Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Noon cadence lilts pylons
caressing levees
swandown balm
ripples shingling
moorhens traffic a jittery acceptance
dragonflies envy kingfisher lines

jittery pylons shingling levees
dragonflies’ balm caressing
kingfisher cadence
lilts lines ripples
a swandown noon traffic
envies moorhens’ acceptance

Monday, August 15, 2005


Furnace accents in his dyed ponytail, the silver-sleeved gaffer breathes life
into his gather-tipped posthorn, pendulums it to stir and stretch
another glowing soda-sand foetus into growth,
accosts the glare of the glory-hole for just enough heat to spin the magic:
he stands, glances down at pale legs and worn trainers
stares jaded through the window at the winter tourist traffic
and on out into next weekend’s dream-drama
like a checkout assistant whose flat look crawls over your shoulder,
while he spins and he breathes and he spins the pipe intimately.

From the viewing gallery, worshippers gaze diminished, deskilled,
looking down into the heated bear-pit where the half-dressed heroes prowl
and dance intuitively from box furnace to gaffer’s chair,
forming the gather in the dripping wet cherrywood block
rolling the raw glow into life.

As the golden parison inflates and blooms,
as the pipe rolls and returns across the marver,
as the rings are spun on, as the colours are changing,
as soaked pads of last week’s Guardian polish and shape,
the gaffer never rests, a tattooed Tantalus,
chair to glory hole to chair, rolling, measuring, rolling, breathing, rolling,
a squirt from the airline, a polish from the pads, rolling,
conformity confirmed by practised eye through didymium lens.

Split-second collusive, the mate lines up his punty spot on,
the gaffer steadies it dead-centre with the pucellas
and together they roll and pierce the already brittling orb,
transfer it from pipe to punty, shear away and reshape the neck,
and check the spec with a final flourish of the dividers:
time to crack off the work.

Light chipchop around the neck then a single meaty tap a foot up the punty
and the perfect dome drops away, sits ready for its cooling therapy in the lehr.
Even as the door closes the next gather is being rolled, cajoled,
the production line tango resumes.

For days the images sear across your mind,
the metamorphosis sits brooding:
ponder the shift from fusion to fragility,
from shapeless sand to perfect artefact.

Waiting for the cactus

It’s purple outside:
in ten minutes
it’s dirty milk,
rebellious grey swabs,
faintest eastern pink
cloud wash.

My internal clock
dead on purple.

Besides the succulent chaos
of a brain ajar
as I seethe through
the muslin
of the nightmare,
ramble rooms,
the constant upside
is not this
stealing of hours:

it’s knowing one morning
I’m going to catch
that cactus
just when its latest
tiny spurt of growth
shatters the terracotta pot.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Another cheap theft:
picked wild flower,
tide-tumbled pebble,
strand of his life’s gossamer
through the judas grid
on double elephant,
foreign whispers, faint signals.

Shrug back at what’s undrawn,
sidestep beeline
arrowheads of focus,
la page est introuvable
the page cannot be found
all my sites crash at once.

Human channel hop
flits repined, reads walls,
pianoman thoughts
a twisted phone cord.

Deeper – where next?
The hair, why straggle it unflattering?
He would have moulded
northern morning light
yet his eyes disparage sleep,
swim the night pelagic,
writhe at his cursed reflection.

Charred deception arcs
across our times
then crackles.

His silverpoint
plays with shadows,
with parhelion glare
while I can only cross-hatch
with the stump of a jaded 2B.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

White Ridge, Baslow

Experts overhaul us
in Gortex and gaiters,
lurid socks that pulsate
as they clump past.
The two of us,
More M & S and D & G
than Craghopper or Berghaus,
we just don’t go for this
stridy, shrunk pedalpusher,
knotted calf-muscle look.
Leaving off
the Speedos and Birkenstocks
for sensible, preppy chic,
we rockhop, saunter,
amble the eight mile circuit
feeling very Sunday and undemanded.
The experts lap us
in their briskness.
We’d rather hold the views off the ridge,
talk of years to come,
hold hands where the path widens
deep in this Derbyshire autumn.

Table 50, Harvey Nicks

Light tilts and slides
this Manchester evening,
the curve of Exchange Square
sets in its sweep,
the neon of the Hard Rock Café
slaps the dusk
a freeze frame firework.
Three floors down
street levellers
stride to oases
while Table 50, Harvey Nicks
attends the night,
starched, gleaming, pristine
at the exquisite centre of
the thirty metre restaurant window,
permanently reserved
table for two.

Sat in the gridlock

Sat in the gridlock
fuzz of brakelights through the windscreen rainfilm
only the dashboard handbrake icon saying
we are not adrift
as condensation steals the tarmac’s sheen
and melts faces in fading machines alongside
for fifteen seconds
till the air-con and the blower
and the recirculator and the heated rear
drive it away and
reshape reality
as defined
(according to engineered, failsafe parameters)
by the engine management system.

Portuguese Dereham

The castor-wheeled cake stand in La Cascata
back-mirrored, backlit,
hybrid pool table / jukebox / pastry conservatory
sits by the wall watching us all.

