Tuesday, 31 December 2013

the scarecrow sports
a hi-viz coat

Monday, 30 December 2013

Books of the Year

Here is a list of some of the books I've greatly enjoyed reading this year, in no particular order:

Where Did It All Go Right, A. Alvarez's brilliant autobiography of sorts; Roger Garfitt's wonderful memoir A Horseman's Word and his 1989 poetry collection Given Ground, which includes superb bird poems lamentably not included in Armitage and Dee's Poetry of Birds; Martina Evans's uncategorisable Petrol; Derek Mahon's collection Autumn WindOn Light and Carbon, Noel Duffy's second collection, which includes the fine 'Timepieces'; The World's Two Smallest Humans by Julia Copus; Emily Berry's much-lauded Dear Boy (not to be confused with Tony Fletcher's fine biography of Keith Moon with the same title); old collections by, inter alia, Blake Morrison, James Simmons and Matthew Sweeney; Karl Ove Knausgaard's many-layered novel A Death in the Family; Jean Spracklands's marvellous Strands and her collection Sleeping Keys; Richard Gwyn's limpid translations of Jorge Fondebrider and Joaquin O. GiannuzziForgiving the Rain, Lynne Rees's haibun collection; and so much more besides......

Sunday, 29 December 2013

from the second crook
of the cold canal's s-bend
steam rises like breath...
one of many tufted ducks
whistles tentatively

Friday, 27 December 2013

after the storms
we bump into friends
at the river fork

Thursday, 26 December 2013

black flint steeple—
sheep graze the sunshine
between blue pools

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Down Creamery Lane

A vat of vile psychedelic tea
is stirred once in every while by Perky,
the chirpiest Hell’s Angel you could meet,
whose sense of humour is just up your street;
his Ballymoney accent teetering
on your ear; an uncle balladeering.

A mugful of tea and you’re well away,
driving your Metro like there’s no today:
a game of dodge-the-river-bridge-roadblock.
You follow labyrinthine back-roads back,
like Pacman reversing into twilight.
The rose moon rises in the harvest night.

Monday, 23 December 2013

steam train...
just over the wall
a winter-flowering cherry

Sunday, 22 December 2013

industrial light by the black canal heron sees off goose

Saturday, 21 December 2013

shortest day
three geezers paint
the pub's front green

Friday, 20 December 2013

Macaroni Love

Between blue boats, there’s
a well-dressed stranger in tears.
    The charcoal cat
miaows back.
Up close,
it’s snow: rose-
pink, hydrangea-blue.
were once a fearful smoker
Today you’ve rediscovered the tang,
the settling on your tongue.
    You lean over the railings,
observe five goslings
fight the current
to keep pace with a parent,
and let your crass analogy
fall crushingly
like a riderless,
steeplechasing horse.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

late again—
the lights change
in the evening puddle

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

quiet zone
a boy with earphones on
whistles Slade

Monday, 16 December 2013

heaving bus:
a mother and son play Hangman
on the window

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Advent dusk turns from pumice to black geese calls

Friday, 13 December 2013

Friday night rain
the banter from one pavement
to the other

Thursday, 12 December 2013

winter haze
a man wearing driving-gloves
boards the bus

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

into the fog
four bald workmen cycle
like the clappers

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

through steamed-up windows the park fill of mist

Monday, 9 December 2013


Safe, for the moment, from flood,
we all stoop into the wind.
A grey wagtail exudes
a springy exuberance.
Enclosed by brick, the channelled
Hogsmill rushes to its end.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Where the River Goes, Allan Burns's anthology of English-language nature haiku has been published by Snapshot Press, and features 40 poets, including me. Burns's introduction traces the treatment of 'nature' within Western thought and literature alongside the development of classical Japanese haiku until the two intersected; and examines the development of nature haiku in English over the last 50 or so years. It's a hefty and beautiful tome, a manifesto and rallying cry, that will bear repeated reading.
jays break cover in sunshine suffusing frost-bent bracken

Saturday, 7 December 2013

on the platform
a pigeon smudges its beak
with trodden chocolate

Friday, 6 December 2013

crows sweep behind the backs of commuters boarding a train

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Advent dawn
the bin lorry creeps
between parked cars

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

all down the trousers
of a white-van man:
white emulsion

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The December issue of A Hundred Gourds has been published, including an essay, reviews (one by me) and commentaries within the Expositions section, as well as many fine haiku, tanka, haibun, haiga and renku, making, in all, a bumper issue.
silver lights
the tops of all the plane-trees
rammed full with starlings

Monday, 2 December 2013

cold front coming
the Monday morning queue
outside the CAB

Saturday, 30 November 2013


Not needing the chair behind him
or the cordless mic provided,
he edges nearer to the folk
who turned up late and had to park
themselves shyly in the front row;
works the audience like a pro;
doggedly corners the limelight;
by God, he’s on form tonight!
As the number of hands declines,
he fills the gap with sharp asides,
jokes that if they've no more questions
he’ll go down the Leg of Mutton
to catch, with any luck, the last
of the football, England against
some minnows made up of postmen,
teachers, architects and dustmen.
Remember, he says, to fill out
the online survey, to support
the proposal. Democracy
in action; indisputably
a good thing, this grassroots recourse
to voting; a round of applause.

Friday, 29 November 2013

the manmade river
barely moving anywhere—
flaming cherry-trees

Thursday, 28 November 2013

under the flightpath
two moorhens clamber over
a step in the brook

Monday, 25 November 2013

from iron railings
to the Coronation Stone:
a pair of wagtails

Sunday, 24 November 2013

drab dusk
I run past a smoker
on her smokeless side

Friday, 22 November 2013

icy morning
the sound of a kiss
from the back of the bus

Saturday, 16 November 2013

full moon the poet's delivery faster than her words

Friday, 15 November 2013

how the Georgian town peters out into fields where the sheep graze

Thursday, 14 November 2013

over Poppy Hill the elegant fizz of long-tailed tits

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

after frost
the way the apple garden
floods with light

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

neo-classical church:
a squirrel scampers up
its scaffolding poles

Monday, 11 November 2013

on Martinmas
the passage of geese
through a drab sky...
my bus pulls up
at every stop

Sunday, 10 November 2013

*****Forthcoming readings*****

As you can see from the 'Events' bit, I am involved in two readings next week: firstly, as part of a 'nature haiku' reading with John Barlow and Martin Lucas at the annual New Networks for Nature symposium at Stamford Arts Centre in sunny Lincolnshire on Saturday 16th, where we'll be reading selections from the forthcoming Snapshot Press Where the River Goes anthology edited by fellow fire horse Allan Burns; and then as part of the launch of Magma 57 at the Troubador, Earl's Court on Monday 18th, where I'll be reading my poem 'Pietà' that will be in the issue plus another one, probably a new poem called 'Autumn Wind'. I've been to many fine Coffee House Poetry evenings at the Troubador over the years so it'll be great to take part in one. I've also tried many times to get a poem accepted by Magma so it's very encouraging to succeed at last. If anyone wants to come along to either event, they should be cracking and it would be lovely to see you there.
on the hill brow
a cantering stag takes
the best of the sun

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Blue Night

This indigo night,
the corrugated canopy
which overhangs
my courtyard garden
chevrons the yellow moon;

the same moon
you’re watching, brother,
so many miles away,
a day’s ride north
of Khartoum;

the same moon
that’s always
waiting round the corner
like a great big kid

to tap you on the shoulder,
sidestep sharply
and titter for England
when you look
the wrong way.

