Hard sleeper.

Six cubic square metres. Space teeters.

Six bunks for warm souls. Sheets full of holes.

Sun beating in from the west. No rest.

Mountains to the east. Facing it with a feast.

Crispy chips and crunching cake. Smelly food they did take.

Coughing and spluttering. Aisle cluttering.

Masks off blowing noses. Ring a ring of roses.

Hot as a desert sauna. Flying biting fauna.

Whatever is that smell? Food bell! Food bell!

Smooth until the shunts. Wheels at the stunts.

Clickety-clack along the long track. No way back.

Bow.

Can’t you feel it? The constriction as the noose tightens and the drop comes closer. The darkness is consuming the light, casting a deep shadow over hope. The smell of victory blew away in a storm’s gust. The sound of a clock’s hands tick ever louder and the pendulum swings with urgency raising your heart’s beat to higher peaks. Chalky dry dust whips up to the lips, parched, cracked and dry in the moonlight. Will another day bring a new sunrise?

What am I?

I breathe deeply yet have no air.

I shuffle and jiggle not in a chair.

I play hard, read well but do not share.

I’m round, long and not a fair fare.

I’m the riddle that you tweak and fiddle.

I’m the sound of the tinkling-rinkling piddle.

I’m the puzzle that at night you diddly diddle.

Giggle all you want, I’m the wink at the tiddle.

I’m the value of the bat’s shadowy wings.

I’m the voice the icy valley sings.

I’m the rhyme at a time that brings.

I’m all manner of great abundant things.

Scribbled whilst trekking in 2017.

It shall pass.

Just as the hour seems darkest;

and your energy seems the lowest;

with your mood at its most testing;

remember, it shall pass.

As darkness battles hope;

raging on relentlessly;

Crushing and pushing your boundaries;

take note, it shall pass.

Because your heart is stronger;

and all before you is more powerful;

we’ve been here before;

it too, it shall pass.

Kneeling down regurgitating water;

grasping the walls as your sphincter trembles;

convulsing on an empty stomach;

soon be over, it shall pass.

The wind of hope messages;

kind acts replenishes;

a moment of support noted;

I believe, it shall pass.

Bon Voyage.

The little man darting up the tree.

The kid with stings, bites and bruises.

The joy at finding spiders and beetles to see.

The sad face when his team loses.

The dancing girl we could all look up to.

Singing about butterflies and happy times.

Telling stories through and through to me and you.

Whistling words with witty rhymes.

Proud teachers and parents gazing onwards.

The strumming rumbling tuneful times.

Their journey goes on and onwards.

The walks, the runs, the climbs.

This isn’t a time of sadness or madness.

You’ve touched us all, including me.

This is a moment to feel collective gladness.

The books passed around silently.

Your departure may come with haste.

Jet off, carry on the journey of life and love.

To the future, you go, do not waste.

Look back, look up, down, left, right and above.

We were here. We were now. We were one group, at one place, in one time. We were lucky.

Get out there. Carry on to share. Bring that spark of sunshine, in another place, in another time. You’ll be lucky.

Hey!

They’ll be lucky.

(Unless Mr Lee makes coffee again: for the love of God and all the holy characters, stay away from the coffee machines)

Farewell and Bon Voyage Shawver tribe.

I wanna follow you

I wanna follow you.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna follow you, wherever you go, whenever you know.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna go there. I wanna be there. I wanna feel there.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna show myself to you. I wanna be completely true.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna open up and let myself go. I wanna give you all my show.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna find the path together. I wanna ride through stormy weather.

I wanna follow with your shadow. I wanna run with you in a meadow.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna go wherever you may go. I wanna see ourselves grow.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna follow. I wanna follow. I wanna follow you.

I wanna follow you.

I wanna.

I want you.

I will follow you.

Inspired by the opening music and poetry of ARGH KiD‘s Never Drinking Again. ARGH KiD is the official poet for the NSPCC, UEFA and Man Utd.

Where’s the next mountain?

To sit and wait.

