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remembers less

There’s no time.


alone. we don’t mind

the black sky

wide. i have

an eye on a star not

especially prominent.

low in the South. it’s cold.

the last night of the year

& i might be high

on lithium. i’m in

1979 &..



I’m up. get hit again/

5/4/ & I’m down/

3/2 looking up

at a star not

especially prominent/

1/ & I know but

can’t place the

face O my daughter! what now?

where do I go

& with Whom & what for?


(If this was the last sheet of paper in the world,

what would I write on it? Your name.

Lie it flat

in my drawer, which I lock.)



I’m high on lemonade, playing games

as the men drink & become

more tolerant. Long days:


at night, the warm fuzz, of ale,

urinal piss: the gardens

of Belsize Park, Maida Vale.



in the flat I score

my arm: what I know or feel,

spill across the wide


page. In a room

next door, bodies

nailed against the wall.


1st time: home

from the theatre, I lay

in the wild dark,

aflame, beating time,

a pulse between

my ears; remembering:


the bodies, lithe

like African

figurines; long,

serpentine. Men

built like horses;


I lay

half-crazed, eyes shut

tight on the top bunk,

which shook at the knees.


My cousin,

her summer sheet astir,

lay beneath.




I grew my hair. Then,

repulsed at what I was,

cut it short, wore suits, good shoes.


I make for myself a myth.

It’s not the whole truth but ought,

is if you dig

long enough.


Who wants to look like shit?:

be someone who is

nothing, does nothing but

suck air;


wear slippers

wander the aisles of supermarkets;

ponder the merits

of liquid detergents?

Spend a dollar more

on more absorbent paper?


At the playcentre,

this kid sat on the bog

with the door open,

showed me the smear

of his shit on the hard

toilet paper, & smiled.




The boy woke in his bed

at midnight. He saw the window

held up by a stick.

He doesn’t remember if a wind

tugged the curtain,

or if the moon looked in;

if the trees said Hello

in a voice so low no-one

heard (it) – a sigh

or nothing, a stranger

holding his breath,

the bare movement

of a gloved hand…

What happened next?




He stuffed her on the steep bank

of the river for a week one summer

(’86); held tight her hair, butt,

hips, loose rocks – to stop

from falling, and after that

sat & smoked cigarettes,

listening to the trees & water.



By the time he was 30, he had a mortgage.


At 31, I’m on the road again.

Not really, but loose,

like the chickens on my lawn.


I went to London, hung there

a while, bored myself;

went home, married again.




The tables are empty.


I remember the hall. Blue smoke

fingered the air, wound the chandeliers,

curled your hair: you smile

but I can’t hear & I forget

the music which fills with longing.

I’m in the garden, w-ndering,

in love but happy.


it’s a dream

or a Fellini film,

but true.




on that long
run from
to the dawn
pinned by
the relentless
of self
as a
pinned by
that feeling
squirming on it
against the
to be
and not
a damned
thing to
do about

may 2015

A White Church

The road rises and falls on its way to a white church in a field of green.

It is an old church with a belfry and no bell, and the slender windows reach to the sky.

There are two great doors, heavenly blue, the paint falling, and locked.

The secrets are kept.

I cannot feel the sheen of the pews, or look for peace through leaded windows,

Stand before the altar and weep for my sins and losses, or feel the imprint of The Bible black.

So I stand on the kept lawn in pale winter sunlight and watch as the light moves;

Read the dates on the stones in the churchyard and touch the lichen and wonder why, here

There are just nine graves, angled to the south where the huddled sheep are preparing for winter’s cold;

Where there are belts of pines and tall oaks and the roll of the sea and the bones of a man from Kent


…therefore our milk skins

bruised at dawn torn

betwixt.. crucifix. hammer.

nail. caught on/tore yr clear-

skin nylon. thighs ruined.


evident, the philosophical

undercurrent, the smooth-

flowing narrative.


also, tension: the linear

arrangement of days;

their despoilation.

hurt you

for you

open scissor blades

on the white page,


symbol                                                                                             x

omen – say,

a pair of horns                                                                                 Ỵ



or thorns

from the garden

to wear like garlanded


Do Something To Me

contains erotic content

Jackets, rackets, hoodies,
bras and hankies. Kitchen,
picnic, travel, children’s
toys, and uniforms.
There is the same smell
in every shop: rough-soft,
moth-balled, time-stopped.
I was clearing the shop
of clothes that wouldn’t sell,
installing new racks for the goodwear,
banging on the beams, everything was everywhere.
She stood under me looking up
and I hung low in my shorts.

Nothing underneath, the Rain
had entered her top. My bells
shifted and rang in their sensitive sack.
Cathedral, she said. Huh? Commando
Freebone’s bell rope. and reached
up and tugged it, once, twice. 3pm.,

and a Southerly circled and pushed.
Palm to her nose, summer clothes,
she said, was all she had. At the end
of the shed I stopped for her to look
mature. No one is coming, I said. Not
yet she said, and took my place

where the moisturised seam, in its silk
cot. She held where I’d thickened
like a door handle, and said, I’ll leave
the room unlocked.

Then she pushed her finger into my
cloth, having writ her motel number
in the dust on the face of a clock.

When you’re sure I’m sleeping,
park around the block,
I won’t wake up if you do things.


Towers hang the air like the Titans at Cocytus, black at

sundown, the dark blue sky and like when there’s this guy high

on the deck gabbling prayer. Her dark eyes. Fingers, silhouettes stretched

miles, other worlds here as you sleep. In the sea deep,

crevice, desert. Rocks. I’m hollowed by the drip-drip

of decades, fuckin ages; waiting. Saw myself: the way you do:

how you hold yourself when you don’t know what to say because you’re

weird. Which is fine. You need, distance. To think it’s not real, it’s myth

that formed us and everything is cyclic which

makes me sick. It is the inkling of lunatics like us, once,

to think you lose your head again but you’re innocent, done because someone

has seen the light. Well,


apparently this happens: in my sleep; my forgetfulness; indifference;

like when you brush your hair and catch the wind when,

the fridge stops.

dressing gown

My mother’s lilac gown

lies on a shelf in my wardrobe

neatly folded, defunct.


I tried it on once –

it was tight, too short

at the arms.

I had a thick jumper on,

which made it worse.

I never made her laugh.

I stuck corks in her tight curls,

chicken bones in her wine glass,

feigned death,

rattled chandeliers,

whispered scriptures, wandered the hall

at Midnight

with her salmon-pink shawl

over my head, and still…

nothing. Not a flicker

of a smile.


I have the shawl

in my bottom drawer,

entombed half a world

from the corpse

it warmed.

The Village

Stand still.

The children are calling,

Muffled voices

In these dark rooms;

Near the  broken shelf,

By the copper’s bulk,

Scratching on slates.

This room was a school.

It says so, in chalk:

Boys. Girls.

And this – well –

It is locked.

The shadows lean in,

Ragged curtains shake.

There is grime on the glass.

Dust in the light.

Families lived here,

Above the silvered boards.

They flogged the earth.

Flump, a spade thrust

Into the  dark earth.

To make a weary bob.

Spuds and kale and shiny beans.

Plant and reap.

Reap and sell.

Now vines thread up.

To the filtered light.

The families have gone.

Well, almost

modern poets

Poets never look like poets.

Not the ones I know.

They used to. Like Byron,

who fought in Greece,

& Christopher Marlow,

in South London.


But Eliot was a Banker,

a Royalist, Anglican.

And you’re at a bus stop

in Grey Lynn, ruminating

the mysteries of a Lamb

& Pickle sandwich.

Yes No