A collection of poems and other writings...

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Made in Heaven

Continuing a long tradition of bouncy little list poems...

Brown bread and boiled eggs,
White bread and ham,
Baked potato, grated cheese
Clotted cream and Jam

Sardines on wholemeal toast
Christmas cake and cheese
Cauliflower and white sauce
Sweetcorn, butter, peas.

Mushrooms with garlic
Parsley sauce and fish,
Cheap as chips and ketchup
Butter in a dish.

Jersey Royals & baked beans
Sausages & mustard
Mince pies, brandy butter
Apple pie & custard.

Sunday roast & gravy
Dumplings in a stew
Pancakes & ice cream

Me with you.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

That & This

We have gently captured your soul
a willing prisoner,
in these jewel moments of your life
although they are just photos on the piano?

We have captured the growing girl:
the beaming infant in you –
hands spread wide
to span the joy,
to contain the view,
lying toothless on the play-mat
your sister used;

or here,
an older you
refusing the snap,
hands up batting away the camera
like some over-papped celebrity –
your crooked, self-conscious teeth
before retainers.

School photos and
birthday songs

For us
a record of your history
to check that we
have done the best we can.
For you
a list of treasure times
that step you from
Not that
to That
which you choose to

A road map to
look back at
and look forward from.

And I am


and have been caught by you, too,
in your mind’s eye.

But I, for you, have always been
just This.
For as you grow
your change of view
accommodates the me you know
the fixed point
safe, slow
as you come and go.

This is you, father.

My father is This.

Now you have left home
and your visits are less frequent
and the sliding of the years
appears to speed.
And you will see

While you are not here

you will see the crest
and the crumpling page
of my face as my cheeks sag
around the growing gaps in my teeth.
Muscles will slacken,
Jowls drop.
Where once I could contain the
issues of my body
now, I cannot.

And this crumbling hair 
will give up these final
feeble efforts
and you will see
the wind blowing
through the gaps
between hair and scalp
and realise that

shall pass.

Monday, 27 October 2014

One Hot Saturday Night

They’re hot.


He can still taste their last kiss,
still smell her hair
when she had nuzzled into him.

out in the cool street
she tugs at his arm.
God, I want some, she whispers, now.
Not here, he says.
Yes, here, right here!
No, in the car.

In the car
she starts pulling at him again.
Give me, she says.
She’s panting
a ravenous bird,
her cavernous mouth,
a pink flash of tongue.

Windows steaming up.
She’s hungry  a wolf –
white teeth, red claws,

He goes to kiss her
but she pushes him off 
her craving not for soft love.
She is hawk, she is animal.

They pull at their clothes.
He feels the growing warmth in his thighs
as he writhes
his shoulders
then arms free
from his jacket.
She’s in his lap now  
all fingers 
her lips are wet,

Have you brought anything? she breathes
Of course, 
Always.  Boy scout.
Then for fuck's sake get it.
He reaches across her
and flips open the glove box,
gropes blindly for
the small plastic packet.

Come on, she says,
For fuck's sake, come on!
She's wild.
He dances the packet in front of her.
She grabs it -
Let me fucking do it,
you fucking tease!

She takes the corner in her mouth,
teeth clenched 
she rips the packet open
and squeezes
the glossy
red liquid
all over
the chips.

Friday, 24 October 2014

In the Queue, too

Dawn was rather overcast and gloomy when I walked in this morning, but she cheered up a little when she got her rosy-tipped fingers on the bundle of notes I brought for her to count.  She flicked the corners up with deft digits and bundled them into hundreds before filing them away in her money drawer.

No Rose today, Ron was sat in the middle at “Cashier No2, please.”  Judging by the clouds that hovered around Dawn, Ron was not having a good day.  By the doubtful sideways glances that Dawn was giving him I could tell he didn’t really know what he was doing.

            -  You’ll have to start that again, she said, nodding at the job in hand.  No, you’ll have to recount.

She sighed quietly while he started again.

