Clive Gresswell


1. this is the point where say we began before all the circling to beyond the beginning and how we require from each other the specific codes of our dna and all else that was taken and mathematically strung together in the quietness of tongue and swallowed what was said before as i emphasise as i say with one hand not the other bleeding into the bleakness of our antiquity and affirming the way we take the no or the yes in its insurmountable context of the gold and always gleaming journey through seas of your emblem pirates and the film you promised from the upturned tip of your mouth to the rotting boot studied and slung in the water to rot beside your human form and its elemental shadow a stumbling block to all your attention and good wishes.

and in that froth a memory flashes an electric shock throughout the body and it leaves your clanking tongue open to the vowels to the consonants of you formed in the remnants so to speak of what had been your perfect desire until it rotted and fell from the sky hidden beneath that dark cloud which parts my vision and leads the pinprick with the twisting of your amoral knife blurting out into the night what had happened since birth and back the trembling destiny of his lordship and sunk into the lunacy of compromise and the careful reflection of the glass in your eye now shattering and falling into the distance with your weary trope fitted out with an hour glass figure sponsored by the future fall and burying of mankind.

together they in orbit praise their own ancestors for the i journey where went the man the woman where they met and parted on mountain ranges which curled across the geography as we rewound the eclipse as the moon sunk its call to midnight and so to the other shadows joined each other in one breath and in and out and in and out the deep longing for the first word bubbling up and seeking to lap over the last and kiss its lips with the dna of hope still clinging to that dna of hope despite the hours spent in this loop of despair now give me the chance to carry my loved ones across the border until it hurts. not to leave you to the border guards but to explain to you their language and the kinks it induces in my mind.

the solitary march goes on from left to right igniting in the night sky a body of work so blessed and beautiful the formation can be seen can be seen and clearly recognised for the departure and the leaving heading towards god knows where and joining us at the black and white memory now bleached with his grasping forward into the long grass of the swamp and gently to take on other outlooks with the curvature of my smouldering spine and to say loud

2. and clear from his exit into the forest of another a to b text with the sub human portion looking for that first stone for my pocket the one with the lord’s gentle graffiti in this case fish and what continues to be said along the shore and from your bleeding mouth and he says he has seen the angels and my eye rejoins the others in the dwelling as it stands.

3. we run successfully into the light and with us rushes the verbal shadow which first marked out word and the ran on and took it bleeding into the next verb which is where as a boy i first came into the argument offering us another chance to jump the fences and then tally-ho race into our proud to be free destiny as if there had ever been any shame in it except from the grandparent’s point of view as we shared again the black and white photographs walking with a donkey across the sand and declaring did you meet jesus too and hush little baby who cries out from his first stretch towards and we all gather in the house to celebrate but he had disappeared from the room with her and i felt the dryness in my throat and then the tightening just before i try to scream but no sound comes out. all that’s left in the morning is her bible and the word traitor bitterly scrawled across my dressing room mirror in lipstick and i mutter to myself not to feel that sort of pain again. and i need a whisky like crazy but know that won’t get him back from the strangers who even now are teaching him to crawl and to gabble and soon it will be walking and then talking. the same old verb that captured him.

4. and so we trade the stories you and i the pleas that overwrought our ma and pa and as we tried to call them back and swept out the outside room in the stables and my shortness of breath and garbled poetry written on my father which could then be said to be though brighter than average to have a screw loose or to put it another way mad as the rock he crawled under to reach the desperate shore and having spoken to the assembled my father is none too sure we don’t have that sort of money anyway in the kitchen blaring out reliance on the black and white forms of jays and doves. so nothing gained then by all that learning. i’m still as mad as ever in my head and in my heart or somewhat simple pleasures may be returned say things have to turn from the darkness towards the light where i first cried seeing grandma drop a tear and then getting and louder and people chanting items they still want to rescue including babies names.

5. we all grow up to juxtapose our fears in line with the leaping of this lion deep into the jungle of the unknown and our precious jewel expression bleeding from the mouth and then wide-eyed in the centre of comprehension a perfect image from childhood era and the feeling of running free in the park with no restrictions beyond the forming of the wrenching of the tearing of a soul now grown old and weary with the 123 of the dance along the outside edge of the park. it looks like the same one. but don’t they all and in memories there were rituals of late night escapades in the darkness meeting gillian, rosemary and edith and that always seemed like a bit of a giggle but now and then i struggle to remember their faces or which ones thrilled me more than the others. at times i weep a kind of withheld sob. i cannot remember some of it or all of it it is all the same in the dreary ruins of my heart.

