Public Bar

Six collies stitched
an unseen thread
among the table legs
of the public bar

more dogs than drinkers

but the pub was good

and the beer sat well
as we touched again

Then on the forecourt
we pressed mouths
in a guilty kiss
tasting of bitter and gin


And these awakenings roll
from stones into movement

of cruel stretches to unlock
my fixed hands from the straps
of an accelerated illness

as my skin crawls with insects
within the scratched at tingled layers

and no tablet on earth can fix
the inner unrubbed itch

no cream can offer emulsion
enough to bleach the nettle beaters

except her mouth on mine
and a foreign breath to confuse


The daily rituals return
like when I took
the wooden rule

not quite up to the job

that knobbled edge to run
my fountain pen against

the over excited Indian ink
would leave me to blot

those small stains
are inverted now
found on my sleeve

the toothpaste specks
are my page-ready mistakes
as I bend to this sink
making good this new day

to lay out
line by line
my life

Old scars

she loosened him
like you do to a ripe scab
with a quick pick

and each time she contributed to that flesh mark he had upon her

that white scar
brought vivid by sun admissions
never burn-protected
just almost
cancer’s low cat flap
under which he crawled
to grow
inside her