Going to Muhammad

 

I shook the hand

which shook the world

 

“I shook up the World!”

He once hollered

 

The hand of the man-child

Who destroyed Liston with a phantom punch

 

The hand from Allah which felled

Foreman beneath an African sky

 

Thought invincible monsters,

Yet slain like sheep

 

On the ropes

 

The hand which once struck like death

Now shakes involuntary sweat

From its tremor

 

The Man who renounced his slave name

Refused to be moulded like Clay

For the white, rich man’s,

Stone Age War

 

“No Vietcong ever called me Nigger”

He famously said.

 

And further, defiantly, he questioned

“Why should a black man

Travel thousands of miles

To kill the yellow man

On behalf of the white man?”

 

Unanswerable, rhetorical

 

They sentenced him to prison

They took away his license

They took away his livelihood

They stole his athletic peak

 

And made him a Hero

 

As a child,

I watched with dad,

Entranced,

As he danced

Poetic verbal rings

Around Michael Parkinson

 

Now that once mighty voice

Is all but stilled

Reduced to barely audible whispers

Parkinson’s revenge?

 

Yet as I shook

That giant

Gentle

Shaking hand

 

And looked into those beautiful, boyish

Still playful eyes

 

And saw him slow-motion shuffle

To stroke the hair of a child

 

I knew I’d shaken

The hand of Greatness

 

“I am the Greatest!”

He often proclaimed

 

He was

And is

 

The Eternal Champ’

Black and Proud

And strong and free

 

Muhammad Ali

Ali!

Ali!

 

WHITE

 

The room was white

All white

The white of purity and innocence

White

 

The white of Heavens foretold

White

The white of the pure white light

Of bliss

White

 

An Angelic white

The white of virgins and mothers

White

 

The white of love Unconditional and

Eternal

White

The crisp, cold white of snow

White

 

The white knight

On the whitest square

On the board

White

 

An imperial white

The white of Divine Kings

And cleanly things

 

A power White

 

It was an all encompassing white

A white which had taken the forms

Of red, blues, yellows and greens

And made them

It

 

A white which nothing

Outside of

 Could be

White

 

Visualise

 

A white ghost is sailing

In a white boat

Through a blue-white ocean

Towards the beatific white

Horizon

Of a white world

                                                   Born fresh from the warm

White womb

Of a wondrous white

Universe

 

White lines to infinity

White

 

Visualise

 

The white dove of peace

Looks through a white framed window

And sees

A white room

White words, written

On white washed walls

 

White coats

White men

White Gowns

White girls

 

White light

Emanating

From a single bare bulb

In a White Ceiling

 

And flying around that bulb

Defiantly buzzing

White noise

 

Is the last living

White winged

Black fly

 

 

Sonnet Corona 1-4

 

1)    Watching the days on the calendar go by

Outside these four walls the bird sing-song loud

Enjoying this time, when time doesn’t fly

Dawning awakening, what goes comes around

We will recall a before and an after

The time of the freedom of little choice

Of school desks at home and children’s laughter

The passing of lockdown, time to rejoice?

The skies looking clear now, the stars shining bright

Closing the curtains on invisible foe

Flickering screens, watching family delight

Another appointment, didn’t want to go

Enjoying the silence of a frozen world

Before once more marching, banners unfurled

 

2)    Thursday night ritual, clapping of hands

            Altered state conscience, a new normality

                   Awaiting the coming, DHL man

                      Living online finding new things to see

                            Watching the numbers going up on the news

                             Everything seems to be happening elsewhere

                             Alone in my bedroom, still playing the blues

                                Guilty pleasure in not doing my share

                           Hidden away, no colour no races

                                    There’s nothing to lose when there’s nothing to do               

                          Running in sunshine passed hidden faces

                         There’s little to say when everything is new

                             The days disappearing unlamented

                              Ideal times for the alienated

 

                     3)   Upstairs, Downstairs, all one community

  Bright Primitive Self Portraits

  Dinner times over, turn on the T.V

An Outsider Artist, awaiting his fate

Watching new life from tiny seeds growing

Father’s little helpers, I secretly hide

Everything is open, on social media showing

There is now no difference, outside, inside

Oh what joy when there is nowhere to be

Yet tempered by knowledge that I’m growing old

Freedom now granted by government decree

Laugh naughty children who’ll never be told!