Portuguese dialect ripples across the tables
the young men
swagger-smoke their machismo
the women talk
knowingly, nodding, repeating, insistent,
open palm reinforcing the wisdom, today’s truth.

My drained, stained Camelo expresso
could get refilled all day.

I devour the reactions,
relish the beauty of brown eyes
that flicker their pre-lunch ritual acknowledgment
as another steps in from the street.

The slow ballad soars on the hi-fi,
vies with the families’ July voices
and the coffee machine’s urgent noontime shooosh.

Poisoning the macho

she didn’t have what he wanted:
now he’s hot-wired to hell
jangling the walls
while skanky dogs
bark inside medullar fizzling.

night overload
zooms mach three illusions
binary options whirring cogs
cyan flashes behind the lids.

light on again

ruthless clock
radio stutter static
life gone tangential
bed battlefield

he’ll tell her soon:
if you can’t buy decaff
it’s over.

east anglia to the north west

- screenwash
- diesel
- sandwich (late-date)
- coke
- gum
- music
- zero mileage

up the sliproad on the dual
through the box out in the fast lane
eightyplus way down to forty
single lane cue trucks & tractors

A-Four-Seven concrete heaven
there’s another illegal mobile
join him now unzip my sandwich
load the cd handsfree drive.

king’s lynn ringroad steadyeddy
wronglanesundaydriver slows me
into third swear at the grunter
lurch through roundabout to exit
up the ramp A-Seventeen deadly
read the sign this is a red route:

eighty-three killed so far this year
faded flowers on makeshift kerbshrines
suicidal audi screams past
keen to test out einstein’s theory
barely makes it scammell snarling
nearly number eighty-four.

out across the fens in slo mo
see the migrants cutting cabbages
on the fields since six this morning
working twelve hour days for pennies
pay the gangmaster his bounty
sleep in icecold crowded houses
dream about the distant sweetheart
read again her latest news.

drag on to the sleaford bypass
gatsos threatening twice they’ve had me
moneymaking one-eyed bandits
three points sixty pounds & postage
each & every time they catch you
dreaming at the wheel of fortune
silver city walter mitty
sell the film rights stage the prize fights
literary actuary

on to newark hit the real road
A-One-M but when I’ve joined it
lakes & river trent to look at
while the holdup lasts forever.

in the name of road improvement
gangs & gangs of orange roadmen
yellow-hatted groups in conference
flashing amber lights on D9s
nothing moving no one working
just here for the calendar shoot.

lose an hour maybe longer
clear the jam to send me wheeling
up the backbone of the country
retford doncaster behind me.

been five hours since the sandwich
coke’s all drunk up gum’s all spit out
see the cooling towers steaming
ferrybridge M-Sixty-Two.

motorway I hate your rhythm
friday night all radio stations
wallow in the carnage horror
queues & logjams hour on hour
here the nightmare traffic madness
crowded crush hour claustrophobic
nothing for it but to fight it
all across the chest of england.

late & later make it latest
longest time it’s ever taken
overtaking weekend thinking
fastlane dozing eyelids falling
blue light red light blue light red.


A bacofoil tickertape of rain
endorses this Saturday lie-in.
That metronomic chrome drip
from off the guttering is back again
shattering against the balcony rail
exploding across my drowsy eyeline.
Mercury droplets slung snug under the rail
wobble and wink as the wind elbows into them
send out their semaphore of flashing silver
disdainful of gravity.

Death of Svevo

sono sempre stato vecchio, anna
il signor eliot il tls queste macchine moderne
tutti quanti sempre contro
il saltimbanco, il buffone,
l’uomo di fumo dei futuristi
ma infine
ci sono riuscito ecco vedi
l’ultima sigaretta nel diario

i’ve always been an old man anna
mr eliot and the tls these modern automobiles
all against me charlatan joker
futurists’ man of smoke
but i won in the end
there you see
the last cigarette in the diary.

Cognac round the clock

It was Dominic Dominic (the third), American drinker laureate,
Who introduced me to timebombs one Florentine Friday.

We’d skipped Etruscology, shambled through piazzas:
Found David on duty, the Uffizi closed.

Art deco lamplight swam the chrome tabletops
As we struggled with abstracts, shuffled glasses, synapses.

It got late too early, dawn broke admonishing
We counted sixty-two opportunities
To never, not ever, do this again.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Fast Crowd

This is a misfit congregation of luckless disciples of the one true faith, irregular regulars ensconced while evening unfolds their non-events.

Airvent in his sandals, a frying pan fat pommade slicking down his yellow-grey hair, sits derided, stares down below stained cavalry twill at his feet, his memories. The change from his twenty spills across his pew, a twenty every night, just a couple of liveners that always turn into eight.

‘Hey, Airvent, give us a song!’

The sacristan threatens excommunication; Airvent shrugs, shakes his head like a wet dog. Two acolyte one-nighters throw glances from the side aisle, no eye contact, no yen for invasive dentistry tonight.

