Pub, 7pm

It is a low church,
without sober prayer,
rough years, sixty-plus,
blinded Sky-high stare:

Unaltered transfix,
upon sports, by God,
across the green sod.

They tip their flat pints,
on last sure-winners,
each sup a delay,
to home-cooked dinners:

Stood tall-table straight,
with concentric rings,
beer becomes central,
at last order’s rings.

Everything is easy, there is no difficulty

Called, I entered
‘The Departure Lounge’
renamed, a rare-shared joke,
for that downstairs room;
here my father sobbed
with cancer’s slow burn.

Sat upright, explaining a dream,
for the first time in our lives,
(me, twenty-something,
then, no reader of such things),
with his simple review:
‘I saw my mother,’ he explained.

Nan had passed on ten years before.
‘She said.. everything is easy, there is no difficulty..’
In that moment, with his head-held,
Dad licensed me to cry before my kids,
to find comfort in dreams,
and to speak with the dead.

Un-ironed Curtain

Look away, curtains wrenched
across Europe’s borders,
we are pulling,
those dark-patterned drapes.

We shut out the long view –
of shivering marauders,
to claim ring-fenced advantages
just for us to take.

The ‘bunch of migrants’
without drowned-dignity,
denial of freedoms,
Europe once claimed
through victory.

Wedding Photos

Met, in ill-fitting suits,
Best man-made bad speeches;
‘It’s all about the bride’:
Slurs and white-dress-hitches.

Relatives move-tortured,
across the first-danced floor;
Loose-tied, high-drunken, ensembles,
knocking back more, more, more!

Bitter-pill hangover honeymoon,
over seven-ish burnt days;
Their love sobers slowly
after the wedding’s farcical play.


Our dear Saudi friends
are trashing Yemen:
The city of Sana’a
is crumbling again:

Imported bomb-thumps,
and blast of tremors:
‘The Saudis are
fighting Houthi rebels’,

in support of
‘unity government’,
we help blast them,
‘the subordinates’,

across schools, homes,
and pock-marked parks:
Only the UN cries out
at such Saudi-led-larks.

Sandhurst, England.

Sandhurst – England – training world leaders –
subsidised captains of overseas terror

We pay state taxes to crush insurgents –
brutal regimes are this year’s perfect

Military managers of political dissent –
drilled in line – the loyal-regiments

Excuses – Regional security assured –
ruling-by-war under Sandhurst swords

We British have sold Saudi Arabia
a billion pounds worth of megalomania –

July to September – only last year –
Now no hard arguments for kings to fear



On the Underground

Lowed head, herd-burrowed,
to subterranean trip:
Down, slowed escalator-drop,
to queued platform crypt.

Commuted life sentence,
branded as ‘Mind the gap’:
Squeezed rush-hour day’s flush,
shoved aboard, standing-trapped.

On coloured, stiff spaghetti,
fooled cartography:
Tube-mapped London, visited,
cheats on geography.

But, the Underground
still performs, as planned, as meant:
the funnelled requirement.


Living roughly, on Diamond Road,
Middle England, Middlesbrough,
Where slapped doors, painted red,
Mark you out, for the foul-demurrer.

Hateful stones, from the offended street,
Clatter, and threaten, your short time here:
Life seekers’ homes, being on their feet,
Families unfixed, always thrown to fear.

Fresh red paint, bought in a deal,
‘Happened’ to mark-out the transitory.
I think of painted doors, before the kill,
That being the daub, in old Germany.


Greased up sky hooks: 
I stood nervous, plan-wrought;
local endeavour 
on hired-in winches:
Two ratcheted wires, 
stretched hard, tremor-taut;
traction, sweat-steaming, 
in scaff-rolled inches.

Sunday elbowed,
across two properties,
to a final sleeper-laid
place (as planned):
I thank all the friends 
who moved to achieve,
that five-metered shift
where my shed now stands.

Tea drunk hot, our toast
to slow-completion,
Of success,
with only minor complaints:
A few inflamed backs,
odd-blistered lesions.
Thank you neighbours,
whom I upgrade to saints.

Other Nonagenarians Exist

Another ninety year old’s birthday soon,
A decade short of a card from the Queen:

Mrs Windsor, in her state-aided room,
Mis-rules her memory, un-throned, unseen.

The square root of ninety, now her empire,
With common dominion, three floors below.

Her self-labelled walking-frame is required,
For any walkabout, on which she goes.

