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.