he thought about the little bay
where they had taken the children on holiday
and where he hadn’t been as happy
as he should have been

and he remembered holidays
with his own father
that brought him up with a jolt
like an electric current

connections occur across a tiny space
a synapse

or the passage of many years

now like a couple in separate rooms
he was out of kilter with himself

sleep couldn’t come too soon

no picnic

that cloud

on the edge of the cliff

from the coastal path
like the head of the patriarch

only a flimsy thing
that soon blows over

leaving clear day
and little else of meaning

on the headland
where we leave eggshells
for the birds

and scatter

I meant to show you something special

tea with bad milk

I remember our first holiday
on a campsite in the rain

a woman read our fortunes
before we headed home again

made us tea with bad milk

guilt sits upon my memory
unpalatable and lumpy

but one is made to bear it all
then swallow it politely

what the fortune teller told us
I never could recall

but no amount of sourness now
can change what came before

tea with bad milk

theft at Lyme Regis

four glass coasters
bought at Lyme Regis
when the children were young
and life was easy

life was never easy

photographing them now in sunlight
they seem fabulous beyond compare
blue from another ocean
I never knew existed 
where sea urchins devour whales
amid bubbles of aquamarine
and half-formed monsters
guard a pirate treasure hardly seen
at the time

joy passes too quickly for us to grasp
life is a bauble
a theft
don’t expect miracles
when the miracle has already passed 

lost in a sea
preserved in glass

what we did on our holidays

oh take me
by the rolling southern downs
to a little seaside town

park me
in a guest house with no view
and listen
to me moan about the food

hear me
moaning with the homeless sea
all night long incessantly

to me moaning as we leave
now you get
your turn to moan at me


oh God I’m so depressed

I feel just like a wet cigarette
a bottle with the cork stuck in the neck

a sandwich with no filling and no bread
a pencil with perpetually breaking lead

just when things were to starting to go well
another public holiday from hell

typical – always the bloody same
rain rain rain rain

[note. for those who don’t live in the UK – August Bank Holiday means one thing … ]

what I did on my holidays

I love you so dearly
in all the things you do
that I cannot stand you near me
and spend the whole day through
arguing at distance
with everything you say
while feeling like I’m starting
on a perfect holiday
morning all thin and crisp and new
what a shame you can’t be here too

Longing for the Sea

Oh, I too am longing for the sea,
to break free forever from
certainties and cups of tea
by firesides that we
are too familiar with.

But all those holidays we shared
by restless oceans,
didn’t we agree
that the best part
was always coming home
to mediocrity and letters
on the welcome mat
strewn like windfall apples.

I too am longing for the sea,
this evening at my table,
in verse, in memory. Inversely.

Longing for the sea | image c. Stendec | Dreamstime