Moithered by Mike Jenkins

She used it totally out of place

but natural as calling an infant ‘Babes!’

The poet’s moithered by all that pollution

like herself annoyed at my constant questions.

 

The word was her, chewing-gum twirler

giving so much lip and jip,

a desk-scribbler stirrer

using her tongue as a whip.

 

It was perfect for flustered:

I could imagine the artist

as all the complex phrases whirred

and churned, his hair in a twist.

 

No examiner could possibly weigh it,

no educationalist glue and frame it:

it leapt out like her laughter

and my red mark was the real error.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from Red Landscapes

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Industrial Museum by Mike Jenkins

For Adrian Mitchell

 

Hello and welcome to our industrial museum.

 

On your right there’s a slag-heap reclaimed…

a hill… another slag heap…

that one shaped as a landing-pad

for bird-like hang-gliders.

 

Notice the pit-wheels perfectly perserved

where you can buy mementoes

of the Big Strike and eat authentic cawl

at an austere soup-kitchen.

 

There mummified miners cough and spit

at the press of a button

and you can try their lungs on

to a tape-recording of Idris Davies’ poems.

 

That rubble was a 19th century chapel,

that pile of bricks an industrial estate.

The terraced houses all adorned

in red, white and blue as if royalty were visiting.

 

See how quaint the wax models

of women are, as they bow in homage

to polished doorsteps, the stuffed sheep

at the roadside give off a genuine odour.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from Invisible Times

The Talking Shop by Mike Jenkins

In the Talking Shop

they spit out bones

which an auxiliary sweeps up:

they’re crushed and made into gloss

for the latest glamorous brochure.

 

They talk white paint, plush curtains,

flowers and plants in the foyer:

they shred leaves of Chaucer

to garnish an exhibition.

 

Cogs of paper push hands

and a clock somewhere

justifies its existence.

They decide to decide later.

 

All the pounds left over

from multi-gym exertions

are heaped on the floor

for clients to sketch

in their frequent boredom.

 

In the Talking Shop

originality is a luxury

nobody can afford:

and if you complain

the word-detectives soon arrest

your mouth and use it to bin

the scraped paint, dead flowers, shoddy curtains.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from This House, My Ghetto

Gurnos Shops by Mike Jenkins

An emaciated tree

clinging to its blackened leaves,

the wind snuffles chip-cartons.

 

The road’s an aerial view

of dirt-dragging streams,

its scabs peeled off by tyres.

 

Clouds collect exhaust-fumes.

A man takes his beer-gut for a walk,

his wife follows on a lead unseen.

 

They won’t climb up on plinths

where benches ought to be

and pose like shop-dummies.

 

Lamp-posts droop their nightly heads,

strays will do the watering.

Graffiti yells, but nobody’s listening.

 

by Mike Jenkins

Stallion by Mike Jenkins

When the night’s stallion

approaches us over the yellowing fields,

we see shafts of lonliness

in his eyes. The last wild flowers

have gone with the mares

he whinnied to, over the high-barred gate.

 

A barbed mockery of thorn-trees

and the two of us – jesting to catch

leaves feathering down – share

the hillside with the coal-hewn stallion.

 

Once, he had broken free, his spine

bridging the moor and the village,

hooves clicking the tongues of sleep.

Now, pushing flanks against staked branches,

he mules his raked flesh.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from Invisible Times

Orange-peel Man by Mike Jenkins

Small man from up the Rhymni Valley

stunted to the size

of a mining gallery.

Silver hair the shine

of a butty-can.

Walks with a limp:

no compensation.

 

Every other Saturday’s

relegation struggle, among

moaners and masochists,

behind the tallest pine tree fans

he stands. Shouts

at the players like a trainer.

 

Might as well be in blind-black

at the seam, for all he can see:

yet he knows who has the ball

(invariably the opposition!)

and flings, disgusted, orange-peel

at players who ignore his tactics,

whose wages weigh the same as him.

 

by Mike Jenkins

– from Invisible Times