Category Archives: Uncategorized

On approaching the pivot

The local playground has a painted square
Worn a little by precipitation but clear still
In pinks and yellows
Inside are smaller squares numbered
1 to 100

I stand on 35 as instructed
By my son, his impish grin
Telegraphs his next line
He stands on 4, like a soldier
Ear cocked as if searching
For a command to obey

“How old will you be when I’m 35?”

I answer him accurately and he is satisfied

He knows of death,
And initial fears, nocturnal traumas and some small anger
Have been placated with talk of an afterlife
That I do not conceive of, but better for it to be unlearned later

Feeling close to the pivot myself
With more years passed than I can reasonably assume remain
The square gives me succour
For looking upwards I see
Dinner parties on 43, too much vino and spouting of detail
Taking up jogging at 52, putting it swiftly down again at 52 ½
Gathering grandchildren in 60s

And I barely notice him pinball gleefully across the board
Until he stands on 97

“How old will you be when I’m 97?”

“128”, I reply, and he laughs all guttural
This is our endgame

Reminded as if upon seeing a pile of broken bricks
That nothing will stand for always


Untitled #101

You used the wrong pot
Of aqueous cream, that’s the one
We use on the cat to clear her eczema
Did you not notice the ginger hairs?

Do you think these things get better by magic?
That there’s a travelling apothecary
Who brings vials and poultices and pills
In your head he’ll be a mystical apothecary, rather than a regular guy with an established supply chain, natch

Still you think the larder gets filled by some instantaneous finger click
Always at the omission of something that you wanted, but which you hadn’t told anyone else that you required
The housework fairy is not a clairvoyant, but yes she can move things by telekinesis like a Hoover across a carpet or empty packets from the arm of the chair into a bin

No I don’t think the hairs will do you any harm
Yes you will die, some day of some thing, but it is unlikely to be as a result of cat hair contamination

Four favours

saw her in a bar
on Upper Street
a favour:
can I be cheeky
and pinch a cigarette?
the packet smiles
a small spark, then small talk
and we are knowing each other
gradually, in small bursts
smoke flutes to a jaundiced ceiling
words fall on open ears

I am out of cash, out of bounds
a second favour:
do you know any other bars
with en-face cashpoint?
she senses
and we are gone, to black lines
through tunnels to caverns
in subterranea
we sink drinks
discover much in common

but now it’s late
and I don’t know this place
half as well
as I do her
another favour:
is there a night bus
a place to get a reputable taxi?
now she laughs
tongue betrayed by aniseed
and we roll to her pad
hollow chintz and plastered rental
the spare room is made
and remains so

next morning
push my hair nervously
hide my legs
her cardigan arms folded
the door easily marked
here’s my e-mail address
informally rebuff me sometime
leave my Inbox (0)
and I taste her
on the central line

soon forgotten
but one day
in between football fixtures and discount CDs
Inbox (1)
I open the attachment
“Ruth 020 7527 2610
For favours”


The urgent comfort

I escaped a premature demise
into shop floors and sensible shoes
through the articulation of words
that touch nerves and hearts

from boredom and bedroom
hated and maligned, unnaturally
I carved a hole in my wall
to spy upon the world

for it takes an unusual skill
to manipulate a limited lexicon
to make full-set men weep
and children bury their faces

and for your pleasure I ask little
sustenance enough to keep my eyes open
a potted aspidistra on my sill
the urgent comfort of the empty page



When you break it down it’s
A man shaking an angry fist at
A godless sky whilst holding a
Poultice to his cheekbone with
The other hand
As someone who realised
Recently that time is finite I’ve
Been having trouble holding onto
Anything other than an unshakeable
Belief in oblivion
My eyes blink at the uncovered
60 watt bulb spewing light on the doc’s
Certificates and there’s a red book sat
Congruously open on the desk so
I tell him my shit
He tells me of the importance of cause
And effect and how only I can exact
My destiny and it’s written here in his
Book that he tries to hawk to me at less
Than suggested retail price
So I ride the bus three blocks until
I see the florist lady with her
Bunches of bright whatever
They are and then I get off and
Walk the rest
Stuff the bouquet through your
Letterbox with a note attached that
Expresses undying regret that I couldn’t
Have said sorry when it would have made
A difference to you
Then I’m like The Boss with a
Neutral coloured beanie and five days
Growth stuck on my face walking past
Some old shanty town there murmuring
About my loss

Poem for Lefty

You started to list your favourite baseball players of all time
About half of them are called Lefty or Willie, or were I should say
No doubt they are all buried now, but I wonder
If one of these Leftys pitched the ball all southpaw, did he open bottles like that,
did he sign autographs like that, did he sweep the yard like that?
Was he pure lefty, or cross-dominant, a neat little twist of fate?
He could see in his peripheral vision, bases and runners that others could not see
but did it cause him problems outside of the diamond?
Did they have left-handed scissors a hundred years ago, or was he foiled when faced with a coupon to cut out, the result all jagged, torn and irredeemable?
Yet it was this capriciousness that granted him eternal life in Cooperstown, sealed his greatness
He could afford to have people open his bottles, sign his name and sweep his yard.
Now he’s sat up amongst the clouds, with Gentleman Jim and Frankie Albert, at God’s left hand


Beneath the sky all stroppy
and smeared in white
beard chopping into the wind
sturdy against the night, a figurehead
he sniffs the closing air

inside these walls I pray
this place on the shoreline
fifty feet back and one day
to be claimed not by some tempest
but by nature’s ritual attrition

the small red book flakes
its gold leaf into the cracks
on my hands, a little unsteady
the pages smell of a lifetime in boats
some days a gentle steed
on a mill pond, but other times you are
clinging to timber and grabbing thin air
riding the desperate rodeo of the sea

if He controls the sea
then bring them home safe
bring them home safe

and deliver them with bounty
a hessian sack filled up with gifts
nets with fish, a toy boat, blue
that falls through young fingers
like a vessel through a mess of waves
chucking them high and emptying the wee boat
onto another crest, bouncing and blustered
as a fly brushed, merely displaced

and deliver with stories
of a leviathan that chased and chomped paint
Michael, below deck stumbling, his head
bumped and bloodied on the low timber
maybe the storm did that, made him so
he could not stand, or maybe it was the warm whisky
the juice that makes him so brave
that he cannot remember that fearful monster

so now they are steady, gathering
the catch, stolen from the sea
looking from my porthole square I see
a small light peak, coast and fall
the interminable waters grudgingly return them
so I put back the book, unread
in the scuffed wooden drawer
pull up my hood and go to meet them