Sunday, 28 November 2010

SnowfLAkes

Sunday 28th November 2010, A. Palmer

The statement you scrawled in snow
stuck upon my bonnet for a fair few miles,
until an uphill straight caused your escrow
to flake in perfect intervals,
and vanish to the hills like ashes from an urn.

First the L, then the A. Last,
the heart splintered into a wind that thinned the skins
of Twyford trees and of us- cast
out to a crestfallen sorrow in your eyes
and a lost-lamb look to see if I could stretch my skills

to catch the sugary frostlets at the wheel,
and reconstruct our pairing like Roman tiles.
Instead, I thawed the icicles of your ordeal
by remarking that our love was now eternal,
fostered by Mother Nature to return

on a day like this each and every year.
It would fall just as December begins
and blanket us to ensure we still cohere.
What’s more, it’d still descend from those skies
long after our ashes had settled together in the hills.


Friday, 26 November 2010

Twelve From Home

Friday 26th November 2010, A. Palmer


Just an ordinary day it was.
As it always is.
The road was empty so the only dust was behind me.

Can’t remember skipping track but the corner arrived quickly.
If I tried to turn, I’d already missed my cue,
so lamenting that ditches aren’t lined with pillows like

the ones my Nan used to have for her back,
or a ball pit in pre-school poster paint hues,
I flinched as the world dropped sixty degrees.

Whilst my legs snapped against the steering wheel,
I winced as I digested ribs without chewing-
an old oak to the left appeared to share my pain.

The seat belt turned on me as I rolled.
Half-decapitated, something in the distance
reminded me of France,
whilst the windscreen falling out allowed me to get
fleeting, reprieving whiffs of heather.

Strangely impressed by the wrestle between meadow and cloud-
neither was on top for long-
one final rut sent me soaring through a coral sky.

Laughably landing right way up,
I pictured you,
and the daughter we hadn’t yet had,
before slipping away into a dream of Christmas years ago.



A Life Less Illustrious

Monday 15th November 2010, A. Palmer



I used to look at you,
Dozens didn’t,
Rushing by with “too much to do in too little time”-
What an envious life they lived.

You’d listen to their cursing,
Wishing you could trade your ripped cords,
Your vomit-specked sleeping bag,
Your damp trainers,
Your heroin addiction

For their pin stripes,
Their Italian leather,
Their smooth chins,
And their deadlines.

You’d thank them for their ignorance,
Wishing them well for the day.
Some would apologise, “Sorry mate, only notes”,
Then walk away from your plight
To the tune of £2.10 in their trousers.

Wasn’t always so bad:
Occasionally, you’d get tossed a copper
From a busy banker on a call to Hong Kong,
Without a look like a sardine to a seal
Whose novelty had worn off at the zoo.

It probably did more for them than you:
Their good deed of the day
And conceited ego-stroke
In the bag before elevenses.

I’d bring you a bacon butty
And a cup of tea, determined
To feed only you and not your habit.
You were grateful. I was moved.

So I’d lean against your living room,
Noting that you’d never request my shoes off,
And listen to your stories,
So wonderfully told given the circumstances.

A gifted illustrator-
I still have the witty strip about you
Giving change to the bankers following the Crunch-
How we laughed.

Nearly a professional cricketer too,
Before a snapped cruciate put paid to that.
You had revealed your knee-
Wrapped in a discarded tea towel to stop
The cold adding insult to injury.

Other times, we simply talked about me.
I didn’t want to complain too much,
Or talk at length about my date next Friday,
Afraid it may offend you.

You insisted it wouldn’t and encouraged me:
Perhaps you felt able to live a slice of life
Through my trite tribulations.
Or maybe you were simply happy for me.

That had continued for a good two years,
When one morning I didn’t see you.
The suits didn’t notice the vacancy in the doorway
But I did. I fed your breakfast to the pigeons that day.

I often wonder where you went.
Did you get saved and housed and move into
Illustrating whilst listening to the Test matches
On the battery radio I gave you?

Or did you trade belief for a bottle,
And with a needle in a collapsed vein,
Follow the empties into the river?

I hope it was the former,
That I’ll see your distinctive style on the Politics page,
That I’ll pass you in the street and won’t recognise your smooth chin.
Until then, I don’t walk the Thames way to work anymore.



Friday, 19 November 2010

10,000 Before Chairs

Friday 19th November 2010, A. Palmer



You crumple in a chair you’ve never liked,
drowning in modernity,
taken by the tides of technology,
longing to escape to unspoilt eras.

Fear a tree, follow a crane fly, feel
choanae sting from the air of a forest.

