Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Gull Chicks

East Kent, 4 July 2017


Fluffy, speckled, gull chicks
Hide shyly under ledges
On my neighbours’ roofs
Each year in this season.

Their dapper nesting parents
In waistcoats white as surf foam
Break off jocose chattering
To harry meddling humans.

Not for them chalk cliffs
With wind-ruffled sea views
It’s the Georgian aesthetic
That, and distant steeples.

We too make nests of houses
And raise our wide-eyed chicks
They take their due and leave us
Like unfledged, flightless birds.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

New Planets

East Kent. 4 June 2017

“NASA telescope reveals largest batch of Earth-size,  habitable-zone planets around single star…”

Like oleaginous husband not cheating exactly
But libidinous, in the abstract case
Whose restless, ever-wandering eye
Alights on every pretty passing face
We scour the heavens for a (literal) new earth
In far-off, desolate, godforsaken space
Or sulphurous sphere modelled on hell
Looking for what exactly? Microbial trace?
Some sign I guess, that we are not alone
Intelligent life, to put us in our place
To demonstrate that human consciousness
Is a random act, not the accordance of grace.
Are there not marvels and portents with it
In this dear plot? Treasure without limit.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Normal

Might we have been happier, dear
if we had just been, well,
a little bit more normal
with, you know, car in the drive
pebbledash semi furnished in g-plan
rooms knocked fashionably through
and ice water that magically flows
from a peremptory fridge door?


Instead our haunts were all Bohemian
our houses singular decorous ruins
with leaky roofs, bad plumbing
(never mind that elegant line
of brick stringcourse and cornice)
and all our friends and neighbours
pressing their attentions on us
like a casting and audition list.


Let’s fall in love all over again
with plain and simple things:
morning walks in suburban streets
(sun hot, town still slumbering)
currawongs call out each to each
rosellas in dawn-hue flocks on lawns
milk bottles pecked on verandah steps
cream-flecked silver foil tops.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Paper Aeroplanes

East Kent, 12 March 2017

Do children still make
paper aeroplanes
like we did,
fling them out of
attic windows
with paws and chins
propped on elbows
and wooden sills
to watch them sail
past sun-rubbed roofs
feathery tree branches
hankering glances
till at last they flutter
to the ground?


Or do they only
look at
their smartphones?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Auto Electrician

East Kent, 22 January 2017


“Very rare, that is”
declared the auto electrician
savant and physician
of ailing alternators
and lazy starters
as we stood and pondered
this wayward lump
of metal excised
from my old Ford.


“Nothing like it on the shelf.
I’ll recondition your’s”
he grunted, then asked
for my mobile.
“You write it down for me
in case I get it wrong”
(it seemed like we
were not getting along)
“Can’t blame me then.”
I said okay.
“I should have it done
for later on today.”


Greasy, floor-to-ceiling racks
laden with old car parts
teetered from above.
The heavy bench
like druid’s stump
was a palimpsest
of sorts. At my back
the door, glossed black,
with many-stickered
wired glass pane,
let out unceremonious
onto the road.


“You found him then,”
said the garage boys
teasingly
in oil-stained tracks
“the bad-tempered old arse.”
“Owns that land behind,”
the boss chipped in
slumped against his SUV
“Worth a bloody fortune
I should say.”
I liked him I said
works with his hands
not so many
do that these days.


I took his call
let myself in
afternoon light poured
unmuffled through
dusty windows.
I counted out cash
then he pushed forward
my recon starter.
He held back, didn’t turn
seemed to want
to talk this time.


“Everyone buys new these days.
No-one repairs. See that?”
With great gnarled fingers
he held out an armature
with shaft snapped clean off.
“Chinese,” he said
in level tone
like he was announcing
someone’s passing
it could have been
his own.


“Very rare, that is”
he told me again
reflectively
of my starter
as if for the first time.
“Might be tricky -
your alternator,”
he said.
“We’ll cross that bridge”
I told him as I stepped out
into dazzling sunshine.
We’d parted
he and I
like friends.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Twenty-Two

East Kent, 13 December 2016


Hard to think it now I know
but you were only twenty-two
when we first met and wooed
and surprised ourselves to see
that we would soon be wed.
From the unique vantage point
of our little, one-bedroom flat
in stucco-fronted NW5 when
letting fall your velvet dress
under waist-encircling arm
I studied your round back
its hourglass shape, milky skin
and pretty, burnt-toffee moles
like constellation spread
on mattress without bed
(I counted five and told you so).

You sunk your all in all for me
who might have been a ratbag
and tosser. Who’s to know?
Now our kids are twenty-two
and hooking up like we did.
Hadn’t we better warn them?
Surely there are things
that they should know?
No. Just let it go.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Hare

SW France, 30 November 2016

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
I heard the poet cry
I stopped the breath of one who moves
In heaven’s all-seeing eye.

The morning bright, the meadow clear
Our mingled joy in life set fair
Some higher power placed us here
We breathed the same sweet air.

But guns in crooks of arms were cocked
Your heart near burst with fear
You bolted, tacked, I braked, I rocked
God help you, mad March hare.

Now our fates are interlocked
I tracked you at my shoulder
You turned away, for joy I leapt
But flicking back, I shudder.

I feel your weight, I know your beauty
You rode my dented car
I cannot think you less than me
Each knows the morning star.

Thus each man kills the thing he loves
I heard the poet cry
I stopped the breath of one who moves
In heaven's all-seeing eye.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Blind Girl

2 November, 2016. East Kent.


Two polished pine pews in front of me
The straight-backed girl stands patiently
Flanking her, the withered ladies
Bent forward with their burden of years
Gossip and titter and drink this girl in
Sparrows and finches on a blackened limb.
Pretty head nodding like a parcel shelf toy
Sightless eyes wheeling with private joy
Raking rafters and vaulted stone
She travels who knows where alone.
Plaster angels smile down on her
As she swirls the altar rail’s tide
Motley worshippers feel somehow bigger
With this pale girl at their side.
Bright buds jostle on the winter-bare tree
Blind girl you see more than me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Morning Light (Winter)

SW France. 31 July 2016.

Morning light comes tapping at our door
oh thin-lipped winter visitor
who could not want you more?


Morning light comes tapping at our door
like hunchbacked crone in puffy parka
you slouch across the mean oak floor.


Morning light comes tapping at our door
sap is tugging on limbs of un-leafed pallor
you condescend to visit we spirit-poor.


Morning light comes tapping at our door
you early peep above joy’s perimeter
these pretty horseshoe hills we came here for.


Morning light comes tapping at our door
you timid melt the frost-rimmed elder
hazel, walnut, apple, quince...oak, ash and haw.


Morning light comes tapping at our door
oh flint-hearted winter visitor
how could we want you more?