Hasn’t it been a long time since the wind whistled lightly down the valley? Hasn’t it been so long since the book’s pages flipped over gently in the breeze? Hasn’t it been so long since the smell of a campfire spun on smoke from a place unseen to the eye? Isn’t it a pity that these places seem so far away? If only I had more memories to sit back and unwind with. Where’s the next mountain? Where’s the next wander? Where?

Rooted to the spot.

The feeling is like you’re trembling without moving. Your feet are rooted to the ground like earth beneath them is shaking. You’re still. The earth is still. Yet, all seems to shudder, bend and fold. Feet planted firmly feel they will fall.

Flashes of vivid light, breaches of Technicolor, lightning jagged rays and strobes penetrate darkness. There’s no light but for moments night becomes day. A lightning storm without clouds.

Thunderous calamity like a dozen orchestras each competing to be heard at a rock festival. For a moment the noise ends. Just as suddenly it envelopes and surrounds all. Whistling wind rips apart into a treacherous typhoon. Yet, it is silent. Absolutely hushed.

Rotten roses mix with sweet garlic and freshly chopped onions. They join lavender, mint and thyme in a coriander sauce gently dipped into sticky runny melted honey. Although absence of olfactory senses does not allow this. There’s nothing at all.

On the tongue a smattering of rich sweet tastes, twists in and out of salted sour lemon infusions with the tastes of childhood favourites abound. Of course the mouth is closed and salivation long gone. No tastes present.

This is death.

Heartbeat of life.

You can only see yourself.

But look around you, on the hoof.

There’re millions of souls in bad health.

Those with less, having more truth.

You may be feeling low and blue.

Things may be getting too much.

Will the world gobble and swallow you?

Piling up like a tidal mountain and such.

Look beyond your glass mirror or window.

False portraits of glamour and status?

When you see it, you’ll know.

Take away your self to hiatus.

Be kind, care, aware and share.

It could be a brighter day.

Give a smile, give some fair.

What say, today, add love to our play?

Listen for the heartbeat of life.

A look, a hug, a hand on the shoulder.

Talk to remove the awkward strife.

Lift up and discarded the whole boulder.

Take away barriers when you carry us.

To war children, bring good cheer.

Bring flowering meadows filled with a buzz.

Take away the bombs pounding, fear.

A gesture, a notion and a worthy feeling.

Warriors to worriers to the calm-minded.

Exploring ways to start the deep healing.

End feelings of being soullessly stranded.

Trail of blood.

Heartbreak was never the aim of the game.

Not was collating the rest as conquests.

There wasn’t intentional slurry to bring worry.

Only the trail of blood said he should.

Be more careful and less wasteful, more tasteful and less hastened and dull.

His heart still longed for the romance that never gonged.

The sound of dreams slipped from his seams.

Hope bound to him and wound around his frowned face. He drowned.

Tears leapt from his eyes to skies like waterfalls hitting ledges and wedges of rock. His shock.

He clinged to hope, like a rope ascending a tough slope.

If it happens, happenstance will make it happen. If not, then now what?

Mistakes, shakes, and high stakes versus mountain walks, sea swims and great lakes.

Life goes on. Life. Goes. On. It goes on. And on. And onwards he goes.

Wishes tied to the wind.

A prayer for the fairy sits in the wind;
From my whispers the words are thinned.

She floats on high waiting for its arrival;
What the prayer speaks could be truth or survival.

Only when it arrives to her glow;
will she know, and so go, on to the great show.

Wishes you’ll be here with me; give joy to melody.

Wishes we can share song pleasure of song; throughout the day, night and all along.

Wishes you will want my words and self; bringing days, weeks, months and years of health.

A wish is a terrible thing to waste; so here it goes without haste.

The breeze sails after light dimmed; wishes tied to the wind.

Vaccinated.

It wasn’t so sharp. I didn’t feel the coldness until it withdrew. The tiny fierce syringe shot inside like the wind blew.

The liquid vial, so small in hand. The nurses steadiness and readiness. One swift move, into a groove, of my skin. That’s it. It’s in.

Social Security pays for the ways that give days to this phase that ends slays. With every jab and prick, the world gets closer. Closer to open doors, walked floors, airplane snores, and many less bores.

