Music of the moment

‘Weren’t you here before?’, the waitress asks.
‘A while ago’.
He’s conscious that his English accent makes him stick out. Outside the diner windows, tall firs capture the early evening darkness, while trucks thunder past on the old highway. Bright neon reflects on the wet tarmac.
‘There’s really nothing special about me’, he insists, as he sits at a table near the plate glass window. He picks up the laminated menu. ‘It must have been over ten years ago. . .’.
Probably longer.
‘But I sure as hell remember you’, she says.
And he feels a strange connection inside. Sadness mixed with nostalgia. A hint of shame. Some jubilation.
‘I was a different man back then’.
‘You were on some tour, right? You and your . . Your uncle, right? Driving around the country. And you’d just come down from Canada’.
‘Yes’.
‘Oh, I sure remember you!’
So much had changed in the previous ten years. He looks around at the other customers in the diner. Truck drivers, a family in one corner, some lone drivers, a young couple. The rain intensifies and it starts to roll down the plate glass window.
‘You were young’, she says. ‘Mind you, so was I. The world was a different place back then, wasn’t it? Weren’t you drunk?’
‘I probably was’.
‘And we’d never had a Brit in here. Do you remember? We danced . . .’.
Oh, no.
‘Oh, I remember you, honey’.
She stands next to him and taps her long, painted nails on his shoulder.
‘You swept me off my feet. We glided across this very floor, the music was just the same but it was the music of the moment. You treated me like a proper lady for the first time in years. The bums at the counter, oh sure, they were laughing like hyenas. I said to the guys, this here is a real gentleman . Remember that? This here is a real gentleman ‘.
‘As I say, I was . . Different back then’.
‘Oh, I can’t forget someone like you. I really can’t, sugar. So, what brings you back? What brings you back here, to this crummy diner in the middle of nowhere?’
He wants to tell her that he’s retracing his steps, finding himself, doing something in memory of his late uncle, doing something in memory of his self, but it all sounds so trite.
‘I just felt like something to eat’, he lies.
And everywhere he’d been so far, nobody had remembered him at all. And it looked so different, everything looked like it had changed. It was quite dispiriting. Nobody had remembered him.
‘You staying here? For the night? In our little town? There’s a motel next door. Yes sir, you really did treat me like a proper lady’.
He and his uncle had adjoining rooms, and whisky. It was probably one of the very first times he’d even had whisky.
‘I don’t think it was me’, he says.
He gets up from his table by the window.
‘Oh, hon. I always remember a face’.
‘It wasn’t me’, he says.
And he walks away, back to the car, runs across the parking lot in the rain, through the puddles and the neon.

An ode to the wind

I was rifling through an old poetry book the other day, when I came across this rare Wordsworth gem which, for some reason, isn’t held in quite the same regard as most of his other output.

Ode to the wind

O, wind.
Thou blowest.
And when thou blowest
I knowest
Thy fatal draughts do wrench
Yonder the table cloth.

Such as a clarion from the sweetest nymph’s
Fair gob
Do thy breezes expunge all crumbs from said
Table cloth
That I should just reach in,
This accursed room
With the vacuum
Cleaner.

O, wind.
Thou bringest seeds.
Thou maketh me sneeze.
Thou do as thy please,
You unrepentant goat.

O, wind.
Thou blowest from yonder
The strains of distant Swindon.
Thou doth affect my spirits
In much the same manner
As a bad turnip.
O, woe is me!
And woe is thee!
And woe doth be ye,
And I met my neighbour Debs
And woe be her too.
I said, ‘You’re woe, Debs!’
She said, ‘You what?’
I said, ‘You’re woe!’

Thou art in rural settings oft
A pungent foul and pestilential waft
Amid whose invisible fingers doth the autumn leaves
Stir and bring on attacks of the dry heaves.
O wind, thou doest as thou do wish
Just as sure as Percy Shelley’s middle name is Bysshe.

O, wind.
Much as the horseman jumping on his saddle,
And missing,
I don’t half go on.
Thus my ode to the wind endeth ought.
And now over to Bill with the sport.

