HE DID NOT KNOW HE HAD A BEAUTIFUL MIND TILL THE CROWS HAD GATHERED ROUND HIM

HE DID NOT KNOWN HE HAD A BEAUTIFUL MIND

TILL THE CROWS HAD GATHERED ROUND HIM

. . .

He did not know he had a beautiful mind

until the crows began to gather round

Did not feel the wind of change or hear the rain begin to pour

did not hear the men of pain were knocking at his door

His friends departing left him not a soured note

or helped him fill the emptied mote

The walls were falling, angels calling, he had given up his all

Maybe not in coloured notes, or silver coin

His heart still wretched beneath the throne

of light and glory, there the masters tragic story

And all his dreams of blood and gory pain, 

a tattooed stain and he the never free of fear

He felt the dark night drawing near

the sound of tears, a kind of ringing in his ears

Behemoth had arrived and he no cavalcade to greet him

Or any hope that he might beat him, into the bloodied earth

His sword now vacant from his belted girth

Just words of love upon his tongue lolling

O’ Behemoth deny your torture, return my mirth

My joy of life, my heart of faith with which I may

Destroy this wraith, then fall upon my gourd, recite

my Lamentations midst protestations to thy nations

Blesséd Michael hath now arrived,

he whom witnessed the saviours Cup

He of whom a finer mind as strong as lions

is leader of the Angel kind, blind to human greed

and all the passions upon which fall mans seed

are born to thee, sweet breath of praise

Once more this virtue is a golden vase

by which we find new ways to order all our days

He had not known these thoughts so kind

came from out his own sweet mind

Till behind the summer clouds he saw

not raven, nor the purple-headed jack-a-daw

Not wrook, nor bird of prey sweeping low

in gatherings of night, a crowd of hooded crow

 

edenbraytoday

25.10.2020

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RESOLUTION

RESOLUTION

Deck-of-Cards-629x413

It was always easier when the burnt sun dried the perspiration on your neck

The old boy shuffled the cards of the deck, fingered, worn, creased, greased, flecked

It seemed with traces of blood but it was just the pattern on the back, those red specks

..

He wore grey, seemed like flannel slacks, they must have cost a pretty penny

When they was new, probably had a jacket to match, the old boys name was Lenny

It reminded me of a Steinbeck tale about a smart guy and a retard, I read it back in 70

..

If I kick anymore stones Mr Jones my shoes will gape and I won’t be able to work at all

Or pay back the old man who collects his winnings in an old can he leaves by the wall

I got tired of being behind, that bottle of glass empty, my winning hand buried, I call 

..

The old man he just smiles conceited, he sees I’m struggling in the game, life’s a drain

He’s seen that gnawing pain behind the eyes before, that’s his cue to increase the strain

When the ice flow cracks, your enemy attacks and you turn again to the barley grain

..

Which burns fiercely in your soul, it burns a hole right through, creating an intense light

To see you through another night, and the old guy sits shuffling his cards, sat on a crate

Shoes never looked so down, consorting with the dusty ground, you want to clear the slate

..

But sleep denied is a victim you meet in the morning, old fella he’s taken now to yawning

If he gave you a sign or a warning, old bugger’s been dealing cards since day’s dawning

So drink up, hand another dollar over that’s another fond thought later you’ll be pawning

..

O misery, I drink to thee, you wear my smile upon your heavy, hard and wrinkled skin

That old geezer with his stack has contrived to convince us all that what we do, it isn’t sin

And the cards now coming good, I got 3 jacks and an ace, perhaps today is the day I win!

..

edenbraytoday

Ref.22102020

 

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RUTH

🌾

Ruth

ruth-gleaning-1919_u-l-q1f2t3a0

a poem of love

 

It was never so easy, memories collected  

are never postage stamps set in an album

Recognition is the open door by which 

we become the amalgam   

The means we apply to access one another, 

play different games, embrace many names

Fondness is a name I learned from the autumn sun 

and our favourite haunts

The first time we met, was another jaunt 

but your face was still familiar

A rush of something similar, I caught, 

sure that we must have met before

You seemed as someone I had hoped to meet 

or maybe I was found out

In the moment passing, I stepped back, 

had I noticed you were glancing?

Was my heart now really dancing? 

something born to make us happy?

