I took my imagination for a walk
Unwisely from the port, the teeming streets
Were like my head, a restless cacophony.
Poverty screamed like a coyote
Trash gathered flies where babies crawled
To play in gutters, does anybody care
For children, in this wreckage of a city?
Torn awnings flapped for five minutes of repair.
I struggled to make a connection.
The first city of civilization
Where the Pharaohs dipped its light to show
All the wonders of the age, its library
A golden beacon of enlightenment?
An Arab guy was tugging at my sleeve
Urgently, clearly frustrated with me
‘This is Alex’ he said, ‘you need a taxi’
In this city of boulevard cafes
Of trysts, casual intimacies
It is enough to sit and observe
The faces, the smooth deliquescence
With slowly evolving twilight.
To observe how the substance of life uncoils
In tiny subtle nuances, half glances
The formulae of public exposition.
The Parisian who glowers bleakly,
Self conscious, awkward with his desire
His eyes black with smouldering misogyny
As he stares at the girl, holding her cigarette
With a sneer fixed between cheeks and lipstick
Her smoke rising in Pyrrhic victory.
In Shakespeare and co I think of him,
Staring over his shoulder with cold eyed fury,
Then pretending to select some random book
Whatever he is, is what he must be
Leaving a small part of himself behind
Forever in this moment, in this city
Reflecting in his world of might have beens
On the melancholy final fuck.
The Late Night John Peel Show
We are here the boys from Sheff and Donny
From Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool,
Our futures as still and unblemished
As the veiled surface of a mill pond.
And together we will weave a long rope
To lead us from the grime and the grimness,
From the misery of our dead end towns
From the slag heaps and the stagnant canals.
We are the gifted ones, too soft for graft
Who will drift from the plains of the North
To deeper landscapes filled with poetry
And obscure Parisian psychology.
We belong in loft apartments, lecture halls,
Drinking Sauvignon Blanc in smoky cafes,
Catching late night trams from here to nowhere
With a guitar and a bottle of JD.
And soon we will make a craft of leaving;
Cruelly the families that smother us
With their hopes and well intentioned love
And the warm blanket of their kindness.
You can stare at us,
But our dreams are invisible,
Under the covers, we practise our goodbyes
With The Clash, Costello and the Jam;
As we listen
To the late night John Peel radio show.
Seven Acts of Mercy
First he will salvage the old photographs
The half lit Edwardian drawing room,
A glimpse of another dimension
Fixed smiles from sepia-tinged faces.
The Shibboleth of all desires, here
Distilled in letters, old documents
Residuals and marginalia,
The shards of benign fragmentation.
He will protect the tiny girl that died
With her daughter, haemorrhaged after birth
And the soldier on the Somme, alluding
To the consequences of indiscretions.
He will keep the prayer books from the library,
Boxes full of tissued medals, trophies,
Won on distant sun kissed playing fields,
Evocative of languid, post war ease.
And this long lost, blurred, half focused world
The loose plasticity of flowing time,
He will store in a corner of his mind
Their heart beats, their tear stained miseries.
John is a widely published and anthologised writer from the UK. Recent credits include an appearance in , ‘Soul Feathers’ a poetry anthology, alongside Maya Angelou, the English poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, Bob Dylan , Len Cohen, Rimbaud and Verlaine. This anthology was the second bestselling poetry anthology in the UK in January, & is raising money for cancer care, and can be ordered online from Waterstones, UK.In March he appeared alongside an exclusive interview with Yoko Ono in BURNER magazine. He also features in ‘This island City’, the first ever poetry anthology of poetry about Portsmouth, also available from Waterstones. In 2012 John will be launching a collaborative novel, ‘Beer, Balls and the Belgian Mafia’, inspired by three of his primary interests.