I can no more shop in Millets,
the sartorial choice of men,
where shorts are twenty quid,
but such shopping trips must end!

She Who Must Be Obeyed
is getting rather strict,
my clothes should be top labels –
the ones that she will pick.

So throw out my Peter Storm,
discard my beige collection,
no more windproof anoraks –
blown away by her rejection:

Instead it’s top notch brands,
to be found on our High Street,
but only if they’re second hand,
costing no more than five quid.

After the storm

It had long-passed,
but the field we walked,
as I had warned,
soaked our shoes,
the dog almost drowned
(in the clumps of grass).

Under a pair of beech trees
I looked up,
seeing frail silhouettes
over silhouettes,
rain-glued translucency,
in forced overlaps

under a still-threatening sky:
All the time
the single rhododendron
was impervious
to the wetness suffered
by the rest of us.

Law of Inertia

He was bent to his shovel work,
on the hottest day of the year

as age raised a dark vest of sweat,
soaking a shadow across his chest:

He stopped to chat, resting too heavily
against the swing, and as we talked

the roped seats oscillated under his
transmission of low energy,

Newton’s Law imposed where he leant,
part-recovered from his shovelled work,

whilst his girls lay immobile in the shade,
which he had previously made.

Impossible Constructions

Broken is my reaction:
A child, now a man,
lifts a child, both dusted,

carried, one barefooted
caught in sleep, or poverty?
He looks dead,

must his back be bared?
Or does his red shirt roll
over his hung head to mask his death?

But it could be a girl, either way,
carried from that blast,
where stairs hang

as if Escher had been
at work in Aleppo on another
Regular Division of the Plane.

The Mountains

A grey-faded memory of my émigré aunt,
on the quayside,
where we saw her off on a mountainous ship:

My Dad, an old salt, so going aboard,
(treading the deck) was required,
until we disembarked, before her departure.


On that same dock, over twenty years later,
I dug on the grain mountain, but failed to work out
my previous time there:

I only saw others’ ghosts in the redundancy
of the migrant-shipping sheds,
left behind, dusty pendants in the voids above the grain.

The same dockside sheds from where my Aunt had set sail,
in a previous incarnation,
when I was shoulder-carried by my own mountain:

Only now, this night, I reconnect those two pasts
in these greying surveys,
within my contour lines, marking my life, re-mapped.

Gift of God

The scent of jasmine,
there contrived,
placed along our path,
around this front door,

taking me
to that backdoor,
where a blackbird nested,
in an accidental
frame of the same vine;

I wasn’t tall enough to see in,
but a partial view was secured
by a discarded egg,
and later, a bonus, for me,
just a kid, a fledgling, dead.

Avoid Grikes

Inis Meadhóin   or
three middle Aran Islands
in Galway Bay
province of Connacht
subject to century-set glacial erratics

Inishmaan the smallest
of those Aran Islands
by qualification of population
said to be thick with
traditional Irish culture
and tripped   grike-deep fixed

ever-floating   predominantly Irish-speaking
and still a secure knowledge of English
but still Gaeltacht
a vernacular   before anything else
including Aran sweater-clichés
purled in the real world.

Door Stops

I was up with the light air
before this day’s sunrise
as the heat broke    with
a burglar’s threat

but just

itch-shifting curtains on the sash
and a thud    by the unseen flow
further through the house
which had to be examined
a door to be stopped

because the kids would not

they would sleep through
anything   like this intrusion
of a breeze’s soft thuds

Thick Ice

In that Victorian pleasure garden
the Pells recreation ground

a walled pool and a play space
in commemoration of a Jubilee

all the time a spring runs
into another rugged-winter

into another summer

a solitary outdoor attendant
once maintained the grounds

In winters the ponds were
skated by the bravest

but the swimming baths made a better
skating surface   when lowered
to allow it to freeze    two tickets at tuppence

but his body floated beneath the thick surface
eventually retrieved through cracks

hauled with a long-handled crook
horse-drawn off to the mortuary

but they knew his true story
a wife of complaints and disagreements


Internally booked, still to be paid,
so, I am now, somewhat committed,
to a special assistance, a short flight,
a one-way ticket which is mine:

Her return seat is reserved,
my obligation, then, her future comfort
on a solo flight, letting her go alone,
to meet a new man, on that flight?

He would notice her reddened eyes,
and, being so very English,
wealthy with embarrassment,
not ask her why she cries;

he sees her wedding ring,
which she turns, and turns, and turns,
as if she is over-winding an old clock,
too much,
so it will no longer work.

The Numbers

Mutually Assured Destruction
is the deal,
but that infers an agreement,

with a ‘letter of last resort’, a waiver,
for silent-running replacement subs

to work to the end-of-life,
at the cost of forty billion pounds,

and the loss of eight billion people,
to keep fifteen thousand jobs,

in Scotland, which has voted
for the loss, but not the deaths.

For @PamAyres

For @PamAyres

I wish I had beautiful cuticles,
not these ingrowing scorbuticals

I would wear open-ended sandals,
not concerned about any scandal

because of my feet being exposed,
and their smell then in your nose.

The End of the Party

The hall returned to its rented state
by the party’s emptying,
re-stacked stiff back plastic chairs,
and nothing remained of them:

Swept, bagged, and loaded out,
nothing, nothing, except the echoes
of friendships forged in parties,
trips, fights, and school classes.

There, for me, a preview – end-of-term,
of their school, those rooms,
at the epi-centre of their lives:
Swept, bagged, and loaded out.