You were so young but I was not old, 

your femininity did not scare me

It made me strong, an artist and you the clay, 

words were suddenly easier to say

Not worn clichés or a yellowed bouquet 

but a thunder followed by lightening

Love discovered in the bushes is no less frightening, 

unless we fear the orange sun,

the purple moon, the comet trail 

of a lovers pain in marine skies advancing 

You to me were a treasured find that eased 

certain allusions of my serious mind

With hindsight, the poet battles gamely 

to hide the most considered of conclusions

Despite the wake of love, an ambient balm 

that may heal historic contusions

A kind of new birth arrises from the girth 

and separates what is gone from what is born

We were Adam and his Eve, 

the serpents power unwound, tried again to deceive

Naked upon the heath, beneath Swiss mountains, 

at Loch Ech, our hideaway in Leith

We flaunted, showed the green-eyed Jezebel

our love was never fit for any hell

Our purest union rang an unseen bell, 

saints attended, nets are not always mended

Into our bed we welcomed our children three, 

four or five, the ones alive we nurture

Adorn with garlands born of our loves travail 

and the labour that we learn to savour

Lives we helped create are a trophy to us truthful, 

all their futures and their tales

I boast as though I were a captain, 

though best an honest seaman much afraid of waves

More suited to the sanity of caves, 

where simple men carve simple words and draw

I, as honest in my way as any conniving fox, 

wore my fleeces well before I knew thee

Was hidden still a little in my shell, 

before you ever thought you knew me well

You need to be like the fox, be crafty, 

our home at London Road forever drafty

Wherever you have been with me you have tried 

to be a comrade to my private army

Have shown a character and faithfulness 

when we have faced life’s next tsunami

Yes, you chide and show disdain 

for my darkest moments, sincere regrets

You apportion blame, bare she-wolf teeth, 

fight for the honour of a mother’s lair

Only a mother has the right thus to care, 

even when the eyes of reason are clouded

And the Grey-wolf licks his torn paw, 

alone with the night winds and one faint star

We haven’t dared yet speak of Ruth’s prettiness 

or her beauty, your happy ways

They often adorn thee a cloak to your personal form, 

which only a lover should know

Yet, the night we first lifted your dress, 

stood each naked, I needed no sense of duty

Valentine he hides in a shroud of mystery 

although he were a Saint loyal and true

The same form, the same constancy 

is what I find in you, he mistreated, unrecognised

By his values, his bartered steps 

hidden from this worlds most popularist view 

Yet in milder ways, discerning eyes may recognise 

this strength of virtue that I see in you

Not once to venerate or exascerbate 

any healing virtue of your truth but to quantify

that particular charity of Ruth, 

a more than fitting sudiname to your eternal youth

That youth once seen to appreciate is now mine to elevate, 

semblance from disorder

Recognise and appreciate, the tunes you play 

with patient style become our piano sorte

Distinct and sublime like fresh flowers in a rhyme, 

which is your creative forté

edenbraytoday

         15.10.2020

🌾

Ruth 1:16-17: 

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. 

 

edenbraytoday

Ref. 15102020

🌾

 

 

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THE ARTMAN #2 – THE SAD MAN and THE GALLOPERS

 

ORIGINAL VERSION – THE ARTMAN #2

THE SAD MAN and THE GALLOPERS

EDIT 2

 

gallopers

She looked like Betty Grable, she was and post the Brighton bombing

Maggie had her hair, she might have worn Carmen Miranda’s extravaganza

I didn’t wear a care, for in those days I philandered, selling art materials,

Listened in on Brian Hayes as British lads were sent down Falklands way

Listened in to anybody with half a tale, chance often throws up a sale

The sad man came one afternoon, we cope in different ways with grief

Queue up behind our system of belief, sad man trying to turn a new leaf

Concealed his pain in a harmless folly, mourning the loss of his one and only

 

He coloured in a technical poster, during the days after he had lost her

A working diagram of a fairground Galloper, that he sent for in the post

In our gentle conversation the man who was sad he won my attention

I admired his style, his consideration, as I helped him choose his framing 

 

Back in the centre of our domestic situation we were unaware and green

to a mechanical complication as we set the timer on the washing machine

It leaked, covered the living room Lino, seeped through to the floor below

Having nowhere else to go, sprinkled upon sad man’s poster, a true disaster!

