Monthly Archives: November 2016

Unquiet Slumber

Unquiet Slumber

A while back, I was at my friends’ wedding. They got married in a beautiful church and had the reception in a lovely venue at the bottom of the graveyard. There was a long and winding road to this venue but the quickest route was to weave between the graves themselves, edging your way down the reasonably steep hill.

That was alright on the way down but, by the time I left, it had been raining for a very long time and it was almost completely pitch black outside. This made the hill extremely precarious and turned the graves into hidden stumbling blocks.  On my way up, I had a little accident.

Unquiet Slumber

The sleepers lay in rows and columns
Names erased by years and years
Of Heaven’s tears
That sponged the stone
Fed the moss
Till all that stood were monoliths

But even these were barely visible
As the day decayed
Five pilgrims, I among them, felt their way
Between the shades of grey and black
Below the church a wedding choir sang
Shut up and dance with me
A hymn of innocence

I clasped a card
A token
My unspoken tribute I’d present
In homage to
The 405 to West Croydon

I fell behind as we proceeded
Up the tear stained hill
Still slick
Unobserved beside me, was a grave
Let me describe it to you

At the top, the gravestone leant
Itself grown old
It’s broken skin bled water on what lay below
The plot was marked by cornerstones
Four small, square stones that showed the sides

But as yet
I was unfamiliar with these details
Blindly slipping by
Till slipping by was slipping over

I don’t know how well acquainted you are with graves
Perhaps you’ve seen your share
Or laid a flower
Perhaps you’ve sat and cried
Or bowed your head
But I feel confident that very few
Very, very few of you
Have, at speed
Felt both feet fly off the ground
Fallen, flailing frantically
Your panicked cry drowned out
By a resounding round of
Here’s to you Mrs Robinson
As you plummet
Wrenching your leg over a cornerstone
And headbutting another

I have

I came to rest
Still smartly dressed
But now rocking that slightly ‘distressed’ look
And lay in imitation
Of the man, or woman, or child
I don’t know
Who lay 6 feet below
I took a moment
To confirm I was not broken
I heard my friend cry
Ben, what’ya doin’ on the floor?

I slowly stood
An unbearable agony
Prevented me
From putting weight on my left knee
In shredded trousers, trembling
I stepped one… little… step…

And fell again
My brain was overwhelmed with input
Overloading
Over I went
A spent force physically
And then came the collision

Head to headstone
Loaf to rock
A sickening clock

And so I lay once more
As will o’ wisps went winding through my eyes
Another cry Ben mate, get up
Just audible as revellers raised hands in praise
Exclaiming I’m in love with her and I feel fine

A wet and beaten, defeated figure
Rose from the grave

Astonished glances danced from friendly faces
Ben, what the hell happened to you?

I shook the dust from my clothes
Straightened my hair
You think this is bad? I said
You should see the other guy

This chili pepper opted to be buried at sea but, you know, cut backs.

This chili pepper opted to be buried at sea but, you know, cut backs.

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The Moon Under Water

The Moon Under Water

The Moon Under Water is a name used by Wetherspoons for a lot of their pubs. The pub referred to in this poem is The Moon Under Water in Balham, London. The poem is quite new but the story dates back a couple of years to a time when, for various reasons, I stopped drinking any alcohol for a year.

The friend referred to in this poem has been arbitrarily named ‘Michael’. He is not based on any one person but is an amalgamation of people who I witnessed doing various things during that year. For the first time ever, I was sober around a lot of very drunk people and it gave me a very different perspective. Nothing in this poem is fictional but it didn’t all necessarily happen on the same occasion.

As with many of my more recent poems, this was written to be performed but hopefully it survives being written down.

The Moon Under Water

Filtered through the door
Of The Moon Under Water
I find my friends
Four pints in, each

BEN MOORE
BEN THE MOORE
BEN WE WANT MOORE
BEN GIVE ME MOORE
BEN TELL ME MORE TELL ME MOORE

These formalities out of the way
Michael waves me to a seat
Backhanding an old man standing a little way behind him
He offers to buy me a beer
A kind offer but I decline
I’m fine I say
I’m not actually drinking at the moment

Michael peers at me with narrow eyes
S’good he says s’good
Very wise
He nods with his whole body
Jolting the table and toppling the sauce caddy

I myself he says am cutting back
Here he smacks his quite slack jacket
Gonna get fat
He laughs so hard he knees the table
Others rush to steady their unstable drinks

Besides he says
Getting smashed is getting old
There’s nothing more sad
Than some overweight Dad
Wobbling his way home
‘Cause he didn’t get it under control when he was our age
He nods, having said his bit
He sits up straight
Well, sort of

I move to the bar to buy a pepsi
I’m passed by a precariously, Pisa-pointing, pickled pensioner
He walks a while
In the exaggeratedly sedate nature
Of a man who thinks no one will notice
He’s drunk beyond all reason
If he plays it cool
He wanders into the bathroom

His friend comes stumbling behind
Less concerned with disguise
Eyes rolling and body contorting
Like some sarcastic, elasticated gymnastic display
He accidentally pirouettes towards the bathroom
But the spin is too much
And quite suddenly
The evening’s booze flows forth
A firth of filth flung
Along with all the air in his lungs
HUUUUU HUUUUUU Hurled against the door
Sinking down to stain the patterned carpet on the floor

Finally
A single sob escapes his fetid gob
And a blob of slobber slips out
Stretching, stretching
Fssllghllllsll
Sucked up
Retching
Then
Satisfied
We both return to our seats

Michael gestures at the scene
Sweeping my glass clean off the table
He looks at me
Or rather, sort of, all around me
I think
Here he stops to drink and shake his head
I think
That guy is drunk

There are better ways to enjoy alcohol #trendyalesfortrendymales

There are better ways to enjoy alcohol #trendyalesfortrendymales