I contemplate
setting it all to

(even my
rum scuttle of thoughts
from toils)

By cutting connections
to swealing news
on my device

By undoing clicks
to remove agitation
and find a hermitage –

perhaps a bolted
with my tumbler locks

We cannot blunt their knives
We cannot nullify politicians
of any kind –

they who
make us into banshees
and howl monkeys

When that switch
is flicked
you will not hear me

Off Botolph’s Bridge

This sweated disease
follows me – streaming
from her hip-rucking
bent-to rippled mounds

Her rusty dampness
is still felt overly sticky –
skin to skin – still fixed
by memory’s boiled glue

Should my rare time
be given over to therapy
This is no rehearsal
et cetera – et cetera

I find myself stood
in a profited landscape
of farmed reclamation
and named drains

Boy racers play double dare
along reverse-laid cambers
as us much older drivers
tut tut tut at such

Here – in my Sussex gut –
is a hiding place
from her
with a rural life to drown in

Throw me off
Lower Wall Road
and let me float face down
as far as Hythe’s sea wall

A Lepers Squint

Our pew is set for untouchables
We watch through a hewn leper squint
That tunnelled sightline was gouged
by your dust-bitten youth and old men

to ensure that we filthy sufferers
are kept out of your hallowed house
of slung beams – of struck stones –
of holy words – we cannot speak out

My prayers rip up before they finish
I dribble red spit from my curled lip
I implore for my ill disfigurement
to plague your stonemason’s next kiss

3 Words for Love

For A.

Firmness re-surfaced – as if a pulled cork re-floated
to lift itself – as she drank wine

Honest blood runs in her veins – not diluted – not fluid algorithms
Her dilating pupils cannot lie

Stoic words – she kisses them – not economical with thought –
not selfish – not over-protective

Three words for love – in French and in English –
form on my lips as my mouth dries

Last Dance

You were a low-slung
holdall of hot tears
in my useless arms

like those strained bags
of fairground goldfish –
ones eventually flushed

Not my choice of dance
either – in an empty place
at this time of life –

too much to yearn
after your choosing
of others’ routines?

Another unasked
question left to quell
as my discomfort rises

Seller’s remorse kicks in
as you consider my
boxed up possessions?

Do not answer me
and score higher points
of pity from our audience

Let me leave untouched
without your wept stains
on my dropped shoulders

as salted marks of high rank –
which you had removed
in a previous court-martial

War Poets

Paul Verlaine’s Chanson d’automne
was coded – still popular poetry –
to give notice –

his long sobs of French-sung violins
declared an Allied invasion
to those listening

Whilst she never understood speeches
of love – and our common
mistakes –

I would rarely read to her – she rarely read
my mutterings – my weight-pared

She never understood what was being said
She found poetry too difficult
Her own résistance




One hushed minute is mine
around our slept-still house
as tea scabs cold in my mug
beside my unloaded bed
My asset of sleep is long lost
Me – not being cocky enough
to walk naked and scratch
Me – not wanting to unearth
all that has been lost overnight
Yesterday’s choice of clothes
is such proof of my new ways
now there is no inquisition
or other solutions – I love it
Such sluttery no longer matters

Our Last Frost in Sussex

08:24 and I am touching that poke of a cold God
under unornamented woods
now contained by us – for the good of us

February is sugared overnight – here underfoot
The stripped hedgerow is briefly lit – crowned
by the blinding hour

Those umber-dipped high stick fingers
touch that very last of His
visible burnt presence

Along a raised path – my short timber route
over flood-expectant meadows – a convenience
for us dog walkers – commuters – drunkards

It has a ship’s complaint under my overweight –
a seaworthy distrust of an unstrapped cargo
My stick a peg leg poke across her slippery deck

Greater tussock sedges – rare Sussex clumps of grass
are green icebergs – gathered – they wait for an onslaught
by knotweed and other foreigner floods in this field

after the cold-breath time has been put aside – quicker
with each warmer year – a woodpecker stopped
in Buxted – 08:32

First Love

For NK

Ten minutes past five
That date to be etched
The timing – pre-teen –

verging on adult –
he told her he loved her
with a kiss and a grip
His surfacing from under

where he’d long hid
with his mumbled voice
to be heard in this world
above that white noise

He sensed her missed beats
and then brought her love –
his simple offering
which was more than enough