The eye of the beholder
The eye of the beholder
Is there beauty in those back-alleys?
Those dust-strewn detritus-filled zones?
Nettles half-draped over piles of detritus
Fag-ends and condoms discarded.
Down those muddy lanes and brick-walled pathways,
Backed with slate-grey unforgiving skies?
Is there beauty in these crisp packets?
In the worm-casts and dog shit?
Is there joy in those dandelions, half-expired?
Their seeds blown by the wet-exhaust-pipe wind
Mists from fag-ends whisper up,
Those weeds who chance in these damp corners?
The dingy stair-wells where children played?
The joy of children’s voices
Is there hope in those landscapes?
Where aching poverty grinds their bones?
Spider’s webs bejeweled with dew-drops
Tyre tracks in puddled lanes.
Graffiti-strewn garage doors, hanging open
Terraced-house hope and broken glass panes.
Is there chance in those empty syringes?
Needle-sharp and dirty pain
Are there messages left in spray-cans?
Or in the bags ,half-filled with glue?
Was there love in those condoms?
The quick ebb and flow against the wall.
Was there beauty in those breaths
Puffed out from joints ready-rolled?
That bleak-eyed bravado
Shrug of fuck and shove ha’penny
Shame-faced and hung-dog, dog-eared smile
Creeping over those back alleys
The early morning November mist,haunting
Is there beauty then, in those dusty corners
Forgotten or abandoned in life’s everyday woes
And of hope, or love or beauty?
Do we need those country lanes?
Their chocolate box, and static beauty
Majestic inspiring open Dales
THE DOWNS THE NORTH, THE SOUTH
I’ll spend my life down those back-alleys
They’ll lead nowhere, yet give access.
Overlooked and underused.
Their daily utility, rather humdrum.
Their beauty burns across your eyes.
Burnt out shells in burnt out lanes.
PICK UP YOUR CHIN
Then, is there beauty down these alleys?
No fields of corn or skies of crows.
No acres harvested or fresh-ploughed hillsides.
No gable ends or hallowed halls.
No rolling hills or country lanes.
No tea-time honey, no clock at ten to three.
Whose lilacs were they, Eliot’s or Brooke’s?
Abandoned there, in these wastelands.
Only fit for butterflies?
The supermarket trolley, rusting slowly
Is just a tourist from the other World
Like some exotic migrant swallow
Here today then gone from all
Home to brambles and ivy,
Home to beetles and to fleas
Only schoolboys walk these pathways,
Only searchers or the diseased,
Dead-leaved and fly-blown back-alleys
Down some broken ,stony way.
There is life in this leaf-litter
Just as hope and joy is too
Just as beauty sits there shining
On the shells of the dead and in the bones of the living
Discarded and forgotten don’t-tell-mum
Shiny wing-case or speckled leaf,
Paper bag dances in the wind
Of course we bury the dead or burn the past
Its pain too fresh to hold us gently
Its folly full of fresh mistakes
It’s empty yearnings and its fist shakes
DEATH BY WAITING
Sit then by the fire and watch
His hand trembles, flecked with age
Withered and shrunken, like some old relic
Launched from the yard that no longer lives
His bones and beams threadbare and open
We can see the lie of the wood
The grain , etched, eroded
Withered even, half done in
Consider Phlebas now,
Look at his weariness
Not yet drowned nor dead
Those resources will be recycled.
In the back alleys of his imagination
Atom to Atom, dust to dust.
Death snatches us, but our shells
Lie in the alleys, home to others
Like some damp mattress, discarded
Or fag-packed screwed and thrown in the hedge
The hedge that bounds
These stretched highways
Back-alleys leading everywhere
HALF READ HALF UNDERSTOOD
Those half-read ,half-understood
Glimpses of the sun through the clouds,
Busy as a beetle, or wise as a worm
Dead-torn, half-known, half-learnt by heart
Recited often in whispered words
Mumbled to the wall and then
Remembered yet not understood
Whose pen was the best, whose words made us frown laugh ,or sigh,
Comparing blue with green,or shit or bust,
Whose song was best, or worse, or not
When everyone has the word to say.
Beauty stalks down those dead end back alleys,
Whispering in the washing lines
Floating like a ghost, hoping , wailing, cursing,
Holding the past like a severed head
Under crumpled leaves life rustles
Under overcast skies and darkened eyes
Kicking those dead leaves in the joy of childhood
Like Petronius, gone to join the majority
Kicking the pathway to knowledge
Hiding its truth, such conceit.
THE CRUELEST MONTH
Pound at the door and let me in
I cannot hold the burden anymore
Its burning heavy weight
Bears down on me
The Toad of work
As I join the second poor
Not being good enough to join the first
Nor wise or patient to be rich.
Nor greedy, I gave all
And gave and gave and gave
Never thought to take a bit
Haunted by the balance, the tilt
Windmills turned and stepped aside
Like Walter Mitty, I reside
In fantasy land, or firing squads
The Lordship, please, don’t hold back
The rewards and prizes please.
For a life of fairies and of fluff!
Hand them over please.
I’ll lie on my CV
And get promoted then!
Claim to have intelligence.
Or a degree from a university of Life
Archer’s house was once Brook’s
Whose pen was better, there’s the rub
Arise and take the things from life
Arise from out of those puddles
Lying in the half abandoned empty alleys
Like some monster from the primeval swamp
Dragging forwards, slopping, slipping
Dash, drown, dying, dig and doped,
Those lilacs full of perfume don’t last so long
Then brown and dampened, gone-to-seed.
Ghost written and then signed by others
Claim the prize for myself
As cold as stone
As cold a stone
In the shadows of the stones
We lie, the living dying.
In the shadows of the stones
Disproving April’s cruelty
By the burial of the dead
Down those long-forgotten lanes
That lead to who-knows-when
Looking down at the past through the lens
Of Nostalgia and wondering
Why things ain’t-what-they-used-to-be
Dragged back from the net chronophage
Tasks that need to be done
Written, etched on paper
Hammered into stone
The Beatles lied
The love taken and made do not balance
I stand here in the field
Like some crazy twitcher
Taking photos of rare birds
That no-one cares about
Like trying to own the un-ownable
Capturing glimpses on paper
Prestige or pathos
On the wall
“I WAS HERE”
Like so much dog’s piss
Washed by the endless endless rain
Marking some long lost territory
Given up , then from history
Laughed at and disowned.
Money is the one thing
That shan’t be owned
Passed on, yes, or given, or borrowed,
Like bad news on a winter’s day.
THREE SCORE YEARS AND TEN
Come in number 9 your time is up
Is there beauty in those waste-heaps
In the slag-heaps of the North
In the cooling towers, frost bitten?
The railway lines and factory works?
The Once great OZYMANDIAS
Look on my works and despair
Is there beauty, then, in shoelaces
Or empty bins, or bits of string
Or are the crumpets by the fire
Burning red and deep with sin
That black-eyed dog
Tugging at my heart
That no-one reads
Forgotten and forbidden
Is there beauty in feathers, or fur
In wet nosed daydreams?
In the escape from reality inside our heads?
Is it so wrong then, to walk Mitty’s pathways
Looking for greatness never to be found.
In the short bridge for the living
Those sour lanes.
Are they the same back-alleys?
Ah, we are but ears of corn blown on the wind,
Bent and buckled, reaped and sown.
Life’s rich blood, wasted on what could-have-been.
Il y a plus que à coller
tack, tack, tack.
àpres, on mangent.