Relaxing on furlough from normal pressures

Breathing simply being, simple life pleasures

 

4)    Nonsense spoke by the King across the pond

Every crisis brings villains and heroes

Messages from the far off great beyond

Easily heard when there’s nowhere to go

Changing forever or order restored?

Social distance at all times respected

Watching creating, no time to get bored

One day monuments may be erected

People are not dying as fast as they were

Zoom in, zoom out, I’ll see you at face time

Great curve is flattening, no need to despair

One day all must account for all their past crimes

So, enjoy the silence of a frozen world

Because once more we’ll march, our banners unfurled

(2020)

 

 Another Place album (2019)

 

Back to the Sea

 

1)    My old flat’s abandoned now

Left to the cockroaches and dust

Lost songs haunt the walls

Hear the guitar chords fall

I wonder if it misses me at all

 

2)    It’s no longer home

In my home town

Everything smells different there

The street names are the same

But no one knows my name

And the girls don’t walk Riby Square

 

Chorus

 

I’ve gone back to the sea

Where it began for you and me

I’ve gone back to the sea

Where a man and the fishes

Float free

 

3)    Buried the Catcher in the Rye

In the sand

Seems such a strange thing now

A statement of my truth

Whilst the tide lapped my shoes

And the last of the Special Brew went down

 

4)    The woman I loved

Is lost to me now

Left to her lager and pain

Her nights will be long

As the world done her wrong

And her diary is set to the flames

 

Chorus

M8

Chorus

 

5)    The last girl to love me

Has forgotten her love

She sent back the letters

I wrote her

All I gave her was sex

And nothing came next

And nothing to come

Will come near for her

 

6)    My old life’s

Abandoned now

Nothing but guitars booze and dust

Let the walls fall

Let the child grow tall

I wonder if he’ll miss me at all?

 

Chorusx2

 

Outro

 

I’ve gone back to the sea

Where it began for you and me

I’ve gone back to the sea

Where a man and the fishes float free….

(2003)

Cleethorpes ‘84

1)    Walking on the beach with a spliff between his lips                          

I can see him now like in a movie clip

The girls from afar were visiting here

It was another Olympian year

 

2)    The Sun was in the sky as the warm wind blew

Big Wheel kept on turning to where nobody knew

Splashing in the puddles as we walked to the tide

Watching bored donkeys giving laughing children rides

 

Chorus

 

Crabs beneath the pier

Seagulls in the sky

Four people, one day

Together for one last time

Before they went their own

Separate ways

 

3)     A cheese roll eaten, nothing tasted so sweet

That was the year when we gave up eating meat

Lerwick seemed so far away

Fighting every week but live to fight another day

 

Chorus

 

4)    That night we watched movies and we smoked a lot more

Well supplied by Simon drugs the day before

Listening to the Rollers unironically

Paranoid silence was my normality

 

Chorus

 

M8

 

And we’ll all remember this day

Oh so differently

That’s the order of things

Unless you keep a diary

 

5)    That was Cleethorpes 1984

The year of Roctober and our Liverpool tour

Singing Where oh Where in the cemetery

And even today I still sound like me

 

Chorus

 

6)    Where are we now, where did we all go?

