Category Archives: True Stories

Perspective

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My Dad tells a very amusing story about his art teacher Mr Garrett. I’m reluctant to explain it too much in this introduction because I think the poem will summarise it quite well. Suffice to say, my dad and Mr Garrett didn’t really get on. As is becoming quite standard with my newer posts, this was written to be performed. At some point in the future, I’m going to try and make some videos of me performing poems!

Perspective

Where’s your perspective Philip?
Lacking something that should clearly be innate
Philip takes the berating again
The bulging Mr Garrett’s mantra like cry
Brings with it a beating
A bash in the belly
Philip… WHERE’S your perspective?

A London school, sometime in the Seventies
Philip – young lad – short, black hair
Departs the rooms
He and all the other guys are
None the wiser
As to what ‘perspective’ even is

Where’s your PERSPECTIVE Philip?
Another week, another art class
Another fast jab in the gut
An ever growing
Weak once, but now getting strong
Inherent sense of WRONGness

And as the classes roll by
Philip tries to forgive and forget
But as yet, repentance is not forthcoming
And his tummy turn purple with the pain and rage

And so the stage is set for vengeance
Where your perspective PHILIP?
There’s danger on the horizon
But Philip can’t see how close it’s come
Where’s your perSPECTive?

Mr Garrett turns away and bends
And here ends Philip’s patience
Rather than report this man
And face the disdain or disinterest of his elders
He will take matters into his own hands
His own…
Hand

Children squeak with alarm
As Philip winds back his arm
Which then disembarks
On a perfect arc
And end with a stark THWACK
Smacking Mr Garrett’s backside

Now…
Before he went into teaching
Mr Garrett had another name
Man Mountain

Yes, in case you haven’t guessed
He was a wrestler
Who packed it all in
To begin a career
Close to his heart
Teaching art

So, as we return to the seventies
Mr Garrett, no nonsense, ex-wrestler that he is
Turns slowly to face Philip
And, though he doesn’t know it
What Philip has now
Is perspective, of sorts
He can see everything leading up to this moment

Every criticism
Every thump
The lump in his throat grows
And he knows
That was nothing
That was nice
Compared with what is coming

Are you sorry Philip?
Philip?
Are you sorry?
PHILIP ARE YOU SORRY?
The problem is, he’s got Philip in a jaw lock
Blocking any apologies that might have been attempted

Ng sy, Ng sy
What? What did you say?
Are you sorry?
Ng sy, Ng sy

A London school, sometime in the noughties
Ben – young lad – long, black hair
Sits in another art class
None the wiser as to why his eyes
Are so hard to draw
Why the face he’s attempting to recreate
On the page before him
Comes out so misshapen
He’s taken so much care
Perfectly shading and curling the hair
But the shadows and the angles
Are mangled

Ms Evans leans over
No Ben, that’s not right
She obliterates three weeks work
With a borrowed rubber
Leaves unfased by the look of hatred
Growing on Ben’s face

Her parting words
As she turns back:
It was lacking something
You know, what’s the word I’m looking for?

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Craplo Picassno

 

 

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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.

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

Pins and Needles

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This is another haiku used to fill a space in my notebook.

Back when I was in year 7, we always had assembly in the morning and we had to sit on the floor for the whole thing. Every morning, without fail, I would lose all feeling in my right foot. When I stood up, I would have to half hop, half wobble my way towards the classroom. However, before I ever made it back to my class, the most excruciating pins and needles would completely incapacitate me. I would stop in the middle of the hall, resigned to my fate, and wait for them to pass.

Pins and Needles

Sat down awkwardly
Lost all feeling in my foot
Guess I live here now

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Me and my right leg went our separate ways years ago

Digbeth Dining Club

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This is probably my favourite recent poem of mine. It was written in the early hours of the morning after coming back from a night out. A friend of mine is getting married soon so, for his stag do, he had a few different celebration type things over a weekend. On the Friday evening we went to something called Digbeth Dining Club (DDC for short) which is a cool event in Birmingham full of what is essentially very nice street food from all over the world.

While we were there, one of the guys went to use the bathroom. When he returned he brought with him a terrible tale. It was independently verified by myself and another friend. This is the story of John’s visit to the DDC loo.

