Fruits and Suites

We washed in an avocado-coloured bath –
we had never tasted that foreign fruit
back in nineteen-seventy-two – or three –
we were lucky to get to peel tangerines

It was a plastic suite – uneasily creaking
with our scales of weights of our pre-teen
occasional visits – each darkly recorded
by layered rings of both dirt and soap –

but warm with the water – no cold steel
or enamel suck – a discomfort favoured
by our TV-fashioned homemakers –
but – one hears – green baths are back

For a Pot of Paint

The tall bay window
is our empty white frame –
on the front of this home
of unshuttered shame –

but now winter-battered –
past my amateur repair –
the paint has flaked off
through changes out there –

The weather has whipped it
in layer-thrashed strokes –
like the blistered hull
of a forgot-turned boat –

with a peeled underbelly
for so long undressed –
it has been left unsealed
losing sea-worthiness

No sensible man
would sail in her –
he would never return –
she is so unfair


These are such long hours
in this slumbered house –
that only I ever know –

so being only mine to own
when the wall clocks talk
to no one else but me –

there is no competition
for chairs or channels
as the left alone wifi flows –

I unlock the back door
and let the dawn air flood
the breath-staled room

shorting the summer’s heat
that had been held over
from another day now gone –

which was all that remained
of a small part of my history –
a short story I’ll never repeat.

Early Rising

I let the cool air in over the parquet floor –
my temporary mistress for these few hours
before the sun fucks her rude heat
back into our brick and glass box

I said we’d need blinds to counter this
warming of the morning face of the house
But my pronouncements were stale –
like unpalatable coffee breath kisses

In the room without windows we had sheltered
from the fallout of this sky-dropped summer –
there for an evening of radiation off the TV
which in itself fed the ice-threatening heat

At this hour the bedooms are containers
of the sheet-shoved and half turned over –
where the poorly slept bodies simmer
and adjust to itched consciousness

It is only five o’clock but the sun has risen
at this point on the turned earth’s surface –
Soon there will be words about the weather
and requests to fix the sprinklers will be made


A bare bulb hangs by two wires
over the bathroom mirror
as a reminder of his absence
with that unfinished fitting

I walked between the rooms he built
and am now that rare ghost
having flown back to my home
of other incomplete projects

The future is never reached
as we flounder with tools to build
our small palaces and shrines
in which we wander on our way to die

The Long View

I’ve relocated my drawing desk –
we lugged it to the front room
where it hogs the bay window
with the intended long view

I now spot parents and fat kids
off to retail therapists with bags –
I watch them plod down the slope
to then return – to ascend slacked

My foreground is neatly fenced
by neighbouring OAP purgatory
where septuagenarians snooze
in the blind-fitted conservatory

There none visit the anchored few
who shimmy on wheels and frames
to and from their short destinations
of bed to table and then board games

My own rest home is a slow torture
of afternoon sunlight through glass
but it is my now my preferred option –
I have a better canvas – of sorts.

A Letter Home

I do not see this shaded life ending –
that which is being set forth by you
A plan of my restraint from expectation

to make me more comfortable
in a low shelter erected inside our home –
to protect you all from my hideous storms

I will not be laid out in the front room
in a God-awful wake of thirty years –
my very meaning slept away each night –

making daylight a drawn prelude to sleep
That is not my life – it cannot be the way
to feed my dignity and the thought of me

Wireless Night

04 19 marks this moment
which I share with you –
but I am still alone –
being single in a double bed
with a radio programme
and a mug of cooled tea –
My early hours are confused
by the distortions taking place –
This is a flight over deep seas
which are as hard as land –
My window was rattled up hours ago
to let the air in overnight
which is now laced by bird song
at 04 29



They say that there is a ghost
in every old house

That frigorific forms will rise
to meet with warm blood
and damp bones

an attraction

almost a magnetism

It is beyond any control

Love is a heavy haunting
which we meet unexpectedly
in bars and dark bedrooms

The ghost I knew was cold

which I did not tell the kids

She troubled the shadows
of our chattering family home

Late in the night I would run
three flights of stairs
the adult
fucking scared

Box Set

We are drunk-slumped
drugged by red wine
and the wide screen
into the L-shaped sofa

that and the sequential playback
of episodes long ago watched

It is a life now rewound
made so unstoppable
by a misplaced remote

Time no longer exists
for us
the once-tuned
to watersheds and news
played only on the hour

