The Market Decides

The Market Decides

We are lived by powers we pretend to understand – Auden.

a returning ache
cold rain
and a film of damp on the mantle

feels like autumn
though the calendar and clock
show the equinox is months off

a thirst for order
normally not noticed
parches the throat

traps you in five parts to order thoughts
which had no such thought behind them
when closest to conception

*

shrink wrapped
all first fears coalesce
in a christmas market memory

the town     chattering
congregates in duffel coats and shellsuits
hot-rocked by sparklers and soapbar

coal dust sparks from the hearth
and petrol thrown
on funeral pyres of livestock

that ignite the barren fells
around the market square
drawing stares years into the future

now then     first of five emerges in image searches
hiding from extinctions
in a reconstructed daydream

shielding his eyes as through his own
he hunts himself by scent and sounds
these stills and scanning lasers lead us back to

fast motion over Ravenglass sands
no footprints left among beached crabs
and the silica sculptures an absent ocean
carved in Sellafield’s shadow

a mechanised gaze now
clicks between colour and
the monochrome of childhood documentary,
dazzling ions as yet
undeveloped in darkness

your own voice calling your own name
phases as it’s doubled tracked     making it
metallic when re-received

other too cold and close to be other
than you        we called it Guardian
then we forgot

*

the sun of sunday school genesis
irradiates with knowledge
and small feet run for shade and shelter

but end up back at the market square
built of a hundred recurring
conversations carols and coughs

the dry of december air
freezes vowels hard selling
chops and legs on beds of ice

o small world bound by cut stone and bricks
limestone scars and repetition
this and there is too much for you

*

the first kid hides in a subterranean stairwell
head peeping at toe height as ears tune out
the voices and marching tracks of boots on snow

tune in to the hummingbird thrum
of a heart tacchycardic for a first time
which always feels like the last

no matter how many times we others
brush this moment
from our futures

*

the chattering recedes
pushed aside by something preceding
and following him          and all of us

fast forwarding from the tide line
along train tracks taken
grey ribbons of road from the booster seat

past white scars of lime and fingers
stroking the ammonite imprints
that insignificance

even as this conjoining rush past
viaducts and pay phones hones
these myriad spheres to a monad

all sound reduced to the tinnitus charge
of a flash bulb reddening his scanning eyes
as darkness explodes for a fractioned second
leaving us gasping on dry light

*

then ghosts begin their slow and neon dance
with each blink of the eyelids, becoming
like forms we know and yet evading us

the movements we lose between strobe lights
and stressors    the kick drums    footsteps    downloads
the fixtures of cadence
                                            dividing

 

 

A Nuclear Winter In An Artists’ House

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This is an old poem, but one I remembered this weekend because the 5th November was when I wrote it a few years ago. I’m still quite fond of it.

 

Nuclear Winter in An Artists’ House

We’ve barely the money
for teabags and fags
so the broken bulb stays
in its bayonet stays,
jolting in bursts
of light dictating
our jumpy search
for sugar.

The Cat’s progress to
the water bowl is
stroboscopic, captured
snapshots of silver
and black leaping
on his Rorschach
back. His

glasspaper tongue
scratches surface tension,
sending ripples bouncing
into halos of blue light
across the rhythmic ribs
of a radiator spluttering in-
to life.

When we had more moments
of incandescence the
air was opaque with
smoke and conversation,
but now vapour breath
wreaths empty heads
quivering in rare
flickers of brightness.

Silent but for sniveling
at Fairy scented ghosts
rising from the sink,
we hear darkness descend
the stairs by teatime
and draw close,
glowing embers defying
ashtray grey as we
hunch- backs to boiler-
hugging ourselves
until our inky blood thaws,
rushing towards
hissing touch papers
in the distance.

 

Hallam Towers

Hallam Towers is a series of poems with photographs that I wrote while obsessing over and occupying an abandoned building in Sheffield, both mentally and physically exploring the spaces it created. The interplay of text and image is not supposed to be illustrative, but sometimes it is.

As the building has been demolished over the past fortnight, this has become an elegy of sorts, but its various signs continue to signify and interact with Sheffield, its society and its collective memory in ever evolving ways.These disused institutions keep creating stories and adventures long beyond their demise as public or even physical spaces.

Here is the opening sequence:

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1) Point Of Entry

Gunmetal    blue wood fence    leaps
into straw with a slip of the sunlight.

The abandoned garden wrapped
in razor wire or slicked with ink left
to tattoo each point of trespass.

Hands remember being   eight years old
efficiently feeling out    the knotted contours
of ascending branch biceps-

clothes tear on steel barbs    green finger
-tips from the nervous    lichen clasping    traverse
that ends hung above
our destination.

Take moments to breathe.
Feel the stomach churn of vertigo, the rising
lactic burning in   calcifying tendons, then
let go-

 

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2) WARNING

Construction/demolition site – enter at your own risk.
Head, I and ear
protection required.

 

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3) Target

Squared steeple of a brutalist wet dream.
Pillar propping thick quilts of fog up,
reaching space-wards.

*

When I was six I was taught the trick of aligning little ink stained fingers- just so- to forge a link to heaven.

What rushing as pastel light stretched from scratched nails to meet the sunbeams!

*

At 2:58 a cloud break illuminates
the tower- pale white at its base
but shit-shaded up high by the strafing of chattering starlings.

The sundial shadow intersects tree roots
of childhood               frogspawn halt their blinking
in the ponds.

Gaze stretches up to the sudden dusk;
treasure digging stops to admire the shredding
of the skies lacuna by this square eclipse,
by some shadow
I wish to flood.

 

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4) Look Up

On haunches     legs still sprung with
sinews full of the fall.

Scrape dirt from pebble-punctured palm heel.
Check ankle: turned after mis-reading terra
firma: sore but useable: clunky hinge.
No spare parts anyhow.

Slowly stand    exhaling    coiled tension    or
try-

my heart rate races the drone of small flies
swarms over cakes of decaying
pine needles brushed off grey denim knees,
leaving forest scent-spectres
which later haunt laundry with memories.

But now
still hums with tiny life and sunlight
the pine cones are still     wide open     I’m too early.
The thought rattles me     out of the stasis of evergreens
planted to make this hotel ever-young

now red lights and a lens
mark a moving image glanced by multiplying other
eyes…

I decide to walk calmly through the shot
in the tradition of unnoticed film extras
– it pays –
but how do you consciously walk
naturally?

At school I never played an attendant lord,
never mind Hamlet.

*

[Control Room: captures focus on the wonky walk of a kid trying to be invisible as his limbs move- klunky, dyskinetic – between duct tape crosses on the school stage, between the gunmetal blue and the straw light. Laughter rings for a while, then fingers hit buttons and binary departs down the wires…]

*

 

A squirrel sifting rubble for acorns     senses     twitches
bolts away with my kinetic energy, leaving me in a rigor –

a cacophony of polyphonic sirens razing- panic racing
to a speed heart rate anticipated                   chest pains
dart down arms to frozen finger tips                all action
condensed to the head
and eyes wincing in security lights.

TANNOY: Warning, you are trespassing, the police have been informed.
Warning, you are trespassing, the police have been informed.
Warning, you are trespassing, the police have been informed.

Mute metamorphosis: beam trapped rabbit in The Grapes Of Wrath-
squeal,                                                                                       imagine that
being
your final thought.

 

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