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

meeting and parting

we raged at this and fumed at that
argued all the salient facts
clarified where we both sat
disagreed – went tit for tat
phoned advisors for a chat
performed like verbal acrobats
had a truly awful spat
and now that that is finally that
most of all
I miss her conversation


That was strange,
that walk to the tower,
almost like a pilgrimage
to some holy shrine,
or hermitage on a rock,
that slow process up the cliffside.

You’d scratched our new car
on the journey to the coast
and I could think of little else
but the insurance claim,
the expense,
the sheer bloody
aggravation of it all,
while your calmness left me
tossing in a fever;
sea fever.

And then we chanced upon the tower,
began the trek to a place
we could not enter,
yet somehow did.

I traced my hand
along the wind-smoothed stone,
blasted orange in the waning sun,
peered through the rusty grill
to a sign that said: Danger – Keep Out,
felt myself buffeted
and for an instant, lifted.

When we returned
the scratch was still there
as deep as ever,
perhaps deeper,
but something else had changed,
though I can’t say what.

Only the silence on the journey home
was different.

[originally posted 10 June 2013]


The old boat slipped its mooring,
must have drifted out to sea.
My neighbour took the launch out
though a boat’s no use to me.
I recall when we first got it,
did the trim in powder blue.
Will be out past Dead Man’s Island,
nothing anyone can do.

I’ll go fetch coffee.

Links | c.  Radu Razvan Gheorghe | Dreamstime.com
Links | c. Radu Razvan Gheorghe | Dreamstime.com

powder blue

out in the kitchen
just before dawn
I finally worked it out

the old back door
that I keep promising to paint
powder blue
like when we were first married
that has seen children
come and keep coming
seen dogs chase down our love
with the same enthusiasm
they chased out cats
that has seen
ingress and egress
tempest and termite
songbirds at daybreak
foxes by moonlight
that I have stared at
on a thousand and one nights
with a thousand and two bottles
while you lay drowsing
amid a thousand and three
radio shows

it has a use

you see there is never
just nothing
there is always something
even pain is something

it has a use

so tonight
I worked out what to do
and I painted
that old back door
powder blue

sweet powder blue

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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.

The agent checked his phone.

‘Like an old postcard,’ she said,
carefully closing the gate behind her.
‘Strange, but I didn’t really notice it before.’

She turned to take a last look.

A sudden gust blew up from somewhere,
causing the few remaining petals
on a single white rose
to drop, like snowflakes,
on the ground below.

‘I’ll take it,’ she said.


a stranger wore my shoes
choked down the morning news
ordered the wrong food
alone at a table for two

but it was me
who chatted to you so freely
over the menu
and died a little more
before the coffee

[first posted 27 Jan 2015]

twenty years ago

twenty years ago
at the midpoint of my life
I went to Little Gidding
and found myself a wife
by a chapel in a mist
we sat but did not kiss
twenty years ago
in the evening

now twenty valentines
I celebrate in rhyme
with a fire and a rose
and my being
by a chapel in a mist
we waited for that kiss
twenty years ago
at Little Gidding


that slow walk home
along the canal
gave me time to think

the dark water
held the swollen moon
in thrall
as though in one vast gulp
it might swallow
the damn thing whole
and belch loudly

it reminded me that
in our pond at home
we have frogs
I never asked for
but you introduced

like so many things

what I wanted to say
and never did
is that
I wouldn’t have had it
any other way

and of course
on many a sweet day
I did ask
and ask
most passionately