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Diary of a Northern Teaist

red sky bridge Red sky at night, tea drinker’s delight…

It is early, and the street lights have just winked out, a polite cough of a reminder to the night that the day has up until now been waiting patiently, but has a lot to do today, so if you really don’t mind…

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India2013 005 



The time is out of joint, curse the night.

Lying there awake, I’ll never set it right!

My credit card crunched,

Career eaten for lunch,

Couldn’t pay up front

the universe licked its lips.

Speed camera bills lined up.

And so it went,

I saw that I couldn’t keep up the payments on the mortgage.

The buyer knocked me down cause of the damp,

cracks in the wall, structural issues, no wheelchair ramp,

used whatever he could.

I said I needed this land on which to lie. He smiled and said

‘we’ll see’,

his eyes red, obsessed.

My patch of ground a week from being repossessed.


Six weeks later I had gone,

I left, went wandering,

first around the neighbourhood,

sharing the parks with downtrodden men drinking from shiny cans

then I went further afield, to the east, lonely, sharing parks with children black,

from smoky hovels.

I was not meant for worldliness,

instead I was given the world and verse.

I saw many sights and learned new wisdoms.

But missed my homeland.


Eventually the land called me back though it was my land no more.

The cricket on the green, spinster on sit up and beg,

lazy days and summer haze, brought me back,

tower blocks,

dinner party frocks,

empty summer traditions.


Poor England is all silent dread,

Wake up! No ancient feet here did tread,

At my patch of land beer cans had begun to gather again, and a pair of dead speakers

appeared in the garden,

and the branches of the sticky lime tree

crowded out the light.

I peered in through dusty windows

The damp had come into the kitchen in black spots,

the parquet flooring had tramlines scratched into it.


Ah I remember the gentle Japanese lady who once visited me here,

her careful polishing of the green tea cups,

I remember the hellibore I planted in the front garden,

the simpering fuchsia in the terracotta trough.


On a summer’s day I wandered down from the park.

The new owner appeared from his glimmering coupe

‘This is no longer yours,

why do you insist on hanging around here?

You are no longer the owner,

are you crazy?

Should I ring up the hospital?

You look brown,

like you been to Calcutta.’

Two big friends slipped out of the car,

‘I’ll have you done as a nutter!

I’ll report you to the police,

you are a criminal.

I, a criminal, an owner who tried to keep something for himself,

I felt my back hurt as I laughed.

And laughing I bent down,

Took off my shoes and socks,

Walked away,

with only the dust on my feet.


Ancient Race

And now nothing matters,
Not the status, not the money,
Not the girl.
I came here to see you,
To find out exactly what you’re after.
‘I can only reveal the truth of things
at the point of death.’
I know.

But I must not die,
not now nor ask why
I must live.
I must be a man,
follow the heart,
be a hero,
from year Zero
Only a man.
An ancient race.

17 lines


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