Dicing with Room Numbers

For Matthew Carbery
I like the red and yellow painting
with a dab of purple and a splash
of green on the left-hand side.
Dicing with room numbers
I come to the talk
on Twombly by mistake
but decide to stay and listen.
I have a small table
which is grey in colour
on which I place
these reading glasses
falling off this hand,
these blue eyes.
When I get home tonight
I’ll switch on the record player
listen to some Chuck Prophet
some Bill Callahan
some Townes Van Zandt.
When I get home tonight
I’ll rearrange the furniture
move the sofa
and the ironing board
take up ten pin bowling
take up juggling
when I get home tonight
I’ll drop everything except art.
After eavesdropping on Twombly
I drop in on Buddy Holly
and Ornette Coleman
I mark academics smoking cigarettes
out on Cobourg Street with scores
as high as nineteen and twenty
as they camouflage themselves
with other smokers
in conversations of fog.
When I get home tonight
I’ll switch on the radio
I’ll read a biography
of Buddy Holly’s.
I prefer Buddy Holly’s
reading glasses to mine.
On the day the language died
there was an aeroplane crash
the day I started crowdfunding
to buy Van Gogh’s portrait
of Don McClean on Amazon.
On the day my reading glasses
fell out of the sky
the moth made it possible
to see through the curtain
through two small windows of light.
Its wings are not red like the sea
it dances to Buddy Holly in pretty circles.
On the day I emerged
from my mother’s body
ten years after the blitz
I could see the distance
of Christmas Day on my sister’s face.
The November moon sent parts of the sun
shining down on seven and a half pounds
in old money
shining down on a body
made out of other bodies
made out of goosebumps.
October had just slipped out of the door
the first gurgle of poetry had just sauntered in.
On my family tree there aren’t
any dinner ladies or ballerinas
but there are two blood sisters
they were both miscarriages of creation
I never met them or heard their voices
until I passed the point of beginning.
They were talking to each other
one night in my mother’s house
interrupting the silence
after years of being quiet
they gave me breadcrumbs
they brought me jackdaws
sometimes at Christmas
they gave me a key to the house of jazz
they made me homesick for the sound
of Julie Andrews and Jimmy Garrison
they made me carry on writing
until the words are all
I want them to be on paper
write until there’s nothing
to be gained by leaving
nothing to be lost by staying
nothing but a dozen people
and a tenor saxophone
laying down on its side
like John Coltrane sleeping.
When I go home tonight
I’ll play some Robert Fisher
some Gregg Allman
some Tom Petty.
I prefer Tom Petty’s
guitar playing to mine.
When I leave home tomorrow
I’ll wear the reindeer jumper
Melisande gave me in April.
It makes me feel conspicuous.
When I get into a bit
of name dropping
I tell everyone
I’m an old friend
of John Cooper Clarke’s
ex brother-in-law.
I’ve been famous
a couple of times
but not for as many minutes
as a tin of baked beans
in Andy Warhol’s kitchen.
When I’m not shuffling cards
or the pages of a Dodge City western
I like dicing with room numbers
I like all kinds of things
I like my hometown
I like The Roundhouse
I like Global Village Trucking Company
but Boris and Brussel Sprouts
are two good reasons
for staying in Europe.
I spin the roulette wheel
with my lucky left hand
which takes me to a talk
on the Plymouth Poetry Mafia
the roulette wheel is still spinning
tell me if it stops on Geoffrey Hill
or Eric Dolphy.




Kenny Knight




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