We don’t pace ourselves
with the TV breaks

Instead it’s consumed
in bibulous retakes

The House my Father Built

I am still weighted by the dream
of a house being built
by my long-dead father –
but it wasn’t him – but some stand-in –
and the details in the windows –
where colour was etched to capture
the hills and home of deer –
so that the past could be lined-up
with the correct view and angle –
A small leak in the high roof
and paint trod into the carpet
and cut timber remained
and an improbable kitchen –
which we mentioned lightly –
and was likened to a shooting range –
he had been a good shot


The Ending

They gather, again,
after an endless week
of slow commutes
and old complaints,
about train operators
and these long dog days,
but tonight, all together,
returned to the village,
at the cricket ground,
propped on folding chairs,
or in heel-rocked groups,
gripping their quick pint,
and here too those
time-battered wives,
the stay-behinds,
who attempt to hide
their underlined eyes
behind bag-sized
designer sunglasses:
Here, outscoring,
by the pint-poured pavilion,
they size up the weekend
and, again, get slightly pissed
before they return,
at dusk, with burnt-out kids,
to their pleasure domes,
still on loan, as is the car,
and all that they know.

Sick Note

No, I do not regularly
commute away to work,
or to pushy schools,
or sumptuous trips alone,
and there meet others,
and interact, deeply,
with so many people
in an assortment of places,
for assorted pleasures:
So I badly escape,
to the same rough places,
for a coffee, or beer,
and then slowly return,
usually at the call
of my freelance work.
I am always here. Alone.


The backlit curtain hesitates
across the open window,
with the inhale, exhale, breeze
it moves on the unintended axis,
creating a dragged complaint
of man-made materials,
an almost-radio sound effect –
of the turn of Edwardian ladies,
or the inflate of doldrum sails,
perhaps a man’s last breaths,
and here I will lie, behind them,
putting off the shift called Sunday.

First Hour

I boot-up from an ill-night,
one of disturbances, of pain,
under unpolished dreams,
to the unnecessary brightness
now lighting domestic chaos:
my slept agitation seeps
across the bathroom, bedroom,
and then mills about, recalcitrant.
I carry over the dreamt infection
into the first hour of each day,
my crude night’s spilt-illness
will dissipate, but only under
woken, worked-on, distractions.


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.

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


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.

Mrs. M

Risen, our ghost,
on this landing,
her, embalmed,
our prior owner,
wishing to leave,
without asking,
M. reduced
by a buried composure,
slighted under
daylight’s exposure.

Our eldest child
met her in his room,
dark, spectred,
unexpected there:
he slumped back
to sleep’s deep rheum,
in doing so she slipped,
rent back to air:
our review made her
his dreamt-slept affair.



Another day of distances
at my complicated desk,
a world, yet to be seen,
here conjured, cuff-rolled
under my sleights of hand;
I am a whore for every hour
at this, my digital alchemy,
turning fixed ones and zeros
into other fools’ short gold:
And when their rush passes,
designs met, now unamended,
I can then draw out my words

across other complications.

Naked Killer Dolls

One could stand by herself,
being a Pedigree model,
but her voice had gone,
her real hair discoddled,

knots of locks trimmed
by nibbling vermin.
Two dolls from the loft
in one box, both hiding:

I brought them down,
as found, unbidden,
with rolled back eyes:
old toys, MADE IN BRITAIN.

From the same place
a thin negro doll,
but more limbs missing,
no hands to hold.

They sit mute and watchful,
reading us, the shocked,
with unabashed stares
and glass-eye looks.

We play tricks on the kids,
which becomes quite droll,
the unexpected placing of
those naked killer dolls.


