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

a-holding hands we’d go

i used to walk on pebbles in bare feet
high as the moon on Schlitz and pain killers
the cigarette smoke spiralling out of control
like the helter skelter on the edge of the pier
that appeared to be toppling into the sea
or was that me teetering on the edge of my own insanity?

you buried me there
amongst the seashells & cigarette butts
a cairn of pebbles piled upon my chest
that made for heavy breathing
a labour of love and lust & longing
for a morning that would bring us back to earth
with a crash and burn and a song and dance
a-holding hands we’d go

ingrained

the park, the river, the beach
dried leaves from horse chestnuts
bottle tops in squelchy mud
the driftwood of weathered huts

I circle around those memories
like a seagull searching for grub
the trees, the bridges, the horizon
my friends in the cricket club

I’m off to hunt out stag beetles
or mice under corrugated sheets
my day spent in silent solitude
with the birds and bumble bees

the chalk, the grass, the blue skies
marking white arrows on gates
rolling down steep hillsides
watching red admirals contemplate

you can’t take the boy out of the man
the landscape from out of his eyes
it’s ingrained like rings of truth
every year that flies on by

 

Thirty-Six Views of the South Downs (after Hokusai)

1. A Great Wave at Shoreham-by-Sea

swallowing water
spume tentacles drag under
laughing children dive

2. Light Winds and Clear Skies

endless summer sun
red bicycles and ice creams
mackerel clouds lurk

3. Rainstorms

beneath the thunder
unhappy memories float
loss of a father

4. Under the New Flyover

hiding out in nooks
traffic rumbling overhead
a den of devils

5. Awakenings

after school romance
secret kisses in phonebox
homework holding hands

6. Chestnut Trees in the Park

ancient sentinels
climbing high for prize conkers
pride hung by a thread

7. The Other Side of the River

with horses watching
releasing frogs from buckets
city kids delight

8. Climbing Mill Hill

new road through cut chalk
a searing white scar dazzles
diagonal path

9. In a Field on Mill Hill

golden straw crackles
lovers lie in crop circles
distant views ignored

10. Wind in Our Faces

heads bent into gales
on the cusp of adulthood
exam notes scattered

11. Shops on the High Street

toy cars in boxes
furtively pocketing stock
crime and punishment

12. Sunset Across the Old Toll Bridge from the Bank of the River

blood on the water
light ripples beckon and sway
a swan bends its neck

13. St. Nicholas Church, Old Shoreham

cassocks and cold stone
holy communion wine
mysterious world

14. The Marlipins Public House

thick snow like beer froth
talking with fake confidence
underage drinkers

15. Kingston Buci

patchwork allotments
a lighthouse to guide sailors
old names remembered

16. Changing Perspectives 

once there were windmills
the Downs a working landscape
now there are turbines

17. Bungalow Town

railway carriage homes
artists and photographers
early cinema

18. The Harbour Shore

sea defence ‘bumholes’
concrete structures for climbing
watching turning tides

19. To the East to Southwick

long coats and swagger
larking about with the boys
caught on camera

20. Watching Ships at the Old Fort 

fishermen and gulls
basking sharks in hot summers
comings and goings

21. Graffiti on the Rail Bridge 

a daring message
Happy Birthday to Louise
famous forever

22. Racing on Raised Paths

beside the airport
pillboxes and rabbit holes
brambles and briars

23. Pebbles and Sand

skinny dipping nights
smoking foreign substances
music and moonlight

24. The Old Swiss Cottage Lake

hidden history
torn down and redeveloped
postcards from the past

25. Reflections of the South Downs

this town we call home
nestled between hills and coast
still waters run deep

26. To Brighton by Bus

condensation drips
smoke fills the crowded upstairs
reading poetry

27. The River Upstream

mud banks and quiet
the tilled valley flat and low
mist lingers till noon

28. St. Mary de Haura Church

viewed from the tower
pigeons eye the waking town
breakfast is calling

29. Childhood is an Island

places we cherish
memories we store away
future safety nets

30. Views Along the Beach

longer than it looks
divided into sections
sand in sandwiches

31. Heron over Lancing College

gothic dreaming spires
choirs of heavenly voices
wing beating shadows

32. To the West to Worthing

the boats are drawn up
freshly caught fish sold from huts
family visits

33. Passing Over the Footbridge

it’s a long way down
hug Mum’s side and hold her hand
safer in the pram

34. Blue Circle Cement Works and Quarry

toiling and blasting
the belly of the Downs gouged
echoes of steam trains

35. A View of Hills Across the River 

these once wooded hills
sheep grazed and windswept pastures
still holding back time

36. On a Houseboat 

bohemian lives
time to set sail and move on
the world awaits me

Retriever

Throw the stick
Throw the stick
Throw the stick

Not in the fucking water
I’ll have to go and get it now
Fuck it’s cold
But it’s my stick
Bring it back and drop it at his feet

Wag my tail
Wag my tail
Wag my tail

Can’t stop wagging my fucking tail
Don’t let him think you just enjoyed that
Every day it’s the same palaver
Don’t throw it in the water
I’ll have to go get it again

Where’s it gone?
Where’s it gone?
Where’s it gone?

Turn around and swim back
Why’s he running up the beach?
Come back you fucking idiot
Can’t stop wagging my fucking tail
Not letting go of my stick

Drop it boy
Drop it boy
Drop it boy

GrrrrrIaintfuckingdroppingit
GrrrrrIcanttalkwithafuckingstickinmymouth
Fuck I dropped it
Now it’s covered in sand
Stop wagging your fucking tail

Woof woof
Woof woof
Woof woof

What did I do wrong now?
What d’you mean it’s time to go home?
So what if it’s fucking raining
Miserable bastard
Mmmm this shit smells good

woof….

wait for me…