A collection of poems and other writings...

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Negotiation #5

What are you doing tomorrow?


What are you doing tomorrow?

What am I doing tomorrow?
while today there are blackbirds
feeding young in the garden
and today the sourdough
is gently lifting in the kitchen -
its first proving
and today is the first day I have
time to sit down
since the last time
I sat down?

What are you doing tomorrow?

What am I doing tomorrow?
when tomorrow is probably filled
up already with moments
blocked with time and trouble and toil?

What are you doing tomorrow?

What am I doing tomorrow?

How easily you clatter the question around

Yes well
there is an Agenda
for tomorrow
I do have an Agenda
for tomorrow

but today
I have only
headings and subheadings
and outlines and landscapes
and plans and pre-frontal projections
and while a few papers have been
submitted for my early consideration
I cannot navigate
the complexities of tomorrow
until the vagaries of today
have been drawn into play

What are you doing tomorrow?

Ah, but if I were to tell you
for the sake of an easy answer
it would inevitably be
a short story
of possibles and maybes
a novella of nuance and supposition
a wish-list of the terrifying
and the fearsome

What are you doing tomorrow?

You come here with your crowbar question
levering yourself
into the slim and early tracings
of my promised tomorrow

I was just wondering…

you say
with your innocent
fingers fiddling
with thin porridge on the stovetop
and a sketch of an idea
somewhere across your brow

and I am wary of that sketch
because it is in that sketch that you
forge a steel cage that imprisons me
for it is that sketch
that fetters the ankles of my spirit
that channels the energy of my spirit
that breaks the resolve of my spirit
and casts me
into the pit of your desires
and the fuddle of my despair

What are you doing tomorrow?

If you insist on that question
then there is no tomorrow
do you not see?
there is no tomorrow
no tomorrow

I was just wondering whether you might be able to pick me up from the supermarket?

Negotiation #2

Are you washing up or cooking?


Are you washing up or cooking? I’m not doing both.

No, well I don’t expect you to do both

Good , because I’m not.  So which are you going to do?

Well, which would you rather do?  You’ve been out all day – would you rather sit down while I wash up, and then you cook?  I could make you a gin. Or would you rather wash up and then relax?

God I’d love a gin – been fantasising about one all afternoon!

Ok, so I’ll wash up and make you a gin and you can cook.

I must say I had hoped you might have washed up while I was out.

Yes, well, I have been busy.  I haven’t just been sat around all day.

No, I know…

I have been working, too, you know.  I haven’t just been sat watching youtube, you know.  I have actually been working. 

Yes, I know…

I have.  I’ve booked a course and I bought those train tickets and I’ve been looking at holiday cottages.  So it’s not like I’ve just been sat here doing nothing.

Yes, I know…

You think I don’t do anything while you’re out, don’t you?

No of course not…

Yes, you do. You think I’m just sat around doing puzzles or watching television.

No I don’t.  I…

Holidays don’t just book themselves, you know.  Someone has to do the research.  Someone has to make some decisions.  If we left it to you we’d never go away anywhere.  You do want a holiday, don’t you?

You know I do…

Well, then someone has to sort it out then don’t they.

I’m very grateful.

So pardon me if the washing up isn’t done just when you walk through the door.

I’m just saying…

Pardon me!  But I have been busy you know.  I have been doing things for us, too, you know!

I’m tired.  Do you want a gin?

I’ve sent you a link to four cottages.  Four!  I’ve looked at hundreds and you only need to look at four.  So I need you to have a look and tell me which one you like best.

Ok.  I’ll look next time I’m on.

Make sure you do because we haven’t got long and they're going fast for those weeks.

I will. Gin?

Of course.  Did you get my text?

No.  I’ll make them then, shall I?

God – why don’t you ever check your phone?

I did check.  When did you send it? I checked before I left work.

About half an hour ago.

Well I would have been on the bus then.  I can never hear it on the bus.

I can hear mine on the bus all right.  You need a new phone!

What did it say?


The text.  What did it say?

