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THE DYNAMO FIELD Kevin Cadwallender FIRST PUBLISHED 1997 MACKAY JACK PUBLICATIONS MACKAY JACK PUBLICATIONS 26 Hanover Grange,Grangemouth, FK3 8LF,Scotland. copyright 1997 THE AUTHOR Published MACKAY JACK 1997 . Original ISBN 0 9521472 5 4


For John


JUST ANOTHER BEACH POEM The sea has been told to stay behind and writes endless lines on an empty beach. A seagull’s wing beaten by death fans sand across lucky horseshoes. The sun is still the same busy bodying old schmuck, head in clouds. Cutting up rough on pink podgy thighs. Ice cream jerks off Onto bland pavement. Punch and Judy with those new social conscience puppets; The community worker and The relate counsellor. The sea acts out its daily ritual, Moons around in wet dreams. A coin in a slot will buy you everything but what you need.


THE DYNAMO FIELD A thousand footballs ago down the scabby-kneed, short back and sides of childhood, We chalked stumps on a wall and argued over dust. Light failed us in the four-leaf clover nights of lucky innocence and stories spun under arcing streetlights pedalled our frightened bicycles through the Frankenstein streets with werewolves and vampires at our bristling necks. When blazing brambles sparked holes in knitted pullovers until we reeked of mackerel in the haystack torching infernos on the dynamo field. And oh! How we loved you then; Mam and Dad in the fireside, hot water bottle, candy stripe pyjama, Channel eight and verichrome years. With your arms about us, And the double thickness of home blanketing nightmare. Waiting for Christmas trees by frozen windows.


DIGGING FOR WATER (for Omar) Comparative it seems, Though Allah moves the waters and sky and breathes infinitesimal and infinite..........for you. And me? Watching dark clouds, shrugging off what passes for poetry, In the eye of the unseen and perhaps, for me, the unseeing. There is movement in that void when you bow your head. To the power and the breath that you detect, stirring trees and souls in absolute prayer. Comparative, for me, Words agitate the vacuum. We will dig for water in Baca.


COOKING KIPPERS FOR THE CAT Dave is cooking kippers for the cats, In the debris and the penance of his flat. And making coffee, once more for me as I ponder under the purring of fleas this scrum of backs. The smoked smell of fish alerts this squadron of cat-napping, bird-snatchers and mice-biters, They synchronise their movements and wrap themselves around legs like fur puttees. I flick through a tired copy of Pickard’s Jarrow March, Target a particular point on the floral patterned wallpaper with my watch face. Tease the kitten out of an old cat. Gone now.... With the advent of cloud. A whip of tail betrays frustration. Nothing changes much. The imperceptible march of days. Grey faced marchers in a poet’s book. Going down to London to look at the Queen.


DREAMS OF A NORTHERN RIVER Drunk with the Darkness of your body, Rippling over My drowned head. The veins of the city Empty themselves into the mouth Of this old brown-ale god. Cold as lager in the chilled rooms of my North-East. Dreams of a Northern river. Water pouring down Dog Leap stairs, Lord Collingwood up to his ankles, Boat-hearted I free the fish in all the choked nets of the Tyne.


REMEMBERING NORMAN I was remembering Norman. Never any good at football, His hands fidgeting down the front of his unfashionable football shorts. Open season for every would be bully. At the school gates at home time, Beaten once again in an unfair fight, You cried; before,during and after blows; And I knew then that those were not the First blows to go astray. Later, caught trying to steal affection From your Mam’s purse, You bought sweets, to buy friends Who lasted as long as a penny chew. And your Dad, Big Anglican, little man With your frightened Mother, Kneeling at the altar on Sunday mornings. Pious, Christian bully boy, Beating little boys like you and your brother. Red handed in the urine soaked sheets, He beat you, So you wet the bed, And your Father beat you for wetting the bed.


DREAMS OF DARKEST LEITH Three poets in search of the source. Hand-pulled in some tied El Dorado. And lager that shines like Incan gold. Cigarettes, snuff and marijuana. We all have our own ways of seeking Nirvana. Between florid gossip and definition Falls the thirst. Between emptying and filling pages Falls the thirst By the waters of Leith I heard the casuals singing, I do not think they will sing to me... Three poets heading the wrong way. Pollaxed by geography and fatal drugs. Water flowing like poetry over Empty cans and age old roots.


SKID MARKS ON THE ANTI-MACASSAR A lost key and splintered woodwork. Coffee without milk or sugar, Dog-ends from choked ashtrays. Fist-marks on plywood doors. Threadbare existence to match the carpets. A found coin for light and heat. Red bills gathering like clans. One ring left on an electric cooker. Dead geraniums on a sunless window sill. Two crusts in a metal bread bin. Cold peas from a tin with a stolen spoon. Books by candlelight in a nylon sleeping bag. Breathing out plumes in a freezing room. Stolen silver from an old red phone box. The smell of condoms on your fingers. Lust and lager in a cold climate. Skid marks on the Anti-macassar.


