Introduction:

The Watershed microsite contains a selection of poems written over time. I don’t claim to be a particularly accomplished poet, in fact in publishing the poems here I feel rather exposed and embarrassed.

I publish them not because I think they’re particularly good, many are not, but because I enjoy playing with words, and they’re another strategy for exploring place, memory and connectedness.

These poems, like the other posts on this site are stories, word pictures drawn from memory.

The term watershed was chosen for its double connotation of:

shed – a place in which to metaphorically potter, think, doodle and dream

watershed – denoting an event or period marking a turning point in a situation

towards invisible

I’m having a go at reading my poems. It’s part of a learning process and an attempt to improve the quality of my writing by more closely listening to the words. This recording should be seen as a first draft, no doubt revisions will follow.

it’s just a process […] of looking
through the murk of window pane
to the party […] contained

it’s just a process […] of cutting back
cheap flowers ruined by lack of tenderness in tending

it’s just a procession […] across minefields, shattered
smiles through gritted teeth after swimming the river

it’s just […] so much time gambled (gambolled?)
hugely hoping to reap the whirlwind

and all too often it’s becoming becalmed
inside another empty vessel

a boat

 

A boat

the long house
ironic that

as it was more
a cramped and stubby

corridor.

Our  boat

twenty eight foot Sam
renamed L’Atalante our ocean in a can.

“Retreat?” “Floating cottage?”
“The Cotswolds?” “What about the Fens?”

Let’s invite friends…

Love boat

a romantic sort of iron hug,
an island in still water

our rub-a-dub tub, cabin love
cramped and grinning, snug boat,

a Valentine’s Day afloat.

 

[…]

 

Then split-up

happened
as split-ups often do

she sought a shared-boat
compromise

I said No!

The split-up stuck

I bought her share
stretched the metal can – it grew…

she and me,
we stayed sep-ar-ate

cut in two.

The split-up done

Bruised Autumn, frozen Winter,
welcome Spring, the Summer swelter

the boat became a shed, retreat, a shelter
a metal lung, a breath away from town

my boat now, evolving slowly over time.

playing house

house 1.

in a hill village
there’s a big house
with a meat cellar
and a window seat
and snuck in between
a flight of stairs
a window
just big enough
to squeeze out of
onto the wet roof tiles

– temptation of the gutter

the trapped toy soldiers
and the rubber ball

 house 2.

between the tap-tap
of a cobbler’s shop
and a mechanics oily fascination
the Georgian house’s
fine-framed windows
reflect a frigid town

on the second floor
a steep step-ladder
climbs to a treehouse
under eaves
such a secluded puberty
a stepping stone
a stooping space towards
the capital – afloat

a shining deeply varnished boat

mahogany on oak
hard wood delirious coffin

house 3.

Remember hiding in the corner of a room knees
under chin, writing love letters?

Remember belly fat concertina-d
aching legs aching long since asleep and painful?

Remember the silence an overloud flutterbeat pulse
the warm rushes of breath?

Remember such certainty
based on not knowing anything much at all?

Remember the skive-walks in school time
the running away the sneaking out?

Remember the routes from prying eyes
the silhouette days the trees without leaves?

Remember the drip, drip-drip of morning rain
an almost but not quite adult age?

Remember inventing fantastic fiction
fleeting fantasy of grown-up love?

Remember the belief that love could win
soul mates, marriage, kids, old age never parting?

Remember our ordinary love?

Remember you and me escaping
running away from the house
the school other people’s expectations
the frowning stares the tuts?

Remember the council estate boy
and councilor’s daughter
in love for ever and ever amen?

Did you and me make history?

stilled

Five lives stilled. The calming breathes of a three year old sleeping through the funeral service, each living breath extraordinary and utterly precious – unconditional love… A line of serving postmen forming a guard of honour, their shiny, shiny buttons and boots and brushed peaked caps from another age, an age of respect… The sharp ‘ssss’ ‘ssss’ wavesounds of the gravelly path on the route from church door to graveside and the further duller sound of wet fat earth striking a box… A distant relative staring slack-jawed, then saying, My God you are the image of your father… Or, through a mist of blurry tears, listening to a clumsy yet heartfelt, just-penned poem. The coyly rhyming lines given sudden dignity through the passion of its delivery… Five lives stilled.

a bit of a race

 

rUn for years RuN ignore the rUgBy team selection SETTLE for being CONSIGNED to the afternoon’s sMokeRs club don’t even need to smoke a fAg just WaLk along the towpath sTrolL the INCLINE to sHEEp pAsTure talking GIRLS and sHit

THEN

feeldaburnouchGen’ralZing!

run actually run RUN just like the GROWN-UP said  rAce across the cloy-clay coal spoil wOrk haRd and put bOdy and sOul into coming last

Variations #1. On a River Theme

 

In simply walking to the river

the whispering giant – life giver;

grey looming cares of weary life

lift momentarily; the walking and the water

providing a release from daily strife.

