Friday, 28 May 2010

Sanzaru


Under the glare of a Tesco sign

The triumvirate sits and waits,

Each in their own way observing failures

That can be excused but not explained.

At first it was a lie that became a promise,

Then a truth which was in turn a threat

Like something meant to be whispered

But said out loud instead.

What each one lacks is made up for

By the faculties of the other two,

But their solitary virtues are just

Distractions from instinctive vice.

Just as a deed without a thought

Is defined by the other’s absence,

They linger by the cash machines

Like shadows cast without light.



Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Soundless


He returns in no-battery mobile screen darkness

And the frozen-fire streetlights cast him

Out of ash and dust as though he were

More a sculpted shadow than a man.

Discarded newspapers fail to bridge

Shallow pools of blood-streaked urine,

Whilst screams heard dimly through doors

Turn the hall into a whispering gallery.

An insect with missing limbs, he starts

To ascend the stairs careful not to step

On needles which glisten against the tiles

Like tiny spikes of space shuttle exhaust.

Sickly fumes and music make the air pulse

With memories of his shift at the checkouts,

And alcoholic local kids remind him

That he can’t take himself seriously.

In the silver-veined safety glass of his door

His own reflection catches him for a moment,

Like a rag-and-bone kid in a favela using

An open sewer as a wishing well.


Sunday, 16 May 2010

Forward!

So here it is. The thing I've been nagging myself about for ages. A real blog.

My aim is to keep this page updated on a regular basis with new poems, short stories and various other assorted literary curiosities for your enjoyment or derision.

To those of you already familiar with my work, you know what to expect. If you're a new reader then, welcome and I hope you've found what you've been looking for.

Regards and all the best,

C.J.

Current Collection Archive

Given that I've made the move to this blog whilst only part way through my current project, I thought it made sense to re-post my most recent work so that the whole collection will be accessible in one place once it's completed.


Real Estate


They didn’t replace the windows

But patched them over with metal,

And the doors were good enough

Just simply boarded up.

On the lawns old cars took root

Some rusted others burnt out,

Where in the water tower’s shadow

Nothing else would grow.

Streetlight bulbs gradually fizzled

Like ideas half had whilst sleeping,

And the rancid gloom quickly became

A reason not just an excuse.

Footsteps faltered at the sound of

Cackling from an underpass,

Long-beaked birds neither flew or sung

But watched and waited hungrily.

Though that place is no longer home

The locals remain locked within,

As shadows and reflections

That refuse to fade.



Pipe Dream


At hastily rearranged desks

Teachers flick through books,

Wrinkling their noses at smells

That remind them of their youth.

Local adults display their pride

Without really knowing why,

Their lessons were no different

And they clearly didn’t learn.

Exam results are handed out

And rapidly compared,

In order to determine who will

Get useless letters after their names.

The clever ones strut away planning

How to spend future tuition funds,

Not yet knowing the consequences of

Being educated at a comprehensive.

The less excellent remain

In slightly despondent groups,

Fresh leavers not willing to voice

Suspicions that border on fears.

In time they will all become

Parents who wonder what they

Really want for their children;

Fame, fortune and success or

Just not being overly miserable

When they realise that a

Polyester, corporate uniform and

A name badge with a smiley-face

Will be the best they’ll ever get.



Hawk


He won a prize


For the photograph that hangs

In a neat metal frame above

The mantelpiece where he keeps a

Few impressive books that he’s never read.

Journalists labelled it “career defining,”

Admirers an “iconic classic,”

Whilst galleries paid fortunes to have it

“At the heart of their collections.”

But as he sits and drinks alone

He can’t quite put his finger on

What exactly it is supposed to be

That everyone claims to love.

It’s not the weeping children

Or the old man with no limbs,

And it’s not the soldiers idling

Unsure of what they’ve done.

Perhaps, it’s the shattered windows

Or the broken, leaking pipes;

Maybe it is the crumbling crater

With a tractor wrecked within it.

But no, it must be that shadow

Out in the cropless fields where

Contractors plan what not to build

Until they’ve had their share.

Like Shurpin’s gentle reminder

That patch of darkness lingers;

A thought you wish that you didn’t have

Or a nightmare that doesn’t end on waking.



Limited Stock


Outside in the delivery yard we talk

About different kinds of nothing,

Whilst hourly cups of tea mark

How little time we have left.

Even though it is still today

We already remember tomorrow,

As we each claim to be distracted by

Personal injuries and page three slags.

Office block mirrored windows reflect

Clouds from the eyes of kids

Sniffing fumes in a park and fighting

Over who is worth the least.

We grumble about the stink from

The nearby pet food factory,

And wonder if just for once this

Weekend we will not drink too much.

Every moment is treated like it’s backed

By that tune from Requiem for a Dream,

Whilst we joke about it making no difference

If we simply ceased to exist.



310159


Cold coffee makes you wince

As you fumble with your wage slip

Checking for missing overtime pay,

Although your time is so worthless

You don’t notice that it’s missing.

All the days blend into one and

Every hour spent stacking shelves

Is time lost to a waking coma,

And although hope is all you have

It only makes things worse.

The more there is to talk about

The less you have to say,

Concerning what you could or

Would or should have done if you’d

Been born into a better postcode.

Every thread you wear is a chain

That binds Far East Asian kids

To sewing machines for life,

Your clothing stealing the pride

That they will never even know.

You do not sigh so much as force

Each and every lungful of breath

As your dignity forgets itself,

And the people you would like to love

End up hating you the most.

They all know how old you are

Because of how young you try to look,

And nothing can ever truly hide the

Darkness crawling beneath your skin or

The tears forming at the corners of your eyes.



