A collection of poems and other writings...

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Lucy laughs at Marek

At the foot of
Shirebrook Road
two ten year old girls sit
on the steps of the house
that once used to be the old
Mini Motorparts Shop

they watch a boy
dancing bad parcour
around the yellow
municipal grit bin

girl two is giggling
at the boys looping

girl one says
ok Marek
you made Lucy laugh
you made Lucy laugh
but you’ll never make me laugh
you’ll never make me laugh

Lucy in her
leopard skin dress
continues her giggle

and Marek continues
his dance

Sunday, 26 April 2015

the almond blossom tattoo

for the first time
you have shown me your new 

the one of the branch of almond blossom
the one on your lower abdomen
the showing of which
requires the removal of 

using only your left hand
you slip
your cotton t-shirt
over your head
in one deft movement
and as you do so
lift your right hand
to cover your left nipple
the forearm crossing the body
thus to simultaneously conceal
both the naked breasts

you have done this before
and perform the act without thinking

small wrinkles appear 
in the puckering skin
towards the concealed 

your left breast
is slightly distorted
by the pulling action

my mind
is slightly distorted
by the distraction

the almond blossom tattoo
of which you are rightly proud
snakes from a point
within the inner sanctum of your groin
to the left hand-side
around your hip
and up your back
to end in sprays
just below your
and upon your shoulder blade
pure blossom and
dark piercing twigs
fingers of grief
reaching across the 
fatal field of your flesh
inked lines
in low relief
permanently defined

and while you show me
you continue to hold your fingertips
over the warm 
rose of  your nipple
in order to maintain
your modesty

I hear from you 
of a journey of longing

you tell me of
sleepless nights
your own hands
stroking your intimate skin

tracing designs
in imagined Japanese lines

you take me with you
to a place
of desperate defiance
between you
and your troubled parents

I echo
your trepidation
on the tattooist’s couch

and I too
fear the buzzing pain
you have suffered
to carry this image
as she drives her needles into you

as she finishes her flourish
at first sight

you consume me
in the intimacy
and the ecstasy
of your endeavour

but rest assured 
I cannot see 
your nipple

Sunday, 19 April 2015


I am doing
this evening's dishes
wishing grease
from plates
my wife's insisting
on rinsing
singing in my ears

I am distracted
as I hear
the ghost
of our cat
jump from table to floor
in the dining room

I look up to see
my reflection
looking back at me

my other's eyes
shining in the glass
through spectacle lenses
his hands
in suds

and then beyond
across the yard
the neighbour’s kitchen window
throws back a second image
a more distant double
this first

more eyes

for a moment
we are


if I were able
I would mould the moment
into a metaphysical metaphor
a quizzical exploration
of identity and perspective

a dark seeing through glass

as it is
all it is
is me
washing up
looking at me
washing up
looking at me
washing up

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


I couldn’t keep up with the lectures.
I wondered if a Dictaphone would help.
When I phoned home I said to Dad – Dad, I can’t keep up with the lectures. I think a Dictaphone would help.
He said, I’ve got an old Dictaphone I don’t use, would you like it?
I said, Oh wow! yes, of course, that would be great!
I’ll post it to you, he said.
A few days later it arrived in the post.  It was a small micro cassette Dictaphone with a small microcassette already in the cavity where the microcassettes fit.  There was a note in with the Dictaphone which simply read:  “Press Play. Dad”
I pressed play.
Dad’s voice came out of the tinny speaker.  He told this long rambling joke about a farmer who no longer liked the tractor he had bought for some reason or other and so he was an Ex Tractor Fan, or something.  It wasn’t a very good joke - you could tell what the punch line was going to be very early on. But it was good to hear Dad’s voice.  I listened to it several times.  I love you, he said at the end.

He died ten years later.  A sudden heart attack.  He was unbelievably out there in the blue, floating around with no warning.

A few weeks after the funeral, I moved flats in Hull. Packing boxes, I found the Dictaphone.  The microcassette was still in the cavity where the microcassettes go.  I remembered Dad’s Ex Tractor Fan joke.
The battery had leaked so I replaced it and pressed play but all I could find was a muffled lecture on Shakespeare and the Traditions of Comedy.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

On Sunday Afternoon

I have turned on the oven

and if you have no plans for them
I will take the Bramley apples
which have been sitting
in the fruit bowl
for three weeks now
and I will wash them
under a running tap.

I will peel them and remove their cores
and cut them into regular cubes
or at least
into random chunks of
the same size

I will place these cubes
or chunks
into the large brown crockery casserole
that you bought from that Antiques Shop
in Kirkby Stephen
while we were on that walk from Crosby Garrett,
you remember,
when the children were little,
the one where we
also bought
the large flat soup dishes
that are now all broken.

