The Jam

Forty years ago
I knew boys who swapped
Tangerine Dream records
and others who spat punk

A comprehensive education
in a scrag end Surrey town
of smoke-rattled bike sheds

of wrong trousers and collars

of part formed love and loss

We all knew the girl who gave it
to the intelligent thug

she cried in maths and the bogs

Sex education still has no use

The Tin Roof

The tin top cottages
should be haunted

but the only ghost
is Hoogstraten’s

That man ripped the roof
off one propped home

and the adjoining one
was then left for him

Now stand the brick twins

with no tiles or grace

torn for Hoogstraten
and his resting place

No Dance

We had no dance record –
no undulated score
to offer a vinyl track
to our lost time
of looking back —

The dog lies untouched –
her stroke mislaid
like a forgot chorus
of a heightened itch —

I broke the news
at O-one hundred
with shipping news
and ‘Sailing By’

and your phone died
a battery death
as if
we could recharge


On Luxford

The old boys’ bench
affords a wide view
of Luxford Fields –
of trees to the north

Here is my basecamp
on the ascent
over difficult terrain
of root-split tarmac

Dog walkers and kid strollers
criss-cross the scuff –
taking turns to shout
and to chase

Behind me shoppers steer
between tight spaces
of white lines –

Two boys on bikes gob
and then dare each other –
on their brakeless machines –
to ride the Tesco steps


The View

Here – a future lost
like a still fifth child –
her shortened view –
no more beguiled –

as paths by priests
churn to mud –
their robes now scabbed
in soured blood –

All is fouled –
left to burn –
her spin – her shaft
is now slow-worn

The wide street slopes
to rain-washed grey
which I take now –
adante –

the coffee sips
are her warm flesh –
her taste last kissed
of latte breaths

EDITED 170219


BST – day one
as seen from this flint field

high above the Winterbourne’s
pinned course

above rushes off a distant bypass –
that continuous inland tide

Here I listen for reduced birdsong
as seagulls are distance-summoned

by the hip-jiggered tractor’s
turn of furrow in another flint field

You have walked on – bent to misery
with me left here to rest

above this valley in our landscape –
with an extra hour of light

as if the clocks
had stopped
you leave me and sulk


It has been a month
of slightness and shifts
which can be described as
‘incremental deterioration’
in my overall condition

pain and rigidity are my bedfellows
and lovers
those bitches who snap
and squeeze at me in measure

it takes a toll on others
I know

my masked face shares
such small messages

Lunchtime News

The silence around the house
is perforated by the radio pips
as I switch on the hour’s news

and then my loneliness grows
as the reported world enters
and my scale of things is shown
to have such insignificance

my existence is low

states and men of action
do not hide from endeavors

but I do


My father had thinning hair
and ever thinning teeth
and a quick temper

no fists
once a slap

when my year older brother
sliced the bathroom sponge
with Dad’s shaving blades

There had been general punishment
until us boys
the muted quatrain
then gave up the culprit

A loud slap
which never healed the sponge


I enter London
where nature is hated

here potted and placed
left to wilt disgracefully

This skyline is fugged
and bears no majesty

its stone spires smogged
by the smoke-glass travesties

At London Bridge
the train’s lathed wheels
complain on curves
in engineered squeals

Into Charing Cross

from the South Bank

above the dull Thames
and empty cruise boats

I leave the station
to find my black cab

that fuming transport
with it’s poisonous fag