One poem from each of the three sections of West North East (‘Fugue’, ‘Edgelands’ and ‘Chinese Lanterns’)
Because I Was Nobody
Mum’s new bloke called me ‘the blob’.
I’d no idea what I wanted to do
with my life. I’d come home from job club
and watch anything on TV. It’s true,
at dusk I’d walk out of the estate
into the scraggy grazing land beyond
and light fires. On a hump of earth I’d sit
sipping Thunderbird and warming my hands
as lights in the distant high-rise blinked on
and off. Once, I stumbled down a mound
into a herd of cows. The heat of them
was like a drug. All I wanted was to stand
feeling their breath all night. They let me try
because they knew I had nothing. Was nobody.
Edgelands. Showrooms, factories
lapsing into pylon fields.
Where the road bends, fresh debris.
A hubcap like a felled star.
A severed tail. Grey. Still puffed.
From Moving With Thought
On April mornings
after soft rain,
the soil will open
its cask of scent.
The cherry blossom
is lit by noon
and bees rev engines
inside the trees.
Is that old soul manning the checkout
Issa? I know those sagging shoulders
and blackened thumbs. They have known better
than packing bags for smirking students.
I know that laugh and sudden banter.
It cracks his mask when wrapping whisky
for an old friend: ‘If we’re sacked again,
we’re only sacked. The cherry blossoms’.