Ross Wallis + Digital Media + Art

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Seaside Memories


Sandy seaside memories wash in and out as the sound of waves on a shoreline or bow of a ship, assuring, sure and calm like a balm for sea-chapped lip.

The tattoo of wind in yacht rigging a pinging rhythmic choral with the high cry of gull and shingle scrunch of feet.

Like silent kodachrome rushes running jerkily fast, a toddler toddles to camera, trips and bumps on a rusty rib beam of beached hull, blood mingling with salt tears and salt water made better by pink cloth elastoplast and an ice cream cone.

Tightrope walking along the tumble down pier into the sea to stand against crusty rusty railing, face to the whipping wet wind, with swelling sea all round breaking white against the sunsea scathed groin, seaweed swirling back and forth in the tide like lush long swathes of mermaid hair.

Driftwood tideline, beach bleached like the bones of whales, sprinkled with blue green orange acrylic fish net rope and an endless scattered kaleidoscope of coloured plastic, the discarded shells of treats and snacks and toiletries, and soles of lost left shoes flip flopping amongst the storm weed and sand flies.

Kite swooping canoe paddling oar rollocking power boat pootering sail boats zigzagging 99’s and aniseed gob stopping summers crabbing yacht varnished and kapok padded life jackets up under the chin and welly booted wet chill winter drizzle on the lanolin tang bobble hat and glove.

Square concreate dice scattered higgledy piggledy by the creek left from dads army days, turf roof pill box sprouting sea kale, inside awash with the detritus of summer explorers, the pee soaked litter of larger cans and the distant vandal fired skeleton of don quixote mill.

Black back gulls line railings and distant cut-out ships sit neatly on the line of horizon, hardly moving, there, then not there. A dash of white like the carefree swipe of an artists brush, a final flourishing touch of distant sail. Or how different in this moment to be on the pitching deck in spume, glittering sun and blue on blue sky and sea, looking back at tiny distant beach stick people, differenter still the parallel lines of vapour trails up high, the sun glint of silver, and a picture of the busrows of Mediterranean headed holiday makers within.

Skinny stripping on the shingle a pile of sandy clothes, wild surf dash into the freezing North Sea then tiptoe back numbfoot, and the struggle to pull sandy damp fabric over blue veined pale white goose pimply tinglingly skin.

Teenhood fantasies of sandy cuddling in the warm undulations of dunes, rounded as the rise and fall of breasts and thighs, tufted with sharp grass, deliciously alone in dune sand as fine as fit for an hour glass slipping sun warm though exploring fingers. Animermaid, luring the mindless to sea like the song of the siren in a cotton wool head, a tinnitus of breaking surf like distant night traffic on wet roads with a far distant siren.

Footprints in the sand back though time, back into the distant atmospheric perspective, grey upon grey stretching back along the beach and the slow curve of the bay. Far distant cutout silhouette blocks of summer huts, the herring smoke house thick black with the tar beloved of ancient mariners, the marinated memories of salt tang days of sail, gently decaying as the never again to float tender leaning tenderly against the piles amongst driftwood planks, half sunk in mud, atrophied, the backward rows of arrows in the chocolate pud low tide mud worm casts half buried paint cans and the clinker-less  ribs of a ferry boat long gone hardly memories amid the tar soaked beach feet plastic now, with not a mermaid to be seen or siren to be heard.

Walking into the red gold sun setting with eyes cast down, fingers entwined, wind swept hair, searching for the blood red orange sparkle of carnelian among the pebbles and glass. The lighthouse flashing out it’s message to passing ships in the night. In the fog the booming fog horn, forlorn, echoing back off the banks of white night, the fog of time, cotton wool mists from which memories materialise and manifest, starkly, darkly, then fade back again, coming and going, as the sound of waves on the shoreline washing in and out.










Roll Out the Barrel


Shelling out pumping spirits of long dead life compressed really long in the millions of years crazy burning almost in living memory those city slick rich oily men cheating on emissions testing bird slick sick quick buck fuck Arctic fracking trucking black gold precious pitch Rich bitch rainbow stains pain blame hypocrite while the ice melts in their cockup excuses the co2 releases the long long buried treasure that smothers the cities, the seas and skies and the balance is tipped and ice turns to water 1 degree above freezing two degrees is greedy the levels flooding the particulates floating trapped in the breath of the young generation while we love our status symbols, don't rock the boat, the status quo, tanker upon tanker we roll out the barrels pitch perfect the engine of industrial testosterone faster and smoother and quicker we travel in a time machine bubble who's time has run dry along with the wells and the wars in the deserts and wilderness tamed by the Giants to squeeze every last drop from the pump to the pump from the tank to the tank to the tank and we loose such a lot when we fly unthinking through the high streets of once communities that saw many millennia of cart wheels and horses slow trot and the stride of a man… is this one giant step for mankind or the last glorious gasp of the addict who knows now that to keep on imbibing will swiftly bring oblivion.







A friend and I were staying in an air b&b in Rotterdam while attending a conference. We met the owner of the house, Sarah, as she handed over keys, but only very briefly. I wrote this poem for her and her husband.