Fear of Climbing

I have my inner tremor,
my lower jaw mumbles,
my right hand joins in,
connectedness concurs
to plot, and I cannot
easily climb the stairs,
instead piss in the garden
the less-stepped option –
until this house (for-the-fit)
is re-made, is bomb-proofed
to the extents it can be,
because I cannot live
like this and still be,
I’ll not let inched timbers
and imperial bricks unsettle me.

Peace and War

Dad never tossed politics ‘gainst Him,
never pitched loud against Our Lodger,
perhaps that’s why He located again,
my liberal-leaning Grandfather,
who moved on quick, so soon after

He won a third wife, and her home,
a short cul-de-sac in Ottershaw,
embracing a widow, no more alone:
A new step-mother for Dad to endure,
for Dad to meet, and to peacefully enure.


Five Bar

At our five bar gate,
with the quick-trap latch,
uneven in closing,
mis-fitted, ill-aligned,
is where I stood,
with a long view of your
approaching sadness,
and you stopped to talk,
after a usual pleasantry;
but then you gave to me
your knave-held cards,
a pair of bastard men,
living in different houses:
There I stood equal
to their low value,
in other dealings,
under different stakes:
I had to express doubt
in your maybe-boyfriends,
exposing their bluff,
as mine was once dealt.



For BM

She is the girl next door,
there, ever-mirrored
either putting on
or, unequally, taking off
the considerations
of make-up, between
the piled demands of
revisions and homework
and the shouldering
of pressure – be correct,
even among friends:
her childhood is now
hung, stored, boxed;
she, these days, dictates
her wardrobe choice:
of what is to be kept,
or what is to be thrown.


Projection Booth


In the airless cupboard
of our sixties new-build,
in that three storey house,
up on the second floor,
we gathered, brothers,
to delight in the wonders
of the boxed projections,
a Chad Valley picture show
of Thunderbirds Are Go;
with fat batteries loaded,
like dad’s shotgun cartridges,
in the spring-tight blue barrel,
and then, a twist of focus,
our slide show began,
on the whitewashed wall:
Us on a shelf, in the warm.

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.

Gift of God

The scent of jasmine,
there contrived,
placed along our path,
around this front door,

taking me
to that backdoor,
where a blackbird nested,
in an accidental
frame of the same vine;

I wasn’t tall enough to see in,
but a partial view was secured
by a discarded egg,
and later, a bonus, for me,
just a kid, a fledgling, dead.

Door Stops

I was up with the light air
before this day’s sunrise
as the heat broke    with
a burglar’s threat

but just

itch-shifting curtains on the sash
and a thud    by the unseen flow
further through the house
which had to be examined
a door to be stopped

because the kids would not

they would sleep through
anything   like this intrusion
of a breeze’s soft thuds

Is Hitler in Heaven?

Red wine, theology,
and a bowl of crisps,
our take on Corinthian’s

We analysed religion,
and the weight of faith,
passed the bloody wine,
and snacked on belief.

At which point does
‘His’ forgiveness begin,
after we alt-delete
our cache of sins?

What would you think,
once through the gates,
coming upon Hitler
in that forgiving place?


Another slumped sofa stretch
of cushion-pushed impressions,
indents, formed by your unloading:
a day lost, switched off, no movement,
except the brief wrist-lift of your iphone.

Stroking, seeing, other scrolled-worlds
of individual broadcasts, pictures,
hourly-worded eulogies, reporting from
their kitchen table, or visited bars
in other places, from moving friends.


Gravel Voices

Gravel Voices

Jean’s gravel route,
no different to ours,
just an over-the-road

Trodden, it sounds like
a pre-school shaker,
the one the lucky kids
were given.

across her driveway,
whilst our one,
a road width closer,

is louder recall
of kid-invaded,
beach steps,
when shingle slid

into the curled
picnic rug’s weave,
as our burnt parents
pebble-pinned it all.




We are, both, naked, bedded,
but still winter duvet-pinned,
the throaty pigeons’ monologue,
our only laid-in disturbance.

Outside, the town is still,
no step, truck, rush,
beyond the open sash –
the first warm night this year.

Two ten pound leads engaged,
those roped-in counterweights,
taking that window’s wind-rattle,
now the immobile heat has arrived.

