For Madeleine Bourdouxhe, For Faith Evans 

Your sharp little pencil,

its fine lines slice

deftly through the dishes,

the prepared meals, the niceties.


Where the fleshy heart of intellect

pulses on the undefined

frontline of desire.

You are a new Sun on an unexpected morning.


Not reading French, I read you in French

and grapple the ghost of your clever hands,

prod recesses which surface with re-viewing

and trust to Faith the translation which haunts the shadows of me.


Sentimental Struggles

How we romanticise lost wars,

close eyes for the first

kiss of the first bomb.


Throw ourselves into

the killing carnality.

Diarise manoeuvres.


Tell virgin soldiers lies.

Get patched up,

return to the front.


How we cling

to the possibility of victory

when every daily defeat tells us otherwise.


The band of brothers of lovers,

the walking wounded

who have wound up dead and alive.

A Murmuration

A murmuration swoops, curls

blackly against creeping dusk

seen silently from the window.

I imagine the camaraderie in furious wings

the machinations of large populations

where all are bound in keeping an even distance

and rarely stare a neighbour in the eye.


I don’t deny the beauty of it, the collective mind in flight

but all this is from where I stand, and

not the birds-eye view of

small town minds where small good mornings

and bare civilities keep us comfortably apart.


On Edge


do not blur


or get edgy


but in an important sense

just are not there.


Everything is fluid

and undecided until observation.


It’s not uncertain.


It’s the way it is.


There are pulls and pushes-

Attractions, repellents.


But these are all internal events.


Nothing else.

Northern Latitudes

Now ageing, and living

the long months of low sun


where slate grey or silver sky hung,

where bare trees scratch black lightning,


peppered hair on virgin white pillows.

Dreams bled to monochrome.


I wake to find Her back to me

and the rolling hills of blanketed hips.


My hand on her hot rump

settling there-

a warm reminder,


as a sun-baked rock at midnight

of the gone day’s heat.


Auld Maggie, Game’s Loup (1962)

Tamp the baccy down-head of the cob pipe-

get it lit, hand shielding.


Screw her eyes wi the squall

stood there between the front door and

her oak chair three feet away


Black dress

white bib




skin red



Her man the chandler gone

old nets heaped on the beach

Wet rigging, crates.


Me at three, with new thoughts, in shorts, gets a smile.

Where the Truth Lies

In the ground, with nothing still,

rotting and living,

nourishing another day. For today

just isn’t ready.


In the silent mutual walk to the graveside.

In the being, the togetherness-

the sole sounds the acknowledgement

of all our footsteps slow-marching.


We carry your memories around

lighter than the casket we allowed

you to be buried in. We have to

believe in your resurrection.


But three days is a long shot.


Frost or steam



The flickering flame

of a dream dance.


Dinky little steps.



piano keys.


All these-

Universes when gone.

Relative heat.


Seasons and feelings

bubble and spark.





of bare existence

over emptiness.


If anything is forever,

it is nothing that lasts.

Talking Wordless



slow lips

whispering love.


Opened to closed.


Boats doting

on a heart-soft sea.


Tidily waving,

wordless Soul-sloops-


In oceaned permanence

Talking to me.


 The calm conversation of our histories.