My arm became heavy, unsteady and a weight I just carry. The doctors, the nurses; and the once-upon-a-time they married, but not now; the lost souls lost deep in books; the young who cast withdrawn looks; the babies and toddlers who haven’t yet seen grandpa and grandma; the grieving and the upset beyond feeling; we’re all getting closer.

The new norm is now. The now is new. The normal normality of the norm is here as a dawn. We could slink away, sink today or sail that way. Lay down your fear. A new beginning is near.

Drowsy side effects mean you feel. If you feel then it’s real. If it’s real then here’s the steel. We’re stronger than before and living longer what’s more. So, take the first hit. Go back for the second stab. Curl up after, roar in laughter. Stay bright, feel right and let go of uptight. The new now is the norm that is is next to you. Let’s go.

Taken for granted.

We’re lucky, you know. When you think about it.

We’re standing here tall, and fit. Filled up on our wit.

We don’t die of hunger or diseases like we used to.

We have passed away those through and through.

We don’t starve or face wars anymore.

We’ve shut that door, for sure, in truth it’s pure.

We’ll not quite, or maybe worse, or not as bad. It’s hard to tell.

Whatever is the matter that needs a yell?

We haven’t quite become friends or ended shouting at our foes.

We’re focusing on looking down our nose.

But, on the whole, overall it feels better for most.

Gone with the wind is that fairytale ghost.

Or most live relatively safely in safety, without doodlebugs overhead.

Tucking one into a silk-lined bed.

The point is: we’re lucky.

Stand up and be plucky.

It was worse back in the Dark Ages.

Turn over those bloody news pages.

Famines are on the down, I think.

Prisons are working, in with a clink.

Live Aid isn’t so frequently needed, so Bob Geldof can relax. Almost.

Concluded, resolved and above all: done. Foremost. For most.

No poverty in such a country and certainly none of THAT or THIS or other problems.

All fixed: Moss Side, Merseyside and other places like Harlems.

Don’t believe the news and the views and the social media conspiracy machine.

Sold you a dream, they did it with a sheen.

The leaders shouldn’t be trusted too, even if they did hug a stray kitten, wearing special mittens.

Good old English, Welsh and Scottish. And other new Britons.

Democracy, autocracy, bureaucracy, European disunion, division by incision. Don’t worry. Don’t weep.

Lambs to the slaughter. Run along sheep.

No need to stop and stare.

We’re too busy on our phones to care.

Dear Wendy

Best laid plans fall apart. Follow the feeling that leads your heart. Throw your full mind, and you will find. It, it, it, there’s something out there.

What it is I do not know, wish it’d clear and then show. Open a door, give me for sure. It, it, it. There’s something out there.

With a tickle in the finger, this itch does linger. One telling thought, is all it ought. It, it, it. There is something out there.

The words softly spoken, could well be the token. The wish had been heard, and with it a word. It, it it. There is something. Out there.

The eyes they do see, they imagine what could be. It could be the one, one I thought had gone. It, it, it. There is. Something out there.

I wonder if it’s a mutual feeling, to feel on the ceiling. Wanting to know for sure, if I’m at that door. It, it, it. Is there something? Out there?

If the wall can be broken, words can be spoken. I can lay down my head, and slip off into bed. It, it, it. I’m sure something is out there.

Stay in or go out?

COVID-19 risk. Be aware! Cover your mouths. Do not scare.

It’s tick season. Take care and reason.

Traffic is heavy and bad. Stay home and be happy or glad.

QR Code, vaccine history. Where to go is no mystery.

Foreigners not welcome here. Sit home with a cold beer.

Camping is strictly not allowed. The Policeman shouted rather loud.

Didn’t you hear me? You need a permit to travel, not free.

You’ll be followed around. Don’t make a sound.

The trains are all booked. My plans are royally…

No appetite.

You should eat something. You really should. You must. Why don’t you eat some little? You could try this. What about that? Try some soup. It’s piping hot. Some other goop? A stew? Hotpot used to make me feel better. Feeling cold? Put on a sweater. Eat this now!

