I cannot stand tears
The first at the station:
her Oyster broken, a bosomy
attendant swiped her through,
bloom of sorrow blossoming
just beneath her fringe.
The second on a Friday,
third week of March,
Piccadilly Circus, near the Windmill,
where they've opened a new
hole in the world, I saw
her skirt the building blindly,
tissue twisted in her hand,
face a waterfall of frustration.
Lastly in SW1, on St Patrick's,
the blond browbeaten moll
of some atypical drunken
brute, enfeebled by drink
and failing affection, reason
and sense foreign as France.
And I cannot stand tears,
so I hasten to the Tube,
furling my umbrella as I go.
People Not Profit
Some committee meetings make history.
Once a week, above News from Nowhere
on Bold Street, we met - in a office
facsimiled from the Militant 80s.
Our chairman was Paul, a balding scouser
with a squint and a semi-permanent sniffle,
stifled yawns when stating the obvious.
Evertonian Michael drove a red Ford Focus,
Tom was a vigilant Scottish Marxist vegan
who pilfered socialist tracts from Waterstones.
Big Mike had a flat cap and a limp. On Sundays
he'd push a granny trolley's worth of leaflets
through every post flap in the red terraces
of Sheil Park, Kensington, Anfield, Huyton.
Our specialist subjects were the selected works
of Gramsci and Chomsky; the cuntishness
of Liverpool City Council; the cost of a cuppa
down the Egg. We parted company not long after
the country went to war: I knew the jib was up
when Tom and Michael called me a 'sophisticat'
for smoking liquorice rizla roll ups.
When the Americans went into Falluja
I pictured them, sat outside Liverpool Lime Street,
stopping nothing but the traffic. Maya Evans and I
shared a journalism class at the college.
She sang The Smiths in the street back then.
Now she has five paragraphs in Wikipedia.
None of the names have been changed.
25 years young outside Payless,
wan-faced, three waxy Durex
in my pocket.
Cramped and restless
on the London-to-Brighton:
a quick blade unseaming
quilted fields of Sussex.
Kidding myself in a pink shirt
and pin stripes, pinched and steamed
like a flushed summer pudding.
They gave it a silly name
to keep the yuppies at bay
but down under Manhattan Bridge overpass
flea market traders make a fucking mint.
If sex sells, all poets should be virgins.
Even Lorca, O'Hara and Hart Crane, although
each being dead is a considerable impediment.
Time, perhaps, for a career change.
Artists won't last long in D.U.M.B.O.
Brooklyn Bridge straddles the East River's
mochachino twist of water, determinedly noses
into the supine crotches of Manhattan's towers.
Promiscuous glints wink in the sunlight.
O! you fallen harp and altar of industry!
In Empire Fulton Ferry State Park
four repeat perps perch on a bench,
bumming cigarettes and shooting shit,
skin thick with post-clink DIY tats,
talking a dense lyrical drawl that you assumed
belongs in the larynx of Spike Lee's hoodlums:
"I'm goin' to see my baby girl,
I don't give a flying fuck what they say,
my social worker got my back anyway."
Just put out that smoke
or you know they'll throw you back
in the can."
"Man, fuck dat shit."
They suck on their cradled cigarettes,
doomed to failure, doomed to despise,
poets of another impoverished world.
You realise how 'Wall Street' earned its name.
It's the economy, stupid.
An occasional poet and sometime photographer, Alexander Williamson lives, works and writes in London. His poems have appeared here and there.
Poetry in Aldeburgh 2017
7 months ago