David McLintock lives in the North-West of England. He has published poetry intermittently since the early 1990s, in small-press and online. His life is based on notebooks, lists, and peculiar encounters with people. He believes you can make poetry out of the mundane trash of the city. He likes making words do things they weren't invented for.
The Man Who Got One
I had this friend Who admitted to me once That when he was a child He’d been fascinated by life And that now he’d grown up into a man This fascination hadn’t gone away And that whatever it took He was determined To get one for himself.
I was staggered, He didn’t seem the type, But despite my protests From then on He spent the better part of each day Devoted to this task, However detrimental it was To anything else.
A few years later, Having drifted apart Some while before, Him not having the time For the things he’d used to, Me not caring to push it any longer, I was surprised to get a call, And to hear his urgent voice on the other end Telling me to come over, Cos he’d got one.
I asked where he lived now, Not expecting him to answer That he was still in the same place, But I put my coat and boots on And made my way across town Wondering if the area Had improved without me knowing.
If anything, it was worse.
I found his house And it looked a bit rundown, The garden was a bit weedy if anything. The car on the drive didn't look that much either. In fact, it took nothing to notice the rear-left wheel was off it.
He answered the doorbell quickly, smiling. Inside was as I remembered it Only 10 years older. But he seemed really happy, And started showing me round, Pointing out things that really weren't worth pointing out.
I wondered whether he had been ill, to be honest.
It turned out he was single, too.
“What do you think of that?" He finally said, waving his arms Like some kind of evangelist. “Isn’t it fantastic?” I looked around, I didn’t know what he was on about, And finally I told him, “What? I can’t see anything?” He paused, looked at me, puzzled, Asked if I was sure. I said I was. He looked at me again, sadly I thought. “It’s so strange,” he said. “All of you say the same.”
As I walked back across town I kicked some stones down the road And found myself crying a little bit, To do this day I don't know why.
I multiplied together 2 nine-digit numbers …
I multiplied together 2 nine-digit numbers. No-one wondered how I did it, No-one wanted to check my answer. A computer programmer, A social worker, An international shipping merchant, A translator, And an English teacher. And not one of them was at all impressed. The computer programmer asked: “Why?” I looked at him as if he was the strange one. “Because I can” I answered, And repeated it 9 times, quietly.
The Prettiest Girl Who Ever Saw Time
The prettiest girl Who ever saw time Knocked around up on the river Next to my old father’s place,
And he wooed her with his boat, And wondered at her, Her line lolling in the water, Her hair,
Her bare toes paddling, Idle as a child, And the only thing she caught Was him,
And he had nothing to give her But his failings and himself, His cabin with the door And meshed windows,
His rattly truck that barely Beat the ruts, And she left, But then came briefly back
To give him me, Which he took, unwillingly, And lived with a look Out of his eyes
For the moment I too would leave, As if he could will it, Till I did,
Which maybe is a day He has not forgotten, Or he may have, or he may Not be there anymore,
Or he may have a look Out of his eyes Totally absented From all of his past,
Something akin to wonder, Or akin to something He knows he never Quite saw,
Something like a boat, Something like a river, Something like a woman, Something like a child.
The poet has nowhere to hide …
The poet has nowhere to hide, Has nowhere to rest, nurse hate, Rock forth, nowhere dried, Packed, ready-sealed, to elate In opening late, versing As key goes in door, wallet To floor, assured cursing - As muse of nicht pour gullet - Will not go between his mantra Of world-love, all-love, and lord-love: His larder's stocked, true tantra - Approving spice, seed, and stove.
I pity my restful foe, His non-gnomic con-me's, his lasty Resistant eyes, his all-know All-gone, his hair hashy, His fear, overbearing as was, Now sub-Socratic, bleakered, Barely worth tongue, fosse Frazzed; a harlequin sneakered, Smashed on a sprung-through sofa, Gouting largesse, loud-wording Gauds, bits of him a knifer Still, most an idiocy boarding.
Not for I must I pity, Nor for I can, but for the joy, For the mockery, treachery, for the smarty Gleam, the sheerness, for the coy Sly slippery side Of self undoing all good, Knuckling well back at pride, Handily gainsaying that prude, Slapping that Lancelot's back, Burping that sucker, unshucking That constabularying schmuck, Offing that cuckooing, that clucking.
For there are things must be done And them I shall do. No Small poet frying his pan Of lines need I now To go for feeding from to. I have my own bubbling. Some boil gloop, some glue. I've no trouble dribbling. I sooner spend my turbulent Roubles quibbling info Ilka, who's noo Boss Rant? Than grinder cuisinist curio.
Once I saw him in his pots, Underneath the worktop, Clawing at them, clats And slams, all tempered, lop To his eyes. When he looked Up, at me laughing down, His cheeks tightly in-sucked, Hollowing strangely, a frown Drew across his brow, In three deep waved lines, He formed a smile, then a low Sound, a haiku of bent fork-tine.
Summitted gutturally, Forcibly, ignobly, with Malice contemporaneously Sniggered, up at my standing life, It was as if he and I was one And he knew it first, and knowing first, Threw me off my track, and won, Left me tired, racked with thirst, Raising my fist at him heading Ahead to a storming victory Taking with him my due rewarding And with that everything left of me.
I'd rolled a cigarette ...
I'd rolled a cigarette and stowed the baccy pouch and rizlas safely down in a pocket and rummaged through several other pockets until I'd found my lighter tangled in my hankie and unwrapped it and stepped outside the pub to light one up. The rain had stopped, its wetness still glinted off the pavement. Flash red fuchsia heads fallen from the hanging pots on the pub wall lay wet and squashed on the kerb, floated round an algae-scummed puddle teetering to the mouth of a roadside drain. I stared at them as I inhaled. I paced idly back and forth along the pavement, never venturing too far from the pub front, as if, to move too far might invoke banishment, or as if, someone might come and take my place, and in taking my place, might take me. Shepherd's purse sprouted from cracks along the road, across the pavement, little white flowers content with any space they could find. I puckered my cheeks to take in a lungful of smoke, and was content. From a carpark across the road, a pair of 4 by 4s followed each other out, growling. I noticed the mud-spatters up the sides of each, and wondered how many walkers they'd taken out. A cyclist came along on the pavement, wrapped in waterproofs, and as he passed he waved, because we knew each other some years ago. I held my cigarette up waving back, but he'd already cycled down the street and around the corner. I really should be getting around the corner too, I thought, considering the time, and how the shops would soon shut and I'd nothing in my cupboards. I finished my smoke, and stubbed the butt on the pavement under my heel, just next to a particularly blood-red fuchsia flower. Then I went back into the pub.