Mad Men

Don Draper said –
is of Hellenic origin –
an old sensation –
pain from a wound

Don Draper pitched
in a dimmed meeting room
as he – Don Draper – spun
his so-subtle remorse
via a sentiment-filled –
brand spanking new –
Kodak – a Carousel!

Don Draper quoted Greek
at less fortunate men –
Kodak’s suited marketeers –
who shed rolled tears too
as Don Draper sold his love
on an advance button

That softest sell –
a hard-pressed remote
connected to a hot projector
made in Rochester – New York
Never buy quotable poetry –
even Don Draper’s will not do

Chelsea Girl

Nico took me on a trip
across a leatherette couch
at young Mr Warhol’s
last gallery party
We sipped old absinthe
from filthy egg cups
with that desert blast
from Jim’s
selfish rasps of eremic air
played back through
Andy’s Bang and Olufsen
We didn’t talk that much
My wet mouth was fixed
upon her age-pitted skin
There was a second time
but she was not counting
scores in ninety eighty-one
once punks stole her songs

My unpaired bookend

My unpaired bookend
An unescorted
found not wanting

to take her slotted weight
of a ripped hide binding –
of one more unreturnable

No end support
for true-life stories
featuring her bends in time –
of tippings and double backs

under fading recall
as a distorted monologue
No squeezing into space
left on a packed bookshelf

No loose dust covers
to keep at bay
her sparkling particles
Now half a brace stood
for others’ volumes

Poem #1,596 of 10,000

Birch Polypore

Scores of lady’s gloves reach
out on this chain sawn patch
whilst less urgent saplings
have slower ambitions

There a sometimes-killing –
but also useful – fungi
sprouts from a rot-set
silver bough

You see it too –
but as a foreign shell
washed up far from tides
without a limpet’s blind tenacity

I tell you – it is also known as
razor strop fungus – 
due to its rough edges –
many lost uses – like fire carrying

We crush this season’s litter
stopping at bright busting
sweet chestnuts –
buffed peel-able virgins

to be split by my heeled
crush – to an extraction
Along our crackling path
of bitter acorns – those

discarded ancient fruits
of last week’s storm –
we see where swung blades of gusts
broke a woodsman’s coppice


I am a tightrope walker
with my filled wheelbarrow
steered – nervous weights
before me – held dead-straight

You act as if you are
just another Harry Houdini
balanced above Niagara
for a long bet against gravity –
quivering inside – all of us do
when stepping so high

Such is fatherhood on days
of bowing mistakes
We have no diplomas
just higher circus learning –
without safety nets

Once More

There is such scant chance
of any long term escape
from your rusting suffixes
now all time is in a half-light

since your last offered dance
to your half-known songs
of romance –
you unstitched their looped lyrics
in your head

Love is not found in white lines
or knocked on hotel doors
or where an hour is charged
at exorbitant fuck-me rates

as underwear is slipped down
and another breath is felt hot
through a nipple-bitten-minute
of house rule-settings

before a stiff affirmation
of your being so beautiful
that feckless gauge of worth
which has been set

by years of dressing downs
within your three-way coven –
they fucked you up
and left you to look – still looking –
for more than them


Remember me when I am gone away, / Gone far away into the silent land
Christina Georgina Rossetti
[Goblin Market and other Poems, ‘Remember’]

You upset too many people –
you cannot recall their names

You speak too many times –
you imbue too much pain

You suck on charmed fruit
of ret love –
then spit out lies

You wonder where you’re going
as you stroke your sex-soaked thighs

You look in long-blown mirrors
to greet your red-eyed burns

as you undress another woman
to whom you cannot now return

You seek with rolled-back light
without seeing ageing truths

Consider an apology –
before you look twice to seduce

A Bench Without a Name

My core temperature
has dropped
a few points –
Yes – I do allow for
seasonal differences

All the while
working timepieces
make veridical turns
between here and there –
ever evenly placed

like fixed hard chairs
in another time-sucking surgery
Sit with me –
It’s cold outdoors –
Stay – before my reminder to move

to face a dog-tired doctor
sat in another swivel chair
He / She will be leant forward
squinting – screen-reading
throughout my consultation

This giving wooden bench
faces due south
as if aimed by a pagan
rather than – truthfully –
at that required angle

to watch a ghost-stepped
amateur football match
After sitting in so many
bright muzak rooms
my huge catalogue

of Chairs Used
in Waiting Rooms
is now complete
[cancer wards excluded –
touch wood!]
I am ready to be published

Stud imprints in dragged mud
and ball-thumping boots
have mashed this playing field –
churned those naked goalmouths
with a good old-fashioned kicking

