hum

the hum of the bathroom fan
the last chopper out of saigon
the flickering death of a strip light
the deathly lick of a flick knife
the gurgle of water leaving the bath
the bloody froth on a gaping mouth
the flush of shit from the toilet bowl
the empty hollow of hunger’s howl

the fresh linen sheets smell of lavender
the stench of the landfill scavenger
the creams that ease the pains and sores
the exodus from the fields of war
the rattle of rain on an old tin roof
the submachine gun’s final proof
the free thoughts gently running riot
the police shots that bring disquiet

the art that hangs on suburban walls
the relics smashed when a culture falls
the sunset walk along a sandy beach
the napalm girl with arms outstretched
the shelves of plenty in the grocery store
the hands reach out for a few grains more
the charity that we give
the bloody lives we live

and so it turned out

loud guitar intro

turns out you was an alcoholic
and in trying to keep up with you
all that loving made me sick
all that drink and all that worry
I couldn’t stop the feeling, sorry
I couldn’t stop the spending either
I blamed my selfish self
I blamed your deadbeat dad
I blamed your bear of a bastard brother
where the fuck you got the money
only your Irish Catholic god knew
where it went
where it went

it blew and blew right through
the rusted legs of Brighton pier
it sprayed its bleary eyed and salty tears
right through the narrow Lanes
calling to the derelicts to drain
their tomorrow sorrows today
drink to forget
drink to forget
drink to forget
but you couldn’t forget the mantra
and you wouldn’t tell me what the fuck
you were drinking to forget

so we drank some more
and we smoked some more
and we drunkfucked a little less
the thrill was leaving us I guess
the Marlboro reds still glowed
and we kept spliffing up the blow
we had stones for beds
friends floors for beds
hard floors for beds
other people’s
slept in beds
for beds

and for company once
we had the clouds of Michelangelo
executed on a bedroom ceiling
what a weird and dizzying feeling
living like Kafka
sharing our vodkas
Sid and Nancy punk rockers
bare naked light bulbs dangling
I couldn’t keep my hands off your body
under those clouds we were somebody
fuck, it felt good

we were loud too
innocence long since ploughed
can’t remember the soundtrack we played
the tunes are all mixed and frayed
like the years, months and days
the tides came and went with a stab to the heart
we split when you left rehab
the fun had all but disappeared
the beach strewn with empty cans of beer
Schlitz and Special Brews
the vodka bottle run dry
no more reasons why

you melted back into the night
a ghost from those dark alley ways
out of sight but never out of my mind
haunting me
haunting me

loud guitar outro

not altogether clear

it’s not altogether clear
how we made it here
your brother’s house
somewhere near Elm Grove
on a settee, you and me
the washed up night’s debris
and there you fucking are
in my baggy blue jumper
must’ve lent it to you earlier
though where we go from here
is not altogether clear
when two worlds collide
those worlds can’t run and hide
your life versus mine
like we both stepped out of line
but somehow that seems fine
and there you are sleeping
in my two dead tingling arms
afraid to move in case
that drunk smile on your face
is lost from my close up view
dried vodka spittle lips on you
smeared make up, angular hips
morning breath, white as death
no, it’s not altogether clear
what the fuck I’m doing here
think I’m falling in love with you
but then again I don’t know you
what and when and why and who
did this thing just really happen
seems a long time since back then
the vods, the beach, the first kiss
I’m not altogether sure about this
I’m gonna need a piss soon
there’s light coming in from the moon
or is it morning coming out too soon
so frail and helpless
in a world that couldn’t care less
just see if I can ease myself out
you’re still out for the fucking count
there’s cramp in my shoulder
I drank so much I’m sober
happens that way sometimes
gotta piss, gotta leave this house
your brother’s fucking house
for fuck’s sake it’s getting late
it’s getting early, can’t stay and wait
for you to wake and then what
your brother comes downstairs
a growling hungry hungover bear
and then what, and then what
it’s not altogether clear
my nose in your ear
I’m sliding to the floor
crawling to the door
I’m out in the cold air
I’ve left you there, in there
wearing my baggy blue jumper
I must’ve given it you earlier
I light the last Marlboro red
first rays of sun stroke my head
takes a piss behind his shed
still taste your vodka lips on mine
it’s like we both stepped out of line
not altogether clear how this came about
how we made it here, made it there
and will we find each other again
any some fucking where