Beautiful Strangers



Dear Sarah and Sam, 
Thanks for letting your house in Rotterdam, 
and I'm guilty, I pried, 
opened a cupboard and spied inside, 
leafing through an album, faded Kodachrome, 
Sam on a tram, Sam in Rome, 
Sarah in a swim suit, pregnant, with a girl friend, 
Sam with a pram, with a beard, in a band. 
Beautiful strangers. Stranger still, 
I sleep in your bed, pondering on the lives you've led. 
This pale house, bohemian shabby, chalky fish box shelf, 
plywood floor, filing cabinet bed, upended dresser, guitar on the wall. 
The staircase, worn thin as a ladder by countless clogs. 
Generations of cats, children, and dogs. Jack boots too, 
and maybe ours are not the first English speaking boots adding their wear to your beautiful stair, 
to tread these boards abroad. 
The names on the map still ring; Einhoven, Arnhem, Nijmegen (nimwegen) 
You say you found a basement hatch, two years after you moved in, 
perhaps a Jewish family hid within. 
Imprints of remote death, too many, too young, 
moments in time, caught like a glance in the street, a reflecting pane, 
framed face in a passing train. 
Other destinations, Auschwitz-Birkenau Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, 
Beautiful strangers, now and then, long ago, come and gone, where are you now?  
If not work, has time set you free? 
Beautiful Strangers.












This poem was written on a stone workshop that I attended on an Oak Dragon camp - Karin introducing us to the sacredness of stones, and they lessons that they can teach us.

Pebble

Pebbles on a shingle shore, a rain stick rustle as they shoulder against each other in a perpetual polishing along a thin line of tide. I pick a pebble, smooth as glass, shiny wet, special as I am, although no more nor less so than any other pebble, or pebble picker upper. A chance meeting, a quirk of fate, place, time, space. Many billion to two. And it may be, countless eons ago, a million generations, before this Pebble was ever formed, a beach comber picked a pebble, shared a place in time and space, as do I on this beach here and now with this pebble that caught my eye, special to me, as special as me, as I have chosen it, or it has chosen me. The pebble and I are one, no more nor less special than any other one, cycles of life, of season, moon and tide through countless millennia of rain worn rock, silt and sea, stone to sand to stone to sand, layer upon layer, perpetual creation, wear, entropy, order, chaos. Long before then even, the pebble and I share an elemental element, drifting, spinning, growing, with endless restless universal energies. And one day the pebble and I will be one again, dancing in an eternal perpetual space, forming a new earth, and it may be, on some far distant beach, some far distant beach comber, too distant to imagine, will pick a pebble and ponder upon a being partly me, partly my stone, special, though no more nor less than any other, sharing a place in time and space.









This is a poem for Nell, our wonderful three legged collie puppy

Nell

Where's that dogon dog gone

Barking at the Badgers, chasing them birds

Give a dog a bone, and she buries it in the garden, she'd rather chew a shoe, as you do, or some foam

Slugs and snails and Puppy dogs tales

And if not Birkenstocks, then it's flower pots, a one dog plastic recycling machine

Not to mention the holes in the carpet

Who me?

Eating poo

Yes you

Licking my face

What a disgrace

Tri colour collie dog

Tri collar doggie dog

Tri legged Nellipeg leg

Caterrorizer


Poogie waller chops

Scruplywum pet










This is a poem for the girlfriends that passed my way 30 years ago, before I met and settled in with my current partner. With many apologies to those friends if they ever see this poem… but is was all a very long time ago.

Girls

Remembering the Girls I once knew when I was young and all was new experience, inexperienced, but eager.

Gilly came first, just an arm across the shoulder, captured in a photo, used in my A level art work, sentimental as spoonfuls of sugar in honey. Teenage longing for adulthood. I wanted. you never wanted me, just an illusion.

There were Pip and Lorna, broadcasting their orientation to all the fifth formers, happy to hold me close though, tightly nightly bound in zipped together sleeping bags, nights camped on solid floors. No longer lesbian, both have families.

Libby, I loved you my mysterious girl of the silent film where you wave through my bedroom window, wearing my sweater. I have the film still, but you are such a distant memory. Where might you be now?

Lying on Jill's parents bed, me with a cast on my leg, my crutches and hers, but not getting no response, she read her book. Kissing and cuddling, but no more. I tied my crutches to the cross bar and peddled on.

Wendy on my bed, large hips, small tits we cuddled and I fumbled, bra and pants, but no more, she wouldn't let me. A year later she was history, just a memorial stone in a swiss cemetery.

Beautiful Marie-Louise, girl with freckled face, Tom Boy stance and brace. Under age beer in the bay, they served you, they wouldn't serve me... But a year later you were history, bike and girl both under the wheel of a double decker bus.

Candida came next, hair to the knees, cuddling in the dark, jean flies unzipped. Giggling through the night, squeezed together on her single bed. She is my history, long past. I hear she has a family, I tried to contact her once, without reply.

