Monday 7 February 2022

Five Fabulous Poems by Les Wicks


Against the Grain 

Somewhere across town

remnants of smoking jackets still endure.

Known cocktails & liaisons

pad up a life cursed by an excess of money

in this tiny world cluttered with vile new ideas.


Somewhere across town they still make things in factories

& the churches march meek families to their decline.

Harry retired at 65, came back to the warehouse gate every week

until the heart attack. He missed the camaraderie & purpose.

He was too old for new-fangling.


Fresh graduates with a baseless certainty

draft KPIs, strip away the deadwood

that’s been statistically dragging productivity down.

It’s the brutal “modern world”

& there are still slaves.


Further south Davo & Choolee are in their wetsuits year-round,

waves rise & are certain of collapse.

Surgeons snip away the couple’s skin lesions,

whales go north, then back again.

You don’t have to listen to anything.


Nobody watches the news

which never had any anyway.

Opinion flows briefly past social media

where likes obscure the fine print.

Why is Elise laughing?


She’s got wind of an inevitability, she owns those new ideas,

weeds that shove past the leaflitter.

Can’t predict, she runs but it comes from all directions.

Struggles, & in that very struggle change is generated.

Tomorrow is a playful monster                      & it’s hers.


Violent night, holes in light.


When I let myself go  I went.

For a while there was no trace,

not even an email.


Another marooned fogey upon the fields of Bali.

In town sport streamed live in the tourist bars

but I hate sport.


It’s been said communication & reflection have broken up.

They were never comfortable,

that couple in the briars.


Absence can be hard work,

jaundiced moon across the waves.

Upon my return discovered people


had been looking on me more kindly in absentia…

the missing troubadour, flawed parent & nagging polemicist

all now in washed tones. A book was likely.


There were pardons suggested

perhaps a sinecure at some modest campus.

I had previously been unpestered by fame.


Not that I was a remarkable homeless person

or an honest leader with ideas.

My ditties are not prophecy.


That time of solitude

self-scurry & doubt

didn’t make no hill of beans.


Know you wanted apocalypse from me

but I’ve now settled for a kiss.

Won’t regret anything.


If you want a secret

the trick is to make one up yourself.

Stand by your plan. 

What is Believed 

Minoans didn’t kill the bulls,

those young men & women leapt between the horns,

their ladder to the goddess.

No more suffering for the beasts than

the slap of sandalled feet impossibly dropped from sky.


This useless sacrament

if athletes survived

led to yet another masterpiece on the walls.

To the artist it was process.

For the rest, bread.


Lars turns on his keyboard,

Claudette’s lips seize the saxophone.

Paint stained hands grasp brushes manufactured from bovine tail-bristles

as poets quibble with quills as sharp as the moment of jump.

Another ritual limbers up.


Cities expand down the coast,

they smother the old ones

pluck up the ancient limestone blocks for pergolas, pavements.

“Real” work always has destruction near its centre.


All those sheaves of grace & eloquence

that art-serfs toil to harvest,

they wouldn’t feed one baby.

But there’s still the leap between fears

to sawdusts of wonder.


Centuries on there’s nothing left in Crete

but beauty & olive trees.

Time Taken 

Sure this wasn’t love

it was as one sided as an angry wank back home

after that party where fights uncorked beside the laughter.


A teenager, outer suburbs boys’ school

beauty was hard, was holding the smoke in.

Nothing arty. No one discussed “girly types”,

they would have been targets.


Watched him cross the quadrangle

he was trimmed as a paling fence, smooth as a cricket pitch

those eyes line-marked the school boundaries

his lips lacked only kisses.


We never even spoke,

I talked pussy with the mates

& already felt the yokes of the watcher —

those of us who cannot do outside our heads.

There is a freedom, this unlatchment

but always the traitor hands.

The Session 

Funny, when an obnoxious shithead

carries your eyes

to the colourful corner.


He’s fat

& a little drunk.

his potbelly is squeezed past shirt buttons

like icing from a piping bag —

that battleground of a sweatstained cotton.


But I forget all the nonsense.  His music.

No one image contains this:

the immobile journey off along

cobble lanes candled by bell-floss…

away to the edges that matter.

Piece by piece

drop confected consistencies

that glued me to my linear life.


Doesn’t want followers, a set’s

extraordinary won’t last long enough

to scratch any atlas. So don’t look.

It finds you.


He goes home, the audience becomes homeless.

There’s the hum of true circles.

If we sleep at all

it will be in hammocks of undirected insight

strung between stars.

Les Wicks  Over 45 years Wicks has performed widely across the globe. Published in over 400 different magazines, anthologies & newspapers across 35 countries in 15 languages. Conducts workshops & runs Meuse Press which focuses on poetry outreach projects like poetry on buses & poetry published on the surface of a river. His 15th book of poetry is Time Taken – New & Selected (Puncher & Wattmann, 2022).                             

No comments:

Post a Comment

Three Poems by Steve Klepetar

Changing So many women turned into trees  or reeds or weeping stones. There was a man bent over a pond  who became a flower. Another died  b...