The kids, old enough to sleep into light,
one more hour, we say, without agreeing,
to anything else, even with us being
naked, pinned, and laid.

Airport Lounge


Another flight home,
in the Alicante lounge;
my temporary carers,
beyond the call,
pool-restored my soul.

Us, there, air-side,
grazing on rolls:
the same arrayed-dish
from thirty years earlier:

Back then, alone,
on the run,
a station,
somewhere in Spain,
I was rattled south
on the RENFE train:

taking lunch,
a flight-stopped
guard’s whistle;
now, lounging,
my time-travelled.



More Coughing

Sleeping downstairs
Ain’t fun,
You don’t fall asleep
With anyone;
Just the tick of the clock,
On the mantelpiece,
And the sigh of the dog,
As she dreams of sheep.
Reflux has become
Our threesome joy:
Upright to trick
My cough’s annoy:
My hack is enough
To disturb the peace,
Of rest-less wife’s
Croup-broken sleep.

One is expected to fall

With this condition
One is expected to fall;
I have, before,
But a stupid, pre-dx, trip,
Over string in your stable:

And that time,
You my eldest girl,
Held my arm to lift me.

Now, delivering you to your digs,
You warned me of many steps,
And refused my offer of a lift.
I am so happy with this deal.

The Feature

We meekly retreated
From the Picture House trip,
Me, in distraction,
Rewound, tightened grip.

First, I slipped-out,
From the retrospective;
I hid in the Gent’s,
Stiff limbs to forgive.

Fatigue staining my heart,
When I hide this broke,
Intermission then beamed.
We left, for my health.

‘Cross the High Street,
You guided, then a pull;
Early journey home,
Is a feature of all.

Pells Pool By Night, 1980s

For Clair May.

She would climb the wall,
under lost summer-light:
A crisp swallow-dive,
the thrill-chill of night:

Leftover, chalked-up,
mean temperature,
meant nothing to her,
dusk-dip, cold, venturer.

Surfacing, ripple-waking,
false mirror’s stretch;
she gripped, bump-naked,
the pool’s hard edge:

A rough-laid return,
like a lover’s slap,
then conscious of time,
breast-stroke elapsed:

Lifted, from the water,
wet moon on her skin,
she wore Pells Pool,
back home, again.

It Was..

Old friend, you are now aged fifty-two,
a wonderful place to embrace the view:
A whole (long) year ahead of me,
For just a month (in honesty):

Reflect, briefly, time’s ‘whinged-chariot’,
or accept this life, our winged-allot:
Life in the fifties, with God in sight,
We men weigh-up, stand, and fight:

Cruel dictat, of gravity and beer,
will loosen belts, off hips, I fear:
But as we strive, to put food on the plate,
we should recall what made us ‘great’:

Interest and passions – kept us awake,
intrigues and fashions – were our mistakes;
cars and fags, blowing cash on brands,
looking for life, in beer-gripped hands:

The future halted at thirty-something?
Our past-present once, so-comforting:
Now we live, no long-gone mistakes,
the future unfixed, we shall still be great.


then add lightness”*,
a code we could
all adopt,
when bringing up
our kids,
now their innocence
is lost:

swiped tablets,
by smart-fix,
these children,
this generation,

[*Colin Chapman:  Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman CBE (19 May 1928– 16 December 1982) was an influential English design engineer, inventor, and builder in the automotive industry, and founder of Lotus Cars.
Full Wikipedia here ]

Target Practice

The gun’s stock, lifted, too long,
Putting the cold trigger beyond;
Still, he adjusted, feet, hands, gait;
Finding the gun’s balanced weight.

Targets – a propped-tile in white,
Two tossed bottles, and a down pipe;
Easily in range, he shot, low-missed;
Long-sight dropped by trigger-pull twist.


February’s dull flatness, a planing-wind,
Lifted my past, and Dad, again;
Reluctant to share lone-hunt-time away,
With a cold-chattered boy, as I did today.

I lifted Dad’s shotgun, with safety flicked,
To my shoulder’s larger, better fit:
Over-under, aimed at the silent-drey;
I, too, missed my target that day.


