Friday, 27 November 2015

post office queue:
cashier number nine mis-hears
Bucharest as Budapest

Thursday, 26 November 2015

New haiku books

As well as the imminent publication of my own second haiku collection, The Lammas Lands, by Snapshot Press, about which I will post details here soon, I'm proud to be one of the 12 contributors to Off the Beaten Track, one of the two inaugural titles of Hamish Ironside and Mike Fell's new publishing venture, Boatwhistle.

Apart from me, Off the Beaten Track features five other experienced haiku poets, including Hamish himself, and seven poets (including Hugo Williams, Sally Read and Matthew Welton) and other creative types for whom the haiku they produced for this project represented their very first attempts. Inevitably, the results are mixed, but distinctive and intriguing. Each contributor was allocated a month last year and asked to write a haiku a day throughout their month. Mine was March. An added, delightful bonus is that Hamish commissioned 12 artists to produce an illustration for one of the months.

The book will be officially launched early next year but is available to pre-order from the Boatwhistle website. Having had a sneak preview of the first printed copies, it's clear that the production values, design and overall loveliness of the book will match the quirkiness of its contents, which isn't surprising given that Hamish is Faber's go-to man for typesetting and proofing their poetry books.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

the rueful peek
of the man in the moon...
new books to read

Monday, 23 November 2015

into the black
beneath a waxing moon:
the blades-down eight

Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Finger

When an oncoming wagon 
hides in a passing place 
and cedes right of way 

my father acknowledges
the driver's politeness 
not by showing his palm

but raising his trigger finger 
an inch from the wheel
like a Sunday-outing farmer 

in a brand-new Mercedes
at the Causeway Coast
who, just like my dad,

craves the simple spleen
of Country and Western
to keep him fulfilled.

Friday, 20 November 2015


Out of routine, 
the beaten path, 

the guillemots 
on their eggs 

jostle upon 
a cliff ledge,

the dimensions 
of a bookshelf,

within the weal
of the wind.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

by Storm Barney's gusts
the teatime moon

Monday, 16 November 2015

in the storm's wake
the through-train torpedoes
towards its eye

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Rain Running

We talk about how funny—yes, funny haha—it is 
to watch people run, across A-roads and zebras;

whenever it's time to get a shift on: scuttlers
and scurriers; scooters, scamperers, skedaddlers:

that chap you know in Planning, in his pinstripe suit,
turned-down trousers flapping like wings against the wet;

mums and dads dashing, with or without a pushchair:
the way we leg-it through drizzle in normal gear

lends a crizzled exaggeration of ourselves;
of how we habitually cruise along our lives. 

for Jane McBeth and Simon Chard

Thursday, 12 November 2015

curving land
a line of pylons connects
to the sunfall

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


A morning or two after All Souls’ Day, plumes of cool-grey fog bring increased risk to the determination of distances on roads and pavements, and, in my case, on Queen’s Promenade, beside the river, from Thames Ditton to Kingston. The fogs are nowhere near as dense as how my mother describes the legendary pea-soupers of 1952, when, as a young woman, she often lost her way on familiar streets, but visibility today is certainly as poor as the Met. Office predicted. 

As I dawdle alongI’m unable to delineate the Barge Walk on the far bank, at the edge of Home Park, behind Hampton Court PalaceHere, if the fog were replaced by sunshine, the view across the Thames from the road behind me would be directly in line with the Long Water reaching right down to the palace’s south front designed by Wren. Against the leaden silvers of what should be the sky, the silhouettes of hedges and unidentifiable trees are symmetrically reflected in the sketchy water as a darker, slate-coloured strip, which rather resembles a candle-holder-shaped ink blot of a Rorschach test. It quickly envelops the two-tone plumage of male tufted ducks and the dark-chocolate-truffle brownof the females heading into mid-river

Past the wooden jetties of the half-dozen pleasure-boats which ply the six miles between the palace and Richmond Bridge, a pair of foreshore cormorants paddlein parallel, a foot apart. Their blackness provides a welcome counterpoint to the murk of the grey. One of them cocks its crocodilian head leftwards, upstreamprecisely in time with the other doing likewise downstream; before they both face forward and dive like synchronized swimmers into the fog-cum-water. I speculate to myself whether this behaviour is anticipatory and instinctively allelomimetic, like the 'chorus line' effect in murmurations of many hundreds or thousands of birds, or if there's some sort of secret language being communicated. My heart inclines towards the latter, though my head, to my disappointment, says otherwise. 

I count the seconds up to three and the cormorants simultaneously re-surface, once more in parallel, bang on the spot where my gaze falls. 
between two boards
a street-sweeper gathers leaves
and the warm winds

Monday, 9 November 2015

on my way to work
the hillside church's steeple
sucks up all the sun

Sunday, 8 November 2015


Limboing under the tightrope to enter,
I realised that the last lot 

had wired up the downstairs
for maximum pain 

via ultra-amplified crackling distortion
and bone-combusting electrocution:

a vegetable-grater flashed like a lighthouse,
gurning its starspun charge

to the otherwise pitch-black kitchen,
where an unwashed spaghetti spoon fizzled

and the wind whistled murder
through a tenor trombone.

after Mona Hatoum, 1999, from Poetry from Art, edited by Pascale Petit, Tate Modern, 2010