Rosetta Met Her End

I never saw her selfies,
just those last few camera shots,
on her lonesome way
to 67P’s hardened rocks:

I’m sure she had worked well,
that little spacey probe,
but always doomed to crash
on an indurate comet’s slope;

a mess she must’ve made
on the speeding icy mass,
hurrah for humanity,
we’ve littered more of space!



Desserts of shame!
Cover thine chunks!
Your sugary delights,
they offend Mr Hunt.
Reduce your fats,
you obese puddings,
return to austerity,
to simpler cooking,
to ancient ways,
when sweetness was short,
the poor pot-bellied,
the rich pissed on port:
He’ll ‘save’ the NHS
by cutting it back,
and lighter taxes
for his sweet fat cats.

The Times, 30-09-2016

Counting Cotton

I can tell time passed
by the reduction
of the contents
of the bumper pack
of cotton buds,

that one in the cupboard,
below our sink,
its product packed
so thick that patience
is needed to tug one out.

When that count is half-done
will we be half-emptied
by the rituals of cleaning
up residues of errors,
which only they can reach?

Eventually a rattled reminder
to replacements-required,
another thought about
what we have bought,
are we ever re-stocking?
Will that be when we stop?

B-movie Bodies

Hurry up and wait,
she laughed it,
with her American beauty,
re-cast in the shadows,
there, where we stand,
bodies, on this lot,

in that temporary corral
of trailers (for us,
and other night visitors,
short-term residents
of this burger-wafted
camp of strangers),

all at the mercy
of radioed instruction,
by mere children
on walkie-talkies,
also squawked at,
by a body-count director.


Dad has a suit for the funeral,
and time for a balcony fag,
as the middle kid kicks a ball,
playing alone, ‘cos dad is sad’

Mum is moaning in the kitchen,
‘stuck here until I die,’
and the youngest girl sobs quietly,
for the truth, which makes her cry.

The cremation is booked for two,
a slow drive to the garden of peace,
to their cold dead’s last resting place,
eulogies from an unknown priest.

The youngest girl is kept away,
the only one wet with grief,
living the terrible loss
of the love that she so needs.

M. D.

If there was a hard way
or an easy way
I would always choose
the hard way
MD said
but I knew it
already       having been
broken by her

the once-champion
Irish dancer
who used
unexpected steps      to win
and who later quit
to avoid complaints
from within herself
as a dancer

To be the sure
choreographer of her future


Men Fall In Love With You

There – again – a man
falling in love with you –
From outside – in the dark –
looking up – as I walked
to the house – to the party –
I could read his thoughts
at twenty-five yards –
through the double glazing –
as he engaged himself
with more than your words

Even across that distance –
I can stand inside him –

in his forwardness –
and I will unfix his smile –

slur his slightly-drunk words –
thus letting him falter –

adjust his laughter
to minimise its effect –

I would make him worry –
too much – about his bad breath

But – instead – I know my place
is this side of the glass
where I can watch you –
if I want to –
seeing how you make men
fall in love with you –
in that accidental way
of sweet smiles and
eye contact – the attractions
that you make


My Caricature

Picking up the pencil
to draw a human being,
was an avowal of my return
to that time of evolution;

first encountered, younger,
when making another mark;
in all these years, somehow,
I am no different from my past.

There is a self-portrait,
my rough hand in charcoal,
in which my Steerpike face
reflects these same scowls,

which thirty years later
are now etched by this disease,
my own drawn face
complains too easily.

Baked Off

Bloomin’ ‘Bake Off’,
what’s it all about?
The Beeb lose it to Four,
then post headline pouts.

But Mary Berry
isn’t a burnt-out tart.
she’s sticky as sugar,
and will get a new part:

Perhaps hosting Top Gear,
now filmed in a tent,
leaving Paul Hollywood
to rub his beard and lament,

he could’ve done ‘Strictly’,
or, at a pinch, ‘Crimewatch’,
but he’s stuck in a field,
rained on, and ‘Baked Off’.

The Loos are Lost – Part II

First poem here:

If this were Lewes they’d start a campaign,
to retain the town’s loos under their ‘rights to complain’:

At the top of their list – everyone’s freedom to p*ss,
in a designated place, not in some parking space.

The threatened Luxford loos would be declared a free state,
by a clique of DFLs*, whose lives are deplete

of any purpose on earth, ‘cept lattes, and revolution,
(still regretting their vote against the Liberal’s coalition,

that vote of disgust against tuition fees,
meant swapping their Liberal for a Conservative MP).

Back to the loos – for ‘Men’ and ‘Women’,
the cold seats under threat from the Council’s scheming:

If this were Lewes they’d buy up the plot,
get planning permission, and build a string shop,

in which they’d accept the new ‘Lewes Quid’,
that banknotes’ ink made from recycled p*ss.

DFLs* – ‘Down From London’ derogatory Lewesian
term for people moving into the Lewes: also applied
to people moving from Lewes to Uckfield:
‘Downsized From Lewes’

The Architect

For @robertbaittie

You – the architect of your future –
setting the lines and levels

to maintain right angles
and correct returns –

You will be the one responsible
for any discrepancies –

the courses are yours to design –
there for others to measure

and for a response to this life –
your living monument.


A Time Ago

‘Yes,’ you told him,
‘I was in love
with your brother’
Him: ‘That does not matter!’

You both seduced
your rounded youth,
but, eyes closed,
he was still unsure
which one you saw:

Yet you shared a short,
unmarried, life,
with your half-English,
and his own, too precise.