An ode to Darts

Darts.
Nightly pub-sport spectacle.
Like rhinos line astern gripping tungsten spears.
Darts.
Chunky-reaching cheek-wobbling darts.
Beer belly a-quiver overhanging too wide tee shirt unsolicited stomach glimpse darts.
Spherical hysterical measures out in trebles.
Darts.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Cocky oche-jockeys crafty cockneys dressing sloppy.
Sports-upholding team mate-scolding beer glass-holding.
Carpet shuffling fart-muffling comes away with nothing.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Double-chaser bullseye-maker opponent-hater third-rather.
Forefinger fling-flourish free-form darts throw panache.
Board-seeker tip bounce wire hitting kerplink.
Unlucky, Trev.

Thud. Thud. Kerplink.

Great big belly-man darts-land Leviathan takes a stand.
Meaty meaty clap-hand (nurses darts like baby chicks),
Arrow-flinging darts board-singing double-trimming
Guess who’s winning?

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Trophy-doting low-score-gloating show-boating local scrote
Boozy-wobbling woozy-toppling lazy darts-fling treble twenty
Bar staff aghast, darts stars laugh, fast darts dance, last chance,
Bust.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Last game, the same again, self-same blame game.
In the team lean, seeming so keen, trophy a gleam, he’s a darts machine!
No pain no gain, no gain, no fame, oh, the shame!
Sudden-death shootout, league-topping bullseye-aiming,
Thud, pretty nifty, scores a fifty, more’s the pity,
Geddin my son quivering tentative there the dart itself hanging like a
Swan so graceful in its beauteous flight betwixt chubby
Sweating fingers slow-mo revealing the under belly wobble
Suspended in mid air aerodynamic like the philosophic truth
Writ large straight into the exact centre of the board!

Unlucky, Trev.
Unlucky, Trev.
Unlucky, Trev.

See you all next week?

On a poet discovering he’s dyslexic just before his 47th birthday

So I always knew there was something amiss but in all honesty I just assumed I wasn’t very bright. Yet I have a Masters degree, and an Undergraduate degree, and several A Levels, so I knew what I was capable of.

In the latter part of 2020 I decided to have a look into this and take some tests, especially as I have always had short term memory problems and hey presto, along with one in five people, I was diagnosed as being dyslexic.

But then so are Whoopi Goldberg, Jim Carrey, so was John Lennon, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci and even Albert Einstein.

So in other words, it’s no biggy. And if anything, it helps with problem solving. Dyslexic people have an amazing ability to see through the faff and get to the truth because that’s what they’ve been doing their whole lives.

Anyway, I thought I’d write a poem explaining how it feels.

On a poet discovering he’s dyslexic just before his 47th birthday

It’s not that the words danced around,
It’s just that there were too many of them,
Some sentences so convoluted
My head would shut down
Like a fizz of static on an old TV,
I’d overheat,
Sweat pouring from my brow.

I’m a poet, right?
Words are meant to be my playthings.
But it just felt more that they were
Playing with me,
Toying with me,
Hiding the truth behind the very words
Which the more competent people around me were using
To convey that very truth.
Doesn’t a bad worker
Always blame his tools?

In management meetings,
Words,
Too many of them,
Too many concepts,
Too much abstraction
Piled and peppered in paragraphs on the page,
They’d bland themselves into the blandground
And I’d try to pick them out,
Catch them, these
Multisyllabic monsters plucked
Between thumb and forefinger,
And I’d scream,
‘I know what you mean individually!
But together,
It’s all nonsense!
For goodness sake, just behave!’

And I’d leave the meeting,
The lesson, the symposium, the convention,
The workshop, the lecture, the presentation
Hot and sweaty and thinking
Everyone around me were superheroes
Because they understood everything at the very first attempt.
‘And now we come onto
‘Socio-economic considerations in means tested arts funding
Community-based stakeholder applications’.
And I’d
Have absolutely no idea,
And I’d ask someone
And they knew every nuance
So I’d pretend that I did too.

Perhaps I always knew something were amiss.
I could never take directions, or phone calls,
Or even simple instructions without
Writing it down and re-reading it five, six, seven times.
Now just slow down, slow down,
Let me write this, let me make some notes,
What do you mean you’re not going over it a second time?
Those bloody words again!
You’re meant to be my friends!

Sure, I can write like no-one’s business,
And tap dance on the precipice of literary expression.
But open my mouth
And I’m as erudite as a stunned slug.
You see that line that I just wrote, there?
I could never have uttered that in real life.
It takes me the best part of the morning
To come up with something so spontaneous.

This whole time,
I thought that words were my friends.
But close my eyes and they dance.
It turns out
They were always there.
They were only cheating on me.

The day my underpants caught fire

Poem

The day my underpants caught fire
Is one I recall
With tears in my eyes.

