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