I read of the theft
of a golden reliquary
which held the dead heart
of Anne of Brittany

They stole the Queen’s case
from the Dobrée museum
The bold theft of this viscus
raised local opprobrium

The measure of its value
isn’t in its gold plate

Now they ask of the Knave
to bring it back complete

Cutting Out

I step out to an evening’s aura
to West Park’s dark-cut recovery

of trim lawn-strimmed flora
now sliced to a fragrant enquiry

and I reply to a text’s posit:
Have they helped you..
to a conclusion?
Which my stepdaughter
kneads and beats
in a knuckled-down confusion

I give her my finite answer
(as I do to each upset offspring)
I need to move out.. to be kind to..
but each one keeps on asking..

Then I thrashed my clicked walking stick
amongst the white-sat flowers
and then I cracked it on the red bricks
of this house of sucked-off hours

World War

That was a beer-warmed evening

underlined by an obese burger

I avoid my return to the house

which echoes to a party of kids
and the small dog’s commands

In the kebab shop they cooked

just for me

as the Turkish news feed rolled
and on my phone Syria choked


in Elizabeth Gardens

I am all alone

with my paper-wrapped chips
and a skulked fat black cat

whilst varied kids wander past

so pissed off with a nameless one

followed by a lad who spits
on to the well-fucked tarmac

And the ever-question hangs

Was I such a teenage-shit?

We all spat out many things

The bin’s basket welcomed me

That glossy plastic greeting
into which I tossed
the greasy chip wrapper

Nothing else smiles so much tonight

The Dark Room

They appeared on my phone
in a series of texts

those photos of photos
you unearthed in a drawer
of our kids fifteen years before
we announced this ending

I wanted to steal those times
which chemistry had made
in the development of them
into glossy
but now cracking captures

My childhood remains
in one school photograph
alongside my brothers
one dead
one not talking

And in one other print I keep
of my father
holding me upright on a pony

His hand (for once) holding on to me

The Thames

I drag my wooden ride
to where the water lies

to that lowest of tides
before the tsunami’s rise

I rowed the swift Thames
with blistered palms
and calves of dark blood
where the runners harmed

We swam with the current

avoiding the crafts

in that summer of love
in which I held the shaft

Nothing has changed
as I push out this skiff

Nothing will alter

I have nothing to give


We will discuss disconnections

such things we must trust

in this poker face card place
of our marriage discourse

We will flip expectations
like a shark wrists the deck

We will turn the dealt hand held
counting down to slow death

Our marriage is skewered
on the spun-turned spit

here both parts are scorched
now the heat has ripped

Our future fixes divide

to avoid offspring hurt

No one to blame
as the pain turns to burn

The Fairway

For SJB Thank you

The forced rise behind gorse
drops to mud trick dips and turns

quick to take us out of sight
until the dogs return at pace
in bramble-wrapped coats

They failed to catch rabbits

A bench waits upon my warmth
as the walk meets itself halfway

For five minutes the dogs are missing

Our fear of sheep
and a double barrelled farmer
with their bounding return

All the time our heads spin
with driven thoughts
earlier said
of where this walk will take us

I touched your arm
and said something
which neither of us heard


My son parachutes
into a zone

I think

as his mate chats
from another place

and they exchange advice

It is another vernacular
‘Let’s go greasy’ is agreed

Talk of killing and guns
is no different to my games
over Easter fortnight
forty-five years ago
when our cold war was
a whispered fear
and our battles were real
making bruises and blood
off loaded pebbles and sticks

Box Set

We are drunk-slumped
drugged by red wine
and the wide screen
into the L-shaped sofa

that and the sequential playback
of episodes long ago watched

It is a life now rewound
made so unstoppable
by a misplaced remote

Time no longer exists
for us
the once-tuned
to watersheds and news
played only on the hour

We don’t pace ourselves
with the TV breaks

Instead it’s consumed
in bibulous retakes