Friday, 8 November 2013

beneath the darkening undersides of clouds white dead-nettles

Thursday, 7 November 2013

smell of fireworks...
in the cul of the cul-de-sac
crab-apples, three-deep

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

autumn heat—
two goods wagons shine
down a siding

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

he moves the leaves
with powerful sweeps...
his forearms glisten
in the post-rain sun

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Snowstorm

The snowstorm rolls in so quickly,
it furnishes the answer to your question,
Why is the sky so desperately small?

It’s yellow, it’s black, it’s grey,
yet you can see it’s red and blue too,
and you can smell its intent;

and just when all you could see before
of the city now becomes unseen,
out from the air-thicket flies

a V of geese, honking in unison,
lifting into a sun-blessed world
the riverscape on their wings.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

anarcho-cyclist graffiti—
three geese lift
from the rain-lashed canal

Saturday, 2 November 2013

the driver tells us
he always hopes his last train
will be cancelled
so he can knock off early—
the Day of the Dead

Thursday, 31 October 2013

all the crows gather
on the same chimney-pot
Hallowe'en rain

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

fulmars over the downland cliffs the passage of cloud-shadows

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Codex

What remains is less than half of what was:
your philosopher wrote it after swimming – 
mostly backstroke, which explains quite a lot, and the crawl
for half a length – in a matchstick-man code
typeset in a font of his own invention,
and each portion laid out in your scribble,
your left-handed flourish and swirl, within
which the letters tastily turn on a sixpence,
reveal more of the man than his dense empiricism,
which every beginner in epistemology learns.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Man on a Rope

at one side
– the port side –
of a white concrete building
whose dimensions aren't known,
this man on a rope, neither
high up nor low, pauses mid-hold

while below, like a sapling
arched forwards by the wind,
a young, cat-faced saltimbanque
grips her child with one arm,
rooted to the landscape
gold leaf on black

Sunday, 27 October 2013

in between storms
the shutters of the old meeting house
beam their whiteness

Saturday, 26 October 2013


On the bridge that marks the divide
between New Malden and Old,
the legend is gone that declared
Sexy Woman I love you Manhood.

Friday, 25 October 2013

St Luke's summer...
a chugger's patter
falls flat on its face

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Lombardy poplars
the languid swing of a crane
takes the sun with it

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Red Telephone Boxes

in and out and underneath
and in between
the dozen

red telephone boxes
that lean on one another
to make up the sculpture,

a cock pigeon
over and over
harries a hen

Monday, 21 October 2013

between trains
the slosh of the swollen stream
beyond the willows

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Hurricane's End

lifting mist…
a flock of knots fans out
across the creek

sunlight shifts
with the cumulus—
flight of a curlew

teal whistle over the seawall long black freighters

marbled whites—
a blackberry pip
stuck between my teeth

cobweb morning
the merest outline
of ship funnels

avocet bills
scour the lagoon bed—
hurricane’s end

rain circles:
a redshank wades in
up to its belly

the brick pillbox
pummelled by easterlies…
shrimping redshank

clanking masts—
an avocet chick
shakes a leg

out of thousands,
black geese forming lines—
shaggy ink-caps

All-Hallows’ summer
the avocets’ plumage
yellowed by sunset

curlews poke their bills
the whole way in

raindrops tip
from an evening primrose
autumn dusk

after the fireworks
the last croaks
of roosting egrets

These haiku were all written at/about Two Tree Island, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. I am posting them here to celebrate the first Shorelines Literature Festival of the Sea, which is taking place in Leigh between 8-10 November.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

autumn warmth
the cat's ears rotate
with the wind

Friday, 18 October 2013

out before sunrise...
mist still clings
to the dog-walkers

Thursday, 17 October 2013

a curled-up fox...
the southerly breeze brings
all kinds of woe

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

pink mist
magpies herald
a day of decisions

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

hospital visit:
all the nurses greet me
by name

Monday, 14 October 2013

into my thoughts:
the devotional singing
of the man at the bus stop

Sunday, 13 October 2013

But for a hush: some notes on Kathleen’s Jamie’s ‘The Orchard’

The Orchard

Here is the late half-land
where the underworld,
the moon-shadow of an apple tree

is a darkness, like the earth
we’re called from –
silent but for a hush

like heavy skirts;
women, perhaps, passing
on the far side of a wall

whom we may call
our history; or a vole,
some creature of the dusk

when the arms of the slender
garden plum trees suddenly
turn muscular, and deepest blue.

(from The Tree House, 2004)

In recent years, Kathleen Jamie has arguably become better known for the essays – collected in Findings (2005) and Sightlines (2012) – that have marked her out as a leading light of the much-hyped ‘New Nature Writing’ movement, than for her poetry. Although Jamie was invited to contribute to Granta 102 (2008, ed. Jason Cowley), featuring “The New Nature Writing” of 19 essayists, naturalists, poets and other writers, only one of whom other than Jamie was female, she has kept her distance from the hype, and memorably critiqued the “macho...colonial adventuring” of the movement’s presiding spirit, Robert Macfarlane, in his 2007 book The Wild Places. Her stance was a necessary corrective to the strangely hyperbolic praise heaped on Macfarlane by the then Poet Laureate and others. As Jamie intimated, one doesn’t need a Cambridge don to point out the beauty of the less urbanised spaces of the UK, especially those in Scotland which Macfarlane seemed to regard as his own personal playground for celebrating in overwrought prose without any regard to the Clearances and their legacy, the absentee landownerism that continues to this day.

But, aside from all that, Kathleen Jamie was, and remains, a richly talented poet, who has pared back her style over the years so that it has become deceptively simple and clear. In her 2012 collection, The Overhaul, Jamie developed further the central engagement with nature, and its quasi-mystical, pantheistic qualities, that dominated her preceding collection, The Tree House. Nowhere has that engagement been more evident than in ‘The Orchard’.

