Who said life was fair?

The leaf fell.

 

He had long since accepted

the injustice.

He was ageing to grey –

colour bleached.

The leaf had died in a dazzle of reds and yellows –

glorious.

His bones were pushing through

shrinking flesh.

The leaf’s delicate skeleton was revealed

as miracle.

 

If only, as the leaf fell, he could see

the universe…….

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Only Connect (complete)

Preface

To begin with separation,

head first into the first distinction

bawling a protest to the unknown

to the undiscovered emptiness of air.

This is the start, a cut chord

an uncomprehending rage

and the discovery of the disappointing other,

foundations of the search for connection

programmed into gaze and touch.

Thread – Hebden Bridge

She would stand in the smoke of the morning

as the sun sought to pierce the grime

thrown skywards by a thousand breakfasts,

looking where the sheep grazed by the granite.

Eyes half closed, she sensed the fibres

twisting themselves across the moor,

down the valley to fasten round her neck

and drag her to the mill’s hellish rattle.

Her whole life was entwined – a tapestry

woven from her aunts, chapel, old school pals.

More warp than weft she thought as the klaxon

shouted its demands across meagre dreams.

Yet trapped in the woven patterns of cloth

there was a softness in togetherness

And her mind followed her imagined thread

back to the wild freedom of cold and wet

moorlands where the sheep grazed by the granite.

There her man had fought with the bitter blasts

of time, that snapped the threads and frayed the ends,

that left him unstitched from farm, moor and mill.

Steel – Sheffield

Down in the brick-blacked alleys, the dark moors

were forgotten. There were no soaring heights,

no sweeping dives, no clean cut killing strikes.

To fly was to flit, scuttling from dirt patch

to scrubby wilderness, thorny, weed-pinked.

City streets were lined by the hellish heat

from monstrous smoke stained hulks of rolling mills

that channeled stale winds down littered culverts.

Friendships were forged in the fires of hardship.

Men connected with blade, shrapnel and shell,

were soldered with iron and steel, were welded

by necessity in smog filled corners.

Only in the pigeon loft’s soft cooing

or hunched in a canal’s grimy stillness,

where time was tricked by feather, float and hook,

could a man stand alone in his own skin.

Women were bruised and hammered by the chores

of child care, left to dream through their children.

Truth here was hard; one thing or another;

right or wrong, male or female, angular.

Public life was one of solidity

or conflict, man alloyed to man, hardness

the touchstone for worth, chests bared against cold

blasts of circumstance waiting to unleash

the destructive forces of history.

Hopeless defiance – the dampness seeps in

and hard unyielding alloys turn to rust,

memories fade and dust returns to dust.

Pit – Barnsley

Suffering was their unremarked cement.

The silting of lungs, the clash of muscle

and rock, and the tireless stalking of death.

Filthy lifts, filled with sweat, shrieked their ascent

from spectres of gas, flood, fire and rockfall

to a chorus of rough-hewn defiance.

Fucking expletives were their shared language,

drink, their shared painkiller, and revolt

their communal dream.

Like their whitened eyes

sunk in coal dust’s foundation cream, music

escaped the clanging and shouting; fouled lungs

blew pure harmonies of hope through pursed lips

and polished brass, beat- banded together.

Terrors and trumpets were no place for wives –

worship and contempt were their twin prizes

as they balanced their home’s security

on dish worn fingers. They talked – their task was

to find the words of possibility,

to shake off danger’s still gaze and uplift

their kids to live differently in safety.

Danger filled the silences, gave regard

its purchase on neighbourhood and family,

tied the town together, a stranglehold

fixing man to man, woman to woman –

a silent presence that folded the town

in its cold embrace. Not to be spoken.

The men though stuck two fingers in the face

of danger, and wrapt in fierce loyalty,

clung to the warmth of fellowship in song,

drink, sport and the joy of shared resentment.

Those fires have now burnt out, their flames smothered

by progress, money and sulphurous smogs,

thick organic seams transposed to ashes.

Petrol – Milton Keynes

Surely this at last

was birth, a new world.

It was design;

a grid of high speed

connections

all tree shaded

to soak the poisons

They drove to the future –

movement was promise,

movement was progress.

To be rooted in place

was to be stuck,

trapped in the familiar,

trapped with themselves,

trapped with their ghosts.

