Bonfire of Certainties

A bonfire of all certainties
has been built under me –
of timbers – by unseen hands –
crossed over and lain
on a cold heart – that core
of devoutly-snapped sticks

The ninety year old fell
and they discovered
her riddle of cancers –
She shouldn’t be alive
But her bonfire was doused –
I’m happier  – she sung –
I have assurances

This told to me as I was driven
by the old woman’s nephew
through Puglia’s stone veins –
I saw my own pyre lit –
and you – my wife –
have to bear the still low heat
of this
the slowest of fires

The Mower

He has cut the grass around Stonehenge
for twenty summers, end-to-end,
ever concentric, from outer to inner,
he pulls out blades with the retreat of winter.

He knows each slab, the Welsh-ness within,
those dragged-erect stones and the truths they contain.
As the mulch and spewed grass build high in his bin,
the circling grass-cutter is again sucked in:

His subconscious cuts to a dream-fixed rout,
knots him in whispers, which the stones still shout,
and so he is sliced, chipped, and re-worked,
to be the defender against the road works.

Cast up by the ‘Henge, as its final guard,
he has been armed with the last sharp sword:
the defender of Arthur, protector of Albion,
in the dream he fills UK Highways’ tunnel.

Under cries of crows, and missives of sheep,
the lawn mower man is then roused from his sleep,
that disturbed warrior wakes at his wheel,
to return to his mowing, because dreams are not real.

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam.

I delete another email
‘from Michael J. Fox’,
and his evangelist cry
that ‘PD rocks!’

And other such homilies,
of which my eyes do tire,
these in-boxed meaty missives
sent down the thinning wire.

And then I’m mailed an offer
to re-double my shit pension,
but the fuckers forget
this luxury that they mention

is only afforded now
by the lucky few,
the politicians, the unionised,
but not for me and you.

We’ll earn less in our dotage,
but will still eat the same,
forever supplied in old age
with those five spams a day.


He is accelerating
into a compression
of constant slowing,
of rusted muscle,
and crumbling time.

He sees a narrowing
which you, an assured,
ignore at your peril:
there is no five year
warranty on your life,

you are not immune
to any of this, no matter
what you do at the gym,
in sweated Lycra-hours
of wrist-tracked time.


I half-stand ring-centred,
in our squared kitchen,
just upright, aware of the
transmitted box of blows,
these roundings upon me,
and that scream-spat radio:
Yes, I feel beaten, as though
I should throw in my towel,
now surrender, step down,
no longer the heavyweight,
me, the former title holder,
in these endless rounds.


You tinsel town criers,
signatory luvvies,
calling for the blood
of a band of brothers,

crying out ‘gainst doing
Tel Aviv this time,
because the Israelis
have fucked Palestine.

“Make the contract in dollars
give me everything I need,
fuck the Palestinians,
this gig’s all about me.”

You actors, singers,
and cultured orifices,
would never pander
to such states of attrocities,

you’ll boycott those countries,
you high-and-erudite,
except the fat miscreant,
the U.S of Apartheid.

“Make the contract in dollars,
give me everything I need,
fuck the tribal nations,
this tour’s just about greed.”

You shouters took America
many years ago,
touring that glasshouse,
throwing no stones,

turning your back on
the fucked Indian tribes,
making no fuss
about that genocide.

“Make the letter in italics,
and sign it as one,
let’s lash another artist
with our long luvvy tongue.”

Flag Stoned

The bunting had fallen
and strung in its place
long blown metres
of roadwork tape:

Our town had spent
all the developers’ tax
on wider footpaths,
which will now crack

under the weight
of various vans,
part-parked on kerbs
by the delivery man,

who will still take up
one of those lanes,
blocking the street
back to the library (again).

Ask the shop-keepers
if it was worth the chaos,
screwing the high street
for a developer’s pay-off.

The Visitors

I have negotiated
with such black rooks

(in our last two homes)

those soot ghosts
trapped in chimneys

most living

less a stiff pair

come the summer’s
long release of heat

woke nested flies
finding the window panes

made spot-spattered


those small dark
of the dead

The living rooks
were easier to

Emma’s Driver

She made an Uber man cry
(only by being her true self);
he had to remove his glasses
to wipe, to drive his tears

because (he had assumed)
she was drunk, or drugged,
it was his mistake,
he needed to say sorry.