6. i’m sure there were times when a poem from me or else say a smile would have been appropriate even if only following the trail and 123 getting out of the trap so liquid and urban in their faces right from the very beginning of ma and pa and later on any other human i cared to smell so sweet to my astonished eyes which say at 123 had already had enough and the jowls rolling over his/my tears while a luxury of businessmen bemoan my fate. they have no right to consider me or how i gasp or grasp a political or social or social virus and the name of that which came to us we didn’t even know. i have now 123 eaten as much as i can of ma and pa but still the indigestion in my gut rumbles. and the strings of my thoughts fire new arrows towards an oblivion of humanity. i do not know if this is my cross to bear alone or if it can be cured. who would? go find them and ask them.

7. that always waters my eyes tho to see the bloom of another day no matter what direction perhaps the head says right and the legs say left and then there is a shouting match to see who wins the day if you can to praise at the top of your voice the birds and the clouds and all the other fixtures on which the world rotates from the small word at prayer to the gentle flight of a new squint at the flight and from the ground to the fixtures it beggars description of the last one who came dancing or drooling from his ruby red lips with the one a matter of rehabilitation say not just the once or twice or not stood stock still 123 but the heart racing on the border between running and brisk walking and his heart remembers gillian, edith and rosemary and the claws they exhibited in scratching up the stark century of love being a matter of 1,2,3 and we can all see from which direction the preamble comes and into which direction the ember passions are going so with this word let me spit it out of my mouth and offer us no comfort but to say with this word we are brothers and sisters dark as the moon.

8. beaten out of me. the trinkets of foolish emotion to say walk round this little backwater this little day long ditty of the time when when say 123 and the listing and the listening from one ear to the next and to counter it with some volume of your worth hidden in the syrup of your english and your mastery of crawling from adverb to adverb with the chance to commune with the alphabet of snakes who hasten to beget gillian, edith and rosemary with your baby song passions cast into the wilderness and there keeping to the infernal clock the body words that say to you to kneel to crawl in and amongst the atmosphere as it once was or say as it always was the heat just another tour of the garden without shame without release its skin of purple prose coupling with the phrases to love i love for a while. later after the bloom i will decay and die sunk into my own features and withered across from the original vows i made for you as i bled into the corner of the garden of i where the flowers faltered across my intended path and led me here crawling into the a to b of new words always formed with the clicking of my crooked tongue. on fire with the truth of your orbits.

9. it’s cold. there’s no way of going back on my decisions. i love you. i cannot reach you. gillian, edith and rosemary. i’m at the top of the garden of flesh now with no idea of the way forward or back again to my steamy youth where i indulged in nectar of birth and took it with me fully into my mouth along with the juggling of verbs and consonants and take them solid in my gullet marching from a to b declaring that none of us are really ever lost. that is to say boys and girls that none of us gets away with a form of words or so to speak without ingesting as da must have ingested the body odour of fools who cannot wipe their own arses or is it me da cannot even now wipe my own arse in memory of ma and da and the way she dressed me up in her own image said my skin is your skin step inside as a husk and keep warm son let me call you that for always even when we are all blessed with a new and brighter world where anyone who can play the piano is welcomed into the snug is welcomed into the snug. and then beaten about the face and his lip razored to save his feelings. 123. his blood ices through his body and then oozes on the floor. he could not save them. not any.

10. adrift and moving in the forest as fast as i can. left and right are the sources which i swallow my worth in the shape of a delicious gnawing at the bone just to be let in and covered with the flesh of my children who i would save and raise were it up to me but now i cannot see anymore along the path where once my parents guided me and albeit i fell not just say the once but again and again as if it was a constant. it probably was a constant like the 123 and the weary jump for joy and all the battles we have won and yes of course some were lost but overall this thirst 123 was worth it and distributing words in the countryside where the poor wretches had mostly never heard them before and i lean and bow and scrape and kiss a melancholy tune mylud which will hold us all fast into the future. no, surely you have not come for ma and pa i agree they are disgusting but what harm do they do with their fruitless loins and stinking vocabulary. would you not more prize me so sleek of tongue and all the better to see you with.