Barbie was 16, I was 18. Knitting a fabric of togetherness for years, from Leicester to York, Sunderland to Hampstead, Reading to Somerset. Pretending to sleep in a king size bed while friends moaned beside us. Finally loosing our collective virginity in St Ives. She left me for a Bobby.

Viv was a dream, taking my hand by a five bar gate, whispering her wish to fuck me.
Early morning sun, black duvet, early morning glow. But it didn't last long, by Christmas she had gone, moved on. She has a daughter now, her voice is still as sweet. I often wonder how it might have been had the child been mine.

Juliet, thin and tall, falling out of a relationship, falling into my bed, like a daddy long legs caught in a web. A one night stand, both of us knew, I didn't fit her, she didn't fit me. She ran off with an American saxophone man, to life a life of babies growing up in rural France.

Selina, round as a pudding, definitely lesbian, willing to break a long held self image to sleep a night with a man. Another one night stand, Long ago threads of memory lightly woven and soon unraveled. I still think of you every time I pass by your land.

Karine, hippy goddess, a delicious night of electricity, listening to chimes and gongs, fingers on glass rims, tingles up the spine, drifting in and out of sleep. Body painting breasts, naked hot tubbing hippy soup summer drumming dancing feet. Six months on and I leave you crying and wondering why.

I can't say why, but thirty years on it really doesn't matter any more. Thirty years with you, growing grey and wrinkly, like the leather saddle I bought 30 years ago, you and I fit together like spoon and fork, like pepper and salt. And all those girls are distant memories, long faded.











My Dad (a eulogy)

We never did talk much, nor touch much really, you found that hard, I found that hard. But the love we feel for one another is the strongest bond, stronger than the strongest glue, the best of nautical knots impossible to undo, the bond in blood between father and son, child and man. I see you in the things I do, the way I think, and walk, and talk. I see something of you every time I shave, close, although not you too.

The genes and memes that you have passed on to me, a love of the sea, for ships and beach, for tools and words and wild walks and birds and cameras and Land-Rovers, oilskins and lanolin. All these things, only different.

There is much to admire, to love and revere, to emulate and ruminate upon a long life lived full, now that you lie helpless as a child, and I long turned grey seeing the turning of the wheel, being the very next spoke, and wondering what I should say, although we never did talk that much, maybe it wasn't manly, but really, there was not much that I can remember of what we actually spoke, what was said, and now, as you lie in bed, I can stroke you head, something I could not have done before, tell you those things that I admire and adore, though still not out loud as all the things that I know we said, they were silent, a language of our own, between father and son, a telepathy, a knowing and understanding that did not need saying, a look spoke it all because we share a way of looking, at the world, like twins, separated by a generation, living different lives in different times with big differences too, not peas in a pod, you had your god, and I search for mine, your greek is all greek to me, sugar in your tea, your life of ship and sea, master and scholar, adventurer and gardener, none of these are me, yet I'm proud as can be to be son to the man whose life I can claim as special to me, and wonder and ponder with this perspective of the passing of the decades.

Your precious camera, which now sits on my shelf, superseded by DSLR's and smart phones, no longer able to capture our childhood, because, like the camera, time has moved on, and our childhoods have been superseded by adulthoods, and the camera once so precious is now just an old fashioned thing on a shelf, a collectors item. The images you snapped are captured moments of other selves, other lifetimes.

I never new my mother like you did, in her teens, when I was born she was already my mother. You had a whole different fling going before I came in.

I follow in you footsteps, 38 years behind, but striding at your side always, if time is not a line, but a cycle, like the paths in a labyrinth, although your head start is a generation, you walk beside me always. And when you are gone, you will still be here, because you are part of me, as I am part of you, but separate in time, like a double helix. The man I admire most, yet always also that distance, as we live our separate lives, treading our separate ways, 38 years apart, a whole generation, you in the 20's me in the 60's you in the 30's me in the 70's me in my 50's you in your 90's. You reached your zenith when I was born, and now time has worn you out, but good times, and me a part of them, a chip off the old block.

Memories, formative, deep, sitting in the middle seat as you double de-clutch and I select the next gear, a teenage revelation to understand that other birds might catch your eye, as I catch a glance of a glance at tits and pants in a homewear mag, that's my dad...  a glance as you quickly turn the page, but I have seen and you know that I have, your'e my dad, and you smell like nothing else in the world, indescribable, but real and so deeply ingrained in memory that it brings a comfort that is beyond conscious thought. Childhood snuggles, wooden stories, wrinkled eyes and close up dimples, old this, old that, woollen jumper, woollen hat, and a man size hanky, thank you, happy days.

And I don't know how I will feel without you, I know there will be tears, but tears like those at the end of a good book, when everything ends as it should, after all the adventures and dangers, when love has been fought for and found, and misunderstandings put right, we turn out the light, the sun has set and we say good night, because it is. It is. It is all good, it is all right. It is alright. And the tears are those of thankfulness, gratefulness and happiness, acknowledging all that you have given and done, all you passed on, unstintingly, wittingly and unwittingly.