If those tears of a cab driver
were pooled, or swabbed,
could we, the ill, employ
such floods to end the pain?

Watch this video, please..


That pond of politics,
where amphibians crawl,
over arched backs
to gorge in the pool,

feeding, growing,
on the bottom-fat crud,
to rise from the Commons,
to ascend as a Lord.

To claim an allowance,
deigned for the rich,
to age into bitterness,
in the House of Old Gits.

To be buried in a churchyard,
“not some Commoner’s grave”,
to die as Lord Muck,
not labelled a knave.



We re-loaded
the dishwashers,
as they re-loaded
the bombs,

our smart homes
a covert snipping

at first the truth
was subtly distorted,
and then the news
was misreported.

Coding was clipped,
hyper-links snapped,
Facebook re-liked
the on-line crap.

Let them use bombs,
to help shift the focus
to a new fear:

Hear the bray of pigs,
this West’s old cry,
under the dropping
of lies from our sky,

then cut dictators
from negotiations,
severe all talks,
open the heavens,

let the sky weep,
flatten the earth,
another fresh harvest
of slash and burn.



What bravado
the boys of Sussex

and I tried to explain
to my youngest child
after it all,

as we sat outside
the imperial brick
police station:

I spoke about
how some things are

I talked about
missing empathy,
how thrusts of ego,

cocktails of drugs,
that itchy fug,

under their skin,
will always
do them in.

Radio for?

Oh My God, ’tis Thought for the Day:
Radio Four pauses to pray:
Humphrys kneels on the soundproof floor,
wishing for news which he can endure.
Melvyn Bragg berates a humble guest,
mumbling mantras as he doth protest!
Archerettes praise the God of scripts
for an endless drama of juicy bits.
Friday’s Now Show, the satirical melee,
not Now The Final Judgement Day,
with Hugh (not Grant) and the other one,
casting those stones of comedy puns.
The Reverend Coles, as Saturday arrives,
says his prayer: ‘Please not Five Live’.


As if you would burn,
but your over-sized
sunglasses are worn
against that enquiry
of the sky, and mine.

With a five-bar gate
to protect you
from further asking,
from a reach,
I will still take you.

I travel, growing,
in the hardened time
of our over-lit scene;
every item you wear
has been loosened

by my almost-retired
art of slowly stripping,
by eye, back to fair skin,
each layer you wrap
against the sun.


Too long adrift
on my life raft
of tapped thoughts,

burnt by the sun
and unseen salt:

A rudderless man,
with sickness induced
by this tidal ride

of the curved
and empty horizon,
then struck wave-blind.

The slap and shatter
of seawater
are lunacy’s call

to me, displaced
in the wreck of my body,
a drowning fool.

The Ritual

The extravagant white bathrobe,
bagged from a boutique hotel,
her remains of a left-behind weekend,
just the two of them, her and him,
sunk in love, a deeper love than now.

That thick gown hung guiltily
on the back of the bathroom door.
She took it down and wrapped it around
her shoulders, careful not to knock
the tall knotted towel, her damp crown.

The application of creams was next,
and then, only then, she was ready
to be a wife again. And a mother.
Always a mother, no matter what.
She then saw herself in the mirror.


The Back Door

For AM, an apology

Again door-stepped, and you, a good man,
guide my regrets, which I wept
(unlike like my foul-flat egress)
onto your quick-stained shoulders.

As my carrier you guided me up
to the sunlit seat where my shame was
burnt off. All quite unexpected,
as was my recall of the tossed

unfair words which I had spat at you.
And after, to lighten those weights,
I delivered, by tremors’ hand,
a small token towards better taste:

a simple gift to aid forgiveness,
which may settle, for us, eventually,
to be re-lifted, swallowed back,
as tears are, then wiped to avoid hate.

Timed Theft

These words will not be my sick complaint,
not my dull litany of low-dulled pains –
neither bellows of my half-swallowed fears,
no sandman damming floods of tears:

Instead, I will lift prizes that others miss,
those wasted seconds which they dismiss.
This is my crime spree, my timely dance,
I snatch, a poacher, trapping every chance.

Join me, in theft, even you, the still-fixed,
let us steal time before no time exists.
Please hold the torch high, it shakes in my grip,
aim the weak beam at that prize which I seek.

See there, in the shadows, a life’s remains,
a lost loot of time – which is mine to gain.
I will take such disposals, all so discarded,
and burn it with verse, now herein, recorded.