Now? I have no need for sleep!
I kid myself: struggling to reap
Sunlight’s low-wan humour;
avoiding then, dark room suture.

You asked me to stop reading (in bed):
‘Monologue’ would be better said;
The subject, not my voice, too trying:
So to myself, in well-spoken silence.

Twelve hours lain, three of sleep,
My long standby, a low power cheat;
I wake to re-design, across my life,
You may struggle to be the same wife.


Today, it finally hit me as I headed home, ache-lagged.
But, as a child I was called ‘Bell-fast’:
A short-lived nickname on the long walk to school,
because my stride got me there in record time:
One ‘The Guinness Book of..’ never cared about.

There was a hedge-thatched ditch,
a slow shallow run of ore-orange silt,
along part of that route to and from school,
(‘before the motorway was built’)
I would not get sucked in, I was walking too fast.

Except one day, rare-slowed, I pulled a fossil from the stream:
A heavy stone, shaped as if a pear, but halved, sliced clean,
stamped with an ancient leaf, it seemed.
Lifted from that school-route ditch,
I wondered then, ‘why me’, with that find;
as I shuffle now, I wonder ‘why me’, again.

By The Indian Ganges Side

A week gone, with only texts
to connect with you:
Floating wishes
along the Indian Ganges.
I chose your shampoo,
lathered before your arrival;
shower-boxed, you returned,
in my touch:
Foam-smell, brought you back,
on my fingers, off that longed-trip,
I was no longer alone.

Pint Pot

A brief beize, over-slated, evening,
Of eight ball pool, but none sinking:
‘My eyes not in,’ a lame excuse;
So the next pint is put to use:

I need that ale-tippled judgement,
To relieve me from re-worked rent:
Traces of the paid-day’s designs,
In CAD-fagged furrows, sunk brow-lines.

Five decades worth of quick-inked pens,
Aligned to re-drafted dull drawings;
To delete my damn commissions,
I pot daily-versed-admissions.

Young Americans

Our neighbours’ kids, aged about three,
Both hit a high ball, ‘Pitch it!’ (Yankees).
We used to bowl spinners, on the same grass;
‘Home runs’, their small aim, a swipe so hard.
I prefer to time my boycotted sessions,
To take me to tea, with no umpires questioned:
‘Parkinson’s Rule’ never allows a fair draw:
Let’s aim for a long game, so I can bat on some more;
In a few good summers, ten at least,
I’ll have taught those kids to pitch on the crease.



A three-pinted stagger home,
Drunk (slightly), diseased (mainly);

Fish dinner, paper-wrapped,
Bottled comfort, polythene-stretched.

Back to the new place, still on loan.
Red wine, braced, a chink-reminder

To book our hangover, in advance.
Sodium glow on the twitten ahead,

Re-introduced trip hazards:
My evening bagged with bellied-bounty.

Can I speak?

Can I speak, now, for England?
(With the mild-righteous-bigots).
I offer my shaking hand,
Will my words make you drop it?

The Daily Mail, font-large-loudly,
Upper-cased, Albion-proudly;
My senses report old fears,
That one day no one will hear.

Middle class, Middle Europe,
We are all re-washed ashore:
We bled before, war-tore lives,
Fail with fresh jingo-writ lies.


Greased up sky hooks: 
I stood nervous, plan-wrought;
local endeavour 
on hired-in winches:
Two ratcheted wires, 
stretched hard, tremor-taut;
traction, sweat-steaming, 
in scaff-rolled inches.

Sunday elbowed,
across two properties,
to a final sleeper-laid
place (as planned):
I thank all the friends 
who moved to achieve,
that five-metered shift
where my shed now stands.

Tea drunk hot, our toast
to slow-completion,
Of success,
with only minor complaints:
A few inflamed backs,
odd-blistered lesions.
Thank you neighbours,
whom I upgrade to saints.


Hear now my diurnal ritual,
Rhyme-rammed verse,
freely posted to all:
Vibrated-hyphenated set words,
Each one’s telling,
moves me slow forward.

