Saturday, 16 May 2009

The City

Starbucks; hiss and steaming muzzles

where the thinnest person crunches

a door-shut again and again

because it’s winter, draughty, freezing.


In concrete, Canary Wharfe shudders

and a fat  lady hangs an ermine coat,

spills her coffee – cappuccino.

No one mentions the gigantic puddle


until a tiny Chinese barmaid,

smiling, mops it mostly up with paper towels.

Unconscious, we avoid the messy circle,



if you call that, in your opinion,

a proper word.


Friday, 15 May 2009

An age

My son has a marvelous habit of telling


strangers that this very day is his birthday

and they, confused, can’t fathom the truth


but trust his nodding smile, congratulate

the rascal on reaching a mighty fine age

although sometimes they do seem surprised by the notion


that a boy so strange and acting childlike

could be ‘eighteen!’ but if you reckon

that every day is a birthday, he’s actually

at an age over six thousand and five hundred;


older than anyone else on the planet

(that is, according to conventional wisdom).

So he had a chat with Socrates,

shared a drink with an under-aged Jesus,

bounced in a chariot with Boedacia


and learnt his marvelous habits from Merlin;

like telling stories, beading the eye,

smiling, messing. challenging, pushing,

being himself, parading the fool

and testing whether magic is happening:

my son has a marvelous habit of telling.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Brian wasn’t looking for trouble,

when he entered the ward’s military kitchen

but, there, a young and wounded man

asked  him ‘You a conchie chum?

You look healthy, willing and able.’

He answered simply, flat, straightforward;

‘That’s the way I read the Bible!’


The soldier snorted; reached for his mess tin.


‘Listen mate, I’m only eighteen;

back from France where my pal was shot

shouted for Mum as he clasped and dropped

(I’ve heard a lot of shouts for Mum)

but at Dunkirk I got hands on a German,

stuffed his face in water ‘til his lungs were clogged.

I shouted him down, kicking, ‘til he wasn’t moving.’


Eye met eye at the door of the kitchen,

A smile,

look down.




Yes    thanks






for listening.’



Monday, 11 May 2009


My mother fainted
into our hearth one morning.
She covered up her pain
but I called in from school
at lunch to check she seemed
OK and fried myself two eggs.

Yesterday my sons attacked pasta
and daytime, little by little, dropped.
We talked and ate spaghetti, draped
it over forks. Hanging together
unites a family. After a plateful,
a net of connection fluttered a sparkle.

eating pulls me to myself,
makes me seem to need
to sleep, close up,
to droop, draw in,
stop light.

Parents eventually do drop, but my young family
celebrated the final wink of a sun
and stars raised - their bellies and mischievous eyes,
before curtain call, never still.