 

Sad man came to review the damage, I would reimburse him for his trouble

I couldn’t help him colour-in the double, yet in truth I thought he did it better

Possibly not as personal, heart-felt, not racked with grief, certainly not wetter

He thanked me, went on his way with his framed Gallopers, that he got cheaper

He had looked a little like Don Ameche with no moustache, so much younger

He had a gentle way, he missed his wife, she’d died of cancer, you learn to listen

To your customer, let them have their say, In that way, your like a counsellor

You cheer them up, pack their purchase, send them on their Argentina way!

 

edenbraytoday

Ref. 28092020

 

 

THE ARTMAN – 2 (2ND DRAFT)

THE SAD MAN and THE GALLOPERS

DOWN ARGENTINA WAY

 

She looked like Betty Grable (for she was)

and post the Brighton bombing, 

Maggie Thatcher had her hair,

She might have worn a Carmen Miranda, 

extravaganza, 

I didn’t wear a care,

For in those days I philandered,

 selling artists materials,

Listened in on Brian Hayes as

British lads went down Falklands way,

to fight!

I listened to anyone with half a tale,

listening, will often throw you up a sale

The sad man came one quiet afternoon,

we cope in different ways with our grief

it queues up behind our systems of belief

Sad man tried to turn over a new leaf

concealed his pain in a harmless folly,

mourning the loss of his one and only

 

He had coloured in a technical poster,

during the bad days after he had lost her

A working diagram of a fairground Galloper,

he had sent for in the post

In our gentle conversation

the man who was sad, won my attention

I admired his style, his consideration,

and helped him choose his framing

… 

 

Back in the centre of our domestic situation

we, unaware and green

of a mechanical complication

set the timer on our washing machine

It leaked, covered the living room Lino,

seeped through to the floor below – and

Having nowhere else to go,

sprinkled on the sad man’s poster,

that now became a shop disaster

The sad man came to review the damage,

I would reimburse him for his trouble

I couldn’t help him colour-in the double,

though in truth I thought it  better

Not as personal or heart-felt, not racked

with grief and certainly not wetter!

He thanked me, went on his way proudly

with his new framed Gallopers in its frame

He had looked a little like Don Ameche,

without moustache, so much younger

He had gentle ways, he missed his wife,

she had died of cancer, you learn to listen

To your customer, let them have their say,

In that way, you become a counsellor

Cheer them up, pack their purchase,

send them on their Argentina way

edenbraytoday

Ref. 28092020

 

 

 

 

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I, I AM WILLIAM BLAKE

I, I AM WILLIAM BLAKE

Unknown

Sweet bird of youth, I attend your birth and watch thee grow

As fond as any doe or any love that I in honour still may show

The amplitude of life, either ascending or descending as a lark

My heart, faint of love becomes a river born of hope, another ark

I, I am William, William Blake, my true respect carries me forward

Through the dearth of my adolescence, through that awkward night

Of middle age, I rip the page, it held no bottle top nor taught me how to stop

Till the sun goes down upon my soul I will stand at heel in repose

The curiosity of exchange, where people meet unholy

In matters of discernment, frail the condition of society

Lament O’ Lamech, though the fires of hell await thee

Good fathers visit then thy children’s sin, treat to agree

Bold, the golden Lion of Judah, whose oiled template I desist

In favour of the pen, the fever of the brow, the trial, the grist

I scroll de capita, dismiss the leaven, bind Dante’s heaven/ hell

Speak only of the former, describe the torture – of Nebuchadnezer

And other spiritual contrives, important detail that affects all lives

The handle of the brush, the stain, the rush of watercolour as it dries

Art’s prophetic choices, in consequence of abandon, often does decide

How we listen to the voices, madmen, seers, taste prophets salted tears

Listen thee between the lines in soft words, illustrated by the mind

Beatrice addressing or what our forefathers, foolish, naive might find

Elohim, Newton, Satan, Job, the Ghost of a flea, Pilgrims of Canterbury

Innocence a freedom, infant morning Joy when the Stars all sang together

They journeyed on a dusty road, wan brothers Elisha and Elijah, to their Emaus

Sweet joy befall thee, the rule of ebbing life-blood never better than its cause

Who questioned then, other than my alma-pater of a negro hung alive by the rib?

