An Otherwise Cheery Night 

My sarcophagus –
enclosure of the soul;
I thought I was there
when the bed was cold.

I feel better now
but when you’re old,
sometimes your pulse
gets kind of slow.

I wonder when the worms
will start to bite.

Just some thoughts
on an otherwise cheery night.

[first posted Oct. 17, 2015]

no book

I imagine the room will be small
with pale blue walls
and a neat bed
with a thin coverlet
perhaps a curtained window
overlooking a communal garden
like the one we had
at the flats you never came to

there will be a bedside table
but no books
except for the one you leave behind
after your visit
with the black covers
alongside that copy of The Racing Post
the cleaner was reading

I’d send it back to you
if you hadn’t gone on ahead
I only back certainties now
want no book at all

silent partner

this morning I remembered myself
as a small boy
stretching to greet the day
with hands that could capture sunlight
or think that they could anyway

it took me by surprise
and I admit I almost cried
to think that when I breathe my last
he will be there by my side

my silent partner


Maybe we don’t have souls after all
but just die like dogs,
howling behind fences
in the dark.

Let me go empty,
falling without grace upon white sheets,
crisp and perfect,
positioned for effect.

Let me fall empty,
with a cool calm shiver of release,
upon an un-creased bed
at evening.

Let the dog bark freely,
his evensong resound,
and sing no song of praise for me,
no song that’s heaven bound.

If There Had Been Any Blue


On the other side
of the mountain,
birds fell from the sky
like stones,
people walked alone
in strange zig-zag patterns
pale and distraught,
and of course
everything was black and white
like an old movie,
except this would
have no happy ending.

Then like a bolt from the blue
– if there had been any blue –
it dawned on me,
this was for real.

This was my home town.


I found a little shop
that sold cups without saucers
run by a man
that I thought was my father,
he said that he’d known me
before the disaster,
but now we were all on our own.

He gave me a cup by way of
a keepsake,
he said I was suffering from
some kind of heartache,
the cup had a crack
and couldn’t hold anything
now we were all on our own.


When the colours came back
they came back without blue,
back to a world that was
riven right through
just for an instant,
then all turned to black
but the cup with a crack
which was blue.

Blue is the colour
that I still remember,
as catching my eye
above all the others
when I was a child
beholding the heavens
blue beyond blue
– if there had been any blue –
blue beyond blue
beyond blue.

[first posted 12/1/2014]


death was not so difficult
like falling from a plane

down through all the centuries
to learn it all again

and still I fall
fall and fall

until I learn
once and for all

to write with greater reach

write poetry in
the rhythms of common speech


download (2)

There are two chambers by the sea
reminding the walker of something he had forgotten,
as knee deep in bracken he emerges into the clearing,
drawn by the lure of the sand and the heaving of a sea
that will cover everything,
as a counterpane covers the dead.

Before, he was in love with the white sand,
loving its warmth between his fingers.
Now it is the coldness of stone his fingers trace,
as he crawls inside for his bed.

Now he would enter the hall of his fathers,
even if it was to find himself an outcast.

Now he would exclude all light,
lay down under the bone hill,
listen to the swell of the sea
and the singing of his children.

There are two chambers by the sea.
between Bar Point and Pelistry.
In grassy circles I walk round
and clutch the treasure I have found.

Innisidgen by the sea,
burial chamber not for me.

Not for me this hall of stone,
cold as iron, cold as bone,

I have found a tiger shell,
I have found a lemon shell,

I have heard the soft sea swell
under Innisidgen.

[Innisidgen: two Bronze Age burial chambers, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly]