Monday, 31 December 2012

Mrs Hooper

Saying such things can get you killed
but you know Mrs Hooper, the one
with the shopping bag and humped back?

What, that old dear who smells of cats
and doesn't belief in baths?

The very same.

Well what about her? What
do you want to bring that
old crow up for?

She used to be a British spy
you know, in the war.

Are you sure?


Sunday, 30 December 2012

Where The Wind Is A Thing Of Horses And Roundedness

Mathematically it equalled a cigarette
all the role of its knowledge was gold
that travelled the winds, made marks
to go down the road feeling bad.
The cool notice in the dust led
to her, her square hammer
making midnight a cold home for her
where the wind is a thing of horses and roundedness
and the going is hard, edges plugged
a white morph around each well cut.
The drama ends, is measured, equals
eighteen hurt bones sleeping.
Set the lungs for more, consider the tape
take leave of the chalkboards, erase the selectors.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Lamp

Lampshade, like an eccentric's hat,
looks towards stars smiling in a tree top.
Thin brass body like a candlestick,
a back turned against me.
Rain drips from the brim.

The wild wood sways in the darkening air,
black clouds rolling down on a forest floor
where a man in a greatcoat walks in heavy boots.
Thatch of hair under an eccentric hat like a lampshade.
Conical hill rising to a wooden gate. A tombstone
for some local dignitary too important to rest in the churchyard.
Magical silence except for a whispering in the leaves,
the thwacking of a swan running on the green river.

Two people, man and woman, come walking into this place.
Trespassers from the town. A dog on a lead.
The man in the greatcoat watches them. Waits for them to go.
Rain keeps falling. Too dark now to be in this place
far from the wooden cabins with their yellow lights.
The couple are as if they'd never been there.

I turn the lamp, its electricity on.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Who Could It Be At This Time Of Night?

In one of those seemingly endless summer evenings
we arrived at a junction with a telephone box.
Oak trees towered over the crossroads. The leaves
pressed down on the red roof of the telephone box.

We walked down a lane
where suspicious faces
peered from cottage windows:

strangers abroad at this time of night? 


Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Black Bell

Everyone comes to gather,
mingle in this small room with windows
too high to give onto any view. Good people, yes.
I know that, but just as soon as I can, I slip away,
unobserved, to my car. Drive into town.
Follow a black Saab driven by a man in a Santa suit.
Find a place to park. When I step out into the light
it's all oh, that's still there and well, that's just the same.

The black bell
starts to swing
above the alms houses.

I watch its slow arc.

Dust blows down
the bright street.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

New Morning, Dark Rain

A long, black car like a hearse parked on a gravelled drive.
A hollow filled with rain water and a door, of all things,
propped up against a box hedge. The hedge is unruly, wild
and tangled and one could fancy that the door
could be opened into a strange pagan hall
that leads into the dark underworld
where earthy tunnels, lit by spluttering lamps,
lead into a secret hall where invisible folk
celebrate the new morning of dark rain.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

The Blacksmith

travelling one hundred miles
every, every day

but there's no time to stop.

Envy for the man
who gets his hands dirty:
makes something with his hands.


Time only
for the mind
to wander
even further

the blacksmith
sips his coffee
in a smoke-filled

blue murder.

Monday, 24 December 2012


Your way is the road that crimps the ridge.
You follow two lanterns through space
where every patch of darkness
might be a shape, horse, pig, cow
or sudden river-muscle flow
of deer travelling the heath
grey sand underneath.
Skylines. Stars.
Your lanterns lead to a five-bar gate
a green barn and a light in the window.
Your breath smokes.
A dog barks, the echo
follows you home.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Winter Morning

I wake where it's too dark to read.
Winter makes a page at my window.
My coffee is a cup of night.
I wake where it's too dark to read
stops me from going further
to the axe, gull, shore.
Winter turns a page at my window.
My coffee is a cup of words.
I wake where it's too dark to read
all but the page of winter
at my word-filled window.

