Thursday, 29 May 2014

A Driving Song

Dedicated smokers
perfect the art of rolling
cigarettes single-handily
while driving

their eyes never leaving the road.

I never mastered this skill
because I couldn’t find anywhere
to put the book I would be invariably reading.

Only kidding!

But the other day I was over-taken
by a business man in a boat of a Volvo
doing a hundred and twenty.

I don’t think he nicked himself once
while he looked in the rear-view mirror
concentrating on some last minute shaving.

I’m not sure where this is all heading

but I’ll write down the next line

just as soon as the fool behind
leaves off with his tail-gating.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


image: Su Joy        

the green bottle on her side of the bed
does a pretty good job of imitating glass

wears the right colours
gleams where it should

two mugs in the grey lake
seen through smoked glass

takes on colour

the morning holds its breath

says look
here I am

filled with a fizzing bubbling brew
that’s sure to take your blues away

shadowy figures

i can’t nail any of it down

but I’m glad of this

I’m glad of everything

Friday, 23 May 2014

Toe Woes

Dave avoids doctors at all costs. If something bad is going on, would it make him feel any better if he knew about it?

He places his arm in the blood pressure measuring machine. The receptionist says he has to if he wants to see the doctor.

Dave doesn’t want to see the doctor. He doesn’t want to know what his blood pressure is either. Lord knows he already has enough things to worry about.

But his big toe is going rotten. Yellow gloop oozes into his socks and if something isn’t done soon he fears that his toe will fall off – seriously marring his rugged film star looks.

He rolls up his sleeve and places his arm inside the machine. He feels like James Herriot examining the inside of a cow that’s struggling to give birth.

He presses green for go and there’s an alarming crumpling sound. The machine swallows his arm and as it tightens its grip the red digits start clocking up at a rapid rate. A hundred and twenty already… that surely can’t mean anything good. Not that Dave has any idea what a good number should be.

Dave’s heart is working like a jack-hammer.

Dave is convinced that he’s probably going to drop dead before he makes it out of the surgery. The machine keeps clamping on down. Is there something wrong with it? Perhaps there’s a fault somewhere and the damn thing’s going to crush his arm adding a further complication his toe woes.

He looks around and wonders if he should call out. But if he does call out and this is all just normal procedure….

Mercifully, the machine puts Dave out of his misery. The pressure eases and the digits start to fall to what he hopes is a more realistic figure.

The machine spits out a ticket with a number on it. It reminds Dave of the little tickets you collect when joining the deli queue.

Olives, cheddar, salami…

But god knows what he’ll get when he reaches the end of this particular line.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Compliance Issues

CCTV records marionette motion,
operates a Henry Ford policy
on colour, the street familiar:
we’ve all been there.

What happens next is a head
with thinning hair, a gesture
from hands kept in Humphrey Bogart
raincoat pockets. A smile that reminds us

of some long-lost acquaintance.
Could be anyone, really. Maybe
a computer programmer
or someone unable to hold down

a steady job due to compliance issues.
The awkwardness of the baby-blue lunchbox
and never really knowing what to say.
Until this random punch renders him no-one.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Mr Tucker, Reporting For Duty

Looks at his watch every thirty seconds or so. He's new to the game; doesn't realise how nothing runs to schedule around here.

The harassed woman at the desk says 'sorry. I can't remember your name...'

He takes off his tie.

'Tucker' he says. 'With a T'.

He emphasises the T but the joke's lost on the woman at the desk.

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Balloon Trip


The balloon lifts,
the umbilical cord

my hand
in a black

the rope falls


The Captain, face wet
sweat runs the stubble

white silk shirt
glows orange
glows blue
glows orange


The railway line
a Hornby set

insect horses

trees: brittle


It feels like dying or
being born

the earth


Sunday, 18 May 2014

Flare Signal

The water's choppy

but see this orange flare?
burning rocketry
on a skyward

Friday, 16 May 2014

On Finding The Grave of Sir John Betjeman

Someone's just
over her grave

the sky lowers
gets pricked
on the spires

the tides
reach the
fisherman's knees

and casts

shadows cool
the long grass

he's buried
round here

by here she means
the entire rocky
sombre county

I look up
and there
he is

gunmetal tomb
reveals an arch
that leads into the earth

as we cast
and cast

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Sir Peter Blake

With a freshly cracked can of Turkey flavoured cat food gently filling the kitchen with its cow dung aroma and a sea bass in the oven adding another piquant dimension to the melange of malodorous perfume that signalled dinner time, it seemed as good a time as any to discuss the significant developments in the career of Sir Peter Blake. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Cabbage Celebrity

This cabbage starred in a recent poem. Here it is, resting after its fifteen minutes of fame, basking in the glow of the acolyte lemons.

One red pepper gate-crashes the party, hopes that no-one’s sharp enough to notice.

Vaguely arranged like balls on a snooker table with the same shine in all the right places.

Casting couch fruit and veg hoping for action, they even welcome the sight of the silver knife.

Or they wait on the black chair like Mastermind contestants.

Well Mr Pepper, you chose The Beatles as your specialist subject. Let’s see how you get on with the general knowledge round…

Acid applause from the invisible audience.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014


A mobile human aquarium,
the double-decker drifts
past windows

transient views
of today's

A man with silver hair
wears a sky blue sweater:
suitable apparel

for floating in air.
No-one looks out
each lost in separateness.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Wellie Boots

Wakey, wakey... it's planting time!
Not light yet, Canada geese
honk on the lake.