The poem is one complete sentence, broken down into subordinate clauses, that describes from the outset the unsettling, dream-like beauty of twilight – the ‘late half-land’ – which plays tricks on the senses. The use of ‘late’ makes the scene at once present and past, as if light and time have vanished before we can discern that they have done so; and that sense is enhanced by ‘half-land’ – in these crepuscular moments, the definite sights of daytime become sketchy and slightly beyond our ken, and bring to mind, for me at least, the bewitching paintings of Samuel Palmer or the Faraway Tree children’s books of Enid Blyton. We are then told that this ‘half-land’ has an ‘underworld’, which conjures sinister, trickster-like connotations of Greek myth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream or even, though more tangentially, the world of crime; and is, the poem implies, simultaneously both far beyond and, if we choose to look and listen attentively, within our immediate grasp. The third line appears to be a detailed, elucidatory metaphor for that ‘underworld’, yet the lack of a comma after ‘tree’ would make it syntactically seem to be in addition to that underworld were it not for the fact that the verb which follows – ‘is’ – pertains to one subject not two. Maybe the omission of the comma is a typographical error, but it’s not crucial and is the poem’s only (minor) flaw. The most obvious cultural associations of ‘the moon-shadow of an apple tree’ for me include Cat Stevens’s 1971 single ‘Moonshadow’, Palmer’s paintings and, although the poem pre-dates it, Tacita Dean’s wondrous (2007) film on the late, great poet Michael Hamburger, in which Hamburger movingly describes the history of the fruit from the individual apple trees within the orchard of his Suffolk home’s garden.

The format of the poem into tercets slows it down through a languid and measured enjambment. In normal circumstances, the practice of starting a line with ‘is a’ would look, to my eyes, a little ugly, but here it works because ‘darkness’ dominates the second half of the phrase. The ‘darkness’ confirms the sense conveyed earlier by ‘late’, of time moving faster than we can perceive, and then Jamie immediately shifts a gear, like a renku poet, with a simile that reminds us of the primeval slime and our pagan past: ‘the earth / we’re called from’. Thereafter, literally and metaphorically positioned at the heart of the poem, we have the real essence: an all but inaudible sound which has to be attuned to – ‘silent but for a hush’ which, wrapped in another simile, is ‘like [the unmentioned swish of] heavy skirts’, which are being worn by ‘women, perhaps, passing /on the far side of a wall’. The oxymoron of ‘heavy’ skirts causing such a quiet sound here is wonderful and overtly feminises the poem just before the use of ‘perhaps’ which is the exact centre of the poem and its point of equilibrium. That the sound emanates from ‘the far side of a wall’ makes the attentiveness of the auditory sense even greater, as though the setting of the poem is within a hortus enclosus, a cultural trope that has lasted from Jan van Eyck’s 1439 masterpiece, ‘The Madonna of the Fountain’ to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 children’s novel, The Secret Garden, and makes the sound somehow supra-natural and incidental to life within the orchard. The lines ‘whom we may call / our history’ do not yield their meaning easily, and it is the ‘our’ that is the most puzzling: does it refer to ‘women’s’, as if the ‘women, perhaps, passing’ are, like suffragettes in long Edwardian dresses, heading elsewhere to make history on women’s behalf while life, in all its dusky oddness, continues in the microcosmic orchard? Or is that overstating the significance of a phrase whose verb is qualified by an ambiguous ‘may’?

A second semi-colon then implicitly takes the poem back to the ‘hush’ which could, as much as it could be made by the skirts, belong to ‘a vole, / some creature of the dusk’. Here, Jamie binds her words together on the ear: the ‘vole’ completes a hat-trick of end-rhymes – ‘wall’ / ‘call’ / ‘vole’ – and ‘dusk’ echoes ‘hush’, before a comparative barrage of heavier consonants, and assonance (‘plum’ / ‘suddenly’ / ‘muscular’), in the final verse. One wonders why Jamie used ‘garden’ when it appears to be superfluous, unless it was to augment the image of the hortus enclosus; though the lack of en-dashes means that ‘slender’ could be describing just ‘garden’ rather than the more obvious sense of describing ‘garden[-]plum trees’ – clearly the latter is intended since the ‘arms [...] turn muscular’.

The climax of the poem is bathed in visual trickery, where ‘slender’ tree branches ‘suddenly / turn muscular’, and where colour, ‘deepest blue’, envelops ‘the arms of the slender / garden plum trees’. (Samuel Palmer, like his mystical forebear Blake, would have opted – and frequently did so – for golden light.) In the final line, Jamie gets her comma use just right: the pause it creates allows room for the full effect of the void-like blue as night descends.

In five short verses, Jamie delineates a Gnostic netherworld where nothing is quite what it seems and one can never be sure what one has seen or heard. It is most magically rendered, perfectly paced, and lovely.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

into the chalkstream valley:
the ballet of gulls—
a house of hydrangeas
still sparkles in pink

Friday, 11 October 2013

wind-tipped aerial:
the space between
crow and magpie

Thursday, 10 October 2013

morning murk
double-scullers leave a path

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

bit nippy...
the bus with no number
flies on by

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

from the top deck
a plane-tree shows where
the mist doesn't reach

Monday, 7 October 2013

between doctors
the cleaner swishes

Sunday, 6 October 2013

chalk escarpment...
the curve of the train track
mirrors the downs

Saturday, 5 October 2013

a heron looks set
at every freshly-formed pool:
the Thames at low tide

Friday, 4 October 2013


Dawn rain steams off the woodland ride.
Nettles embrace the morning light.
Here, among the chin-slumped burdock heads,
the last ripe blackberries, their drupelets

large and moist, are half within sun,
half not. Over boulders of stone
and brick, wordless, elemental,
the river picks up pace until

an old orange leather football,
trapped among feathery rubble,
dams the flow. A hidden moorhen
squeaks from beneath another laden

bramble branch, which arches its tip
to stepping stones, where dippers dip
and water voles fetch into view,
like secrets disclosed to the few.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

autumn rain
the firemen climb their
practice tower

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

night out:
a ginger tom finds
a gap in the traffic

Monday, 30 September 2013

among the Canada geese the higher pitch of a single greylag's honk

Sunday, 29 September 2013

birthday sunshine
three men on the bus jest
in sign language

Saturday, 28 September 2013

she wheels out
the same old stories
for someone new,
but in among it all reveals
something she's never told

Friday, 27 September 2013

lake shimmer...
a hind and her calf
cross my path

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

a tabby cat rubs
around the chimney pots—
autumn mist

Monday, 23 September 2013

Chicory Blues

As summer nudges cornflowers and chicory
into undecided September, a ditch is stirred by the tansy eyes,
lime-striped back and combat-trousered legs of a marsh frog.

