Eglinton Hill



                                                      rear attic

                           through the
            smallpalepinkflowersonwhiteandbeige curtains
                           shaft of aslant sunlight
                           fanthening strip by strip along
                           the slighty embossed wallpaper
                           of the attic window alcove
                           until the edge of the inward-sloping

                           I whine to be picked out of the cot
                           I worry the railings the catch that holds
                           but don’t understand
                           but no one comes
                           so I notice the walnut record player and radio
                           stored away and standing like a
                           Manhattan apartment building




            I stared at the pattern of the carpet
            playing with my cars behind the settee
            while my parents said
            final things to each other
            the twirl of the branch
            a better life the
            curl of a flower you’d
            better go the border and
            never step back in this house
            again the shadow of the
            leaf is also a darker green

            I had never studied the pattern
            before – never had to
            never could – I can
            work it out see
            how it repeats

            I think something is happening
                with Mum and Dad
            on the other side of the settee but
            this pattern continues around
            the whole carpet

            only later – in bed –
            was it announced what
            I had already known and
            only then could I ask

            why does it have to
            happen to us and cry
                only when it was announced
                only when it was expressed

            I already knew but
            couldn’t express
            couldn’t announce only
            count the patterns
            drive the cars

            I cried but I was numb –
            pattern but beyond the settee –
            I could fracture from things
                just find a pattern

            you’re the man of the house
            now someone said to me so
            I studied the pages of
            black and white comicbooks

            patterns of power
            solving under a cowl
            jumping under a cape
            between the skyline and the world

            I shall throw stones high
            until they don’t come down
            I shall dig so low that
            no one could follow, no

            I shall count all numbers
            I shall collect all numbers
            I shall discover all planets
            I shall posture the heroes, no

            I shall number the histories
            I shall texture the music
            I shall shock the lyric
            I shall smell the books, no

            I shall sunlight the chorus
            I shall cry the biography
            I shall see the image
            and write them all, yes

            I shall follow the curl and
            twist the twirl under
            moonlight all night long

            I shall play catch in the rye
            I shall alors les boulevards
            I shall yin the yang
            I shall surreal the fog

            I shall honour my guru
            I shall marry my wife
            I shall father my children
            I shall teach my classes

            but forty two years on he had still
            just left
            and I still didn’t know
            how to be the man


            get out from behind the settee
            take a seat and get comfy
            say hello to everyone and just





                                          currency of generations

                                          ‘fetch the tin of buttons’
                                          a quest to the cupboard
                                          by the stairwell just outside
                                          the room we dressed in
                                          and spent all morning
                                          because it was warm
                                          ‘the one with the fruits’
                                          different sorts of fruit
                                          pastel-coloured and
                                          marshmallowy on a tin
                                          ‘they’re petit-fours’
                                          something to understand
                                          later (the taste had been sugary
                                          and pasty and although
                                          it looked like fruit it stuck
                                          in my throat) now has
                                          buttons which are cool
                                          and swirly when I run
                                          my finger through them
                                          and marbled-enough
                                          to see history and boiled-
                                          sweet transparent-enough
                                          to see worlds themed by colour
                                          and echo from the clothes of
                                          real people from family aunts
                                          and uncles in the past who
                                          I never knew or can’t remember
                                          the lineage from which I came
                                          all contained in the fading shine




                      up floated the printed words
                                     lengthening shadows on the page

                      light rain fell

                      small mauve sparks
                      splashed from
                      the crack in
                      the bedroom window

                      charging my smiling brother
                      in yellow and blue
                      pyjamas laughing
                      in the morning sun
                      between thoughts




                     she smiled
                     like a child when the sheet from the clothesline
                                          glided down on him

                     through the net curtains the sun
                                          was shining like a star




                                south horizon

                     out on the river
                     the purple is shifting
                     but in the evening-bulb light
                     the world-shaping words
                                of grown ups
                     is shifting uncontrollably

                     it’s OK                     look
                     there is rhythm there
                     is a trombone a hi-hat
                                – shflpt –
                     in the crack there
                     where words shift
                     where worlds shift




                                   on the street
                                   outside as
                                   Hawaii Five-0
                                   still played
                                   on the tv the
                                   orange-and-carpet light
                                   was downstairs and
                                   I was on the top bunk




                                              the figure
                                              in frosted glass


                                black and white
                                chequered lino
                                and a single

