First step up the ladder,
is the hardest they say, as we sit and sigh
in meeting after meeting where the rooms look good,
photos look even better, another rat hole, small pit,
infested, full of tits, nothing wrong
but the size of the picture.

Review after review after review, each dangling
the same beautiful bait: an affordable home.

Each set their trap in their own way, despondent
resplendent resident, a land owner, herds us round,
but he ain’t nothing but ground down by the strangers feet that,
day after day, trudge through their home, second home,
third best, first worst.

It’s the safest financial asset that you’ll ever make –
banker checks his purse and smiles, pushes across the table
how much we can just afford, give or take a decade or two,
it’s a dice throw, a chance shot in the dark for a stable home,
a sweet Rome, a capital for two.

We’ll get there I know it, though it’s just another view, another chance remark
that’ll throw me off the scent of this time well spent.

Shipping News: A Cut Up Approach

I was on the second ship leading the north Atlantic convoy, which was one of six in total.  My head was screaming with the cold, my fingers numb and becoming number as the minutes passed.  We had to transfer mid ocean from our small liners to the bigger ones, the ones that could break the ice of the north, the ones that could pass by and crunch the icebergs that would otherwise soon sink these tropical ships that we had come this far on.

Morning medicine, my mourning drink.  I was sick of the air, sick of my mouth tasting of salt, my cracked lips and shaggy dog appearance.  I was becoming a wreck, like the Titanic in her grave slowly rusting, slowly breaking down to her elemental beginnings.

I was home, verdant fields of tall grass framed by never-ending blue skies and cradled by deep pleasant dreams.  The wooden door creaked as I opened it, I announced I was home and I heard the movement of my lover in our shared bed.  I imagined the sheets cascading off her body, the soft smooth silk of her skin and the comely shape of her buttocks, the two small welcoming dimples at the base of her spine.  The curls of her hair resting on her shoulders, her sumptuous breasts that were full of milk, nipples pert and erect.

Home smelt like home.  This was salt, this was corrosion.  The transfer was awful, I saw their pale and emaciated bodies silent in the bunks, numerous across the whole range of decks.  We could not go on like this, we must not go on like this.  Moving the bodies was horrendous, a horrible job.  I had thrown my younger brother around as a child and had remembered how heavy he was even when young, how I could feel the weight of his happy soul.  This was something else, the bodies far lighter than they had any right to be.  Glassy deep blue eyes set silent in paper thin crevices for faces.

I loved her then and I loved her still.  There was something wonderful about the moment between coming home from work and announcing my entry to the wooden house.  This was the liminal zone, I was neither away nor settled on the prairie.  When I remembered this moment consciously I tried to slow it down, to breathe in deeply, to try and enjoy the moment when I’d open the door and see her gorgeous brown eyes, the flicker of the smile that would start to spread across her face as she spied me coming in.

I could almost taste that moment, but the foghorn soon reminded me that I was a thousand miles away, surely more, from my beloved.

The bodies had been swiftly moved from the ice breakers to the tropic liners without any difficultly.  I was convinced that our skeletal crew would break down at this task but we kept quiet and professional, we carried out our task with ease and left the liners floating in peace in warmer climes, buffeted by only the smallest of oceanic waves.

Silently our breakers made the way north, the ocean becoming day by day peppered with more chunks of frozen sea than I could count.  Chunks that could rip and tear steel, that could doom whole convoys and destroy even the hardest of souls.

I craved her touch more than ever at this point.  My cracked lips had become something beyond sore, something that I knew hurt but was pushed deeper into my sub-consciousness.

I missed her hips the most, how my hand would follow the contour of her outer hip bone and glide slowly into the girdle where the delicate touch of my lips would meet her soft warm skin.  Where I knew that when she arched her back she was that much more relaxed, ready to give in to the carnal sin of our shared passion.

The bow of the ship cuts the ice, the sea underneath, and our dreams as clean as any knife I have ever known.  Our hopes are cleaved into two.  The ocean is our life, the seabed our grave.


Photograph by author using a Pentax S1a and cheap film.

Forget Her

A machine on autopilot I carry on, but like a blade of grass powerless in the face of the wind I subjugate myself to these feelings and memories.  Wave after wave pounds me during the daylight hours, tossing me around in their grip, only letting my battered body and bruised mind surface with the wake of the rising moon, in the deep sleep of forgetfulness.

Lovers holding hands, a shared smile and the light touch of paired bondage, but no, not to me, there is only the will to forget, to carry on, even if she is out there somewhere now, living and breathing, loving another anew anon.  You wonder if she remembers that long kiss in bed, surrounded by winter’s touch and frosted windows, of that small bed made fit for two.  But don’t fool yourself, for heartache, or so it feels, lingers around every corner.

You forget how to move your lips in the awkward first embrace of a lover’s kiss, or the embrace of the hips as you dance and linger by the fires of passion in a night of sweat drenched ecstasy.  The clutched embrace of two drained and dirty bodies entwined like two vines on a crumbling wall, made ready to wrench asunder upon the jagged rocks of passion.

A heavy heart and a tender hand, a wandering mind combined with a baleful smile to make do and mend, to move and to forget.

  • With partial lyrics from the Jeff Buckley song ‘Forget Her’, which can be heard below:

Christmas and the Homeless

Whilst reading the New Statesman and The Guardian recently I came across two articles of interest.  Firstly there is the Guardian article by a young man who experienced homelessness throughout the past few years, and questions what the government are doing to help those who are homeless into getting back into education.  It is an interesting and educational article, full of important points and views.  In it he defines homelessness itself-

‘Homelessness does not necessarily entail living on the streets. In fact a comparatively low number of young people, on any given night, sleep rough. Many live in temporary accommodation, stay in hostels, or simply travel between sofas: all are forms of homelessness.’

In particular is the mention of the current UK governments benefit cutbacks for people aged under 25 years old, and in particular the impact of the cutting of the EMA, Educational Maintenance Grant, in 2010 on people in his position.

Over at The New Statesman a column by Jim White caught my attention.  The article centered on the rise of StreetLink going national, across the UK.  StreetLink is a charity which is designed to be a first port of call that helps homeless people.  It encourages the public to phone a dedicated phone line to report people who are sleeping rough so that they can get some immediate help.  The quote below details the exact mechanism-

“The idea is simple: save the number (0300 500 0914) in your phone, and call it when you see a rough sleeper. You give the telephone worker a description of the person and their location. They will then get in touch with the council or a local homeless service to visit the person and provide support. If requested, StreetLink will give the person who made the call an update on what’s happening 10 days later.”

The article nicely outlines some of the major issues faceless homeless people in general, as well as some of the tedious barrier hopping they have to do to gain benefits and help to put them back on their feet again.  In particular both of the articles above highlight the fact that many people are homeless due to a variety of reasons.  In this relatively harsh economic climate the number of people sleeping rough is generally increasing-

“After years of decline, the problem of homelessness is getting worse. According to Homeless Link, the number of people sleeping rough grew by more than a fifth last year. There has also been an increase in the number housed in temporary accommodation and in B&Bs, and as I wrote about recently, a 34 per cent increase in people housed in a different local authority.”

This includes both males and females, old and young.  It can be hard to conceive of being homeless, but you can never know what is going to happen in the future.

Whilst I was living in the cities of Hull and Sheffield I often encountered homeless people begging for money.  It is a hard choice, and a personal choice, whether you decide to give them money, buy them a hot drink, and/or stop to chat with them.

Christmas is a time of a thinking about other people, and you can do nothing better than to save the above number in your phone, and call it if you come across a homeless person.  Have a safe and a happy Christmas.