We prise the last few blackberries, turning from ruby to plum,
and whistle along the tributary, like the brood of moorhens
that launches in, all legs, to spatter at pace across the stream.

Sunset searchlights the valley; finds parakeets inching sideways
on a bough; then a tower-block’s lower storeys,
where a balcony’s filled by somebody’s sky-blue bike.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Cat's Breakfast

As she busily treads and treads
upon your pillow at first light,
she tells you that burlier mogs
invaded her space in the night;

so you slide into your new silk
dressing-gown and sleepily head
downstairs, where you offer her
choice tidbits of yesterday’s cod,

which she spurns with a tail-swish
as if such bites are beneath her,
and this year you’ve been waiting for
settles just like any other.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

its honks first of all:
an arrow of geese heading
over the hilltop

Friday, 20 September 2013

weekend sunset
the Belted Galloways
traipse back to the farm

Thursday, 19 September 2013

pink moon
the slow drip of rain
off Michaelmas daisies

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

departing tram—
a toy windmill turns
above the gravestone

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

over the brook,
from young firs to mature:
a laughing yaffle

Monday, 16 September 2013

in the cafe quarter
only starlings dine—
crab-apple rain

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Toffee Apples

We’re breaststroking idly towards the deep end in the leisure centre pool, my 11-year-old daughter and I, when she asks, “Do you like toffee apples?”

A stroke later, I reply, “I don't think I’ve had one since I was about 14, at my school's summer fair; but I know I liked them.”

“I eat the toffee off them, but don’t eat the apple,” she confesses.

“That’s shocking,” I deadpan. “The apple’s the best bit.”

As we touch the rail at the end, she grins, “You can’t expect a kid to think the apple’s better than the toffee.”

                                        suntrapped ragwort—
the Thamesside blackberries
not quite ripe

Saturday, 14 September 2013

all the names scratched
or gouged in a brick wall
by the bus stop
my son growing into
his new blue jacket

Friday, 13 September 2013

Friday the 13th:
drizzle on the roses
in the almshouse garden

Thursday, 12 September 2013

I lose my thread—
half-moon haze

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

from deep within the hole in the road a damselfly's flight

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

by platform 5
a workman peels the layers
off a billboard

Monday, 9 September 2013

I chase the thunderheads
all round my running route—
a field of crows

Sunday, 8 September 2013

snaffled by a web
between crimson blackberries:
September sun

Saturday, 7 September 2013

first autumn squall:
the white-walled garden
just gets on with it

Friday, 6 September 2013

the man with three poodles
gets tangled in their leads...
Friday evening sun

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

shifting clouds
the slip cordon ooh and aah
at everything

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

courtyard light
the straggly lavender
still sagging with bees

Monday, 2 September 2013

sparse crowd—
the morning sunburst
spreads across the outfield

Sunday, 1 September 2013

the way it is now:
in Dad's old vegetable patch
fireweed's the bumper crop

Saturday, 31 August 2013

The September issue of A Hundred Gourds is now online, featuring, inter alia, some 'expositions' curated by me, including an essay by Teddington's finest poet, Hamish Ironside.
sunsprayed ride:
a speckled wood opens out
its full spread

Thursday, 29 August 2013

August heat
the old Jack Russell takes umbrage
at everything

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

plane-tree shadows...
a tabby cat reclines
on a soft-top

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Michaelmas daisies
the tops of the tower-blocks
enveloped by mist

Monday, 26 August 2013

heathland brambles
a honey bee investigates
every drupelet

Sunday, 25 August 2013

the backwaters:
both its parents feed sprats
to the grebe chick

Saturday, 24 August 2013

In the Coronation Baths

it’s my breath,
in her blood-red ring,

that bolsters
my daughter afloat.

My bold son,
for the first time,

lurches fluently
into the butterfly

and plies the pool
with long, round arms,

like a bowler
from the early days of cricket.

When at last
the three of us meet,

we’re like dolphins
grinning beside a boat.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

we scratch
mosquito bites—
blue moon

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

evening fox...
I do my best
to walk at Dad's pace

Monday, 19 August 2013

beached pedaloes—
               sandflies nip
from mussel to scallop

Saturday, 17 August 2013

trailing vaporetti
a cormorant turns its head
this way and that

Friday, 16 August 2013

half moon
cicadas sing the length
of the quiet canal

Thursday, 15 August 2013

among palazzi
the north-east wind
swallows your words

Monday, 12 August 2013

Hounslow sundown
she happily harvests
courgette flowers

Sunday, 11 August 2013

cloudless skies
a stallholder spills tomatoes
in my path

Saturday, 10 August 2013

in the shade
of the upright surfboard
wedged in the sand
a surfer trains his gaze
on the highest waves

Friday, 9 August 2013

summer hangover
a gust springs showers
from the plane trees

Thursday, 8 August 2013

onto her thigh
an inch above the pool:
a hornet's shadow

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

evening heat
on the road to the windmill
small tortoiseshells

Monday, 29 July 2013

high summer
the yellows and pinks
in the old brick wall

Sunday, 28 July 2013

I cross the river
to the sunny side of the ait—
flowering burdock

Saturday, 27 July 2013

with every breaststroke
her Maori pattern tattoo
dips underwater

Thursday, 25 July 2013

with each day
we disclose more and more
about ourselves—
watching from the office
the rain that ends the drought

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

the long day bookended
by thunderstorms

Monday, 22 July 2013

endless sun
I ponder what 'dench'
is slang for

Sunday, 21 July 2013

sunwaves break upon
the yellowed watermeadow—
a horse rider's bounce

Friday, 19 July 2013

pinkening dusk
across the whitewashed wall
sweet-pea shadows

Thursday, 18 July 2013

heatwave blues...
a cyclist tailgates an ambulance
through the traffic

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

yellow moon
the empty bus
finishes its route
mellow heat
peppering a backing track of vibes
                     the busker's trumpet

Monday, 15 July 2013

the magpie digs its beak
right into the roundabout—
morning swelter

Sunday, 14 July 2013

a rare breeze tickles
the prickly-lettuce heads...
Bastille Day

Saturday, 13 July 2013

blanket heat
a man on the train says
his dog is trained to hurt

Friday, 12 July 2013

in the last knockings
of this summer evening:
still the swifts

Thursday, 11 July 2013

clouding over...
two workmen watch a third
bisect a paving stone

after John Barlow

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

ragwort and mallow—
from beyond the wall
a child's song

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

the washing on the line bone-dry the pinkness of Herb Robert

Monday, 8 July 2013

wilting roses
the aroma of bitumen
setting down the road

Sunday, 7 July 2013

the whole town's in shorts...
a man walking straight ahead
looks ready to kill

Saturday, 6 July 2013

hot sun washes
the walls of the classroom—
end-of-year blues

Friday, 5 July 2013

over the heads of bargain-hunters the tittle-tattle of long-tailed tits

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

a long day's work
the cat's stretch
from shed to fence

Monday, 1 July 2013

a whole load of worry
in the blackbird's flight

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Door Knock

The housemates are already poorly
with something resembling glandular fever
when Carmel, the least ill, opens the door
to a pumice-faced pair
who sprinkle holy water, roaring
I exorcise this house in the name of the Lord.
Still fully clothed that night,
and even with body heat
and three hot-water bottles
permeating between the eight of them,
the housemates defy all common sense
by shifting up into one bed,
shivering and shivering.

Friday, 28 June 2013

summer rain
the mic'd-up preacher
addresses his feet
on the station map
all the train lines are faded
to the same indigo...
rosebay willowherb sways
beside the single track

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

in the cleft of the river's fork:
                          the blueness of viper's bugloss

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

a young wino
watches daytime telly
from the threshold
of the Sony shop—
midsummer torpor

Sunday, 23 June 2013

solstice evening
jackdaw bills scoop ants
from the slipway

Saturday, 22 June 2013

black eastern skies
the midsummer wind parts
a poppy field

Friday, 21 June 2013

talking weather
with my next-door neighbour
the magical swifts

Thursday, 20 June 2013

the sky about to break...
a grassed path leads nowhere
in particular

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

clammy day
the patterns revealed by
stripping back the walls

Monday, 17 June 2013

by the fountain
a barrow boy hollers
about aubergines

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Venetian Thumbnail

The narrowest pass between gondolas:
a splash of canal on a linen suit.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

summer fete:
the Punch and Judy man
losing his voices

Friday, 14 June 2013

now the swifts
in the rooftop nest have settled
we can all sleep—
my mind replays incidents
from another week of slog

Thursday, 13 June 2013

its owner yanks
the schnauzer from my leg...
summer rain

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Trip

Hours in, and halfway through Star Trek IV (wherein Spock breaststrokes around a tank of humpback whales), which we’re watching in technicolour on Ciara’s Binatone portable black-and-white, I start to lose all sense of time; what purpose it serves and why. I stare at the fire, where a log is wrapped in flame; then focus on the clock, but I just can’t fathom what the hands are doing, or how the present becomes the past. Ron, our friend from Chepstow, renowned for drinking homebrew after barely the recommended fermentation period, boasts of his ability to work out time, so we up and walk to town via the prom. That’s despite the fact it’s mid-November, when the North Atlantic gusts can lift you off your feet. Tonight, though, all is calm; the tide way out from the West Strand. But as we get as far as the point where, each equinox, the breakers crash right over, there are clumps of people, in primary-coloured puffas, whom I’m sure are Finnish. I hear them warn us to stay well away from the port. Nevertheless we carry on, lured, not for the first time under the influence, by Sportsland’s raucous lights; only to find a line of RUC vans blocking off Kerr Street. Ciara and I turn back, but Ron, whom we’re delighted to see head off, makes for the chip shop and the Harbour Bar. We cast our farthest gaze out to sea, jump onto sand, clamber over rocks and shine a torch into pools. Beneath the moon, whose cup is almost full, there’s a whole blue world of shrimps and snails, the clearest darkness imaginable.

Monday, 10 June 2013

sleeping geese—
the north side of the ait
completely walkable

Sunday, 9 June 2013

festival dawn—
Ceri reaches out from his tent
while he’s snoring
to grab a can of cider
for a long and audible swig

Saturday, 8 June 2013

handed payment,
the newsagent doesn't look up
from his mobile

Friday, 7 June 2013

Still Life with Ouija Board

Beside a bowl containing an apple,
on a cloth on the dining-room table,

four hands are piled on the upturned glass
frozen, mid-jerk, between cut-out letters.

It isn’t clear if one hand’s exerting
pressure on the others to flit among

the alphabet with mischievous intent;
but judging by the thunderclouds of dirt

beneath what seem to be male nails
one would surmise that the spirit reveals

nothing more in the way of transcendence
than would the movement of freshly-poured pints

between beer-mat and mouth down the Albert –
even though you know there’s something in it.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

bathers entwine
among the long grass
speckled woods

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

above our bedroom:
the evening chit-chat
in the swifts' nest

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

the sunniest day—
starlings after starlings loop
like swallows

Monday, 3 June 2013

on what remains
of the bulldozed facade:
white wisteria

Sunday, 2 June 2013

gnat clouds
among the new fronds
shadowed hinds

Saturday, 1 June 2013

sunrayed laburnum—
aged eleven, she still wants
to hold my hand

Friday, 31 May 2013

alongside the old electric railway: sea-breezed hollyhocks

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

twilight rain
another swift slams
into the nest

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


In the corners of our eyes: frisky horses,
unhitched from wagons along the towpath.

Of Bella and the three of us that she dangles
in turn, at any one point at least one of us

is sexting somebody as we picnic on
the buttercupped lawn that slopes down

to the river. We’re young metrosexuals
seeking the sun in an inland watering-place,

urban sophisticates bringing glamour
and elegance to your doorstep. What more

could you want? We swig from flagons;
dream of siestas in the wagons.

Harlequin waves from Hammerton’s Ferry.
If we exist, we do so to make merry.

Monday, 27 May 2013

bank holiday blues
an orange-tip crosses
the tidal river

Sunday, 26 May 2013


             Under black dirigible skies
 the pavement up Sheephouse Way
              cracks from 1967 to 2013.

               My brother says if I tread
     on a crack, the Devil will get me.
                           But how on earth

does he expect me to get to school
            without stepping on at least
                                   one or two?

                             They always run
                 south-west to north-east.
     One’s the Rio Grande. Another’s

                              Antonine’s Wall.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

cars part to make way
for the ambulance

Friday, 24 May 2013

The Beach Party

A friend of a friend of a friend, of course:
Sheena was going to give it a miss,
but she’s here after all and so am I:
her on the Smithwick’s; me on Bacardi.
It took us half an hour to find it:
from the dunes you can’t see the sudden dip
(unless you’re one of them mingers beating
the bishop at the sight of bikinis),
but then you see smoke and hear the guitar.
I’m gonna sit nearer to the fire.
Out by the Skerries, a tanker’s anchored.
By now its crew’ll be getting wankered
in the Harbour Bar. I hate sing-alongs.
Yer man Karaoke Boy always sings:
no, I don’t write the feckin’ book of love.
And no, I don’t have faith in God above.
What about ye, Big Man? Sit beside me.
D’ye fancy a slurp of my Bacardi?