                                in the hall
                                lime air
                                through the door





in the dining                                              
room behind the                                              
armchair by the                                              

shelf with my own                                              
collection of books                                              
and comics by the                                              
drawing of the three                                              
stages of the Saturn                                              

V rocket on pink wall over                                              
black boards by the border                                              
on the carpet edge there where                                              
I had caught my first sight of a                                              
monster’s face voluptuous on a                                              
trading card the place to                                              
find              significance                                              




                                Eglinton Hill

                                three stages
                                of a Saturn V
                                rocket over
                                two pieces
                                of paper on
                                the pink wall
                                of the dining
                                room over
                                rubbly carpet
                                black boards
                                and books
                                on the shelves
                                with colours
                                and words
                                of worlds being
                                newly noticed
                                but not yet seen




                                              140 m.p.h.

                one by one
                the speed clocks of each car
                to find the highest

                the Rover
                by the old house
                behind the trees and bushes
                under a sunny breeze
                heralding Springtime





                                         after it has snowed
                                and the sting of older boys
                                   throwing snowballs





                     up the path
                     with damp leaves
                     on either side

                     it is dark
                     under the bushes
                     under the trees and

                     a lemon blue
                     sky above the
                     red tiles.   Home

                     my brother watches
                     blackandwhite TV

                     in the grey room
                     the curtain open






                           something was happening

                      and all of a sudden I was making a visit
                           to a house on Eglinton Hill
                      opposite the waste ground on the corner
                           with Cantwell Road
                      delivering Christmas presents
                           to Gillian S

                      she took her presents
                           started opening them
                      I asked if she remembered who I was
                           she didn’t know
                      and while wondering about it
                           she invited me in

                      she had lived a lifetime
                           since primary school
                      face hard-lived middle-aged
                           slightly overweight
                      but I still found her attractive
                           a look in her face
                           that was still young
                      she was doing the duty living life
                           she had two girls
                      she was living with her Mum who
                           looked like her
                           but a generation older
                      the house had its own front
                           but was knocked through inside
                           like the houses in the Beatles film

                      I told her who I was …
                           … and gradually woke up
                      I had wanted to suggest that we go
                           and look up Rajesh S
                           and Gary A up on Plum Lane
                           bring the group together again
                      to complete our lives




                                                                         stepped out
                                                                 behind the lead-lined
                                                        pediment three floors up wearing
                                                    the yellow Man  from  UNCLE badge





          clothes were squeezed
          between two rollers –
                don’t put them through
                too bunched up –
          and the still-soapy water poured
          back into the drum while

          through the window
          London clanked and
          greyed either side of
          the Thames




            two young boys
            stalk around the
            front square of grass

            perched on the brick
            posts of the wall
            by the pavement going






                chrome and
                plastic control


                waiting for the
                picture to warm up

                the snow lay
                dirty now
                by the roadside
                and the tree




                                   the start of

                                   red smoked-
                                   glass shade
                                   of the oil
                                   lamp and
                                   the wet –
                                   sharp black
                                   under the




                                              dream 290697

                at the front garden wall of Eglinton Hill
                it has been painted textured-yellow not quite finished

                I own the house I am older now
                my kids come out to see me I have returned home

                what work has been done while I was at work
                                (what life went on while Dad was away)

                step straight into the front room     it is a kitchen now
                1960s re-decorated small-flowered sunny

                I go with the kids to the other rooms
                how they had changed and I rose out of sleep

                I described it to C the grief came up
                my Dad had left I still feel the hurt I began to cry

                I cannot forgive I have high expectations of everyone
                                proud angry and aloof




                                  from my childhood

                        untied            un-navigated            foggy
                        in the house on the hill now too big for us

                        out of the dreams of colours and glass
                        ‘… need to be the Man of the House now’

                        something high and far-out to be
                        constructed                reaching

on the edge of a collapsed crumbling viaduct – a society that no longer thrives

                        but persists – I will never succeed in building
                        on such a structure                scared of falling

                        buildings too high to raise my eyes
                        ledges too narrow to ste-        pp

                        hills becoming vertical as I climb
                        branches lurching with my weight

but this is all I know to do                                  
this is all I have done                                  

            but then I didn’t have to be
            anything other than what I was I was

sufficient as I was to be everything                                  
that was needed to be                                  

            the Man of the House ‘the Man
            of the House’ made me other

because I reached after the sublime                                  
to be the Man of the House                                  