X-ray Specs - the opposite sex (or The sex opposite)


Sitting on a bus undressing the girl opposite me, more than to imagine her naked I think, to ponder what might be, in a parallel universe, if we could mingle looks, hers with mine. Though here and now she doesn't look at me that I'm aware, I'm invisible in my wrinkly skin and grey hair, or perhaps her thought turns to her dad, and I have to take care not to stare. And who would care to fantasise about me anyway, in this reality, sitting on a bus, who knows? All those thoughts in a bus full of heads.

Walking down the high street, hair bobbed, breasts bobbing, bum wiggling, thinking only of the next bit of shopping to be done, though distracted perhaps by the manikins in the shop window, window shopping, the titbits of clothing to intice her in, while I am more interested in the naked manikins, who are as real in reality as the beauty who has just past me by, all the beauties who pass me by, and often in the passing by is the beauty, the glimpse, intended or not, just a head of lush hair behind a windscreen, a glance my way, to make sure we don't collide. No collusion intended. 

I walk the dog, with her nose up close to the rear of another dog who is held on a lead by a fleeting stranger, exchanging a nod and glance, maybe a word about weather, and in that fleeting meeting a whole lifetime of possibility, or not as it happens to be. whether or not.

Even in the art gallery, where a half revealed breast was revealed for real two thousand years ago, and still my breath can quicken at the thought, that someone somewhere sometime might look my way like that. 

There is no getting away from it, no matter how old I get, it is built in, like a disability acquired at puberty, the best I can do is to accept it and enjoy the tingle and try not to get caught staring at pubery.

I wasn't actually looking at your breasts, I knit, and I like the fair isle on you chest, honest, I have some balls, of wool, in my lap, and needles, no I wasn't looking at you crotch, it was the crochet, honest. And in my professional opinion, my female colleagues are more outrageous than their counterparts, sucking a juicy fruit, peeling a bannana, cupcakes with cherry nipples, pomegranates and kiwi fruit; no endo to the innuendo.

Even now I'm a dad and should know better. I have done my duty to life's cycle. But still the seat on the saddle or the passer by catches my breath. The bush in the bird, hidden undergrowth and promises of forbidden fruit, the bermuda triangle that I can never properly escape, the snake in the garden of Eden, when every eve is velvet dark and enticing a crease here and there, a swelling there and here even the pussy on my lap, dark as soot and purring might stir a smutty thought.

Parallel lives - and I know that I am just a boy, and all you women are much too mature for me to even grasp intellectually.

So shy, you pass by, with lowered eye, knowing, no longer innocent since leaving the garden of childhood. Ripe as an apple of the eye, and yet no more than a passer by.

I should be ashamed, to represent a gender whose agenda engenders such thoughts at the thin end of the wedge, perhaps cat calls, gropes, and then rape, a slippery slope.

I heard on the news that scientists might one day develop a machine that can read the mind, but what would be the good, the content of my head alone would fill a lifetime daily, would resemble the whole of the internet at once, without parental filters. X-ray specs would pall, become normal, ask a naturist, or gynaecologist.

Back on the bus, she is leafing through a woman's magazine, looking at the clothes while I look at the girls. I am pretending to send a text, when really I snap a fleeting beauty on my phone, something of beauty that I can own, but is beauty hers to give, or mine to receive? And am I an artist, or just a misogynist. She doesn't know me from adam, and she will be long gone this eve, maybe with her Romeo, at homeo. Am I being bad, or is this just the way it is?



Mid Winter





Stacks Image 51



Standing still this moment in a winter lane, at the fulcrum of the year 
Still and quiet as wool filled ears, mist like shroud 
Looking forward and back, a moment to remember and reflect 
Mulling over pasts, presents and futures, steeped in the exotic spice of everyday life 
Mother Earth tilts, the balance tips, the sun reaches it's nadir and returns 
Midway, the tipping point, the longest night, the shortest day 
The years turn like breaths in the cold air, lingering in memory like mist 
Misty mornings, flat cutout  6B, 5B, 4B, graded grey trees, not a sound 
Low light bright breaking through, turning the trees to black silhouette filigree 
Salmon pink and eggshell blue sun rise sky 
The longest night, the shortest day, light and dark, dark and light, candlelight and fire bright 
The longest night, yay, pull the quilt tight, warm wrapped up snug 
May you find solace this solstice 
May you be well seasoned this season








This poem was written on a flight to Barcelona, before leaving I spent an evening at an evening of sacred singing, and next morning a wet car ride through the suburbs to the airport, and then the flight. The contrast was extreme.



Stoneage phoneage


I can turn up the heat from an app on my phone, driving home, at the touch of a screen. That recognises my touch, and puts me in touch with places I've never been. 

How cool is that? 

I might order my fridge to order some stuff from subtropical antipodal paradises, as I drive through the wet grey endless concrete suburban parasitic sprawling metropolis.

If I want to.

With the tap of a button I can order a date, a taxi, a flight, a room, and queue to board a silver can that will lift us above the gloom, from the down side to the up side, the light side, the right side, the sun bedazzled bright side, from winter drizzle to summer beaches, peaches, blue reaches, a million assorted, all ages, all sorts, all races, streaking all over in vapour trails to far off places.

