Walks and Catch Ups

Up hill and down dale.
Frost’s crunch beneath tread on the moor top and fell scaled.
At least until the wind near took our feet, turned us around.
One day the rain lashed in waves that rolled across valleys like smoke
Gave us eerie light, pale and ominous as noon struck.
It etched an image that will last many more turns of the clock.

Paths wound us through fog to brief plateaus where we sat on rocks
produced tobacco and papers, drew on rolled cigarettes,
ate sandwiches before moving off again.
Other times, perfect silence reigned when snow fell
in those big slow flakes that settle layer on layer.

Our merry crew didn’t always reach the top
but we tried every time.
Without fail, though, we found warm pubs
their grumpy landlords and assorted dogs
at each day’s end.

And mornings with bleary eyes,
coffee and soul music,
the evening headlit car trips home,
hip hop on narrow twisting roads
were just as much a part of it.

Stretched legs and cleared heads
keep winter’s gloom at bay
bring up past stories in new places
ensure those firm friendships are maintained.

Photograph by Dee Kelly

crawled from the rafters

From rot of sagging timber
they crawl now.
From festered knots
their feelers poke.
To test the air
is quite foul enough,
for without wretched smog
they’d choke.

They spit and hiss
their mandibles foam,
drip with yellowest bile.
Come forth claws
which pinch and tear
sow wounds
with the reek
of posion vile.

Pupae spawned,
long incubated
in the loft structures
of our house.
Kept fed and watered
by complacency,
these hideous
malformed louse.

Perhaps the only
saving grace
is that now
they rear their head,
we raise together
our clunking boot.
And all together
their venom is bled.

Bradford – Sheffield, Dec, 6.30pm

Red dot needles.
Outlines
of masts
on moortops.

Rolls of orange
pinprick glints
that stop
and leave clear space.

Before the barren rise
night’s dark
devours the hill line,
the details.

Aside of streetlamps
and the blinked
warning lights,
only the horizon

below urban tumult’s glow,
which tricks life aviary
into believing it is day,
offers navigation.

It isn’t needed, though.
as the bus coasts.
I’m not knee deep in mud,
compass in hand.

I’m sat, silently
relaxed.
The driver knows
where to go.

back

Return,
after a while.
Flit between

the freer air
of misplaced, then
found

glitter’s glee
and the trudge,
of not quite  yet

hard winter’s
softened but cold ground.
Warm clutches,

toe stares alike.
Memory with its tints,
and the present,

Bought to bear
upon each other.

No

particular

chronology

to their pinks,

their blues.

Bumped into
as paths cross

on cold nights
or eyes meet,
in rooms

they weren’t expected
to be.
Glasses drained.

With those
lesser seen,
words team.

They bubble,
and spit.

Once

or twice,

they might slur
as the night progresses.

And,
on occasion

with rant

or belly laugh,

old matters,
their discussion
their redress,

tumble from tongues.

To fill new rooms,

in other places,

with old, cherished stories

and the warmth
they bring.
Being back.

eviction, from the bridge

A knife simply couldn’t
have cut the air, that day.
As three perched, side by side.
Watching, waiting,
nauseous.
Dreadful, impotent anticipation.

Across the way,
rolls of flesh
spilt obscenely
over weapon stacked belts.
Below fat, cruel grins.
Gleeful voids in uniform.

On the distant right
machines, men in orange,
a navy blue column
inching forward, forward.
Too far, by far, too well armoured
for us to see if brows sweated.

A tree line devoured, whole,
the marching kevlar and perspex bloc.
We stared.
Ten minutes, or more.
The death cold still
got stiller yet, time in rigamorits.

Inertia broken by familiar white clouds
that burst and choke once, twice
a third time and again.
And then rose the first,
the first angry stack.
It eclipsed the sun and billowed black.

Meanwhile our sallow smiling swines
stood, backs to the scene.
In morbid turn, they swapped places
and released shutters for one another.
Salivated over the moment.
Captured for family, for friends?

Looking back

Gas and state thugs,
flapping bureaucrats on the fringe
the fences, walls and razor wire.

Yet streets of shops
and yards and homes,
conversations at open fires.

War’s scars and trauma
everywhere.
Darkness even in day’s light.

But also warmth, support
and covered backs
through its savage night on savage night.

A maze of brutal contradiction
Life’s best
and at once, its snarling worst.

For its rights,
its wrongs, its tragic necessity
Remember – a home for many it was, first.

photograph from the Daily Mirror

A Saturday evening, cricket in camp

This is the first piece I’ve written since starting to work in the unofficial refugee camp know as ‘The Jungle’ in Calais at the start of August. The camp is going to be evicted soon but there is and will still be an enormous need for donations of clothes, tents, bedding, food and money. Please follow Help Refugees on Facebook for information on how you can further support efforts in Calais.

The sky’s furnace orange

and it’s deep iron grey
meet above the mesh,
the razor wire curls

and dust clouds.
End to end

to end to end.
Four games, lengthways.
Bright green nylon covered
rubber’s pop on wood, and then its flight.
Cheered catches,
collective gasps when there’s a fall.
And the chatter,
of sandy kneed, crook legged
lines of crouched spectators.
The rule of thirds, almost to a tee
in this frame, a snapshot, but never that.
And across the barren space,
a strip called no mans land, there are men and life.

People forget, or not, for a while