The walk down to the local river,

that whispering giant – life taker, or life giver;

allows grey looming cares of modern life

to lift – momentarily; the walking, and the river

provide release from daily strife.

And so on.

impotence

Tell-tail-tit your tongue has spilt… Is there light at the end of this? In the end… is there hope at the end of the tether? Or perhaps a torch? Hell-yes-I’m-a-da-king-a-da-wurl!

A line being taken for a ride. A pencil slack in hand. [Her] in mind. Mind joining up the dots or filling in the gaps with much recycled memories. A pencil spent. Lights turned off . The moment gone: slow-down-we-have-all-the-time-in-tha-wurl… Come on… once more. An Appetite returning. PLEASE! QUICK!! ALL HANDS TO THE PUMP!!!

Do stumpy fingers find the crack? Can such sluggy digits carry off this utter exposure? A fumble-handed hand, fumbling hand-holds, despite the chalk. Sour sweat, signals a lack of faith in a body’s capacity to rise to this occasion. ‘Pull up you Bastard!’ Boner, no brainer… Bits, parts – accumulations –  the bones and backs of countless bit players and tale-tellers… A dance of inky crowsfeet reeling. Why despite age or experience, are we so utterly impotent in avoiding the emptiness of hope and heart, given that nature abhors a vacuum? Wipe away the-tears-that-smear…

On the bed watching her dress. Innocent eroticism if that is possible. Her pinked, just bathed skin, shining. A pulled on bra and little briefs, woolly tights – it’s bitter out – then, she sits and talks through the mirror, making a connection, hair snagged up in a small damp towel slowly scrunched dry. Electric moment – though nothing outwardly shown. Eye liner coaling up Egyptian eyes, raspberry lips, a light-touch mask under which so many secrets sadly lie

To bang home the point… Slack in hand / the pencil spent / bones and backs of countless bit players / such sluggy digits / lay on the bed watching her dress / each utterly precious breath of an unconditional love… but  then there’s never much use crying over spilt… milk

when trapped between a rock and a hard place.

Romanybib (or England’s Glory)

1.

I close my eyes and find you
imprinted there in the darkness

2.

You may laugh but I wanted
to write you a love poem
that was before i discovered
regrettably that I’m no poet!

It just seemed the right thing to do
to tell you how I feel
in something – lyrical.

So will you settle for something
simple – yet deeply felt?

3.

It is amazing to be
so
in love with you
so
slowly making sense of
the many colours of you.

The mauve of you
of the gentle curves of you
in the early morning light.

The powder blue of you
when walking.

The warm citrus of you
when you laugh.

The ultramarine of you
as we kiss and your eyes close.

The ochre, terracotta and umber
of holding you

through the lamp black night.

4.

Hey you!

With a child’s stubbornness
stand firm in your circle
and by your mark.

What we share is all about
this moment
and that future

about details and
big simple things

about doing and knowing
and sharing the days

about endings and getting go

and about beginnings
above all
about a new beginning.

5.

Claire-bear be bare! Do…do!

I want to wash your hair
and cook you sumptuous meals
and make love to you
whenever we have a spare moment

is that OK with you?

6.

Haiku #1.

boy  girl  share a  bond
to/ge/ther  seal some/thing  true
why sep/er/ate beds?

7.

Haiku #2.

drea/ming you wild child
your col/our so but/ter/fly
speaks of sum/mer days

8.

[u] inside outside around
behind between [u]

[u], your body my body
with your body…

what could [u] / I / we do???
how might I/ [u] / we feel???

the hot of it or the wet
the hold of it or the quiet
and the strokes
the gentle strokings

what might it be like
being a part
of that part of you?

let me under your skins
[u] walk around in my shoes
let me laugh, and
[u] not mind the lines

9.

wrapped close under white cotton sheets,
collecting pine cones, buying milk,
rugged up walks with Winter scarves and hats
one hundred thousand tiny moments
we might/can/will one day share

these are the days
before our days

we are a secret still
just coming up for air

and breathing in the thrill
of what, one day, we’ll share…

10.

every day I calls a phone to you
and every night I dreams of you