Wednesday, 17 September 2014

September heat
a pigeon's peck becomes
the apple core's roll

Karen McCarthy Woolf

Last night, I went to the launch at the Seven Dials Club of Karen McCarthy Woolf's debut full poetry collection, An Aviary of Small Birds, published by Carcanet under the prestigious Oxford Poets imprint. Karen was introduced by fellow poets Malika Booker and Jo Shapcott and read a selection of her hauntingly beautiful, elegiac poems. As well as the opportunity to hear Karen read and buy a copy of her wonderful book, the evening included the chance for me to catch up with old friends from Pascale Petit's Poetry from Art courses at Tate Modern. For those who were so inclined, there was even a conga to the eclectic DJ set that followed Karen's reading. It was how a poetry book launch should be: crowded, entertaining and full of fun and laughter.

Sunday, 14 September 2014


After necking
a quick quartet of pints
consisting of two-thirds Guinness
and one third special-offer just-out-of-date Gold Label barley wine,
Mervyn knocked back con brio a trio of double brandies;
                                                                                and now,
wearing only snug white y-fronts
in our flat above his, stociously bogarts a joint;
the instant from a mushroom trip
one post-pub evening the previous Easter when
two IRA volunteers - students, it transpired -
                                                                                opened fire and shot
a pair of RUC reservists
who regularly stood on foot patrol
in the spot where they fell
outside Sportsland amusements, Main Street;
                                                                                and how
as the younger and sexier policeman died
he did so in the grip of Mervyn's muscular arms,
like the lifeboat-siren's roar
for the whole cold port and hinterland to hear.

Published in Magma 57, autumn 2013.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

outside the court
the bloke with a suitcase
takes in the sun

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

the slug pulls a feather
across the patio
super moon

Monday, 8 September 2014

Indian summer
my daughter refuses
to sing along with me

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Half Board at the Alum Sands Hotel

We zigzag down to the beach, where we deck our castles
            with miniature Scottish flags and bury each other right up to the neck.

Bursts of the Radio 1 Roadshow from scattered transistors
            mix with the shrieks of generations jumping the breakers.

Between dips, we pig ourselves sick on cheese-and-pickle rolls
            and homemade rock-cakes moistened by tea from a tartan thermos.

At the hotel, there's just enough time for ping-pong
            over a sagging net in the basement Games Room

before Mum makes us change into shirts and corduroys for dinner.
            It's either orange juice or grapefruit for starters. The main course

is a roast with croquette potatoes and peas, topped off
            by sherry trifle and Dad's urbane request for the cheeseboard.

The evening entertainment - one man and his Casio keyboard
            piping 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon' - gets Mum and Dad jiving.

We straw-suck the dregs from our glasses of cider.
            Longer than a week would be murder.

Published in Magma 59, summer 2014.