Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Can one turn battering a fish
into an art?
In what time or place?

The trawl of a crowd
standing glee-struck
outside a chip van,

all eyes watching the hands
dip and fry. It's cold;
a passing, aching, hungry sigh.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Sole Mate

Line caught, sea-bed-wracked,
I snagged her on my hook, my worm
a tasty snare in the water's darkness.

I the Captain of this Vessel,
I the one to tussle, wave-wrestle,
in the spume I pulled her in:

a good weight; 10 kilos, a handsome fish.
And that's when she began to swish.

She was flat and long, two eyes,
almost jellified, staring straight up at me numb;
her slimy nibbling gape: that's when I fell in love.

Not from Dover, exactly, and not one to skate,
I placed her in a tank - she skipped my plate.
I keep her now on deck, beside the Captain's Wheel;
we course a straight and steady, long and even keel.

But her honesty's my favorite trait; 
my briny love, my one sole mate.

The Effect

She opened up a rift in me
and the universe poured out violently.

But that will one day heal over

leaving the faintest trace of a scar,

like a caesarean milky way

on the blackness of night.

So now I leave her, gone stray,

still a friend, walking off into new light.

I want my universe to trickle, too big to

birth whole: I too small, too fickle, too much skull.


2 + 2 = 4: that's a universal
truth, but a metre of empty space
is its own empty face, a non-sequitur
of blank horizon.

Is it a universal fact that life
must consume? The flower needs water
to bloom. But the flower too needs
death, and the worm - to churn

a meal into a graveyard of fertiliser, 
a seal between root and anchor point
and a tenuous joint. But life fattens
on life, grows stronger.

Its rights grow longer, and stronger
and tighter. A man eats a meal alone
of meat cleaved from the bone
thankful for the silence of the plate.

But elsewhere, rocked, is life a-gait,
screaming noiselessly to deaf ears, hungry eyes.
2 + 2 = 4, a metre is a hundred-mate;
a woman eats life, makes life, and feeds. 

And, somewhere else, history dies.


You capture the thunder
in my heart, conjure a spark,
my Rainmancer

weave me a rain spell,
dig me a deep well;
fill my aquifers
leave open in your way
a shaft of daylight.

Monday, 28 January 2013

A Short Poem

A poet should not smoke:
his tongue his prized organ.
Neither should a poet drink;
maybe brandy, burgundy - absinthe.
But a poet should whet his tongue
on words, fire up his fibres
on the flint of poesy,
drink to outdrinking eternity
and stealing the morning paper
from Death's lawn.

A Moment with a Thief

He stole my wallet,
his hand firmer, colder, harder
than my own.

But I speak the language of eyes:
his were strong and clear
so I let him take it
without thought, without fear.

I know he'll use it; for murder,
for good. For goodness sake,
just be as you should.

The Orphan Seal

Part One

For Ted Hughes

From folds of curling, foaming sea
frothy as laps of whipping cream,
a head pokes out, and then
it's gone - back down
to re-enter the jam
of its missing mum,
from out the pram.

A missing seal, a lonely pup;
no mother's milk to idly sup.
A cow alone, a calf orphaned:
a seal come broken;
bright eyes piercing awful,
wide and wild from freezing water;
a lost child, beloved daughter.

Now searching, eyeless, in the dark,
a blanketed searchlight from afar.
Rolled beneath the beam of the ocean's keel,
now come the calls of the orphan seal.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

A Confessional Poem

Her name was Flo.
She died in October, 2010.
We worked together for five months,
and in that five months
I barely grew to know her.
But when I left for uni
she gave me a spider plant.

A ragged little thing, I barely knew
how to look after it,
and that Christmas
I went home for a month.
My housemate neglected it
through my own neglect
and when I came back
it was almost dead:
a spindling of brown shoots,
only hanging on through its roots.

I took it to my neighbour, The Healer,
and she showed me what to do:
it's pot-bound, she'd said,
and she took it from the pot,
de-clumped it, pulling the tangled roots apart.
It nearly broke my heart, the sight,
not knowing enough about growing.
She put the two in their own two pots,
sprinkled them with new soil,
fruits of the loam, and not the loom;
sowing, not sewing: the Sun, not the Moon.

And now, I still have that one original, 
that ember. That ember of Flo,
which I cannot let die. She was only forty,
but I won't pretend I cried
at the telephone call, or the thought of it all.

But now, I have eight plants:
I have given two away:
one to that neighbour, one
to a friend. And I cannot let it end.
I cannot let it end. I must let it flow.
I must let it go. I must see it grow.

The seeds we sow: we must scatter them so.
This one's for you, night-angel,
day-dreaming sun beam,
woman I never knew. This one's for Flo:
the seeds she planted, the things that grew.

Friday, 25 January 2013

On Boundary

Walking naked now
through your quiet immensements
and I am pregnant 
with a knowing:

your boundary
like mine
rebounds with touch -
too little; too much.

