A collection of poems and other writings...

Friday, 28 February 2014


Time has a habit of misbehaving...

I think it was…

anyway it feels like yesterday…

when we were tidying in Mum and Dad’s room
Mum found her Dad’s old diary
in a box of photographs.

It was just a little black book
with Diary printed on the front
and seven days to a page.
He’d written on some of the days
“9.30 Dentist”
“Elsie’s Birthday”

It was from 1939…

she was only a girl then,
six years old
which was like forever ago.

On one page
on one day
in pencil
Granddad had written

“War broke out.”

The writing was so big the words spilled out from between the lines.

Mum read them out.

She smiled at me
then looked back at the diary.

A drop of water fell onto the page.

Then she told me she was sorry for crying
that it was silly to cry over something
that happened forever ago.

But it looked to me
like it was still happening
inside her…

She wiped her eyes
and hugged me
stroking my hair with her hand
as if I were the one who was crying.

I watched her looking at the writing
her Dad had written
forever ago.

well it feels like yesterday.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Suntan Lotion

Ideas and inspiration for writing tend to come when I'm out and about, usually going to or coming from work.

I wait
at the bus stop
while the sun
grows hot
on the pavement.

Two growing boys
one of their mothers
join me.

The friend
listens to the bubbling
of the son
while the mother reaches into her bag.
Before her purse
she finds a plastic tube,
pulls it out,
flips the cap,
and squeezes lotion
onto one palm.
With her free hand
she inserts the tube
into the crevice
between arm and breast,
and holds it
- like an egg
in an Alsatian’s mouth.

She places her empty palm
onto the lotion in the other
and circles the two.
Then with the heels
of spade-like hands
she turns her son to face her.
She smooths the lotion
onto the boy’s upturned face.
He interrupts his words’ flow
while his face is
pushed through the dilating palms.
She feels the warmth of his skin
as it pushes against her.
He is reborn –
hot, flushed and greasy –
protected from the Sun,
vernix reapplied.

The friend,
still in his listening silence,
and finds himself
by the intimacy of the act.

The mother,
massaging the face between her palms,
looks at him,
her eyelids slowly curtain her eyes.
The face in her hands
will forever be a child;
but in the other
she recognises the man
in the boy.

And he sees her -
naked within her clothes-
a joint of adult flesh
basted with sweat.
His own mother
kneeling naked
on his parents’ bed
flashes across his mind -
the small moment of her breasts,
a dark triangle 
hiding beneath the overhang of her belly.

He pockets his clenched hands
and steps briefly to the side.
- as if to relax.
A slight knee bend
and his elbow and hip
clumsily touch the 
misjudged bus shelter.

The woman
still looks at him
- Would you like some?

His voice cannot say it
but he shudders his head.
His heart pumps.
Blood rushes to his earlobes.

His fringe falls into his eyes
he sniffs and shakes the head again
to delete it, 
his eyes darting hopefully to the road end.

Here it is.
He breathes.

The bus pulls up
and a comfortable cloud
of busyness
rains onto the group again
as they mount the steps
and push themselves
up the bank of the aisle
to seats either side.

I board.
And from behind them
I watch the mother,
cleansing her hands
on the skin at the back of her neck,
the friend
looking with constructed casualness
through the other dusty window,
while on the seat between them
the boy –
the child –


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Bang Straight

This Friday morning
about eight
while I am walking up London Road
this boy
about ten
comes out of his house
talking loudly to himself.

The lairy old man of his
past life
still seeks some control
over this.

Maybe he’s twelve
small for his largeness.

He crosses the road
walking up in front of me.

I steady myself -
instinct slows me,
the desire to
have no contact
rises in my ribs
- nil by mouth.

But I too
have to cross.

I aim high taking the diagonal across the empty road
walking fast breathing fast
the desire to overtake
taking over -
He’s seen me

-  What’re ya doing?
He doesn’t care
doesn’t hesitate
I’m out in the street
I’m prey.

- Crossing ovver -
short vowel, two v’s
I toss it across
as if I speak like that
like it’s my street.

He’s not to know.

- Oh, he says
I thought you were going
all the way up
in the middle of the road.

- No.

But I’m across now
and he decides I’m his to walk with.

- Here, he says
is this bang straight?
He pulls me round -
strength of character -
to look at his hair.
He has tufted up the centre strip
gelled it up
and smoothed down the sides and back.

- Is it bang straight?
He needs to know

-Yes, I think so, I can’t really see.
He’s come closer round in front
- Well is it?
Bang Straight?

- Yes,
I try to sound as if it is
to satisfy him
he’s scaring me now
like he might want to come home with me
or want money
or accuse me of touching him
or something

- It needs to be bang straight,
it is, isn’t it?

-It is, it is.

Then he takes his bag off
strap over his head
he brushes his spiked hair.

- But you’ll muck it up like that -
why did I say that?
I had him convinced - why?

-Did I, did I?
Did I muss it?
Is it straight?
He’s panicking now
- Is it bang straight?

- Yes it’s fine.
- Are you sure?
- Yes. It’s straight - bang straight!
May I use his word?
He might hear me then.

Bang straight.

I walk as fast as I can
to outpace him -
he’s fast
but I scrape him off at the vets.

he plays the child card
he breaks into a run
he catches me up
he’s virtually holding my hand
while we pass
at the busstop
a pout of  girls
- Year Nines
freshly glossed
after breakfast,
crisps and a mars bar.

When we’re past he gives in
he dumps me
in favour of
the sweet shop
on the corner.