Friday, 31 May 2013

The Nine Skulls

Bloodstained spoils embalmed in cedar oil, long-haired severed heads, niches cut into 
pillars in third century sanctuaries. Nine skulls. No other bones found in the vicinity.
Trophies, memento mori. Linoleic acid. Immersed, rubbed and oiled like cricket bats
to prevent them from cracking. Preservations, lingering relics from an earlier cult.
Rubble and ruins.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Wooden Perfume

Wooden perfume 
scents a picture:
step worn smooth
as glass.

Webs in the windows
that let in a little light.

Floor of earth,
carpet of chips,

Handle of an axe, 
head on the block.

Bark of a fox
freezes the frosted 
night airs.

Step into the light,
the heat
of the hearth.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Country Town Rain

Endure unpleasant rain in a country town. 
Fascinated, today, by the architecture of empty buildings. 
The arches and pillars of a boarded up cinema, 
the doors firmly bolted on a church. The idea 
of the silent darkness, undisturbed for decades 
inside these grand old buildings too precious 
to knock down, too expensive to re-open. 
Limbo buildings that once were focal points 
but now get barely noticed. The hotel reminds 
me of The Three Peewits in a Powys novel but probably isn't. 
I'm left holding her umbrella while she goes inside to investigate 
a piece of furniture: a chest of drawers with thin layers of paint 
washed over the wood to achieve what I think is called a distressed look. 
I'm feeling pretty distressed myself until I discover on old book shop 
on three floors. An armchair and a grandfather clock and various 
things that catch my eye and are priced right. 
Unfortunately, what grabs me is what I already have 
on my own shelves at home except for a poetry book 
that comes at an inflated price 
because it's signed by the long-dead author
before stepping out into the rain once more.

Monday, 27 May 2013

London: A Travel Guide

To travel to London.


Gran and Grandad went their once.
Got as far as Waterloo Station.
Got off at Waterloo Station.

That was 1977.

Took a look at their first punk.
Turned around and took
the next train home.


How was I ever going
to understand the weird wiring diagram
that was the tube map?

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Curious Complexities of the Green-tailed Monkey Puzzle Tree

Dave Port told everyone that it had been a life changing experience.
Of course, everyone believed him. Dave wasn't known for his waves of enthusiasm. It's probable that Dave even believed it himself: it really had been a life changing experience. From now on, he would do everything differently. In fact, he would start the very next morning.
But the next morning began in the usual state of fraught panic. So many things to cram in before the 7.05 arrived. Should he shave? Is there time for another cigarette? The rubbish needs putting out. Which bank account could he use today? By the time these endless important decisions had been squared away, or put on hold for tomorrow, Dave was standing by the stop and staring up into the curious complexities of the green-tailed monkey puzzle tree.
He came home with good intentions. Braced himself to battle through the inertia. But the cat had been sick on the sofa. Hardly an auspicious moment for a new life to begin.
So it went on. Then winter knocked the stuffing out of him.
Spring arrived and Dave couldn't shake off this feeling that something was wrong. He stared up into the monkey puzzle tree. Scratched his cheek having made the momentous decision to forgo shaving that morning.
The bad feeling followed him all day. He walked to the bus stop. A man sat down next to him and lit a cigarette. The man told Dave that he was on his way home from the hospital. A blood test. Dave feigned polite interest wishing the bad feeling would go away. The man said 'you have to be careful in that ospital.'
Dave tried to look very interested and made the mistake of saying 'really'.
'Yeah. I crept out for a fag. There's nowhere where you can smoke in those damned hospitals. I sheltered in this doorway, leant back on the door when some bugger opened it. I fell backwards and landed straight in the bleedin' morgue.'
'Well,' said Dave, feeling himself brighten a little. 'At least they didn't complain about you smoking in there.'
The man said some more. Dave wished that he would go away. Then his bus arrived.
As Dave climbed on board it all came back to him.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Waiting For Tom

Light going down like beer in a glass, white clouds of foam still clinging to the walls of the sky.
I'm trying to settle but I keep going to the window. Look left and right for Tom.
Keep listening for the sound of his tractor.
When I was still a schoolboy I had a friend who sometimes came to see me. He lived a village or two away. It was always a loose arrangement. Sometimes he'd arrive, other times not.
The waiting feeling's just the same. Hard to relax, give up on the visit and just get on with things when at any moment...
It was always cold. Always night. The car would pull up and the interior light would come on.
The dad would smile. Say a word, his cigarette glowing from his knuckle. The poor boy had asthma and hated smoking, but that's how things were back in those days. Didn't make him a bad dad. The social pariah that it would now.
I don't think Tom's going to make it tonight.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Hinges that need oiling.
The door creaks, disturbs or,
if you're so inclined, complements the peace.
The peace that lives in this room
where you breath the deep breath, draught of dreams.

Anxieties. What will the future bring?
When we last shared this conversation,
we agreed, that whatever happens,
we are always looked after, always alright.

I should learn to trust this because it has always been so.
The peace that lives under the ebb and flow
of the cars that hiss by window
like the waves down on the beach.
Pigeons. Jackdaw dropping witchy
twigs down the sooty chimney.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Antidote/Uncle ( A Double A-sided Single)


When in doubt, pretend to be someone else.
This maxim has lifted – before being pushed back down,
me up from various deep, deep holes.
It was a relief, this morning, to let go,
like a silvery string tied to a helium balloon,
of myself for a while – to try putting something
someone else in its, my place.