Social Media’s just a fragment of a long running show

Some expected less, some expected more

Our little gang of four in Cleethorpes ‘84

 

 

 

End of the Pier Show

 

Walk Assorted promenades at night

A Wonderland bathed in Autumn light                                      

But the Golden Mile’s not made of Gold

And Postcard humour soon gets old

 

So many people pass this way

Happy, holiday faces at the end of the day

 Soon enough they’ll be heading home

Perhaps to West Bromwich, perhaps to Rome

              

Sometimes there is no place to go

Except of course to the End of the Pier Show

 

This had once been the place to be

Living was cheap

And the girls came free-ly       

But the dark tide drew him in

 

Illuminations always grow dim

Illuminations always grow dim

 

Windy skies, sand in the eyes

A time to laugh, a time to cry

Stick of rock and a rock of crack

Sometime’s there is no going back

 

Because there is no ‘back’ to go

Except of course to the end of the pier show

 

This had once been the place to be

Living was cheap and the girls came free-ly

           But the darktide drew him in

         

           Illuminations always grow dim

           Illuminations grow dim

 

And now there is no place to go

Except of course to the end of the pier show

And now there is no place to go

Hanging free at the end of the pier show

Lost Time

1)     

I needed one more exam

To escape my home town          

But I couldn’t settle to study

I fucking hated Sociology

 

2)    I set off early in the morning for the beach

Putting temptation out of reach

Determined to do what needed to be done

For my great adventure to come G7

 

Chorus

Lost Time    

Was the time of lost time

Lost Time

Was the time of lost time

3)    I chose a bench on the prom’

In the early morning sun

But Durkheim wouldn’t sink in

It’s hardly racy reading

 

Chorus

 

4)    Walking for inspiration

And discussing last night’s election

With a dog walking local Stalinist

Who seemed that he was still half-pissed

 

Chorus

 

5)    Returning home defeated again

Durkheim can wait ‘till I’ve rested my brain

It should have been half past nine

But I found it was half past five

 

Chorus

 

6)    What happened is still a mystery

That often haunts my memory

Where did the hours go?

Some things are best not to know

 

Chorus x2

 

Reading a Salinger Memoir on the Beach

 

1)

Two teenage girls playing the sand

Shyly trying hard not to look

But I touched them with my eyes

But not with my hands

 

2) Swimsuits covered in sand back and front

Wanting to touch them, but knowing that I won’t

Girls of that age, discovering their latent power

Opening to the sun like beautiful sexual flowers A AM

 

Chorus

 

Too Young for me

This we all could see

Yet how they played for me           

So knowingly

 

Reading a memoir of Salinger on the beach

Reading a memoir of Salinger on the beach

 

3)    Quietly sipping my special brew

Reading of Maynard’s young fling with old J.D

Whilst casting furtive glances up from my book

To the youthful beauties before me

 

Chorus

 

4)    It’s possible that they could have been sisters

I prefer to think that they had once been lovers

Maybe if only once or twice

Embarrassed discovery that experimentation is nice

 

Chorus x2

 

Reading a Memoir of Salinger on the Beach

Reading a Memoir of Salinger on the Beach x2

Sandstorm

 

1)

      Sandstorm, sand in my ear

In the days when, my hair was long

Sandstorm, sand in my beard

In the days when, I was seldom heard

 

Chorus

 Sandstorm in Cleethorpes

   Sandstorm in Mablethorpe

   Sandstorm in Skegness

   Sandstorm in Southport

   Sandstorm in Formby

   Sandstorm in West Kirby

   Sandstorm in New Brighton

   Sandstorm in Crosby

 

2)    Sandstorm, sand in my eye

I’ll tell you a secret, Even grown men cry

Sandstorm, waiting for the calm

Walking with my family

My wife on my arm

 

Chorus

 

3)    Sandstorm, a billion fossils blow

Who knows where they came from

And who knows where

They’ll go

                 Sandstorm a million seaside trips

In thrall to my own history

Sand in my fish ‘n’ chips

 

Chorus

 

4)    Sandstorm, in another land

All alone with no one

To lead me by the hand

Sandstorm, one day it will end

And through those billion fossils

My ashes I will send

 

Chorus

 

Sandstorm

Sand in my Hair

In the days when

My hair was Long

Scatter My Ashes

 

Scatter my ashes in Another Place

Let my residue blow back in your face

I know my boys will see the humour in that

Though I fear my know my dear that you may not

 

