Category Archives: inbetween

Barcoded

divider with barbed wire

I wrote this poem a few years ago but looked it out and re-editied it when a friend recently mentioned barcodes. In fact, I think the first version of the poem even predated self-service checkouts. Post-covid some of it perhaps now seems to belong to a distant time, when people stood closer in the supermarket queue, and we handled small plastic dividers that were placed between our shopping and the next person’s.  Everything changes – but some of this ancient history was less than a year ago, so hopefully, it’ll ring a bell, or at least sound a familiar small electronic bleep. 

.

Barcoded

Nipped out quick
checking in to 
the supermarket queue
to checkout £4.75
of Mayday indulgence.

Strategically locating
the next-customer demarcator –
this is mine now, mine alone.
In chorus, lined behind 
a suburban opera bickers:

    She is getting very bratty.
        Yes, she’s getting very bratty.
    You are getting very bratty!
    You are bratty, you are spoiled!

    She’s a proper little basket.
        Yes, a proper little basket!
    I’ve had enough now, had enough
    now, that’s enough now, that is IT!

Corner-eyed I register,
undefined hostility,
struck-through runkles 
plough furrowed brows,
enmity, eight-to-life.

Ahead a woman passes her
(it’s labeled, so we know)
        compact entrenching tool
to be blessed by blind inquisition
of that un-judgemental laser light.

Will it fortify allotment borders,
bury a lately composted doubt,
or succour deeply seeded beliefs?

Another plastic meridian drops behind,
consumer crowd control,
policing the shopping line.

.

.


go-around

StAnza Poetry Map of ScotlandDelighted to have my poem go-around placed on StAnza’s Poetry Map of Scotland. They located the pin for this poem perfectly on the exact spot between the hills of Glas Maol and Creag Leacach where this encounter happened.

Read the poem and check the map here.

WordPress tells me this is my 200th post on subjects, objects, verbs – hooray!

.

.

.


the singing ringing pole

The Singing Ringing Tree‘ (Das singende, klingende Bäumchen) was a strange East German fairy-tale film shown by the BBC in the 1960s. It is also the title of a sound sculpture in Lancashire on a hill called Crown Point above Burnley.

It’s not just the simple rhyme of the title that sticks in the imagination, especially for those who saw the uncanny film as small children, something about its odd atmosphere seemed to resonate. Apparently in a 2004 Radio Times poll it was voted “20th spookiest show ever”, even though it was a story for children.

This visual poem is about an encounter with a kind of life after death. The title is a small homage to the strangeness of that children’s film.

.

the singing ringing pole

~

~


.

.

.


Breaking the mould

Breaking the mould

In the box-van back a mirror cabinet
trembles leafy outer worlds under
a roller-back gate of steel, half open,
like the cloth-bound shell of my father’s desk,
a sticking portal to cryptic drawers, tiny shelves,
to faint unsmoked tobaccos of before.

Ahead, and through my windscreen,
outside inside, green shimmers framed
by the mover strapped hardwood mouldings,
whisper hints of a remote Narnian spring.

Breaking the Mould grins in lean sans-serif,
strap-line wry beneath the tailgate logo.
I pray granny’s paper-lined display case
will pass Dens Road’s potholes un-cracked,
that still somewhere seven more years’ luck,
or even fair Cair Paravel, might be found intact.

.

.


Now there is a wire

Now there is a wire

~~ So there is a wire now. ~~ Step back, rethink. ~~ Now there is a wire. ~~
Before, for thirty years,
there were only posts.
Posts with old tales
of once-upon-a-fence.

Like the empty posts
in empty places,
high lines in the hills,
cast iron sentinels in
Victorian picturesque,
secure verticals
of redundant limitation.

Or eroded wooden
posts, wind riven
Giacometti men,
weird signs or saviours,
misty day markers,
wires all unstrung,
silent to the gale.

But here now,
a single wire,
not even barbed,
a margin for stock
herded to pasture,
one galvanised line,
not a problem,
stepped over with ease.

Is it only because,
white haired as I am,
I still want to skip
like an unruly child,
that it rankles so,
that
now there is a wire?

.
.
.