11. there’s an aching. hi ho on the tip of my tongue. remembering gillian, rosemary, and susan. always on my mind. but offering no firm conclusions. i cannot say if i found one fairer than another although they were certainly fairer than my mother and anyway i could not stay at home for much longer for i am of an age now when say i am of an age now when say i am of an age now when the taller ones will cramp my style with their constant cries of yes you can and no you cannot until my brain bleeds covid from its temples and all the others rush to warn me to stay on this path away from the narrow path of societies new justice heaped upon the weak and vulnerable and i admit there have been times when i counted myself among them but then to my eye came the bikers and the heavy drug users and the heavy heavy. and i said hi to them and admitted them into my garden stripped as we were of all honour loving instead our camus and sartre and any stinking philosopher to justify our lifestyles sinking as pigs in shit across the news pages on trivia that never really mattered and then i yearned again for ma and da and a clean sweep to keep my head on my shoulders and so i strode into infinity armed with adverbs and nouns and a leaning towards the ironic and the bizarre which sense or nonsense my family never really understood, my real family and i clung to shadows of memories written in the dust. and.

12. you there. he stumbles and mumbles there we go again you god of split lip tearing at my tongue and the ritual of body love for another i said for another along his garden fence and away into the far distance of joy and sadness of a joy forever tinged of sadness since the bullies gathered in the school playground and chanted his name and his ears bled with the anarchy of it all of how there was nowhere else to turn ms frobishire and the other frigid english teachers had already snubbed his intelligence and bandied his name as useless useless cried the echoes and even down by the canal with vanessa he could not consider any salvation but a plunge into the murky deep just like a plunge into the murky deep philosophy of existentialism and how far waiting for godot had actually taken him with the slime we say the slime of human shit which turd he eats again every so often just gently to remind him where his brother had ended up and now a man of the cloth although refusing to believe a word of it nor the bible so he does not know in which context his brother could be said to be religious and so he must give him a stern talking to if ever he turns up at the house again. which he very much doubts. ha, ha! take that. there’s a black eye for you my friend. i’m off for a walk among the graves to mourn for mankind.

13. his words float before his eyes in rage and mixed with the constant beerswill a to b as he traverses the planet with a dog on a tiny bit of string that he tells to hurry up and at the speed of running from the bigger boys and pa says just punch them one by one displaying that he misunderstands entirely his nature why mother i wouldn’t hurt a fly and his eyes squint trying to wash out the 123 of camus the rebel and feeling like a rebel himself but from what? no-one can fathom it and even despite his long walks in the park with the girls accompanied by the dog or is it by the god no-one penetrates his armour to pierce the skin till it bleeds even more than the bloody shards of thought filtered from his mind and we are back again to the split tongue and the verbal ticks of a good clicking as he wages war with the questing turmoil inside which never stops asking why, why, why and whose heart settles on it just is and he plucks at his eyelids to tear from them the clumsy vision of ma and pa of him as a cleric for that was their chosen profession for him being sensitive and highly strung but he fell to the floor infected by demons and laughing and kicking his feet towards the flames as he swore allegiance to the bikers and their retinue and he began again on this more boozy phase which saw him consume a vast vat of alcohol daily and also rubbed it into his flesh and maggot sores.

14. he takes very seriously the sadistic dancing caught between the lines the variable forms that trigger iodine and blood as tears fall down his fertile mouth and force it shut for what good would it do him to say he understood he understood more in the whirligig in the sense of listening as he says his piece and i takes the clicking tongue and rams it into the roof of his mouth his brother declaring that football beat literature hands down and best of all were the masses of girls ripe to be plucked into womanhood but he is too shy even with the likes of gillian, vanessa etc even those who he had run with all his life and were of no immediate threat but he cannot talk to them why, why, why and his teachers at school tell him off for his reading list and it starts to fester just starting to make him feel bitter why i should not read the outsider the way i feel it’s quite natural. his lonely nature in his self-imposed isolation and what would he ever make of love no-one accepts him and i feels they never will as he steels his inner self to face the rejection but not allow the others to beat him with their sticks and stones which actually don’t apply. and he dips his head in the water, the cold, cold water and clutches at straws to breathe free as he doggy-paddles his way round and round his little imagination drowning in ideas that he dare not breathe breathe breathe and so he spits out the water from his tiny lungs. and thinking about these things later he lights a cigarette and ponders very hard about the ebb and flow of his life. not a life. not a book.

