Friday, 28 May 2010


I descend the stairs too early to care
if the neighbours can see my knackers.

If they’re up at this ungodly hour
and want to gawp through the crackled
Victorian glass at my un-chosen junk
then let them.

I am loose on the bottom stair,
rubbing eyes, nose and hair,
casting at imaginary trout,
begging for tickles,
in the dark pools
behind the sofa

where the sodium glow
of London’s lights can’t reach,
a pair of boots, to make them loom
monsterlike against the skirtings,
but which I let them do anyway
in the unloosening of sleep’s grip.

I am here, only because,
in sudden waking
caused I’m sure by late returning revellers
hopscotching in the orange light,
or by a car alarm raising its pointless cry
at the cocked leg of a stray,
I thought of you, older,
in a playground, spinning
while the other kids looked on,

and I needed to walk around to be sure,
your eyes were laughing,
like your mouth was.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Hard Landing

Emerging from clouds at the bullet rate of descent
the circuit board of the city fires dull synapses 

into something like life,

heavy lids barely flicker,
and my tongue feels thicker
than that of Jamie fucking Oliver.

The Thames at East India dock, 
is an abandoned tie,
snaking like forgotten responsibility 
around guilty banks.

Somewhere in there
they’re totting up the debt.

Somewhere skeletons don furs
and dance in their closets.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Two Boys

I remember hiding on the roof of a school,
with epic indignance,

clipping a coupon of moon
for my indulgence,

sending seasons of moss
tricking down the pitch,

I remember it.
And yet,

the anger though surely lucid and terribly brave,
is utterly lost.

Unlike the sound
of you calling me in the crackling frost.

I remember being small enough
to fit my cheek in the dint of your neck,

your adult breath sweet and strong as tea
and though we were meant to be


and I was warm as milk,

I’d chase the pendulum of your breathing

concentrating on

the out and in,

lying there and learning

love that can’t be lost.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Seaside Fairground

You were never very fond of fairgrounds,
inky birds on fists too full of fighting
ungambled goldfish suffocating
in bags like blisters,

(No I’ve never seen a blister with a fish in)

Yes, you  said you hated fairgrounds
but we walked anyway, to the pier’s end

the cockled planks had lead us there,
past the sickly hiss of the donut stall,
the rice scribes, 

and a Peruvian flute band,
floating in that English squall 

like a plaster in a pool,
loosed from the sticky wound 

of South America.

We were drawn there perhaps, like everyone else,
on a recreational breeze, aimless as the chip papers
that fluttered round the feet
of reclining pensioners,

glad of the sudden late Spring sun,
and grounded in, an Englishness
borrowed from sit coms and poems like this,
suggestive of sugary tea
sipped under urgent gulls

or in the quiet embarrassment of a windbreak.

I can still hear those indignant gulls,
the wheezing oompa of the merry-go-round,
and your voice saying,

"I love it here,"

and meaning almost all of it.

Friday, 14 May 2010


What was it in the biting wind that reminded me of you?
the shrill way it took the day and bent it
round corners until we felt like we were looking
at the backs of ourselves

like armies bent double
over the last cigarattes,

trudging over flinty ground in broken boots
outfought, grim and gagging on bad rations
stolen from the dead.

Or was it instead,
the way it made me hold you tighter,
wrapping the loose edge of my coat
around your hunched shoulder,
wiping the warped marble of a tear
from your eye,

not knowing if it was really the wind
that put it there?

Monday, 10 May 2010


The perforated coast of Southern Sweden
is sudden in Sunday’s thumbprint window
clouds like flaking skin float

in the bathwater of twilight,

the arc of a lake, 

glacial refugee, revealed for runes, 
where fires no doubt burned
for Odin, before the muscled landless
terrifying Norse, set out to bleed their hands,
on oars baying for the heads, and the cunts
of unsuspecting Saxons.

That’s a bad word now 

but don’t faint as if you’ve seen 
some mighty Norseman
like a fucking scary biker,

yomping up the beach dreaming of sagas 
with a bellyful of dangerous mushrooms,
ready to go beserk on your soft Saxon skull.

It means beautiful place,
and shares its etymology
with quaint, or cweynte,
like the softly smoking vents
of wattle and daub huts
or cloisters, hands in prayer
the intricate gold leaf in
the life’s work of a scribe.

The bad shit came later, 

when Normans 
themselves descended 
from terrible Vikings
sold our tough Saxon nouns

into a lifetime’s slavery 
on the cussbench,
making the female words sit

furthest from the fire.

So unless you misunderstand me
there’s no such thing as a bad word,
but you’ll know a scary fucking Viking
when you see one.

Saturday, 8 May 2010


A fox cub lies dead in sticky mud,
no marks on her rusty fur, 
and she’s still warm,

I know because I lay a hand on her,
surprised by a paternal feeling,
something like loss lingering 

behind thoughts of hounds 

or hidden boys, 
quick with sharp stones, 
a hand of shot,
the catgut taughtness of a crossbow.

Her teeth like the shallow drip of a candle,
and about as dangerous,
pierce nothing, but the stillness 

of an afternoon made memorable

by sudden pathos;
the unfairness of her chance,
and the presence of 

my daughter, pointing 
and trying to say 

Monday, 3 May 2010


It’s tempting to capture the sound
of hedgerow birds in early May
but you know their trilling urgency 

and anyway I’ve said enough
for you to get the gist.
What I’m hearing now 

if the truth be known
is the same old drone,
that eternal human moan;
fuck me, feed me, and give me
the most well feathered nest, 

you bastards.

The other side of the island

We are not allowed here,
yet here we are,
where ants trick
pine needles
into neat piles 

and the briney marsh
on an offshore breeze
forces you to mark 
each breath.

We are not allowed here
and yet we’re coming back,
from a place far off where
depth charges dislodge

submarine crews
from forgotten missions.

They blink,

at the weak midnight sun; 
they are not allowed here
any more than we,
but have been captured
whilst we are free.

Sunday, 2 May 2010


it’s not a word to tangle with
it’s a smudge across silvered lives
like a film we didn’t want to watch

but which instead we stared into 
defeated, not talking.

And as bright things brown and blur

turning the reflection of a window
into a bent and beaten thing
fingers immersed in printers ink
leave their memories
everywhere we care to look;
the recollection of a touch, 

a smudge, the grease of lives
who’s energy fades until the
urge to polish stops, and out of
sleepwalking months, come
hands to hold old objects,
turning them over,
blinking reflectionless
into this new murk,
like morning coals,
still warm to touch.

I say tarnish, and I tangle
in it’s definition;
wanting hard to mend
and cure but wanting too
new treasure.

I say tarnish,
but perhaps it’s patina.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Weather Fight

Spring is in a dust-up with Summer
Winter shouts "he's not worth it"
Spring aims a kick at a sweaty crotch
Umbrellas unfurl in protest