 

And so they drove

through the town of strangers,

of immigrants.

They were screened from the fixed

and private;

screened off by trees,

by sound swallowing earth works,

by the pioneer urgency

of the now and to come.

In this myth of creation

exchange was bar coded;

it was engineered,

powered by controlled

explosions, fluid.

In this place,

designed for mobility,

they dreamed of roots;

yet to discover

death and decay’s necessity,

that it was a shared loss

of history that brought them

together here.

 

For now then,

jaws set,

slates clean

they drove on

always moving,

always eating the planet.

Wireless – the end of neighbourhood

And so our connections vanished

into the soundless hum of space.

She skypes the planet haltingly.

and he throws lifelines into cyberspace,

hoping to secure a ‘like’ or a ‘share’.

Around them, hatred and despair

shrieks,spinning through the air

into obsessive privacy

and imagined crusades.

Nightmares are beamed

and desperation is hash-tagged.

And they walk, screened from the winds,

eyes hooded, thumbs at work.

Now the touch of flesh on flesh,

the resistance of clay against muscle,

the feel of life hewn from the rocks

give way to the intangible,

to the vibrations of worlds they cannot see.

In a world no longer bounded

confined by the physical,

fear of open space haunts

and they wrap themselves in flags.

The physicality of need

is placed in the closed markets

of hired care, shift – bound.

Place is reduced to polite nods,

closed shops, boarded pubs,

and empty chapels.

The world is theirs to create.

Now all have to live in faith

and trust that love can find

something truly other.

Life in the Cloud

Those places, all gone, were bursting with life.

His memory was lit by the faces

of folk  who belonged to blackened stone walls

to fading chapels, and strident concrete,

to the hopeful adventure of journeys,

to the handiwork of generations.

Then they shrank to a workplace and  a road,

and became a vibration and a code

programmed into invisibility.

Children vanished down phone lines and became

a digital footprint. All was in cloud

loud, assertive, belonging everywhere

and nowhere. And everyone was talking,

upping the volume like an Englishman

abroad, hoping their disembodied waves

would form a flood tide, sweeping them to fame,

to be a hub of  wireless connections.

As place dissolved into costumed museums,

selfie sticks (needing no companion)

were anchors to something physical, known,

something not just an unseen vibration.

And the waves carried the sounds of gunfire

in classrooms, the collisions of shrapnel

and limb, the collapse of towers, the thirst

for blood and destruction as men struggled

to be a presence. Now, as he looked out,

his street’s functional anonymity,

just the compacted dust farmed from waste land,

cast dull shadows on unknown passers by.

He longed  for the certainty of the touch,

to see minds in their  home of lip and eye,

to connect, not through a ‘like’ or shared tweet

but in open armed embrace, soft caress

and a meeting’s echo in his heart beat.

Only Connect (Final)

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Life in the Cloud

Those places, all gone, were bursting with life.

His memory was lit by the faces

of folk  who belonged to blackened stone walls

to fading chapels, and strident concrete,

to the hopeful adventure of journeys,

to the handiwork of generations.

Then they shrank to a workplace and  a road,

and became a vibration and a code

programmed into invisibility.

Children vanished down phone lines and became

a digital footprint. All was in cloud

loud, assertive, belonging everywhere

and nowhere. And everyone was talking,

upping the volume like an Englishman

abroad, hoping their disembodied waves

would form a flood tide, sweeping them to fame,

to be a hub of  wireless connections.

As place dissolved into costumed museums,

selfie sticks (needing no companion)

were anchors to something physical, known,

something not just an unseen vibration.

And the waves carried the sounds of gunfire

in classrooms, the collisions of shrapnel

and limb, the collapse of towers, the thirst

for blood and destruction as men struggled

to be a presence. Now, as he looked out,

his street’s functional anonymity,

just the compacted dust farmed from waste land,

cast dull shadows on unknown passers by.

He longed  for the certainty of the touch,

to see minds in their  home of lip and eye,

to connect, not through a ‘like’ or shared tweet

but in open armed embrace, soft caress

and a meeting’s echo in his heart beat.

Only Connect (Part 6)

wireless

Wireless – the end of neighbourhood

And so our connections vanished

into the soundless hum of space.

She skypes the planet haltingly.

and he throws lifelines into cyberspace,

hoping to secure a ‘like’ or a ‘share’.

