With the sound down on the telly 

the scroll repeated how an onboard device

may have caused all those deaths.


And silently, the newsmen

and politicians talked. It was impossible

to readjust the volume. It felt like sacrilege


when the silence of the screams would be desecrated

by the everyday sound of professional guessers.

When I could finally move I went into the kitchen,


put an unopened tin in the microwave and set the clock

to 30 minutes. Then watched the timer and waited.

From My October Window

This year’s last leaves,

and in their tens now,

shimmy with

the whisper of a breeze.

the stark tree, now,

a fragile chandelier.


These little deaths

necessarily falling

in a cycle of renewal.

And this October

I remember

some Autumn trees are yet young.

I Was a Pre-teen Dalek

At the Boys Brigade annual display

I was a Dalek. An alien life-form in

a metal skin, this time made of wood though.

I got to scream “Exterminate!” at laughing families.


I then soaked up those families applause

as I left-wheeled,


in a thick navy jumper and grubby haversack.


The highlight was,

from behind a backlit screen,

pulling sausages and a step-ladder from a patients stomach.


You should have seen it, mum.


Invisible lighthouses in daytime
dotted, unblinking

in the haze.


Hours I’d sit scouring the far island,

hunting, eyes squinting,

sat in the sand, knees hugged to chin.


But at night, familiar winks reappear

just where they should be,


rhythmically sparking the dark,

lighting me up inside.


Oedipal me

I smiled thinly

grinning him down

from the peak of his wife’s affection.
for so I was,

I climbed a vacant chair, a throne,

merrily thumping straight-legged.

The joy, mine alone.
The abdicant,
pub-rushed and boozy,

on coming home sat in a seat

heated by someone else’s arse.

We all bounced our secrets around the room in silence.

Until I can Paint with Words

Razored through the rub,each considered mark

an artist’s insinuation,

stretched sinuous, black, 
sure as coal.
Asserting primacy of 

image over word,

and in stark revenge,

I approach a 
Rothko in a room.

the brush of a pen,

held indexed 

and thumbed into 
applying that 

red to print,

I stroke 

a sentence as horizon
to barely visible hate;

a swept wash 

of pale skin, nibbed 

to puncture and relate, 
delivered to paper

a paragraph,

than any artist could wring from their mix.

In a Break with Tradition

Her majesty’s wreath

gets carefully placed

at the Cenotaph’s foot.


Followed by those of her family,

who, dressed in full regalia,

are representing the armed services.


Then one from Her Government,

followed by more from political parties

and a regiment of commonwealth nations.


The Last Post sounds.


The march past comes.


But then, in a break with tradition

she is assisted by her ladies-in-waiting,

and dons her cloak of Invisibility

and with her newly acquired powers

she goes up to war widows and orphans,

and with gloved hands does the hitherto unthinkable-

awkwardly hugging folk.

Two Nightmares

Last week the Nazis were busy, stripping flesh and muscle from bone,

flamethrowers burned travellers in crammed train compartments.

I watched the skins go in the heat, then the veins bubble and flare,

muscle and sinew blacken then vaporise like film on fire.
This week, they were back. They crammed in through the front door

shuffling shoulder to shoulder filling my grubby house.

A woman who presents home improvement shows on telly

supervised. Furniture got smashed and thrown out of windows.
Garbled German shouts as the rooms are trashed. The Nazis squeeze 

back out through the door, their collective boots echo down the stairs. 

The woman is appalled she has let this happen, but as I look around 

the house it is white and gleaming and through my terror think
“This is actually fine.”