All those years ago I shook
We trade in handshakes
of ghostly currency.
Spectres melting into
leather office chairs,
£1000 shoes propped up,
hard-heel tapping mahogany.
99% scrabbling at chicken-feed
pinching news items between their fingers,
screens harbouring wipeable perspiration,
when long before it disappeared,
between pages of law and righteousness.
We’re told its empty:
The comfort of the Euro feels
nothing like the £’ing of heart
against heart with an embrace.
But clammy and desperate we
compete to live for techno-respite,
sharing our global position
through social media machines
and laughing at funny tidbits;
something to disengage the brain
when you start wondering why
your bank account haemorrhages,
and your neighbour has two new cars.
We trade in misinformation,
skulduggery to chug
the oil and gentle fucking
of the 1%.
£6 shoes propped up
against IKEA furniture
and the age old question
I think of the times I would mope about Wolverhampton
eyes glazed and jeans baggy around my arse, the hint
of a builder. I would proudly shuffle them down, notch by notch
until full boxer salute tipped out-wards. Blind in one eye,
and hiding bottles of beer behind music venues we would
finger and thumb jelly sweets, and melt them against the Civic Centre.
Here in our nest we would test our vodka resilience, two-step
to hated music and seek refuse in a business mans briefcase.
Growing up around panicked phone calls to parents when one of us
would take it a step too far and finish the bottle, reeking of
tobacco in the journey home when tabs inside were still legal.
Early doors, sober and keen to trot out and try our luck again,
antiquities, tarnished books and midlands drawl.
Your fathers fathers father probably paced these steps,
catching the train to Birmingham if he had the money.
Of course the borstals here taught children to be men when
Catholic guilt caused an influx of fractured youth.
I wanna be an army man, smart jackets and flashy
I’d strut the yam-yam jam, hoping that I can one day grow
to be that man that can-cans his way far away.
Reused bus tickets crammed into pockets, against full stomachs from stolen bread and water and we would party-bus our way into the sticks to see
how those that made it live.
Now? I wake to electric currents, reverberations, vibrations
and it’s gone. Starving nicotine flashes and I’m jolted out wards
along mirrored walkways. I run my hand across the wall
and feel the cracks, the arrows all point southward.
I crank open the door, pivot in my seat
and place my feet on the floor. I untie my shoe laces
and feel the blood begin to circulate towards my toes.
The car is easing into its occupied space, chimes, gentle thuds
and creaks of kinetic energy slowly ease.
I feel the gravel displace beneath my feet, debris sticking to the sole
of my shoe.
My fingers clasp around my keys, index finger rubbing
against the cool metal and my middle finger teasing the key ring.
I place it in the door, turning it slowly until the mechanism clicks.
The car door opens,
feet twist and crack earth beneath my feet
tides of red rush towards digits
but still I stand, waiting for the blooded headedness
to ease up.
The keys clink outward from pocket
destined for its other half.
I talk gibberish, waiting for the metallic red
shadow to turn in the crook
of the road. Ruddy cheeks and
long strides towards the door.
An outstretched hand from prior
decades clasped around my own.
Boyish intrigue replaced
with a firm grip.
Insular and small I would be placed on a knee
and bob up and down and up and down.
Smiles knocked off with glasses and chubby
fingers smudging against lenses.
I contort my hands into those of a magician.
Copying the gentle fist bump when your thumb is replaced with
fresh air. Again, again. Where does the thumb go?
You’ve got my nose. Taken to the car I imagine.
I scamper towards and anxiety is replaced with
A mint humbug. I put it in my mouth,
feel the sickly sweetness burst
into butter and sticky lips.
I hold out my hand for more
and receive a red lolly. Stick bent
and candy sweetness leaking under
I wave good bye. Limp hand
animated under duress. And there
it is. Another year.
Sympathy will keep you dry
they say. When sand and bones
can’t keep out the tide.
Silt and dirt, ring damage
under carpets, floorboards warp
and strain under foot but kind
words vacuum, rippling gently.
Removing streams of the Thames
and piss. Soothing Wailing babies
and concrete Faced elders.
Your insurance money is no
good here. Not when heirlooms
sink and photos disintegrate
into shreddings. Wedding rings
slip from fingers finding their way
into mud, fossilising for future
unfortunates. Watch as your life floats
at eye level and people just
comment and comment and comment.
Have yourself a post-modern Christmas
with wrapping paper dressed
ironically over bike shaped
gifts and TV sized boxes.
and the smacking of lips
with new lip gloss gift sets
(3 for 2) or edible currency.
Turkey, plump and bitter
rotting against sticky cranberries.
Dry, flaky flesh doused in that
gravy you like, goosey potatoes
and a fuck-load of trimmings.
Live pause and rewind your TV again,
and again and again. Watch Delboy
Fall through the bar.
Only at Xmas.
Rip open those foiled chocolate and feel
the sugar crack in your mouth
and the fat ooze into the space
between your teeth and gums.
Churning; your face
gurning into submission and fingering
stained glass papers.
relax and watch the foppish haired
kid keep out the intruders
for the 1000th time.
Read the first three pages
of your book
And wonder how many wonderful, fucked-
up things you can buy
with long lost cheques.
Race your remote control car
up the road for an hour. You’ll forget
That you had that, next year.
A chocolate breakfast waits
up for you in the morning.
While you pore through the sport
channels and look for the latest squad updates
for your favourite team.
Eyes are leaden and dilated.
Drink and watch and laugh
and swear and drink and watch
until you feel those eyelids
Wait for next year.
I’ll stay awake next year.
And so on and so on and so on.