Category Archives: Day 17




The blue bag is where we put the paper,
scrunched up drafts, drawings of cats.  Bad poems.
We shred our details, deny any I.D. caper.

We have the council rules written down verbatim.
The big white bag to fill with plastic bottles
of a certain size. To go against the ruling is grim.

The whys and why nots would confuse Aristotle.
I’m not saying that the recycling men like to nag,
to be cost effective they have to work full throttle.

We are provided with four different bags.
They like us to wash and remove the paper from the tins.
The food is squelchy and the green bag sags.

Fish dish, offish squish, sluggish rubbish, in
largish smallish, fiendish frumpish, cherish perish, and grin.

Workman’s train

Failed on the prompt front but did write this today…


Workman’s train

There was the boiler-suited man laying out
strands of tobacco.
There was the girl watching a boy sprint down
the platform yet again.
There was the woman with bright turquoise eyes
before we knew about coloured lenses.
There was the boiler-suited man’s tongue licking
the edge of a Rizla paper.
There were flappy umbrellas with rain rivulets.
There were Manchester Guardians and Sporting Pinks.
There were station-masters waving flags but maybe
just in films.
There was the boiler-suited man taking a drag
from his roll-up and halving it.
There were people we knew by name
and many more we didn’t.


phantom runner

phantom runner

as I walk down to the village today
behind me hear a sharp pitter-patter
turn round ready to get out of the way

as I half-expected no-one is there
when I sleep he causes my brain to fuse
high-stepping through a recurrent nightmare

ever since I hung up my running shoes


The Russian trundles a wooden barrow
through East End streets. I sit astride
a hundred watches as down the narrow

alley ways to Petticoat Lane, we ride
the jarring cobbles. I remember
my zada’s look of quiet pride.

He lives with booba Sarah’s temper,
their house a brick link on a bend
opposite the church and air raid shelter;

a terrace, flush to the pavement
from Mrs Finkel’s corner sweet-
shop to the stone wall at the end

of the street. The women sit
in a row, speak in Yiddish,
nod their heads as they knit and knit.

We cross the scrubbed step, smell fried fish
wafting from the tiny kitchen
where we laugh and drink our borscht.

Zada brandishes his cap at the kittens
that appear and disappear into a cupboard;
another unwanted litter

he can’t bring himself to smother.
It’s fifty years since he sailed for England
to escape the pogroms, he and his brothers,

three immigrants in a foreign land
and still he has to show his papers
although he’s known as Honest Sam.

Near the toilet door, I waver,
fearful of that vigilant circle
of spiders, waiting for invaders

to cross the border.
Uncle Herschel
shabby and alone upstairs, gives no hint
of the secret box on his bedroom shelf

until senility lifts the lid,
opens my door to university,
a foreign country.

The women still sit.
They chat in Bangla, shake their heads slowly.