We’re out of tonic.  So if you want a gin you’ll have to stop at the co-op.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

too poetry

some things are just too poetry
for poetry

a spinning wheel
a honey spoon
a waterfall
a silvery moon

a constellation of stars
the tail of a fiery comet
a rainbow
arcing across the sky

a baby’s bonnet

in fact
don’t write
anything to do with night
no owl or wolf
or bat or ghost

no candle – shining in the dark

weather is a problem too
with April showers
or blazing sun
a sudden fall of snow
frost or mist or fog
a cotton-candy cloud
is just too
for a poem

poetic animals to avoid
well stallions
well toms
or tabbies
and their eyes
timorous mice
they've been done before
and better
snakes and lizards


the first cuckoo

longing is difficult
and love
and lust
and patience
and a first kiss
or a last kiss
or falseness
and pretence

a garden fence

dust and rust

especially if broken

derelict houses
with fractured window panes
in the rain
where no-one has lived for years
not really lived

old cars
worn carpets
rugs and wallhangings
in frames
and old photographs on pianos
slatted Venetian blinds
parlour palms

oh and
your arms
your eyes
your mouth
your nose
especially if you are a baby
and it is a button

your heart
my heart

your blood
my blood
and the things blood does


overripe blackberries
dripping from vines
all just a bit too rich for me

and now I think about it 
there's not really much 
you can write about 
at all

Monday, 15 June 2015


Hello, Dad.  Hello!
It’s me, Diane.  Hello.
I’ll just take my coat off.  
Where shall I put it?
Can I put it on the chair?
Shall I put it on the chair here?
Look I’ll put it here on the chair.
It’s not in your way there, Dad, is it? 
It’s not in your way there. 
There, I’ve put it on the chair out your way.
How’re you going on, Dad? 
How’re you going on?
You’re looking a bit better.
I can’t stop long, Dad.
Are you feeling any better?
Mike’s waiting in the car for me
so I can’t stop long.
You’ve got a bit more colour in your cheeks.
Have you been eating?
Ooh, it’s warm in here, isn’t it, Dad.
Are you warm?
I’m boiling, me.  It’s ever so warm.  Roasting. 
What did you have for lunch?
You look as if you’ve put a bit of weight on.
I said to Mike maybe you’ll put a bit of weight on in here.
Have you put a bit of weight on?
Oh, tell you what – I’ve brought you something.
I’ve brought you a bag of Werthers.
They’re your favourites, aren’t they.
They’re just in my coat.
I’ll fetch ‘em for you.
They’re just in my coat pocket.
I was going to get you some Wholenut
but they didn’t have any.
Not in the VG.
They didn’t have any Wholenut – not the big bars.
You only like the big bars, don’t you, Dad.
They only had small bars in the VG.
So I bought you some Werthers.
And you won’t need your teeth in for Werthers, will you? 
You can just suck them, can’t you. 
You’d need your teeth for Wholenut, wouldn’t you. 
So it’s probably just as well.

So how’ve you been, Dad? 
How’ve you been going on? 
Have they been looking after you? 
Course they have, haven’t they. 
I bet they’ve been spoiling you, haven’t they.
Bet you’re one of their favourites, aren’t you. 
I bet you’ve been loving it in here, haven’t you, Dad? 
All the attention. 
I bet you’ve been loving it. 
Ooh, it is warm though, isn’t it. 
Aren’t you feeling warm, Dad? 
It is warm in here.
I’m baking.
They keep it like an oven, don’t they? 
I s’pose it’s for the old folks, isn’t it, Dad. 
They need it warm. 
Don’t want them to get chilled, do they.
Do you want a Werthers then, Dad?
Do you want one? 
I’ll unwrap you one, shall I?
You can just pop it in your mouth
Here, look, I’ll unwrap one for you.
You can just pop it in your mouth.
Here you go, look.
Open up then.
Open up?  No?  Not going to open up?  No?
Shall you have it later, then Dad? 
Do you want it later?
Shall I pop it on the side here, by your glasses?
I’ll just put it here on the table, by your glasses.
You can have it later – if you feel like it.
After your tea.

Oh – hello, Dad!
Are you looking at me?  Are you?
Can you see me?
It’s me, Diane?
Hello, Dad, I think you can see me, can’t you.
I know you can hear me, Dad.
Here look give me your hand, Dad.
Here I am.  It’s me.  Diane.
What’s that?
What’re you saying?
Hang on – say it again.
I can’t quite… say it again Dad, if you can.
No?  Can’t you say it again?
No. Ok.  I love you, Dad.
I love you.  I’m sorry.

