unreconstructed

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old cameras

we put our past together
imperfectly,
from fragments we find
in envelopes with yellowed paste,
on the tops of wardrobes
and at the backs of drawers.

overloaded drawers that only open
if yanked at a certain angle,
and taken by surprise, whose bottoms
billow out into the cupboard below.

or in a schreiber blanket box,
with its unsatupon black vinyl seat,
long-term resident of the landing,
a sanctuary for half-finished garments
sewn for small children long grown up.

washed out 110 instamatic colour snaps,
faded as if by the hot 70s summer sun
they captured in blurry matte oblongs.
or square monochrome over-exposed
polaroids, the nearest we came to magic,
as we posed awkwardly,
clutching our own elbows,
in front of the french windows.

blanket box

letters from our neighbours,
witnesses who took an interest
in our welfare, postcards
from our younger selves,
cheery messages from foreign parts,
birthday cards from long-lost friends.

we reassemble our lives as they once were.
but they are jigsaws with missing pieces –
the edges of a cloud, the arrowhead tip
of a church spire, the verdant heart of a tree.
they will always be insoluble and incomplete,
vital clues absent or jumbled,
astray in the thickets of memory.

 

Incidentally found out the camera on the left is still halfway through a film …

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‘well it happened years ago’

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when jarvis cocker yelps,
aroused by acrylic,
remembering,
in kodachrome,
the first time.

when he tries to control
his sexual urges,
adolescence
drawing him surely,
irresistibly back.

when he revels
in illicit afternoons
under eiderdowns,
when his voice is
distorted by desire.

when he doles out
romantic advice
to someone else’s
girlfriend, forlornly
wishing to be noticed.

when he is thwarted,
passion unrequited,
and languishes in
the bittersweetness
of ‘I told you so’s.

when he resigns himself
to best friend status
and watches her
waste her youth
on someone unworthy.

when he talks to you
in a hollywood club
or sends you a postcard.
when he djs at a friend
of a friend’s birthday do.

when you ask if he’ll
give up smoking once
you’re married, and he says
something about filters
you don’t understand.

when you correspond
about sixth formers
in white lab coats and
your dad succumbing
for ever to prog rock.

when you and your sister
dance to songs that
actually mean something
at indie nights by the score
all through the nineties.

when he colours
his hair with glints
the shade of poppy
and the fans almost fall
through the balcony.

when, wearing sunglasses
on his head, he pokes fun
at the upper classes
or castigates those
who should know better.

when there is no one
else quite like him
for leavening disdain
with compassion,
a condiment of empathy.

when songs start in mid-
conversation and he beckons
the camera in closer,
confidentially
urging you: ‘listen’.

when he dissects
class divisions
with a scalpel of satire
but his tongue still
firmly in his cheek.

when, in a few years more
he’s what they like to call
a national treasure,
a sir ray davies or
a morrissey.
jarvis

when there was never
a more heartfelt chorus
of ‘yeah yeah yeah
yeah yeah yeah’s,
when they somehow
kind of say it all.

 

More on Jarvis and Pulp on bashfulbadgersblog – lyrics; aside on his art school days, mentions here and here.

court yard

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kylemore wall

its stone stippled with lichen,
mottled with moss as verdant
as the ancient forests of the crown,
this palace wall has borne witness
to the rise of kings, the trials and downfall
of chancellors and chamberlains.

its long, winding down days
have seen such splendour,
its nights passion as unbridled
as a waterfall swollen by rain.

its patient bricks stood mute
through betrothals and betrayals,
while the mistresses machinated
to evade the tower, helpless
to the whims of majesty,
as stags to the huntsman’s bow,
all at the mercy of a serial infatuate.

garlanded with ivy, wreathed in
the white bells of hedge bindweed,
an onlooker as the tourists pour in,
armed not with sword and shield
but with selfie sticks and curiosity.
and wait, those days have come again.

film crews white balance
for the mulled-wine draperies,
the rich tapestried interiors.
costumed actors vape and gossip,
empty vessels making noise,
heads glued to phones, they lean
against the wall, waiting to communicate,
to recreate, its glorious tudor past.