falling

she crashed through the door
bought liquor, Marlboro reds
staggered about, left, came back
another crash, she swung about
bells ringing like it’s Sunday
not Saturday night, late night
about to close up, pull the shutters
tally up the takings, light my own
long drag in, dim the strips
want to join me she says
but I’m shy, she’s drunk
whole town is drunk, me I work
it’s late, night is young
tempted, what the fuck, fuck it
come on, she laughs at me
there’s a hint of Irish in her smile
momentarily mesmerised
who is this girl, where did she
where did see come from, drunk
done, locked, doors shut, locked
it’s all locked, check again
hey what you waiting for
she holds the bottle to her lips
vodka, it’s vodka, it’s a Stoli
shit I gave to her cheap
she holds out her hand and
you know what, I’m falling
let’s go to the beach, she says
but it doesn’t sound like that
words slurred, vodka lips
take her hand, just take it
it’s a short walk, alleys, bars
late night, shouts in the dark
she passes me the bottle
the vodka taste of lipstick
mesmerised, I’m falling
we stumble onto the beach
stones in banks, steepish slopes
finding the right angle
not too steep, not too flat
vodka lips, vodka breath
it’s a Stoli, gave it cheap
make up the rest tomorrow
exchanging names, falling
she shouts my name, loud
echoes on the water
echoes on the moon
our faces reflected in the bottle
Marlboro red glow
midnight sunset eyes
fingers in fingers in hair
in her mouth, biting
and I’m falling for her
this drunk girl, the beach
we’re part of the night
we’re part of each other
no turning back, falling
me for her, her for him
there’s something more there
behind the bravado, subtle
a story to tell, unfolding
falling, the night is falling
we’re both falling and then
what will happen, what next
we don’t fucking care

when I go back

when I go back I ask
are you still there?
the memories drift down the river
remember the water on our toes?
I watch them from the chalky hill
remember the chalk on our skin?
they rush under bridges
I search for your reflection there
lingering past pubs and familiar places
we were without a care then
wending their way through the town
hand in hand the two of us and more
like a gang of gulls out on the piss
on the beach and under the stars
suddenly swirling high above the church
remember the shooting star on New Year’s Eve?
heads cocking from side to side
back to yours for more I remember
eyeing up the potential possibilities below
sneaking up the familiar stairs at 3am
unrecognisable faces in the crowds below
would we recognise each other now?
I was born here yet who do I know?
you left and now you are a stranger
searching under all the familiar stones
I leave none unturned
but of course no-one is expecting you
there are so many stones upon this beach
a dying man circling above his past
a dying man walking these empty streets
looking down at his own familiar loss
the sea breeze beckoning me
why not go there – head out to sea?
out – out to sea – but where?
maybe try your luck in a different land
and there will I be free . . ?

chasing

what was it
that I was chasing
way back when
I rode my dreams
by sea and Downs
and river paths
and later
holding onto
aquamarine railings
a hungover sun
squinting on the horizon
gulls prospecting
the promenade
for breakfast
before the tramps
rose from their slumbers
like preserved timbers
exposed at low tides
I wanted
what they wanted
a dream of something
out of reach
soaked in sun
and Special Brew
the shingle on the beach
made us stagger
drunk on love
and laughter
but love is a lie
you said
but I wouldn’t believe that
I kept on chasing
chasing . . .
chasing . . .

boneyard

the thing i'm struggling with most is 
simply finding a comfortable position in 
which to sleep at night when my bones scrape
through the parchment stretched like a canvas
on which an artist daubed all the colours of
his palette with a knife once reserved for
cutting their bread into slices of time that
gathered blue spots of mould reminiscent of
summer skies shot blasted with sea spray
seen from under a curling wave in which
we tumble down green seaweed grass hills to
end our days in a graveyard overlooking the
town in which our mothers have spread their 
legs and forced our heads screaming for air 
through bloodied soil and our ancestors bones
bleached on the beaches where they walked

under a Brighton moon

in our palatial bedsits
punk posters on the walls
we stared into the smoke screen
can’t tell what we saw
can’t tell what we saw

and down the street
at the end of the street
between the sky and dirty gutters
is where we used to drink
is where we used to drink

we drank to get drunk
we got drunk to forget
we forgot why we’d even started
until the time was spent
until the time was spent

and down below the pier
on the dead and pebbled beach
the tramps all licked their wounds
just like they were dogs
just like they were dogs

yet still we wanted more
a line from a song or more
any something more we could score
to take our breath away
to take our breath away

under a Brighton moon
the glow of cigarette butts
stars safety pinned to the night
it’s all so long ago
it’s all so long ago

it’s all so very long ago
much longer than a lifetime ago
now it’s pulled out from under your feet
oh such a cruel fate
oh such a cruel fate

Hove 1985

she stood where the waves turned to leave
a smiling line of debris on the shore
he looked back over his shoulder
a line of grey buildings washed away
when she waved the sea came in
when he waved back the sea went out
somewhere very deep inside
they were both crying