Listen Dad.  I’m going to have to go.
Mike’s waiting.  He’s in the car.
He’s waiting on a meter and if I’m too long he’ll have to put money in.
But I’ll come back tomorrow, Dad.
I’ll come again tomorrow – all right?
For a bit longer.
Maybe you’ll be feeling better tomorrow, eh.
Maybe you’ll have a bit more colour in your cheeks, eh.
I’ll see you tomorrow then, Dad.
Bye then, Dad.  I love you.

Bye, Dad.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Oulipo N+1 to 15

source https://gardengoatquote.wordpress.com/tag/garden-gnome/

Policeman investigate after womanizer walkabouts up to find 107 gnus in frontage gardener
Policewoman investigate after womb walkers up to find 107 goads in frontbencher gardenia
Policy investigate after wombat walkie-talkies up to find 107 goals in frontier gargle
Polish investigate after wonder walkings up to find 107 goalies in frontiersman gargoyle
Polisher investigate after wonderland walkouts up to find 107 goalkeepers in frontispiece garland
Politician investigate after wood walkovers up to find 107 goalposts in front-runner garment
Politico investigate after woodcutter walk-ups up to find 107 goats in frost garnet
Politics investigate after woodland walkways up to find 107 goatees in froth garnish
Polity investigate after woodlouse walls up to find 107 goatherds in frown garret
Polka investigate after woodpecker wallabies up to find 107 goatskins in fruit garrison
Poll investigate after woodpile wallets up to find 107 gobs in fruitcake garrotte
Pollutant investigate after woodshed wallflowers up to find 107 gobbets in frump garter
Pollution investigate after woodwind wallops up to find 107 gobbles in frustration gas
Poltergeist investigate after woodworm wallopings up to find 107 gobblers in fry gasbag

Poly investigate after wooer wallows up to find 107 go-betweens in fuchsia gash

Find out about Oulipo N+7

Saturday, 6 June 2015

dead cat

this cat is dead
not quite
but almost
sitting hunkered
on the arm of the settee
beside me
tilting slowly into sleep

these griddled ribs
when stroked
play questions
and knife blade nubs
of vertebrae
my puzzled fingers

has she grown
this old
this ill?

and when
did I realise
who had previously denied it
that I will miss her
and her tufting pelt
that floats
in strewn plumes
and seeks my mouth

for soon the slits
of her pupils
will cramp tight
and the soft wheezing
of her flanks
will flatten

in the afternoon

Chris on Souncloud

One Careful Höhner

For Sale
One Harmonica
in the key of
B Flat

While it remains in very good condition
this Harmonica
could probably use a little tlc
a buffing with the soft yellow cloth
also included in the sale
for it has been neglected
in its case
far too long.

It has to be stated
that there are
or two
abrasions to the chrome
(as a result
one might imagine
of the instrument having been
and possibly trodden on.)

The teeth marks on
the upper and lower surfaces
do not effect the playing tone
the new owner may detect
a slight metallic
on inhaling through
the instrument’s reedy carcass.

The current owner
no longer has a need for this
that was when purchased
a fine instrument
one that he had considered suitable
for the playing of
airs and graces
of romantic melodies
and seductive lullabies.

He was however
and that which he considered
seems to have created
an opposite impression
on another
who has subsequently decided
that she prefers
the rather more
vulgar vibe
created by a banjo

And so
For Sale
One Harmonica
to anyone who can spare
thirty pieces


A vacancy has occurred
for a Harmonica player
with the small country folk trio

Friday, 5 June 2015

surprised by a mermaid

if you were to touch me now
without warning
and while I am unprepared

if you were to slip up beneath me
and make unexpected contact

I would shiver
and recoil
and shake your hand from my clammy shoulder
and offer some guttural rejection
caught in a throat full of sea
I would shudder under your grey fingers
I who did not see you approach
and am unused to the approach
of any other
and especially of a one such as you
at this time of day
and naked
and unaware
caught in the anger of the sea
fretting in this mighty undertow
if you were to touch me now
without warning
while I am unprepared


if you were to touch me
having given me this moment‘s pause
and now knowing what I now know
of this dry earth and its dead dust
I would gracefully
sink into the ocean of your arms
float on the soft spume of your briny breath
swim into the abyss of your wide-eyed words
hide under the swell of your limpid breasts
moor myself to the holdfast strands
of your sargasso hair