These words are the ticks of my observed tongue,
all that remains of our days that have run:
I reduce the weight of my loathsome disease
by stealing the life that others leave.

After Needlewriters

I turned my back on the bleached
slice of moon, that ancient stalker,
over bright, (still impossible for
smart-phone or trite word capture).

Lewes fidgeted, early to bed, ill-lit
by the the old devil overhead,
cut by earth’s shadow,
incapable of glazing cobblestones

There was that end-of-wordliness
on our walk down Cliffe High Street,
the ghosts had retreated to attics,
wrapped in ‘No Popery’ banners.

At such time the town behaves,
the worriers and campaigners,
the yet-druv, and the string sellers,
finding world peace under duvets.

We recalled Woolworths, long lost,
as I looped lunar stuff (we talked
from the pub to the car park),
I kneaded those minutes into now.


For CM

You are waking 10,000 feet above me,
a fact I haven’t Googled,
more an ill-educated guess,

that precursor of the internet
when my intelligence was never doubted
by you, or me.

The sky will be different over Alpendorf
when you wake in a rented bed
before your coach-trip return,

when you shall try to slumber, bundled
on two thin seats, plugged into BBC

as low Austrian, and dull German
suburban views
lull your plunge, infected to sleep.

Then your swallow-dive off the highs
of steep black runs, into the deep-end
of the dream pool.

Alan Bennett, Sheep & Me

“The electrical things have their lives too, paltry as those lives are”.
Deckard. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I am buff on the sofa,
with Alan Bennett (a weight),
I have turned him over –
he bears a wretched face.

I must make it clear
I’m not holding that man,
no, I grip his fat tome,
held tight in my hands.

By ‘tome’ I mean book,
no, not anything rude –
Mr B’s not my type,
he is a bit of a prude.

Yes, a real book,
no Amazon e-kind,
but the weighty covers
with printed lines.

Now my eyes are aching,
as are my bits,
and Mr B’s recall
are a dull diarist’s.

Once more to my bed,
to count ‘leccy sheep,
because late night reading
makes my eyes weep.

Marriage Texts

no prob x
she looked off earlier xx
will be out for short time x
think she needs attention xxx
shes getting screwed
in head!! 😉 x
she comes home to it x
this me piecing it together xx
then heckles up 🙁 x
not in good place at m`o xx
sorry best can do xxx
how did it go? x
She is worrying about u x
She is a good person xx
ah insecurity shows xx
testing again x
quite rightly x
u don’t want A to b an arse xx
you need to let her know xxx
do u have to ask? x
she is loved xx
we are all idiots x
we are all foolishly in love xx
stupidity steadfast x
love is also constant x

30,000 Returns

The held blossom in the twitten
reminded me of sakura in Japan –
when we climbed Mount Yoshino –
anami to Oku Senbon

There I kissed your pencil lips
which tasted of the last yatai –
where my mouth passed across
the flowering of your eyes

We had spread our picnic blanket
as the sun rose on the arc –
a place under cherry blossom
a wide view across the park

That held flower is the carrier
of my re-imagined returns –
to our love in Nara prefecture –
as the sakura blushed and turned



She Gives Away

That girl gives away far too much,
Stripped her secrets to mens’ wiped touch;
Cropped, pulled naked, her clicked-on skin,
She’s devoured by those to whom she gives in.

Subjected but free, no lens-locked soul,
Instead she is instant, no Kodak unrolled.

Her surrender of self, in her shared gallery,
Is the nearest they get to adultery.
Her angelic frame, slight but potent,
Holds down her men – mostly aberrant.

Subjected but free, no lens-locked soul,
Instead she is instant, no Kodak unrolled.

All men will take what they can for free,
As wed men delete their watched history.
They wake to dreams, and a cheated wife,
As the girl sleeps late to avoid real life.

Subjected but free, no lens-locked soul,
Instead she is instant, no Kodak unrolled.

All Fools

Awake, readied, for April Fools’ Day,
one of misplaced apostrophe’s.

This All Fools’ Day suits this country,
this island of embarrassing Brexit,

this rained empire of excruciating Boris,
this idiot-breeding farm of Not-Sir Farage.

And this day suits me, an equal to all fools,
a composer of irregular rhymed diatribes,

a digger of holes, still in further education,
Head Boy at the School of Schoolboy Errors.