Picture of wall at walled garden, Kylemore Abbey by Belinda Latchford.

cloak-and-dagger love

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brian-krakow

he loved her with a ferocious
grave intensity
she entirely failed
to comprehend,
misreading disappointment
as disapproval.

sometimes her insensitivity,
the sheer totality of her disregard,
is enough to make him flinch inside,
a whiplash to his unprotected heart,
a hammer blow to a self-esteem
that already dragged hangdog,
half in the gutter.

he would die for her
and she might never notice
or realise the depth of his devotion.
his loyalty is absolute,
without expectation of reward,
though she can render him
incandescent with a rage
that consumes his leftover
shards of pride like kindling.

 

Other poems inspired by My So-called Life.

unfinished

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a day when the sun keeps breaking through/clouds that bleed light in jagged rims of gold/contrails streaked like messages/in a crisscrossed sky/a plaintive quality to its inbetweenness/its indecisive springness/clear and poignant/as the plangent bell tone of terry hall’s voice/(his face blank and deadpan as the foil in a comedy duo)/on an old episode of top of the pops/the sound of a slightly sulky child/called upon in class when unprepared/petulant/with an edge of melancholy

Not quite finished this …

sundown

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sunset reflection (2)

seduced by the flaming
brilliance of the horizon,
as the sun goes down,
splendid with sadness,
mourning the day,
relinquishing glory.


this wordsworthian
sun
dissolves into the ocean,
which holds a while longer
the memory of burnished gold;
as your retina still carries
the imprint of light
when you close your eyes.


the edges of everything
are blurred by dusk,
as if god sought to childproof
the sharp corners of the world.
the day, unseized,
becomes the morrow.

primary

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grasshopper on rose

under a sycamore in the school field
crosslegged brown kneed girls,
grime-edged plasters peeling
from gravel grazes,
blue-black hair in raggedy bunches,
solemnly daisychain the lunch hour away,
as if engaged in some crucial
ceremony of passage.

heads bowed to the close task,
absorbed and content
as sheep cropping grass on a hillside,
placid and self-contained.
whispering together,
confederates at least
until the end of break,
friendships forged
by taking each other seriously.


they unwind their pliant limbs
to stretch under branches,
the shade a sacrament
conferring grace.

the girls are cool and pure, an oasis,
their spirits like chill glasses of milk,
aloof from boisterous games,
while the boys buzz and fizz and hover,
a cloud of insects round a picnic.

savages that whoop around them,
rough and energetic,
mystified by stillness,
defeated by indifference,
wild with their brief freedom
from the classroom’s clock face.
composure incomprehensible
as a chocolate biscuit left on a plate.

constantly at odds with the landscape,
scaling trees and kicking stones,
stamping on ants,
killing for the sake of it.
they abide by time-honoured
bragging rights on bloodshed,
protocols of play, merciless and cruel.

but a handclap can release
them all from bondage
and the whole drama’s
circumlocuted by a bell.

Photo by Belinda Latchford

plain sailing by tracey thorn

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meetings arranged, they say, never work out
I say we’ve proved them wrong without a doubt
I can’t remember now just what we said
I never could have guessed what lay ahead
as I ran towards you up the stairs
did a voice in my ear cry, “beware”?

even now I’m surprised you recall
such a short time it took me to fall
pretending that my heart still lay elsewhere
when in truth I had long ceased to care
for what I thought I’d never replace
’til in my heart you left him no space

you say, you wonder what was it I saw?
I say “oh, I don’t recall anymore”
my first impressions have been left behind
replaced now by feelings and more lost in kind

sure that you know but you never can tell
when I think I understand you so well
shakes me that you were a constant surprise
or so you appear in my eyes

tempting to think now it will all be plain sailing
old enough now to know there’s no such thing

Just a beautiful song from the album A Distant Shore, released in 1982.

thistledown

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dandelions

the wishfulness of children
is enough to make you weep,
their faith in their futures
so unshakeable and sure.

your own dreams it seems
disbanded by mutual consent
and retreated to the farthest flung
corners of imagination.

at one time you could almost touch them
their tissue-thin luminous fragility
a hair’s breadth away,
but itinerant, elusive,
a dandelion kiss on the breeze.

you touch your lips to it,
whisper a wish, and
blow it away, to those
you love and never see.

 

Image from planetnatural.com