Sunday, 24 January 2010

Dorset Late Winter

Damp late winter days always conjure up
for me at least, visions of spring leaves,

beyond the woodsmoke,
and the urge for hearty meals,

hopeful footprints mark the meadow
trotting towards summer,

heralded perhaps by
the tightly curled kernel of a catkin

or the death wish of a surviving wasp
locked in his hamstone cave.

As the thaw hits pissy ruts,
where tractors churned old dung

sharp air gives way to something organic
a herald of warmer air

and it gets me looking up, for cleaner views
of Hardy hills disrobing in the mist.

Somewhere far off the forest waits
for its children to return

snapping old winter-ruined branches
making way for the nimble and the new.

Monday, 18 January 2010


I shouldn’t be here, I said, and you agreed
but there we were and it seems to me

it will always be down to the words
you used when I read them
or watched them

on warm lips touching cooling filters
on a balcony above giddy Christmas crowds.

And though it was cold enough to see your breath,
hanging like I was on your words,
I barely noticed it  or took the time to breathe.

Words build worlds but too easily end them,
so as a supplicant to the well turned phrase,
 I look for an addendum.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Lyons Maid

Memories of wet set sand
Conjure up my wriggling back,
On a hot car seat in 1978.

Something from Lyons Maid melting
On polyester shorts,
And that faded orange colour
I remember from photographs.

Were our childhoods like that?
Bleached in fading Kodacolour
Or, is just that memories
Are slaves to surviving images,

The ones that slipped the noose
Of forgetfulness and childishness
And innocence and truth.

Regret is not a river

I never thought regret was a river,
I’ve not painted the town red,
I don’t think owls are clever,
Or eat my breakfast in bed.

If moonlight is for lovers
The Werewolves must get mad,
Sunsets belong on postcards,
Willows weep but can't be sad.

Words are held hostage,
In worn and tattered lines
A hopeless broken adage,
A phrase that never shines.

You never spoke to me like that,
So I won’t say I’m feeling blue
With language stripped of all that fat
I weep and write for you.

Friday, 15 January 2010


We woke up to the sound of ourselves,
A gentle hum then a shudder,
Something breaking, someone going under.
Though it wasn’t always like this,
There were certainly signs,
Ripples in the ether, old valentines
Sending flowers and sincere condolences.
And the earth movers on the street
In councils of clanging,
Mock me in morse code;
You’d know if you’d heard them.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Mourning Light

Light played lambent circles on the stream,
That day, late May,
When the weak sun witnessed you walking
With me, for the last time,
And it's impossible now,
To forget your fear,
And your watery eyes
As we talked about time,
And how it quickens with age
Robbing you of everything faster and faster,
But memory, like light
Playing lambent circles on the stream.

And we once walked on that stream too,
Almost as frozen as its waters were
And it seems strange to recall the memory,
Trapped like kelp in the ice
Perfect, but as still and as cold,
As you were the last time I saw you.

And although you could never believe it
Somewhere you’re warm, and beautiful again,
Capable of casting your light on the water,
Wherever I walk without you.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

21st Century Parents

I can’t quite pinpoint the day
When a limp baby became you;
A little warm, rippling wriggle of muscle
Wrapped with babyfat,
And wrapped too, in almost frightening love.

I can’t quite grasp the moment when
Out of the dumb helpless stare of babyhood
Leapt the cheeky, sparkle-eyed, repository
of all our hopes and fears.
But it was this year you happened to us,
And that in breathless wonder,
Through gigabytes of imagery,
We worked together to conjure up
this warm and dedicated beginning.

Now your audience looks on,
Over coffee, and over tea
With birthday cake, across the seas
Amidst the trillion 0s and 1s in emails
and in video, filmed in my shaky hand.

And you have had your starting orders
And you have taken them well
And you have stood up, and taken
Your first faltering steps, away from us.

So writing this, I cry, for the joy,
Of this deep but wonderful pain,
Knowing that without you, I never could really say
I’d managed anything of note, between my first faltering steps
And these fond foolish fathering lines, written somewhere
Above Athens, with London Gin, stirring
Nostalgia from the freshness of your beginning.

And I can never know, what your mother knows
About how a girl is killed when a mother’s born,
And how this devastating love is more
Precious than any comfort,
And how your mewling and your puking,
And your unutterable beauty
Sit side by side with horror,
and the deepest possible fear,
Born of your birth and the unsayableness
of your imagined disappearance.

 Yes. We are parents of the 21st century,
Faced with our fantasies
in almost every living moment;
You as the future saviour of our kind,
Or you as other headlines,
Or you as Larkin in his spectacles would hope;
Plain, and passing in comfort, without note.

But I cannot believe any of this
All I see is innocence new,
But like any perfection, you
Are more beautiful if I can accept
the changes that will come
And the impossible task you have been set:
To grow unencumbered by us, yet
Always our little girl
And always your own.  

Howl-e (with apologies to Allen Ginsberg)

i've seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
necking speedbombs at Heston services,
dragging themselves through the 24 hour garage
looking for hothatch convoys,
soggy t-shirt revolutionaries gurning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the queue, by the bogs
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
some bloke’s flat, floating across the tops of cities looking for amyl and vicks