Thursday, 23 May 2013

sunrayed and squashed
in brick-wall crevices:
the dead fox

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

late sun
the whooshing swifts
wheel onto our roof

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

above the tannoy
a nesting pigeon eyeballs
the through-train

Monday, 20 May 2013

On the Rookery Estate

I’m waiting for the lift so long
that I make instead for the stairs,
where three blokes in boilersuits

are folding them up like origami:
each step concertina-ing,
swim-lanes of activity;

the finials, likewise, tumbling together;
the balustrades collapsing into a knapsack,
to be carried off, I’m told,

to fill the gap between
the guildhall and its annexe
in a much more salubrious part of town.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

day's end
the florist pours vase water
into the gutter

Saturday, 18 May 2013

sound of swifts
the poet accentuates
his line-breaks

Friday, 17 May 2013

jackdaws walk the Smoke-bound tracks week's end

Thursday, 16 May 2013

backlit clouds
the curl of a worm
in the blackbird's beak

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

rain on the wind
a squirrel leaps across
the tennis court

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


In the sidelight’s shadow you say 
I’m the yellow snail 
we noticed earlier
              who’d made it halfway across the pavement.

I can’t quite see the resemblance. 

If it is me, then I’m one of the motley snails 
who’ve appeared since last night’s bucketing 
  that rattled the skylight, 
as if it were hail impelling like bingo balls;
                                      like the carnival flourish 
I catch in your warmest voice.

Monday, 13 May 2013

swaying ragwort
the millstream trickles
towards the confluence

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Cup Final day...
an engine backs into
the fire station

Here's another football-related haiku.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

a black cat steps
through wisteria

Friday, 10 May 2013

in the space between each thought the patterns of rain

Thursday, 9 May 2013

evening rain
my bus breasts
the brow of the hill

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

slowing my heartbeat
to the river's speed
a patch of comfrey

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

between film-set trailers
the morning sun surveys
a costume rail

Monday, 6 May 2013

White Dead-nettle

White as toes peeping out from sandals on the year’s first heatwave morning.

    White like the half moon’s corona against a blackening midsummer sky.

       White as a barn-swallow’s breast appearing at a fire-station’s eaves.

          White like the bells of liberty-caps popping up from a rain-drenched lawn.

             White as a roost of little egrets settling down at Michaelmas dusk.

                White like a whalebone reliquary washed ashore at winter’s end.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

where Vincent walked:
the rich, black chacks
from the wheatfield

Friday, 3 May 2013

flying ducks
the pizza delivery man
scoots through traffic

Thursday, 2 May 2013

all possible options
for the restructure—
the evening sun gets among
clumps of dead-nettle

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

high above stalls stocked
with English asparagus:
the tearing of swifts

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

my mind agog
a large white finds a course
between headstones

Monday, 29 April 2013

blue skies
reading letters I wrote
aged seventeen

Sunday, 28 April 2013

bluebell wood
I let my legs go
as fast as they wish

Saturday, 27 April 2013

wind-chilled green
the incoming batsman
flexes her legs

Friday, 26 April 2013

the damson tones
of a fellow passenger's nails
magenta moon

Thursday, 25 April 2013

on the last sunrays
collared doves glide
to the chestnut tops

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Good Day, Mr Gauguin

You tilt your beret's slope to match the mud-brown hood
of the first among the townsfolk's women to welcome back
your gaucho legend to the South Breton seaboard.
Burnt sienna pasture enflames the mussel-blue skies
of pebble-sized hail and the light that creams our chimneys.

You remove the umber richness of your cloak. Now tell us
how the Martinique sun swirled cadmium-yellow
around your palette. Remind us of the swagger you cut
through Creole society. Give us what we secretly crave:
wholesale lascivious lushness, green as a ripening love-apple.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

sunshine pervades
the whole of the top deck—
scent of cider

Monday, 22 April 2013

Earth Day cloud
a hind bounds
through cut-back bracken

Sunday, 21 April 2013

white campion
the shimmer of flies
at the goose carcass

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Car Bomb

Like a chemistry teacher’s sulphurous party piece,
the white flare balloons

from the balaclava-black horizon
long before the bang.

We know at once exactly what it is.
And when the sound makes

toward us from the headland end of town,
it does so at an affable trot,

as though a last great lightning-strike
has shown its face and gone.

Friday, 19 April 2013

half moon
so soon the magnolia's blooms
give way to its leaves

Thursday, 18 April 2013

into a gap
    in the contraflow
        spring gusts blow
             a traffic cone

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

clouds like a massif in the west the speed of bats

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

a faceful of somebody's smoke spring sun

Monday, 15 April 2013

banking ducks...
the magnolia opens
to a new day

Sunday, 14 April 2013

by a waltzing brimstone
basking jackdaws

Friday, 12 April 2013

from the fat retriever's jaw:
sunlit slobber

Thursday, 11 April 2013

camouflaged by gravel
in the stadium car park
three pigeons

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

the river flows
in the wrong direction—
warm splash of sun

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

from a skyscape
bursting with rainclouds:
the calls of geese

Monday, 8 April 2013

sucking my last mint...
all the daffodils in bloom
at the sewage works

Sunday, 7 April 2013

a magpie stretches 
for toeholds
on the office-block—
at last I bring to mind
the word mezzanine

Saturday, 6 April 2013

spring blizzard
a carer guides
her charge along

Thursday, 4 April 2013

artisan ice cream—
a cormorant slips
into the tideway

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


Now you’ll see him, now you won’t, as twilight
sparks up the poppies, hollyhocks and pines
beside the cottage, where a devilment
of bees savours your lavender, and finds
his trailing brush and whiskery ears. You’ll
not help but notice his caper and smirk
as he evanesces over the wall
into Great Wood. Lanterns will stem the dark.
You’ll repeatedly click apart, together,
snapdragons’ mustard-and-cochineal jaws;
inhale sweet peas’ pinkness; be surprised
by the trickster stealing up through heather.
Magenta speckles in foxglove corollas
will kaleidoscope night behind your eyes.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

painted lady—
the sun’s rays slope across
crazy paving

Sunday, 31 March 2013

rain turns to sleet
we glimpse from the bus
topiary elephants

Saturday, 30 March 2013

my train cancelled—
icicles elongate
the pointy dags

Friday, 29 March 2013

wild daffodils
a spaniel splashes up
the side channel

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Having been shortlisted in the Poetry School / Pighog Press Pamphlet Competition a few weeks ago, I've now sent off my 24 pages-worth of poems for the final stage and will find out what happens in May. Fingers crossed and all that...
my bright idea...
the sun in the shingle
dragged back and forth