Saturday, 22 December 2012


Industrial clangour coming from the rock band sawing
guitars steam-hammering drums shaping
sounds: I picture paint splashing
expulsions of colour.
All of this contained in a white cuboid
hip but a cheap effect, really
easily achieved. What is a required
is a vacuum cleaner sphere
top-half white, the rest green.
Flexi hose directed into
this black corner where,
so my childhood imagining
ran, lived the most horrible
of all spiders – a shaggy-legged
horror with moon-cold eyes glowing
in the dark. It's a wonder
I ever got any sleep –
the worst nightmare being
a weathered and wooden
post with a hole
into which I poked my index finger
which is the very thing
you should never do: my blood curdling
as the hag inside grabbed hold
and never let go, dreams not complying
with the daytime schemes of dimensions.

Friday, 21 December 2012


Tired, I look for a place to sit. I drift down a dark road where I think there might be a bench. My thinking is correct. Here is a bench set back from the road under a tall tree. Soft mud under my feet carpet with dried pine needles. I sit down, alone in the dark: a stranger in town with no place to go. Sometimes people pass. When they sense my presence they give me a quick glance. Then look away even faster. Quicken their steps. Give me a wide berth. Who can blame them? Grown men don't sit out on their own at night on dark benches. If only they really knew...

A woman in a hurry comes out of the building just down the road from where I'm sitting. The Digby Hall – a relic from between the wars. Coat-Of-Arms above the door. My Grandmother used to play bingo there. She took me once. I remember the booklets of numbers. The red felt pens for circling the numbers. Best of all, the bingo caller with his hair greased down with Brylcream. Spotty bow-tie at his throat. An old-time compère from the radio days except that he had a terrible speech impediment that might it hard to decipher the numbers. After awhile, you tuned in, understood him. All the twos, dinky doo... two fat ladies, eighty eight, legs eleven... and all the old ladies joining in, laughing as if hearing these strange phrases for the first time.

I think I won. No, I know I won. But I can't remember if it was a line or a house. I think it must have been a line. All I remember for sure was that I stared at the numbers in their red circles with stunned disbelief. This would mean that I would have to call out. Make my voice heard in this dusty old hall. I tugged at my Grandmother's arm. Line, she called. We've got a line and there was a murmuring ripple of voices. All eyes turned our way.

The eyes still, though I'm trying hard not to be noticed, turn my way. But for tonight, at least, I sure haven't got a house.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Old Bristol Road

He walks up the old Bristol Road. The road keeps travelling up past houses with triangular porches that grow from the façades like eyebrows quizzically raised. A memory here of spectacles with gold frames belonging to the old headmaster with hair like a strand of kelp washed up by the tide on a sandy shore. He asked questions concerning the journey. Simple queries regarding times and routes that seemed, to the boy, now a man walking up the same road, as complicated as the mathematical problems chalked on the sea-green board in white chalk. 

The classroom with the brown tiled walls where the windows were always high. The headmaster could have been describing the canals of Mars or pockets of black explosions puffing under immense telescopes held by mountainous hands with dazzling rings on every finger for all the boy knew. But he nodded, in what he hoped were the right places and said yes. The simple-complicated language that he later learned to master – to decipher the seemingly indecipherable words, cryptic as clues left by a cold lake where the yellow lines always became entangled in the wind-swaying reeds.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Half Moon

I walk through the school gates. My options are limited. Footsteps follow me. I want to shake them. Here is the road where we used to hang out. That house, the one just over there, set back from the road? We treated the old man who lived there cruelly. We would knock on his door and scarper. Hide behind hedges. Call out abuse because he had a reputation: a dirty old man.

The pathway leads between the allotments with its smell of earth and cabbages. A man in a wool hat, his lip set in a sour scowl, comes out from a makeshift shed. He doesn't look my way and I make it to the park. The swings are new. The see-saw is new. Bright red and yellow and somehow plastic looking. Spongy, rubberised surfaces. I still have the scar on my hand, shaped in the letter T from where I fell from the rusting swing in the days when the ground was still hard and sharp, had bite.

Now the old primary school. Mr Hunsley would spin in his grave if he could see the graffiti adorning its walls. There's a light on in a window where a woman sits staring at a computer screen. She has pink hair and a ring through her nose.

The road drops through familiar landmarks. I take a quick glance to my left. Quick, to see if I can handle it. A sort of visual sip. Grandad's house. It looks smaller, greyer. Grimmer. A car slows and the man driving takes a good look at me. I drop my gaze and walk on. Just another stranger on important business of his own.