15. he quarrels it’s always a pleasure to see you vanessa as we stroll through the park your eyes boring into my soul and the inconvenience of another human being requiring answers and proclivities demanding i’s tender intentions and the reason why he gags at the stink of her perfume and the books she has read without attempting to live a full life saying sitting in the drawing room reading bukowski and skinning alive an atom of self worth and agreeing with his tormentors so saying therefore i will become seriously depraved but that seeps back into his consciousness and slips at split tongue on the remoteness of the farm and the journey to circumnavigate and the winds blow and howl and seep into its 123 of consciousness and the letters that i and vanessa wrote about anything and everything we could summon into muster and to bring again to split lip where he picked out a dog for her and she a god for him and often they walked through the back alleys breathing heavy but not once not once did they say the word to each other that each longed but couldn’t understand and then vanessa told i make love to me and they grunted and sung in the snug in the corner of the wheatfield where he was suddenly born and tutored into life aflame with the decadence that was natural to him and i grew into a shadow. the two of them.

16. a certain wildness clung to the envelope of his skin and he trembled as he told vanessa i am no good for you get yourself free of my breath and the very mouth that opens for you and stumbles into some erotic instinct which captures her devotion and craves him even more but i shuts his eyes and tensing himself for the pulse and surge and i forgets all history and forgives himself the stink of time that had ravaged vanessa’s being and he lay down on the straw and began to mutter the useless catechism under his breath his breath wide open at the cave of his mouth where his tongue lulled in the spit of a different orbit one where poverty and shame meant nothing to the inhabitents tender with their myths and gossip telling them animals for it is long ago they ate and strait into their mouths then out the other end like all the 123 old time shit frantic to revive the dead-end chaos of this broken path and 123 its followers who at once thought of picking flowers beautiful to see but the lice crawl to the music and bring with them a chattering of the death which shroud i crawls into to bless goodnight the sky and sun as the darkness falls and in the morning vanessa’s body has disappeared and i contemplates a future with no words no words no words.

17. we smear ourselves with the stink of corruption and we chant and we sin knowing now there is no going back with this fish-hook mouth we must slide on with our morals on fire with our nerve endings on fire and the corporations we wish to corrupt would crush us with their laws. deep covid. and some of us fell into the social machines and tripped the wires against the holocaust deniers and the photographs of hippies fun to watch them stoned and i guzzled down pint after sobbing pint with southern comfort chasers and then he didn’t care especially what noise now came from the direction of ma and pa nor his sister and any of those strung out in the alley who had at first called out to him. none of them could be recognized and he pulled his ragged skin over his bones and made no words no words no words crawl through the scream of his future where the lice crawled and waited and he had to remind himself of no going back. all that goodwill had been murdered by i who had outgrown his fears and now travelled by his wits to this place or that or the other and he would stop and pass the time of day with any strangers although oddly enough not many seemed to greet him. part of a crowd but i was feeling lonely to his boots. to cheer himself up he invented an experiment where he and two others would go to hyde park with blank yellow post-it notes and hand them out to see people’s reaction. we think it is fair to say it was mixed with a lot of people being very angry. use that anger, use that anger to kick back at society i cannot blame him enough all the way back to the blackmailing of enid and she falling under his spell giving birth in the shed having eaten nothing but coal in the past few months and they said, they said it was his fault and older now he turns to dylan and lying on his bed listening to a record drunken pa lashes out at him and says music is for entertainment not politics. thought i he has misunderstood the lyrics to maggie’s farm and there is my cue to leave and so in his mind he revisited his teenage years but the snake had spread. the damage had been done. 123.