Digbeth Dining Club

The streets were clear in Digbeth, there was something in the air
A disturbance in the urban urgency
Mothers cradling their children closed the windows, whispering
Some dark wonder grew there under DDC

Underneath a certain staircase, in the corner of the bar
Lit in passes by the glasses glistening by
Was a toilet, wet and soiled and stained and yet, this was the place
That a tragic kind of magic came to lie

No one heard the clatter in the chat, so no one knew
In the smell, a small cup fell down from a face
The door slid slowly open and a figure fled in shame
Gone and been to set the scene, prepare the place

John entertained, regaling us with strange and sickly tales
Nature rang, so up he sprang in usual mirth
And I could have sworn the planets were aligning as he left
All assembled felt a tremble in the Earth

As he passed, young women shivered, as he entered in, men shook
Through the gloom, across the room our hero edged
A storm by now was growling in his bowels, he checked the bowl
In the rim, all slick and slim, a cup was wedged

Something in him felt it then, foreboding, second sight
In any case, he took his place upon the seat
And for a while he reigned upon his fickle, faecal throne
Then deposed, the young man rose up to his feet

As he turned to his creation, bent to look into its face
What he found would have astounded anyone
Only paper in the water, not a submarine in sight
Then he saw, with dropping jaw, what he had done

All John’s ghastliest constructions hadn’t made it to the loo
His emissions took position in the cup
In ignorance he’d sat there, as his temperamental guts
Poured their malice in the chalice, piling up

He looked on, not believing the relieving of his waste
Could produce so dark a juice infused with wee
It was hard to break his gaze away, his self-made dirty pint
No, this potion of bowel motion couldn’t be

Retreating from the miracle, returning to his friends
Off his feet, into the eating booth he slid
He leant across the table, grinning proudly as he said
You are never gonna guess what I just did!

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This picture was not taken in Digbeth Dining Club and there is no poo in it. But there’s only so much one can do for art.

To Fall Asleep

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I do most of my travelling by Megabus. It takes longer than getting a train, but you don’t have to make any change overs (usually), the seats are more comfortable, and it’s much cheaper. Those are the reasons I usually give if asked why I choose to travel in this way. The truth is, the main reason I continue to use the Megabus is that it’s such an entertaining way to travel. I’ve seen many strange and/or hilarious things on my journeys. One such experience inspired this poem.

To Fall Asleep

Emphatically
Repeatedly
Agreeing
With sleep

She slipped into a shallow
Megabus shaken slumber
Tumbling over potholes
Swaying with the sudden turns
Until

Gliding sideways
Starting slowly
It only took one sudden bump
To displace her face

Freeze frame
In the split second before impact
She was, in fact
Awake

Just in time to process
Her short lived motion’s impending end
But far too late to escape it

And we’re back
Smack
On the side of my chair
Ashamed, she hung her head
And I hope
Oh, how I hope she didn’t notice
My barely perceptible tremor
As I turned my face away

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You should always travel with a V-cushion and a bicycle helmet

 

Good Morning

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This poem was written during a week where I had to get up at varying early hours and work all day. I’m rather prone to insomnia so I was suffering slightly by the end of the week and my first emotion, every morning when the alarm went off, was rage at the world. One evening, as I worked late into the night, I decided to channel some of my anger into a poem. I started it in the evening and finished it in the morning. The result is an angry but quite silly poem. I’m sure people will sympathise with the feelings expressed here.

Unusually for me, this poem was written more to be spoken out loud than read off paper. Hopefully it won’t lose its impact being written. Try reading it out loud or sounding it out in your head to get a picture of what I was aiming for.

Good Morning

When the alarm sounded
A sudden, profound, and all consuming
Fuming and festering thought
Wrought an almost indescribable change in me

The deep seated sedation
Though well within its expiration date
Was devastated
The enduring security of bed’s allure
GONE GONE GONE GONE GONE

Slipping from the summit
I plummet and crawl
And I can’t help but think
Of that very first fall

Seeing that it was good to eat
Sinking her teeth into the sickly sweet
Go on, indulge a little, sinful treat
Feeling the world tremble and rage
And rue the rebellion, and break
Beneath her feet

Perhaps, in that moment
What she felt, in the fear
The new weariness wracking her bones
And the tears now running
Still stunned by the sudden dysfunction at play
In ways she could never have dreamed

Perhaps, what she felt
Might be close
To the flood of emotion
The long, lord help me
Self reflection
Self deception
Self defence
Deflection of the inevitable knowledge
That all is not as it should be
All summed up for me
In the earnest and agonised cry of my heart
Expressed in a faintly heard
But aggressively stressed
Four letter word

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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO