sandbanks

out on these shifting sandbanks – gulls cry out
where heaven and horizon blur – stretching necks
land is a distant friend my friend – vomit voices
and you a distant cloud formation – white, grey, guano
I part the sky with my hands – sun glinting in eyes
haul you through the troposphere – pecking pecking
amazing that I once was – flecks of spittle rain
beautiful as you no doubt still are – feather floating
but my feet have been sinking since – cacophony
and the tides come and go and rise – it all mixes
mouth above the water just – shifting sandbanks
crying out like a gull crying out – a blurring cataract
choking voice salt vomiting – a distant and lost friend
see the glint in my drowning eyes – see the sky parting
we pecked at each other – you dropping from above
raining down on me like sea spit – at once amazing
you a feather floating through my days – beautiful
white noise and static fuzz – sinking filling the void
it all mixes up as the tides come and go – and rise

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 . . .

there i go . . .

i'm reaching for all the things i cannot have
dreams in which i inhabit a parallel universe
one where . . . 
i stare out windows and search for that place
lost now in the cosmic dust that made us all
white noise with undertones of . . .
there in the distance my words yet unspoken
my thoughts untrammelled and unvisited
unexpected migrants . . . 
the clouds move like shoals of silver herring
blue and green bubble filled orchestrations
uplifting to where . . .
can i be expected to manage these landscapes?
i feel landlocked and desolate inhabiting them
there i go . . .
i'm reaching for all the things i cannot have
dreams in which i inhabit a parallel universe
one where . . . 
i stare out windows and search for seagulls
on the beach chalk rocks littered like skulls
through a child's eye . . .
his father's voice is but a long dead echo
walking backwards on the sand as the waves wash
footsteps away . . .
i know i know i know everything and nothing
such a long time ago when summer held my hand
tenses squabbling . . . 
waves washing through a child's eye 
seagulls pecking at the bleached empty sockets
landlocked landscapes clouded with herring skies
a migrant made of distant cosmic dust
backwards into summers a long time ago
when father's voice spoke to me
i know i know i know
i'm reaching for all the things i cannot have
dreams in which i inhabit a parallel universe
one where . . .
there i go . . .

Petite Fleur

She asked me if I was happy.
I don’t know, I replied, are you?
She paused and thought for a while before saying,
I think there have been periods of happiness but on the whole, no not really.

We were sat on the terrace of a bistro we used to frequent.
How many years, I asked, thirty-four, thirty-five?
We tried to work it out and settled on thirty-four.
Half a lifetime, almost.

A seagull strolled along the iron balustrade,
stopped and squirted a stream of white crap over the side.
It landed with a slap on the black tidal mud below.
This unsociable act appeared to give the seagull great pleasure.

Tilting its head backwards it squawked at the sky as if to declare
‘this is my patch now’ before flying off and forgetting,
circling away towards the new white footbridge to alight and no doubt
eject its fishy crap once more like an incontinent vandal.

A breeze blew across the line of low tide water below the houseboats.
It caused little ripples to fan out in all directions
all of which were unsure which way to run.
I looked at the side of her face. Laughter and life outlined.

The bone structure was less defined now under her fifty year old flesh.
Like myself, I noted a few extra pounds here and there.
Beneath her skin a slight translucence glowed,
a bit like an underwater river. I found it strangely alluring

but it also made me feel like I was drowning. Lost at sea.
I crossed my legs and leant forward and she turned and smiled
as if having read my thoughts but more likely a nervous reaction
to the break in conversation.

Do you remember, up on the hills? she asked,
turning to look southwards. The biplane had circled overhead
whilst down below we had made love in the wheat field
surrounded by poppies. How could I forget.

I went to get more drinks and when I returned
she was standing by the iron balustrade,
her dark hair across her shoulders, her head turned away.
In contemplation of the ebbing tide, perhaps.

I fought the temptation to stand close behind her,
to feel her body close to mine, one last time.
When she turned, her face revealed the single line
that a teardrop makes as it trickles down a woman’s cheek.

Why did you come back? she said suddenly.
Her words hit me like a gust of wind through a propeller.
I looked away and up the river, steadying my thoughts.
I’m sorry, was all I could think of in reply. And I was.

You used to call me your Petite Fleur, she said.
I’d forgotten that. A bit embarrassing really.
I had been her first and she, mine.
I had plucked the petals from my little flower

one by one, until the call had come and I was gone.
I watched her fly away in her poppy print dress.
A flock of seagulls battled with a biplane high in the sky
and I knew then that this war was finally over.

 

 

ice creams on the pier

in the distance
Beachy Head

we all wore sunglasses
– enjoyed the sea breeze

talked about
this and that and the other

and later – when the tide
had come in on our thoughts

we shed some tears –
the seagulls kept me awake

I lay there at 5 in the morning
imagining swallowing pills

one after another
until the bottle was empty

my face white as chalk
the tide now far from shore

and in the distance
Beachy Head

 

it’s all gone pete tong

I waited in that room for you to return
reading between the lines on your face
on the photos taken in a cramped booth
in the amusement arcade on the pier
burning black and white in my hands
just a couple of crumpled square inches
was all I had left and it didn’t feel right

oh well, there was still sand in my socks
and the stain of ketchup from the chips
on the t-shirt bought specially for the day
the taste of salt kept recurring on my lips
like waves crashing on the pebbled shore
as the sun set over the blurred horizon
and the gulls settled down for the night

 

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

 

Lover’s Key

Beyond the covered decking

Quartz white crystal sands

Sparkle in the Gulf sun –

A line of rainbow umbrellas

Shield the beach goers

With their wheeled cooler boxes –

Stand up paddle boarders

And selfie stick young women

Lounge in the shallows –

Cloud builds from the south

Mid 90’s heat dips to bearable

Miniscule flies bite my ankles –

Along the shore Bonita Springs

And in the distance Naples rises

Like a mini Manhattan on the sea –

A cooling breeze blows through

Tourists disgorge from the free bus

A family prepares to leave –

I don’t have to do anything

Maybe read or write or draw

Clean air filters my thoughts –

The seagulls make the most noise

Circling and squawking their calls

Ever watchful for opportunities –

 

Beyond all of this the pelicans dive

They fill their shopping bag bills

With lunch from the fresh fish counter.

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