Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Flats

THE FLATS

The flats, the levels;
the ups, the downs.
This overlooked patch,
a mile out of town.
Neighbourliness,
a moral core,
are absent; like
respect for the law.
Transience saturates
the atmosphere.
Restless population,
the near, the far;
daily visitations
of Police cars.
England now;
English rarely heard.
Polyglot syllables;
alien words.

Psychic Geography:
how things transpire
for most of us here,
clogged in the mire
of daily existence.
Some aspire
to decorum, civility,
a veneer
of respectability.
Others sink
into shabbiness,
seediness.
The image, the feel;
down on their luck,
down at heel.
It’s easier to merge,
to disappear,
into the drabness,
the greyness here.
Transience saturates
the atmosphere.

I live in a one-bedroom flat (or “apartment”, in American parlance).  The flat was purpose-built, about thirty years ago, and is one of about forty such buildings, set-back off a side-street, about fifteen minutes’ walk from central Peterborough.  As I recounted in my last post, I spent Christmas and the New Year away in Yorkshire, and returned to the flat a couple of weeks ago.  The day after my return, I was startled to see a FOR SALE sign, hanging over my front door.  Most of the flats here are rented, but I paid-off the mortgage on mine a few years ago, and so happen to be one of the few occupants of the flats here who would be able to put my flat up for sale, if I wanted.  However, I have no intention of selling the flat at the moment; hence my puzzlement at the sudden appearance of the FOR SALE sign.  It soon transpired that the estate agents had made a mistake, and put the sign up outside the wrong flat.  Anyway, this random event, together with my recent return to the flats, sparked a new awareness of the comings and goings, happening around me in this location.  I began to get ideas for a series of poems, based upon characters and events I see around me, on a day-to-day basis.  The above poem “The Flats” is designed as a general introduction to the subject, and I intend to post related poems in this blog, as and when they transpire.

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Silent Night

SILENT NIGHT

Turning, turning, from side to side
First the left, then the right
Turning, turning, throughout the night
Failing to sleep, in my parents’ bed
Thoughts, feelings, left unsaid
Far too late: they are long dead
How did they sleep? Was there a way?
This road runs onto the motorway
Incessant, the noise; incessant, the sound
Incessant, the pressure pulses and pounds

My parents’ lives; so much richer than mine
Family, children, property
Secure niche in society
Neighbours, friends; life warm, deep
But the cars, the road: how did they sleep?

Returning to my meagre, one-bedroom flat
No children, no family, no wife. My parents
would see a poor excuse for a life. I’ve come
to terms; am content with that.

This silence, I have. This silence, I keep.
I sit, I write. At night time, I sleep.
This is all I have. This is what I have.

I am glad they don’t see it
They would see it as a plight
But I have it, I hold it, in plain sight
The vast, indifferent silence of the night

I always spend Christmas and the New Year at the family home – in Barnsley, South Yorkshire – where I was born and grew up.  These days, apart from my brother, who still lives there, the family has dwindled, to such an extent that the only other relative I get to see is an elderly uncle, whom we always invite to dinner on Christmas Day.  Over the past few years, since the death of my parents, I sleep in my parents’ bedroom, but I always find it an arduous experience, due to the incessant noise of cars on the busy main road directly in front of the house.  Returning to the blessed silence of my flat in Peterborough a few days ago, I was struck anew by the contrast in the environment, and it was musing about this that led to the writing of “Silent Night”.

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