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.
This year’s last leaves,
and in their tens now,
the whisper of a breeze.
the stark tree, now,
a fragile chandelier.
These little deaths
in a cycle of renewal.
And this October
some Autumn trees are yet young.
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
and thumbed into
red to print,
a sentence as horizon
to barely visible hate;
a swept wash
of pale skin, nibbed
to puncture and relate,
delivered to paper
than any artist could wring from their mix.
It’s unclearthis pic
when it went
from black and white
Its filmy gloss
got gradations of grays
A forgotten beach
and unfamiliar happiness.
Me in an ecstasy looking up,
clasping your big hand.
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.
the page’s fog.
dying breath meanings
over our eyes.
Their faintly irregular pulses
to some memory we dare to allow.
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.”