The key to the Ball Court
Hangs behind the reception desk
Ask Miss Slaughter,
Guests need stout shoes
(and a billhook, you added)
And explore at their own cognizance
Whatever that was,
A Scottish proposition to trace
The Popul Vuh of the Misty North.

The light in the sentry box
Spilt on to the grass apron
“Welcome,  welcome”
genial Mister Hoover scanned his watch dial ruefully
“:Just time for another one…two. ”
His patter drifted off in the late afternoon wind
As Moths battered his window.

At either end of the Ball Court 
were the two Stelae of  Calendar extremes.
Vigour and Decline. Gravitas and Levity
Viewed from the House of the Pedagogue
And its crumbling bleachers.

The stone ring was high in place
but clearly a foam replica.
Twin faces compress in an anxious selfie
And the darkening Hotel skittered
with the angry setting of tea tables.

Hoover indicated the narrative lintels
Suggesting unlikely tales of derring-do.
From behind his back he flourished
Two lost soul faces as kneepads for the players  
He slapped his thigh where the horsehair padding
Absorbed the impact of the ball on the hip.

“Under the rubber layer you could sometimes see…”
He spanned my face, “the features
Of the beheaded opponent.”
Stitched lips swollen lids still gasping
Under amber glaze a free kick

He glanced nervously at you.
“Just like the Old Firm Derby..”
Football I whispered.

The Moon was  swelling over the Hotel
Buffeted in the evening wind
Through the chattering silver birch;

Through the shutters
Encrusted spoons on dingy doilies
And the waiters yawn
while the string quartet argue
among themselves and
contest the manager’s daughter
Missy Tamsin Slaughter
Self proclaimed Ketelby freak.
With Biscuit fragment lower lip.

Hoover put out his sentry lantern
And in the space between my outspaced fingers
The calendar unfolded in concertina folds
Of the way I have been.

I stood contrapposto, horsehair and knee caps
Surging hips and chest beating skullduggery.
To score before the sun went down,
The Ball glanced anxiously back at me
Teeth bared in a nervous smile
And a pronounced tic to the left eye.
No words passed the latex strings
Across the lips. But it tried
Painfully to warn me. Even dropped
It could bounce quite high.



South face drawn from photographs
From plaster casts in the South Kensington Museum.

The Proprietor stands erect in Old Time
Jade flares and lobe loops in leather
Tongue pierced with spines and yokes
In corrupt velvet. Parrot’s beak
And escutcheon of Childwall’s best
Set in the chest.
A voussoir arch of numbers, dates and skulls
Pointing fingers to the young bucko
In his prime with tendrils tied to
Vengeful Eye Sockets
With cosmic miscalculations. Stele A
Fuzzed by lichen chipped by vandals
Spelt a turbulent cosmos where
Like Kane the Proprietor could dance
The shimmy shake and Tiller High Kicks
With arms linked in dog tooth pattern
With the finest Rockettes, scattering
His seed choreographically
throughout the halls of Academe
No Montezuma he, that turns in the giant
Panoply of the Sky Racetrack of the Elders
A shower of clotted blood and viscera
sprays over braided hair to putter in its cups
Contained by a number system of bars and blobs
Tacked to the stone where once the pigment lay.

“Tell me more of the Great Proprietor…”
but the face in the ball begged I desist.
You are a Scrutineer by trade
And deserve better than the careless boast
And the quickly coined self delusion.
Stelae B will set the balance back
I promise. I promise.  I dare say.
Liverish arc lights lit the Car Park
As the convention of no hopers and short traders
Cluttered in from out of town
In charabanc and pick up truck
Festoons with daring
Fists pumping skywards
Chanting ditties
Crunching gravel with a  larky conga
Horny as heck rambunctious.

The Trout petered out in the Tea room
One Quartet fled the scene
And the under Chef sliced fish shakily for supper .
Two waiters smoking a joint by the water tank
Kissed in a cluster. I explain the two paths.


4. EXPOSITION (for a Patient Virgil )


Behind the Boilers was this paddock
Wilderness with no grazing rights.
Once the debris cleared
The bindweed lifted like a blanket
And the briars choked off
The Bleachers appeared in military slab
Rusted lock with ring and pipe.
Woodbine packets and old rubber johnnies
Concealing what could be
One hell of a Tourist lure
Scotland’s only Ball Park
Grisly altar of a thousand heart extractions
An artist’s impression with soaring pinnacles and
Human sacrifice. No hints at penile perversion
With ribbon and blood sponge could extract
A government grant. Heritage Britain balked
At evoking any Auld Enemy. A slight accident
To a wandering tot necessitated encirclement
With chain links and prosaic warnings.
The bind weed saw its chance
And joined with briars to engulf back
The Court of a Thousand Kingdoms
And Year Zero scarcely made a decade
Before access was only by
The key behind the Reception Desk.
Ask Miss Slaughter
Who never approved
In the first place.

The conga of the Lame
Made its way shakily at first
Then in rambunctious flurries
Hooray halloo, legs up, trousers down
To the banquet on the lawn.

The Ball’s yellow viscous eyes
Slid furtively to the signs of disorder
And I swear I could hear it moan
Here we go again, the eyelids fluttered
behind a latex web Gulp. Gulp.
Don’t let them get me.


The flanking panels to the face of the Great Proprietor
Were intended as a plea of Hubris
as the Time Apogee had passed
And skull buds with semaphore stipples
Saw the zenith pass in inertia and posture.
Verso was a set of prosaic directions
With insecure calendar
to retrace our steps to Stele B
North Face modelled in plaster
from the South Kensington Museum

The Ice faced Jaguar Bonnet Parrot Beak
Snake sinew called the Game to Order
Waving aloft the Emperor’s Feather tufts
I led the charge and the ball was hurled up
In the Moon, yellow nicotine face now aghast
Here we go again,  lip reading
With its muffled shriek
As my hip met with your hip, sparks fly
Lumber sliced silver to gold
And the Ball skuttered into a low bounce
Yoked higher as I went down
On one knee pad  - the lucky one
And the trajectory sent the terrified face
Bouncing near the Disk.
The crowd drifted away
Dreadfully someone laughed. I blame
The marksman who stuck out his chest.
Did I persuade you? Probably not.
Through the Chain mail the revellers
Chanted knees up with tinnies aloft.



North Face modelled in plaster
from the South Kensington Museum
across millennia after the Maize crop failed

the Supreme God mangled his chances
and convinced of his eternality
turned arse over tit
in pantaloons and frills.
Reaching in his pocket for the string
Aroused suspicion and the Law was called.

No matter that the string raised
The saffron hair braids from his scalp.
He was arrested then and there

With his hand feverish in his pocket.

Swore the minors in a row behind the chain link.
No Rockettes they

but a queue of temporary juvenile waitresses
Fiddling with his diddy, officer -
Sad old sod. Another Poldy Bloom

white face red bulb nose

With a final pelvic thrust
I  scrambled the ball into the hoop
And spat the cinders out of my teeth.
One – Nil.

All - Over.





In the ceremonial light

I saw you transformed

In full heraldic display, ambulant anchor
In Madder Bag svelt with Azure top knot
In the shape of a Magpie Eye.

Three sashes demure.
Now that’s clever.
You demurred.
Do it again.
Not on this gig

The Forces of Order corralled the No Hopers
Fingerprints, ID and held over
For  battery riot and disrespect

We were free to walk by the shore
And check the bluff still bore
Its chateau.
Slow cartwheeling heavens
Rotated its fragments over
And then into the rock pool
And no hearts were harmed
In this Ballgame Simulation

No blood spilt on crimson silk

Culminating in such a splendid Quartering.