Friday, June 06, 2014

The All-Smiling Man

I am the all-smiling man
I am smiling for you, the trees
You are losing your leaves
and withered winter branches
I am smiling for the last leaf

I am smiling for you, the clouds
covering the blue sky like similes
or with slate grey metaphors
I am smiling for the last cloud
as it wisps beneath the departing moon

I am smiling for you, the stars
the final stars of a false dawn
And for the morning star

 And I am smiling for you, the new sun
I am the all-smiling man

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


I can’t remember arriving
At Coventry station
Or how I found my way to the pub
I found a place to stay
From a card in the newsagent’s window
Left my suitcase and guitar
In the large, shabby room
Full of cold space
I can’t remember what was in the suitcase
Or what I wore
Headed for the college
I do remember thinking
That the art students
Would have claimed a pub for their own
And would now be in out
Renewing acquaintances
Swapping stories of summer conquests
And finding the pub
I do remember
Talking to the new second years
Exotic, long-haired
Bright colourfully-clothed
About the college
What I could expect
The noise. The music was loud
All Along the Watchtower by Jimmy Hendrix
Was that then or later
It featured heavily that year I’m sure
But some things seem so vague now
I don’t remember how the evening ended
I don’t remember returning to my room
Or how I slept
Or if I dreamt
I know I only slept there once
In the morning I lifted the mattress
And watched the bedbugs

Scurrying from the light

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sky of Bone, Land of Stone

I can’t write another poem.
That’s what I think sometimes
I’ve nothing more to write
Just another poem for another place
Another fizzing morning
After a noisy night

Alone in Edinburgh
In a hotel with Perspex walls
A drizzle of rain
After the hot southern cocktail
Sky of bone
Land of stone

I wander the streets
By chance I glimpse a lap dancer
Through through the open doorway
To an empty bar
She sticks out her tongue
In, what I imagined afterwards
As I walked the half-familiar streets,
A come-hither gesture
Using reverse psychology.

Sky of bone,
Land of stone.

Do you know what I fancy right now?
A cigarette. A roll up.
If I were on my own
And didn’t have a loving wife
Three hundred miles away
I could do that so easily
Embrace the deathly cocktail
of chemicals and carcinogens
drawn them into my lungs

My friend and I
We’d would walk out into the night, together
Beneath the bone sky
Into the land of stone
Into the dancer’s arms

My friend would glow
With the warmth of human contact
And the glow would finally die
And the wind would obliterate all traces
Of his soul, his dying breath
And I would toss his empty carcass
Into the road
And only his shadow would remain with me
In the land of stone

And then I’d want another friend

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Making Love to the Dead

Making love to the dead
It’s all you can do
Thoughts whiz round your head
Shed a tear
For the things that they said
They’ll no longer see clouds
The sun on the golf course
From high on The Downs, the views, the windmill caught in the wind
They won’t see the daisies, buttercups, hawthorn, the blossom
And they won’t feel the wind on their faces
Or the wind behind them
As they rush down the slope

Making love to the dead
It’s all you can do
Thoughts that dart in your head
The people you knew who are gone
Good times that are done, bad times got through
Can you dance with the dead?
Can you speak with the dead?
Sure, It’s a monologue
But you hear them speak back in the wind, in the traffic
Time races
You imagine the things that they’d say,
Each moment, each day, every week, every year
How long have you got?
Will you be next?
Your turn to be dead
And your spirit becomes the shadow of cloud that’s sweeps
Down the hill, filling the head of the walker
Still walking in hope
Making love to the dead

Friday, May 16, 2014


When recently attending a wound
I was struck by how much
the cotton wool resembled clouds

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Where friends once lived
Friend-shaped spaces

Walking along Brighton sea front
A bag of fish and chips
A sharp sea breeze chopping up the past

An old train ticket to Rochester

found in a favourite jacket
Standing next to Lennon in the cathedral loos

A jacket, clothes, blankets…
Imagine a tent, caught in a ferocious gale
pegs ripped from the ground
flapping through the air

From school laughter
and the smell of paint and charcoal
to a hospital bed
And now, another space
that can never be filled in

How big is that space?
The size of a room? Of a stadium?
A planet’s atmosphere?

And these spaces clump together
like magnetic poles
into a huge emptiness
an enormous why

Can we ever know many holes it takes
to fill the Albert Hall?
You saw Clapton there…
Stray images fly
Caught in the sunlight, like dust
Dust to dust
Dust is never in short supply

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cross Country

We have left the Brighton to London
Commuter line
And are travelling cross country

No longer heading for the city
The carriage is quiet, nearly empty
And outside an early frost
And watercolour sky

I spoke too soon
Into the carriage pour
A hundred school or more
School children

Why do they shout?
Why such loud conversation?
Why are their voices so shrill?
The cacophony and impatience
of the i-phone generation

Oh, where is the quiet girl, reading a book?
Where are the two boys engrossed in chess,

Where is the boy with the nervous glances
And unrequited fantasies?