Questioned the absurdity, analysed eternity, profanity, a religious life yet never glib

I am Blake, my conscience I forsake, led by opportunity, by the invisible forces

Engrave a pallet from earths hard core of stories, some brave, some darkest blue

Some born to warn, some impossibly true, the aspect of Newton’s compass, Pity,

The Great Red Dragon and Woman Clothed With the Sun, Titania, Puck, alongside Oberon

The season I decided my pretence of reason, through age does not seem as long

A song of thorny youth, caught in the crossfire of distant revolution, a forkéd prong

The mysteries of organic nature and causal moments to each generation belong 

Those who weaken, set to fall, those who widen their belief, like William stay strong

I, as William Blake understand  the changing tides, like Canute I walk naked out to sea

Realise in daubs of paint, line and light, celestial forces fight the Archangel of the free

As Job I settle on constellations, question truth, barter youth, on pain of wise conclusions

Within my reverie, the only Angels that I see are those that offer me practical solutions

And that being that, we queue to view The Night Of Enitharmon’s Joy, then let us salute

The actors who must take the stage, jealousy and cowardice, laid out within the page

Honour, love and rage, triple law to triple love, all creatures woven here, except a dove

In tone nothing is much darker, the rule of Rome, a mythical lack of love and laughter

The world was stronger, life seemed longer in the delve and sway of William Blake

A sniper who set his sights, amidst the glow, ere the dawning of the feast of lights,

Banish then dull tradition, attest brave St Pauls divine confession and utterly forsake

All others for one night, the chimes rang out in London Town to our prince of Light

I, am William Blake unrecognised, I walk the streets unseen through life’s darkest sunrise

Such deft compromise causes Sun at his Eastern Gate to rise, despite the horror of my eyes

Refill my pen, incline my brush, I record this triumph of the Dawn, reflect in artists’ ways

Draw lines, write verse, assimilate, I meditate and at my last create my Ancient of Days 

..

edenbraytoday

Ref. 24092020

The-Ancient-of-Days-painted-by-William-Blake-Nothing-represented-his-harsh-view-of

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ODE TO LEXY

ODE TO LEXY

Lexy

She is a beautiful girl is Lexy, hair in waves, as dark as Irish peat

Her tiny feet, she can run to greet you in the pale morning

Such a beautiful girl is my Lexy, as warm as Rosey by the fire

Her little hearts one desire, to be loved and cared for, therefore

I am the fiddler, I am the jaunty sailor leading thee, I’d never hurt thee 

I’d bring thee home my wee, timorous girl and put you safely to yon’ bed

The sweetest doll is tiny Lexy, a morning song is my Lexy, a sonnet

And if she were a wee girl she must wear a flowered bonnet

.

edenbraytoday

Ref. 20092020

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THE ART MAN #1

THE ART MAN – 1

pillars of deceit

The Pillars of Deceit by Michael Lang

THE PICTURE OF JESUS

.

A look of recognition, the sun streaming making abstract shapes on the new, suspended ceiling, a Miro!

She stepped through the door, I harboured a good feeling, a pantechnicon crashed past blocking the sun intermittently and heading south

The light in the shop flickered as though the fluorescents by the door needed a new starter, nothing like the fireworks that were to follow after

I disappeared from view into the cool, half-lit stock room where we stored piles of Beswick, Coopercraft and other gifty boxes

In the corner, stored safely in large, manilla bags, some wrapped in corrugated – the completed, framing orders waited

She seemed a fragile and inconsequential soul but for all that, obviously she loved some kind of Jesus

She had seemed damaged by religion, fragile, emotional, somewhat irrational I thought but you have to appear non-judgemental

Yet the way now that she was standing at the counter made me nervous, the expectation was tangible, though the lights had stopped their flashing

I try to put my customers at ease, you must use so much discretion, send the message in your eyes, ‘we only aim to please’

Two weeks before she had bought it in, a triangular thing knotted at the back, in texture and in colour, a monks habit, a hessian sack

‘Its a picture of our Lord’, I could tell, ‘you’ll take great care of it I hope’, I thought I heard her say – those words always make your day!

Well, what can you say? ‘Lets get down on our knees and pray?’ I mentioned it to Michael as I always thought to do

The traffic outside was noisy, light played again over the pictures on the wall – a Turner, a Gainsborough, an Utrillo, a random bag of daubs

I questioned with myself should I tell her no, just tell her where to go or try to sort it out, leave Michael to decide

Michael, he retorted she’s pulled the stitches far too tight – I’ll have to damp it, stretch it, see if it comes out all right.

