Tolly Dene - A Poem
Tuesday, 12 February 2019
We wanted to say thanks for your support of Pedro and Ricky Come Again. We’re delighted to see the campaign at 83%, and a gnat’s whisker from being funded.
Please do spread the word to your friends, even your enemies, to encourage them to pledge for their own copy of the book. There are still four seats left at the table if you’d like to upgrade to the Come Again Lunch with a menu devised by Jonathan. And only two original Meades art prints are left.
To encourage you further, here’s a little bit of original and unpublished Meades – a poem called ‘Tolly Dene’. Jonathan writes: ‘Tolly Dene is not a real place nor even an amalgam of specific places. It’s vaguely suggested by various sites around Southampton and fringes of the New Forest. The poem is attributed to Jason Guidotti, a creative writing graduate of Southampton Solent University who works on his family’s burger and ice cream vans at west Hampshire’s top dogging spots.’
As co-founder of Unbound John Mitchinson remarks, ‘it is a spicy reminder of Meades’s fiction, particularly his dark masterpiece Pompey and the collection of stories, Filthy English – once described as ‘the English short story’s most exotic blooms.’’
The plastic bags get snagged
on thorns. Bulk gusts stretch them
till they’re bladders. Shredded
polythene flutters in boughs: matt
bunting exults the new day's drizzle,
the off-milk sky over Tolly Dene.
Dogs mistake shivering litter
for fledglings on flight’s brink, they
scratch up trees after their quarry.
They howl. They scrape the trunks.
They chase billowing brand-names
across this common’s soggy squelch.
Yesterday’s carrier is today’s balloon.
It distends, soars, deflates then crumples
where grass meets bracken's corpse.
It comes to rest among tetrapaks
and gaudy cans immune to rust.
Junked cartons are slow to bleed their colour.
Here's a seagull, obese with ice cream
from nippers' cones, buffetted like
a plastic bag. Flattened, contorted,
so jolted a severed finger drops
from its beak to branches shaking with
DTs, to trunks twisted by the Spithead Bite.
Flotillas of wrapping are doldrummed
in year-round puddles. Lout weeds sprout
through webs of moist torn tights.
The old courtesy, knotting a condom after use,
has disappeared. Did he walk home trouserless?
The fellow whose XL jeans are turned to sodden rag?
They say the rats have multiplied because
of lovers’ fries. Popcorn doesn’t degrade
any more than polystyrene. Burger buns grow fur
with age. Every black leaf has its secret,
its cache of spores, its lining of grubs,
its trousseau of unhatched ill.
There’s grit in the slime up Tolly Dene.
There’s no soft landing when you take
a tumble: abrasion at best. Or an ugly cut
from flint's rind, a muscle punctured by
something forgotten in the deep dark humus.
Something jagged and long time buried.
There's hardly a week passes when they
don't find a body, all maggots and fractures,
mouth stuffed with cinders, togs, pages of
porn. It wasn't meant to be a grave, that
wasn't the plan - but this ground is inviting
when your love is quartered in a burlap sack.
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