Crazy.

Hiding in my wireless noise cancelling headphones as the hostess tries to sell me perfume to make me irresistible to undefined ladies.

As if...

And encourages me to gamble my cash on a billion to one chance of winning a stash when the only guaranteed winner is Mr billionaire Ryan air, shrinking the world with his crazy deals, stealing the future to squander today in this sterile world where the exotic destination is familiar as home, same coffee shop chains, designer outlets and drive through franchises carefully designed to manipulate my primitive urges, appetites, yearnings. A nubile blowup web of wonders to titillate my animal cortex and deprive me of my earnings.

Scarily magnificent, this homogenised, commercialised urbanised, globalised shrunken globe.

Yet just last night I sat on earth in a round house in the woods round a fire in a circle holding hands, telling stories, singing chanting, zinging, enchanting.

No app for that.

My candle lit tribe may as well be Neolithic. No phone, no plane, just a primitive dwelling and warm people. No central heating, no central cooling.

How cool is that?  

Dwelling in the heart, in the drumming, in the warmth, in an encircling loving clan. New age, stoneage, versers jetage phoneage, baloney post truth age.

Honestly, where would I prefer to be?





I took a bike ride around the docks in Barcelona, where there super rich moor their yachts. There were a row of very expensive, very impressive looking yachts, then on that made them all look tiny - a yacht belonging to Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, which is, according to Wikipedia, that largest privately owned yacht in the world.


Bling

Barcelona docks super yachts

Blinging Narcissistic oneupmanships

Ostentatious egoistic showmanships

Oil rich steel rich steal rich blood monied greed

Gaia rape gold mine all mine creed

Patriarchal oligarchal loan shark debacle 

 ill gotten gains down drains

Squandered wealth that might have been better spent

On Me





Playing the Trump Card

A truncated Trump without a T is the back end of a bovine, full of shit, staking out a claim, dishing out the blame, trumpeting his horn, parading his strumpet, his corn, his bad dude attitude, tweeting his protectionist gun lovin' coal burning oil fired bull. Fossil fuelled tyrannosaurus, making America grate again - spelled grate, g r a t e.






Coming from a weekend of life drawing at Chawton village hall - the village where Jane Austin lived. The model is very classical, like the Greek muse Phryne, who may have been the original model for many classic Venus sculptures, this and dances as we draw, gradually loosing a loose veil. I am writing the poem on a tube, visiting an exhibition of the selfie at the Saatchi gallery.


An April Day in The Metropolis

I Join a trickle of Commuters, like drops of water from a suburban sponge. The embryonic sun, egg yoke pale veiled through steamed up window morning crisp moist mist, brightening perceptibly as it warms and thins, turning walkers, cyclists, pushchairs, into loweryesque silhouettes between scenery flat pollarded plane trees, branches truncated, pruned to a fist by some zealous arborist.

Clipping clop feet squeak, twin wheels wobble, nobody looks up, all intent, droplets coalescing to a stream flowing into East Finchley underground, city bound, like rain on a window pane, trickles trickle into one another, the branches of the plane tree reach the trunk line tube, grains of sand through the neck of an hour glass pass.

Commuters catch trains, but no catching eyes, squashed tight but trying not to touch, thumbs and eyes on screens, hiding in smartphones, in headphones in books, in papers, in texting, in morning rush hour ritual, habitual, tinted shades, painted faces, vacant gazes.

At Kentish Town a girl squeezes in to lean against a chrome pole, photogenic as a Vogue album cover girl, parisian model swinging 60's style, twiggy figure, straight dark hair, skinny short jeans thick crepe sneakers, bobby socked bare ankle tank top short showing belly, denim top to bottom, wide full lipped sultry petulant pout and thick kohl black eyes, perfume advert black and white grainy sex symbol femininity, and I can't help myself but to wonder what lies beneath the garb and posture, the naked venerability of the child, the fragile sophistication of teenage. Inside my skin I feel same as ever, yet to her I'm impossibly old. Dry and wrinkly. She reminds me of Jane Birkin then, whom I saw recently on TV,  Je t'aime... moi non plus still a beauty now in her 70's, lovely, real, and Brigette Bardo in her 80's how does it feel to be an aging sex symbol, a has been beauty queen, mirror mirror, to grow wrinkly old gracefully, or not maybe, me neither. 

I come from days drawing Phryne, musical muse, dancing the dance of the veils, the curves, the twirls, the curls, such touch and sensuality in the village of sense and sensibility, emerging to the nonsense of Chelsea chic, Sloane Square, mannequin's in negligee casually semi naked window display their resin hard nipples and lacy smooth crotches, so contrasting.

I sit in a Turkish cafe with croissant and mint tea waiting for Saatchi, an exhibition of selfies. Behind the well worn breakfaster opposite me a poster girl on the wall, a juxtaposition, I sneak a photo.