Scatter my ashes in Another Place

Let the tide, leave no trace

You can play my music, as I disappear

But fear not my dear, I shall always be here

 

Scatter my ashes in Another Place

A final rest in my favourite place

Let my first born throw as far as he can

Trying to reach the farthest man

 

Scatter my ashes in Another Place

Let my residue, blow back in your face

I know my boys will see the humour in that

Though I fear my dear that you may not

 

Please scatter my ashes in Another Place

Please scatter my ashes in Another Place

Please scatter my ashes in another place

Please scatter my ashes in Another Place

 

The Blind Were Never Meant to Gaze Upon Beauty

 

1)    Sexy Ophthalmologist

Feasting my eyes

She’s looking at me

From behind her disguise

 

2)    I’m nothing to her

Except s lazy eye

I’ll never see her come

Make her laugh or cry

 

Chorus

 

For the blind were never meant

To gaze upon beauty

The blind were never meant

To gaze upon beauty

 

3)    On the train to Blackpool

Pretty French girl on the phone

Speaking sing-a-long-nonsense

A Foreigner alone

 

4)    We’ll meet in Wonderland

For an adrenaline ride

But I’ll never approach her

Or even wish I’d tried

 

Chorus

 

5)     Couples walking hand in hand

On every promenade

I watch them with my jealous eyes

Love is for them, not for I

 

6)    Drunks and neurotics

Seemed the best I could do

Until the miracle came

The day that I met you

 

Chorus x2

The Man From the Pier Preservation Society

 

Chorus

 

The man from the Pier Preservation Society

Defender of the coastal community

The Man From the Pier Preservation Society

Defender of the coastal community  

 

1)    He has made it his business to save these monuments

That stretch from the promenades out to the sea

Too many are crumbling in dying seaside towns

Soon there will be nothing left to walk on or see

 

2)    Those that survive are privately owned

Existing to extract profit alone

But such things have value in and of themselves

They’re part of our heritage, our collective wealth

 

Chorus

 

3)    He’s a man white of hair and significant dignity

He sees right and wrong with English simplicity

The handwritten letter is the weapon he chooses

And when he takes up his pen he very rarely loses

 

Chorus

 

4)    I see him writing in quill and in ink

A man from another age, I like to think

But that’s probably no more, than my imagination

Tinged with a touch of nostalgic admiration

 

Chorus x2

 

Waiting For The Van

1)    As a child he waited for the ice cream van

To bring him the sweetness that he craved

As a man he’s still waiting for the ice cream van

Only what he craves has changed

 

2)    It was plentiful by the coast

Said the people on such matters who he trusted the most

Idyllic by the sea, he could just reach out and touch

And take as much as what he loved so much

 

Chorus

Waiting for the Van

Waiting for the Van

Waiting for the Van

Waiting for the Van

This Velvet Underground fan

 

3)     Even in the summer

Seaside life getting old

Even in the sunshine

Shivering in the cold

 

4)    Where went the perfect days

At the zoo in the song

When was the last time

When he felt that nothing could go wrong?

 

Chorus

 

Where Did the People all Go?

 

They made love in the sandhills

It was the first time for he

Not the first time for her

By the romance of the sea

                                        

Where did the people all go

Oh does anybody know

Where they are today?

It seems they went away

 

Walking by an empty arcade

A single man is feeding coins

Hopeful seagulls overhead

Singing echoes of lost songs

 

Where did all the people go?

Oh does anybody know

Where they are today?

It seems they went away

 

 Undercover of the sunshine

Oh those happy days carefree

Eating picnics on a blanket

Later scene of ecstacy

 

Where did the people all go?

Oh does anybody know

Where they are today?

It seems they went away

 

Selling papers on the Avenue

Like it’s nineteen eighty two

                                      Exchanging glances by the charity shop   

Their faces show that times don’t stop

 

Where did the people all go?

Oh does anybody know

Where they are today?

It seems they went away

 

Where did the people all go?

