Sunday, 28 March 2010

Lie in

In the wriggling of the body
in the sharp outtake from a glance

in the twist of the fork
into monuments of lust

in the slow drip of wakefulness
at the edge of a morning

who’s dovetail joint fits snug into plans
laid aside for now because it feels better

to contemplate your warmth 
from the hiding place of the idea

who’s moist mouth and firm breasts
announce the birth of a movement

somewhere down there amongst 
damp sheets piled like deferred work

but easier to get on with
whilst the day makes its own plans, 

and last night’s bottles make merry hell 
in rattling bins and the cheerful cries 

of the last of the Milkmen send
small ignorable sound waves of guilt

upwards to ears that won’t hear 
and hearts pierced already

by more to ignore, than the clattering
of a day we don’t think we’ll miss.

Saturday, 27 March 2010


I feel your weight on my chest
your special lightness like a bird’s egg
with its potential for life 

locked inside something hard enough 
to protect the creature that may come
but fragile too, and susceptible to;

the nibble of the weasel
the crack of the beak,
the fist of the thief
who dares to climb here

into our nest, 
the one we built, 
tenuously on this thin branch
thinking nobody could see.  

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


You slide on top,  
                          we are now 
two sides of the same coin,

            to settle an argument,

spinning in space, 
between  thumb and ground.

Erratic orbit,
not quite currency,
but coined, like a phrase

from need.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Gallery Going (with apologies to Philip Larkin)

We are modern penitents,
opening our backpacks 
in awkward reverence,
doing a weird shuffling dance 
around some Spanish kids
in regulation red jeans. 
We watch the cardigans and 
kagoules assume the pose
for walking solemn rooms;
hands clasped to the back,
pacing slow, stroking throats.
There are those who tap and jot
and know what rood screens are,
an old academic, sent scuttling
by the muffs and shit adorning 
an Offili and those, who stare mute
at their coffee wondering how it
could possibly cost that much.
And kids wriggling at the legs
of knackered parents rehearsing
the argument which will rise 
in the gift shop and abate 
suddenly in front of 
the monumental breasts 
of a Rubens, 
or something filthy 
by Fuseli.

And though these measureless caverns
draw their pilgrims to shitholes
like Bilbao, with relics of modern saints, 
a jewel encrusted skull by Hirst,
or the empty Creed of post-modernism;
a light switch ticking on and off
now you give a fuck now you don’t,
they also draw from not too deep inside
all too often neglected desires
for love transcending time, 
a God shaped hole waiting to be filled
perhaps by Blake, 
who’s worlds whirled crazy 
in a grain of sand, and who’s feet 
in not so ancient times, 
walked the softly creaking
boards of The Academy. 

In this blent air, all our pasts collide
and we are free to communicate with
the chaos of human will, our pride,
our wars, our nation building urge, 
giving way to post imperial decline,
and modern guilt reflected in 
a tank of oil, where you also still 
can glimpse, our greatness.


Friday, 19 March 2010

The Swing

All there was in the end, was the swing,
Making its return journey empty,

It’s rope twisted hard against the metal
Of the crossbar, hemp burned hard

Against the hand that left last,
The body itself leapt into vacant space

At the utmost arc, when you might expect
The squeal of glee from a child

Almost ready to take the air, the giddy gap
Between rhythm and sudden dissonance.

This is what it’s like, when you turn
Your back for one instant too long

And find, that in those intervening moments
Recklessness has entered, and it’s too late

To stop.

And yet,

The landing place, not worn quite as much

As those patches where even the smallest

Kids can kick and scuff, has had enough

Weight against it, before now to make

You feel it’s potential for safety even in

The moment of abandon, when the sky

Quickens, and somewhere a voice calls

You, gently, home.

Friday, 12 March 2010


Awkward trees look naked
and freeze on ruined streets,
the broken swing,
the rust, the moss, the plans
shelved, the endlessness of
tickertape parades postponed
for wars won elsewhere in history,
unwritten, in the mouths of dogs
in the breath of the vixen
hidden from the children,
crouching under sheds
in the evident chill of a nervous
Spring, in the very socket of the eye
of the Viking skull, unseeing in
its first light for 1000 years.

All these things are there, if you look
from your window at the right time,
with your head at just the right incline,
with hope set square; look there,
look there, there is wonder there.

You needn’t see suburbia as
an all conquering monster.
Hidden in its crumbling red
brick creases is enough literary stuff
to forge a canon from.

Just look at the tatty placcy bags;
improvised scarecrows guarding
the good life in neat allotments,
hugging embankments
cut by decree in
the iron-willed age.
An almost audible clash
of daytime TV with the aspirations of
the temperance league,
the libraries, and bowling greens,
the disquieting way a sudden burst
of sunshine from ardent March clouds
transforms a desperate parade of low rent shops
into an arcade of light, with the Bingo hall even,
suddenly beautiful in its apologetic British nod
to art deco.

There is more love there,
a million more achievable dreams,
in one square mile of this bus stop
after bus stop, tarmac, hoarding,
take-away town, than in all your
awesome deserts, and un-visitable forests
we’d kill to see and kill by seeing.

If we can forgive this dump its ugliness,
and let for once the sunshine perform
its alchemy on filthy bridges,
then with our collective love
we can keep barbarism at bay,
letting the wild things rip
each other to shreds
out there somewhere
in the wilderness.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Off Piste

The scrape of sheer ice
on the mountain's edge
is life affirming in its way
a reminder of the precipice below
keening your sense of the snow
and its bright grip offered up
like a callous lover's hands.

It knows it will melt
leaving you alone
between the sky
and the valley,
between bliss
and catastrophe.


The river carries pebbles
from your hiding place in the hills.
I'm not sure they carry meaning
nor do I think some subtle shaman
clothed in bark and smelling
of smoke and goats could help
to read these igneous fragments,
but when I see them eddy and stir
in the fast spring currents
I think of you up there
in your coat of rabbit skin,
and I wonder what could
have possessed you
to trap the cold in
between your past and
a present, so self agrandisingly grim?

First Snow

Your eyes grew wider than
the gorge we were crossing
when you first saw the mountains.
Your feet, snow fresh themselves,
tucked into unfamiliar boots.
You waddle like a landbound seal
and squeal infant delight at the cold
and though we've returned here
again and again and again and again,
it's new now once more, if
only because of your wide eyes
and the fact that we know
you were made here
in these mountains
under this bright sun
in the melting snow.

What the baby (would have) said (had she been able to and also of a metaphysical frame of mind)

I dug a tunnel to your dreams
and left some of my own there
so that when I returned
you would know me
the way I now know you.