Dawn entered the amounts on her keyboard and I handed her the cheques as Ron finally sold his customer a second class and sent her on her way.  She was not best pleased either, judging by the way she swung her bag for life off the counter.  The automatic door was definitely not quick enough for her this morning.

Just then Ahmed walked in from the Medina Stores next door clutching a piece of paper.  He saw Ron behind the glass and hesitated a moment, but he approached the counter.  A bit warily, though, I thought.

Doreen had evidently been out the back making tea because in she comes now with three mugs – two in one hand, one in the other – and a packet of Abernethy under her arm.  She delivered the mugs along the counter, reversed her large behind up onto her stool and deftly whipped the easy-open strip from around the biscuits.

            -  Hello, Ahmed, she called across, snapping a biscuit and dunking a piece in her tea.
            -  Hello, Doreen.
            -  Do you fancy a nibble, ducky?  She winked at me as her lipsticked mouth engulfed the soggy, crumbling fragment.

Ahmed grunted as he passed his paper under the glass to Ron, who studied it, front and back, as if he wasn’t sure what he should be doing with it.
            -  What’s this?  he said
            -  It’s me gas bill, said Ahmed, I need to pay it.
            -  Well I know that!  I can see that!  But what’s this… this mark here… what’s that.  Looks like a big “C”. 
He flapped the bill at Ahmed
            -  Oh that, said Ahmed, it’s coffee.  I put me cup down on it yesterday.  That’s what reminded me to pay it.

Ron huffed.

            - I can hardly make out the numbers.  You should be more careful.

He acted out holding it up close to his face and studying hard.

            -  You don’t want to get yourself cut off, eh, Ahmed, said Doreen.
            -  No, certainly not.

Dawn was just starting to sort my change out, sixty eight pounds’ worth, when something caught my eye behind her on the floor.  A sudden blurry, furry movement.  A rat? – no surely not.  It couldn’t be – not in a post office.

I said nothing.

Dawn tipped herself off her stool and bowled over to the change drawer.  She stood there rifling through the various packets of pennies and two pence pieces.  I’d been looking at the Health Lotto cards wondering what the odds were when suddenly there was a sharp yelping noise and a small brown pointed face jumped up in front of me and immediately disappeared again.  Another yelp and the face appeared again, jumping even higher, before falling back down.

            -  Timothy! get down, snapped Dawn.

Once more the yelp and a small brown dog appeared, jumping up behind the counter in a desperate attempt to get onto it!  He looked as if he’d take my fingers off if he could get at them.

            - That’s some jump he’s got on him, I said, glad of the glass between us.
            -  He’ll get his muzzle on him in a minute, said Dawn.

Once again the little dog jumped .  Again, and again.

            -  Timothy! growled Dawn.  How many times have I told you?  Right.

She dropped the bags of change she was counting out, went to her handbag on the floor by the back wall and pulled out a length of black cloth.  She marched over towards my window and the bouncing dog, and flipped the cloth strap onto the counter.  The buckle clicked loudly against the glass.  

She held out a finger of admonition.

            -  I’m not joking! she said.

I could tell she wasn’t.  We could all tell she wasn’t.  Even Timothy could tell she wasn’t.  I couldn’t see him now, down on the floor, but I could imagine his little face, his cowed eyes, his lively tail starting to droop as the thought of the muzzle filled his tiny, bouncing head.

Dawn turned to look at me from hooded lids.  She still wasn’t joking.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

"I Love Lucy"

There’s a female weather forecaster who really knows how to charm me.
The way she demonstrates the map is surefire to disarm me.
And the strength of these warm feelings is beginning to alarm me,

Keeley looking lovely
but, although she is quite lovely too,
it isn’t Keeley Donovan.

(Hope you're not too disappointed Keeley...you're probably my No2!)

Helen certainly knows her arse from her anticyclone
I love her in the morning when the Sun begins to shine
I love her in the afternoon although it isn’t fine
I love her in the evening when the breeze is soft and balmy
And, although she really knows her stuff,
it isn’t Helen Willets.

(You're smart, Helen, just not my type...)