Standing is not too easy these days –
my cold bones
and low moans meet
Let us get to another bench
to talk some more about life


End of Shift

This is my digging hand
at those exhausted seams
turned dust to dust
in my late soundless hour

to prop whatever up –
perhaps underpinnings
beneath presses of kilonewtons
into compressed layers

All this darkness was once painted –
as if in tar –
by a Welshman’s guided tour
through an exhausted mine –

it saw my hard-hat lamp-dim
and my eyesight drop
to where my father’s coughed up
black blood stuck – fool’s gold

Other dead men stand
in a wall-mounted photograph –
to tell of them and others who went to dig
at that hand-bared stuff

I will sit alone – propped by this revisiting hour
as my recall waits for sleep
to take me from my tunnelling


Thanks to Helen Ivory @nellivory for suggestions via National Writing Centre @WritersCentre

Care of AstroTurf

I am to return
to my adopted small-town
of mischievous lies –
laid out unmarked –
landmines left for me
to put my weight upon

Until then a tardy parade
of rental days in Golden Cross –
in my contracted place
with easy-to-keep
plastic grass and off-street

I will build a wooden porch
to sit upon – there to look back on
leases – my temporary places
from my bought viewpoint
above my adopted small-town

and there to lose sight
of other – older – agreements
left to other’s disabuse
with a sofa for my dog
and a hammock for me –
no need to put my burthen
on that small-town ground


Half a waking aspirin
now taken down
and half a headache –
again – left to take

but screw her –
with regret –
more than tight enough
to avoid any off-licence visits –
or as an underlining
of twisted sorts
before not enough of her
causes concern?

A woman in a dress –
high chested –
so highly-grippable
and sweet-kissed in red –
her designer label states –
Mis en bouteille en France

Passing Off

[F.F.S. NOTE: In memory of a part played by J.K. This was written after an actress had passed away – but really in memory of the character she played in LOTSW – so an extension of that character into death – after the actress playing her had died: An exercise in stretching thoughts on a dull and lonely day made slower by reading of others’ misfortunes. The character I am ‘grieving’ for was a hen-pecking (Northern) wife chasing down her feckless husband – god only knows what effect it all had on her fictional family (never seen). No more misdirected anger if it gets misappropriated, again, please.]


Being a matriarch
was propounded as her


in their first draft
of an online obituary

Mourners hovered
and affixed false posts

marking up an ever-altering

Her kids had been suckled
under a tarnished scent

and they never lost their
fear of men


We were not taught
how to erase –
how best to rub out –
how to remove errors –
instead – we were told to
Put a line through it

Those eye-ruled
mistakes –
our slight aberrations
in our cobbled
They were honest flaws

Being seen to fail
won gold stars
against your name
on that constant chart
stuck rewards

Now we suffer
others’ comments –
sickly – green-ish –
spilt on social media
We are ink-stained
No dabs of blotting paper


Those mob-mindful
leaders –
your haters –
your righteous orators
have raised
their volume to that
once of The Left

They mop up swathes
of disaffected souls
in insolent heartlands
by underhand sales
of hope on Amazon

Post to Facebook your prizes

And Left-Wing resentments
seem to threaten more
than resolve

as old moderations are now
spoken of as if weaknesses
in politics – else whipped

Extreme measures
are needed

Politics is now a
vomiting disease

A Fly

Their work is a helix
of holding patterns

A vexed blackhead on
a narrowing radar

Making no sense
to us

Look across its eyes
at your broken reflection

Pass over its light speed
of thinking centrifuges

Be left behind
on our side of thought

We are not quick enough
to read their flight plans

We are fixed lives –
we are their filth givers

Medication Due Notification

My medication-taking
app’s notification rattles
as if shattered bones
pummeled in a bag –

like marbles shook
in school uniform pockets
to test competitors’ nerves –

as sudden as foul complaints
in response to
an unexpected doorbell –

it hits out – shattering at
a kid-tipped glass of panics –

like a parent’s blunt trill
of oft-repeated commands –

and it is a wake-up-to-me alarm –

sometimes fresh maracas in year six –

and then its repeat is more equal
to all of that mentioned before


Our Cemetery of Companions

You will allow yourself
to re-settle
into old comforts
on his threadbare sofa

and then enter into
a layered removal
from this other man
full of arguments –

from a disagreeable
who lives uneasily
by designing trip hazards
and elephant traps

In that room air will double
beyond that level
required for meditation
and a balanced life

Find a neutral buoyancy
by letting your lungs
half-fill with his kisses
Do not sink to him