Wednesday, 30 January 2013

In Honour Of His Birthday...


Then we drove up the creek a ways, above the place where there were beaver darns and the trout stared back at us like fallen leaves. We filled the back of the car with wood for the fire and I caught a mess of those leaves for dinner. They were small and dark and cold.
Trout Fishing in America

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


tear shape
peacock blues
red diamonds
in green oil
that pours
in a hall
of silver
Twist here for more

Monday, 28 January 2013

Saturday, 26 January 2013


A friend brings the outdoors. Carries it in.
Wears it in his grizzled-hair, the stubble
on his cheeks. You can see it in the streams
gathering in the corners of his eyes.

Says he's just got off work. Talks
of rain, skies. Tells us he's been
planting trees – hornbeams
but there was a problem

the place where he dug his holes,
well, there were flints underneath.
Interlocking sheets of stones
forming, so he believed,
part of a Roman road.

Where we were sitting,
in another friend's kitchen
eating slabs of cake, drinking
cups of tea we were a stone's throw
from another Roman road.

Built on a bank, the road
rides in the air, high off the ground,
marches through fields, woods
past burial mounds.

This was the Roman way:
to stamp their authority
on the cold, green country.

Anyway, this friend picks at the flints.
Some are fingers, others thumbs.
Lays them out – skeleton hands.
Watches out for shards of pots.
All of which slows the job down.

We eat our cake. Drink our tea.
Soon we'll have to go, get in the car
drive down a darkening lane.
In this way, Wednesday goes by

our thoughts following naturally,
after another
our own
roads to eternity.

Friday, 25 January 2013

He Doesn't Know What Time Of Day It Is

After soaking in the bath, the steam and heat sending me to sleep, I suddenly wondered how long I'd been lying there. It also struck me as odd that the house was perfectly silent, except for the rain overflowing from a blocked gutter. Where had everyone gone? Why wasn't the TV on? No-one was talking.

After the birth of my first daughter – I was only a boy of twenty one and still sensible enough not to have given in to having a car – I rode back from the hospital with its sterile lights and central heating. I peddled away from the city and felt, felt alive as the street-lights gave way to a country lane. It started to rain and it was the night of the spring solstice. I came to an inn and the idea of beer was too good to resist. For reasons that are inexplicable, other than the need to tell someone, I said to the barman that I was on my way back from the hospital. I'd just become a father. He finished pouring the brown beer and it looked very good. 'It's on me', he said.

I got back to my caravan and slept. Fully clothed. Childbirth is an exhausting business. When I woke, after a night of my brain fizzing and crackling, again and again with the image of my daughter's face, it was still dark. I didn't know if it was morning or night.

There were no lights on over at the farmhouse.
Looking out of my window now, the house
empty and silent I wonder
whether and when
things will get going again.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The January Tree

Inverted witch brooms.
Knotty handles
planted in iron:
candles flower,
glowing blooms
in vaporous air, where
birds black as bats
stir, circle and swirl, specks
that vanish like bubbles
surfacing in cauldrons.

Friday, 18 January 2013


Learned a new way of speaking. Had to as a matter of survival.
God their lives are so sheltered they think I'm an American!

So I pick up their way of talking – mimic them
and walk down a dark city street
hunger gnawing at our bellies
craving the exotic, the mysterious brightness
burning through sleet.


Here's a house without windows, doors or floors.
The initiation requires scaling scaffolding
pounding to the end of a plank, leaping
off and out into the sky to fall, land
in an embrace of building sand.

Except it ended, for me,
in a freeze until this new kid
came along, pulling on his nose
as if expecting water.

I followed after.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Cerne Giant As An Ashtray

A leaf of glass
seals a scene:
white figure
on green.

Who is it? I asked.
The Giant, my Great Grandmother
sat at the table in her
sky-blue housecoat.

She said the word
in such a way as to suggest
that this Giant was a friend of hers:
a personal acquaintance from
Cerne Abbas.

Later, I found out that he was.

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Uninhabitable City

A gift from Aidan Andrew Dun, one of England's finest poets.

His fine blog can be found here:

Forecast For Tonight

Warnings of snow. Flurries of messages. Snow 10 miles north, 10 miles south.

Postings of snow. The back door grinds on its hinges. Wood at the edges,

paint gnawed away. Clear plastic sack for paper and plastic, ice-water

gathered, collected in cool pockets and rucks. No sign, hint in the sky.

The fire sings a song of clean oak. Blurring from journeying:

drove by North Cottage tonight. No lights - not that

it would change things if there were. Have to pass,

keep moving by the burial mounds

the long buried bones

before home that waits finding its

own cool level: makes

of us what it will.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Longridge Reservoir

A walk through a housing estate led
to a lane that went to a reservoir.
For a couple of winters,
this place was a regular haunt.
Water Board architecture
is a melancholy/sombre
thing. It's to do with the
grey that stains like soot,
stains the greenish stone work.
It's to do with the shape
of the windows. The arches
filled with gunmetal glass.
The windows set in
castellated towers
giving a tinted
view into the clouds.