Michael calls on Fridays, before the weekend-trade, Saturdays always are the busy day, busy people just got paid

We unpacked her tapestry almost as the golden sun streamed through our picture window for the first time that day

And Jesus shone, the lumps had gone, the triangle square, I in awe of total transformation, a miraculous resurrection

How does it look?, her question was intense as I peeled back the sellotape and pulled her Jesus from the bag – ‘I think you will be pleased’

I’m sure the sun only shines through that window and it was hot, hell-hot, I never saw a face so changed, so anguished

Mary Magdalene, by Raphael did not paint such a joyless study, her face, by observation, replaced by Dante’s view of Hades in Van Eyck’s ‘Last Judgement’

This needlepoint disciple, her chagrin broke, her face contorted, Saint Peter spoke, hot spears of tears squeezed out from her eyes

‘What has he done?’ she lamented, like my Jeremiah, a cardboard poster I kept of Rembrandt’s famous study, I considered him my buddy

I used my Jeremiah to back my daily sales graph, it hung on the store-room door, I tried to reason, ‘Honestly, our framer really could have done no more’

It was twisted, it was pulled, it had almost been de-wooled, out of shape, wouldn’t budge – the work that Michael did was splendrous, Jesus, please defend us 

The customer is always right, this poor creature’s face now ashen-white, blushing in the cheeks, where a women’s tears will always make you guilty

A monochrome in grief, despite my disbelief, she tugged at my conscience as I had tugged relentlessly at her abysmal tapestry, with no joy!

‘I don’t know what to say, I’m not sure you understand, what my picture-framer has achieved is quite beyond belief’

Her attitude had changed from sad to sassy, there was definitely more behind this complicated lassie, ‘I hate it!’ she cried.

Well, here comes the great capitulation, not the famed oil of Velazquez 1635, just one more dent in my jaundiced view of humanity

Standing behind my oak and plate glass counter I offered now this little weeper to send it back or make it cheaper – she took it cheaper

The Pillars of Deceit by Michael Lang come to mind, so was the broken lady really so cast down? Could I tell my framer his work had been maligned? 

And how can Jesus happy be in a cheeper casing, how can this lady sleep at night with her Jesus hanging, stretched and mounted on her wall?

edenbraytoday

ref. 18092020

 

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PURITY

PURITY

Screenshot 2020-09-16 at 06.20.36

There was a red stain on Jessica’s dress, it grew, an inkblot, a tattoo, a cloud above the East Fen and it travelled slowly above a spread table where the community were gathered

Ben Dawlish, whose whiskers fawn and charcoal curled upward at their ends, himself fourteen years a brother, poured, while the sun glinted on the children’s faces and they adored the amber falling

An aura spread, livid, across the eastern counties where the dark peat sod gave to the blade, five proud clydesdales each to their separate duty adorned, shiny with sweat, plaited by red ribbons hidden in their curls

Forged steel white, the frog, shaped like a hammered scimitar, weathered oak always the preferred timber for the mouldboard, it bears a heavy burden, a subject once of a Sunday sermon by Brother Sherman

Jessica asked neatly to up from the hand-plained table and all the younguns’ ran, this bleached summer, swallowtail, cetti’s, even a gyr falcon all frequent in the valley, another cloud hit the sun

The Marion maids so pretty, plain in cotton blouses attended to their duties, polyester smock dresses, their hair cascades in waterfalls as the trio that run off Bear Mountain on the long walk down into Ebdon Canyon

We came today to betroth the unity of freedom, two people washed of order and servile duty, now to bare their final vow and honour not the mutiny and infidelity of disorder but celebrate impunity with grace

The ladies rose to form a line, rehearsed and fine, a harmony, a coalition, despite its fond tradition, larks rising and falling, a cuckoo’s call, trumpet swan, no sound of hen, the baton bounding

And now across the fen, the sound of oiled engines, kick-start, bass rich and low they do splutter, proving not all men have morals of the gutter, a shout, a brave salute, we pound the back, rejoin, never mutter and never mute

The sun descends behind the eastern slopes, fires lit add apricots and cardinals, a galaxy of cerulean, silver and lemon and the warmest glow, excited children late to bed, their voices lift, a golden bow to angels arrows

Jessica has changed her dress, her hair no longer is a mess, aside the fire she sings a prayer, a voice of water, a galaxy of stars and to this tune community attests this evening, this day, this union, nothing less – 