Closeness in the air. Sticky sweetness of budding things,
pollens – cloying – but happy to have it here after
the long months of darkness – each day, indifferent
grey until the sun slides down its slow arc and makes
for delicious evenings which seem all at odds, variance
with the gloom that's been here.

A cure for all of this, for want of another although
not necessarily better word is the close attention
given/required for the following of a long film -
2 hours and sub-titled from the French.
A slow film in a slow location – antidote for
a fluttering gradually becoming absorbed -
almost as satisfying as reading a novel -
the two of us lost in a mutual novel

that took us on a – deceptive in its cold beauty -
journey into a snow covered landscape the air misting
as a morning mirror until we faded
the end credits in white letters
Courier font on black background.

You hear stories of messages tied to balloons
arriving on other shores, crossing seas to descend
in gardens, on beaches a world away

here, again, returning through the clouds
the old familiar string.


Unbidden, from nowhere, Uncle arrives with his nineteenth century whiskers
all rounded roundness and a welcome diversion from the long hours of sitting

In the garden, Uncle, although hardly built for speed
happily talks and works up a sweat keeping the ball rolling
turn-taking at being goal-keeper and joking
about ancient footballers, their names fading
in the history books – Nobby Stiles was one
although the real joke being that Nobby
had only stopped playing five years ago.

Uncle, wondering how to cope with the
embarrassment of asking the neighbours
if he could have his ball back.

Years later in the waiting room of a crematorium
the whiskers and the Henry VIII vastness gone
Uncle sizing me up and wondering if it was really me.

I'm not sure what he was thinking but I know
I bungled my words and what I said sounded all wrong
but as we wouldn't be seeing each other again
none of it really mattering just glad to get out of there
and back to the nowhere we'd all chosen.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Last Of The Load

Logs in the lean-to.
Last of the load.

Here is a round of oak.

Gnarly bark bites
through my clothes.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Golden Caravan

The old boy in front has a hearing aid that looks like a golden gipsy caravan camped on his ear.

His head sways with with sleep. He dreams of a yellow field and a red violin. As night comes in, the fire gets going and the violin strikes up a tune to keep the vampires away. Inside the caravan, a flame gutters and wax drips down the side of the candle. The candle was stolen from a church on an afternoon of rain.

Meanwhile, the white ceiling of the bus reflects the empty road as the bus rides through an avenue of trees that render computers obsolete. Someone calls for a lamp. The maid says she'll fetch one but she never does.

Monday, 13 May 2013

A Kitchen Sink Drama

Pigeons launch themselves
in a round of applause.

Garlic on the chopping board.
Skins like fractured moth wings.

Friday, 10 May 2013

David Bowie Is

With their pyramids of apples, oranges,
bowls of bananas and sacks of potatoes,
every green grocer is a Michelangelo.

In grainy, black and white,
two bowler hatted men
walk in silver suits,
underneath the arches.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Sea Shell Gatherers

Grey sky. Threat of rain.
The boy stands on the sand
sifting it with his hands.
Tattoo on the fold of skin
between thumb and forefinger.
Silver rings that aren't really silver
on three fingers.
Lots of bling.
Nicotine stains.
Face shrouded.
Wolf lean.

Shopping trolley.
He tosses shells into the wire belly.
It takes him all day. Doesn't mind the rain.

Pushes the trolley over the sand.
Hauls it onto the promenade.
Walks it through the town.
Doesn't look up, the face
hidden by the hood,
the long black peak of his cap,
burning brand, green M
blazing on the headband.

Through a whispering wood.
The dual carriageway,
if he tries hard enough,
and boy does he try -
sounds like a river
until he comes to a town
with his trolley full of shells.

When the invaders
landed on Britannica's
shores they looked to their leader
unsure of his intentions. Caligula
looked to the skies.

Said 'gather seashells.' 


Monday, 6 May 2013


Streets set out in grids that spell H, horizontally.
Designed for dog days, horses, carts
clogged with cars like this sports
job with smoking windows
chrome appendages
oversized tyres
a sort of go-kart for grown-ups
who haven't.

The queue goes nowhere, fast
never mind the bass
thumping unsettling
the snakes on the pavements
unnerved with the trembling, vibrating.
A horn on stone sets a heart
to leap with a fish straight out
of the crystal water.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Somewhere Near Somerset House

They ate soup from bolted down bowls,
before walking down palatial steps 
liquid and grainy. With beer eyes, 
each waits on his heels. 

Two oranges, 
and a bearded woman 
with iron wings 
go by. 

Friday, 3 May 2013

1968 Spotlight

Bedazzle of brilliance.

Like a child, bestirred
in the blackness

eyes sewn tight
by the needles
of light.

The new moon coats
cinder blocks

Beyond the border:
circle of light
clouds, ashen
or charcoal
mortar splodges
clabber like cream
in a cake

shades make
an eclipse of
her spotted skirt

chalk scars
trail from the
immaculate aureole

breaches in the moon make
scabrous contours

weeping runnels
in a clown's face


Morlock Oil

Morlock Oil
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The Quest Of Great Celtic Mystery

The Quest Of Great Celtic Mystery
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