Walls of selfies in the galleries like leaves on trees bright green in our teens, virulent then verdigris, a flush of Scarlet in October, then we wrinkle and dry, turning to filigree and mulch, we all compost, even the beauties, the buds of May have their day, life cycles. All these dead artists stare timelessly at themselves, and at me, who am I, why am I, Rembrandt, Picasso, Van Gogh, and I. The arrogance of youth, the impossibility of death in the mind of someone living.

But not for long as I rejoin the throng heading north on the northern line as the tide returns at the latter end of the shift, to drift back to Camden Town and East Finchley, another working day for some, but not for me, a day of art, photography and poetry on the train, the boat, the bus, the plane, an April day in the metropolis.






Epitaph to Gabs

You nonchalantly saunter where angels fear to wander, skateboarding on thin ice, no dice, an unlucky spin of the wheel, a bad deal.
Walking a high wire, wired, high, spinning plates crashing down, sad clown

You're an angel now, Gabriel.

No fear, pushing the limits, finding the boundaries, the final frontiers, on a bender, bending the rules, this is what youths do, among their peers, such fools

And you're an angel now, Gabriel, you went too far, too soon, too young, forever young

Curiosity kills cats, cool cats, catatonic cats, catastrophe, cool beans, full of beans, has beens

Sleep deep, rest in peace and love man hippie god, leaving the weeping women in/at your wake,
If you believe that, you'll be sat now with Basquait, Hendrix, Gram, Dean and Drake

You're an angel now, Gabriel, 

Immortal youth, Gauche Gods and goddesses, playing with fire, so pretty, oh so pretty, pretty young, pretty dumb, no more tears in heaven

Slogans on T shirts, writing on the wall, Belshazzar's Feast, an unease that you ease with pills and potions prepared by evil black wizards with gold earrings and bling in black BMW's with alloy wheels who prey on you, prey on youth, swill the pills with swigs of wine, never mind the bollocks, have a good time

Looking for Abraham's bosom, a mothers breast, the milk of life, ambrosia, the elixir of youth, a cornucopia, a bacchanalian rave, drunken utopia, leaving us to yearn, to rant, to crave

Why yearn? to fill a hole in the soul? no pills, no thrills, no cults, no cunts, no punk, no skunk, no joints no junk, no peyote or shots or fags no thing can fill the hole in your whole - life is a drag, that is what it is and it is what it is

Stupid Cupid, unripe adonis, no chance to mature, to be sure to be sure, if only you could know it you have adoring Aphrodite at your feet, Venus, Hebe, Innana, Astarte, all at your beck and call, kneeling at your alter ego, shedding tears of woe, shine on you crazy diamond

Desire so strong, the burning desire of the young, impatient to experience it all, even so close to the wall, the underworld, and this Orpheus charmed us all, but left his Eurydice here and disappeared, willing to try anything once, when sometimes once is once too much, and the magicians magic backfires and burns you

Oh Angel Gabriel, gone in a puff of smoke, a cloud nine, Bodhisattva, may we all be enlightened, especially you

Young man 

so full of life
so full of art
so full of music
so full of love

so why?








Footprints


Footprints in the sand converging
smudged by a tongue of spume and foam
lapping smooth the beach clean curve
bare feet feeling every grain
senses pricked and tingling
wind blown salt hair
Fair, sometimes good, rain at times
distant scudding grey curtains drawing close 
dogs crisscrossing seagulls calling
sand hoppers hopping, crabs scrawling
straight edge horizon, full moon rising
silver light on corrugations shining
lacy shoreline plastic tideline
glinting in the skinny dipping sunsphere
razor grass and coloured glass 
beach comb fossicking distant pier 
strands of weed on the strand 
stranded as the tides receding 
footprints in the sand converging
back along the way we came
me and Aphrodite 
a scalloped shell
a pocket of pebbles
a distant bell
the smell of seaweed
a gull
a star
a swell

 
 






Car Booty

Easter Sunday and the faithful flock to the car boot sale, biggest in the west, queues of cars for miles, while the pews are sparsely blessed. The creed of need, the call of capitalism the con of consumerism, our addiction to the sin of want and wanton greed. Babies baptised at the font of the designer label, praise the horde, alleluia to the brand, buying is the new evangelism, the mall is the new cathedral, we heed the call like clonkite gold diggers of old, the weekly ritual of the car boot sale, looking for the bargain that will change our lives, fulfil our dreams, make our lives replete  and complete, make us whole, fill the hole at the centre of our souls with mass produced plastic things, shed loads of things when we could be shedding things, heading for the simplicity of thinglessness, satiate our appetites with simple living, giving love and loving giving. Everything must go, go where? Into a hole in the ground most likely, fantastic plastic, found in every far flung corner of the whole wide world from the depths of the arctic to a whirl in the Pacific. Chained to the High Street, where only the chains can afford to trade, the interesting traders are priced out, only global players compete in cut price battles and two for one deceit. The chains are having a ball, shackling us all to a bland banality of mass produced brand new retail, same old same old, gift shop kitsch for tomorrow's car boot sale. Pirates all with their bounty and loot, heading home with a car full of car booty.