Someone said,
‘Stop your whingeing’.
I said, ‘I can’t.
There’s some serious singeing.
My boxers are aflame’.

There I was
Acting all nonchalant
When WOOF!
(I saw a dog).

The troubles of the world
Which I am shouldering
Are as nothing compared
To the smouldering
Of my crotch.

How I wish that someone
Would tackle the blaze
Before my tackle
Were ablaze.
This unsolicited Y-front inferno
Is no work of fiction
It was caused
By friction.
Some serious consternation
Caused by this conflagration.
Cheap nylon.
Climatic variables
And a fair amount of chafing
When I ran for that bus
Excuse me, no smoking in here,
Said the driver,
Wisps emanating from my trousers.

For the safety of other passengers,
Please take care
As you alight.

Sometimes they don’t come back

Sometimes they don’t come back

And the community
Close knit at best
Comes together.

A friend of a friend
Went to sea
And he never returned
And nor did his mate
And it felt
Like everything
Was closing in.

There’s a statue on the quay,
Man and Boy.
It became a focus
And everyone left tributes.
This town
Has no secrets.

Flames flickered
In the autumn breeze
Under overcast skies.
Floral offerings
Heartfelt outpourings
The town
A shoulder.

And the grief
Never seems to go.
It’s unimaginable.
You can’t even begin.

Souls entrust in each other
That every boat which sales
Carries an extra presence
Acknowledged but never seen.

Because
Sometimes
They don’t come back.

Seaside Soul : A Poem for Paignton

New poem! I performed this a couple of weeks ago at Paignton Palace Theatre and people have been asking to see it online. It’s a love letter to my home town of Paignton. It’s also featured in my new show Yay! The Search for Happiness, and my forthcoming book Yay!, to be published by Burning Eye.

Seaside soul.

This town is not torrid, nor tainted nor brazen,
This tornado of flavours,
Chip shops and chopsticks and packets of Quavers,
Savour its layers and nautical sailors.

Barbers and harbours and car parks and mars bars
A beer at the Pier Inn while peering at the pier thing
A stride and a stroll
But hide from the gulls your hot sausage rolls
It’s the way that we roll
With our seaside soul.

High tide drip dry nick nack paddywhack
Picnic and a packamac
Promenade flapjack
Sand in your rucksack
Sand in your flapjack
Sand in your arsecrack
Let’s go to the pub.

Cinema chick flicks
Candy floss, pick n mix
Fish n chips, kiss me quick
Think I feel sick!

Ring road surf shack seaweed stink
Caravan holiday
It’s worse than you think
Dodgy dodgy plumbing and a blocked up sink.
Big bands and jazz hands, gleaming sands and
One night stands
You probably will not understand
It’s ain’t no hole
With your seaside soul.

Amusements, bemusement,
Soup of the day
The all day breakfast
Only served till midday
Have you paid and displayed?
Grab your bucket and spade!
You’ll never be dismayed
Memories fade
But your heart will always stay.

This frisky town this sea breezy town
This cream tea scene of green seas and freezing dips
Donkey rides and cheesy chips
Ice cream by the bowl
We’ve got seaside soul.

Dancing like lovers on the prom in the rain
The hot pulse of life adding fire to my brain
The legs of the pier stride deep in the brine
Let’s dance once more time, say you’ll be mine
We laugh and we grin and we howl at the ships
The night is afire and it smells just like chips
You bend for a kiss like a child with a doll
You asked what’s for dinner, I said, seaside soul.

To the ghost ships

An ode to the ghost ships

Through the mists of a calamity
In a year we never asked for,
The long arm of our shoreline bay
Offered you anchorage at first only
For commercial reasons.

Yet your streamlined sleek and tower block decks
Formed a fleet of imaginary towns,
Dark horizon Christmas trees with an
Imaginary population, new neighbours.

In a world of sudden restrictions you became
A local secret, an impossibility of the soul,
A solace as onerous as the mournful horns
Adding an extra solemnity for remembrance,

Seeing out this accursed year, or those
Poor fishermen who would never return.
We can sing sweet lullabies, dainty and plaintive
Though none can compare to your industrial symphony,

A blast of the horn as unsubtle as anything!
On foggy mornings you layer the imagination,
Ethereal in the gloom your hulking gross tonnage
A link to a world beyond immediate geography,
Ghost ships, haunting the present with voyages past.

Image Ian Williams