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

full moon
my mother recalls
the smogs of her youth

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

a willy wagtail
flies across the Hogsmill
with one bounce

Monday, 25 March 2013

within camellia petals:
that's the only place where
the snow has settled

Saturday, 23 March 2013

after each slap of sleet at the window her cheeky grin

Thursday, 21 March 2013

into the headwind:
the wisps from somebody's
spent cigarette

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Double

I am the door to your room, wedged open
by a bear-cub door-stop. My whistling veers
into the through-draught. On a small, round,
laminated table, there’s a pavement-grey
telephone. It takes me half a minute to dial
your number with my index finger, which is
slightly too large for, and consequently pinched
by, the single-digit holes on the dialling circle.
It takes a further while for the number to register.
At the point of connection, I’m over-prepared:
it’s my body cut into two which speaks, gabbling
at the double. I’m not even sure that it’s you
who’s answered – you who no doubt isn’t
used to receiving calls from your own home;
who probably wonders who the hell this is.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

magpies nest-build—
the smell of school dinners
wafts with the breeze

Monday, 18 March 2013

in my eyeline
a green woodpecker
bounces onto the clump

Sunday, 17 March 2013

soaked to the skin...
the basso profondo of
the loudest crow

Saturday, 16 March 2013

without my glasses
I recognise my son
by his stride

Friday, 15 March 2013

the southerly wind
shakes the eucalyptus—
her old photos

Thursday, 14 March 2013

as he drags back
an empty wheelie bin
near whence it came,
the binman rants to no-one
with a fag on his lip

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

two colleagues flirt
in the open plan

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

telling everyone
in view to shut the fuck up
she adds,
Get the fuck out of my way —
I may be bald but I ain't blind

Monday, 11 March 2013

wind-sped flurries
a wagtail scampers out
from the lorry's path

Sunday, 10 March 2013

In Punnetts Town

Those moles’ve ruined my garden
—atrabilious Sussex burr:
Granddad beaming, incisorless:
chequered slippers and cardigan;
wire spectacles, freckled hair.
Piglets chunter beyond the fence.

Within the beehive bungalow:
jars of quince and bramble jelly;
tomatoes, radishes, beetroot;
wheatfield-scapes; vanquished piano;
a clangorous Blind O’Reilly;
the rank bouquet of bereavement.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

first bumblebee
the town gas holder
all but empty

Friday, 8 March 2013

on his phone,
my friend smiles hello
with his eyebrows

Thursday, 7 March 2013

night rain
the warmth of her kisses
on my spine
Very happily, for me at least, I have been shortlisted in the Poetry School / Pighog Press Pamphlet Competition. Onto the next stage now, of assembling 24 pages-worth of poems.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Days on End

In your bedroom’s canary wallpaper,
you see cranes and peacocks creeping
ever closer. Under the Worcester
Pearmain out the back, there’s a man
and his black Labrador, standing still,
and fish-heads scattered everywhere;
hundreds upon hundreds of them.
No wonder the cat’s going berserk.
Nevertheless, a barn-owl chimes
with the Strawberry moon on top of
terracotta flower-pots stacked inside
each other upside down. The cat
meows the house down, rubs his body
and upright tail round and round your legs
until you’re dizzy with it all, as if
you’ve drifted inside a kaleidoscope
for days on end.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

spring sunlight
in the river's crook
a chorus of crows

Monday, 4 March 2013

surging wind...
the percentage of my run
when I'm off the ground

Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Lamentation of Celia Stubbs

to the tune of ‘Dives and Lazarus’

He came here from New Zealand on a mission to teach
special needs kids in east London,
a man of wit and feeling was my partner Blair Peach
and I loved him with abandon.

From Bethnal Green ’cross to Southall town
we fought the fuzz with fury;
but they came equipped with metal sticks
and they beat my love to jelly.

He stood up to the racists on Commercial Road
till his strength sent the bastards packing;
stopped the Tyndall fascists from spreading their word
’gainst Bengali folk on Brick Lane.

On St George’s Day morning, back in ’79,
the NF gathered in Southall.
Behind the rozzers arrayed in a riot-shield line,
they shouted shite from the Town Hall.

We were five thousand mighty (though the filth said fewer),
when we marched up Southall Broadway.
From all over the city, we advanced together,
for to reclaim Shakespeare’s birthday.

From Bethnal Green ’cross to Southall town
we fought the fuzz with fury;
but they came equipped with metal sticks
and they beat my love to jelly.

Among the ‘Kill the Bill’ chants and the banners of red,
no-one noticed the SPG
come flying out from their vans with their coshes of lead,
to bludgeon an anti-Nazi.

When they smashed Blair to the ground with a barrage of blows,
he was stamped on, kicked and spat on.
Though I screamed I made no sound as I clasped him close:
he’d been knocked out cold by batons.

The coroner was biased; he detested the Left,
stated Sikhs could not be trusted.
Some witnesses were silenced; to others he was deaf.
His report was done and dusted.

From Bethnal Green ’cross to Southall town
we fought the fuzz with fury;
but they came equipped with metal sticks
and they beat my love to jelly.

All the coppers had grown beards to disguise their guilt;
their witness statements were censored.
McNee, the Commissioner, said his men had played no part.
It was ‘death by misadventure’.

And as I dwell upon Blair and his terrible fate,
take heed, my brothers and sisters:
one day there will be fairness for my passionate mate
and a victory for justice.

So come all you good people who believe in the truth,
make a stand against oppression,
and wake up from your sleepwalk into premature death
by opposing State repression.

From Bethnal Green ’cross to Southall town
we fought the fuzz with fury;
but they came equipped with metal sticks
and they beat my love to jelly;
yes, they beat my man to jelly.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

a pigeon ducks under
the security gate
winter's end

Friday, 1 March 2013

St David's Day
a coot's wake spans the whole of
the Duke of Northumberland's River

Thursday, 28 February 2013

over the railway
two ducks synchronize
their rapid descent

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

a drunk on the bus
berates the seamless flow of cars
around a roundabout...
I focus on the purple crocuses
slapbang in the centre of it all

Monday, 25 February 2013

under the arches
the Tex-Mex buskers
give it some oomph

Sunday, 24 February 2013

on the count of three,
the eight, as one, lift their boat
from the grey river...
a heron launches up towards
the nothing-doing heronry

Saturday, 23 February 2013

tricks of the light snow that tickles your nose

Friday, 22 February 2013

Apple Market—
one of those day when
everyone looks familiar

Thursday, 21 February 2013

on Sunshine acid
they come upon cows being milked
along Sheepwash Lane;
see how the sunlit milk pours
endlessly, endlessly, into the pail

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Arctic winds
stomp through the market place—
with fingerless mitten fingers
the kiddie-ride attendant smokes
a ciggie down to the butt

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

             lily of the valley
she says I've grown into my face

Monday, 18 February 2013

their keyboard-player gives it
the full Rick Wakeman

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Cherry Tree

The young cherry’s leaves are blown back like a bush
by the day’s end breeze
that drags up fallen blossom from the grass.

