Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Film set blue

It's easy to forget sometimes
some simple pleasures:
the way the morning sun makes
skeletons of shadows
long limbed and sharp as knives
on pavements,
dots of
blossom too.
A jay's call, shrieking against a sky
so blue
it could be fake:
a film set blue,
perhaps a token scudding cloud.
The glint of morning sun
on an open window
bounces life back into your eyes:
remember how that feels?
More birds sing,
more traffic roams,
more gates clang against their posts as
people get to work.
Morning sounds no longer deadened by the
muffled darkness,
but clear as bells that strike in time
as you walk
a rising clarity in your head -
the world could start to burn,
hell, it might already,
and still
the jay would sing.

Monday, January 30, 2017

While we were sleeping

We have dined on democracy,
taken tolerance out for a dance;
such riches has equality given us at parties.
Opportunities are strings of pearls,
clasped loosely round our necks -
the arrogance that they won't come undone shines bright
as we clink martini glasses that we think are half full.
A frenzied hum of opulence hangs in the air
like cigarello smoke,
pleasant at first until it chokes you.
But the hangover of these nights
looms heavy.
Pockets have been getting fatter.
Regimes have begun.
Barriers already have foundations built while we
were staring slack-jawed by phone light,
vowing we'll never do 'excess' again.
We'll drink alka-seltzers to settle our stomachs,
while tyranny takes hold,
it happened while we were sleeping.
We wake, alarms clanging in hollow heads,
turbulence today.

Monday, December 5, 2016

By way of apology

A comb of wisped and dappled cloud
floats on a bellowing winter sky,
a trademarked early December blue.
The silhouettes of birds that skim across it
are dashes of a signature in blackest ink;
the days are a slow fade to ending,
before the cycle starts again,
our journey once around the sun.
For all the bad days that the year has suffered,
nature is neutralising; two weeks now of blazing sunsets
and mornings frosted like a Christmas cake.
The brashness of the skies say: We're sorry,
we didn't mean for it to be so terrible this year.
From January through June to now, the things you've seen
should be works of dystopian fiction.
By way of apology, please accept this blaring series of
morning skies that give you heart-ache,
crisp daytimes cold enough for scarves but
mild enough to keep at bay those astronomical heating bills,
and trees laden with red-and-golden offerings of goodwill.
You kept going through the sadness and the darkness,
and we are forever grateful. You stuck with it,
and we know how difficult that was.
As an additional token we're willing to offer you
lustrous sunsets every night,
so fill your timelines and newsfeeds with your best shots,
you've earned it.
We hope to see you again next year.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

One bed

For National Coming Out Day 2016 x

To the estate agents who
ask which one of you this one-bed flat is for,
and frowning bed and breakfast owners,
yes the one bed will be just fine,
no mistake,
no administrative error,
just love:
you may have heard of it,
where two people think the world of each other and
when they look into each other's eyes
and kiss each other's faces
there is a balloon of joy in their chests
and all they want is
every minute just the two of them -
a weekend away,
a world of their own where they might hold hands, or
a first home together,
where friends will buy them oven timers and
corkscrews and
bottles of good wine,
and they will sit on floors and toast
to love.
You may have heard of it,
and I hope you've experienced that,
in any way it comes,
and if you fall for your best friend and it
happens to you: you'll know.
The one bed will be just fine.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


Plunder our earth and
make brittle the very core of us, where
fragile homes may shake and
crumble into dust
all for a plume of fuel.
Cover the sun,
shelter from the wind,
turn your back on the sea and
pretend they are not happening or 
that they are alternatives.
Crack the ancient earth,
let water be tainted,
line your pockets with the shale-soaked notes.
To the towns that have cried no,
we are with you,
and to the suits that have said yes
we will watch the news like hawks and
when the water runs contaminated,
and when we quake,
and when they say it should have been solar, or from waves,
we'll see what you turn to then.

For #NationalPoetryDay 2016

Friday, August 19, 2016


Knock her down for daring to speak, 
so behind it
she feels small.
Though all the world is borne of her,
those doubts of how to stand up tall
are feathers falling from the sky,
a deluge quieting the mouth
of a thousand fiercest songs.
Quell and silence,
or rail against with
spits and barbs and
detest her, though: you don't know her.
Feel threatened by a single voice
that chimes in time with others
just like her,
who have to mute, block, report
as a matter of course,
just so you can have your moment.
Stab and abhor,
cruel catcalls, cries of hate.
Your loneliness radiates where
her strength stays true.
Mute, block, report.
Another day, another unravelling of your spite.
Mute, block, report.
She doesn't acknowledge you,
and gets on with her day.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Toast and tea

The kettle roars its bubbled song,
and I think for the millionth time:
I wish I had a toast rack.
Because that's all we can do for now,
put another round of toast on,
make more tea, and sit in a June-yellow kitchen
with bleary eyes and heavy hearts.
While all the bays and bellows clamour more,
we wish that things were back as they were, just a day before.
We meet up with others who blink in the sun,
shade their eyes and say they can't believe it.
The papers roar too.
That corner-shop-shelf blare, all hard capitals and lies.
We're split right down the middle:
reason on both sides,
but the loudest carrying a torch for their half,
victorious and chanting.
An excuse for all the 'Go home' shouters to emerge,
staggering in the sunlight, barking,
It's ok, they say, because now
we've got it back. Our country:
this is England.
The internet groans with the weight of articles
on what will happen next.
Rates and charts and graphs and opinion.
This wasn't supposed to be how it happened,
or why.
The stay camp draws a heavy sigh.