Liwuli : Upon discovering a mauled bird – by Ken Cumberlidge

 

Act swiftly.
If the ground is soft, place the head on a firm, flat surface.
Find a heavy stone. Aim well; strike hard; leave no room for doubt.

Compassion has no use
for the squeamish
or faint of heart.

Will equal mercy
be afforded you?

 

 

[Note: The South-East Asian three-stanza “Liwuli” form, obeys the following convention:
31 syllables over any number of lines, entirely in the imperative
14 syllables over 3 lines, freestyle
10 syllables over 2 lines, framed as a question or set of questions]

 

Birkenhead-born Ken Cumberlidge is based in Norwich, but can be lured out by decent beer and an open mic. Recent work can be found variously online (Algebra of Owls / Allegro / Ink Sweat & Tears / Message In A Bottle / The Open Mouse / Picaroon / Pulsar / Rat’s Ass Review / Strange Poetry / Snakeskin). https://soundcloud.com/ken_cumberlidge_poetry

What Worked – by Ken Cumberlidge

 

What worked? What did the trick, d’you think, for her?

Gossip-giggly phone chats with the girlfriends?
(gradually less often, as each one wed).
The cute-but-sporty runabout; the roadster,
to take her to the coast… the front… the edge.

The gym, perhaps? The fitness class? The treadmill:
running towards nothing, in a sweat.
Nights out on the town | the tiles | tequila.
The one-off “you’ll do/shut up/fuck me” sex.

A pair of must-have shoes; a bag; another.
The rom-com box-set evening in, alone and misty-eyed.
The fashion mags, the diet plans, the make-over.
The New Year’s resolutions cast aside.

The social network: microblogging, chat-rooms,
the twittersphere… the mobile gambling app.
The nightly glass – no, bottle – of supermarket Merlot.
The cigarettes she thought she’d given up.

The feng-shui re-arrangement; the spring cleaning:
this is IT – fresh start – no compromise!
Scrubbing out the drawers with disinfectant.
Counting – and re-counting – and re-counting – all the knives.

Decorating cupcakes! Getting bored with it.
Making quirky ‘stuff’ to sell online.
The drawer full of unopened brown envelopes:
payday loans; rent arrears; unpaid parking fines.

The mollifying, nullifying, synapse-swaddling cuddle
of those pills the doctor said would be her friends,
with the warning on the box that starts with ‘Never’
and goes on to say

Well… You know how it ends.

 

 

Birkenhead-born recovering actor Ken Cumberlidge has been writing poetry, songs and stories on and off for 40+ years, during which his work has popped up sporadically in print (SMOKE, Bogg, Ludd’s Mill) – and, more recently, online (Algebra Of Owls, Ink Sweat & Tears, Snakeskin). Since 2011 he’s been based in Norwich, where he can be seen, muttering and gesticulating in the company of an embarrassed-looking dog. Don’t worry – the dog’s fine.

January – by Ken Cumberlidge

 

Frost-shod,
wind-whipped,
hunkered;

scarfed, gloved,
suitably-sensibly-multiply-layered,
we walk

foursquare toward
a dazzle of
but-lately-risen,
barely molten,
low, slow winter sun:

puddles iced by last night’s starlight
squeaking, squeezed
beneath our boot-treads;

Giacometti shadow-puppets
skipping
in our wake.

 

 

Birkenhead-born recovering actor Ken Cumberlidge has been writing and performing poetry, songs and stories on and off for 40+ years. Since 2011 he’s been based in Norwich, where he can be spotted most days, muttering and gesticulating in the company of an embarrassed-looking dog.  Don’t worry – the dog’s fine.

The Loss Adjuster – by Ken Cumberlidge

Beans
Potatoes
Dog food
Mushrooms
Scourers…

Orthodoxy has it that it eases over time.
Like fuck it does.
Not yet, at least.
Just changes tactics.


Once
it filled your vision,
dodging, dancing unavoidable
between your mind and every simple needful action:
tearing at you, hungry, urgent, passionate – this, your new lover

and …OH!
how gratefully, how eagerly
you self-surrendered to its kiss,
a kiss so full and drowning deep
it stole the air from every breath
to bring you – gasping, quaking –
to a place you scarce believed existed;
there at last to leave you, gently:
weak and soft and sated.
Wet.


Now
it keeps its distance,
feigns indifference,
waits in corners, silent,
watching for the perfect off-chance:
some sweet pause in which you
gift yourself
the tiny luxury
of thinking ‘Hey – this is OK…’

Then it’s on you,
at you,
has you by the throat
iron-fisted, tightening,
pressing you to wall, to doorframe
– any suitably unyielding surface –
(plain reality will do);
there to bring you – rasping, choking –
to a place you know only too well now,
know it by its very darkness,
prayed you never would revisit;
there still yet to keep you,
hostage-meek and subjugated,
till it’s done with you – is spent –
and you are rent,
left in your own mess:
a silent gaping retching ache
the only fact between your
nothing
and a windowsquare of
solid empty sky.

Reach for tissues – wipe away the traces.
Pick yourself up – straighten out your clothing.
Make a mental note – you still need

Bread.

 

 

 

Birkenhead-born recovering actor Ken Cumberlidge has been writing and performing poetry, songs and stories on and off for 40+ years. Since 2011 he’s been based in Norwich, where he can be spotted most days, muttering and gesticulating in the company of an embarrassed-looking dog.  Don’t worry – the dog’s fine.