I am being squeezed from the middle
like a sink-side tube of stale emollient
or that holiday-returned toothpaste –

and you wonder – out loud but wordless –
why I smile less – as if I am a dullard –
a Charlie Brown kept in his place by you –
an always right Lucy van Pelt

It is as if I am being ineptly operated –
I am being used in the wrong way –
That will make my face difficult to read –

dried out – until you grudgingly comply
with the simple set of instructions
and see that you were not doing it right –
then you note my pithy grin – torn off a strip

He Really Did

He really did not know
for how much longer
he could hold on to her
and still be dishonest

He had walked far more
than he had drunk –
but still staggered
along the loose path

off which his love for her
dipped like a slunk ghost –
then she was there –
caught by a car’s high beam –

then she was inverted
like a shadow between trees –
as if his recall of her
had been politely dimmed

as if they were long-divorced
from each other –
that common vote for failure –
which is the wedded norm

These Lessons

‘Love is a skill rather than an enthusiasm’ – Alain de Botton

She is giving me lessons
in love without hate –
but my teacher is failing me
for my schoolboy mistakes

The morning was fractured –
my compass wouldn’t twist –
I failed to find answers
and she would not assist

My notebook is ink-stained –
I scribe off my left –
I crib her taught words
but I always forget

The air is mite-lighted
as I pull from her mind –
this classroom is silent
as my learning unwinds

Four by Four

I sought the purport
of a four-letter word
after coming across it
in a loan long-expired

I looked to definition
in its Wikipedia entries
of disambiguations
in need of citations

But do not believe
everything with labels
not even a short story
of four vocables

Love is an impact crater
on the far side of the moon
Love was a film
starring Salman Khan

At Our Gate

Old lust – our ragged plot
of strangling weeds –
of poisonous shrubs
turn to interleave

I no longer prune hard –
here they still grow –
even tool-turned beds
take foul seeds
as true

You employ a man –
whom you poorly pay –
who digs in hard
with hands-on-spade

He labours for hours –
the rough cover he tears –
as he clears the unloved –
you taste his turned air

Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore*

As disordered pages
I read back my life –
until you – as Ludmilla –
entered mine

The creak of shined floorboards
from the weight of us
and of ten thousand books
under ten kilos of dust

You as Ludmilla
mark my book with your touch –
your stroke of the spine
is a pleasure to watch


*If on a winter’s night a traveler

In the Eye

Women slip from winsome
under their senescent faces –
their hands steal the looks
off youth’s eyed-embraces –

They pleasure in pastimes
of tease-tricks and flirts –
they command your heart –
their hard rules will subvert

I want to reach out
and trace your lined beauty –
of furrows and laugh lines
worn freely at forty

I will kiss your eyelids
of stitch-tightened skin –
because here is your beauty –
it is still within

The Winchester Goose

He would pay in cowry shells
and barter for love with time
as they exchanged such currency
the lies they laid made lines

She lay outside the liberty
of the clink and London’s wall
reducing down the value of
his late night wide-net hauls

The orders placed by princes
through their messengers and men
took her eyes from their line
and back to Bankside friends


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 for her mouth on mine
and a foreign breath to confuse


The intensity of morning light
beyond the thin curtains,
signaled that promised snow:
As predicted, as forecast,
as talked about last night,
an imminent-probability.

He knew it was there
before he opened the drapes:
It was an almost-glow
off the fat fresh fall – heaped
over the rooftops, cars, streets
and gardens, and then the horizon.

He held the curtain slightly ajar
and hard-pressed his nose
against the windowpane,
feeling the cold from outside
reach in to him, through the glass,
its difference bit his skin.

He absorbed the bleached landscape,
knowing that the kids, only the kids,
would be pleased, as she turned
in the wide bed behind him,
and then breathed noisily, abruptly,
a deep sleep change;

she was sucked, back into the last
dream-rubbed phase:
He thought about waking her,
with an offer of a tea, but decided
letting her lie in would score,
a few relationship-points.