Wait here, by the wall. You can play a tune in your head, let the mind wander. In those years it was almost always the same song. Best of all was the water. Sparkling grey. It lapped at the walls and rebounded with the coldest of breezes.

Looking West over the small reservoir on the edge of Longridge. On a clear day Blackpool and the coast would be easily seen on the horizon.

  © Copyright michael hardman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Death's Dustbin

There was a slate engraved with the words Elm Dean. With the advent of the Dutch elm disease, the plate was removed. Otherwise, the place looked much the same. The same old house waiting at the end of a sweeping gravelled drive.

The tradesman's path runs to the left between the kitchens and laundry. A dustbin stands at the corner. Plastic now, replacing the galvanised bin that had a lid that clanged. One morning Grandad and I walked down this path. There was a smell of boiling cabbage and fresh linen. A dead cat lay on the path. Grandad scooped it up and dumped it in the bin. The lid clanged down on the last of its nine lives.

If you took the right path, you passed the grand faƧade of the house that smiled down on tiered rose beds and a manicured lawn rich with daisies. There was a pond replete with golden fish and burgundy lily pads. It was here that I once met Rupert, the Headmaster's son, smilingly scattering grass seeds. Gardener's grandson, Headmaster's son. The class divide hadn't entered our thoughts yet.

Looking through the French windows you could see chintzy furniture and bookshelves filled with fat books bound in leather. There was a piano and a globe. A painting of a green steam train puffing smoke as it cut through a valley. Cut-glass decanters containing ruby and amber liquid. I only went in there once when a workman fell from his ladder. We laid him out on the settee, his eyes closed and his mouth hanging open like a dead man. No lights on, nobody home.

As far as I can remember, Grandad didn't put him in the dustbin.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Clancy's Epiphany

Mr Clancy Walnut was in his parlour polishing his glasses.

After that, he could see things much more clearly.

Monday, 7 January 2013

The Stallion Armchair Rides Again

The flowers were rusting on the trees. Grey leaves simpered in the leaden breeze. The cold got between the layers of Frank's clothes. He looked out the window. Wished he hadn't. Started to turn away when two men in prison blue shirts with iron bar ties patrolled by. They looked at him looking at them through the window and wishing he hadn't.

Meanwhile, the cat lay spread out like a colour supplement on the coffee-table. The cat was stoned out of its mind.

Frank dragged an armchair across to the TV. The wooden wheels neighed like a stallion as the chair roamed over the prairies of the living room floor. Then the doorbell did exactly what Frank didn't want it to do. It was startling. The last time it rang was when the neighbour had just heard that Princess Diana had died and there'd been no-one more convenient to tell.

In this way, Monday morning was finished. It felt like a doctor's waiting room.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Some Good Advice For Going Abroad

'I feel the better myself for having spent a good deal of my time abroad. But, for God's sake, keep an English cut, and don't become indifferent to bad tobacco!'

- Sir Hugo Mallinger in Daniel Deronda

Friday, 4 January 2013

My Life As Rumpelstiltskin

Her last act that day was to burn the mistletoe. It's acrid smoke tainted the air where he 
was lying on the sofa, bare foot propped up on two cushions. His audition for the part of Rumpelstiltskin had not gone well. The floorboards in the house were of solid oak and 
came off considerably better than his foot. He'd delayed his visit to A & E. The truth felt 
like too foolish a thing to tell. Besides, how could he have danced that evening if his foot 
had been broken? 

In normal circumstances, he never danced. That's what kind of an evening it was. 

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Tentative Steps Into Dancing

In a street – a suburb of some forgotten seaside town
an upstairs room of smoking blue in the fading daylight
- advancing twilight, wearing a shirt like a monk's habit
sitting cross-legged, cutting,projecting, or at least trying to,
the figure of a well-seasoned man of the world
into the gloom.

A girl in a khaki-parka down from Oxford or
Cambridge or some other far-flung exotic
place in the world far from the forklift
truck industrial unit that makes up your

How you got here, arrived in this place -
the dots are too far distant for joining
but others are arriving
bringing light pushing
back the dark – music playing
limbs swaying.

Turning off the light that's interrogating your head
a set of aluminium step-ladders lean
against a shelf of magazines
         fashion, photography, 
         interiors, garden schemes

a golden orb surrounded by six
marbled satellites
floats its flight
across the room
and although you follow
from the corner of your eye
you are beyond fully following.

Sudden explosion, eruption
disturbance in the night:
voices raised

lean up onto your elbow
realise that it's coming
from the darkness
of your living room

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


Bus reflecting the warm glow of the flames.
The darkened windows where, here and there,
candlelight and lamplight shows at the curtain edges.

I don't think anyone played it straight. The big fire burns.
Waves of heat. Liquid orange like lava. White flames
and the log, as it burns, looks like an alligator without a head.


Morlock Oil

Morlock Oil
A new collection of stories available now . Click on image for details.

The Quest Of Great Celtic Mystery

The Quest Of Great Celtic Mystery
New Chapbook Available (email for details)


Bunchgrass Press

Essential guides for the journey...