Let Go

For D

Hold your family, avoid letting it slip,
release other monkeys – to loosen their grip;

your double-edged sword is running too deep,
its arced-scything blade cutting beneath;

disengage from turmoil, wars are never won,
but battles should stop – especially your own.

Charity Begins

Another charity shop has opened up,
its shelves already whiff with stock,

featuring Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace’,
and the lower-shelved words of Peter James;

his ranking fixed by alphabetic rules,
although Margaret does classier vowels.

Pressed shirts hang, stiff with starch,
whilst dead man shoes no longer dance;

A range of aged prints catch the eye,
Picasso hangs, yours to buy;

Retired golf clubs stand on guard,
their shine worn down, over par;

That jug you gave to your old friend Jane,
she’s re-donated, so you buy it again.


Stop all the clicks

Stop all the clicks, cut off the internet,
Prevent the right from barking on your feed,
Silence the news and wireless hum
Brexit announced, let the mourners come.

Let Osborne circle, tweeting overhead
Posting the message Cameron Is Dead,
Put hands round the necks of Remaining love
Let the riot police wear black cotton gloves. 

Europe was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought Europe would last: I was wrong.

Union stars are not wanted now: delete our one;
Pack up the trade and dismantle the fun
Pour away the wine and mop up the blood
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

[Apologies to WH Auden]

Icarus Returns

I flew over
our earth,
on the same day
as Mr. Peake,

but miles away,
the melting touch
of gods.

Taken by man-made wings
to our fall,
from there,

but unashamed,
now suited
and strapped

to a sown-remedy;
for us, The Fallen,
open parachutes –
our indemnity.


‘One size only’
the hat display read

such an offer fills me
with consumerish-dread

because a man like me
full of life-long learning

has a problem wearing
one size without gurning

to squeeze these hats on
induces such pain

forcing the compression
of my burgeoning brain.


It was in the cloakroom,
aged five, where I cried,
not wanting to be there,
tearful in that mote-strung light.

We were surrounded by the shed skins
of other children, labelled,
those hook-hung anoraks,
pegged, emptied

into registered obedience,
unto the vast common hall,
beam-vaulted, a Victorian school,
I now know this hind-sighted as I am.

It was almost a prayer-free church,
with a never-trod office
stuck high in the wall, accessed,
it appeared, by God’s stairway.

And off that open space
high window-fitted doors
invited shy glances into classes,
but were beyond my height.

Did I hold Dad’s hand as he walked
with me through low furniture?
It made him an even bigger giant
in my small space.

We were shown past crate-piled milk,
bottled, to be expertly straw-poked,
unless as I later learned,
the birds got there first:

Sun-warmed, a gloop of cream on top,
the sure-indicator but never off,
that first lesson
in my infant education.

Alfriston Churchyard

Keith Pettit c. 2016

Without any roots     re-moved     a re-planting
before      studio leant      then a re-starting

Tipped to horizon      felled      onto saw-horses
worked at      after worked out      with other wood sources

His quiet-strike tools      of pencil to sketch
drawn up     his expectation    that to be met

But sculpting re-forms      time-lines in grain
re-route of art     this wood ordains.




“We are all visitors
to this time,
this place..”

A moment
a note
which passes
without us noticing

only the world’s clever
ever get to observe
those ticked over
slips of The Knot

looped round our necks
the pattern-ties of life
they observe
our oblige..

“to learn, to grow, to love
and then.. home.”

Pride F*cking Englanders

Pride-f*cking Eng-land-red         beer-pissed in Marseilles

you are stripping our country        when shot-slung         beer-hazed

Pissed off             a dark-hatred          your low-favoured fury

you’ll battle French police                but grovel to their jury

Thugs            f*ckers               too fat          to play too well

that’s why you’ll breathe hard                in your holiday cell

there guards spit phlegm         you’ll watch the saliva dry

hide your new fear

for here you will cry.


Can you offer
an explanation
of the thumping
of exhaustion

which puts me in
an old stuffed chair,
tired enough
to then sleep there?

Forty winks,
becomes two hours,
losing my waking,
ancient powers;

stiff in the neck,
with gum-raw mouth,
noticing the sun
has since moved round,

poking me:

But behind
the soft-pulled door,
under the tugged-blanket,
I’ll sleep some more.


Woken from a dream, a broken trip,
where I fell in love with a freckled girl,
marching ‘cross a desert, my tribe, youth-sick,
I was slow-kissing my freckled girl.

