Jim’s Clock

Fifty years on the railways
got him a clock,
and when he died it came to us-
alongside his dog.
It sat on our mantelpiece tocking
through the silence
(the clock, not the dog).

Mum would sit it on the floor
opening its back,
baring the pendulum, it’s innards,
the brass, ticking.
She said she could will it to stop.
No hands.

She pushed the air heavily,
with the right index finger,
in opposition to the pendulum’s
path. After a while
the pendulum shuddered
shook to a halt. Time frozen.

I practised this too with
her supervision
stopping the clock with
force of will,
but lost the hard earned gift
as I gained a life.

This happened, it’s not just
a poet’s whim.
This was the kind of magic she brought

Unfaithless

Here’s my confession:

For all those years
I proclaimed no god,

I’ve been seeing, being her.
I secretly saw her in nature,
In books, in mirrors.
I felt her in each hot breath,

She blazed in lights from my fingertips.
She illumined my every dream
Sunbright, she lifted evil from darkness
and leavened morality in eternity’s oven.

And here I stand with no shame,


Unfaithless.

On Looking Again

The lifebooks
we write, unread-
too busy in the pencilling,

graphite blown away
by the lightest of breaths of the past.

The turning back
a mythologising, an unmaking
a renewal of where we are now.

We don’t talk about it:
victims or perpetrators
we bury our histories
in minutes, days, eternities.

An elision-
the hyphenated now-gone,
and momentarily, the new-now
the new old you you can live with.

Swelter

A muggy summer burst of rain-heavy heat
brought flies winkling in half-opened windows,
the blue smell of bread turning,
cat food, uneaten
‘cos the cats lie unbothered.

A fat lazy sweat on my reddened forehead
sometimes salting the eyes;
earwax melting,
thoughts lumbering through sweet decay
like a film noir dick in an Orchid House.

The inspiration of exhaled air, foetid
swamp, grimy condensation, wet
window wiping, peering.
Longing for long lion
days in the overgrown garden.

Swimmers

Are the molecules wet
(The water that binds us swimmers
As we turn mid-liquid,
Carving ourselves futures,
Pressurising others paths)?

At the death of the swim
Droplets slough off
As we haul, bend our elbows
Allowing gulps of survival.

Fluidity of hope, dousing
Arid realities.
A merciless Sun
Simultaneously nourishes
And incinerates.

Present Company Excepted

Life can be a video call
In which
I absent myself,


Shout witticisms off-screen,
Let the participants know
I’m there, alive,


But refuse to be the main protagonist
And hope each growl, each reedy peep
Will be enough


To let everyone feel
I love them;
But in a poem


I can shoot my cowardices down
With the gun pointing backwards on my shoulder
Whilst I look in the mirror.

Pianola Appearance

Snow suggests itself-
a whisper coming down-
time stops for the journey.

There is patience
in the prayers of the gods.

This moment of falling
in soft song.

A pianola scroll of
white/greyer/blurred dots.

The land of cradles
for a billion pendula.

and there she is…

Pale fire pink,
but where chill has nipped and bit,
cheeks red as a well-skelped arse.