You Can’t Dance In Gumshoes

Dark streets.
A bloody dance of money, or love, or revenge.
A sudden sharp flash of violence, an inevitable mis-step and the music stops.
And two people is now one person and one corpse.
Running footsteps.
Time passing with trash-wind and a curious fox.
An interlude.
An early dog-walk-discovery leads to screaming and phone calls and sirens.
The sirens start act two.
Two cars. Two coppers apiece. A well rehearsed quartet.
To take a statement, and tape the pavement and patiently stave off the videotapers:
The instagram journalists, the twitterazzi and crime carrion,
The lorekeepers, engraving our passions and our past on tablets no longer made of stone.
An instant, international chorus that rounds out the sound and carries the song.
Wave them on, conductor, wave them on.

Morning traffic trickles and slows to a standstill stare.
No pulse, no paramedics. They’re done dancing, let them rest.
Forensics are late but awake.
Plastic bags and latex gloves.
Cameras and questions.
Words flying over the heads of the beat-cops.
A new dance begun, to a medical song.
Of angles, and blood-stains,
Incisions, contusions,
Of foot prints and finger prints and
Surgical terms.

At the edge of the ballroom, he’s waiting by the beat cops
Allowed past the tape, but barely inside.
He stifles a yawn, he’s been up since dawn,
And drinking before that.
He watches the blood and the flirting, uncertain
If the two young forensics are intimate yet.
He waits, and dispatches a beat-cop for coffee,
Wanting to join in the evidence gathering,
Desperate to eat something more dirty than pastry
And to sink his teeth into the case, and throw himself around the floor.
Still he waits for the news,
Because he knows
That you can’t dance in gum-shoes.

He’s a fighter, not a lover.
And when he gets the file, the day’s almost done,
But he’s just begun.
A DNA match.
He doesn’t know how it works.
He doesn’t much care.
It got him a name.
He’s a hunting dog.
And he moves without style.
Barely a dance, but with scent and with fury he prowls through the night.
Knocking some doors.
Kicking some in.
Knocking some people around.
Kicking some of them in, too.
Until finally, bruised and belligerent, he has his man.
In cuffs.
In the car.
Slam.

It’s late now.
The detective is tired, and tried.
A long night made longer by paperwork and pen-pushing,
Whiskey and writing out form after form,
After hours. And he’s done. He takes off his gumshoes,
He takes his applause and he blacks out and leaves the stage.
His race is run, and for him the show is over.

Somewhere a lawyer,
A crime commissioner,
A prosecutor,
A newspaper editor,
Twelve unsuspecting jurists,
A hundred unsuspecting citizens,
A thousand different people
Hear the music start.
And they begin to dance.

Beware the Horrid/Humid

In the depths of Summer,
When the sun beats sticky into your clothes,
And the air is thick
And the flies are huge,
Maybe stay at home. Indoors.

Ignore the beach.
Ignore the lure of the blue,
Of wide skies and deep seas,
Of outside meals and verdant pleasantries,
Of laughter and bronzing and
Of strangers, scantily clad.

For those are his baits,
His gaudy feathers,
His colourful lures,

And you are his prey.

He lurks,
In the heat,
The Horrid-Humid.

The beast that feeds,
With slow-grinding jaws of sweat,
Upon fine plans and the day’s desires,
With all the sad certainty of a sand-castle.

KNOW the Horrid-Humid by his roar:
The screams of too-hot toddlers,
The crashing of too-big waves,
And the droning of a thousand picnic-wasps.

FEAR the Horrid-Humid for his hunger:
His ice-cream melting,
Tin-car-boiling,
Family-frustrating,
Let’s-just-go-home-then,
Day-ruining hunger.

AVOID the Horrid-Humid by his nature,
And learn to live in his shadow.
For he always faces the sun,
And he cannot see you,
Or hurt you,
In the shade.

So.
In the depths of Summer,
When all is shorts and sandals,
And flip-flops and buckets
And spades and sand and salt…

Look up and see the Horrid-Humid,
Huge,
And Sweltering,
And Just-Outside your door.
And maybe stay at home. Indoors.
And let another be his prey.

A Perfect Love

It’s so much fun to pretend to be the person you are when you’re in love.

And it makes you lesser, and feel lesser when you’re not him.

That wonderful, talented, attractive man that you were, that she loved, that you loved.

And now it’s moved on, and he’s gone, and there’s you.

The man that you are. Not all that you could be. And your warts start to show.

And in rooms not kept clean and in tears that she’s seen, and in anger and pain and in rage, all the memories of you that you shared are now dew, and evaporating from the page.

Here’s to the Women,

all lovestruck and lovelorn who are people they’re not,

and cannot continue to be,

just to be, for a while, perfectly in love.