The children visit, briefly, in a blue moon,
With unsubtle, quick-wrist clock-watching:

Charlie Windsor’s the worst, her first heirloom,
All she’s to will him, her love of Elvis, her King.


Hear now my diurnal ritual,
Rhyme-rammed verse,
freely posted to all:
Vibrated-hyphenated set words,
Each one’s telling,
moves me slow forward.

End-of-day’s reversed writ-shift,
Looking back
and writing of it,
Wherever that place may be,
Now, inner stings
the last thing I feel:

Disconnects my illness,
by odd scan;
Each poke of thumb on screen, held in hand,
Exercise booked,
the re-tapping note:
I am what you read, a daily poet.

Advice to my children

– the place you need find on earth,
in every breath,
from your fixed date of birth:

But what if you’re told
your fixed date of death?
For valid opinion?
Ask the blade-necked thief.

Should you be thinking,
as a condemned man?
You are kneeling
on the same shifting-sand.

How hard is it to live,
without waiting,
Engaged in your (own)
moment of making:

Satisfied with your time
of well-being,
– when you are truly seeing.


It is the thing we make our parents do,
Or do to them: mortal-shuffle-moves,
To sheltered, or ‘down-sized’ flats:
We clear out all the past they had:
Lined-times on shelves, in towered attic-stacks,
Life’s trophies-won, ‘just dust-magnets’.

We slow-pack our home, one we filled over time,
Finding the ‘stuff’, which is ‘yours’ or ‘mine’;
Quick black-bagged, high street dropped,
To the worthy-option of charity shops:
Except for an item, saved without words,
Donating that toy would really hurt.

In thirty years, our life-reduction planned,
When we are being down-size manned,
By our children, and their loved-ones too,
They will wring their hands, as we now do:
That plastic teapot they’ll find in the loft:
today’s poured memories of time we’d lost.

A Studio in East Hoathly

It’s a step up on his studio’s tread –
firm – unlike the loose stone path
No bend for the door – no struck head
into the workshop – here he starts

his eye-lined measure of Wealden –
He stands – readied – to catch the views
of creation which he and God repeat often –
He tools thousands of gouged lines –

His work of furrows – brow-knotted deets –
The tools – spitstickers, scorpers and stippling
palm-packed stitching – he knocks into blocks –

In sketches of subjects – from inked towns to crossed hills –
he traces this capture over the close-grained face
where each sight is inverted – where each landscape re-milled
by hand – where he is bench-readied with an obliged trace

His art is aligned to true by the encompass of love –
which guides him straight with each wood-fuelled thought –
Fixed in boxwood’s grain with a scabrous shove –
This is the artist which my verse-lines have sought


The Facts

The truth we believe is the truth we read:
Web-feeds, Facebook, Twitter, the Beeb.

Channelled-veracity, from Sky and Dave,
Immunity claimed for low-thought waves.

Drivelling truth soaks into our heads,
Performing gross acts as we sleep in our beds:

Sub-conscious toss of diatribes,
Demands unanswered, dream-thrown lies.

I can offer you trade of fists, or stats,
Neither will convince us, we have all the facts.


Have you breathed in today the low smog of lies,
hung above, blinding, The Sun-darkened isles?

We won’t whine ’bout foul weather fogging us in,
we maintain small insights with screen-swiping.

Tablet-tat is uploaded, and each hour we surf,
bad news is aborted for a fresh royal birth:

Young doctors, low-paid, the left, the long-ill,
re-treated by the barons with lethal press pills.

The Trade Union Bill has been finally read,
our forebear’s blood-ceded, will no more be bled.

We’ll give up clear skies, embrace fogged land-fall,
So now lifting our eyes we will seeing nothing at all.

God On My Dock

I was stacking a truck –
of dance-floored audio –
me – twenty-something
at Shepperton Studios –

Martin ‘Philishaves’ –
those deep-throated bins –
and Midas-touched mixing desks
ramp-trundled in –

The Thin White Duke
crossed our case-crammed dock –
suit-booted for filming –
that beautiful God –

Even the toughest
of my fellow-fagged roadies
awed-to-stillness –
he halted truck-loading


Two Princes – Part II

Their prince was washed-up*
blue-dead on a shore
Our prince was dressed in
quilt-coat against frore

Each to inherit
a lop-sided crown
One with dominion
one laid out on ground

Parentage traced back
both to migrant shifts
One poor prince noble
one plush prince adrift

The meek shall ne’er
gain this boundaried land
The enthroned will rule
with their blue-washed hands


You Will Know

You will know you’re truly old
when all dear friends are dead

I am citing Clive James –
quoted –
often misread

I will not be defined ‘old’
when my step forward is short
promenading with shuffles –
reduced stride –

You may presume I’m old
when my flat-repeat of words
are ‘politely’ ignored

Then I’m misheard – my verse

No –
I will never be old –
re-define your count of time

I will breathe in youth’s warm air
and avoid stiffened rhyme


Moving My Shed

Plans made today, to move my shed:
turn, pull, place, via grease-sleeper sled.