Biggest Dick

Not any old Tom dick or Harry - you have to be outstanding, raise the standard, poles apart, a Bonaparte, a flagpole, a pillar of the society, the biggest dick on the block, erect massive erections, towering sentinels, Trump towers, Nelson's columns, equestrian statues standing stiff, to attention, at general quarters, proud upstanding members of the community, not just any old Tom dick or Harry, but a dick with a capitol D, a dick of the highest order.







There Once Was A Poet

There once was a poet so fine 
Who could get all his efforts to rhyme
But he discovered one day
He had nothing to say
So now he just can't be bothered any more...

But it's true as the day
He had nothing to say


So he might just as well not have wasted the time






Far Flung Places

A far flung place steals your face while a place here waits and the fates conspire to keep us apart and my heart feels a weight and between us the wire carries a voice with long pauses that might not be awkward with a hand on a knee, a brush of the cheek or a squeeze of the hand, but a distant land denies that possibility and a distance grows between us like a rising dough although, I don't know, maybe absence makes the bond grow stronger the heart grow fonder, way over yonder, you wander I wonder and the silences grow longer as I linger on the veranda not knowing what more to say or where we belong so I'll put down the phone and write you a poem instead about far flung places and absent faces and fates conspiring and waits between us and I'll sigh and dream about a hand on a thigh or other such places.





Old Age

Old age, an old adage; do not go gentle into that good night, but already too late, as a gentle but goodly decline is exactly what is, sliding slowly into the depths, like an iron hull, a husk, lights going out, fading as dusk descends, the sun sinks, all the abilities of life withdraw into a waiting at the threshold. Changes, slow astern, no lifeline, a long and leather wrinkled palm. A lifetime ago you faced the Atlantic squall in sou'westers, a strong grip on the salt encrusted teak rail, biked up hills in all weathers, with clipped trousers, bronzed hand on chrome bell bar, and landrovered in low gears over mountains, well worn wear shiny shift and steering wheel. But now your hands lie soft in your lap, lost your way, losing your grip, a different incline edges you toward an edge that we know nothing of, no thought to look into the abyss, as thought has mostly gone, leaving dreams of memories of days long gone. Still an occasional sparkle and smile as an old you surfaces briefly, as a bubble, phrases emerge, half known, half heard, half seen, half remembered, half dead, this half life of unknown dimension, as eyes, ears, body and brain recede like an ebbing tide, mostly into sleep, a second childhood, with a lifetime's experience behind, and who knows what ahead? Closed eyes scan inner horizons, shrouded in mist, life's great mystery, that you are already partway to, calmly, without rage, age old age.


And now your breath, unfaltering for nearly a century, slows and stalls. A few more breaths, a habit hard to break after all these years. Perfect Dad. Your children and wife in a ring of hands all holding you in these last moments of life, sending you on your journey with all the love we can impart, keeping you warm in our beating hearts.




Market Place


A man with gnarled fingers and blackened teeth 
plays tunelessly on a penny whistle
beneath his tapping foot a black cap for a penny


A dark skinned skinny girl in a hi vis vest
selling the big issue two pounds an issue
with pleading eyes, long black plait and a whispered thank you


A young man whiffs of grass and one too many beers
he leers in an alcoholic haze
eyes glazed, unaware of the time of day


Whilst the fat bald man rolls by in his Rolls

The barrow man sells sausage rolls

An old woman bent double shuffles by

And the wrinkly skinned lady with scarlet lips
poodle and crocodile skin bag
clips along in high heels
calling for a porter to take her valise

And I'm thinking that I might be any one of these
but for an accident of birth, a family tree
whatever it might be that makes me me


They must all have their beds to go to
meals to eat and things to do
they all had mothers and grandmothers too


Once each a cradled suckling babe
with worlds of possibility ahead
strangers passing in market places 
with different life lines etched in our faces










Mine is Yours

From your nipples to your crouch, I love to touch your body with my eyes. I love the curves of your thighs, your belly makes my tummy funny, your eyes make me melt inside and leek tears of melt water, sorta. I love every bit, every cranny, from your pinkie toe nail to the longest hair on your head, I crown you my queen, my supreme, I am your obedient servant, your pauper, prostrate at your feet, Dick Whittington to your puss in boots, I love your pimples, wrinkles, boobs, I could be your knight, tonight, riding a milk white steed, you could be my Godiva, I dare ya, let down your hair, share the juiciest of fruits from the tree of life, no shame, no blame, cast off the fig leaf, a body beautiful as intended, nothing to hide, in a skin so lithe. You could be my Aphrodite, I'd run a marathon down your spine, what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine. My Venus, nothing between us, cheek to cheek, you be mine, I'll be yours, forget the washing up, let's be washed up, after the storm, to lie in each other's arms till dawn, nothing between us but...


This poem was written the day after my Father died - the 'good man' being words uttered by my mother. He was, in his younger days, a ship's deck officer, and always a lover of all things maritime.



Row Steadily Good Man

Row steadily good man, a rhythmic stroke as with the breath, the rise and fall a gentle swell, a dead calm windless day, as you row gently away. The tide ebbs and flows in tune, with a waxing and waning all too soon, full then dark and on this day the sun eclipsed full by the moon.

