as if the sun sought
to set the hillside on fire,
a grecian midday.
once upon a time
my happy ever afters
hitched their wagons
to someone else’s star.
my possibilities shrank,
dreams gathered dust
on the cluttered sideboard.
my future narrowed,
narrowed, to the sights
of a gun, a circle of light
and colour in the far distance.
and I still have such a long way to go,
but on a rope bridge of uncertain strength
and to a destination less distinct.
it’s the lonesome sound
of the north wind outside
a mountain cabin
in a winter deep as forever
in an old fairy tale;
where a jilted lover hanged himself
one desperate christmas morning,
his feet swinging loose and free
in old sports socks from a used to be
a dollar store, threadbare at the heels
as the fabric of his life,
wrung out in its final spin.
it’s the lostness of a traveller
weary of new horizons and
hungry in his bones for home.
it’s the fierce and burning longing
that repossessed his soul.
Video is Shakey Graves’s ‘Wolfman Agenda’ from album Nobody’s Fool.
we traipse through memphis in a sad dry dusk,
along the never-ending heartbroken boulevard,
busted concrete cooling in the vast vacant lots,
decades of trampled neglect and born again defeat,
once thriving concerns derelict and barb-wired off,
exposed like the underside of an upturned rock.
the stench of the hot punishment of the day,
fades to a less aggressive version of itself,
as if someone remote-controlled it down
in time with the dwindling brilliance,
and you feel the earth decide enough’s enough
and gently ease the pressure off.
you choose to wallow in regrets.
they rise up all around you
like cemetery corpses
in a bad zombie b movie,
impossible to ignore.
they compete for attention
and you register each one,
a bulb being drained of energy by degrees,
till your light is faint and faltering,
stricken and enfeebled,
and you have no strength to break free.
Photo of Cumberland Gap by Belinda
you tumbleweed from town to town
breathing dust on deserted main streets.
red warning lights blink mysteriously
on the dashboard of your rental car.
roll into a tire shop where you’re left
unexpectedly to your own devices
in the dazzling glare of the yard,
without knowing what’s going on
longing for a cool place in the shade,
dreaming of a time when you can
slow as you walk in the sand.
This poem originated from a misheard Bruce Springsteen lyric in ‘Born to Run’. Instead of ‘Oh some day girl I don’t know when/We’re going to get to that place/Where we really wanna go/And we’ll walk in the sun’, I heard the last couplet as ‘Where we really want to slow/As we walk in the sand’, which I thought beyond romantic even though I suppose it didn’t really rhyme.
those charity mailings
needles in your conscience,
persistent as the whine
of a wheedling beggar
in dedicated and dauntless pursuit
of a package tour group
disembarked from a coach
in a foreign desert land,
all money-belted, middle-aged,
baseball-capped and soft-underbellied,
ripe for exploitation
by sad dark pleading eyes
and chronically undernourished
continually outstretched hands.
hungover and heavy with jetlag,
sandbags bound round your limbs.
leaning on the cart as the bags
hit the carousel, land akimbo,
then right themselves like
drunken hen night gals
falling off high heels
and prissily adjusting
you feel you’re on another planet
where sounds come muffled in cotton wool
and you move in leaden slow motion,
suppressing a rising panic while
sucked forever backwards
as if sinking in quicksand
in some old 70s show.
Photo from The Telegraph