Those minor things of no report –
but I first found them there –
make mark more than bedpost notch,
and vivid, forty on.
The old bus they drove us touring
though southern states at war –
grandiose white churches,
some black guy cutting lawn.
Between gigs we slept coach seats,
me learning all the time,
the ghostly cream for acne,
string-strumming on the roof,
unease bench-seat French kissing,
do English use the term?
Pretending I knew most things,
blush face covered that old hat.
They had me use the CB
as if Home Service broadcast
reached Kentucky hills.
Between Blue Grass and the Derby,
gingham-dancing God approves,
where teens could own a Chevy,
eat unmet McDonald buns.
Fundamentalist the teaching,
few nodded when they should,
we all knew life for loving
which left most theory dead.
Soon draughty winds be blowing,
Nam cards burning on a pile,
but these will fire the napalm,
French gingham by the lawn.
The escape-tunnel corridor,
crane long neck on building site,
words under swinging metal boards
but they to her, trolley bound,
unstable guillotines in the wind
if to be a useful tag, sign only after reading text.
Rule ignored despite her nod,
consent form proved the curse.
Autumn springing on to cold,
he rounded on her;
tie with knot around the neck.
She dreamed of what she could do with
the houseman’s pristine stethoscope.
She had been dear to love,
invalid woman taking the strain, stain,
water flushed with pink,
duties discharged like slow-seeping tap,
the plumbers drain at even tides.
A lie in bed, a kind of kind they showed;
hers horror film, more show of blood,
cargo manifest for all to see,
moon-calf weaned from angry womb,
causing upset, spilling kidney bowl,
stress laid on anguish,
tear the handkerchief, wet split in two,
anxiety grave accented.
Did tense mood express her fears?
Lumber trunk though puncture wound,
scared blush marked the flesh,
puffy pillows, in-impatient with her sheets,
plaster covered scabs beside,
recess from the lighter room,
refuse sacks of plastic waste and more.
Made redress for older clothes,
setting watch before she pretended sleep:
she could not watch, and time, and doze,
or sew or sow, as sisters of her flock would know.
Why is so much verse intimate,
the couch stretched into straggle lines,
own consciousness free streaming leaked
as if the pulse to be escaped?
At rest, as after exercise,
my inspiration regular;
are fits and stops some macho sign,
the poet’s proof maturity?
Show me the script not personal –
even the robot programmed once –
but when I hear a parable
I need to take it at its words.
If worth, enjoy revealing dig –
to tantalize is poet’s craft –
the trench, a spit, sufficient depth
or is the treasure lower still?
Economy of words – not prose –
is discipline, the root to learn;
strait-jacket told – I must be free –
but published verse is not for me.
So let me breathe and stanza air,
uncover veins that others mine,
study the terms on anvil smithed,
discover what blank globe has taught.
We hope our cares by others matched,
that they too found in company,
their feelings spoken through our words
expressed, delivered touching points.
I took the tread-mill, garage ramp –
re-treads, the tired old tyres revamped –
then to marriage guidance towed
the too-used muscle row machine.
The chest expander has become
an ottoman with space;
the flex routine I needed now,
to exorcise the brain.
My mind-screen flashes with flicker-thoughts,
films condensed through projector gate,
but translating pictures into words
not done since flashed cards, Infant One.
I enjoy this second childhood,
my seventh age now spooling through,
so I can sit back in my chair,
unflexed buttons within my care –
external screens, transfixing tunes –
just one flick once to watch and hear.
The clear images remain
trapped inside my clouded head,
flecks in cinematic stall,
celluloid awaiting call.
Because this the third, fourth showing,
amongst the flocks of folk,
even the row-end sheepish drunks
know what is to come, speak
script I have yet to voice.
That is why a regime of training
might mend the sprocket gear.
Until then this closest friend of mine,
sits on my brittle lap,
exceeds five finger exercises
that played piano keys.
Now it rises, theatre Wurlitzer,
for my private-viewing arthouse flicks;
in my flux projection room,
tapping into synonyms,
to myself I can relate
this, my stutter stories’ stream.
Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had pieces accepted by over a dozen on-line poetry sites including Academy of the Heart and Mind; and Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry, The Dawntreader, Foxtrot Uniform Poetry Magazines & Vita Brevis Anthology. https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/