on streets

Having a good time, everybody?
empty eyes, blackened
fingernails, frayed cuffs, alone
throng gets down and dirty


n.b. Nashville, Tennessee, ‘The Recording Capital of the World, (as I heard a man in a check shirt, jeans, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat label the place to two men in check shirts, jeans, cowboy boots and cowboy hats), is a busy place on a Saturday around noon.

It is mighty crowded. The sidewalks too narrow to accommodate the people. The shops too small for the lines of customers. The Johnny Cash Museum fulsome of people buying tickets, lining up to enter its exhibition rooms, queues of others waiting to have a gander around the souvenir store.

The air is filled with the low throb of traffic congestion; the whoopin’ and a hollerin’ of open wagon loads of young-acting women and men drinking heavily. Every building that isn’t a boot store, or souvenir shop is a bar with a stage that positions a duo, a trio, or a full band with their backs to the sidewalk. The bass drums and cymbals, distorted guitars and amplified voices tumble, conflictingly onto the street.

All around groups of friends, couples, families, stag and hen parties, step around each other trying to agree where to go next, what to do, or hesitate to check their party retains some coherent form.

In the bigger bars, several storeys of open windows and roof top terraces are full of people standing and drinking, or sitting and eating, often with bands bashing out popular songs which encourage customers to try singing along.

A plane passing close overhead on its landing flight path cannot be heard. If you add a couple of ambulance sirens, or a police vehicle’s whining to the cacophony, then you have a good idea of the unholy racket. Music City indeed!

Well, getting back to the senryū above, in the heart of this overwhelming nonsense, there are some very isolated people. They carry all their belongings in a plastic bag, or even a suitcase or two.

They are not of this tourist party world. The crowds so loud and busy there is no hope of being heard if asking for handouts. These sun-weathered ghosts just wander around, or sit in the not so rare boarded-up doorways, or just stand and stare, sometimes mumbling to themselves, maybe fumbling a rolling tobacco cigarette.

Hieronymus Bosch would have loved Nashville. On a Saturday lunchtime, a setting for the centre panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights; at night the setting fit for Hell.


CLP 09/10/2022

digger blues

big yellow machine
with extendable arm
big yellow machine
with extendable arm
caterpillar tracks
audible reverse alarm
big yellow machine
doing valuable work
big yellow machine
doing valuable work
digging up concrete
levelling off all the dirt
big yellow machine
starts at eight o'clock
big yellow machine
starts at eight o'clock
outside my window
noisier than morning birdsong


n.b. It was a late finish last night, the prompt arrival of the digger this morning is some kind of payback. I must have done something slightly naughty in a previous life.

CLP 25/10/2021

what a hoot

it's been reported that scientists
(those men and women
who observe, record, theorise and test)
that birds (perhaps owls)
who live by rivers of noise
(take the M62,
choke chain of The North)
have upped the volume of their calls
to make themselves heard
(when hailing the dawn, or calling up night
or impressing potential mates)

here a soon to be gone wood, a curtain
(about to be permanently drawn)
with its folds and creases
dampens the rush of the motorway
(the rubber on concrete, or asphalt, or tarmac,
whatever seals in the soil)
allows the Tawny Owl
(to wit a nocturnal creature)
some protection from aural abuse

last night I heard the Hill Hooter's cries
(and several just now)
as the first plane rose
(into the steel sky above Ringway)
while we (in our homes)
adapt equally well
to the white-noise of the road
(and roar of metal birds)
by turning up the sound
on wall-mounted TVs


CLP 24/10/2021

on autumn

here they come again
tumbling through overcast sky
air force jet fighters


CLP 18/10/2021

L3 (Day 47): In the clouds

Above the city

in sleepy-headed Spring morn’

birdsong, air force jets


n.b. You would have thought the North Sea was room enough to play in. Why don’t you fly off out there and look for Russian naval ships?

And now the car park curator with the leaf blower. Merde! I can barely hear the jets I was moaning about. What is wrong with using a yard brush with its regular, human rhythm, the sound of birch twigs sweeping a granular surface, jointly calming and healthy exercise?

n.n.b. I miscounted the days. This is Day 47. Thanks for your understanding y’all x


CLP 22/02/2021