HOME COMFORTS The dead birds you poisoned with kindness on those familiar doorsteps. The fat cat asleep on coal bunkers sated with sparrows and gormless pigeons. The insistent beat of Beatles records from when vinyl was King. The New Year we sang Auld Lang Syne although we never knew the words and never will. The broken clock that told the time sounds the alarm with a cracked voice and only we know why. The hard side of your hand on my face. The tears and the tissues of lies. The way the vacuum cleaner no longer knows what it was made for. These home comforts Drag us kissing and screaming together.


THE LEAST OF SORROWS She has manipulated these tears and even now uses each careful trickle to twist the blade. She is careful never to overstate the grief. Preferring the slow single tear; The sad abandoned look, To outright weeping. Jesus wept, But never with such guile. I hold her in my arms and pray for the least of sorrows.

JARROW ELVIS Waiting for a bus to the gig. With a red electric bill in his sequined pocket. Smokes the only drug he can afford; fame In its hideous form. Gyrates in front of bus loads of nurses. Who should know better and is exploited as his namesake for cash on the barrel.


CARNIVAL In Peterlee a two faced clock calls time on the hanging gardens of Sunny Blunts. At this dull end of Summer it is crucial to be happy. To wear the gaudy red and white of clowns, of football strips, of carnivals ribboned with shreds of gingham and tinsel. At this overpriced daytrip, this hot dog and mustard, big dippered-dodgem world, where ox roast in the candy floss of morning and garish painted carousel horses dervish the children away to rickety shys where goldfish are brought to die in small glass worlds, inside the box houses eeking out the geometry of reality.


THE HURTLING DOWN OF MAGDALEN Brickwork and all the dazzling days she ripped through; paper bags of books with notes scribbled in margins in bargain bins. Lipstick kisses on tissues in the debris of billet-doux. Lecturers and students; Push and pull, Poised like a gargoyle. Stretches out, Wingless bird sailing over academia, missing air currents on the cobbled courtyard. No words for historians to paraphrase.


POST SCRIPT He ripped a page from a diary threw it in the general direction of the fire; She can burn in Hell He muttered, Though he knew that angels such as she were seldom expelled from Heaven. Abandoned, yet remorseful at some time later, when sense had been restored. He sellotaped a crumpled hand-written goodbye into the foolscap of memory. Warming his hands on photographs blistering on the hearth.


THE BEEKEEPER’S SON Honey-fingered David entertains a swarming hand stung by innocence, A little boy with a scrum of bees. Children, mouths ajar in the puns of summer. Dandelion heads and jam-red lips. Busy as bodies in the killing glass. Pollen counting up to ten. The adult net catches all comers. .....and someone made them all, and someone great or small, if not God, then someone half-wise or merely wonderful, had a moment of blinding alacrity, Got their fingers in the meld of tiny wings.


YOU WHO TALK OF GHOSTS You, who talk of the spinning of ghosts, Haunt this piece of vellum. You whose words are serrated And cut patterns in skin, offer me A web of entanglements. I am more or less a ghost myself, Drifting between ephemeral passions. Lost and something less than flawless. I find my face, harsh in drab dusk. A dot-to-dot man, whose edges are obscured by crayons. You who talk of ghosts And retribution, Ebb at the sheerest tide. Offer me the white of stone against the pure red beating Of heart.


WHEN THE WHISTLE STOPS THE QUADRANGLE When the whistle stops the quadrangle. And the darting games of children. French skips and serge-blue handstands. Glass slides under crackling segs. Frozen Corks in miniature milk bottles. Standing in rows at long hot radiators, Gloves, damp and the smell of wet wool. Hands gripped by ice and pain like fingers fat after the swish of cane. Maureen Smith, I loved you. Because your Dad was in the army. Arm in arm jumping double-decker shadows on the Coast Road outside of Cemetery gates. Sharing gloves and Jub’lees. I would have loved you until bedtime. When the whistle stops the quadrangle and the cars were silent as a whisper of newspaper. Staring at the rose hip syrup, spreading thickly across tarmac. We were another two children. Mr. Riley, who used to dress as Santa Claus in his Greengrocer’s shop, wiped his wet face on a cotton wool beard. An old man stubbed a Woodbine at the kerb and took off his cap, even though it rained. We lost the way we used to laugh that day. In the musty air of your bedroom. You told me simply, Sometimes I wet the bed And I did not have the courage Or the understanding to tell you that, It didn’t matter. Norman. It didn’t matter. Too late, as it happens. This powerless apology.


SNECK Lifting the sneck, rusted to the painted gate. I watch your eyelids opening as I push with clemmied boot. You rise from a cracket like some ancient god, All leather-skinned and billowing with tobacco twist. Your pipe knocking on wood like a robin with a snail. or at least; I remember your hopelessly happy voice Singing between the rows Where your cabbages have gone to seed. I replace the sneck as I leave. Hand the allotment keys over, To the man who ignores the way I grin at his sickle.