‘Meh’


The freshly mopped floor glitters

Like broken glass at the side of a road,

And I wonder if the brand of beer I buy

Will determine the kind of drunk I’ll get.

At the end of an aisle, two women talk about

Their babies, holidays and the weekend;

Both members of Shelfstackers Anonymous

Who’ve not noticed how dull their eyes are yet.

A manager adjusts his cheap polyester tie

Using his reflection in a drinks fridge to

Convince himself his paperwork is important

And that he would not be easily replaced.

Nearby a school kid, proud of his first job,

Tugs along a rollcage full of frozen meat

And does his best to think of the future whilst

Not looking his trolley-boy father in the eyes.

At the checkout I double take at a face

I remember but wish that I didn’t

Because it reminds me of all they said

I wouldn’t, but nevertheless did, become.

Flinching as thoughts of fucking flicker

Through my mind like staff announcements,

I tuck my debit card back into my wallet as

Imagined pillow-whispers become rain in the distance.



No Mixed Coin


I remember tomorrow

Was once worth the weight

Of all those yesterdays spent

Hoping today would be better.

But now even my skin counts

The shadows of hours as they pass,

And every thought is like staring at

A blank concrete wall forever.

Pulses of fluorescent light break

Like waves at the end of the world

As obese, adolescent mothers discuss

How much more benefit they deserve.

Empty lager cans tumble across

Freshly pedestrianised streets and

PCSOs stop and search themselves

Because you never can be too careful.

A child sulks outside a shop whilst

His parents rummage around a clearance sale,

And he wonders if just for the attention

He should accuse his teachers of being molesters.

In a basement office past the close of trade

A man sits hunched at his desk,

Scrolling through his emails and

Dreaming of the stars that he’ll never see.



Growth


Alone it stands on a distant hill

With limbs that quiver with whispers,

And roots plunged so far in the dirt

That Atlas has been made redundant.

It buds late with crimson crescents

That shroud themselves and fall

In elaborate spirals as if just the

Effort could make each leaf a martyr.

Blooms like sparks of cobalt flame

Cluster along the thickest branches

And with their inoffensive scent

Disguise the stench of moulding wood.

From gashes in its gnarled skin

It haemorrhages aureolin drool,

Which trickles along the bark

Like fat down a double chin.

An ambrosial feast of leaf, petal and sap

Waits for those who can leech off the tree,

But it has no way of providing or weeping

For what withers in its shade.



Voskhod


We call those kids the future

Whilst they stare at screens in a window

As if the chat show hosts can provide

Meaning for their accidental lives.

Distant sounds drown out the rush

Of blood to the head as they find

The measure of themselves vomiting

Outside the local Wetherspoons.

Entitlement makes the youngest smirk

And no one ever stops to tell them

How soon the older ones start to learn

That they are just like everyone else.

So they talk of our old ambitions

Like priests about the dead;

But what the truth has stolen from us,

Hope will never promise them.



Privilege Extended


Unfortunately, a thought occurs

And guilt compels me to take notice

Only after the fact of feeling

That I’m being throttled by time.

Such sinister densities of the mind

In the passing of a single moment,

Turn my monthly wages into

How much my life is worth.

When reading the problem pages

I find that I can only smile,

Because laughing at the suffering of others

Keeps my own from seeming worse.



Scene Selection


A child stumbles, clutching

At his own throat for breath

Whilst shapes in the distance

Struggle to redefine their reasons.

Like animals dying from the exhaustion

Of squabbling over scraps in the shadows

Men chant and scream as though rage

Had become just another slogan.

A father finds himself weeping

Whilst choking shrouds descend

And glorious promises turn to shrapnel

That shreds the skin from his skull.

Photographers turn into fortune tellers

Seeing the future written in broken glass

As a police horse drags its rider’s corpse

Down trash-strewn, abandoned streets.

A mother simply stands and watches,

Her judgement already passed

As she considers the grave

Thought that makes her go on.



Not for Individual Resale


The spider’s legs tremble

Across a gap in its web,

Like words that said when weeping

Express only the thought of feeling.

Pale and slow the sun rises

In the wake of a turning page,

As paper and ink become ash falling

On the state of things entire.

And so we seek to bargain

With what our grief has bought,

Unable or rather unwilling

To admit what is being sold.



The Gates


As the hour grew late and I stooped

In the street to tie my shoe laces,

The world turned pale at a glance

Into a painted-over shop window.

There amongst gnarled webs of pigment

Sphincter-mouthed spectres dribbled

Over fields of gossip magazine pages,

Whilst television talent show contestants

Flogged tapes of their evisceration.

Full-fleshed footballers played barefoot

On well-tended fields of burning coins,

Logos stitched into their skin to remind them

That their contracts turned their names to brands.

Kiddie fiddlers were forced to abandon

The protection of more tolerant courts,

As screeching gangs of juvenile offenders

Drowned them in vats of torn off genitalia.

Soldiers in tattered uniforms traipsed about

Following misguided orders from all sides,

As blood bubbled like magma from the ground whilst

Splinters of searing iron poured from the blasted sky.

Bankers still plying their trade, stood in howling circles

As torrents of razorblade notes flayed their skin,

Their withered souls then herded to buy back

The source of all their suffering.

Emaciated, suited shades were chained

To the cogs of gigantic designer label watches,

Or held aloft in screaming winds of execration

That mocked them with a lifetime’s worth of lies

And erased their names as fast as they were engraved.

Worse still were the silent, ash-carved hordes

Who stood watching but could not act,

Unable to raise their voices to question

Or even beg for the horrors to stop.

In the midst of that relentless maelstrom

Of endless carnage and eternal woe,

There in glacial shackles I stooped at my

Understanding of being equally condemned.