second viewing

they waited weeks before separating
until after the first frost
and in that time nothing much happened
except the air was unusually still
and for a few short days at least
there was a late flourish of summer
in which the garden looked lovelier than ever

then all of a rush they were gone


beautiful – she said on second viewing

can’t say I garden much myself – said the agent

like an old postcard – she said
carefully closing the gate behind her
strange but I didn’t notice it at all before
not at all

she turned to take a last look
a sudden gust blew up from nowhere
causing the few remaining petals
of a single white rose
to drop like snowflakes
onto the flowerbed below

I’ll take it – she said

the armchair

the armchair was bought for me
because I like to sit on the floor

the armchair is upholstered in red
because blue is my favourite colour

I sit in the red armchair
and observe you enjoying it

I am content

marriage is a wonderful thing

you leave the room clapping your hands

I return to the floor

you have sharp ears

so do I

marriage is a wonderful thing

on a white shelf

dust on a white shelf
where years ago I left
a letter and a photograph
of meaning I forget

dust settles 
dust sits
dust drifts in grey mist
and we are dust
if we are dust
we too must be adrift

I stare at a white shelf
in a room somewhere else
and relics that once meant the earth
now mean not a thing

we settle
we sit
we drift in grey mist
for we are dust
yes we are dust
and we are cast adrift

the valley

sitting on the bed
notebook raised to the rough angle
of the ridge opposite
where the orange cubes of a new estate
have sprung up against the skyline
I recall another time
I sketched houses in distraction
as one parent raged against the other
in the summer vacation
before they parted

I shouldn’t have started
the light diminishes – evening comes early

evening comes early to all of us
who dwell in the valley

default lines

the day defaults
upon the dark trudge home
I turn my collar to the night
find no message on my phone
think of Robert Frost
as the last street light is passed
weigh good against indifferent
and know the case is lost

the day defaults
to nothing very clear
beyond a bowl of peanuts
and a glass or two of beer
but when I think back
put some distance to my sight
I find that in the darkness
came a different sort of light

Giant Step

I might have stood where Chaucer stood,
somewhere in this neighbourhood
if he had helped to renovate
the castle, as the guide book states.
But Geoffrey never came at all,
to help repair the castle wall,
he was a clerk of greater works
so stayed in bed, his duty shirked,
as I have now, this very hour,
in April’s coolest, wettest shower
which means I never really could
have stood where Geoffrey Chaucer stood.

[Chaucer was appointed Clerk of the Works at Berkhamsted Castle in Hertfordshire, in the late 1300s – he apparently oversaw renovations but there is some doubt as to whether he actually visited the town at all]

For there be sirens

Between night and day lies a slate sea
with only cheap whiskey
to ease the passage towards dawn.

Seven times we listed to starboard
until on the eighth I went over,
dashing my head amid the flotsam
of my ruined work.

Beached in the silver of the new day
I slept the sleep of kings,
dreaming of dark eyes and of no awakening.

Tonight we set sail again,
strapping ourselves to the mast.

For there be sirens.

[I was probably as drunk as Dylan Thomas when I wrote this – there the similarity ends!]

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Where the black river meets the sea,
there you will find me,
remembering an empty cottage
on a night long past,
where I made firewood out of the chairs
and drank myself asleep
afraid of ghosts.

Tonight I hover over the stony shore,
recalling what it felt like
to be human and desolate,
and never wanting it again.

Where the black river meets the sea,
there you will find me
no longer afraid of ghosts
but of humanity.