And here’s to the Men, who again,

are never the people they actually are,

until it’s just you,

and the you that he knows,

with the unpleasant toes and the scars and the stretch marks and moods.

And you know that he sees you.

The woman you are. Not all that you could be.

All that you have been. And will never be again.

Here’s to the newlyweds, In quarreling arms,

in fits and in spats, in hot and in cold, and in death you do part.

Here’s to the couples who love in good faith

and are true and themselves when they woo, but in vain.

Here’s to the bachelors, the spinsters, the cowards,

who count down their lives by the minutes and hours –

who would never share their precious time,

their sacred days,

and terrifying weeks,

and lonely years. And here’s

To the actors.

Who strive each day to play the parts they’ve long outgrown.

Who go to work in the morning and bring romance home.

Who wake each other up with stories or sex or gossip or just for love.

Who grip Time’s fist and fight him, bleeding,

to roll with the punches,

and keep up the show.

They have intermissions,

they have to take breaks,

and take off the greasepaint and go for a fag…

but sooner or later, the drama comes calling

and on come the stagelights

and up comes the curtain,

and you’re there again.

The people you were, and are, and all that you can be.

And though you are pretending, you have,

and always will,

a perfect love.


Wow, okay so I really like this one. It’s probably a spoken word piece more than it is a poem, but I broke t up like it’s meant to be read, so hopefully you can still get the gist of it.

Hit me up on twitter @Sellpen. Seriously, I’m lonely up here.

Don’t Live in London

Don’t live in London,

The rents are too high.

So are the buildings,

And you can’t see the sky.


This is a little thing I wrote at the same time as @TheLadyAmelia wrote her London poems for Sellpen’s #20MinutePoetryChallenge.

If you want to do a challenge with me, or challenge me to a duel, or dueling banjos with me, or play Banjo Kazooie with me, or invite me to see your play, or whatever, then talk to me on twitter @Sellpen.

If your city never sleeps, it needs a doctor

An obese city never sleeping,
Shitting in the Thames.
It bloats with poverty and weeping
Even as its skin distends.

As fleets of flabby pre-fab flats
Flow out across the flattened hills,
We’ll all ignore the City’s sickness,
And fail to heal her ails and ills.

A pomp-pocked, prettied pestilence,
She wears a cheap cologne:
Of corporate souls, and things she stole
From cultures not her own.

For all her gawdy-tawdry masses,
Less is more and more’s the pity
Such a vileness underscores
Our poorly painted prosti-city.


This is a little thing I wrote about London. There are good bits to London too, but it’s difficult to see how we can continue to swell the population and polution in our cities with the overwhelming volume of damning research on the subject. And yet we do.

Anyhow, comments and criticism welcome – either leave a comment below, or chat to me on Twitter @Sellpen 🙂

For the next fifteen minutes…

I’m back with a bang. A poem for World Poetry Day. Which it still is…

For the next fifteen minutes…

It’s world poetry day, or Christmas, or somebody’s birthday.

A funeral, maybe.

And you’ve promised the world to yourself and yourself to the world.

But your speech is all cloying and clogged and saccharine-sticky and gummed to the roofing tar of your mouth.

Your fingers scrape away at the keyboard, windscreen wiping the dust from your monitor, and the cobwebs from your mind.

And your brain starts to churn and to contemplate,

Cogitate,

Summon up stories and sorceries,

Speculate,

Rhyme and Rhythm and Reason and Rhapsody, lyrical, spill from their chamber-chains as rusted keys find long-forgotten locks,

and words first trickle then gush.

In a pro’s repose, you repurpose purple prose, and remember, finally,

the truth.

That you are a magician.

And your powers dwell within you, and without you.

And the magic that you weave burns in the world-page.

Forever.

Well, at least for the next fifteen minutes.

 

Bang. In before midnight. You’re welcome world. Hit me up @Sellpen on twitter, or leave me a comment. xxx

Teacup Universe

The kettle hums and whistles as it sings
Of unborn civilisations soon to die.
Those sepia worlds of sodden, soaking things
That spill their innards into spoiling sky.
A thousand fractal eddies writhed and roiled,
A million possibilities emerged
A click and silence, as the water boiled
And from the metal juggernaut it surged.
The teabag peoples were a valiant race,
Who fought and struggled bravely to the last
But under piping onslaught, met disgrace
And bled brown blood to stain the china glass.
If only those immortal Gods could see,
The universes sundered for their tea.


This is a sonnet I wrote for the JoshCrisp 20 Minute Poetry Challenge. I was set the title, and this happened. As ever, feedback is welcome on twitter @SellPen.