Saturday, 23 February 2013

Annus Mirabilis

Some people are full of talk, full of air
and not enough feel, not enough care.
But I will not yield to you as you
think I might: I'm full of love, no spite
shall spill from these lips. I'll just
close them to you, for I am an Uncle now:
life is too short, these moments too fleeting
and out there's my sister, a small heart now beating.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A Necessary Poem

You child, in your ridiculous armour.
You missed your chance, little girl;

go cry on someone else's shoulder:
I am killing you in writing now.

It has become necessary. Your eyes
no longer pierce into my dark places

as I have no dark places. Your sensitive iron
has peeled away, but no white light shines

through. You are still a friend, and all I said
still stands, but the butt is not the shaft;

you are lead, leaden, immovable.
Fuck you: I am no alchemist.

There are others in your place, a trinity,
each far better, far more open, more

mature - each would serve me an eternity
of happiness, and I them. But you would

put ruin on me, curse me, desert me.
So I am rubbing out the girl I used to draw.

The burn on my side, through which my heart once
slipped, hot, and pierced the skin,

has healed. There will be no fire to burn this charcoal:
I do not want to make mine a coal. So hello

and goodbye.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A Poem for My Father

Father, you were once a child.
If I could hold you anew,
your frightened cries
tearing the world into
silent wonder

I would kiss your forehead,
hold your eyes in mine,
shush you down to peacefulness.

And one day you will be
an old man: I will hold
your old bones in my arms,
stop your muttered sobs,
kiss your forehead, lower you

down into a peaceful rest. And
I'm out there, too: child, old man,
somewhere. And my time too shall come.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Wolf's Prayer

Forgive me as
I sniff you out,
and snuff you out
as a wind against a

I was born to love
and to feel, as you,
as all the animals of
the pasture or wood, but
my love for my cubs exceeds

my love for your bleating reed.
So as my jaws clamp round
your windpipe and you turn
from afternoon to midnight,
I pray: don't bask in twilight.

God of all things,
take this lamb.
Remove its pain,
let the wound not fester:
let me swallow my claim.

I love you, Lamb:
I need you. I hope my
hunger feeds you: I'd be
lost without you, only wolfish
with you; I shall never doubt you.

That's why clouds bathe on high in day:
the wolfish wind blowing its heavenly prey,
in their afternoon cares; in their idle sway.
But hear my prayer, O Lord: take this Lamb
and show it the way.

Saturday, 16 February 2013


I can imagine walking with you
through a snowdrifted city, warming you

as you huddle into me, as hands surrounding
a fire's glow, and the fire reaching out in wonder

overeager with flame to touch and lick the fingers,
saying, 'I won't burn you - not if you

pass them through me quickly.' But I would not burn
you, or make you callused, and callous - indifferent

to the singe of my tongue. But back to the snowdrift,
the roads clogged over with snow, a moon shimmering

inside the white frozen glow, the road a river. The pavements
being treacherous, we take to our boat:

come, let us paddle, slip into the warmth of my coat
like a traveller seeking shade in a cave.

And light a match, hold a candle to my skin.
The rock shall reveal a message therein:

sketchings of animals, shaped in wondrous awe.
I'll join you, my love: pass the charcoal

and turn your profile; in the faint lemon-juice
cave-shimmering half-light, I'll start to draw.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

A Valentine's Pledge

In the silence of my joy,
amongst the crowded moments
of the evening
I shall spare a moment
for you:

I shall wonder whether it hurt;
whether your wings
tore and tattered
when you landed
down here

and whether you cried
when you plucked them from
their anchors
tethering you to the bottom
of your angelic ocean.

But be happy: love need not
be trapped by the
trappings of the flesh;
I'm starting to know
love best

and I'm starting to see your
Halo so clear, though it flickers to
faintness, like a neon lamp;
all the things that I've promised
shall always bear my stamp.

So here's to you, friend:
I am so in love with your magic
even when you shrug it off
the dust falling
to your feet.