 

edenbraytoday

Ref. 17092020

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MY POSITION

my position

a minimalist study in dialectics and peace control

————————————————————————————

my employer decided not to trade

my job description was terminated temporarily

ladder-series

my employer wishes for me to work somewhere else under the same contract

my contract does not include a mobility clause 

green-etching

i have no wish to comply for various reasons

i made my position clear in a calm, open, honest and reasonable manner

silver-engraving

my employer wishes for me to work somewhere else under the same contract

this conflict in dialectics has caused me serious stress and depression

brown-aquatint

i believe i am being bullied without due consultation 

i am being treated by my physician

rose-madder

i have no intention of working at a new location

it will be for a tribunal to decide

this is my position

EDENBRAY-17-09-2020 

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I, A SKINHEAD IN CROYDON TOWN – 1968

I, A SKINHEAD IN CROYDON TOWN – 1968

WEST CROYDON

SUB HEADINGS :

when Croydon was Reggae City – the Boss and Scottie

On the London Road, south of Brixton, eight mile north of Coulsdon South
Two friends had slipped the cordon’s leash down the road from Banstead Heath
Notoriety and fame, inside a Consul convertible, they rode to light the fires of youth
That eternal, adolescent flame – tho’ we were still but children playing adult games
In a playground of our choosing, a culture fuelled by boozing and music Caribbean
Cropped-haired girls, shaven-haired lads, intoxicated for a season, drawn by that age-old reason

Let loose on a four-bar beat, a syncopated rhythm, culture born of immigration schism
At a time before glam, punk, American pie, when non-LGBT males had no wish to die
Around the brag and dazzle of boy-girl seditions, under a veil of virginal permissions
She learned to drink babycham, attend to boys emissions, excepting all conditions
He was out for tottie cruising, learned to play the game so well, terrified of losing!
Collected girlfriends, proficiency badges, a young gigolo who could talk to the ladies

We shared a bed like brothers, not like real lovers, at his parents home near Sutton,
Intoxicated by beers, we shared our hopes and fears, planned our next night out
We never got in fights, earned the right to go on double-dates, we were solid mates
The modesty of the age was far less specific, far more erotic due to a shared naiveté
In truth, a generation raised on Andy Pandy and Woodentops struggled to get randy
Her brand new skates, his brand new key and a wet halfpenny between her knees

Teddy boys, beatniks, rockers, looking over her mod-suit, mohair shoulder,
Saw right through her ‘Chelsea’ cut, she tried to look like a skinhead slut,
Talk dirty, wear suits with a slit in her skirt that was split to halfway up
Yet the face she wore betrayed her moral choices, a blur of ‘ten’ adolescent voices
Susie would much rather grasp his shiny key and choke his splendour
Than risk explaining to her mother how her little girl became a sixties lover

Tailored, tonic mini skirts and tops discreet, 60’s mod-girls never flashed their teats
Faces pale as pastry, eye-shadow huge, baby cheeks coloured with just a little rouge
Working class girls, sound as a pound, from the top of their heads to their feet on the ground
Accepted attention to their cups and their plates, only allowed on pre-arranged dates
She knew his good-night kiss, that fumbled feel inside her skirt might require a tissue
But as long as she kept her honour – ‘the pill’ wouldn’t become an issue

When we were jaunty, walking the streets – ‘All ye skinheads put ya’ boots on yer feet’
Ben Sherman shirts, masted jeans, with roll-over tops and braces
The boys at the disco wore shiny suits, the girls cropped haircuts were honest-cute
Though the papers talked of roving gangs who terrorised London
That being the age-old duty of the press – struth! – in truth, in Croydon Town
You would struggle, to find a better vintage of youth, on or off the vine

Where I was raised, upside of sleepy Cheam, identity was not there for the taking
Post-war rationale shaped your life, all that what was expected was a job and a wife
Youth culture was only just emerging and only Billy Butlin offered any hope
So we learned how to dance at the Croydon Suite, to Jamaican bands, a reggae beat
Journeyed to Balham, to an all-blacks store, next to the station to buy some more
Or at the Music shop in London Road, Croydon where you could buy your 45 Trojan’s

The panic we carried was nothing to today, violence was minimal whatever they say
The press they love to exaggerate, from Primrose Hill to Watergate
The scariest place I have ever been was a trip to Crystal Palace Hotel Reggae Night
Where each Saturday at the Disco you could dance to ska, reggae and rock-steady 
The place and the faces there, were as black as coal, the Rude-boys ruled the show
Scottie and I, with his shaved blonde head, were the only white boys I saw that night
Then a Rude-boy placed a blade to his back and whispered coldly in his ear
‘White boy you don’t belong in here, don’t ever come back!’

