Poetry from John Doyle

All His Life My Brother John Drank and Drank, Now His Death Is Looming

With steady rain since 5:12 am

this might be Asian forest

high in cloudy hill, billiard table green, Sumatran thrush singing;

but for you, a drunk every God-given day since 1969

I say Nebraska, the rain – bastard-son of temperance

haunting you since its timber-hall lay in ash and smoke

and you turned 21, grinning, firing shots in the air,

Sunday’s sermon soot-grey.

The Angel of Death does not need to ride for long, stopping for fireside coffee,

saddling up again shortly after.

In fact, I think he would share a glass with you, professional courtesy,

your shape abrupt and still, rain deriding your leathers,

your horse waiting for the thrush to sing,

James Earl Fraser’s End of the Trail – constrained –

rain-cloak smell


July 17th, 1967

He came in peace and he left in peace

Albert Ayler

That sheet of bruising bone

cracks and explodes

like lion-tamer’s snare-drum

in opaque tic-tocs,

that golden arc


The porter in Huntington phones me,

I believe every word

Friday, 21:19 p.m.

Butter hues of street lamp

amplify the bush-skies blue.

There are things leaves cannot – will not say,

I will interpret for them

some day –

as I wait

Blue Note, Impulse, Atlantic

will interpret for me

what might happen next among us,

and the grey bags of life

resistant –

the wind-swept finality

of faces

The Style Council

The Jam became

Personae non gratae,

political prisoners of conscience in a small South American state

when Paul Weller assembled the Style Council,

ignoring a howl of wounded blood-crusted spirits

from the summer of ’77 up to Christmas 1982.

There were some sophisti-pop Mods in school in 1983.

I liked the cut of each and every one

and I soon I learned to forget everything slate-roof philosophy

thought me –

like a book slamming shut and a brief encore of dust

playing Beat Surrender down a deserted Tube tunnel…

Dorothy : Cat Lady Extraordinaire of Tesco

Dorothy’s I Have a Dream phases stretch some days from San Diego

to a few yards short of the moon,

from Dublin and Cork to Beijing,

event horizons, I remind myself to label them,

Peter Finch in Network kept himself a little closer to centre-court,

a little less shaky on his aces.

Her rant remains as relevant as a Zimbabwe One Million Dollar note

as the queue today lengthens and tightens in equilibrium,

and carries false hope that air travels at the speed of light;

she fumbles her credit card number,

nails as hygienic as the nemesis of

her namesake from Kansas,

raving in the latest dialects of her agoraphobia.

She usually sniffs her nose on her duffel coat sleeve,

alerts me to check my watch, as sign, signifier,

so the games of etiquette

and her back in my day, men were gentlemen and didn’t rush a lady solo-monologue

can begin,

but today our neuroses sell-out at cut-price in a fire-damage Tesco sale –

Dorothy’s state of the nation address tempting cashiers’ coy, professional smiles,

a few tense coughs from late-comers to planet Tuesday morning.

I say “good-day to you, m’am”,

passing Dorothy

remounting her penny-farthing,

cycling on the pavement as usual.

She’s never removed her cycling helmet when she storms the castle in Tesco

I just notice,

nor the tin foil around it

Remember Everything We See In Spain

Sun-sparkled glint

is a lens my parted knuckle

watches from – horse-riding girls in sullen steps –

but a hidden laugh cracks the tense

divided saddles –

creatures of solar empires are we,

Latin speech,

towns touching stars

scorching days

on mastery of sun,

chalky feet

writing script for wailing land;

no-one will trace a cent of song

when the siroccos drive home,

shopkeepers creeping

from shielded shelves,

the equine angels

we loved so dearly


in suspended animation;

everything turned blue and white

and oh so hot, hieroglyphs on scalded stone

became my alphabet –

thirst and hunger yearned to be my speech

June 6th, 1968

Bumble-bee chequered cabs

are northward constellations

wrapped in steam rising from sleazy streets,

fire brigade reds like an easel

paints the city’s open-wound –

the life of R.F.K. though, is leaving through

an elevator in the basement,

summer scenes not common-place here, since

American twisted its stomach into a masterpiece of confusion,

broken torsos.

Dust from the angel’s mugshot

sits like ant-eggs

on the dagger’s dry and vulgar lip –

R.F.K. though, is leaving in a meatwagon through the basement,

rosary beads, fireballs of Kodak light,

a murmur juggling the sun’s orbit.

Juan does the bus-run every morning,

sees a solar system shutting down as he twists his broken torso.