Thursday, 4 June 2015


Picturesque Valley Road, Heeley
These are
people have
on windowsills
on Valley Road

and some on 

a sleeping cat
in black and white

two small dogs,
barking at me
and then at each other

an empty vase
like a large
upended aubergine

a stained glass tablet
propped against the pane
a church
an abstract sunset

a blue acrylic dragon
red acrylic fire
from its nostrils

another cat
also sleeping

an alabaster sculpture
four inches tall
that gives the impression
of a couple embracing
two round heads
and encircling arms

a scrap of paper with
a shopping list
written in a ragged hand
in blue pen
including bacon
and butter

a sticker sign 
that has peeled from the glass
warning that
our belongings
have been
postcode protected

a dead moth
lying on its back
its legs approaching
the air 
from beneath

a tray
of leggy seedlings
leaning towards
the sunlit street

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


Squatting on the upturned box, Johnson dragged his holdall across the wooden floorboards towards him and pulled out a crumpled white paper bag.
“Here, squire, do you wanna bit of fudge?”
The other man did not appear to break his meditation.
            “Take your mind off, like…”
“Thanks, but no thanks.  I don’t actually want my mind ‘taken off’.”
“A bit of fudge won’t hurt, though.  I say, a bit of fudge won’t hurt.  Like a bit of fudge, me.  It’s the sugar.  Instant hit, it gives you.  Keeps you alert, like.  Right on the money.  Always have a bit of fudge on me, y’know, for that instant hit, if I’m feeling a bit dopey or whatever.  Go on, have a bit.”
The other man slowly opened his eyes.
“Really, no thanks.”
“It’s coffee flavoured – you like coffee. That’s a good pick me up, too, isn’t it? Coffee.  Sets you right on your feet.”
“Have you checked recently?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ve checked, I’ve checked.  No need to worry about that.  They’re not due yet, anyhow.  I keep me eye out, y’know.  I’ve got eyes like a proverbial, I have.”
“Yes, but have you checked recently?”
“I.. I.. I’ll check now – set your mind at rest.  We don’t want to miss the moment as it were, do we, the crucial moment.  That would be a shame now, wouldn’t it?”
“Yes.  So check.”
“All right, all right, don’t get ‘em twisted!  Look I’m checking, I’m checking..”
Johnson went over to the window and edged back one side of the grey blanket that he had hung across it some hours previously.  He peered down into the street below.
“Nah!  There’s no sign.  No sign of nothin’.  No sign of nobody.  Yeah, Ali, wouldn’t be best pleased if we missed the moment, would he?  Hahaha!”
“Just keep your eyes on that corner.”
“Will do, squire, will do.  I’m a tea man m’self.  Always have been.  You don’t drink tea, do you?  Don’t think I’ve ever seen you drink a cuppa tea.  Not into tea, are you?”
“No, not particularly.”
“Coffee, that’s you, isn’t it.  Black coffee, isn’t it.  My old mum used to say, you can’t trust a coffee drinker.  Tea’s an honest drink, she’d say.  Always liked her tea, my mum.  Don’t think she’d have liked you much, tbh.  Ha!  Mind you she’d ha’ been right, wouldn’t she, eh?  Not trusting you, eh?  She’d ha’ been right on the money with that one, eh?  Hahaha!  Cuh!  Don’t know what she’d have made of this mullarkey, I really don’t.  This is a fine fandango!”
“Johnson! Will you just quit your yap and concentrate on the situation.”
“’Course, squire, ‘course I will.  You won’t hear another word.  Not another word.”
“Thank you!”
Johnson fell silent.
He peered again around the edge of the scruffy drape.
            “Sorry, squire, I always talk a lot if I’m a bit on edge. D’y’know what I mean?  Always getting in trouble for it at school.  Keep your trap shut, Johnson!  That’s what I got all the time.  Shut it!  Couldn’t help meself, though, even when I knew I was winding ‘em up.  The teachers, like.  Couldn’t help meself.  Ohh, hangabout.  Something’s happening, something’s afoot, as they say!  Better get over here – owh...”
His companion was already pushing him aside, taking control of the window and assessing the situation below them.  The bolt action rifle had been in position, sights checked, within fifteen minutes of their arrival, but as Johnson moved to get out of the way he tripped over his holdall and as he did so launched the small bag of fudge across the room.  Johnson snatched at the air to try to grab it but managed simply to bat it with greater force towards the gun.  He fell against the other man with a considerable force, and was instantly deafened by a loud bang and the sound of shattering glass
He managed to regain control of his body as he heard a cracking thud from the street below - something heavy landing on the roof of a car - and then the sound of the wind flapping the blanket at the now empty casement.