Telegrams from the 1970s

Written several years ago but recently dusted off at an event (via an iPhone recording due to my absence in person – love technology) connected with the Folkestone Triennial which has brought it back to the forefront of my mind.
 
BARBIES LINE UP IN A ROW STOP KEN SCORES THEM OUT OF TEN STOP HE LIKES THEIR LEGS STOP HE LIKES THEIR TITS STOP WHICH ONE OF THEM IS GOING TO WIN?

 
It was the heyday

of Miss World and Girl’s World

women were educated

from the get go

to go get a man
 

bag yourself a husband

juggle double standards

be the debutant

be the sweetheart

be that plastic dolly

with a university degree

and a double D up top

 

smash glass ceilings

fight for equal pay

try to break the mould

but first and foremost

be a mother and a home-maker

 

and in this girl’s world

it was essential to remember

that He’s in charge

 
CHILDREN ARE MESSY STOP FAR TOO LOUD STOP WHEN DADDY IS DRUNK DON’T ANSWER BACK STOP DON’T MAKE A SOUND

 

Blackbirds pull worms

out of his head

in the blue light

 

he stumbles over coffee

stomach churning

darning holes snagged

on his drinking

 

as dawn shakes

and paracetamol

rattles and rolls

 
he will put the brakes on

when mum leaves him

 

DO AS I SAY STOP NOT AS I DO STOP DO AS I SAY STOP OR NO-ONE WILL EVER LOVE YOU

 
Lipstick smart and desperate

she flaunts a large glass

of Chardonnay to

hush the dots and dashes

flashing in her head

as she Elastoplasts

her missing parts

 

with a husband

with a swinging cot

with a new kitchen

with a black labrador

with a wrought iron clock

for the mantlepiece

 

Until the night she meets a man

let’s call him Ken

he likes her legs

he likes her tits

he wants to score her out of ten

so he offers her a lift

then stops the car

 
SOS TOO DRUNK TO SPEAK STOP SOS THINKING STOP CQD DO AS HE SAYS STOP CQD SINKING

 

Blackbirds pull worms

out of her head

in the blue light

 

she stumbles over coffee

stomach churning

darning holes snagged

on her drinking

 

as dawn shakes

and paracetamol

rattles and rolls

 

she puts the brakes on

learns that every day

holds a new beginning

 

she finds hope

she grows a voice

she knows fellowship

she learns self-respect

 

but she never forgets

that sweet little girl

so badly glued together

with messages made from

dashes and dots

 

Our eyes meet

she flashes me a smile

because it’s not the

seventies any more

and telegrams are

obsolete

 

STOP

Advertisements

of karmic debt paid 

You were soft charm
and hard sparks
and so was I
 
Together
 
a hurricane
the best of times
 
We were rare
and roared like angels
who had come home
 
But mirrors sharply expose
any and all
of our unresolved pain
 
We can use the nails to build a life
or to seal a coffin
 
and sometimes healing arrives
after a journey has come to an end
 
So now I’m a new beginning
 
I’m whole on my own
I can hold my own
and because of us
I know I can love my own too
 
and I’ll always hold onto the echo
that beats in time with you
 
Thank you for being poetry
 
and in another life
I might be lucky enough
to again run into my other half
 
Then perhaps we can sit together
under the Bodhi tree

Staycation

I meditated this morning.

Trying to find a bigger

space

in the smaller space I currently inhabit.

Days become heavy with illness.

The light lasts longer

yet seems much further away.

The breath helps.

But it’s the first coffee of the day

that reassures me.

I am still alive.

I cried yesterday

and the day before.

I’ll probably cry later today.

But it’s not all Eeyore.

There is beauty too.

Minutes of deep appreciation

for the love in friends and family and myself

to tidy the fear away.

And books and words and TV

Though when I watch yet another episode of dodgy American sci-fi

the other voice in my head keeps turning  up to remind me

it’s not a fucking holiday. 

Bitten by the rainy city

Dancing in the dark she feels
the strings of her heart
interconnected

          We were animals/seduced by urban nitrate

He catches his reflection in the puddles on Oxford Road. Easier to look down. He used to daydream. Used to look back too. Back to years when Da took a leave from absence and they learnt to love those pigeons. Learnt so much that just like Da he flew South. To find himself.

          Desperately seeking further education/ red brick
          factory skylines/ home comforts and a phone line
          to mother/ three hundred long miles

Couldn’t keep the McJob. Couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Couldn’t even keep a squat in Hulme. Got scooped up by the local dogcatchers. Groomed. Rehomed. Dignity blown away in a storm of powder nights. Kick a man while he’s down, why don’t you. He rubs the recent bruising, strategic and under his ribs. He’s been a bad boy.

alive with the strobes on the ceiling

          only really rising as dusk falls/ her halogen
          shines on in our flawless skin/ hypnotized

For the punters only. He’s been told a punch of times. But what do they expect. Standing on the edge, of pavements, the hustle, from late till the end of the night. He’s not a bloody automaton. Got to rub something on the gums. Keep him able to sell anything gift wrapped in a Rizla. Have some fun kids. Look where it got me.

          Called to the boom and the jungle/ shoe gazing
          the jumping off point/ unpackaged
          this is living/ forget about/ everything

alive with this beautiful feeling

Wondering if the manager of The Firkin will let him sink a dram. An exchange for stacking empties. A little pot wash too. His lilt and the tall tales remind the old man of Derry, his own. He needs a little fire on this Baltic night of frosty eyes and pork pie legs. He thinks about the lasses on the game huddled under the bridges on Whitworth Street West. Wannabe mothers the lot of them, always a kind word for the lost boys like him.

the first to unbottle this genie

          A warehouse flirtation/ rough round the edges
          until dawn/ we become book-ends
          wear badges/with honour

He steers well clear. Always want something, women. Nearly at the nightclub door, he scours the line for the half-cut in need of a pick-yer-up or a bright light. Pockets notes, palms punters off with wraps of dash and be happy. Keeps a couple. Even the undead need to kick-back with a pipe and pretend they’re living.

ethereal
violets and auroral green
these northern dreams