A few years ago I ran into this poet type who seemed to be alright We would meet occasionally, invariably at gigs, and get right down to the important part of any poetry gig, the drinking… As poets wandered to and from the stage the pair of them sat, quietly, soaking in the words Some were good, some were bad and, some, just sounded all the same A bad white rapper kid followed by a classical, very often of the smug, rich and dull type During the intervals they would chat and occasionally one of us would rush outside One to comeback curiously not that stoned Whilst the other has somehow nefariously smuggled in some cheap booze Eventually one of them would get called and with the hall nicely full They would go on stage and pour their heart out to an audience who rarely cared But when they did really listen and the words took hold it was a beautiful thing, standing in the limelight alone Soon enough though a couple of other interesting places opened up and before they knew it they had 4 gigs a month Then along came a new face and he overwhelmed them with his enthusiasm It was all going to be filmed and it was all going to be amazing and make everyone look great. Well, since that day, now some 18 months ago the film has not had any more done to it besides a trailer And I got to say I ain’t impressed, has everything come down to this Me a phony performance artist who merely turns on when on stage Well that’s fucking bullshit man, I’m the real me all the time I can be fucked-up or serious whenever I want, that’s part of what makes up my life This life, the drinks, the smokes, the heartless brutality of just how real it feels right now That night I remember, I gave my all, had a wine bar like putty in my hand as I ranted through an expletive tirade as a wake-up call A call to arms, a resounding success, lots of people and a regular place which from month 2 on died a slow death It was mainly prolonged by beautiful married red-headed women who would come and tease as I read them my love letters, making the offering of my heart To them I dedicate those nights, thanks for sticking around and making it worth my while But now, in my local pub, we hold fort once a month and here in Brighton they’ve got me down as a performance artist So I guess, for you people here, this isn’t an act, this is really me
Get used to the fuck-ups, enjoy the highs and anyone wanting to challenge me well just stand up and come get me and watch my words bring you down.
. . .
CUBAN DELIGHTS ON TUESDAY NIGHT
There I am sat in my favourite place in this town outside of my own room The bar is dark, I’m sat in the corner within easy earshot of the barmaid and I’m drunk It’s a wonderful feeling when you suddenly realise that the booze has taken hold And then it happens, I smell something I smell them out by all accounts New barmaids, that’s who, but only the ones who aren’t too sure what they’re doing I ask for obscure dark rum of the Cuban variety that isn’t opticed and she asks me which glass and I point vaguely at a shot She picks up a vast receptacle of a glass and fills it with that gorgeous dark rum It was at least a treble for the price of a single and when it went down the whole world just seemed a little bit fairer
After I downed the fucker, I recoiled back into my seat and remained there whilst I finished my beer
. . .
BEAUTIFUL GIRLS AND MAD NIGHTS
The nights of youth were spent hell-bent on having a good time all the time Like the keys player from Spinal Tap all we were about was getting fucked up and wasted The more fucked we got the better the girls we could talk too would be and they’d dig our youthful cockiness Of being sexually inexperienced whilst attempting to chat them up Back then, it was alternative, noise and punk that ruled my airwaves and the women Wow, some of the women, I still dream of to this day Their unruly lives of drink, drugs and clubs left hearts ruined all across the London underground Some of the guys never returned, they chose to stay at home and console their broken heart Whilst the girls simply moved on to the next poor sucker in line and eventually, sure enough, my turn came And what a woman I got paired up with. She was a rock’n’roll freak into the sexy mess of being a goth But I played it cool and didn’t get too involved. It was just the one night of car-crash romance that we played out And I’m glad it stayed like that as a woman like that could have destroyed what little of my heart I had left at that time. It was a time I heavily medicated just to help cope with the life, the day to day of just getting along And so the further life went on the more fucked I became until I suddenly was one A cool young guy who a woman wouldn’t mind having on her arm but then, aged 29 I was thrown from the cool train of the youthful hip crew, back into the mainstream and not nearly prepared Fortunately it weren’t that bad it turned out academia was just as crazy as 4am conversations with
Mad beautiful girls in corners of clubs across the London stratosphere in the 90s chewing on lumps of ecstasy
. . .
I’d rather sit here on my chair all bored and alone smoking on some herb Than go out in the glare of the sun where people seem to either not notice me Or simply want to poke fun at me for all the weird little things I’ve done I walk with an instep and I’ve never been ashamed yet at school One of my oldest memories is of a teacher making me walk the aisle
Telling me that I’m doing it wrong
I seem to have spent a lot of my life doing things wrong From walking with that instep to getting in fights at school To being the person who struggles to make friends even when I try my best Talking to people I have nothing in common with just for the sake of conversation To lobotomizing myself with bland nihilistic intent
It seems life is meant to suck when you’re on the bottom rung
But in this town there are some who are even more fucked-up than me And in part their lives seem fine, a total mess but at least they got friends Whereas me, well I got a job that I hate where no-one seems to like me anymore And a flat that is over-run with termites and the worst kind of neighbours
It’s all driving me slowly insane and all I want to know is when will it end?
. . .
I’m drunk that much is certain Drunk out of my mind Hallucinating angels on wings buying me drinks I can’t afford Drinking is me, drinking is what I often enjoying doing
To a point to where I know I can’t handle no more
Drink, sweet drink I love you in all flavours, shapes and containers Whether it be a can of good strength Polish beer Or a bottle swigged with keenness and vigour with the appetite to obliterate once more A pint in a pub is a glorious thing
But chase it down with a large rum could only make it better as oblivion takes hold
I’m drunk that much is certain Away with the fairies who love and cherish me somehow I know I’m a gonna, a failure Or possibly yet a saviour somehow For those at the bottom, the working poor Who when I’m not detesting them for making my life at work feel hellish in everyway
They are my people, my brethren, of that there is no doubt
. . .
© Bradford Middleton
BRADFORD MIDDLETON lives in Brighton on England’s south coast after being born and coming of age in south-east London from 1971. He gigs regularly and is always looking to take his show to anywhere that poetry doesn’t regularly happen. His poetry is about drinking, football, love, work and madness and can be read in many places online and in his debut chapbook DRINK DRANK DRUNK available now from Crisis Chronicles Press. He has work at, amongst others, EMPTY MIRROR, ZYGOTE IN MY COFFEE #144, PPIGPENN, ROLLING THUNDER QUARTLERLY #11, FUCK ART LETS DANCE #5, DEAD SNAKES, WORD RIOT, ELECTRIC WINDMILL #12 and a few issues of THE WEEKENDERS. He is also a contributing poet at the magnificent MAD SWIRL where he one day dreams of being able to perform at their legendary mad session at the Absinthe Lounge. He is willing to talk to you for punk rock shows, spoken word shows of any description, chapbook or full collections of either poetry or short stories, also have a novella unpublished. Make contact @beatnikbraduk on Twitter.