Shaun Belcher Poems 2002-22

Category: New Poems

FOSSILS

The playgrounds were strewn with ash
Smoke still billowed from the underpass
Further out in the estuary steam rose
From the tanker now beached and rusting

Lights now only flickered around the estate
On every other day to conserve energy
Milk floats converted to run on steam
Carried bodies of those who froze

Up the icy streets to the crematorium
The one place left they still used gas
The old cylinder gas tanks long since
Deflated like punctured balloons

Horses and cattle roamed the empty fields
Looking for their owners and a bale of hay
But the engines that brought them
Had long since died and started to rust away

No-one now could remember how it started
One day there were fires everywhere
The pylons buzzed in the rain
Then it stopped, silent roads, empty skies

Hands scratching for fuel kept finding
Impressions of leaves and insects in the coal
For a while the neighbours chopped down trees
Built holes in their eco-house rooves

To let the newly built fire-places let out smoke
then the hard winter stopped that
By spring there was no firewood to be had
All the oil and gas had burnt out long ago

Slowly the bones started to appear
Bodies lying in the fields slowly
fading back into the chalky soil
Row upon row of chalky fossils.

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED

Which one’s Trotsky?

After twenty years chez Nottingham I finally been invited to share my thoughts at a reading.

So if you wish to listen to a couple of bolshy poets tearing down the walls of heartache now’s your chance…

Neil Fulwood been around a bit has some books and generally a good egg….

He will be promoting his new Smokestack Press publication and generally taking the piss out of the Tories which in current climes no bad thing.

I will be ranting as usual……at everything.

I will be reading from this book available until August 2nd as a free pdf download below.

PRIVILEGE

Privilege

Is mine and always will be it is my birth-right
I am born to this and never shall let it slip
I am the world king and God’s chosen one
To let go of power is to betray you all

I will make the problems disappear
All it takes is character as my masters told me
Drilled with a sense of purpose and entitlement
From a young age to handle the reins of power

The ethos at Eton and Oxford is always to be right
even if found out never let the mask slip
For that is a sign of weakness and I am not weak
I am the firm hand, the strong voice, the liar

Who can not ever be found out to lie
The philanderer who can buy secrecy
The fool who cannot be judged wrong
For there is no other King

This morning the cloak of privilege
Is torn and stained but still wraps me round
With banker friends and people of high birth
who will take me in and bathe my wounds

I will return to the battle with my Excalibur
Smite my enemies and ride again into battle
This county needs me in its darkest hour
I watch re-runs of Churchill in a darkened room

This is my right my destiny
I am alone A King of no country

SUBSTITUTE

North Berks Cup Final Long Wittenham F.C. my father second left back row.

Looking on from the sidelines came naturally
a boney slightly effete lad who wanted to be what his Dad wanted him to be.
Every Xmas Meccano and Scalextric (or a cheaper version from Bosleys toy shop)
When all I wanted was pen and paper or an Airfix Saturn V and some comics.
Happy with my mum’s Encyclopedia of Animals and a set of colouring pencils.
I built my own museum of antiquities in my bedroom.
I made a glass topped case of oddments my Dad dug up with his JCB.
A meteorite, a bit of roman pottery, fossils or so he told me and who was I to argue.

I spent hours kicking a ball against my neighbours shed, dubbined my boots
The smell of tarmac and sweat oozing from his pores after a day labouring
as he showed me how to clean my boots. How to pace myself, avoid injury.
In kick arounds I wasn’t bad, no Geoff Hurst more a Martin Keone at left back.
A position the better team I clawed my way into could not fill so there I was.
Sunday morning in Edmond’s Park living my father’s dream. Trying to live up to the photograph of his team shot at Reading FC ground before winning the North Berks Cup ( I still have photo and medals and programme.)

My mother watched me take a few knocks and struggle as a defender.
Not ‘filled out’ enough to stand up to the bigger boys. Immature and sensitive.
The inner poet derailing my ambitions to play for Arsenal from an early age.
I look at photos of me aged 14 and wonder I didn’t break something.
But my father’s advice came good. Don’t get angry get even.
They score one you go back and score one against them.
Remember your second wind. I did remember so much so I wrote a poem.
Mum played the long game wanted me to go to University. First in family.

The rest all drove trucks, laid tarmac or went into the police or army.
One sunday my Grandad challenged a semi-professional team to a match.
His family and mates from the Working Men’s Club against them as a bet.
Our whole family of Butlers and Belchers turned out on a frosty morning to watch
them win on the park I got substituted every game for Didcot Boys on.
My Dad and Uncle Dennis and others ran rings around the so called professionals.
There was a big celebration at the club that evening. Ernie had won his bet.
I learnt then that there is no substitute for perseverence, talent and a bit of luck.

Now I stand on the sidelines again. Recovering from a host of bad tackles, unlucky injuries and plain bad-timing. Always a substitute.

Stepping across the line. Taking on the professionals at their own game.

Bound to be substituted later. Like always.


Addenda after Auden

A NEW YEAR GREETING

****
(poem here)

Addenda: What I am not.

