Poetry

This is a place for some poems already published and others that are not published elsewhere. For other poems – and writing – see the Publications page.

Request Stop

On this line lies the unanswered question
of our returns. Being there and also here,
and never quite so between. Like a fish snaps at
another’s tail, twins look into each other’s eyes,
for what? A pause in the reddening of a leaf,
the deep-etched rough of bark, scratching
at something that might be really here.
Our human endeavours, earnest and meek:
like nostalgia for a branch line, for diesel trains,
the bricks of old stations blackened but firm,
the coal-faced timbre of local voices.
From a clarty carriage window, the mountains
never rising, just there, ever,
a horizon, clouds
stroking across their contours. Request stop.
Shops boarded up, the kinds of faces you once
might have known now gone. Aye and the
people you once would meet. That mist-mizzle
embrace along those last miles of shore
and the cormorants combing out their wings
on this shallow edge of land. And the little
dunlins lifting across a lace hem of tide.
A plastic wrapper crinkling and slippery under
my boot. Rucksack laden with yesterday’s
ideas. Wondering what words might be best,
soon, when we see each other again,
and then how the birds got there, if I’d missed
them before, if they were really here last
time, if they will send me off tomorrow

‘Request Stop’ was highly commended in Ways With Words ‘Words By the Water’ poetry competition, 2018

 

Unsaid

What I meant in my last poem
was that I knew it would be cold as I waited for the train
and that I was expecting to shiver. I mean
so many things so unevenly,
and my pacing never quells them, and my fingers
search for pockets which, in a not-
quite-warm-enough coat, are all
sewn up. It is autumn, you see, and the sky
is crossed with black ribbons and there is a nervousness
at the corner where tied-up dogs turn
circles by the shop and every hour is vital.
The filament trees begin to glow
and it feels more important that we lock our doors
and take all the calls now in case we become
distracted or if the wind picks up and a signal
is lost. And so what I meant to say is that
it’s okay if you’re not here for the bonfire because I’m
not fond of them either. But just know that there is one
should you want. Something smouldering, licking
into light, or dark, or some other other.

First published by London Grip, 2018

The Scarecrow and the Cleavers

After the young sun’s
riot flares are gone
come the spare ghost grounds
of a late summer:

the parchment-thin skies
with barely a breath;
a cross-hatch of reeds
brittle as old bone

Something slips away.
I watched it wither.
Was I old, sleeping,
as it came and passed?

I was in the fold,
staked into the soil,
flapping at the wind
with the gulls and crows

Mouthless, eyeless face.
Torn gloves and dried dirt.
Sapless limbs flailing
in a hessian shirt

I served no purpose.
The bats and the moths
can have their time now.
I am bleached and frayed

Soon you will find me
dumped in the hedgerow,
rotten frame flayed with
galium’s cleavers

First published in Scarecrow, Dunlin Press, 2017

Food

They eat Korean
on a cut-through from the Strand

sweat in sad cagoules
plot routes through rickshaws

stop for human statues
and picture themselves

while our own eyes haze
for homesome time

/

the air vents still hum
behind a collage of hotels

and the smoking pissed bodies
dance higgledy across kerbs

for the clasphanded men
by the crumbled theatre steps

and the happy-kissing 2-4-1ers
in the hours of loosening hair

/

those hours of delays
and delayed returns

lost watching tarmac
and time and river pass

down by the out-blacked Crittall
and creaking service lifts

on an arcade way to somewhere
beyond the wilting promenades

/

and did you hear the traffic cone
trumpet concertos?

and the woman who sees
Jesus in a dead baby?

and tells the world always
that we turned away?

that we always turn away? which
after careful thought

on the tramp back under ground
you realise bibimbap

we always do
we always do

First published in Scarecrow, Dunlin Press, 2017

 

Fedora

If one of us was gone
and plucked almost silently
and lost amongst the gulls
long crowned white for winter

If they slid above the blackened fields
to lift your raincoat and fedora
like an old plume of a cigarette
rising trembling for a dawn

And if autumn was an alternating stance
and your cedar and nylon
just left us as leaves clinging
in a rosewood November blaze

And if your voice became a slow drum rumble
and outside your mountain room
by the sagging lengthening briars
aphids still gathered at the buds

Unpublished

 

 

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