Singing. Always singing.
Bent double, rump among
the thawing cabbages

How much is that doggie in the window...
A plume of smoke rises
follows him the whole long day.

Players Navy Cut. Bearded sailor,
HERO on his hat band.
Jolly Jack HIGH TAR

one brought to life,
from the tail-end
of another.

Flat cap. Red truck
strategically parked
doors wide open.

Abba. Always Abba.
Dancing Queen on the cab's
tape machine.

It's just getting light.
Like a pilgrimage
they follow in his wake

brown earth
where the green ball
of cabbage once was.

Home on the range
where the deer
and antelopes play...

Yet another Players to punctuate another breath.
Conversations range from Kennedy to God.
Theories behind conspiracies

A stab in the chest, then crashes down.
Shrugs it off, back on his feet
another Players lit.

I've always liked Jags, see?
One time I went in to this showroom
wearing my wellie boots

left a trail of mud
on the floor.
Looked through the window...

The gleaming showroom.
Cups his grimed hands
on the driver's window

Can I help you? In a tone that said
what's a scruff like you
doing in here?

Well, I said, mine's outside.
It's an older model,
and I was just looking

at this new one,
that I might buy it.

Oh, I see Sir...
but I don't think
I'll bother now.

By the time them
daffies come out
I'll be gone.

Crippled with pain
he makes it a point of honour
to do just one last season.

If it's alright,
I'll come back.
Let you know.

One eye comes
Won't shut, properly.

After the funeral
They plough the fields
and scatter

the son sits
in Dad's kitchen.
Looks up,

sees him there,
stood in the doorway.
Gives him a wink.

The daffodils flower
in the blinking
of an eye.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Reading The Mourners

Western style, we’ll read these high plains drifters
from left to right: pinch of mountains dusted
with snow, some gun-smoke clouds then nothing but clear blue,
and the camera shy red horse hides his nose-bag
in the shadows of the hearse but the old hound
has no such inhibitions, stares, stares,
straight into your eyes, proud of the bow tie
some mourner has tied around his neck
and the hearse is a low-slung affair
with four carriage wheels
and too many spokes to count, the windows
frame ash desert, make abstracts of the landscape.
One old boy in a chamois jacket sits
up on the hearse under a wide-brimmed hat,
and the nearest mourner holds a rifle just in case
the dear departed decides to change his mind.
The preacher wears jeans and spurs on his boots.
The yellow book he reads from seems too thin
as he reads to the orange flowers planted
on the freshly filled in grave, then nothing again
except two shovels, the eternal clear blue sky.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Stage Fright

Daytime darkness
the trap-door
secret world.

Black as a cave down here
until you reach
the Bakelite switch.

Weak bulb reveals a pile of velvet curtains.
Stage-lights that get dragged out for the Christmas plays.
Wooden swords, shields. Wigs. Old-time coats and trousers.

Amongst this peculiar paraphernalia,
a perfect place for an illicit cigarette.
Footsteps crossing the hall. A scraping sound, a bang.

Is that the sound of the trap-door being opened?
No. The darkness remains uninterrupted.
But why then, are the hairs on the back of your neck beginning to rise?

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Rain on the pane, bluish transparent worms

Rain on the pane, bluish transparent worms
Bowl of cropped grass, mountain ash on the ridge;
Full orange berry, Zen-like leaves, twists, turns.

Paired-down, sharp simplicity, crowns of thorns.
We set out for the School House, cross the bridge,
Rain on the pane, bluish transparent worms.

Windows all boarded, no happy returns
Strands of webs, hollow blue-bottle wreckage
Full orange berry, Zen-like leaves, twists, turns.

Spider-shawls shroud the flames in the lanterns
The lamp of your memory, after-image.
Rain on the pane, bluish transparent worms.

Shadows, water, ever-changing patterns
Glued-on leaves, gelid plasma foliage,
Full orange berry, Zen-like leaves, twists, turns.

Sit here now: wait for the riders' return.
The hooves of the horses, the storm’s voltage.
Rain on the pane, bluish transparent worms.
Full orange berry, Zen-like leaves, twists, turns.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Wrecking Ball

Splatter texture sky.

The roof is a sleeping cat
basking in the moon.

Silver lamps show
tadpoles on the moon.

The wrecking-ball moon.

Threatening, any moment now
to explode, unravel

shards fly

black balloons
of night.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Ground Elder

In a bid to gain some temporary peace, Dave grabbed the gardening fork and walked. Each step down the long lawn was a step away from where he really wanted to be. He reached the pear tree and remembered that it was important not to knock the blossoms that seemed to fall away if you as much as looked at them. The sun was hot but couldn't be relied upon. It was if some great god had his hand on the cosmic dimmer switch and kept turning the knob because he had nothing else to do. Dave dug in. It was tedious work. Every turn of the earth revealed more plastic, more rubbish. Never mind getting at the roots of the ground elder. 'You've got to dig down. Get out every bit of root.' Dave could never think the words ground elder without hearing this statement from his grandfather. He plucked a blue crisp packet out of the earth. Pulled up coils of transparent plastic bags. The tree also presented another problem to be wary of and Dave was acutely aware of it as he dug closer. Closer to the body buried beneath it.


Morlock Oil

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