And I'll pray that you shall one day change
and stop being beaten, cease
the retreat from 
yourself: take a seat, here.
And love yourself furiously.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Ars Poetica

Writing's an ember
and words are the breath
that keep the hot cinder
from cooling to death.

There's just one thing to carve
with your magisterial knife
as your pen bleeds the page
and it quickens with life:

take this hot ember
and nurse it inside;
we must write to remember,
we must write to survive.

So It Goes

He caught you at your weakest

                a feast.                 I
                                                would have

built you to your strongest:

a toast, a meal.

Yeast and hops,
                malt-sweet:       rising

                                                to a silky beat.

You’re not a plate of meat.

You were enough to fatten my eyes

But now you’re gone.

An Ethos

Be a hungry wind, blown through life
from moment to moment;
gathering, but not darkening,
depositing, but not disheartening.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Wider Biology

In the first moment of Creation,
in the depths of boiling-over lightninged 
seas, the first cell turned and turned
tumbling, feasting on the organic soup.

But very soon, after replicating in a flurry
of transparent kaleidoscopic magicianing,
the divination's wonder passed, and soon
came the cell's hunger, and so it dreamed of teeth.

And so came the suckling child, as
it sups upon the teat: hungry for soothe, milky-sweet;
the mother an inland sea, water brimming with skimming fish.

Soon, in the maelstrom of violent consuming,
a new cell emerged: the mitochondria.
It fused with the early eukaryote,
an act of cellular agreement, a sensuous

tryst into the first arrangement of love-making, like 
blind animals searching each other out in the darkness;
and in this symbiotic dance of ecstatic ritual,
the aerobic flurry of breath now, this new cell dreamed of woman.

And so came She, supine on her back, legs spread
as her destructive other teases to fill her, tumbling like 
cool water into a deeper warmer pool of meaning.

In a jumble of genes, you find an expression of 
deeper potential: something anchored seabed-solid;
present, alive, rooted, elusive - 
and essential.


Get me going faster
to where it is I'm going,
in no direction at all,
in these
arbitrary territories,
the landscape human
when not broken
by nature's writhing embrace,
tentacled trees and an
undergrowth like an earthen maw.

To be swallowed in the
human world, or
a better world?
Which one? Or 
is there a compromise?
Then how shall we peel our eyes?
Or is there no correcting sight?

No, the night must be pierced
by our two headlights
as we move slowly down
this country road,
startling the deer as
they peer from
their wooded clothes.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Bone Mountain

taking all the bones 
humanity has ever held 
between  tendon  and muscle, 
and imagine - just imagine, just 
for a second - throwing them 
into the ocean: that's 107 billion,

multiplied by 206: that's a lot of bones.
They would sink to  the bottom, some 
more porous, some now more like powdered 
husk, and form a great white hulk; like 
a dead white shark, lying still and 
quiet - but still predatory - on the seabed.

And in a few tens of millions of years, 
buckled, pushed up on a plate boundary, would 
come the great white mountain - The Bone Mountain
fonting, ribboning and fountaining its white crust. And, 
like the half-billion-year-old Burgess Shale, will be

writ on it, 'We were here. Yes, we were.'
But the Mountain would stand ominously silent:
capped with a crown of mute skull, fog-hugged;
the other creatures too fearful

and too superstitious
to approach 

A Brief Sojourn

This is the last thing I'll write for a while,
lest the words get caught in my throat
and I choke on them.

P.S. Back in a little bit. A return to style.

An Epiphany

I'd be a poet if
my heart and head had equal share.

But I'm getting there.
I'm getting there,

the human slowly materialising
from the outline of a ghost.