End-of-day’s reversed writ-shift,
Looking back
and writing of it,
Wherever that place may be,
Now, inner stings
the last thing I feel:

Disconnects my illness,
by odd scan;
Each poke of thumb on screen, held in hand,
Exercise booked,
the re-tapping note:
I am what you read, a daily poet.

Advice to my children

– the place you need find on earth,
in every breath,
from your fixed date of birth:

But what if you’re told
your fixed date of death?
For valid opinion?
Ask the blade-necked thief.

Should you be thinking,
as a condemned man?
You are kneeling
on the same shifting-sand.

How hard is it to live,
without waiting,
Engaged in your (own)
moment of making:

Satisfied with your time
of well-being,
– when you are truly seeing.


It is the thing we make our parents do,
Or do to them: mortal-shuffle-moves,
To sheltered, or ‘down-sized’ flats:
We clear out all the past they had:
Lined-times on shelves, in towered attic-stacks,
Life’s trophies-won, ‘just dust-magnets’.

We slow-pack our home, one we filled over time,
Finding the ‘stuff’, which is ‘yours’ or ‘mine’;
Quick black-bagged, high street dropped,
To the worthy-option of charity shops:
Except for an item, saved without words,
Donating that toy would really hurt.

In thirty years, our life-reduction planned,
When we are being down-size manned,
By our children, and their loved-ones too,
They will wring their hands, as we now do:
That plastic teapot they’ll find in the loft:
today’s poured memories of time we’d lost.

You Will Know

You will know you’re truly old
when all dear friends are dead

I am citing Clive James –
quoted –
often misread

I will not be defined ‘old’
when my step forward is short
promenading with shuffles –
reduced stride –

You may presume I’m old
when my flat-repeat of words
are ‘politely’ ignored

Then I’m misheard – my verse

No –
I will never be old –
re-define your count of time

I will breathe in youth’s warm air
and avoid stiffened rhyme


Moving My Shed

Plans made today, to move my shed:
turn, pull, place, via grease-sleeper sled.

Tirfors engaged, off discussed points:
Fears for the shed’s, and my stiff joints.

Stress on structures – bodies and boards
– distributed off two steel cords.

To then be towed, in slow-motion;
slow-drawn drags, on fag-backed notions.

Each inch of shifting-movement, slow,
a daunting five metres to tow.

All grinding, groaned slid hours we pull,
could conspire in my sledged-shed’s fall.

Minor Injuries

Home, to a greeting child, wrist-wrapped, dog-bit:
Then travel (fast) to an M.I. unit.
The waiting room, a car-crash, filled stiff chairs,
In charge: the triage nurse’s contused stares.

I fill out, biro, an NHS form:
Photocopied boxes ticked, facts informed.
Overhead, thirty inches of TV :
Patients dosed-down with free reality:

‘Loose Women’ (giggling about men in sheds),
Here the nursing staff avoid blocking beds.
My child is soon repaired, by a gowned saint,
The punctures cleaned, with dabbed iodine paint.

Heading back home, child slung and bandaged-tight,
Proud of our small country doing us right:
Him: ‘In America that’ve cost lots!’,
Me: ‘In the UK it’ll soon be lost’.

Moving Day

Corrugated boxes:
brown-wound, tape-thread,
(but, still, our move,
is a whole
month ahead);

This life:
shoved into one room:
all slid-in, piled-up,
unequally stacked.

A cache,
of paper-piled histories,
reveals in unboxed

A bag of creased letters,
now read-behoved,
you looked again,
and left, briefly,


Our first frost this winter was late:
Stealing every colour,
long after Christmas:
Ageing-nature Santa-silver,
but too tardily for the kids’
seasonal wonder.

Cursed instead
by unreadied gardeners,
caught sleeping,
as the mild-winter dipped
back into its old ways:

When The Thames was locked;
under a hard-beauty for weeks,
and even the huddled fires,
could not melt
that frost.


[For Clair May, On Our Wedding Anniversary 31st December 2015]

This gone decade, avowed, witnessed, signed,
your white dress, my suit, hung, long-aligned.

Our large shared-bed (often slept-distrait),
is spirit-levelled by deep dream-spates.