Don’t drink that! Cold water? You just be crazy. Don’t lay down. You’ll get too lazy. Go rest. Try a nap. Wake up. Too much sleep! Trying to get up? You’re not feeling it, yet? You need hot water. Take a sip. Take a gulp. Swig it down. Drink it all.

We’ll fix you up. You’re not dead yet. Look. We believe you’ll be right soon enough. We’re asking you to believe. We can do it. We’ll get you shipshape. We’ve got this! We’re already making strides. What do we want to do?

Obituary.

If you checked out now, how would you be remembered? Fondly by some? Infamous by others? Perhaps. Not. At. All. Maybe you’ll be forgotten, like a lost teddy bear on a train bound for nowhere in particular.

What’s your legacy? Did you do something good? Did you make someone better? Maybe you broke a heart, or a string of hearts. Maybe you’re but a regret to most and a faded memory to another. Perhaps. Nobody. Will. Recall. You.

What did you do right? How did it go? What did you leave behind? A divorce? A fatherless child? A mother grieving over an unborn dream? It could be that words won’t be spoken about you. Perhaps. Silence. Is. Best.

Who’ll be there? At your funeral. Will there be shadows cast from people? Or the shapes of memories dancing in fading lights spun by the branches of trees dancing in the wind? Perhaps. No one. Will. Know. When. You. Go.

Will you get a choice when to go? Unlikely. Most never know. Some expect. Some arrive at an unfortunate moment. Some prepare well ahead but it arrives far too soon. Some get through extra days and leave as heroes. Some die another day. Some have no time to die. Perhaps. You’ll. Never. Know. Until. It’s. Over.

Sunset.

The evening sun has arrived. It’s not a sunset if beauty. We won’t make it until dawn. This sun sets on you and I. Take the blame on oneself. Gloaming deepens. Put aside the dream of tomorrow. Today has just died. We could stand, aside, in a corner. Not now. Never again. Our motion becomes static. The pace fell away. White clouds rush. The sky’s twilight hides the moon. The sun shines not on it. Nor on you and I. The fireworks we had do not light the sky. All light refuses to break this darkness. Dawn may arrive. I choose to wake alone. Goodbye scenery of yesterday. I wake to a new dawn chorus, alone.

Plagiarism.

It’s easy! It’s easy! It’s easy! 1, 2, 3… Copy and paste. Trace. Select.Copy. Insert. Saving time too. Why spend too much time thinking? Find it, reuse it. Reduce. Reuse. Recycled.

What’s the answer that you’re looking for? Look over their shoulder. What did they write? Take it! You know you want to. Less time on work, more time to play. Right? Copy it. Just look how east it can all be!

Feeling integrity needs to be kicked away? Don’t worry. Who can spot you? They’re not paying attention. Go on. Join the dark side. Photograph it. Use their details. Submit it faster, they they’ll be the copy, right? Register the trademark, add the copyright logo, spin their materials. It’s all the same to you me. Same ending, right?

FEEL FREE TO COPY IT.

Disclaimer: Written during academic integrity week. Not to be taken seriously. This does not represent the author’s true views on the title subject. Feel free to copy this disclaimer though.

The departed.

The bereaved have a particular look about them. They look flushed of colour. All their facial expressions drain away. One day they’re happy go lucky and full of vim; the next they’re a mix of grey pastels on tainted dull canvas. Their ears droop in tune with their frown. They look tired and out of focus. Loss is evident across their face. Their words are spoken slower and they take longer to stand up. They don’t bounce around looking for coffee and they certainly don’t race home on their bicycles.

I never know how to act around them. Do I stay the same? No. Not at all. Things are no longer the same. Loss is not a gain. I show my empathy but it never feels enough. I don’t want to say too much, but I do want and try to show I care. It’s not easy. Nothing ever is. Their loss is a challenge. My challenge is simply to be there for them, in the littlest of tiny small kind of ways.

How do you cope with loss? How do you act when someone departs? How many tears are too few? Or, too many? Is silence the treatment? Does that kind of loss ever truly fade away? How long does it take to recover? How many words need speaking? How does memory remain? How can I not forget you?

