Into the Trees

Under the trees we find the path –
that one we missed last time –
and climb above the flood plain
on which – five miles downstream –
fools build fifty-four homes

We are now in nature’s green skin
where branches and hand-propped boughs
form unfinished rough shelters –
these experiments and adventures
decay to an undesigned usefulness

Further on the slunked gully runs –
here kids built mud and stick dams
until a wire fence was erected
and that sucking and silting stream
was blocked from the apprentices

The track is beaten and heat-cracked
which encourages youngsters on bikes
to take the risks we also under took –
but we hadn’t the engineered machines
on which they hurtle as fearless riders

The trees reverberate with monkey calls
and the shrill complaint of a lost child –
it is as if the internet doesn’t exist
as the off stage scramble of children
escalates – not quite Lord of the Flies.

Your Photos

A phone captured moment
of your recent childhood –
which I am guilty
of having forgotten –

until you put it up
on our shared channel –
our stored histories
were then brightly reignited

But for too short a time –
for the flare of a match –
again another lost curl
of extinguished recall

From the Gift Shop

In the dream there were scatterings
of things you had bought and then kept

Small gifts from a trip which were never given –
a sprinkle of purchased intentions

I bent with ease to pick each one up
and being of sleep they adjusted
to become other things and other thoughts

On waking I re-assembled the slim moments
from yesterday that my slept mind had touched

– I had briefly looked at a snapped picture of you
from that shortness of unschooled innocence
that age when we inhabit a world so small

– I sat in the sun on a hard garden bench
with my awareness shrunk to that of children
into only considering that which I could see –
down to that hemisphere of no more than a step

– Momentarily I had thought about a family trip
That was a rarity then and more so now

– An ugly fly landed on my emptied plate
but there was a jewel’s quality to the intricacies
of the fly’s translucent wings and rolled eyes –
an emerald’s glint as it fed on microcosms

We no longer stride the globe of our forbears –
that inheritance which childhood soon sheds

Our interests and eyes wander too wide
and so we stop seeing into the eyes of flies

The Old Boy


Grandfather was of a slipped generation,
with his Bakelite twirled-to radio stations,
tuned to his low-hums of orchestras,
and his wound-up clock, the western sutra,

its regular pendulum his hands-free baton,
conducting his lonely tea mornings taken,
until he rolled his guard-rattling Raleigh,
out of the garage, always wordlessly,

for his brief progress to priest-led prayers,
down to the hymns and those-that-care:
His trouser leg rolled, clipped, chain-safe,
he pedalled away to kneel at God’s place.

I re-delivered The Guardian newspaper,
to his emptied room, our in-house neighbour:
In such regular times I’d take a sneak,
a look inside The Old Boy’s suite:

His removed life lived behind two doors,
the only bedroom with parquet-floors,
in that other place, not fully his own,
his free chapel, there, prayers alone,

beside his shelves of impossible books,
Schweitzer tallest amongst hardbacks,
some with his dead wife’s dated name,
but no further indications of her ever being:

That forensic examination of his living space,
with my untrained eye, I made mistakes,
I never read well his folds or light marks,
which re-leafed books do often impart:

I now decipher those responses readers erect,
I am nearing his last age, and he gains my respect.


Projection Booth


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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.