Like a blind man in a minefield
I make my way through life.
Each step a risk yet
afraid to stop and
unable to go back I press on.
Determined that some part of me
will reach the end.
Love is like a fresh cup of coffee,
even though it burns you hold tight.
Its sharpness jolts
yet you still want more
before it turns cold.
Love is like a foreign language
in which everyone is fluent except you
and in spite of all your efforts,
you constantly struggle
to be understood.
Love is like the end of the world,
you panic, you want to hide
but you don’t want to die alone.
So you run out on to the street and scream,
“I’m ready for this.”
We always met at the hippo
it’s a local tradition that we adopted.
Sitting by Walsall’s concrete enigma
sharing our chips with greedy pigeons
chugging MD 20/20 down,
as the town ebbed and flowed around us
like the drift of flotsam on the canal.
Then chips finished, paper and
bottles were shoved in overflowing bins.
We’d flick away the stubs of Marlboro lights
stagger off to indie disco nights,
saying to the hippo.
“See you again soon.”
But as the years danced by we
just stopped returning, as
joints stiffened like concrete and
hair became striped with hippo grey.
We swapped wooden benches for an IKEA sofa,
chips are now delivered, along with
craft beer bought by the ASDA delivery man.
but so did the hippo.
You see that hippo
that carefree hippo of the people
also grew up.
I passed him the other day
outside the library,
perhaps he’s turned intellectual ?
Anyway, I asked him why
he turned his back on the people who loved him.
He’s still thinking
about his answer.
yes my home town does have a statue of a hippo just like in the picture and for many years it was always a popular place to meet.
“Yampy,” my neighbours said about me when I was young,
as I rode my Grifter no-handed past their shocked faces,
laughing as I crashed into their beloved shrubs.
“Yampy,” they whispered from behind their windows
as I walked to school,
laces untied, shirt hanging out, head in the clouds.
Teachers echoed these taunts,
“could do better, must try harder, slacker.”
I didn’t care as I couldn’t change
as yampy was burnt into my DNA.
Fast forward I grew up – a bit – and discovered beer.
“He’s yampy,” after a few they said in my local,
“he’s yampy before he’s walked in the door,” was the reply.
Fag in my gob, pint in my hand I joined in the laughter.
When I met my wife she used to laugh at my bad memory,
“Come on you yampy bugger,” she’d say,
“Why can’t you remember my favourite drink?
Why can’t you remember my birthday?
Why can’t you remember your own poems?”
Us yampys do have memory problems it’s true,
our brains are like attics
stuffed with junk that we think one day might
come in useful again.
Then when we want to find something
we struggle to remember
where it is and what we wanted in the first place.
Plus we’re easily distracted in attics
Look an old school report
I’ll need that later in the poem.
Where was I…, that’s it
When my daughter was born people said, thinking they were out of earshot,
“I hope she takes after her mom.”
I ignored them as I cradled my new-born, writing a poem in my head.
Poetry again I know, I was surprised as you.
But us yampys are drawn to poetry like
a seagull is drawn to chips.
Snatching ideas and words, squawking them back out
cackling like the bird brains we are.
Poetry was one of the many plasters I applied to my brain,
I tried drugs legal and not but
yampyness cannot be cured only
lulled into drowsiness until
it snaps awake at 12 am demanding attention
like a dog demands an urgent midnight piss.
Recently I burnt all my school reports
then I burnt all my school photos,
plus I burnt all the mementoes of my teenage years.
But I didn’t burn my bridges
I’m yampy not stupid.
Yampy is a local term where I live to describe someone who is daft or losing the plot.
Quick plug this poem features in my latest poetry collection A Pigeon among the cats.
And you know as sure as hell that your
black dog ain’t gonna let you be.
Howling outside your window
scratching at the door
impatient to be let in.
That hound can smell fear,
it’s drawn to it.
So let it in, let it come close,
then slap the lead on it.
If that black dog’s gonna follow me
the least it can do, is learn to
walk to heel.
Happy New year Poetry
It’s not been a bad twelve months has it?
Remember how it began when
I updated my Facebook status to
Richard Archer is
in a relationship with Poetry.
We we’re inseparable
pub, cinema, bus, work, everywhere.
People stared, some smiled,
“This can’t last, he’s embarrassing himself,
remember last year.”
I’d heard it all before so
didn’t pay much attention as
I’d taken you to the pub to meet my mates,
who grinned, raised a pint and told us
how pleased they were that we were back together.
Yes back together.
Because poetry for me and you it wasn’t
always rhythm and rapture and rhyme and romance.
We’ve spent more time apart than together.
Times when I’d often jolt awake
reaching for you, not realising you’d gone
until I’d shaken the dreams from my head.
Then for the rest of the day I wouldn’t
be able to focus, wondering what
you were doing or who you were with.
Because you left me without a word,
so I took all we had made together
and burnt it.
While telling myself
Then I won’t forget when I woke up
the next day, I found
you curled around me
and you looked up at me
smiled and placed a pen in my hand.
It was just like we had never been apart
as we started all over again.
Monday hits you with the force of a runaway train,
Tuesday you get up only to be crushed back down again,
Wednesday starts quietly then sneakily stabs you in the back,
Thursday feels like a full-blown heart attack,
Friday you crawl towards the light at the tunnels end,
Saturday you let your broken brain try to mend,
Sunday you brace yourself for it to start all over again.
I met a homeless man while I walked home through town last week,
I listened while he told me of his daily struggle to survive on the street.
I heard how he lost his job, his house, his family and his dignity,
Now he’s just one more lost soul in this soulless city.
He said he didn’t know any easy fix or change this country could try,
And as I parted company with him I realised that neither did I.