A Sonnet for Mental Health Week

Two snickering boys at a bus-stop
with makeup-plastered girls: they laugh at a
woman as she talks to herself. They gob.
Throughout her life she's been spat on, for matter.
Brain matter. She went through changes in youth.
Her bullies killed the spritely in her soul.
She echoed down into a vibrating hole,
a black hole, hidden now under a groove.
Sometimes, a stab of anxiety fills 
your gut, spills in like turbid water; then
it goes - you say 'no matter', and it stills.
But other brains still patter - scream and rent.
One girl of the group sees her eyes, so clear.
Through stigma, at sea, scared, she scrambles to hear.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

A Different Kind of Love

So many plans swimming in my head,
I forgot that they're snares: what
you have now I would not recreate.
What happened to simply having fun?
What happened to a simple evening date?
What ever happened to a frolick
or a tumble, and gazing into eyes,
rubbing shoulder, kissing navel?

This Romantic is coiling himself in dreams
of Love, Love like a kudzu vine
encircling the house, creeping in
through open sash windows and doors.
Love should not be like that:
love should be light, love should be
free. If I had you, would I succumb
to black fear? That terror of the unknown?

Love comes when you're ready.
But am I ready for you? Yes, I am
but I must stop seeing you as heavy.
You are weightless, and yet
you weigh on me. You are modest;
yet you have such gravity.
And I'd never be the one to make you see.
But I'd show you love in a smile, in a kiss

and I'd not brush your shoulder feather-light,
like this, to get you in the mood; I'd put off
sex, just lie there quietly, staring into your eyes
holding the silence in my ears, then say
'Hey, how are you?' Listen to the pauses
in between the things you say and how you breathe.
And then I'd hold you through the night until such time
as to brush your shoulder, feather-light, and make you shine.

Say Yes

There is a yawning, gaping sadness
at the back of all things.
A yawning, gaping sadness
that we must fill with our compassion.

Just to think, how mysterious,
how elusive, are these angels that
flit around us. How strange just to
consider how it must feel to be alive,
to be someone else, outside your own skin.

And so friendship must be
a marriage of minds and cares.
And love must be the marriage
of hands, melding of hearts, lips
and palms, making two people one.

You must fill up the world.
You must give away yours.
You must give, give, give 
till the giving receives. 

And make: don't take.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A Day at the Circus

That is not an elephant you see there,
said the boy's father,
but a four-metre-high, two-metre
wide, five-metre-long - that's forty metres 
cubed - grovelling lumbering lump
of submissive beast, mood
full to the brim with grey
like an overgrown puddle.

The boy listened, eyes wide,
a distant pain flaring somewhere inside.

And that - that is not a lion,
said the boy's father,
but an old man with a grizzled mane:
a foolish baleful old beast, a bane
to his patient, violent trainers,
so sparing with the rod.
That clawless, toothless old Tom
won't even swipe the flies from his face.

The boy observed, concerned
at the feeling growing fainter, more faint.

And you are not a person,
said the boy's father.
You don't even matter, in the greater 
scheme of things: what good could you do?
What could you change? There are people
who run the world, and attitudes that run
the game. Let ignorance win, don't rock
the boat: stay the waters of the status quo.

The boy fell in upon himself, flickering out.
Blackness and blankness, vacant now,
the pain like dying echoes down the bottom 
of a well. The animals danced. The audience 
roared. And all went to hell, hell without pause.

The Pain of Leather

In a whispering kiss
the cow will say,
'I know why you wear me -
even if you don't.

But I don't understand your
ignorance: do you not realise
your coat was once mine?
Do my hooves not behoove

an answer? The pain of leather
is not in the stripping back of flesh,
or the cutting of throats, or even 
the breaking of tails and bone;

the pain of leather is that
we must forgive you: despite
all your claims, you really don't know
do you? You really don't.

We can't throw the good out
with the bad - not like you throw out
meat by its sell by date. Next summer
will be an Indian summer, I hear.

You'd best not wear your jackets, then:
hang up your leather in your wardrobe.
Fold away your woollen jumper.
But buy your lover a silken gown.

The spiders dance for you inside the lamb.
Break our backs and bleed us out.
Take our skin: here, we don't need it.
Sell it on for pounds. Endless pounds of meat.'

The Hunt

Give the bears rifles and ammo,
the elk shafts of tapered bamboo,
the lion a bow and arrow,
the badger a sett trap,
the moose a bear trap,
the cougar an electric prod

and let them go at the humans.

