Wednesday, 12 July 2017

On free will

In kid days we were always cool

Though waiting to be shot

As if from a bow at history

Old men know the fleeting path of arrows

And how many miss their mark

Advising only to appreciate the arc

And the view from there,

With the harried battle far below.

Arrows that land, impotent in furrows

Or twisted to the back of a horse’s knee

Taking down no kings nor plunder

Had a least their moment there

Between release and fall

To imagine a softening enemy

That they may retire in.

Arrows cannot choose their bow,

It takes a helpful archer to know

The wind, the field and in the letting go

The adamantine nature of the foe.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Finding You

Seven miles out of light,

underneath the scrub,

the dinted moss, the scuffed path hill scars,

weighted ways where Saxon kings

acquiesced to history.

Here on a hot day, you almost feel

the ground sigh,

giving in like a theatre seat

to what must happen next.

In such a place I will find you

just when the weather breaks

to see you stand in grace

where ranged armies laboured

for hope,

and where the cracked back of this ridge

offered up its help

not for faith but for geology

and the indifferent earth broke

against argumentative rock.

Here where countless atoms dance

the picture of you is clear,

marked out against an opening sky

like the sudden image an arbitrary point

gives up on the horizon 

if you only stand and stare.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Broken Beams

Splinters of light breaking from beams

Outside in the crouched cold an army waits

To pick up it’s feet again 

taking harvests of harm to the chapel.

Calm walls crack under the weight

Of all this expectation,

Men dug in, women aloof

And the shattered sounds of children

Taking violence in echo

"This is how it works" says the priest

Relieved of his duties by shells

Breaking like beams of light.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


In the piazza Navona we sit and drink the past
we are bees at the flower, the fountain the acquifer
anyway whatever,
there's passable pizza, acqua vitae espresso
courage for the cluster of gems in
my pocket

And bees again buzzing  Barberini
patrons, villains, builders and killers, 
in the blood soaked robes of Rome

And laughing again at some joke you've made 
seeing reflected in your sunglasses
the face of your nearly husband scanning the square
for a place without pilgrims 
somewhere to add our history to all this layered meaning,
we're another generation with the unyielding idea of God.

When a Pope dies they melt his ring and leave a vacant throne until white Sistine smoke announces the next of Peter's line. Power and faith holding the masses at bay with love. Fuck knows what they do when one resigns.

I can just make out your eyes under the sunglasses face to the sun that way women do
soaking glamour and cell deep sustenance.

It's March I brought you here to warm you.

Yes your eyes then,
they've got that wide alertness you show when
the cells of you let go their prisoners and anything can happen,
but somehow you don't suspect this even though your Dad knows 
and I'll need a quieter place to do it; 
the only quiet place here when there's a new Pope on the go.

Really I planned this but didn't count on the daisies even 
and the real still heart of this place 
where poor miserable Keats declared to admiring eternity
his name was writ in water.

I'll write my name on you here.

You, still unaware though skipping through the daisies 
and finding Shelley you rest your head a while on my shoulder 
and seem to sigh.

Those Romantics liked a sigh 
and I would make a point of it 
half celebrate and undermine it, 
and we'd have what comics call 
a good 5 minutes of material from it

But this is serious earth now 
Romantics beat the comics. 

Over the wall busy Catholics leave me to my not quite secular promise.

Here lies one whose name was writ in water

The water of me not nervous, not stormy, 
not all waves like the death of Shelley 
more a steady break of wave upon wave 
at the sure shore.

This is roughly how I planned it, the failsafe place of poets. 

So Grecian Urn then mainly from memory and also my iPhone 
while you so happy in this glade 
and taking pictures of the light 
opening those cells that lock you up in winter 
so light-glad I can hear them I think 
crack open with your laughter

Fiddling with the camera you don't notice I'm on my knee

But listening to the ending of you as girlfriend 

beauty is truth

you know that don't you, 
your beauty often stops me in my tracks 
sending thoughts off track 
or one track in particular

you have just noticed me
on my knee 
saying "will you marry me?"

When you fire a gun without ear protection
The silence after the bang is surprising.

Your loud dancing YES loud enough 
to wake Keats light bounces off emerald grass 
white diamond daisies 
light through leaves 
and the latest waking bees 
do a dance with us through poet nourished trees 
in the old gold 
Roman sun.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

America It's You

Some things are too good to be true
I think maybe America that's you

you are no conspiracy, true 
just a good idea failing you 
in execution every bloody day 
on streets and in your schools

there's a war in store 
because American war 
is the thought of you
the right to bear arms 
will be the death of you
in the food aisle 

stuffed to white teeth with black bullets
bulging to the eyes with poison apple pies

drone cloud skies wide 
eyes plenty surprised
at the feeding hand raised to strike
broad shoulders down to slopes
slipping, down, punch drunk dream
hugging the ropes 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Look at this place,
look hard enough and it’s a face
full featured, staring back
to ask you why you look here

Feel out the space,
trace features with a finger
take a moment to linger
over it’s contours

Shout to hear its echo,
if you’re dumb enough to
recognize you in the waves
answering back

do not attack,
the anger that you feel
is misplaced
Stop a while to judge
your little actions
make them bigger

Don’t snigger at the back
of your 20,000 days
sniggering is a phase 
you must pass through
if you want to find the point of you

Which when all is done
is just the sum
of what you’ve given out

So make it good, 
and for fucksake
don't live for your echo

Saturday, 18 October 2014

North Star for Bob Kaye

You may have always been 
my North Star, star of the north,
you were perhaps always the source 
of salvation for me, perhaps,
even as your hands turned a table 
from junk to a witness of lives not yet lived
or raised from your earth, beauty and truth
your house became the fixed point 

for a constellation of friends
when you found the missing pieces of you
which became the missing pieces of me

You are an organising thought
you are a mystery of means
you are the hands and the book 

perhaps, or as close as it gets 
the pages the verse, ellipsis precision, 
the wondering why and the answer always left
in the mouths of the children whose children you trust
with the echoes of god if that's what we must 

call knowledge, I think we must.

You are a witness to generations
you wear your frailties well
your strength is a loom
And your song is a bell
calling us in truth back to the place 

we would be lost without; 
nothing less than the heart of us
though sometimes a spinning compass,
and always a grateful amazed love of a man

This family will rock and it will roll
to the maths in the music

the gaps in the theory
the family chosen
and the light that you give.