Oh does anybody know

Where they are today?

It seems they went away

 

Family Matters album (2019)

Big Tree

Big Tree

Big Tree

Branches spanned the oceans

And to infinity

 

He almost made

His Century

Such tumultuous times

He did see

 

Head of the Family

Head of the Family

 

Big Tree

Big Tree

Branches spanned the oceans

And to infinity

 

From a world of plenty

To scrubbing floors in a factory

 

Head of the Family

Head of the Family

 

Big Tree

Big Tree

Branches spanned the oceans

And too infinity

 

His almost made

His century

Such tumultuous times

He did see

 

Head of the Family

Head of the Family

 

Big Tree

Big Tree

Big Tree

Big Tree

 

Head of the family

Head of the Family

 

Big Tree

Big Tree

Branches spanned the oceans

And on to infinity

 

Faded Actress

1)

Telling your tales

And Soap Opera stories

Living in dreams of come again glories

No longer having

The life you think you should

No longer being

All you’d thought that you would

 

Chorus

Faded Actress

Faded Actress

There’s more to like

Than being a star

And one day you’ll realise

That’s not what you are

2)

Larger than life

You think will see you through

Everyone else sees

That isn’t true

Deep in your soul

Is a sadness that blinds you

And stops you from doing

What you need to do

Chorus

3)

And yet within

Is a beauty that shimmers

A natural beauty

You don’t want us to see

Don’t ambition

Diminish who you are

And stop you from being

All that you could be

Chorus x 2

 

 

 Gardening in the Dark

 

1)

Head in the shed

Eyes on the ground

Growing potatoes

By a Star-lit sound

Follow my nose

Watch my song grow

Forgotten tomorrow

Easy come, easy go

 

Chorus                 

Gardening in the Dark

Reason soon departs

I need a helping hand

When my back’s against the land

 

2) Got to keep on going

Whilst I am in the flow

When I can no longer move

It’s time for me to go

Follow my nose

Watch my song grow

Forgotten tomorrow

East come, easy go

 

Chorus

 

3) Gothic moon on high

Mouth and ideas run dry

Comes the cavalry

My love to rescue me

Follow my nose

Watch my song grow

Forgotten tomorrow

East come, easy go

 

Chorus

Gone Fishing

 

1)    

There was no dark side to you

Everything you said

And did was

Was straight forward and true

 

Chorus

Gone Fishing

Everybody wishing

You were still sitting

On your wall

Handing out the beer

And the laughs for all

 

2)   A lamp post growing cans

Strange fruit indeed

Planted by your own

Big hands

 

Chorus

 

3) Passing strangers

 Read your plaque

If they’d ever known you

They too would want you back

 

Chorus

 

Middle Eight

A book may be long or short

That doesn’t make it good or bad

A life may be lived slow or fast

That doesn’t make it happy or sad

 

Chorus (Solo)

 

4)   You went to sleep

And floated down stream

Happily living on your

Forever river dreams

 

Chorus x 2

 

Hearing Your Presence

1)    

Sleepless afternoon

After a nightmare night

Curtains drawn

Against the outside light

 

2)   Jerk awake

When oblivion nears

Head full of pain

A car horn blares

 

Chorus

 

Hearing your presence

Pottering around

Down in the kitchen

Making kitchen sounds

Bringing me comfort

Giving me a chance

To Get out of this bed

And rejoin life’s dance

 

3)   Every second too long

So much time to fill

Here doing nothing

The clock standing still

 

4)   So cold in this room

But my temperatures rising

I’ve been here before

Rising and falling

 

Chorus

M8

It always seems like a bright idea[i]

Something shiny and new

But from now on my dear

All I’ll need is you

Chorus

 

5)   Sleepless afternoon

After nightmare night

Curtains drawn

Against the outside light

 

6)   Jerk awake

When oblivion nears

Head full of pain

A car horn blares

 

Chorus

 

My Boy

1)