To wonder where thunder came from,
to pin it on the Gods would be so freeing.
To mix red and yellow to make orange for the first time,
in scrawls upon rocks to show that magic.

Fire. Dance around it, try to hold it.
The pain makes you angry with respect.

Coyotes sing to the moon in the distance-
they still deem it sacred as in your dream.
Half-awake, you massage life into your brain
urging death one of these days.

Then the phone goes,
the 21st century calling,
and you rise like a caveman from a chair you’ve never liked.




Thursday, 18 November 2010

Bedtime Story

Thursday 18th November 2010, A. Palmer



Speaking in purple patches
Was what frightened me.
The bats cast upon the wall
By hands so inconceivably large-
I could vanquish them by turning out the light.


And I could tell you found
Mutating your voice into one
That carried deep around the solar system walls,
Loud enough to be heard beyond Saturn,
Amusing.


Whilst draping me in a duvet
Did not chill me with fear.
Rather, it warmed me with security-
I manipulated a protective hand upon my head
By leaning like a puppy.


No, it was the language I didn’t understand:
The one you used with Mum when you left the room.
Your tone had cooled as you crossed the threshold,
Whilst hers was shrill like she’d fell,
Grazed her knee like me last week.


Both tried to keep it from me,
Hushed tones, big words, sentences
Worded like an ambiguous soliloquy.
But it all served to tell me just as well
As it would if I were your divorce lawyer.




Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Lamerick

Wednesday 17th November 2010, A. Palmer



There once was an old poet from Skye
And limericks were what he would try.
Although he’d start out fine,
He’d hit trouble around this line
And never finish them.



Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Nameless, Shameful

Tuesday 9th November 2010, A. Palmer


The photograph, cute and opportunistically shot,
Deceived from atop a peeling shelf,
As greyscale romance faded into full colour
And reality pierced fiercer.

A future model’s jaw line greened, marred by lumps and mottled marks,
Whilst her damson skin made a poppy bruise mere child’s play.
She hoarded her paltry possessions away from my pocketed clutches:
Stained, cliché-eyed doll and car with unoriginal driver

Passed over for a hymen long ago.

A faded, ill-fitting top revealed a grip-thick stomach,
Scratched like a cat post and swollen like a paler edition
Of ones you see on slow-motion appeals.
I felt dirty to have caught a glimpse of her navel.

Clearing throat, and trying hard to look past
Big brown eyes, full of broken capillaries
Sullying young sclerae like cherries popping,
I bent slowly down, negotiating the movement

Inch by inch with the quivering poor sod.

I sighed at the absent, back-arching panting of one
Whose breath had caught in their lungs,
And stopped momentarily at the recoil towards a soiled skirting board,
Splintering like sapping bark, as if

To push the child towards me, and sanctuary.
I understood I was identical to the infant’s image
Of indescribable suffering, but stood firm, held voice soft.
She came with me, past sobbing, repentant mother,

Past the lying photograph. That little bedroom.




Monday, 8 November 2010

Brackets

Monday 8th November 2010, A. Palmer


I still remember the first series of predictive conversation:
smiling as I do, but the ones at the time are matchless.
(You employed brackets when you weren’t supposed to),
(I liked you so I did too).

First, something warm would rush its walls
as (far from) innocence gave way to play,
and one X became two, then three, then fourteen once
                  (I counted)
after I delighted you with a compliment you weren’t expecting.

Payments skied and shyness dissolved as a tongue
so used to being bitten whilst acidic snipes rained around
was set free to practise its rusty lines. The times
I nearly failed, nearly nipped it in the bud, never to see

such a beautiful bloom as you and I.
That particular time (about the butterfly tattoo),
when you failed to seal your sentence with a kiss,
you damn right nearly broke my

thumb, as I hastily replied in enquiry/apology/both.
(Turns out you were making tea and rushing).
You caught me, I said.
To catch you, you’d have to be falling, you said.



Monday, 1 November 2010

New Light

Friday 29th October 2010, A. Palmer

The motorway was ours-
Driving home or away, no one knew.
You were asleep, soundlessly, trusting;
I was full of love.

Ahead, tonight had begun to die
And tomorrow was readying to replace
A day that had been so right,
So full of love.

Glancing across at your slumped frame,
Full beams lit you for a second
And your sheer beauty startled me,
I crossed a lane.

I fingered your locks like a lullaby,
Then hit left with the same hand,
Indicating to no one but the new light
That I was turning around at the next exit.

Slipped into the quiet stream on the other side,
Driving away from the dawning day-
Today had been so right,
I wanted a few more miles of it.