Sunday, August 27, 2006

Strictly No Laughing

The sign on Teignmouth beach
Says Strictly No Laughing
The tide’s on the turn
The rain is drizzling
And the red sands are almost deserted
Three dogs splash through the surf
And two seagulls, mother and daughter
Argue over a crab’s leg
A family take their blue and yellow tent down
And no one’s laughing

I’m leaning on the seawall
Waiting for my party
A father tells his son
Not to step on the cracks
But does not say why
And no one’s laughing

A crooked man talks into his phone
A sunny couple
In vertically-challenged tee shirts smile
And I realise I’ve misread the sign
It says Strictly No Launching
It also says
The launching facilities are at the Polly steps
The Quay
Where everyone is laughing

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The First Time You Heard the Wind

The first time you heard –
really heard –
the wind –
it banged your eyelids
and called out
like a mad horseman
below the rattling shutters
of your window
saying, Come ride with me,
let’s race the black stallion
across the frosty fields

The first time you felt –
really felt –
that cold,
the cold that sneaks into the stove
and sucks the heat from the last few embers,
that creeps between the joins of your clothes
and kisses your exposed neck
with icicle lips

The first time you heard –
really heard –
the wind’s song
A song so melancholy
that you desperately tried
to think of summer,
the beach where you dug for pennies,
where you traced railway tracks in the damp sand
with your red metal spade –
but the song
whistled around the graveyard in your head
and drowned those memories
and found deeper, sadder stories

That was the first time,
sitting with a childhood sweetheart
in a lean-to shelter,
feeling the shivers of rain,
wide-eyed, wide-eared -
the first time
you really heard the wind

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Rhythm Festival 2006

The good news is that when you get old
and crusty and pasty and rusty
you can still sit in a field
filled with other crusty, musty old hippies and wannabe hippies
and wish-we-had-been hippies
and wear inappropriate pixie hats
and ethnic gear that barely hides your lumps and bumps
and folds of flesh but it’s a blessing
that the young tasty, lusty guys and gals
who have strayed here by mistake thinking it’s 2006
don’t say, Hey granddad you’re insane and sad and mad
and it’s bad for your heart and skin and legs
and don’t start on about 1966 a-bloody-gain

So then Donovan drifts on
with his anachronistic, impressionistic,
joss stick wish-flicks, an old dogs with old tricks
and the barely alive dig the shtick and the beer flows
and granny pogos and the moon glows
and the headbands and the flowing scarves
and the fat flab and the skeletal grey-pony-tailed
pointy stick-jeaned, ringed and tattooed, unglued, rude, screwed
misplaced, uncased, released, nearly-deceased
(love and peace)
and weathered, withered flesh of an audience
gasp the last breath of the sixties and seventies before the music
fell apart in the eighties and we sit in our folding chairs
and Arlo sings about Alice and the man says,
What’s Really Changed? And we cheer!

So the kids jig to the knockabout Dylan sound-alike Steve Gibbons
two lane and there’s no sign of rain
and by Sunday night everyone’s too tired
to cheer for an encore and top of the bill
is Jerry Lee Lewis who is wheeled on
and gamely tackles a selection of his hits
Goodness Gracious, we’re in our motorhome
which is convenient and has its own lavatory and shower
and the tent next door are playing loud music
and it’s past midnight for god sake -
don’t they know we want to get to sleep?
What kind of festival is this anyway – Woodstock?