            I don’t know myself
            I am someone who has striven

beyond himself all his life and yet                                  
there isn’t a hidden me covered over                                  

            waiting to be found I am what I have striven
            not what I have striven away from

I should accept me as I am and sit and                                  
when the fear and failure come up accept them                                  

                        when the anger and violence
                        come up accept them

                        when the reading and sublimity
                        come up accept them

                        these are the child who stood
                        in the garden smiling at the sun

                        through the branches but frozen
                        because they were moving

                        delighted but bewildered
                        reaching but blinded




                                                                crows on the
                                                                of 40/38

                                                     for a minute
                                                     the blackbird stopped
                                                     no vehicles
                                                     uphill downhill
                                                     lights went on
                                                     across the river
                                                     and each house had
                                                     the face of lifetimes
                                                     in their windows




                                          corner of Cantwell Road
                                              and Eglinton Hill

                                do I work things out when
                                they are tangled and knotted
                                do I find a way a groove
                                a superpower that will
                                see me through
                                like an armoured vest

                                          no no
                                          fifty two
                                          years no

                                you pay attention
                                to the shade the leafgreen
                                behind you the breeze
                                between the collar and
                                the back of your neck
                                and the classic two-tone
                                mauve Chrysler emerge
                                from Nithdale Road
                                and turn downhill





                                     newly started
                           the silver grey exhaust
                           tumbles out the pipe
                           like dry ice but lays
                           flat to the road and





               after silence

               the cluck of
                          footsteps downhill
               and the sway of
                          plastic bags




                           can’t see

                                     46 Eglinton Hill

                           a small conifer
                           in the front corner garden
                           of number 48 left
                           to grow but ‘doesn’t
                           matter I can’t see
                           the blackbird singing
                           a different collect
                           each time





                                   from behind
                                   the diesel car purred
                                   slowly down the hill
                                   then a pigeon dropped
                                   onto the road and walked around
                                   a bit




                                              forty years later
                                              my shadow is still
                                              stumpy before me
                                              going downhill and
                                              my left ear still sticks






     spent the morning
            many parts of London kept noticing
     Allen Ginsberg
            on a bus
                     in a shop
                           crossing the road
            slightly hunched busy
            carrying papers in a wallet
                     maybe shopping
            ordinary tired clothes
     as I keep on seeing him
            maybe I could give him my poems
                     to look at maybe I should
            all of them all five hundred
                           no just some of them

     late afternoon            I am walking
            down Eglinton Hill melting ice-cream light
                     some satisfaction with the day and
                           cream soda
     slowly with my Nan – getting old chatting
            feels like walking with Charlotte
     ahead are cars
            one indicating right to pull out
                     another waiting just behind
                           indicating left he’ll take his place
     both waiting for another coming uphill
                           right of way complicated
            how this all happens
     another car slows downhill
            before the uphill one has still to pass
            he wants to park too but
                     he’d narrow the road cars parked
                           right and left
     he rolls further down and parks on the right
                           much more space
            opposite number 46
                           I wonder if Allen
            is in the car
                     the car is medium blue
                           a good ten years old
                                     tired but working
            filled with stuff only room for the driver I think
     yes it’s Allen getting out of the car
            does he live here
     Nan asks if Assiki is in Malta
            I don’t know but say I think so
                     Allen hears and nods yes
            as we pass – that is where Joe
                     or Jon have got to now travelling

     go on give him your poems
                     don’t walk past and pretend you’re OK
                           give them
            but I am reticent
                           because I don’t like to ask

     fracture into the breakfast room or the upper kitchen
                           cluttered full of stuff
            space for only one at the table
                           Allen has made some tea
            and sits down to turn the pages
                           of my script




                                     Eglinton Hill

                           the end of Autumn sunlow above the hill
                                     shining down the wet tarmac

                           cars drive slowly up sun visors down
                                     upper mouth open squinting

                           the oaks have lost their leaves now
                                     apart from the furry ivy
                                     that clothes them
                           you can see more of the river
                                     now below the branches

                           and while cars pull in and out of Dallin Road
                                     when it is quiet
                           a young child shrieks a chasing game
                                     in and out of the front garden
                                     with her brother




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