Category Archives: April

Ice cold in Alex

Ice cold in Alex

And I’m back in that garden
on the corner down Nell Lane.
It’s summer, always summer
and there is no lawn, just dust,
a desert with wadis, low hills,
and two armies—yours and mine.

Armed with our Dinky weapons,
assorted knights in bright armour
and all the time in the world
we waged that war again,
the war we’d seen in films,
the war that came from the mouths
of old men who’d lost sons,
the war after the one that ended war.
And it was the most natural thing
in the world for lads to do.

Yesterday it was my turn to win.
Today it is your turn to win.
There will never be a draw.

The Wizard’s Hat

The Wizard’s Hat

I could be
moon and stars
in an indigo sky,
a night wand
wandering through
your dreams
casting spells for you
if only you could remember,
if only the smack of daylight
would let you remember
that the fog clouding
your view is not a mystery
but clarity out of reach.

I could be,
if looked at sideways,
your two eyes
staring back at you
with a third eye
just like yours,
the blind one
that you could open,
that sees through clouds,
that sees me in the stars.

Strictly For The Birds

The swallows are back

all the way from Natal

advertising their wares

with flights of song.


I heard them this morning

on the Today programme

before switching to Radio Three

and finishing my mug of tea.


I’d move to Antarctica

if it wasn’t so cold.

Day 9. Light of the World

I’ve tried writing this before but here’s a brand new attempt. It’s borrowed just one sentence, and the title, from the original.


Light of the World

What Hunt would have made of it
was never talked about.
Up there above the altar, a fractured Christ
knocking at the unopened door.
In summer he floated, anchored
by lead. He looked much more solid
in winter, his eyes darker, his mouth
more fleshy. You could forget
he was glass.

Week after week he stared straight at me.
I believed all those preachers who said
he knew what I was thinking.

I guess it didn’t matter.
My thoughts were borrowed anyway.




Missing Dinner on a Snowy Evening

I chose the one by Robert Frost

In which his horse thought it was lost

When stopping in a snowy wood;

So here’s a suitable riposte:


Dear horse, trust me. Sometimes it’s good

To emulate Red Riding Hood

Avoiding wolves and undue stress

To get home for our Christmas pud.


I know you think we’re in a mess

Because of my dud GPS.

The woods are white, my lips are blue.

Which path to take, I’ll have to guess.


I haven’t got a bloody clue.

You also must agree it’s true:

The only source of food is you,

The only source of food is you.



It’s all in there, everything you need

to survive in the wilderness.

Check that the zips are closed,

the straps tightened round shoulders;

feel its blue comfort clasping

chest and waist, weight

pulling you to the firm earth,

freeing you for the distant hills.


Forty litres is more than enough,

a Santa Claus black hole of a sack,

swallowing Goretex, sarnies, water,

Swiss Army knife for horses’ hooves,

plasters and toilet paper for emergencies.

Poles in hand, a mindless rhythm

in my legs, I take myself for a walk.


Quasimodo knew the feeling.

Despite his burden, he danced

in the air, astounded

by the glory around him,

before releasing the straps

Day 8. A caveat to good news


A caveat to good news

is in a caller’s pause
oh, one more thing.

In worms
dragged from the lawn
and dropped
a hatchling’s open beak.

In bands of rain
following a builder’s
all being well.

In our mishearings
when you said
marry me?
and I said
and you heard



Day 7. Window

I forgot to post this yesterday…


Day 7. Window

When a fly can climb the kitchen roof
and make life interesting
rain is a relief.

It slides down the bedroom panes
turning a line of trees
into corduroy.

Brick and slate become a colour-wash
with houses dripping off
the edge of truth.

No dogs bark.
No rabbit tails bob.

A young oak tree leans towards its parent
outstretched limbs touching.
Neither speaks advice.








I’m fed up with the view

from my back window.

Wind blows, rain falls,

we never step

into the same garden twice

but things don’t change

that much.


Recycling is the answer;

the rainbow of bins

will swallow everything

out there : shed, grass,

manky bushes, plum tree

and I’ll start again.


Perhaps the council will freecycle,

disgorging unknown goodies

from truck to bin, restocking

my barren rectangle of earth.

I could end up with

a summer house, palm tree,

roses climbing the walls

up to my satellite dish

to feed in secret messages

from Monty Don.

Pearl fishing

I’ve used brackets instead of indents because I can’t work out how to do them on here. Bit outside my comfort zone, this one…


Pearl fishing


In a shed somewhere in your imagination

(it has to be a shed, or possibly a garage,

in a thought-up street of terraced houses

or on an allotment running down to a canal

where ducks play havoc with brassicas)

there’s a shelf. A shelf gritted with metal filings and dust,

and jammed between a socket set and garden stakes

you’ll find an embroidery thread knotted around

a horseshoe magnet.


Different from the magnet used for finding missing screws

or windlasses in the canal’s margins

(where it comes up dripping with nothing more than mud

and surprisingly glittery drops of water)

this one isn’t painted red around its curve.

It comes from imagination, remember, and works best

with a horizontal owner. Dropped dead centre through a forehead

it’s good for trawling doubts

(or whatever else you want to drag it through).