A rattle of ‘roaches,
in the tight shower space,
was the moving-in present,
left by prior tenants,

and two doors down,
a neighbour, laughing again,
when calling out:
‘Never marry a woman!’

As your afternoons,
of barefoot heat,
sex, gulped air, sipped,
and tongue-sweep,

under groped fascination,
his brother
was there, deep, deep,
in your imagination.

Pooh Bear Did Sh*t in the Woods


My last poem
about David Cameron:
Sadly, ‘Pooh’ will never
come back again:

Off to ponder,
To wander the forests,
with his wife – Piglet;

Along the sandy paths
of the Algarve,
To plan their future –
not too hard,

Because, thinking a lot
taxes Pooh,
Unlike the Revenue,
who will still tax you;

So wave ‘bye-‘bye
to the short-shirted bear,
he left us in sh*t
piled up to.. [Go to first line]

Sleep, Removed II

This eye-lined weight
takes me to my bed,
too easily, to sleep,
even then, struck midday,
when the rest of my family
is filling the[ ]gaps
left by my missing
during waking hours.
And I will lie, still, dressed,
rolled round, under the cover
of my selfish-slept discomforts.

Book at Bedtime

You are,
in that moment,
longer than a minute,
a time without gauges,
under glasses of wine,
weighting you;
having read a part-story
to one child,
and your other half
is a floor below,
and you consider
the stairs down,
to where muttered-TV,
with guffawed additions,
fills the stairwell,
and that climbing back-up
now feels irrupt:
so stay there,
in the bedroom,
with a leggy glass
of wine,
and write the lines:
‘I shall survive’,
a thousand-thousand times.

The Weight of the Fall

It has struck hard,
that hour I long ignored,
until now, this week,
when my body clock
turned back

my lower strength put to,
by discomfort’s drag,
through my frame,
here, inside, unseen,
where bones meet flesh:

With no defence,
no pill
no armour,
no burgonet.

No more ‘normal’,
no more being immortal.
Only with a long sleep,
my free-to-rest whore,

under her peace
I temporarily transform.

I can still press-up,
but the inner weight is
than that of my youngest,
sat today on my back,

and like his presence,
riding for a loud laugh,
my invisible weight
laughs last.

Speech Therapist

With my therapist,
a genial chap,
we sit and review
my quality of chat;

a bit of a struggle,
with my stinking cold,
an incurable disease,
which has now taken hold:

In the near distance,
two floors below,
a howl of laughter
is loudly let go,

then back to peace,
as my therapist stammers,
r-r-r-repeated advice,
and nice bedside manners.

Bucharest, 1989

I touched down in Bucharest,
for my connecting flight,
on to Tel Aviv’s equal distance
of foreign placed-ness,

at that point, where I stood
in a terminal, sparrow-spotted,
and under the guard of men
in serge uniforms, weighted by rank,

chairs also stood, imperial, ragged,
as if waiting for the return flight of
a poverty-struck Ottoman Emperor,
equally stained and dusted by time.

The Queen is Spent

She ‘leased’ her son a Chopper,
first thought – the Raleigh-type?
Spending several millions,
it’s a helicopter, not a bike!

In these days of poverty,
don’t pay her any more,
no longer to be trusted,
with ‘Sovereign Grants’ for sure.

Students borrow cash (to learn),
debts, a travesty;
no grants for the masses,
but one for Mrs. Majesty.

Take our seated Monarch,
and her Hello-spread-out kids,
stick them in a council house,
there to live, to earn their keep:

But there’s no cheap re-housing
for the Saxe-Coburg clan;
“If they cannot find a B&B,
it’s back to their homeland!”

A chopper flight to Germany,
to queue up as immigrants:
They’ll claim that state’s foreign grants,
whilst we’ll set free our kids.


Speaking with my mother,
after phone disconnections,
and of unreturned calls;

then, again, her anger rises,
a spiked, child-sick bile,
reflux-like, but not mine,
still before we stop talking

I tell her I love her,
but I am once more muted
by the receiver’s placement
on her telephone’s cradle

Hempstead Meadows

I sat on the drunks’ bench,
near the ever-overflowing bin,
shadowing that worn patch
of pressed mud, shit-tinged.

This sitter’s view, skewed,
a beer-distorted luxury,
beside dried bird muck;
a far Tannoy says ‘Sorry..’

Further on the meadows’ path
bushes are clean-picked,
the bearing branches snapped,
stamped back, welly kicks,

where pie-makers,
and black-fingered kids,
thorn-pricked, with sucked cuts,
have harvested:

They have filled, lid-shut,
Tupperware containers,
loaded up September’s
sweet black scratch crop.

Then, the smell of weed,
and it is not Japanese,
the path is now a trade route
for teenagers’ to please:

The three lads pass me,
space for the sad bloke,
with cocksure strides,
and the exhalation of smoke

which we old imbibe,
those sweet fumes of youth,
one so deeply inhales,
bench-sat, wine-abused.

Holy Cross 7:41am

Simple headstones, dated,
only affording initials,
‘Katie’ could afford the time
to scratch her’s on the face
of the screwed lead plate,
her vertical memorial
before she gets to die;

and the tramp, with a cycle,
lay his copper-only coins
across his palm, not enough
to grant his inner fortune-teller
any hope of good news:
Under his stained hat and beard
there crosses a longer story.

53 High Street, Uckfield

The white line men,
with a truck of cauldron
and flame,
lay chalk lines of intention,
then the fine art,
application by hand,
tool, and technique,
to use the drips
along the straight sure
toe-pegged wood strip;
with an eye for their line
and for the cars’ crossing –
before dried.