Category Archives: Music Series

An Alabama Song


A fantasia on the song by Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht, which is performed above by David Johansen.
Wishing you all a happy Halloween!

When we mistook a fern tree for a turn,
inwards past the branches
into the headlamp dark,
here we taste either luxury or magic,
harking angels
with every snap of branch and bone.

For preservation,
we’re supposed to leave some witches swimming
to fill unglamorous roles
as rotting archivists.

But never in Alabama – the opposite,
just because it’s not a night for imagining places,
leaving us homeless with an unhinged black door.

As a train of jackdaws across a new frontier shriek ludicrously,
inside there’s cushioned opulence and
seats, if a little… clawed to bits.

There’s magic or luxury
but we’re not in Alabama,
the distance
capable of dislocating arms from bodies
forever.

Harvest the dreams of our
unemployed with strength waning
like a red cape
hanging around
her chequered logger’s shirt.

Mr Robert Pattinson
is seated on the ground,
outside a closed alehouse
typewritten with a mind’s fatigue.

His eyes of palely fired skin
under ray-bans,
those thick eyebrows
in the dust of the vampiric street.

It is like you, me too,
to look down the trainroute
for strangleholds to the moon.

“Who wants whisky?
What, as much as we?
As cold as a carrot nose?
Join the queue
and make meals of someone in front.”

All of which is because
it would be a goodnight,
goodnight to let go.

We want power anthems of singular clarity,
with words to sing at the bottom of a screen,
as if it’s not too much to ask for company
on not the full ticket.

This passing old blur that inflates like a puffer fish
will always be with you
don’t ask why.

Leave certain questions to the drink,
for our whiskey slips dryly.

If you still have your wits
and a distinct taste for blood,
you will end up caked, finally,
in kisses and make-up.

Piano Sonata No. 14 – “Moonlight”

Tears screamed
from howls of steam.

Hot at the ear-folds,
a defeated towel
wrung to the last song,
is thrown in.

The night moth busily eats
Polyfilla.
He is entirely his
black blinking wings,
and bigger shadow.

The caterpillar’s
fur, only just damp
like the towel,
will be dry in the cocoon
moonlight,

its thirst is already over
and out drips
the colour to poor life.
The carpet drips a deeper weave.

I stood in the living room
for a while.
I looked below to see
other spenders of time
in constellations
on the concrete courtyard below,
and decided,
– my bathroom bare-feet were grimy,
green on tiles –
to join stones
in our closest thing to a garden.

“Anyway”

I had the foresight to bring with me
a slice of Sylvia’s classically kind
Victoria sponge
golden in foggy Tupperware,
free-of-charge.

Artlessly, “help me” flatly escapes from the flats,
not my mouth; toneless,
“help me” with no effort or voice, and once more, too noteless.

A vending machine teenagers are jokily assaulting for Cola
has gone without repair
for as long
as everyone should remember.

The landlady disallows the sweetest animals.
This sweaty pride is what she has.
B.O under blazers.
They may have once cared for a pet,
but not this time, no-one.

weed burns
to grow.

They pile drive with feeble muscle,
arms drawing wide arches at mock belief in
their usefulness now
to dislodge coins,
and their strength to affect
gears, more complex than they can imagine

“Real”

Instead the cola machine’s
mechanical red pain shoots inside the fingers of
a stupid one’s hand –
a 15 year old Dr. Frankenstein’s
experiment falls flat.

Eyes dart to each other,
beats are taken to time
careful turns
to top an
escalating joke.

A bit nippy in an overlong black coat,
but shaking more in strangeness
and exhaustion.

Two old ladies have been discussing someone else’s business
for some ill-informed while,
yet nattering in repellent detail.

My arms hoover crumbs.
I stuff a mouth
to stuff theirs,
cake is too good for them and,
proving by night,
Sylvia’s kitchen
is the only place, ever.

Kindness rises
from her mouth,
not gossip
with no flat artless help from me,
her mixes rise keenly as cakes for sale.

People believe in pressing on.

In the early days, sloppily icing her small industry and
with time to think of
of others,

personalised esteem,
letter-writing paper.

People have closed their eyes to hope
before firing squads,
shared their last prayer,
shed shot bodies
to a red helpless wall,

blindfolded,
while black treacle
quietly
forms together,
with their spirits

in a moonlight,
invisible to a row of ordered soldiers,
is Sylvia.