Friday, 25 October 2013

The Dealer

The joys of pubs in the old days - full of smoke, overflowing ashtrays and bits of cellophane (from cigarette packets) everywhere! How anodyne they are now.


Subject to all attentions, Queen of Coins,
Creates her court in nervous, light-stabbed dark;
Gathers the still-faced from an arras of noise,
Robber barons with quick hands and no talk.

Takes all comers at brag or dice, a shrewd
Look to the eye, weighing chances. Scoops beer,
Ash, cellophane, plus winnings, in a broad
Sweep to her side; leads new stakes from her sour

Morass of shillings. Red with sweat she sends
Them higher, sensing the hunt which pulls words
Short, involves a chasing eye, expert hands –
Imminent victim – tracking the splayed cards.

Nights now have been like this: a cigarette,
Replenished pint of lager, unwashed hair
Pulled by a band in fingers on her neck,
Something from a bottle: her eyes are clear.

Like a white creature she grounds in sallow
Sheets; creeps to life when the pointed demands
Of day have been evaded, head below
The nightline, face like ash and back in funds.

Beyond me, she skids around, more adept
(Her eyes are clear) as fear and the bright light
Push deeper. Forensic, I trim and cut,
Raking the ashes of a life for content,

Some human fragment. Her switchback stupor
Lifts across moments; ambiguous, I stand
By fruit-machines and play a coin for her –
A joker, cherries, giving no dividend.

© circa 1973-76

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


Suburban roads; minor
repairs, cold trees propping
dead time in a low sky:
the grey stone of cloud.

An office; clean shirts, sound
of the shopfloor, warm dust
under paper, a bulb:
the white stone of heat.

There and back; past building
sites, gouges; watching things
deepen as something forms:
the brown stone of earth.

A park; a pleasant walk,
some questions. Beneath depths
a lake grins at itself:
the black stone of water.

Gathering up these things
in the weight of my head,
beat of my chest, I sucked
the iron stone of silence.

© circa 1973-76