27th July. A thursday Sitges. 2017.

Calle Bonnaire

 

Brilliant light.

Sounds coming up to us. These narrow streets

funnel the noise and amplify it somehow, though not aggressively.

Just daily life. Unaffected.

Take it or leave it discourse.

The rubbing along of a more or less polite society

It is music I think. An opera. Small voices confiding.

A mother and daughter. Then the strident tones of a trader.

Rumbling of wheels on the flagstones and sweeping

that sometimes imitates the washing of the sea.

Sea rising in sympathy with troubled air and the moon

and dancing with feathered caps as it races toward the shore

where it rests and tells stories to the incoming waves.

Then they all re-group somehow with an inward suck

and slink back to the great body of water before returning

with fresh stories that only fishermen can attempt to interpret.

Then hasty steps and furtive steps. The drill of some pneumatic tool

and of course the declamatory siren of a car alarm from time to time.

Patrice and I. We in our pools of quiet reflection are content

to sit naked and inconspicuous yet so close to all of the life going on.

We make plans slowly and wonder if we should have another cup of tea.

To Claudia and Lisa, ( and I could ask for more). Lisbon 2016.

bar-staff-lisbon

Don’t ask for more.

October sun. Shadows.

Dark fingers witness

the patterns light plays

As I sit naked

with a breeze stroking my flesh

a seagull’s distant screech

and sounds from the street

rise up in music

to colour the air

concealing those foreign vowels

A casual complicity for the traveller

Me on a narrow balcony

four floors up

could be Soho

but this is Lisbon

Below a man clean’s his car

It’s sunday

Outside. Basking. Outrageous

And I could ask for more

Invisible across the tiled horizon

the Tagus is broad and easily able

to carry me on spikes of white light that dance

A playful icing on the world’s shared sea

An old tram powered by a rickety digit

to wires overhead

clatters on narrow tiled streets

that have lain and listened

to hooves and feet and secrets over centuries

absorbing the heat

The wild ego’s in flight vainly competing

against an inevitable fate

clutched in shared space

So passengers are forced to adopt

a humble pose for transit. For experience

To experience the exotic, the foreign

A morsel to remember for sharing when home

When all the tongues share vowels

that conjure sense from excited air

Back home to boast

of where we were

I really shouldn’t ask for more.

Crossing a line

Crossing a line

Crossing a line

Crossing a line

 

Short skirts on the terminus floor

At a quarter to midnight

On a cold night in Glasgow

The young marionettes tick tock

In false excitement

Cheap perfume and ritual movements

Teetering on heels. To and fro

The public toilets at 40p a throw

 

This is my welcome tableau

To friends across our northern border

And as I wait in line at a taxi rank

I feel foreign but glad

That we live in peace

And the excited tongues of people in transit

Ignore me yet accommodate my presence

As they step purposefully about

 

I will look back on that night

Reminiscing of how they swooned

Made a profit on their exuberance

Or not, as the case may be

And I know that their confusions

Were mirrored shards of experience

Across the globe in different garbs

And all their tongues fell silent eventually

Commute

Commute

Commute

The image bleeds

Hard glass distorts

Reflections of captivity

Homeward bound

The eyes beseech

Visions of distorted hope

But this will pass

And comfort close around

Their aching thirst

A time-table dictates this

The lost and found

Journeys on a merry go round

Feet will accelerate to meet

Impatient minds

Hungry with anticipation

And the train will cause to move

Reflections that scrape and slide

On glass that carries a parting kiss

Hampton Ferry

Hampton Ferry

Hampton Ferry

 

An ancient tale

Will travel between the banks

Of England’s most famous river

And here, at Hampton

The ferryman still plys his trade

Oblivious to ghosts and superstition

His transport now is much the same

In that he transfers passengers

And denizens of faraway places

From side to side

And we, the inheritors of now

Indulge ourselves with modern coinage

To perpetuate this ritual

And ruffle the waters

As citizens who find pleasure

In short trips

Commute

Commute

Commute

It is easy to follow convention

Travel a well worn path

And blend, inconspicuous into the flow

 

But the runt will feel a heavy hand

Upon his growing burden

To live in perpetual disagreement

 

For those who are normal

And float, unperturbed  by flaws

Will essay on through life

 

So the journeyman is bound

Like some casual make-weight

To endure the boredom of the commonplace

 

While gilded souls. Chosen ones

Float on the sumptuous presumption

That life is good

 

I can’t help but spare a thought

For someone, somewhere

In the rain or the heat. Desolate.

Signs

 

 

Brighton Steps Collage-1

 

Walk. Don’t walk

Street furniture

The architecture of survival

I am surrounded

Guided even, if I care to look

But what is this?

A shifting arcade?

I travel in the line of beauty

Unaware that each stride

May or may not make sense

For my influence is limited

I am simply here

No podium place

No winners’ medal

Just ephemeral distance

A few aches and wrinkles

Survivors’ lines

Where passing traffic

Abraded me

Friction. That is life

And when the sign next lights

With a kind of throbbing urgency

I might even smile

Not yet safe. Not yet spent

On a watching brief

For eyes

Alert to clues