You'd see them drop their weapons,
discard their devices of death,
and pelt full tilt at you,
with the blank madness of animal.

In a malay of claws and teeth, they'd

clamp their slavering jaws: their justice; 
crush bone and skull beneath hoof,
tear skin from limb, and leave 
writhing pitiful jumble of meat.

Next time, go at them with your fists.

Hang your guns back on your racks:
you'll not be needing them again.
They'll keep it like this.

Birthday Madrigal

This pain is excruciating
and life is very strange.
How to make sense of experience
that shoots in from all sides?

I feel like a foreigner in my own world
and this is my curse - my strength.
These people lost and beautiful
barbarians, and I one of them.

Split from a monkey and a godhead,
the caresses of sex and love and booze,
both a pathogen and a salve,
I blunder through wanderings

and plunder many wonderings.
But don't wait on me if you're waiting,
and don't look to a halo, or a sign of beauty:
you'll not find it above or in or around my head.

For I find my beauty in you.
Don't you ever go hurting yourself.
And she is beautiful, too, in a different way.
But navigating this pain: that's the thing.

That's why I came here. Put here
on this planet, by sheer forces acting through chance
with the blusterings of greater faith and truth,
I must wrestle with the marrow of the creation I am,

eventually coming to terms with it.
And all the while, all I have to grace my life is you.
And her. And friends. The many muses I find,
they each a me, I a them.

We are all the same when it comes to it,
but it's the differences that count:
comparisons and contrasts; cool jets
and hot blasts. I recently thought

of myself as iron filings, and you as a magnet
to straighten out all the confusion that's in me.
But I just need you near me, until I find that thing,
until I'm done with waiting.

I'm not going anywhere soon, so don't go either.
Hold my hand - but hold his, too.
But know that I'll be the one to guide you.
Just look to me when you're unsure

'cause I'm sure that I'm not, either.
But I'll guide you through the ether
and you can guide me through the maze.
Just don't lose me: remember my face.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Waiting on a Happening

When all your plans have fallen through,
when all your men have proved boys
and horses are prone and mute by still water,
not colts bolting out over thunderous plains,
I shall appear, smiling, and you shall know
my name.

For I know you're out there somewhere
and I shall wait for you, the waiting out of mind.
A man for us both to discover, a woman broad as sky,
your stars like fruit to pluck, hot and near;
but now is not the time, and I shall have
no fear.

There is time yet for the both of us,
before buttered toasted teacakes and cups of tea,
and there is much work to be done yet, much finding,
much harrowing: leaving fallow the field for spring.
Through winter's frosts and summer's ceaseless smile, 
one day, to your seeds, I'll sing.

A City Prayer

I live in the city,
full to the brim like
a chalice of wine
with the beautiful people;

far away from the strange
and wretched places of this land,
away from difficulty, regret,
the slow turning hurting, so

as such, I have
faces to forget,
people to write off,
personalities to disregard.

Now, where did I park the car?
Where's the nearest free Wi-Fi?
What's the quicker route: District or Circle?
And when can I roll over and die?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Monday Night Stars

The stars hung limpid-bright,
hot and molten ember-shards
and a planet hung fat up there.
I'm sure a shooter crossed the pitch.

I am but a cog beneath it;
a cog in a wider cognition:
maybe ultimately unknowable,
maybe better off for our not knowing.

But I am tethered to the stars
as we are tethered to each other,
an unsought and unwished for
token of our humanity.

But some are less ties and more chains:
we chain ourselves to our goods,
to our possessions, and our possessions
enchain their makers.

The stars were not born in poverty,
but in grandeur and simplicity.
And out of endless forms, that wheel,
a grander cognition, what will yet come?

What will we yet make?
What will we yet design?
When will the yield finish its yielding?
And when will the present be time?

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Everything you say makes me  

Fills me with wonder.

And yet in you still I

longing to find a place to sit;

unprickled grass
in your vast