Keith Suddrey: A Lifespan Counted in Moons and Rain

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 Born in 1953, Keith Suddrey is a Grimsby-based poet and artist. Now retired, he worked formerly as an art instructor for adults with autism. He is a member of the Nunsthorpe poetry group and the Riverhead Poetry Cafe group. Since his retirement he has been promoting his artwork and poetry on both sides of the Atlantic. The poems featured here are from an extended sequence called Haven, which will be published in due course by the Heritage, Community and Arts Organisation, Our Big Picture, where Keith is currently poet in residence.

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A NEED FOR STORYTELLING

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CATCH 18

Things would sometimes just happen
explaining themselves away in the process.
Everything being equal, Murphy is unbroken.
Synchronicity tinkers with neglected needs,
leaving old ghosts to dance in leaky boots,
brushing the margin of heaven as tramps,
drawn like flies to the newly dead:
each to their own damaged machine,
random as googles in a dyslexic universe.
Blanched and crisp, time passes by,
lifting all stones for the just in case.
Which way the cock will crow is unknown
the crow has its own problems to solve,
Sod lays down his law and that’s the catch.

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GUIDED BY BRITTLE THOUGHTS

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A MONKEY’S UNCLE

Just twenty-four passengers on the Bakerloo Line
between Oxford Circus and the Elephant and Castle.
Writing on my pad, ‘ angels fall as snow …’
the language shapes me, writing defines me,
my disease, it fires and comforts my being,
a coat that keeps me warm in the word winter,
many-pocketed to infinite depth and history.
The beat goes on over iambic rails,
that mirror the heartbeat in my ancestral tongue.
Hardwired for storytelling, engineered for speech,
I continue to write, ‘ onto hard ground …’
My mind snaps back, something out of place,
quotations from a book on primates remembered.
A bizarre flash of prehensile tail, just for a second.

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A LIFESPAN COUNTED IN MOONS AND RAIN

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COUNTING PEBBLES

Along the road to Mukar afternoon light breaks through fog,
scurrying along stone walls and barns in the valley
till it reaches the sculpted edge of a transient fell.
‘Yan, tan, tether, mether, pip”, counting black head sheep,
will rain hold off?  ‘azer, sezar, akker, conter, dick’.
Here people and sheep are as tough as each other,
‘yanadick, tanadick, tetheradick, metheradick, bumfit.’
Seasoned conversations belong to this landscape,
a curvature to the tongue lingered in Swaledale pubs
that catches the lament of hill and valley.
‘Yanabum, tanabum, tetherabum, metherabum, jigget.’
Cunning, awake, beetles its way through rock and time
almost keeping pace with cloud scud and driving rain.
A stone dropped in a pocket then, ‘yan, tan, tether.’

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A GLIMMER OF GAWK

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BENCHMARK

Somewhere outside in the darkness
doubt has set its theological trap,
bears are waiting in pavement cracks
to reinforce all childhood fears.
Each wears a deathmask for the hunt
and collects two of everything, passing
in order to benchmark misplaced skulls.
This is the naming game for ghosts
that hunt for lost tongues in corners,
a pair of kings in the hand of fortune,
a brace of rabbits that threaten rain.
All are journeys made in a teacup,
dice falling on deuce again and again,
a double-headed coin flipped by fortune.

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EXPLORATION OF ALTERNATIVES

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DEAD HACKERS DO NOT TALK

Nothing is as it seems, the moon crept indoors
tripping over the dog asleep in the kitchen,
ballooning up stairs, looking for the holes.
Afternoons flickering in darkness, a backlit foetus
clinging to the ceiling like the difficult child it is,
a hacker cracker freckled and harnessed different
running a feed direct into the heart of FUCKUP.
A poverty of meaning beyond motion run ragged,
tiptoeing into networks using backdoor programs
finding mathematical relationships and leaving an egg.
Pengo playing ball in some virtual room
a man from the KGB paints number 23 on the wall,
the foetus shouts ‘hagbard’ recoiling its tongue.
Fingers dance over a keyboard in moonlight.

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