Write those pledges (our private conceits):
Words on pillows and cotton-rich sheets.

Marriage slept in a bed of our choice,
Our vows renewed in our sleep-shared voice.

Night Shifts

I will sit kitchen-stooled,
until just before five,
having jolt-woken at two,
(eyes sleep-slump, too wide).

At these, irregular,
single-digit typed hours,
I dawn-patrol,
gliding, with low-level powers.

Our dog, bed-dead, sleeps
through my keyed low-chatter clicks,
as I tap my life out in,
sequential-stroked hits.

Daily poems, built up,
is my concise crossword:
Lined arguments with gods,
my solution – verb-blurred.

Insomnia 56 – Aged 51

To acre-wide halls, in Birmingham’s inner guts,
With ring-roaded shorn verges, of yard-placed shrubs:
I am here for a busman’s brief holiday:
Booth-trooped through Hall 3, for my youngest’s game play.

Wrist-wrapped with Day Passes; and my fourth child shines,
This, his Nirvana, a gold (Minecraft-ed) shrine.
‘Do you see their addiction?’ I ask a dad,
Stood too in solemn duty, his face spend-sagged.

From across the hall , a shrill-scream, voiced en-masse:
A Minecraft gamer is iphone-snapped,
His soul is hired out in selfies as thanks,
His signature a contract for our cash in his bank.

We return to the show, with my stick-clicked walk,
My youngest beside me; more game-playing talk.
His love of this, my complained hall-hell,
Is the reminder to me that all is well.

This we will succumb to, for our kids’ delight,
(Pleasure is best supped when served up right).
The childhood I lost, before the web’s weave,
Is no longer the one I wish to retrieve.

A to Z

Our stop-go drive across London’s blocked sprawls,
Was a late night re-circling of ‘my round’:
A pumped-pint history of spilt-bitter fools,
I reviewed that compendium, new-found*.

My tale: a tatty, once-thumbed A to Z,
Of bars, en-route, where I sipped-up my youth.
I dozed, again, asleep in strangers’ beds:
Drunk kisses, sour love, then alarm-sobered truth.

Vest-men lay white lines, on jigsaw tarmac:
Their no-go queue, our no sat-nav rat-run,
Past my re-let home, no more doubling-back:
Suburbia’s last road map of all undone.

*amend advised by @Lloyd_Cole 15-12-15

First Place

At school, a rough painting
of my father, in green:
His shotgun, an accurate detail,
hung arm-broke,
With empty breech, unloaded,
exposed, gun-oil-clean.
He shift-slept: even through
my demanding brush-stroke.

In my paints he towered
over a fictional ditch:
At an earlier age
I’d mastered the pen flow,
Of flood-cut riverbanks:
grass-tufted shallow cliffs.
Mr (Welsh) Williams enthused:
‘get it into the show’.

I forgot the competition,
in Addlestone:
I was told, later,
I won: first in the contest:
They’d called my name,
but I was drawing at home:
Fighting for my sibling place,
and coming third-best.

On Waking, Again.

In this (revisited) moment my eyelids are caustic,
stung-rubbed corneas, awake, weighted-down,
by an utter exhaustion,
(which sleep, these days, fails to cure).

I, drug-succumbed, to such high views,
from unclouded dream-peaks:
then wading, unaided, each half-flooded
unmapped valley of sleep:

where such side-effected,
vast dreams, broadcast through the night,
to my disconnected self:
every time, more real, when I can move, like old.

But flat rigidity, offered, again, at 5am,
is a sluggard-waking, on misty un-rolled downs,
off the sleep-state – providing no more shelter,
from exposure, to my forever-reigning pain.

A Path in Israel

It was a path from another time,
your enquiry made of an ant-marched line.
Crossing the equally-engineered trails,
we both avoided the unearthed rails.

You, eldest boy, chatting alongside,
on the rough-route, where Ruti had cried.
Your uncle asleep in this blown-thin soil.
Alone in this god-land, an empty black voile.

The gate sounded out metallic complaints,
I showed you the place where your uncle waits.
Our talk is subdued by the hand-carved curves,
our name cries out over foreign words.