Mine reaches out before me,
an invisible field, pushed 
from heart-length
to arm's length

bristled by the slightest brush.
Just respect me:
don't correct me.
Don't bottleneck me.

If you want love,
build it.
Make castles in the sky,
but try not to brush the clouds.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Comparison

I thought I was guarded
but your walls make mine
look positively usurped, Ace-carded,
yours becoming a picket line.

You won't let me in,
I know that. 
Only on a level which 
provides no sustenance.

But whilst I can go hungry,
living on spirit alone,
I will not be left outside like a dog,
wounded, calling my owner.

I will find my own home one day:
maybe you're willing me on to this
and if this is the case
then I thank you.

I will keep my Mongolian Horde
from your Great Wall;
but it will fall one day
and I'll be sad to see it razed.

You know, it's just not the kind 
of love I want: I won't be a haunt, 
nor a ghost. But I want to be haunted - 
I want that the most.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A Realisation

I once thought I measured my pulse
by your heartbeat.
Now, I could just as easily say
get the fuck out of my life.

But that's no way
to go about it;
I'd rather say,
I'm happy for you

and now I realise
I was wrong
and I'm thankful
you withheld your right.

But enough with splitting hairs
and splitting binary pairs:
let me just sum up...

I will be there with you
and help your cup to grow
but I won't be the one
to make it overflow:

everything you do, my friend,
will always fill mine:
love's a thing to share in,
a thing for two to care in,

and I'll be there
with you at the end
of this long 
and golden life...

But enough of that:
here's to the living.
Pass the glass, 
pour the wine.


My body is a meaningless zero-point:
fill it with female potential.
Fill my empty cage with 
your female essentials.
Take all my rage and
break its spine,
ask me for my
Walk me down
the line.

Nice Guys

Some say
nice guys finish last:
they don't.

The prize my eyes surmise
eludes the finish line,
and elides the present time.

The finish line
is not 
an easy shag

or a victory claim:
to shame you publicly
or brag your name;

to use the crassest metonymy
and refer to you
as an iron sea

to be penetrated
by the ores
of my fleet

would knock the both of us
off our feet.

I play the long game
and I wait
the long wait.

A clear sheet.

Nice guys might finish later
and they might not
finish fast:

but that's because
they're better lovers,
and they never

finish last.

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Perils of Being a Mountain Goat

Fiddling through the fissures,
the bifurcation a foundary of stone,
we roam up crags and rocks,
clinging like bats by bone.

We gorge on leafy moss, 
on tufts of spartan grass.
We cannot help but gloss
how we navigate the pass.

Mother Goat is caring
but she knows to have no hope:
up here there's no knowing;
we live by noose and rope.

And if you are not careful,
the fall will be so great
that Pan will not be playful
and you will not be saved.

I bleat, blow on my ram horn,
the gully deep as stomach's bottom:
chewed cud will come your form,
but kids forget - and are forgotten.

At the bottom of the shaft
two bodies: forms that I have known.
At the bottom, my two calves:
one bloated, one blown.

Sunday, 20 January 2013



Now he is old, he is close to death.
In the rapt silence of night,
alert as a fox
to the murmuring stirs of the house,
his bed no longer warmed
by his wife,
he thinks of the time
when he was most alive
but at once so dead.


Spring is a time for the Lamb:
the land is abuzz: grass senses
the milder air, and all is a slow
heaving from sleep to joyful labour.
The Lamb cares not for the Wolf:
She is busy watching her Babes,
the uterine white of the Ewe;
and the Ram is as proud as punches
watching his first-born stand.
But sickly bleats the last-born;
the song of the Wolf's fast, shorn.


So Spring is also the time of the Wolf:
an eye bright, blue to the opalescent Moon,
red as it beams to the blood
of the kill.
It stalks the land, stealthily as death,
and its snap of jaw as eternal
as the wrenching night's maw.
The Wolf bays at the Moon,
begging forgiveness of it.
The Moon is still, silent:
the Wolf, forgiven, joins the pack;
between pasture and mountain,
the darkling stack.


Stories are wondrous things:
the old man tells them to himself,
making sense of his hardships,
all of them docked.
But how to tell this one?
He is close now, he knows it:
he is alone no longer in his room.
The curtains billow coolly
and his mind conjures what he'd
been withholding:

his wife had been sick when she broke
and spilled her waters; 
the doctors had not known:
the baby was a stone, and 
two pounds underweight.
It was born, still as night, and 
on the other side it awoke.
They cradled it; grave and heavy 
was the silence, 
an overflowing groan.
And now, near death, he knows 
why it crept and hid:
the revelation lives as his child, so close now, 
it soaks him in a knowing:

he only knew that life in death, and so 
in death he greets that life:
a child's hand in his, soft and losing warmth.
After years of mourning, he realises 
the Living are ghosts: 
they haunt the Late.
He closes his eyes,
then he latches
the gate.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

An Over-Arching Politics

And now
a shameless exercise
in Green Preaching,
a life beseeching
an over-arching

we are one with the Earth,
with ourselves,
and in this war 
of man against matter
and man against man
and man against life

we are all on the same side.

