kr/’iy<250>m<100> p/’iy<220>ks _ <200> dr/’ihp, baht st’ihk f’aest.] [hx`iy p’uhshixz, sh`iy hx’ahmz, sh`iy fl’ihps, aend dhax b’oy (ihn dhax b’ahbel l’uhks ‘awt.] [aend p’aap.] [ay aem ax t’uwrixst (`/fraxm! /W`ehl! _`yu kaen pr’aabaxbliy)/t`ehl, `ay g’ehs?] [jh’ahst (ihn k’eyz, _<500,>d’ehk#taok v’rrzhaxn t’uw p’oynt z’iyrow)ihz r’ahnixnx.] [aend dhax t’ehn)ihz n’aw f’owrtiy.] [layk m `iy.] [`ay hx’iyr tuh s”iy<300>.] [st’ihl hx/’ihr.] [`ay hx’iyr /`iht.]

Chemo café

Chemo café

A delicate me, skinny me, nearly held by the arm
she kindly asks me…as we travel…
My stick her soft click and slip along at a considerate pace
we chat nicely passing by…

Until we pop into
a café cluster of undressed limbs and jackets
trolleys of packets – sugar shakers
every which way they sit up and read and doze and chat too while
signal sentinels dish out liquor
and she attends them and
she helps me into
a comfy chair Dettol fresh wiped
my place and a towel and pillow
“Lovely” a meringue folded under the hurty bit
“That’s great, thanks a lot”
Radio 2 is tuned and light
we wait for our bits or wait…
to check our order is just so

By my chair, my trolley, my packets, stripped one by one
over there lemon drizzle over bare cold caps
intimate with women and men sharing, dripping tips
warm soaked to elbows
towel dry
strapped my limb-bare arm bedded on a pillow
“Yes that’s fine.”
Taped tapped the liquor pops in
in for 30 mins…

Our chemo café is full now
No sticky sicky stuff, just throth, biscuit light
Buzz tickle the whispered hums
We joust and jostle our lightest stuff
No regard for the hard stuff
All good health and hearty

30 mins up.
I am untapped now and she can straighten up.
Time to wrap up.
“Bye, see you next week.”

Station Woods

Station Woods

Jean wee’d in the road opposite the station yard by the wood – station wood, I watched out that no one came. Especially BB.
Then we went and and slashed through stingers with sticks until we had pink bumps all over and they were flat. The leaves are wet and doggy lets lie in them – we did and then dug nose down to the leaf mould snorting out loud. I buried her in leaves with just her face out and stretched between her as a log. In between us grew red hot tips of buried fruit so poisonous – we pressed them for BB.
Out and about, we mucked and ducked and slogged through our leaf dams and ditches welly boot filled up deeper now, we could lay out a safe home with green furred tree roots and plaited creepers and dirt, and servings of bit soup and bark biscuits, we played at secret things behind the backs of lonelys with dogs on leads but not BB
he could not have a dog. Beside us ran a road, narrow enough to almost jump. Jean said jump I jumped and so she jumped her knees dented with grit mine too. A car or two to scuttle from blushing with fear for nothing just for hiding too much more anxious weeing in the road opposite the station yard was just coal and coke – old sleepers tarred men and we weren’t allowed in case of BB.
Then we found a crab. Pink too and whole hard shell. A monster big one. A dead tea we supposed. Chucked out for fun in a dustbin one of two that had grown while we were gone. We could have it. A pink secret for our home in deep. Like a star. Armour legged and clawed a weapon against BB. We let it be.

Her bench

Her bench

Our party stretched out ambled the path
dog trod dozy and hot
twenty or more of us daisy strung together
cousins, fathers, neighbours, sisters, children
buzzing with light chats and field flies.
He leads us in his shuffling suit and stick
Hush-puppy cork sandals and M&S
by the fields and up the hill to her bench
where we pause in awkward clumps
he sits first, alone now, looking through
a view she knew best, to her.

Back past to pictures, framed here
Kodak green, yellow with time, young
sprung with straw and sun and tea in cups in the garden
she poured the years here and there with
trips to Bromley sometimes by train
treats like coffee in Costa or new navy slacks
going to the sea or a cake or a library book or a record
of singing. She who loved this place.
We took turn to perch our flesh summer dressed
On her bench
Then we left her with him.



For dinner

The smell of stomach
Stomach full of gravy curds
Soaked in bicarb lumped milk-yellow and sick with thin lamb fat
Our slip slop swede boiled up in scuffed melamine by Mrs Grevitt

For pudding

Martin and I would swallow the prune stones down
Counting them down perched around the plate
Sucking them down like rough tadpoles
Coughing them up for fear of Grevitt

Clearing up

Jesus tacked on a fireplace on a mountain on a negro on a dinosaur
Lording it with red Grevitt
Spying my plate for illegal smeared scraps
My pockets filled with gristle and string beans and scummy orange sponge
Martin ate his


Alice wouldn’t eat hers and Miss Grevitt struck
Alice sat with her plate at her desk in the playground while we sat in inside
and watched and she didn’t cry ever and didn’t eat that shit.