My boy, Charles Liao

Is waiting to be born

I hope his life will be long

I’ll see him grow up strong

He’ll see so many changes

And turn so many pages

Promise me you won’t forget to breathe

And I promise you I’ll never leave…

 

2)

 My boy, Charles Liao

Inside our little nest

Full of hungry innocence

At his mother’s breast

These moment’s of perfection

In his eyes I see my reflection

Promise me you won’t forget to breathe

And I promise you I’ll never leave…

 

M8

When I look into his eyes

I see the man

Looking back to at time

Before he began…

 

3)

My boy, Charles Liao

Into this world his born world is born

I hope his life will be long

I’ll see him grow up strong

He’ll see some many changes

Turn so many pages

Promise me you won’t forget to breathe

And I promise you I’ll never leave…

 

(2007)

Sunday Waiting

 

Sunday waiting for John

To come into our world

And sing us his song

 

I’ll remember that day all my life

Dominoes with my first born

And my darling pregnant wife

 

Sunday waiting for John

To come into our world

And sing us his song

 

I’ll remember that day until I die

At the hospital

Hearing his first joyful cry

 

And what a song

He’s sung for us so far

Sweet melody

In an ever shifting key

Sunday waiting for John

To come our world

And sing us his song

 

I’ll remember that day

All my life

Sunday dinner with my first born

And my darling pregnant wife

 

Sunday waiting for John

Sunday waiting for John

Someday I’ll be gone

And I hope that he will always

Sing his Song

 

There Was I

Chorus

There was I

All alone

I was nowhere

Yet I was at home

Then you came into my life

And made me whole

Oh where would I be now                                       

Without your loving soul?

 

Distant signals

From another land

Leading me somewhere

With your guiding hand

Open possibility

From a world so far away

Giving new reason

To make my way

Chorus

Drifting variously

My direction wrong

Sailing vacantly

In winds too strong

 

Travelling aimlessly

It seems in retrospect

An explorer without a map

In search of self respect

Chorus

Somehow it seems

The darkness inside died

I walk a new life

With you by my side

 

We shouldn’t have happened

But we did somehow

All praise technology

The magic of now

Chorus

Somehow it seems

I swam against the tide

And found my place

With you by my side

 

The wind is still flowing

Through the maple tree

In the end there’ll always

Be you and me

In the end there’ll always

Be you and me

In the end there’ll always

Be you and me

 

Through the Cutting To The Shop

 

Chorus

These were the characters

Who walked our street’s

Larger than life

Now long dead

And they still live

Inside my head

 

1)     

‘I’ve got no memory’

It’s terrible, you know’

She’d say as she walked

Through the cutting to the shop            

To buy the fags

That my dad said

She never, ever, ever…

Forgot

 

Chorus

 

2)    The Dog Man Being

Walked by his dog

Slavering obese

Not the man but the dog

Feeding it mars bars

Outside that same shop

The shop through the cutting

I’ve never forgot

 

Chorus

 

3)    The Man With No Nose

A war wound he claimed

But there were dark rumours

About a dose of the clap

On his way to the bookies

Through the cutting past the shop

The shop that I never ever, ever

Forgot

 

Chorus

 

4)    Partially sighted Mike

I would meet

Talking politics

On the street

He knew the price and value

Of everything

In the shop through the cutting

I never forgot

 Chorus

Wuzhou

1)    Dreaming dreams of old Wuzhou

That distant place I love to go

Of all the places I have been

It is the one that I love best

And when I finally leave this world

It’s there I hope to rest

 

2)    Two coloured river, flowing to the sea

Second city, second home, my second family

Of all the places I have been

It is the one that I love best

And when I finally leave this world

It’s there I hope to rest

 

3)    Red Guard Mum and Big Tree

 Ballroom Dancing and Tai Chi

Of all the places I have been

It is the one that I love best

And when I finally leave this world

It’s there I hope to rest

 

4)    Dreaming dreams of old Wuzhou

That distant place I love to go

Of all the places I have been

It is the one that I love best

And when I finally leave this world

It’s here I hope to rest