Row steadfastly your onward journey, 
And know that you are held in heart,
The same heavens that you know so well, from long clear nights of long ago, will guide you on your way this day, and the plaintive gull will echo back, across the salt sea haze.

The horizon line you lie beyond, out of sight, not out of mind, beyond that line and in the light, row steadily, good man, and know, your course is set and true and right.

And as we stand upon the shore, and sweep a gaze along that line, we'll know you're there forevermore with sea and stars and sun and sand,
And if we listen we will hear the distant dipping of an oar and we will stand upon this shore and wave a cheery hand.





Catastrophe


Catastrophe!

feathers as far as the eye can see
as if a playful pillow fight took place
but this in deadly earnest, a merry chase, a bloodied carcass
the remains of the vanquished on the mat
an angel wing detached
a life force flapped away in a frenzied fight for life
blood and feathers testify to that
a final desperate strife

And the cat sits in the debris
as ever as if nothing has happened
greeting the homecoming with a head butt and a nudge
who me?
Not even that, no
no acknowledgement from the cat that anything was ever amiss
as if this debris doesn't exist
what catastrophe?

other than that it's late
and that I've been waiting for my tea






Mid Poo


One of the things that I do
is to read poetry on the loo
while sitting in my birthday suit
before taking my morning ablute

I wonder what the poet might think
Me reading them there amid the stink
If they imagined a fragrance to match their words
Me on the loo would be just too absurd

I wonder if they would be duly distressed
If they knew that I was improperly dressed
But then again they might hope to be read
by a naked body lying in bed

a medallion man perhaps, complete with hairy chest
or a nubile curvy redhead with very impressive breasts
At least a young student in the reading room of the British library
Although not naked of course, as this would be wrong entirely 

Or on the deck of a yacht in mid Atlantic, in a terrible tempest of a squall
Or while climbing the highest reaches of the tallest mountains in Nepal

Or Perhaps they would like it to be a knight in shining armour
reading while balanced on a rampant charger prancing
Or a maiden fair with long hair flowing, her distant bard, his muse, romancing 
Or Being read by a famous thespian, at the opening of some main event, 
broadcast to the world, viewed by billions, or at any event, and at the very least
a regular request on poetry please

But surely not to be read mid poo
By a middle age man sitting on the loo






I better can this muse or I'll be late for school


Stacks Image 137



As Night Draws In (a poem for Samhain)

November evenings draw dark as coal as was once shaken from the hod as woollen blankets are drawn close wrapped against the draughts that once snook through every gap and under oak plank doors, and dawn brings blankets of damp white mists, pooled in the valleys thick as fleece and the sheep turn their backs to the drizzle to chew sparse grass in grim rumination while hoofs sink deep in autumnal mud and crows caw forlorn and gusts of breeze send showers of leaves falling to join those already piled in every corner, the trees bearing dark branches, adopting their silhouette form for winter withdrawn into the comfort of their roots firm in the bare earth. 

And we look too to our roots, our forbears, this Samhain, we gather our dead in remembrance and wear red. Summer’s maiden, child of light, turns to autumn’s Cailleach, twisty witchy bitch hooded dark as pitch, hook’ed and crooked, twisted and turning as all things turn, the lush summer’s green to red brown and black winter’s crone. In this liminal time when the veil is thin, as sheets of fog cloak the vale, and we gather close our next of kin, lighting fires bright to ward off the night and warm us, door to door we collect the fuel, tricking our way place by place, turnip lanterns and mangle wurzels on the step, candle light guttering through grotesque rough cut features and bone is close covered by translucent pale skin, and we welcome our ancestors in, long dead, with us this Samhain. 

The wheel turns, as is the inevitability of time, a never ending flow, and we but leaves carried for a short while on this stream, never back, always on, now only to dream of summer meadow sweet, now to sleep deep in winter as night draws in this Samhain.








Lest We Forget

Lest we forget; these words carved in stone
and countless names once proudly owned 
by youthful men and boys. 
They shall not grow old 
but long forgotten,
as those who remember them 
grow old. 

Lest we forget; would that the words were carved as deep 
in the hearts of our leaders. 
The pendulum swings again to the right, 
and the orators beat the air with their fists of passion, 
and speak of sovereignty, of nation, and right.

Flags waving, 
hearts beating, 
colours flying, 
drums rolling, 
sheep bleating, 
voices extolling. 
The age old exhortation;
for god, for country, 
pro patri mori, 
and the impassioned crowds respond.

Lest we forget; the mire of Passchendaele, 
a man made hell on earth. 
The valley of the Somme, 
a gentle hill now still 
where once was the carnage wreaked 
by gun and bomb. 

What cause was ever worth such a spilling?
No cause is truly just if it’s means cause death. Every cause has it’s effect.

The rhetoric of us and them, 
the walls and wire that come between. 
The hate and hurt that lives on 
generation on generation, 
long after names have no meaning 
in the minds of those living.
It is this that we must all remember, 
this that we must hold in our hearts,
when the next conflict starts.
Lest we forget.