Isobel, oh Isobel...
I haven’t had a crush like this or felt this sort of pang
since I was left bereft of love by the gorgeous Isobel Lang.
For when the storm’s about to hit there’s only one who’ll calm me
but, although she is a stunner, too,
There's something about Laura... gales.
it isn’t Laura Tobin.

(Isobel, oh Isobel...)

Wendy Hurrell... check out youtube

Don’t get me wrong, by other weather girls I’m not annoyed.
Wendy Hurrell has a friendly look, as does Sian Lloyd.

Steady, Sian, steady!

But when the forecast is severe, my fantasy must star me
with the focus of my lust
not Liam bleeding Dutton
Liam Dutton... 'nuff said.

(No offence, Liam, but... well...)

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in expressing such a “whoop”
My brother, too, I see has joined an appreciative facebook group
where men like us can fantasise and drive each other barmy
with talk of dreams and wedding plans,
of dinner dates and baby scans,
of how we’d like to just hold hands
with Lucy Verasamy.

Definitely breezy, hot and "on the coool side"

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Troublesome Inclinations

Twice today, 
I have witnessed
the slope of a pavement
catch out a mother with
a child in a pushchair:

two smart women
checking messages
on their smart phones
as strollers roll
quietly away toward traffic.

source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
The first 
by a bus-stop
brought to the tense present 
by the shoulder-prodding
of a fellow queuer 
who was aware
of the lack
of awareness.

The second, 
on Upper Albert Road,
with a freshly collected 
school-aged infant in tow,
is immediately
alarmed by the speed
of the escaping
She lunges forward
as I pass her
on the opposite path

but she still
has time
to flash me
an embarrassed smile.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

To a child in the street outside

You seem to be in my place.

it should be me
out there 
in the street
hand in hand
with the best of my friends
hair bobbing
and our eyes 
flashing dares to each other
dashing somewhere
on the whim
of a sudden plan.

It seems that you 
have taken my place
and the run of this street 
is yours.

Or have I
backed out
of my own accord?

To sit now
drained from work,
and silvering,
watching through grimy glass
wondering when
the giggle
my chest.

To feel each present
and perhaps constructed
then resolving
into an interrupted

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ryan and Kenny

He was sat on the wall when I first saw him, hugging his knees to his chin.  Like a cat in the sunshine, I thought – but actually, no.  As I came close I saw the furrows in his brow, the slight pallor in his cheek.

He watched me approaching from the corner of Peel Street; his gaze focussed, demanding.  But it was only after I had passed him that he spoke.  Quite softly.

             -     He will be all right, won't he?

It seems we had been conversing all the time – in his head.

I turned to look back at him.  He was evidently close to tears, or at least as close as a ten year old boy would allow himself.

             -     Sorry?

I had missed the rhythm of my step and had to allow him his say.

             -     He'll be all right, won't he?

It was a genuine question.  He sought reassurance but the tone of his voice implied that I should actually know the answer.

             -     Who?
             -     Kenny.  I didn't mean to hurt him, he said.

He so needed me to pick up the thread.  His lip quivered.  But then sudden fury.

             -     But he was being such a fucking twat!

A tear spilled down his cheek.  He angrily pushed the ball of his thumb into his eye to stem the flow.

             -     Did you have a fight? 

Brilliant deduction.  I was all over it.

             -     He was asking for it!  So I give him a tap.  He was asking for it.

Poor kid, I thought.  He's frightened himself.

             -     So I hit him…
             -     I expect he'll be fine.
             -     ...then the ambulance came and they picked him up, but they couldn't wake him.  Fucking twat.  Why wouldn’t he wake up?  It was only a tap.

An ambulance?  Blimey!  Maybe I should shut up.

             -     … on his head …with a bit of brick.  He will be all right won't he?
             -     Er… They know what they're doing.

I floundered for words.  He needed something to cling to but for all I knew Kenny was dead.  I couldn't just make it up.  Hit on the head with a brick. Death was not unlikely!