18. remorse from the virus piercing human waves in the bodies of thousands upon thousands of victims their lifeforce ebbing away with no defence in the past. none in the future. the waste of their deaths will haunt the priests and upright citizens who went too close their nature being this but now the wrath of the virus seeps into their minds as he limps on remembering the past and setting it against the future like some godawful sci-fi movie on a loop without end and he urges those with the leeches to keep away from the multi-coloured bleeding and the mass graves much worse than his nightmares and yet he mumbles clicking and clucking his tongue to the past adventures where he had held up a sort of robin hood complex just in male bonding not with a seed to inject this covid into other beings but he mumbles at them all and dresses all in green but they do not understand and now his friends far flung and battered against the world he had no words to feel the horrible cancer of this memory unfolding before his bloody eyes where the only trick the way to survive was to not feel the pain anymore but to walk with the ritual humiliation as it told him much worse would come and the lice crawled into his mouth and he gagged and gagged on the prose he had read as a youngster and how going into his teenage years unschooled as he was buwkoski was his favourite poet and beckett his favourite writer and these did not even mean anything in discussions with ma and pa. freud and jung in their pure form he read then too. as his teachers showed their astonishment he took it to mean they thought he was just too stupid. turn turn turn again for i have no use for my failed submissions.

19. back and forth back and forth the time took its toll oh of when i was young and reading jung and the teachers said he couldn’t understand it you don’t read jung until the third year at university said his favourite english teacher did he think there was something wrong with the system or something wrong with him. both. back and forth back and forth became a means of survival so words back and forth and unexpressed love back and forth no joy in the mountain streams and wide open fields the cattle chewing the grass and finding a nothingness in his dead eye the one he kept chlorinated on his workbench like the vice clamped over his clamped over his clamped over his no reason for articulating this perverse situation and he just felt clumsy, ugly and afraid. he feared the rejection of others so much he rejected himself. little actor that he was enjoying playing bit-parts at the theatre and then delighted to discover the theatre of the absurd. beckett and the others offered new life a reinforcement of how he saw the world carved into the very core of his being now the fibre of the maggots inside his mind which had crawled down and captured his body isolating him in his own loathing for the tragedy the tragedy of whatever blood ran in his brother’s veins wild and free and he strung out on covid isolation. no further no further into danger. in and out.of the prison. of his own yearning.

20. yet there were times for sure that he knew beauty but he cannot recall ever thinking it was justified. certainly not by the broken. words which lay trapped at the back of his throat and projected by his tongue rasped and blistered describing perhaps it was only the way he saw it but the dogs in the pub the gods in the pub were alsations and he trembled steady or they’ll o after you and he had said he was aware life was not all peaches and cream and sometimes he climbed the hill to his destiny and other times he refused to. what would it matter in the pointlessness of it all. or was that a hopelessness. or were they the same thing. he was an avid bob dylan fan just for the words those that exposed the hypocrisy and injustice. and yet he felt sick that so much pain could feel good to him. could brighten his smile. even worse was liking leonard cohen songs because they made him laugh. until suddenly he didn’t laugh at them anymore and then the stars in the night wept and the girl with the oranges who had forgiven him for being too shy to talk to her stabbed him in the heart with a flicknife and he was rushed to hospital screaming obscenities at her but it was really nothing in the violence of the emotions coursing round his body. just another silly cow mucked up by the media. well, what did she expect from his profession and what did he expect from a witch and eventually he woke up to an alarm ringing loudly in his head. get out get out now.

21. and get out now. the flowers wilt across the ruby-red of the deaths a constant figure leaping out of the shadows which attach virus 123 an open sore upon the flesh after the births of son and daughter the collaborators crawling on long miles taking with them the memory of every extinct animal and the 123 of the vows he took mistook and passed on further down the line to a pledge of human kindness which had escaped him ever since the lord came down and contributed left, right and centre against the omission of each incredible letter a and the searchlight of the vowels the vows which formed in his spittle held up against a jagged tooth now a rotting tongue captured in his youth with something further anything further to say deadlines facing injections and the old were sent away and told to die quietly without any fuss and life goes on in the covid song and the gestures 123 of his recollection the crowded dancing parties the bottles of pomaign fumblings under the coats and making a note of anything so obtuse that it could be sharpened with a tumour rough and ready to escape out of the connecting door and down the fire escape on the chalkhill estate and chased away to applause and then dashing madly they both have knives and they would never do as wives we bargain and barter with them for a piece of what might prove to be impossibly for the free and after all just an empty gesture moved from sharing a flat with my best friend back home again. forward and back. forward and back. the thumping in my chest but i digress it’s not me or you. it’s her at last. a partner for the impossible snow. a challenge for the farce. amid the future and the past. the reckless prayers abandoned fast. i abandon tributes to the past that lacerate my piercing tongue.