The dead don’t care. Maybe they did, before they left. Maybe their spirits go to heaven, Elysium or into the clouds. I can’t say. I’m no expert on the afterlife. Maybe they do care now. Or do they live on in us? Perhaps they flutter between the molecules and matters that make life? Could they be the vacuum of space? Or compost bringing life from waste?

I don’t want to feel what they feel. I don’t want to act differently or awkwardly. I don’t want to ask too many questions. I don’t want to forget the dead.

May you all rest in peace.

I love you.

I don’t say the word love lightly. I find it hard to say at all. To family, friends, those I spend my time with and even pets: sorry, it’s hard to say it. Not now, anyway.

You may feel it from me. You may get glances of it. You may touch upon moments where I should say it. You can probably sense I want to show or say it. It probably is bubbling so deeply and ready to escape that I’m trembly. Won’t say it.

Maybe I’m confused. Maybe I didn’t hear it from my parents, siblings or uncles or aunts or Gran or Nana or the postman. Maybe I used it too lightly as a teenager or with that lady who made me a man or the friends who left my sides or the stories I read made me feel different instead. I just can’t find the words.

How can I not love you? How can you not love me? How can love not be for you and me? How can I not love myself? Is it all unrequited? Could I utter it? Could I think it? It’s a gamble, right? Instead I stay silent.

My heart may beat faster. My breathing may be deeper. My eyes may be showing excitement. My cheeks may be brightening. Other things may be happening, some bold, some exciting. But, I doubt I’ll speak it. Not here. Not now.

The next day may be different. There may be more momentum. There may be more desire. Need is here. Speed and precise private precious moments may have dawned. Surely now? Unlikely. Sorry.

Blink of an eye.

She came into his life, quite unexpected.

She called. He listened. They talked. They laughed. It gave him warmth deep inside. She spoke openly. He told his story. They giggled. He answered questions. Once. Twice. Three times. The minutes stacked up. Time froze.

He chased. She was busy. He waited. She did not come. He wanted her. She was not available. He imagined. She slipped by. He thought of her. She had no voice. He dreamed. She remained silent. Once. Twice. Three times. It was as if it was a blink of an eye. Time came to a complete stop.

And just like that, she was gone.

Phone home.

Don’t look down at it. Too late. Don’t flip the camera to reserve. Oh, you’ve done it. Does everything need photographing? The way you’ve angled the camera to catch the fire extinguisher and your slightly edited face is exquisite. Just the nine photos. Each one like a time lapse with barely perceived difference. How thin exactly is your face? It looked a bit different an hour ago, a week back, some months ago.

How many moments did you fill? Is that video the same as someone else’s video? Pucker those lips up. Take a selfie. Snap! Snap! Snap! Take the photo from over there. No hazard there. Precarious overhanging places are fine too. Passing traffic? No need to look. Step out backwards. Drivers can swerve. Beeps are loud but you don’t hear it. Focus on your phone.

Cycling the wrong way up a busy road, in the nearest lane to the pavement kerb, and head down on our phone? Don’t worry. You could see beyond the cyclist going the right way. You could. Stay against the flow of the traffic though. Let the right do the right thing. Heck, even parallel ride with a friend. Both be on phones. You’re got it.

What conversation is needed? Look at your phone. Disengage from those with you in the group. By all means, one of you ramp up the volume. I wasn’t listening to my friend anyway. Perhaps some sounds of games will dazzle my mind. Go on. Some shooting sounds? Ideal. Money and other jingles. All at once? Perfection.

Is your child walking into a dangerous situation? Our won’t see. Your head is facing down. That black mirror is playing a video of a kangaroo hugging a panda, or mushroom in a bunch of flowers, or was it a video ending in canned laughter? The point is, your toddler has walked away. Too late? Hurry! Careful now!

And now I’m typing on a phone. Aware of the problem. Known to the addiction. Embraced. Doomed. Digital.

Gratitude.

Gratitude is a faithless twat who hates you. It spits on you. It shits on you. It laughs in your face. It spits into your eyes. Right into the corners. Filthy dirty fucking flem.

