Sunday, July 13, 2008

My new collection, Ghostly Sightings of the Pornographic Lady, is in stock at the News From Nowhere bookshop in Liverpool City Centre. Here is a poem from the collection, and you can listen to the song version on Myspace.

Enjambment Smears and the Sorter’s York

The voice, a gentle burr -
Defying the bistro clatter
Of the knives in Ivor's sur
And there isn't a birder anywhere
Who could spish more beguilingly
Than Ivor Cutler's harm

Ivor was a log birler, trying
To balance on a floating log
While spinning it with his feet!

Benjamin Pell
(The man who rakes through
The dustbins for incriminating documents to sell
To the press)
And Edmund Trebus
(The hoarder in the BeBus
Ce's "A Life
of Grime")
Are on the lake, log birling,
Free of all their mess!

“A Life of Grime” was a tel
evision docusoap that John
Peel narrated, and Benjy Pell
Found a discarded script of one
Of the episodes in
The DJ’s dustbin.
The word “LOG” - an acronym -
Was on the cover, and a whim
Took hold of Pell:
He would find Mr. Trebus, and fell
A tree,
And together they would birl

Every summer before the Sec
ond World War, Franciszek
Trebus, the stationmaster in
A small town in Northern Po
land, had failed to win
The birling contest, although
He did come second twice.
Then came that February:
The borborygmus ice
Covering the lake was very
Close to cracking, so why
Did Franciszek walk, uncaring,
Onto the fragile lake, and try
To roll on a log, wearing
Nothing but tennis shoes and gloves?
I suppose not every boy loves
His father, but most do, and Ed
mund Trebus was one who did;
When he was told his father was dead
He wanted to see the body, to rid
Himself of anguished doubt.
But no body had been fished out,
And the only thing found was a sing
gle tennis shoe, upside down
Under the ice, glistening.
So Edmund left the town
Where he had grown up, taking
With him not only the aching
Feeling of loss,
And the ice his father had walked across
Before falling through,
But also the tennis shoe,
Still upside down.

Little Ben the Bin Man came in the night,
The wheelie bins looked like the twisted overbite
Of a donkey as they
Darkled in the driveway.
From the road, the painted white
Name of the house on the sides was quite
Hard to make out, but Ben
Knew it was John Peel's house, and when
He got up close to the Wheelies,
He said to himself, "'Tis Peely's
House, I knew it".
He lifted gently the lid,
And gently he went through it …
Little Ben suffers from an id
iopathic condition they call
Photic hiccupping syndrome:
Even the softest sunlight fall
ing on his eyes (the gloam
Of dusk or matutinal gauze)
Is quite enough to cause
Ben to hiccup,
So much that to pick up
An item such as a pen
Can be hazardous for Ben;
So he did by night his lully prigging,
His spying, creeping and digging …
When he came to Peel’s that night,
His hands were grubby, his trousers as white
As the chinos worn by Steve McQueen
In “The Great Escape”;
And sliding down his leg, unseen,
Were the dying segments of a tape
worm, and these were eve
n whiter than the chinos Steve
McQueen sported;
And whilst he sorted,
And whilst he fumbled -
As if in a trance -
Translucent segments tumbled
Out and, quite by chance,
Gathered on the ground to spell
A word in ribbony griffonage;
And, unbeknownst to Pell,
The word they spelt was “Surrealism”.

The York container is a three-
sided U-shaped galvanised trolley;
A cage, with wheels and a brake for park
ing, so utterly sturd
y that the biting teeth of a shark
(Were you to make the absurd
Decision to dive in a York)
Would disintegrate like chalk
Pressed too hard on a black
Board; but a shark attack
In a Royal Mail sorting depot
(Where Yorks are commonly used)
Is not so likely to happen, although
The Health and Safety Office refused
To answer my questions pertain
ing to shark attacks, merely
Saying “Yorks are built to contain
Mail bags, blah blah blah, sincerely … ”
Yes, these postal chaps were really
Cagey about their cage, the York!
When at first my postman refused to talk,
I huffed, and he confided:
“Remember, a York is three-sided,
Without a front or a top,
With no barrier to stop
A determined shark’s assault –
A bit of a design fault,
Wouldn’t you say?”
When Ben found the Polish émigré
He tried cajoling,
But Edmund Trebus was skep
tical. How could rolling
On a log help him accep
t the death of his father?
Edmund would much rather
Have stayed at home in his verminous
Squalor than tread with Pell
On the dubious heavenly terminus
That might in fact be Hell.
The York, usually used for the tran
sportation of the mail,
Was part of Benjy’s contingency plan:
Like the witch in the fairytale,
Who locked Hansel in the cage,
In a spitless rage
Ben forced Edmund to climb
Into a York, shouting “I’m
Doing this for you!”
He snatched the filthy tennis shoe
From Edmund’s filthier glove;
And although there was nothing above
Or in front of Edmund to bar
His passage from the York,
Edmund stayed like a snail in a jar,
Like Ben had used a carving fork
To perforate the lid;
Could he have fled the York?
He never did.
Was the dizzying torque
That would soon be rotating
The logs already waiting
For him there?
Was the York some kind of snare;
Was he stunned, turned insane?
Perhaps there are different types
Of York and this, an evil strain,
Had waspadelic stripes;
But it was far too dark to see
If Ben’s York had those warning
Stripes - remember he
Is back indoors by morning -
He only comes in the night
(Wearing unsuitably white
Trousers, and those tapeworms spell
Cultural, artistic and in
tellectual movements as Pell
Goes through his victim’s bin).

One morning, some years ago,
As Peel was compiling the run
ning order for his radio pro
gramme, his eldest son
Came into the room with a query.
“What does ‘surrealism’ mean?”
(He had seen from his window the eerie
Segments lying where Pell had been;
How silver the word had shone).
To illustrate his answer John,
After removing a tennis shoe,
Nailed it upside down onto
The beam that runs across
The ceiling, and the aching loss
That Edmund had felt
Was felt by the boy, and he knelt
Down beneath the hanging laces,
Like he too were looking for traces
Of his father.

Edmund, out on the lake with Ben,
Finally summons the will to flee:
He jumps from his log, but then
Remembers too late that he
Has not since his Father’s demise
Swum, and in defiance cries
“Up your chuffer – a bosky,
Thorny bunghosky
To Pell!!”
And so Ben tries to leave as well,
To rescue Edmund, I guess,
But the more he tries to leave, the less
He seems able;
He continues to tread on the log, unstable,
Watching Edmund drown,
While sorry tapeworms travel down
His leg, so algid-appalling.
Ben will continue to tread,
Hiccuping and caterwauling,
Long after Edmund is dead …
Yes, Ben will continue to tread …
He did by night his lully prigging,
His dumpstering and digging.
He went unfeeling through the bins;
He went through the bins with glee;
And to expiate his venial sins,
He now must tread in purgatory –
On a rolling, slippery log;
To cleanse himself, to avoid Hell,
This is the challenge for Benjamin Pell;
To get clean,
To put more distance between
Himself and the inferno,
Benjamin must turn o
ver and over the log with his feet,
For every little sin;
And the almost imperceptible sleet
Of the tapeworms on his skin
Will soon sting like prickly heat –
Over and over the log with his feet,
Over and over the log with his feet.