The Braille ridges of the central-leader trunk narrate
an undercooked story, of how it’s hard
to draw up from the taproots a month’s worth of rain.

How fine it must be, though, to know precisely
what’s needed to prosper;
not to have to cogitate till the cows come home;

till the sky caves in.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

warmer days...
her ex-husband says
she looks nice

Friday, 15 February 2013

yellow dusk
the crow-chased magpie
returns to its spot

Thursday, 14 February 2013

the path to work
cutting through the sewage works

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

all-day rain
I peel off an egg-shell
in one piece

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Shrove Tuesday
the dentist tells me
she's expecting

Monday, 11 February 2013

just like his birth:
a thin layer of snow
covers the world

Sunday, 10 February 2013

cold rain
my son and I thank the driver
at the same time

Saturday, 9 February 2013

St John's Playground

My son, my eldest son, spins round
in a sunshine-yellow teacup meant
primarily for the under-fives, his stiltish legs
protruding like a bobtail squid’s,
his unstyled hair exploding from his head
which once was cradlecapped;
and with every revolution his smile broadens
as if the hedgerowed s-bend ahead of him
has branched into a sixteen-lane freeway
of life-chance choices, each one
signified in Esperanto, of which,
at an age about the same as my son is now,
I learnt the rudiments by postal lessons
from an old boy in Abinger Hammer.

Friday, 8 February 2013

foot massage:
she says my toes are green,
like old potatoes

Thursday, 7 February 2013

the start of snow
he lifts his son by reins
right off the ground

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Over at Dave Serjeant's blog, he has an e-chapbook to read (for the price of a donation to MS UK). It's wonderful.

Also, Lynne Rees's equally wonderful haibun collection, Forgiving the Rain, has been published by Snapshot Press. IMHO, it's the best haibun book yet published in these islands by a country mile.
the primrose patches between
Wehrmacht-grey clouds

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

wind-chilled platform
all the commuters watch
the workers pick-axe

Monday, 4 February 2013

at the feet
of benefactors' graves:
first snowdrops

Sunday, 3 February 2013

before his motionless son
a man does endless

Saturday, 2 February 2013

in the trickle
flowing from Ham Lands
into the Thames
a grey wagtail's flicker
lengthens its tail

Friday, 1 February 2013

I have chosen the Per Diem haiku for February on the Haiku Foundation site - on the theme of work. The haiku are, as the title implies, published one per day, on the Haiku Foundation home page.


My face is the colour of the pumice they used on me at school. I’m on
my spot before sunrise. I’m there before the suits pass by.
They don’t
know my name. They look at me kneeling outside a bank 
in a town
that’s in-between bigger towns. I may as well be a pigeon. 
As my old
girl said, they’ll miss me when I’m gone. They’ll mark my 
spot with
posies and tape up photos of how I was. They might not be 
sure if
I’m begging or not. I scrape away at my fiddle. They might not 
be sure
if I’m practising or busking. Sometimes I frogmarch myself 
the road. That’s me: muttering, like a crow. Other times, I laugh 
smile my yellowed teeth. I’m tall. And my beanie makes me taller.

But you wouldn’t know that from the way I kneel. I’m folding in on 
myself. I’m hiding from the world in the best place to hide: outside.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

incoming geese
wind licks the creek
up the seawall

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

slowing his train,
the driver leans an arm out
into sunshine

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Grand Projection

Over cocklers
beached up a fleet,

the seaward drift
of a curlew on a thermal

leads your eyeline
to the arc of its guano

crossing the saltmarsh
to a pot-holed car-park

filled with doggers
gagging for dusk.

Monday, 28 January 2013

I dwell on trivia the head-jerks of redshanks

Sunday, 27 January 2013

       ahead of the stroke
    of the four-man-canoe:
the short flight of tufted ducks

Saturday, 26 January 2013

in snow light
facing the packed lagoon:
the kestrel's back

Friday, 25 January 2013

on the wind...
a curlew
doubles back
to the saltmarsh
where teal

Thursday, 24 January 2013

cold snap blues...
a squirrel's lollop shakes
the last snow down

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

slanting sleet
I turn the corner
away from the wind

Monday, 21 January 2013

the creak of our boots
in the riverside snow
lime-green gloves

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

a jackdaw digs deep
in freshly-shat horseshit
on the woodland ride

Monday, 14 January 2013

pale day
everywhere the shoots
from last year's bulbs

Sunday, 13 January 2013

before the hearing
the usher's loud whistle
matches his brogues

Saturday, 12 January 2013

both ears burning—
the pied wagtail
goes round in circles

Friday, 11 January 2013

daylight doesn’t arrive
quite as it’s supposed to—
from the train’s end
I watch the last carriage
round the bend to Twickenham

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

In Touch Too

I take down Mr Fisher’s Poems 1955-1987
                                  to see what he gleaned
from Doc Williams’s Pictures from Brueghel
                                  then stuff it in my bag
and dash off to work:

the number 213
  and the redness of its rear
  are all I catch
  of the cornering bus.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

carrying a cashbox
across the marketplace
the helmeted security man
focuses straight ahead
on the shopping mall lights

Monday, 7 January 2013


Her hair is the colour of
Seville orange marmalade
streaked by January sun,

and she sneezes without
sneezing, i.e. noiselessly.
One of her sons complains

about the pokes and prods
from the other, younger one.
She says, I know; I know.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

In Arcadia

the topic of conversation among the four
nymphish women at the concert -

where a goateed fellow like Pan
plays bass viol, accompanied

by a curly-tressed lad on flute -
is whether, when and to whom

the onlooking officer, red-sashed
and smirking beneath his thin moustache,

will make some cut-and-thrusting parley
with one of them. Like the violist's beret,

light slants from left to right, across
their sparkling decolletages.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

from the field full of fighting jackdaws a chacking cough
Dennis O'Driscoll, who died suddenly and much too young just before Christmas, is remembered by Famous Seamus in the Grauniad. He published a poem of mine in Poetry Ireland Review back in 1987, when I was 20. It was such a thrill to have a poem in the same issue as the likes of George Mackay Brown.

Friday, 4 January 2013

under South Bank lights
the busking bluesman flirts
as he growls

Thursday, 3 January 2013

mild spell—
a plane tree's roots
bulge the tarmac

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

coots and geese slip sideways
with the flow

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year's walk
my daughter points out
an Anderson shelter