Sunday, 26 July 2015

after the bluster
takes it off into the rain:
a plane-leaf's stencil

Friday, 24 July 2015

At Teddington

Of course the unfazed geese each take an individual path 
between the rhomboid hunks of ice. The river hasn't frozen
even this littlein yonks. Here is where the tidal Thames 

begins, below the Lock; somewhere a bottlenose dolphin 
might merrily venture before coursing back to brinier waters.
My gloveless hands are silky blue. A hot-chestnut seller

sets up stall on the towpath: from his battered, black brazier, 
a red square glows like a low sun peeking out through mist.
Over the crystal footbridge comes a team of huskies hauling

the sledge on which two furred, Victorian bluebloods perch:
she tautening the reins with kid gloves; he yelping orders
at the dogs, as if they're bound on a long cross-country trip

to their mansion in the Surrey hills; to a well-tended hearth.

Monday, 20 July 2015

how my father
used to clear his throat
before speaking...
duckling follows duckling
through the duckweed

Sunday, 19 July 2015

ruined abbey:
the dark mullein's yellows
light the transept

Saturday, 18 July 2015


The beautiful, blonde, Albanian stylist twitters non-stop
as she painfully tweezes my hairs through the plastic cap:

she says that when her father first came to England, he slept
in a Fiat Panda every night until he'd earned enough to rent.

So I shouldn't get her started on UKIP—not that I would
or all those crazies claiming that immigrants are backward

and lazy. When at last I sense a suitable pause in her flow, 
I promptly stick my foot in it by telling her my sister-in-law

is Serbian, a revelation that kills our conversation stone dead.
She brushes on the ash-blond colouring with undue speed.

Friday, 17 July 2015


Alban was renowned for unsociable hours, 
though we were all a bit like that in those days,
at the end of the '80s, when East became West
but the North stayed precisely 55 degrees north.
He'd know the answer to anything you'd ask him
as he stroked the curls of his rolling-tobacco beard,
though how he made money—apart from the brew,
the gee-gees he backed in the bookies behind Paul's
and the squidgy Afghan black he dealt on the side
was anybody's guess. The one thing he couldn't 
recall was how he fell asleep with the deep fat fryer,
full of thumb-thick homemade chips, gaily bubbling
like frogspawn, while we, two storeys above him
with no means of escape, were wholly oblivious.
It was Mervyn, in the flat below us, who hammered 
on Alban's door until he roused, and between them
they doused the flames within the very nick of time.

Thursday, 16 July 2015


You trimmed the stems 
of the bunches of roses
one reddish pink; 
the other peachy orange
so they wouldn't overwhelm 
the squat, Vermeer-blue jug.

Look what happens 
when you bring me flowers,
you said, as you kissed me 
all over; the evening breeze
caressing the architrave 
of your high-ceilinged room.
the road to the river:
a chevron of swifts

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

the flourish with which
the umpire signals four...
bottlebrush in bloom

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

close afternoon...
a moorhen uses
every stepping stone

Monday, 6 July 2015

Mrs Peabody

was the taciturn lady from number forty-two
that everyone referred to as "the strongwoman,
married to an acrobat". She could: tear into quarters

two Kingston-area telephone-directories at once;
lift baby-oiled Crusher Bates, the heavyweight boxer,
three feet above her head and cradle him in her arms

like a newborn baby; lull a tug-of-war team of four
hefty men into thinking they were winning then,
with just one pull of the rope, send them piling

into a heap, like an eight-legged pantomime horse.
She's there in the background of the black-and-white
photo of Denise's fifth birthday party in 1965,

at the family home in Vale Road, directly behind
the gap-toothed birthday-girl and her new best friend:
bee-hived, in a Paisley-patterned house-coat, smiling.

for Andrea Robinson

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

blanket heat
on a wisp of a wind
the smell of timber

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

with forearms as brown
as the wood of his fiddle:
the midday busker

Sunday, 28 June 2015


Like the storm in Marnie
the Sussex-grown tomatoes 
I'm chopping into quarters
without much in the way of precision
blaze with redness, Venetian red

of the Brighton Pierrots 
glimpsed side-on at dusk 
before a crowd of empty deckchairs
as the gas-choked stalemate 
entrenches across the Channel;

or the coat of one of many Middlesexians 
drenched by lashing, diagonal rain 
while hanging around for hours 
for Miss Earhart's Arrival 
at Hanworth Air Park in 1932;

conception year of my parents, 
who went on to grow such pungent tomatoes 
and always placed them to ripen 
the full length of the windowsill 
behind the kitchen sink.