We might think we're not;
the differently drawn
battle plans.
But we always were.
And we always will be.

As all eyes shift
to our children's gazes,
to our lovers' hands:
can you put a cap
on love?

Now we stare out to sea;
we stand there

pensively, and

The ships on the horizon:
are they coming or going?
Or will we build an Ark,
a life raft,

to rein us in, keep us warm,
whilst the world gets 
quietly snowing?


And now to fall away
and dream of love:
the type of love that's first
and thirst, and foremost,
and never 

The type of love that
waits, the pain clothed in 
joy, clothed so long 
that it forgets
it was once pain.

Take me down
to the Delta
where the water's sleep
and the water's deep:

where love's a stair
and not 
a leap.

Friday, 18 January 2013

A Request

And in this
bitter sting of world,
don't leave me
for the sweet kiss of death
but for
the reviving fist
of life.

A Communion

I talked to God
and She was not pleased.
She said,

the crying never stops;
the listening never starts.
And oft too dim's the flame
you carry in your hearts.

Turn human nature on its head
and make of war
a marriage bed.

All You Need to Know

Venom is poisonous only if taken in the vein.
And those who use it publicly don't know your name.

And all you need to know is that a feeling's never feigned:
To not bloody one's hands with one's aching heart is the only shame.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Morning Coffee

The world is falling to shit:
is that what keeps it fertile?
Sitting here drinking coffee
just waiting, waiting
for the next storm that will
clear the air
and burn the tinders 
of the world down,
but what awaits the fire?
And why
is the fire

Two Tomes

His was a textbook,
plucked from the shelves of academia.
He savoured it, his exploits purely intellectual,
and the book was like him:
raggedly worn, spine compromised,
but used books have the most character, he thought:
not the smell of tea-stained, dinner-spattered pages
or the spectres of long, lost pauses:
merely the appearance
of experience.

And hers, hers was a novel.
He'd bought her the book she'd wanted
the day after he'd forgotten
about her birthday.
A romantic classic, he recalled.
No doubt fanciful;
yet - Classically inclined - maybe not drawl.

Each alike and yet unalike:
her dottings and jottings were
the evolution
of a long-memoried tradition
of pencilled hearts and cupid darts,
poems, odes and elegies, short sharp soliloquies
scrawled long-hand 
on the blank pages at the back of the book;
now rubbed clean with the gathering
of character, which she'd carefully lifted,
her slow turning, growing fat with words,
her life a bright gathering point of light.

She siphoned substance from thin air,
a shaman, and produced life from out of nowhere,
her body pregnant with the seed of creation.
She did not memorise the words: she felt them.
She held them. Cradled them then let them go,
the feeling never lost, the shape imprinted whitely,
distant growing fainter, a vague recalling of beating
and wings.

He was purely technical: underlining the unfamiliar
or words he hoped to drop in polite conversation,
thinking oneupmanship a courtesy he and only he 
could bestow. He littered the pages with arrows,
demarcations in the margins, lightbulbs
beaming out, signalling the location of his ego
which now claimed territory outside the violence
of his psyche.

When he'd finished and had returned the book,
he briefly considered rubbing clean his pencilled additions,
but thought better of wiping clean all traces
of himself. For here is where he'd been. 
Know them, these places.

But she, she was different.
She left the book unmarred, unmuddied;
each word unmurdered and unbloodied.
She thought, you will never know I've been 
here. If you somehow do,
you have been looking
in all the wrong places.

But then she thought wrong of her former right;
and before she set it free, one summer night,
she took out her pencil and marked the first page,
below where the title suggested the gathering storm
of the passions held therein; a devotional note.
Here's how it begins:

I hope you enjoy this book. I tried not to
cry onto the pages. I read it slowly, too;
it took me ages, months of revelation and pain,
but somehow, at end, I did not heal - never again...

Then she paused and thought of the friend
she'd never meet, who'd read this book; how to lend?
Out of the ether, the shimmering star, she found her end:

I shall close now simply. I wish you well.
May you one day write your own devotion 
in place of this. And may you seal it
in chains of steel, protected
with a kiss...

I hope these pages set you free
and fair you far better
than they ever did 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


The Poetry in me had all but died;
Palsied hands, a stymied mind.
But underground rivers still wet the tongue,
The husk gone coarse, savannah dry.

Awakened from my ancestral tomb,
I take to She a suited groom.
And out of that ancestral gloom
I take ahold the weaver's loom.

The fruits of labour are often sour
When out of season, don't devour;
Don't sleep on a bed of wilting roses,
But clothe yourself in their fragrant poses.