… so we never did!

edenbraytoday

Ref. 12092020

Authors Note

Yes, I was a skinhead in Croydon Town 1966 – 1970!

The relationship between white skinheads and black culture is a hard one to explain. Back in the 60’s, generally, black boys, they humoured us but never welcomed us. The skinhead fascination and love of West Indian music and culture was no doubt in part, prompted psychologically by a recognition that black people had been downtrodden, misunderstood and in lots of ways annexed by middle-class white society. A perfect background resume for an anti-establishment cult-trend you might say. That skinhead cultural shift might even appear today as an early step towards BLM. Unfortunately the facts do not support this idea. The truth is, that us white boy skinheads, suede heads, peanuts, hard-mods, whatever you might have called us back then, were seen by working-class black boys as culture vultures! They saw our interest in their music as intrusive, as an attempt at yet another form of racist exploitation and an attempt to steal and enslave something that was theirs by birth-rite and blood – we weren’t really welcome in their clubs, bars and establishments and generally they didn’t like us or visit ours. It also should be noted that despite enjoying black music and culture, other skinhead hotbeds around the country could be overtly racist with early links to groups like the National Front which kind of creates a cognitive dissonance when attempting to comment on the whole ‘skinhead’ cultural history. It can only be explained I suppose by recognising there were many different outworkings of the cult-fashion-trend and after all we are talking about – Croydon, where the terms suede-head. that Morrissey later sang of and even peanuts were as frequently used to describe skinheads way back in 1967.

Young white girls who tried to retain their moral convictions in white-white relationships, preferring a culture of heavy-petting and male or even mutual masturbation to full sex became easy-prey to black boys whose interest in them was far more direct, sensual and in some cases, definitely predatory. White skinhead girls in Croydon dated black guys as a kind of badge they wore, seeing black boys as the ‘real deal’ and often these girls submitted to the notion of full-sex with black guys whilst in white-white relationships they would defer and offer a hand-job substitute. You have to understand that many parents of teenage girls in both working class and middle class cultures were still reluctant in the mid-sixties to encourage their daughters to take the pill, fearing it would lead to promiscuity and so young people often relied on ineffective condoms as their only means of birth control. Consequently, as birth control and ‘the pill’ were still taboo subjects, many young, white girls became pregnant to black fathers who then sadly then dumped them, I personally knew of several girls who had this happen. Of course there were notable and very happy exceptions to this rule many of whom have gone on to enjoy happy and faithful relationships.

It was only really the arrival and mainstream acceptance of artists like Eddie Grant, Bob Marley and performers like Jimmy Cliff and Desmond Dekkar who alongside white artists who performed ‘reggae’ style songs such as the Beatles, the Specials and UB40 that black youth eventually set free the reggae genre and moved on to other more exclusive and radical black music-styles like rap, hip-hop, gangsta etc.etc.

~ ~ ~

Authors Final Postscript

I agree, this is as raw and basic as it gets. This piece was an experiment in poetry.

Adolescence is far from pretty – It’s fragile, vulnerable, selfish and messy.

It’s about what I need and what I can get whilst I metamorphosize from a child into an adult. Poetry should not always be fine and pretty and honourable, sometimes it should be human, awkward and shitty. There is no one more disillusioned, freaked out, uncool than an adolescent youth. No one has more questions to ask than a young adult. No one is more ashamed of their humanity and its degradation. No one needs more understanding and care and love and support than the adolescent and sadly no other age of young people got less than we did in that time of perceived plenty after the war when apparently we had never had it so good and we should have thought ourselves lucky.

Don’t judge my poem because its not Wordsworth, Byron or Shelley. Understand its honesty, naiveté, its simplicity, its youthful sway and you may discover it is charming.

Therefore, despite it’s sharp rough edges and lack of discernment and taste I’m leaving this poem here on my page as one of my ‘That’s Me In The Middle’ Series of Poems.

It’s autobiographical, very very honest, it’s funny and what’s more it’s true.

edenbraytoday ~ 14th September, 2020

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