(You didn’t buy that there?
well at least you are aware
of the one to which I refer.)

I will sprinkle dark brown sugar
and a little spice all over the
apples although I will not
the sugar
and there will always be
a faint unknowing
as to whether the
finished dish
will be deliciously sweet
or religiously sharp.

I have a sense of it
and a certain amount of experience
and besides
I enjoy the risk

- like the heat of chillies.

In another bowl I will rub
ounces of
into twice as many
ounces of
plain flour
I will add as many
ounces of
demarara sugar
as I have added of butter
and a similar
of the large rolled oats
that we both like.

This topping
I will sprinkle on to the apples
and pat down lightly
running the back of a fork over it
to create small furrows
so that the finished dish
will resemble
a ploughed field.

I will then place 
the completed crumble
into the oven
which I have preheated.

Gas Mark 4

It is in the oven
that the magic will happen
and after about forty minutes
(during which time I will
clear the surfaces
wash the bowls and utensils
I have used)
I will
take it out
and check the look of it
and the aroma of it
and the texture of the crumble topping
for signs of perfection.

A little lava-like
outflowing of
the bubbling sweet apple juices
onto the ridged and crusty surface
may not be a bad thing.

If all these signs are right
I will stand the crumble
in its brown crockery casserole
on the pot-stand by the kettle
to rest a moment
while I quickly make some

Not an elaborate real custard
but a simple one
made from the
Bird’s Custard Powder
we keep in the cellar head
with perhaps a teaspoon full of
Madagascan vanilla extract
and a small pot of that
thick double cream
that you insist on.

The crumble
I will then spoon into bowls
one for you
and one for me and
the custard
I will tip into a jug
and, with the small headed ladle,
and a couple of dessert spoons,
I will bring them
in to you
in the sitting room
while you sit and
the Antiques Roadshow
where you discover
the large flat soup dishes
which are now all broken
would have been worth about
ten times what we paid for them
were we never to have used them
and then 
felt the need 
to sell them.

Your disappointment is short-lived
as you taste
the Bramley apples,
sweetened and spiced to perfection,
under the crumble topping,
crunchy but not too hard,
golden brown and yet not too brown
with a slight caramelisation of apple juices
baked on around the crumble edge
and the three ladlefuls of rich sweet custard
albeit only Birds
that cover the contents of your bowl
and ensure that it is
a delightful
and delicious
on Sunday Afternoon

Tuesday, 7 April 2015



Young Yorkshire mum
with two young sons
walking up
Upper Valley Road

I’m in behind her
admiring her
South Riding
two undulating hills
in pure grassgreen
brushed cotton

that needs smoothing
I’m thinking

but I don’t…

Does my bum look big in this?
I’m remembering from the TV show
and I’m silently answering
but in a really good way.


Son One is up ahead
testing out his leadership skills
knowing the way
Number Two a good bit younger
is hanging back and
has just hit whine mode


she sounds pretty
patient with him
cooing and cajoling
but he’s climbing the whine gears
with indistinct complaining
and with each rising note
you can hear her
jaw clenching and
her teeth gritting.



he hits High ‘Me’
and finally her fury
bursts buttons on her blouse
like popping candy
and she Yorkshire yells

“What, Timiteo?!

we’ve got to go shopping!”

Sunday, 5 April 2015


So, Nuala

Can I tell you now this secret?

I knew your mother


a life ago

more than once

and many times

I held her

and she held me

in ways you may discover

but she distressed me with her

distance and her constancy

while I destroyed us in

another’s arms

but in all the years that have since

flowed over me

I only have regretted

what I did

and I have never repeated

that particular travesty

so when you see your mother next

please tell her this

that although I cannot say I love her now –

that would be ludicrous –

I carry still the burden

of my clumsiness

and wish

that time could turn again

and I would do things differently –

we may not even

stay the course

a second time

but I would be more honest and


and should our loving of each other


a second time

then I would seek to find a

more respectful

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Dragon in the City

She looks to nest
in the trees above the park
and waits till sunrise gilds
her scaly breast
then spreads her wings
to catch the dewy air –
her gulping flight to
breakfast on the green.

But there is flummox in the folk
that stare below
they bring stones and sticks
and washing props and rakes
and fling them high to
break her from the sky
reckless of her safety
and their own.

But sweeping all their
brutish jibes aside
she saddles once again
the florid air
and rides the gathering thermals to the sky
until these ants below have slaked their fear.

And she, now
grey with age,
flees once more
to the lonely
place where she can live in peace

the mists of myth.

Other Urban Faeries...

Mysterious Stark

The Pigeon Whisperer