Up at the altar, Pseud, Cool and Twister lean into each other, laugh a witless laugh at cigarillo intervals while the Acne Kid ogles novitiate nuns. Slurred vespers whispers cross the aisle, confessions to anyone who’ll listen but no one ever does.

The watchful high priest leads a final communion, accepts the collect gratefully and the chimed tocsin ends it all. In the churchyard, tuneless hymns swirl into the night. And down the alley, the redeemed rejoice.

Monday, April 18, 2005


Combing autumn,
the waters under the ridge
where the wind stalls,
damp mornings I found her
riding the mist,
traced her soaring.

In freezing dawn I caught her
drinking by the cat-ice,
called hopeful but she
started from the sedge.
I loved the land:
knew where she might hide.

December dusks I searched,
never found where she slept
the starspun night.
Come icebound morning
I would marvel, she would
scribe the sky.

New Year fields lay scorned
in scant amenity,
dour season of the daunted.
Softer days urged
April into May,
the time of yearning.

Arriving early where I used to go
I met her quartering the bluff:
she dived,
swooped to the tree
where she’d been waiting
these empty months.

She held me in her amber
iris of reproach,
gave a ruffling shrug,
then climbed the sky
in aerobatic absolution
of my fickleness.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Stars for Columbus,
tears for Tuscan fields,
the doyen of dimension
walks his mongrel dog
through the new age
of perspective.

Behind his measured mind:
airblue, watergreen,
earthgrey and fire of red,
the coloured concord
of his days.

Lives of saints,
tomes quadrivial,
princes’ whims
angled to perfection
in the guttering-candled

About him, the smell of the future.
As his cipher wheels spin out
the code, as his new language
wakes the ancients,
ideal beauty stalks
geometer dreams.

He pauses:
taps the quill
against his chin,
feels the planets
within himself,
escort to the gods.

Wistful now.
Will they remember
the exquisite harmony,
the scholarship?
Or that the pen always
won over the brush,
that he never knew love?

Monday, April 11, 2005


Welcome to AOL…
Do you know who sent you this email?
Yes No
(He tastes that last kiss again, still feels
the squeeze of her hand
and the bump of her hip


Drone, chitter, vrone, squish, squish, hmmmmm.
Takes the printed sheet, blows the ink dry,
opens the document wallet and files it:
Emails>Personal> Love.

The scar on my knee

He was never right not like the rest of us, though he lived in the same street. He’d play sometimes but nothing rough, never too far from his front door. The rest of us, we’d be off down the park before our Mum could look at the clock but he’d never come, always had some excuse or just, ‘I don’t think so - not today.’ Was it his glasses’ thick black frames or that jibby lip he got from his Dad? We quarrelled once over a toy car and the fact that he always beat me at chess so there, and he threw his toy rifle (with a real tin barrel), threw it at me: the circular scar’s still here on my knee. I limped home bravely, howling indoors. I’d never walk again, it was definitely broken, my knee was broken for life or at least until I was nine in five days’ time. He was never right, but he never deserved all those breakdowns, all those years when they put him away on his own. I think he knew all along what was coming, right from the time he threw the rifle: knew he wasn’t like the rest of us, though he lived in the same street.

Your Window

The view from your window has changed:
at first it was a safety net where my eyes tumbled,
a cue for small talk as the afternoon weather
swerved and backtracked,
a summer greenness, unremarkably steady
against the maelstrom yearnings behind the glass.

As time snaked away across the months
we took to sharing the view from your window:
watched acers blush and scorch into autumn,
leaves sashay and spin,
cobbles glisten sleek under rain.

But after a while I began to neglect your window:
just another piece of furniture,
an unwatched plasma screen where
anodyne footage looped, colours ran and smudged
while we chased after more grandiose
hilltops and lakesides.

One day, arriving, I saw you at your window.
You waved. I felt the view wrap around me.
The next day it was me there, looking out.
I sensed in turn your arrival, the view breathed bright
as you broke into the street,
as the sun sculpted your mouth.

The next weekend, in sharper weather,
we returned from walking around the lake,
strode through the view,
smiled up at your window,
felt its acknowledgment.

Five haikus

1. Glow worm

Walking back from Stoke
under a deep quilt of stars:
one fell at our feet.

2. Trainspotter

There at the front door -
shocked to find his house number
neatly underlined.

3. Supper on the canal

Behind the pumphouse
a heron waits for roach fry:
the wetlands fondue.

4. The flooded village hears from the Environment Agency

Their cost benefit
analysis informs us
the water is wet.

5. Derriere-ku

Arse and three quarters
stubbornly stuck till sundown:
wedged in the door.

The Beach

every cast
this july evening
teams of black-barred
blue and silver
tug zigzags
through the shallows
skitter on shingle
gasping alien air

despatched – big-stoned
thuds to their glossy heads
a swift slaughter

dog fox comes down the cliff
stands expectant
sniffs the salted dusk
deserves sushi

we scramble back
up the strand
feet scrunching
deepsunk every stride
lamps of the night’s fishing fleet
nod a mile offshore

halcyon evenings
wind a whisper
sea flat as the sky
the beach yields its secrets
to lovers of the tides.