The Player

They run
And they run
And they run.
Gas tanks for lungs.

Supporters
Who earn less
And are mainly
Anonymous
And
Androgynous
Wave brightly
Coloured
Flags
Like new
Enthusiasts.
They cheer
From on top
Of their tanks.

He trips up,
He falls,
Brushes himself
Down as if
Nothing
At all,
Takes a step
And somehow scores.

8-8-8

In the UK,
On average
Every three days,
A woman is murdered
By a man, and
More often than not
Someone she knows
Very well,
But also often
Not as she fell.

Our most
Blessed
Governmental
First
Response
As two more women
Died here this week,
That same way, on
This sceptred isle,
This floating exile,
Is to suggest
A fucking tech solution,
(No surprise when
The cabinet are in bed
With a silicon press)
An app, a number,
Because, of course,
Apps are now salvation.
It’s suggested
This bleak service
Could be named 888,
The numbers you strive for,
You reach for,
You fail to press
As another man attempts
To assault and degrade
And humiliate
One more woman
Again.

I expect it was one more
Male bureaucratic
Whitehall flannelist
Who unimaginatively
Dreamed of channeling this,
Missing nuances
Of the online casino
Entitled this same way,
Their peacock libidos
Obfuscated, getting
In the way.
This system is stuck –
Our chances of survival
Are synonymous with
Gambling, and luck.

Call the number,
Roll the dice,
And if you’re challenged
By fakeries of officers
Or mockeries of ministries
Do not think twice
To run from suffrage
And into your life.

Serialised

Where do they go to?
Those endless rows
Who once sat, bless,
Pleased as punch
And bright as a bunch
Of tulips essential
To our well-dressed
Red-shoed universe.
They sang a hymn,
They learned a word,
Only ten or twenty years
Ahead to be interred
In brambles and roses
For the wrongs
Of a man, or men,
Or whoever we failed
In our future roles
To only once deter.

Aboriginal

Lunar mood fringe,
They placed several tiny pins
In my undernourished sides,
My diaphragm and then
My abdomen.
They did this for a promise,
For prophecy, and yet
When no blood flowed
Nor did I flinch nor wince
Nor died, they hauled
And winched me up
By my rusty flehmen lip,
To survey all extents
Of the damage they once did.

Far away from my vantage
I could discern a dust bowl;
Local Angle diminishes grief.
Despite the best intentions
Of actors and musicians,
Also known as charlatans
And often politicians,
We are worse off now
Than we were back then.
There is a bald eagle at war
With itself, it circles and calls
In brawling self-doubt;
In a dream irrepressibly
Parallel with that downy beast
Four bearded men rode side-saddling
Into a town where football grounds
Are venues for public displays
Of punishment and the schools
And universities and places
Of worship were left deserted
Long ago, long before my desertion.

When misappropriating men
Chase flags or desecrate chalices
Or bulldoze summits
To landscape the world a little flatter,
It is always women out of love
And children out of hope
Who are doled the most to suffer,
And at last I could see
From these barren heights
How Time’s helices reverted
To a more peaceful place
Wherein my less bleak thoughts,
Moreso than all of these,
Became at once atavistic and
Goldenly aboriginal.

Welcome To Washington Heights

The pimp is my manager,
He says he is my Fantasy;
He says I like it when he hits me,
This is not make believe.

When I was six or seven,
I dreamt of fairy castles,
Now I bleed three times a week
And take my alcohol.

I find comfort in his violence,
That’s what he said I thought;
Trouble doesn’t have a pitch,
I don’t associate with people

Any more, but him.
I must be happy for clients,
I am a Texan cargo train,
I am the Houston skyline.

He gives me warnings
Not to go on the run,
Sometimes punches me too much.
A room incarcerates

With sheets of shallow pink
And I think there they all go
On the freeway with
Their health insurances

And bungalows with lawns
Neatly mown; in time their cars
Turn on these headlamps,
Light up the furthest wall.

On Being Brave

Sometimes bravery feels far away,
Like plantations in New Mexico,
Or statues in a concrete-grey
Of Edith Cavell, or the Arapaho

In Wyoming. Sometimes, nondisclosure
Of memory’s easier than being brave
In the face of his granite exposure;
With less closure, there’s more we crave.

He takes Youth and has our age depraved,
He takes Hope’s wings, our flight’s delayed;
Know this, in Time your role is saved;
Let go of the years, alone and afraid.

On golden platters he gave you some money,
Enough to buy sheers for a hedge;
He held your waist and called you ‘Honey’
In a pool-side photo he would allege

Later like all the others were taken
By someone else, paid long ago;
Bravery will slowly awaken
When money in their mouths we sow.

His words were the same as the rifle
Demeaning and strafing the souls,
Don’t leave free speech a disciple
To the spades for filling the hole.

Keep bravery close to your chest,
Like medals pinned to your coat;
On eternal journeys he is bereft,
Descending in a mulberry boat.

 

Mixtape

The local crows on fire
Were used as projectiles
Into the pit where the women
Would sit while a cleric
Determined the extent
Of their irreligiousness.

When I was a teenager
I made you a mixtape
On a TDK ferrite strip,
And if the tape chewed up
On your Walkman
We could fix it, with a pencil.

These are the same two worlds
But my hurt is displaced
For Asia, and Malala, and every
Other recepient of man-made
Injustice and medals of pain.
Mine is not the same, yet
The tape bobbed on the river.

Libertas / Columbia

There is verdigris
Where copper plates
And audiences

With top hats
And massive moustaches
Used to be,

The great weights
Welded pre-Dreyfus
Excommunications

Shielded your aorta
And encased liberty
Before the disease.

Now ferry-fetched
Tourists who delight
In the Bedloe Island

Greenery tag you
On Instagram veneries
Whilst unknowing

Of your origins
In the patisseries
Of sculptors

In Paris and
Amsterdam, and your
Expedition in bonds

On barges, in parts;
Locals flocked
To riverside paths

To cheer you off;
Ceremonies, champagne
Bottle shards bobbled,

Magnums, Jeroboams,
Signifying nothing
In the frothy water.

They did not endure
Your journey over
The Atlantic blight,

Now tourists flock
Like a mazurka
Of seagulls;

New frock,
Statuesque,
In that capital

Men use coins
For the crossings
Which also turn to green.

In time, perhaps their
Souls do too,
As they stand and salute

In front of a diluted
Version of you,
On an island

Of the self,
On a sheet of green,
By a European shop window.