Shaun Belcher is the author of one out of print slim volume that disappeared into the virtual ether before it was printed via lightning strikes/amazon so qualifies as a work of fiction.
He did not edit any anthology of obscure, unacknowledged legislators nor did he win any prizes, nor should we be specific did he enter any competitions.
He has held no official tenures as a creative writer at any top end nor third rate provincial university and has never reviewed other poets he dislikes for the simple reason of building a profile to get published.
He has never been recommended by friends in the poetry world as he has none and has studiously avoided anything to do with poets or poetry for over two decades.
He is member of no group who look after his publishing and reading interests when his work over time slides into fabulous irrelevancy or simply becomes so bad it an embarrassment.
He has no agenda nor minority axe to grind and has never played on his working class beginnings for pity or favour.
He regards his lifelong devotion to obscurity and keeping some semblance of sanity in a world over-run with poets like a corpse covered in flies that he should not add to other’s suffering by maintaining a steady output of academic poetry which simply done to fulfil research departmental targets.
His earnings from poetry over 40 years accrues to £70 he once got paid for being given a slot at Ledbury Festival by a friend and a commission again via a friend for £500 which works out to roughly £14.25 per annum which a living wage in the poetry world these days.

He is however still a poet if being a poet is none of the above.

He is still alive at time of writing and doesn’t expect things to change radically.

It all depends on a red wheelbarrow apparently and he does not have one.

Happy New Year.

New Poems: Knowing my place

Doff your cap,
Toe the line,
Do a good job,
Know your place,
Speak when spoken to,
Don’t talk back, keep mum,
Be reliable
Hold your knife properly,
Don’t leave the table until told to,
Watch your step,
March in time,
Defer to your betters,
Salute the flag,
Be punctual,
Do a good job,
Never argue,
Be polite,
Bow,
Scrape,

Be invisible.

If you do not do as you are told you have…

A chip on your shoulder,
Are bitter,
Difficult
A maverick
A born troublemaker
An outsider
A thief

Or worse
Political

Working Class

A writer

2010 – White Van Town – Didcot Council Estate
Each van a different worker living on this road it a Sunday.. the Thatcherite Dream made reality.


New Poems: The Moon Turned Dark

Moon Turned Dark

June 1783 a balloon of hot air made of paper is launched
then a test of silk and hydrogen that travels 15 miles before crashing
into the minds of two peasants who attack the monster
despite the authorities appeal not to be scared of these globes
‘which resemble the moon turned dark’

Next a sheep, a cockerel, a duck are swung into orbit like Laika
Tethered to another hydrogen sphere to test the air at altitude
They survive crashing back to earth and are examined by Pilatre de Rozier
Who in October 1783 becomes the first man to leave the earth
The blue and gold balloon rising in a shower of burning straw

The 7th January 1785 and Blanchard and Jefferies attempt the first sea crossing
leaving Dover they head for Calais rising and falling dangerously
all weighty objects jettisoned they finally threw their clothes into the sea
and make landfall at Blanc-Nez where Blanchard throws letters into the wind
the final weight they let go are bladders containing their own urine

13th June 1784 and Pilatre attempts a sea crossing in the opposite direction
twenty-seven minutes later it is seen drifting back over land
the two aeronauts observed frantically trying to keep the vessel aloft
The hydrogen ignites sending the two men to their deaths
Pilatre leaves behind the first matches, gas masks and a museum of science

The means to start fires, protect and survive and a mausoleum of ideas.

13th June 2021 fires burn bright in the woods near Calais at night
Sea crossings are planned and wind and sea watched for calmer nights
Eyes turn upwards at the leviathans in the channel the monsters in the air
Some cross easily others fall to earth or drift on currents back to land
The best nights are those when the moon turns dark and the fires are out

We test the limits of our survival from Paris to Mars, seek safe harbour
But the straw burning under our feet both lifts us and destroys our world.
Under the blue and gold backdrop of the live television pictures two men
Dump what they can into the sea, pray that the fires will keep them afloat
But can see the moon turned dark, the sea turned black, the world on fire.

A sheep, a cockerel, a duck
Float on across the burnt forests, the flooded fields, drowning in hot air.


New Poems: Loops

Loops

Sparkling green walls covered in frosted webs
A thousand hedges grid-locked our estate at dawn
October school-runs on foot, lawns damp with dew
We’d strip privet sticks and collect them in loops

One web on top of another until a sticky shivering
Vibrated in our hands, dew running down stalk to palm.
We knew nothing then, spun our own stories as we traipsed
Slowly toward a school playground fuzzy with chalk

Circles on walls, boards, exercise books and balls
Punctured and hiding below those spun nets
The exhaled breaths of football careers not yet dead
We curved balls endlessly at bare walls

They came back every time,thuds ricocheting
Against the garage walls our only release
Drum n Bass lives before we knew the words
Stamping out glam rock tunes in our heads

Now the lawns and hedges torn up turned to gravel
Commuter belt rentals cars packed in like terraces
Nothing breathing just dead ground that floods easily
The earth covered and the dreams we had floating away

Over the hedges, nets, lawns like vapour trails
Heading west to unknown futures no longer there.


A new boy in my old bedroom repeats an overhead kick
On a digital platform.
Dreams of escape as a ball lands in a net.
Cannot hear the milk train on the loop.

Ignores far sirens and sticky hands cradling the dead.

The Loop:

The London – Oxford railway line bypasses my hometown of Didcot on a single track known as ‘The Loop’ to thirteen year old trainspotters…

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