22. she said the way out say could be to vaccinate and vaccinate then vaccinate again against your my writhing in the human gods of your my experience from whatever tale they may tell in fortunate retribution of virus contact eliminating covid words from covid eyes and the politicians who wrought them the powerful rhodes boyson the colourful rhodes boyson and i recall that on a train as a young boy i spotted a postcard full of racial curses and snarling and i felt quite sick and tore it up throwing the pieces in the trash and reading the daily mirror he shouted something at his dad whose racist stance was to condemn the man of flesh and colour just because he was made that way and as bob dylan shook the house he wondered if he should have come back or toughed out his outside life now caught in lines and refusing to give in he reads and reads perhaps watches all the presidents men. and he feels her warmth from top to toe feels her tension moaning low and he lets loose on the act of love vaccinate we must vaccinate she says and he thinks she’s off her head the telling eye as the poet replies the one he goes to london and reads on the stage with 123 and its back and forward everyday. that just for laughs in their flat he’d cut out the names of foodstuff and put them into the fridge. when they asked him why he said it’s the thought that counts. the word love is crushed inside him. iced out by fools who mistake the reasons for his silent disdain the leper calls a sad refrain the cards are drawn and it’s a trip along the portobello road and a drink with lemmy among the hordes of girls who follow him up and down the street. it’s a nod 123. and a defeat.123. lines of recognition fall from his eyes. he is here and nowhere. caught between darkness and light. passions burn. a hound shrieks. no prisoner rules his urgent release.

23. it’s your fault. it’s your fault. it’s your fault. this endless repetition and blood loss. torn from the gut in the first place allowed to fester in your dna the vanguard of your father let us blame biology oh no my mistake completely for the i will i will kill and then there was the murder which had you fleeing back to ma it could just as easily been you and now you see through the mist to the undancing of the butchery and the fear tingling the spine god thank-you it’s not me dogs are guilty in the war no pardon even from the poor just slashing at my drunken brain but not expecting any consequences certainly not amongst the girls who all carry knives and to see if you would tremble held one at your throat and then just laughed as you walked out of friday 13 which struck you as just violence after violence and it all made you sad no melancholic and wistfully thinking over the bloodlust years how the symphony of your passions rise and fall in the night-time fray of masturbation and the nigh-time release of covid-19 where it lurked in the darkness of the vowels you formed and along the coast outside these walls so 123 123 the yearning for some sort of recognition of the shadow which cast over his mind changing perspective on everything and what is the total of covid deaths now? should i carry that on our shoulders too advancing into the deadly unknown and vaccinate and vaccinate put on a ballet at the royal court where they are all caught in their lockdown bodies writhing in time with swan lake and i tell you i can’t see say what it is to me. some sort of skin i’ve since shed and walked for miles on bleeding feet contemplating for good or bad the conscience that the virus had. none. so vaccinate vaccinate then walk some more spread your covid through the poor. he held a mirror up to his face and opened out his scream another world without human succour on the verge of collapse this world and he. she trims his beard eats his deadly flowers.

24. hundreds of thousands of pointless deaths. a waste that whispers through the tv then charges along borders howling body parts and disembowelling the creatures lurk in the future and the past at once we are guilty with no pardon the rites of passage stir our soul the gradual build up of the time i played and leaping across the vaccination halls with i entranced i enthralled and not wishing to add the curse i often talk backwards which i agree is worse now there is no time to alter our history to redeem ourselves in something new or the acting that we did at ickenham youth theatre which only put on music hall fare without controversy or a blaze of reviews like the ones i wrote in the newspapers that were a volley from a place of safety but no-one knew the darkness inside me or the vaccine i so badly needed to keep me away from those dark places like a moth to a flame on the wildest night in the dankest cellar it burns my soul to encounter the innocence of the aftermath as i pulled out my tongue and ripped myself free seeking a new future without so much care without so much burning inside without the coils of the snake inside bleeding and reckless as an existentialist riding thru the dancing light that cut right through him by a pale moon on a lonely hill left once more to decide.

Clive Gresswell is a 63-year-old poet with two collections to his name and a prose and poetry book
Tall Tales And Perpendicular Poems. This prose poem autobiography is his longest poem yet.
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