Around them, hatred and despair

shrieks, spinning through the air

into obsessive privacy

and imagined crusades.

Nightmares are beamed

and desperation is hash-tagged.

And they walk, screened from the winds,

eyes hooded, thumbs at work.

Now the touch of flesh on flesh,

the resistance of clay against muscle,

the feel of life hewn from the rocks

give way to the intangible,

to the vibrations of worlds they cannot see.

In a world no longer bounded

confined by the physical,

fear of open space haunts

and they wrap themselves in flags.

The physicality of need

is placed in the closed markets

of hired care, shift – bound.

Place is reduced to polite nods,

closed shops, boarded pubs,

and empty chapels.

The world is theirs to create.

Now all have to live in faith

and trust that love can find

something truly other.

Only Connect (Part 5)

mk

Petrol – Milton Keynes

 

Surely this at last

was birth, a new world.

It was design;

a grid of high speed

connections

all tree shaded

to soak the poisons

They drove to the future –

movement was promise,

movement was progress.

To be rooted in place

was to be stuck,

trapped in the familiar,

trapped with themselves,

trapped with their ghosts.

 

And so they drove

through the town of strangers,

of immigrants.

They were screened from the fixed

and private;

screened off by trees,

by sound swallowing earth works,

by the pioneer urgency

of the now and to come.

In this myth of creation

exchange was bar coded;

it was engineered,

powered by controlled

explosions, fluid.

In this place,

designed for mobility,

they dreamed of roots;

yet to discover

death and decay’s necessity,

that it was a shared loss

of history that brought them

together here.

 

For now then,

jaws set,

slates clean

they drove on

always moving,

always eating the planet.

Only Connect (Part 4)

Barnsley Main

Pit – Barnsley

Suffering was their unremarked cement.

The silting of lungs, the clash of muscle

and rock, and the tireless stalking of death.

Filthy lifts, filled with sweat, shrieked their ascent

from spectres of gas, flood, fire and rockfall

to a chorus of rough-hewn defiance.

Fucking expletives were their shared language,

drink, their shared painkiller, and revolt

their communal dream.

Like their whitened eyes

sunk in coal dust’s foundation cream, music

escaped the clanging and shouting; fouled lungs

blew pure harmonies of hope through pursed lips

and polished brass, beat- banded together.

Terrors and trumpets were no place for wives –

worship and contempt were their twin prizes

as they balanced their home’s security

on dish worn fingers. They talked – their task was

to find the words of possibility,

to shake off danger’s still gaze and uplift

their kids to live differently in safety.

Danger filled the silences, gave regard

its purchase on neighbourhood and family,

tied the town together, a stranglehold

fixing man to man, woman to woman –

a silent presence that folded the town

in its cold embrace. Not to be spoken.

The men though stuck two fingers in the face

of danger, and wrapt in fierce loyalty,

clung to the warmth of fellowship in song,

drink, sport and the joy of shared resentment.

Those fires have now burnt out, their flames smothered

by progress, money and sulphurous smogs,

thick organic seams transposed to ashes.

Only Connect (part 3)

image

Steel – Sheffield

Down in the brick-blacked alleys, the dark moors

were forgotten. There were no soaring heights,

no sweeping dives, no clean cut killing strikes.

To fly was to flit, scuttling from dirt patch

to scrubby wilderness, thorny, weed-pinked.

City streets were lined by the hellish heat

from monstrous smoke stained hulks of rolling mills

that channeled stale winds down littered culverts.

Friendships were forged in the fires of hardship.

Men connected with blade, shrapnel and shell,

were soldered with iron and steel, were welded

by necessity in smog filled corners.

Only in the pigeon loft’s soft cooing

or hunched in a canal’s grimy stillness,

where time was tricked by feather, float and hook,

could a man stand alone in his own skin.

Women were bruised and hammered by the chores

of child care, left to dream through their children.

Truth here was hard; one thing or another;

right or wrong, male or female, angular.

Public life was one of solidity

or conflict, man alloyed to man, hardness

the touchstone for worth, chests bared against cold

blasts of circumstance waiting to unleash

the destructive forces of history.

Hopeless defiance – the dampness seeps in

and hard unyielding alloys turn to rust,

memories fade and dust returns to dust.