NO REASON TO BE SINGING for a Burundi Tribes woman. There is no reason to be singing. There is no reason for you to be singing. Yet you are singing. Words form whole in your mouth And pour out from your open mouth. There is no reason not to be crying. There is no reason for you not to be crying. Yet you do not cry. You just sit and wait to die. Singing. There is no reason why I should cry. There is no reason why I should be crying. Yet I cry. Tears form pools in my head and stream down my open face. There is no reason to sing. There is no reason for you to be singing. There is no reason why I should not sing. Yet I do not sing. I do not know the words To your tune. I just sit and listen broken into pieces by your elegy.


STALKS AND STEMS Dark city night. I am walking behind a woman at my usual pace. It is raining and I cannot see her face. She is hurrying through puddles and reeling off lamp posts. Suddenly; I am conscious of her fear. I start to cross to the other pavement but she has made her move a fraction of a second before me and it’s too late to stop. She half turns and sees me cross, Panic hits her... I stop. She is paused under a streetlight. Transfixed like a rabbit in a headlamp. I smile but she sees a leer. I would speak ...but words can be misconstrued. I stand stock still. She breaks like a mouse avoiding a hawk. I hover in that one spot considering her options. I wait until her footfall is out of earshot. Relief washes down gutters into storm drains. I am so sorry. That it has to be like this, Even when it isn’t.


NEWTON’S CRADLE The actions of two bodies upon each other are equal but opposite Every time he hits her, She bruises and the harder he hits the more it hurts. Every time he tells her he loves her and he’s sorry there is an equal but opposite reaction. She tells herself that the love she has given; the support, the children will balance out in the future. Will all come back to her .. one day., but until then.. she must not rock the cradle, must not push too hard, must not keep Newton’s third law. Every time he hits her. The urge to hit back grows stronger and the harder he hits the harder it gets to resist. Cornered in the bedroom, children crying, She cuts the strings of Newton’s Cradle, feels resistance dissipate in blood... Swinging free... ... ... Swinging free.


WHEN I WOKE UP YOU WERE BURNING When I woke up you were burning and the fire had grown cold. In the bitter air we breathed out Plumes of recrimination. I could not light a match.Shivering in fingerless gloves, I watched you through frost-laced windows Unfurling your wings in daylight. You looked at me without recognition And took to thunderous skies. Here alone and infinitely mortal I shape your effigy out of clay. I could not light the fire. I could not keep you here. When I woke you were burning And now; A thousand fiery martyrs cannot keep me cold.


HANGING MURIEL Snow scene on the living room wall. Dad and Mam and Auntie Dot. The way lino used to crack Was the way it turned out. Throwing sugar into flames. The blue rush and hiss. An old fur coat thrown over a bed. A white dog with a red collar. Grit thrown onto windows in the early mist. Climbing up and down drainpipe exits. Candle wax melted onto a hand like a glove. Falling from the top of the monkey climb. John and Janet and Kevin. Look at the way it turned out. An ambulance took my Father away and never brought him back. Cancer took my brother away and never even asked. Snow scene on the living room wall. Where’s Dad? I asked once. Hanging our Muriel? Mam said.


UNCLE KEVIN’S AQUARIUM We have won these goldfish annually at hometown carnivals instead of cheap toys. We have arrived at the number five when all the other prizes are long dead; smudges in jotters, one sentence in the essay entitled What I did during half-term I tell my children not to bring goldfish home but the irony of my pleas has them hooked, I am easy prey. A small recompense for the trawled oceans I reason, considering this cuboid of water. We watch them swim. Give them slave names, keep the water from stagnating with pipes and pumps and electricity. They are a burden on our economy. They are a metaphor for guilt. Swimming effortlessly under a wooden canopy that holds in its benevolence Food and light and five kitchen size matchboxes.


THE TEMPEST Caliban Edwards the worse for twenty years of drink really believes that this barmaid who has heard it all before is the one for him. Lurches up and orders one for the road, gabbles out some perfunctory remark before slipping out to the take away and the usual clammy hand under the duvet. and love is a forlorn hope in this grubby little world and why bother with romance when you don’t know the steps to this erroneous dance. Miranda Richards clears away the debris catches a taxi to her mother’s ideal home, lies awake thinking of all the flotsam that floats on the head of a gallon of drink. tells herself that amongst the drips who gather around the drip trays there must be one who is special. closes2828 her eyes thinks about a jacket in dorothy perkin’s window. and love is a mystery to itself it is unable to contemplate how low it has fallen and like every precious commodity depreciates in the passing of days. Ferdinand Jenkins has a fax and a mobile phone writes love letters to strangers on the internet, books a bucket seat for a desperate fortnight on some god forsaken island.

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The Dynamo Field  

1997 Poetry Pamphlet

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