My options are limited. The light is failing fast. Darkness finds me following a path through the gardens. I can hear water chuckling in the stream. The bandstand is a silhouette. There are kids on there. I recognise their voices. Pull my hat down and fade into the night. A half-moon smiles in the sky.

Another Page Turner

Tonight, the house is a series of tricks made from a ticking of dashes and dots. To pass the time, you listen to the rain, try and make some sense of its code.

It is night – you already know that, but that patch of wall burns like the sun.

Now the smoking heads of birds in grey arabesques.

Fingerprints on the mirror, whorls that on a closer look create eclipses on world shaped shadows.

The birds burn in the sun.

The soundtrack = glass that smashes,
vapour from a gun...

A white mug filled with silver shreds of photos
of the moon, its craters.

Someone in the
next room tearing
a strip of paper.

That sharp intake of breath:

metallic scream
that stops
the page turning.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Ice At Long Cross

Nothing much happened until the car started to glide. Didn't you see that skin on the road? Ice like psoriasis? Well, you certainly did when the car started to slide. Pushed your foot down hard on the brake peddle. The car kept on going. That's when you clocked the ice. You, docile, dozy – as if all of this was happening to somebody else and had nothing to do with you. The red Honda parked broadside on across three lanes of traffic. That don't look right... what is that idiot doing? Pushed your foot down hard on the brake peddle and suddenly everything was happening to you. Then you knew alright what that idiot was doing.

Notice how everything slows down? Happens in slow motion? Because it does. The brain slows everything down to put you firmly in the moment, the here and now. You're cool as the ice now and the idiot isn't an idiot – just a badly shaken and stirred cocktail of a human being... she gets her car turned the right way round.

You get your car under control. Continue on your way. Everything, everyone just carries on. That's when it all starts to speed up again. You carry on, on your way, inwardly rehearsing what you're going to say.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Surviving A Near Mortal Blow

Trunk of the oak tree hollowed from a lightning blast.
I used the colour of lightning to shade my dreams...

The shape of my dream?
Curved, curled – foetal.

The lightning shade, shape
gathered into a silver concentrate.
Collected like rain
in the front part of my brain.

The owl-brown earth stuck to my fingers
the knees of my trousers.

She said she wanted me to stop.
Stop talking, describing
myself in the third-person:
describing my life
as if it belonged
to someone else.

Does this mean take ownership of?

The palest green tinged with blue.
I wished for a new way, to create this colour.

New words start rising out of the earth.
They come in hints of yellow and white
form crystals on the cauliflowers
that grow in the rain.

Here comes the silver of the harvest knife...

Again and again I return to the hollow tree,
marvel at the green leaves returning
playing host to my friend
the brown owl.

Thursday, 13 December 2012


There are the waxen figures in museums.
In Salisbury you can see a caveman brandishing a club.
He stands, barefoot, on a sandy floor where a red bulb
glows in the heart of a pyramid of charred sticks.

His painted eye holds my gaze.

We stare at each other, man of wax, man of flesh.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


travelling one hundred miles
every, every day

but there's no time to stop.

Envy for the man
who gets his hands dirty:
makes something with his hands.


Time only
for the mind
to wander
even further

the blacksmith
sips his coffee
in a smoke-filled

blue murder.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

No Flies On This Garden

By tricks of rain and light the garden fills with spidery webs.
Sinuously they cling to the bay tree, the curling willow,
the leaning olive with its bluish leaves and, best of all, in mid-air
between trampoline and derelict swing seat.
The web hangs before a dark window and wafts in the wind.
Lord gosh, no fly would stand a chance in this sticky place.

Dazed And Confused

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Domestic Problem

The green ghost corkscrews its vaporous form
in the place where the curtains meet.

The window, the old glass
crackles, crazes under the cold.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Where There Is

The feeling, when I'm here, that I really should be

but never really knowing
where there

Monday, 3 December 2012

Saint Ealdhem

The bishop moulders
in The Green Book
with its mossy bindings
on antique yellow papers
of Glastonbury parchment.

Stands in shadows,
a cave of hollows.

Wears his ceremonial hat,
carries a crook, holds
a babe in arms

stone severe expression
his stone face
rain shaped
a mask
of moulds

his chin, cheeks
lichen whiskers

robes flow
into a pond
of reeds.


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