I know I fell hard, from another height,
vertigo-embraced, with her, freckled girl,
the fabulous dream, from last night,
and love was there, my freckled girl.

High on a creak-sway wooden tower aloft,
I lived briefly, with my freckled girl,
broken dream-time, I woke with the hour,
alarm-tripped, gone, that freckled girl.

Recounting, now three decades on,
with that fade of one freckled girl,
the past echoes in my dream-time songs;
on waking now, gone, my freckled girl.



The label, captured, a proof supplied,
reinforced by an old Fisher’s design:
Note: ‘for luggage and hamper labelling’,
now ‘Merit Parcel Tag’, e-bay’s selling.

The card, written, upper-case printed,
fixed, tied, with parcel-string, knotted:
Scout-known? A killick hitch, or a lark’s head?
Tied to a passing, before his child, it said.

A theory, The Serpentine,
no river of blood,
but an old favourite place
to meet one’s God.

Witness to the Court, on his death,
Folliot ‘moody’, precursor at best,
given by an unknown source:
‘Suicide’, verdict, in The Serpentine’s course.

Also left, Clotilde, bequeathed a few pound’s-swell
by ’48, his wife, resident, The Imperial Hotel,
at Queen’s Gate, London, SW7;
Clotilde died, aged 78, no cause given.

Her passing was recorded,
in Paddington, London.
Her aged-death registered
a long mile from her husband.



In The Gloucester Citizen, December 1945, a verdict of ‘found drowned’ was returned in Westminster
on Frederick John William Folliot, a Doctor of Philosophy, aged 44, of 7 Holly Place, Hampstead NW3.


And her breath

Muddy bog land wet through
but bent to it for days

her long trench a shallow excavation
of centuries of bed deaths

her quick-wristed sieve-shook remains
find recovered fragments of time

and each is labelled packed away
so many partial discoveries of

ancient runes a man or woman
unknown until fully examined:

The whole skeleton the hip width
the relative dimensions

of her brittle find lain out cleaned wiped
for the experts’ opinion

and she will hold her breath but continue to dig
until the sex of the dead is given.

For a Daughter

The bearers will need access descending from his room

Dismantled – the stair-gate – a low barrier removed

she’s too small to know that her Daddy has left

accompanied by strangers – no last goodbye – not kissed –

he’s leaving behind a wide-open gap

one she will feel when grief finally grabs –

when she’s a mother lifting a latched gate –

for her child’s protection – then the opening re-made –

an ascent – unlocked – her memory of his space –

his goodbye no more missing – on a landing – they’ll embrace


The Coastal Walk Away From Easky

Of her coastal walk, away from Easky, Eire,

she wrote:
was.. beautiful.. the highlight of my day..

but she wished for more time, to unpick those flowers,
rough-castings, bird-sown, almost ‘littering’
the coast-coarse grass, there, at the very edge;

she wrote:
the rocks, dressed in dried seaweed, have their own beauty too..

Not just bare barometers of future fair weather,
giving her rescuers a rare restful day.

“That Person You See is Me”

“The WPC 2016 invites ALL members of the global Parkinson’s disease community to make a video for the WPC 2016 Video Competition about their experiences living with, treating, researching or caring for people with Parkinson’s. Video is a great way to capture and share the power of science, hope, humor, and inspiration. It’s also a great way to encourage discourse about a disease that is often misunderstood.”

My collaboration with David Sangster – we still have yet to meet!


Below the mussel-threaded outlet pipes,
with their spitting lips squeezed tight,

Wilf found a wine bottle,
beached in the low-tide sand;

on examination, without opening,
we concluded ‘a French red’,

with uncorking we sniffed it,
Wilf declared it: ‘A good vintage’,

but any booze, to any boy,
is the best he’s ever had.

Our Time Bomb

By our eighth decade,
the correspondent wrote,
over twenty-percent
will succumb
to dementia:

I can see her,
fixed to forgetting,
and sat bed-side,
the frail ‘other half’ left,
shelled, bombed-out.

Will there be enough room,
for so many?
The twenty percent,
to be bed-locked,
to be bed-blocking?

As you avoid
hospice-bound falls,
on shortened stick-ticked walks,
or on a shuffle between rooms,
before the last shuffle begins,

will you be feeling lucky
to be, in your moments,
one of the eighty per cent,
still lucid, but alone,
in your eighties?