As you kneel on the floor wiping the green and yellow saliva of another man’s flem out of your eyes, gratitude takes one Usian Bolt-sped run from a distance of far too fucking unsuitable, swings its legs up, full flying Jacky Chan and boots your balls harder than the moon colliding into Earth.

It all wants to smash you. The establishment and the unknowns. They gather in shadows and whisper out of earshot. You know it. Gratitude rings their ears and directs their blows. It sniggers and wheezes distorted taunts. They say you’re paranoid. You yell back that you’re not. You fucking scream it until your voice is hoarse and your head throbbing with echoes.

Screaming from rooftops bucket fulls of curses, you could send thunder into the mountains and torrents of anger down to the very stones that hold them up. You kick and stamp hard, so hard. Your toes bleed and bruise against the inner soles of your shattering shoes. The threads tear and break away. Your gratitude is kicking dirt back in your face.

You could walk off and not stop walking for days, weeks, months or even years. Fueled on rage, anger, gritting your teeth. You shake inside. Your heart beats like a Slipknot album. You breath deep, but too fast and too hard trying to suppress this stupid furor. Temper and madness are your bedfellows and you hemorrhage a mania unknown before. Gratitude is grasping your heart, twisting it like child’s soft plasticine.

Your knuckles are white as you clench animosity and refuse to let go. It holds inside and around your chest like a jellyfish tangled to prey. A spasm here, an eruption teetering and ready to blast out there. The spleen ferments more than agitation. This huff is pure wrath and gratitude is unwilling to submit.

That’s what you should say, in some shape or form, when someone asks you casually, “How are you?” But, you find few words come out: “Not bad, thanks.” Gratitude has won.

Against the flow.

I’ve never owned an iPhone. When in groups, I’m alone. I don’t have a power bank. Tesla, I couldn’t rank. Nike Air Max did nothing for me. You buy one, you get one free. Fashion, fads, phases and crazes passed me by. Reebok classics, I did not buy.

Lining up to see the latest movie? I wouldn’t rush; no hurry! Thrilled by a new rollercoaster ride? Look out to sea; I’m by the tide. Dancing in a crowded room? In the darkest corner; I’m in the gloom. All outside, drinking and eating? I’m inside; self-retreating.

Against the flow of the traffic is where I belong. If you need me, I’m here, just plodding along. What I do best, I do it so strong. Being myself, not the rest, that’s where I long. Just me, being myself, right or wrong. Listen to a clock going ding-dong. I’m sat with time beating my own gong. I’m a little further north of famous Hong Kong.

Instagram, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn? Maybe I’ll join; maybe they’ll win. Perfection in the artwork? Not for me; I’d go berserk. Quality and quantities, over and over? For me, myself and I; it doesn’t matter. Keeping current and up with the Joneses? I never did buy; one of those onesies.

You need to be yourself.

Toes.

Funny looking things they are. Five little protruding rounded stumpy endings. Not like leaves on trees. More like branches that broke away and fizzled out their growth. Each one with a kind of cover. Those shiny nails continually grow and need hacking back like a rainforest refusing to bow to the city. Hairs grow from mine, wiry and infinitely unorganised. I look down on them usually, because if I’m looking up, it’s either exercise or gravity winning.

I’ve seen people with more or less of the usual number of five digits. I’ve seen webbing between and I’ve seen tattoos and scars. Mine sometimes resemble a relatives head shape. I won’t tell you which older brother that is, as he’ll probably be upset. I’ve seen fluff under my nails, often blue or black in colour and more than a fair share of mud and dirt. My toes have ached and hurt and witnessed impressions of Lego bricks and even three pin plugs.

I can’t remember my toes being sang about ‘This little piggy’ and so on but I know my Mum played with my toes as a young child and baby. These days my Mum wouldn’t be seen near my toes, and I’m all the better for it. They’re my toes and they’ve walked with me everywhere I’ve been. They’ve swam and danced and kicked and been strong as tiptoes. These toes are my toes and I’m proud to have them here for the journey ahead. Where are we going next?