Tirfors engaged, off discussed points:
Fears for the shed’s, and my stiff joints.

Stress on structures – bodies and boards
– distributed off two steel cords.

To then be towed, in slow-motion;
slow-drawn drags, on fag-backed notions.

Each inch of shifting-movement, slow,
a daunting five metres to tow.

All grinding, groaned slid hours we pull,
could conspire in my sledged-shed’s fall.

The Carpenter of Lampedusa

Crosses fashioned
from wreckage re-found
in Lampedusa’s graveyard
of boats –
Francisco Tuccio – carpenter –
putting him up there
as a craftsman – tool-qualified –
and long-suffering – calloused –
like Christ’s forgotten step-dad

Taking the drift-timber remnants –
tide piles of northerly-aimed
hope boats –
finding with tools the ingrained sunk lives –
the salt-scour – gasoline foul –
sea stench – the drowning suffered
in holy relics

Muscat – We’re .. building a cemetery
(in).. our Mediterranean Sea:
the proud Maltese PM
tried to carve his own response
to migrant drownings –
This thing is broken…
needs to be fixed

Tuccio – unelected – mends hope –
crosses of suffering
for all drowned –
he offers wave-crucified –
ship timbers –
shaped to buoy the migrant survivors



The King’s Speech

My old voice – fragmenting – along with my teeth –
speech patterns are broken – immutably creased –
pouring decay out my thought-cavities –

spoken in youth – such mendacities
They arise again on bile’s chest-stab –
My speechless dictation a keyboard-gab

The therapist pointed – a turned beige chair –
his notes – table-placed – his hands held in prayer –
Deliver me patients, who’ll speak much more –

Or something like that – his held-silent lore –
Sheets ticked – penned by his half-deciphered scrawl –
The speech could be lost under PD’s draped pall

The heartburn – easy – just change everything –
but my speech will ne’er be that of a King –
I left with a list of life to elude –

Diluting a risk of slow-death through food –
Air-way – gullet – they won’t work so well –
my banqueting less and thus choke-risk quelled


Thought for the Day

Seven forty five, a mumbled ‘thought’,
the BBC re-tuned, for the overwrought:

Then ‘the weather’, to equate the accounts,
(we British bleed rain, in large amounts).

Headlines-recited, a modulation:
Slaughter of stock markets, our fascination.

Tea downed-cool as the BBC speaks,
this nation listens, to the half-scripted piques;

gone from the house, and our thoughts go astray,
these fears unsolved, by Thought for the Day.


Minor Injuries

Home, to a greeting child, wrist-wrapped, dog-bit:
Then travel (fast) to an M.I. unit.
The waiting room, a car-crash, filled stiff chairs,
In charge: the triage nurse’s contused stares.

I fill out, biro, an NHS form:
Photocopied boxes ticked, facts informed.
Overhead, thirty inches of TV :
Patients dosed-down with free reality:

‘Loose Women’ (giggling about men in sheds),
Here the nursing staff avoid blocking beds.
My child is soon repaired, by a gowned saint,
The punctures cleaned, with dabbed iodine paint.

Heading back home, child slung and bandaged-tight,
Proud of our small country doing us right:
Him: ‘In America that’ve cost lots!’,
Me: ‘In the UK it’ll soon be lost’.

Moving Day

Corrugated boxes:
brown-wound, tape-thread,
(but, still, our move,
is a whole
month ahead);

This life:
shoved into one room:
all slid-in, piled-up,
unequally stacked.

A cache,
of paper-piled histories,
reveals in unboxed

A bag of creased letters,
now read-behoved,
you looked again,
and left, briefly,


Our first frost this winter was late:
Stealing every colour,
long after Christmas:
Ageing-nature Santa-silver,
but too tardily for the kids’
seasonal wonder.

Cursed instead
by unreadied gardeners,
caught sleeping,
as the mild-winter dipped
back into its old ways:

When The Thames was locked;
under a hard-beauty for weeks,
and even the huddled fires,
could not melt
that frost.