I could just see him stood over the limp boy, bloodied brick in hand.  Perhaps a passer by raising the alarm – 999.  Then him, just stood there, while yellow-vested paramedics busied themselves dressing the wound; trying to revive their comatose patient; asking questions: 

             -     What's his name, son?
             -     Kenny.
             -     Kenny?  Can you hear me, Kenny?


             -     We're taking you to hospital, Kenny.  Kenny.


             -     Who are you, son?  You his brother?
             -     Yeah.
             -     What's your name, son?
             -     Ryan
             -     Well, Ryan, can you go and get your mum?  We'll need to take Kenny in to treat him straightaway.  Your mum'll need to know.

They must have disappeared off leaving Ryan struggling with the enormity of knowing nothing.

             -     Did you tell your mum?  I asked
             -     Mrs Webb went.  Me mam's at the hospital.
             -     Who's at home then?  Maybe you should go home and wait.  Where's your Dad?  Will he be home soon?
             -     Christmas.
             -     Sorry?
             -     He's on rigs.  Oil rigs.  He won't be home while Christmas.
             -     Oh…

Nothing else came. 
Reluctantly I succumbed to the silent fog invading my brain.

I stood there looking at Ryan. 
He looked at me – waiting for me to become of some use.


After a dumb, eternal moment, a police car drew up on the other side of the road - no siren but the lights were flashing.  The back door opened and a woman with untidily bleached hair got out onto the pavement.

             -     Ryan, she barked.  Get here now!

She scowled at me.

Ryan slid from the wall, rucking his track suit bottoms into the crevice between his buttocks.  He stepped into the road pulling at the cloth.

             -     Watch the bleeding traffic!

Ryan hesitated as a van volleyed passed him.  Then more carefully he stepped off the pavement and ambled across to his mother.  She grabbed his shoulder and pushed him into the car.

I stepped back and leant against the wall, and watched the vehicle speed away.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

How Dads wee

When Dad
needs a wee
he lifts the seat of the toilet
with his left hand
undoes his trousers
with the other
he shuffles his feet apart
right up to the toilet bowl
and flops his willy out from his zip.

the wee comes
thundering down into the toilet,
bullets and bombs,
splashing into frothy foam.

I watch
and see it cover the whole
of the top of the water
and I smell
the strong smell it has
like lions
and swede.

And when he’s finished
and the last drops have dropped out
he shakes his willy
and squeezes and pulls at it
then tucks it back into his trousers.

The chain always takes two pulls to flush
a quick one then a hard one

Then at the sink
Dad grabs the Imperial Leather
and rubs it under the hot tap
and makes more foam

clean foam.

 - Come on, lad, he says
drying his hands on the towel

and then he pushes me
out of the bathroom door.

One day
I will wee

like that.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Herd

At our writing class we have been thinking about voice - the voice of characters, the voice we use - this poem came from an exercise set as homework.  It is an interesting process for me to start from a 'given' idea rather than something that has sprung from deeper within.  It took me a while to find a voice and to find what I wanted to say using it....

You may not  know it
but we watch you
in your muddled lives.

We see how you walk,
on hind legs.
Impressive –
if impractical.

It can’t be easy,
but with those greasy
free hands
what damage you do;
always scrabbling at things –
always drawing blood.

And your noise –
so shrill and pipey.

But what do you do?

We never see you eat –
How’s that?

Do you not eat
or drink, to quench a summer thirst,
or shit,
or flag the flies away,
or scratch your rumps?

You just slope up to the gate
then flay
a bunch of plucked grass
in your mangling hand,
beating it against the bars.

A gift?
You make a weapon of fodder.

We won’t touch it
and you get bored.

We will only watch you
from this safe
distance –

so you go.

we will not approach
those whom we cannot trust.
We cannot trust those
with no mud between their toes.
You cannot know the depths of life
without owning that simplest of pleasures,
or the singular taste of a fresh
growth of grass
seasoned with thistle and nettle

and then
the richer consequence
of thickened cud
swirling around
the tongue
and cheeks
and teeth.

You don’t know
so you go,

you bony,

illegitimate herd.