Saturday, December 26, 2020

even now

 nothing, you think it's nothing

just another idiot in the unfortunate wash cycle

gone by, past, over like an annoying parrot

dead in its cage at dawn

crushed by the planes

your instincts may be partly right

to close it down, shut it off
stifle it, kill it forever

just another stupid passer-by

walking down the same road forever

with you never at the end of it

this is my mathematics

my calculus

starting with such factors

always resulting in zero

always so filled with the memory

of the starting

of the world sometimes so full

of empty promise


Monday, November 16, 2020

aeroplane of what we were

Call me Aeroplane (for CF)

holder of the world altitude record for humans

higher than the highest-flying birds
I look down upon vultures and geese
lowly in the jetstream
from this height
my eye a satellite, a lens, the all-seeing
iris of a spiralling raptor
I see your lengthening shadow
retreat from the stone wells
sacred to Bedouins and desert travellers
strewn about with ribbons
grown weary with calling
to your deep reflection
to your loss
like some great catch
in the throat
like grief, like wind, like a cry
which echoes upon high
knowing now
that I can never land again
sick with height
call me Aeroplane

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

My poetry is dying from the waist down. One has to deal with this somehow. Here's a picture of me blowing an imaginary trumpet on the Bowder Stone:

Some Fairies in Blue Scoots

ONE DAY some Fairies from outside became

in Blue Scoots to peel off the Wallpaper tear down

the Lights unwire everything even everyone's Hearts

in clouds of hacking plaster dust and the Fay Fury of our

Organs of lead

unplugged on the wet Pavements outside

shivered the Rain began to rise-oh

what have we done but then the Windows and O 

the Bells began the Bats and Rats

have you ever seen this?

in Startles of scooting blue Arrivals began 

in such strange Gaits we parted from the Scene

again in the Flurries 

(think again of love and what)

our little scaredy Hearts 

might beg for unfairying so they might and what

of it now for surely?


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Mr Trump on Sunday

attached at either end to hoses and pumps

in accordance with the terms of his punishment

like a great wilted thing slowly forcing itself

into life motivated by some primal need for fodder

Mister Trump inflates, his puckers evening and

ironing out, his cellulite smoothing, his face

taking on a forced fat smile; he rises, unsteadily

shaking, quivering and pink, naked, foolish,

regretful at last; he ascends over the rooftops

like the vast rear end of a fattened autumnal hog

propelled by uncertain farts; higher he climbs,

observed by all viewers everywhere, as children with bows

and arrows with suckers and pea-shooters

attempt to knock him down like a blimp filled

with gas that may just ignite and crash 

upon the grass amongst the cats and sandwiches

to scare the spectators, each of whom 

has paid a heck-of-a-lot of money to be here 

each of whom is a little scared of what might 

happen next; but all that happens is his grin

gets bigger; his bottom balloons out into the clouds

and he drifts away to take his place upon high

in the starry pantheon of people we no longer

give even half a shit about, but would still like

to see die in our heart of hearts


Saturday, October 17, 2020

 the vastness

of what we cannot be
stretches before us

Thursday, October 15, 2020

 for my first few seconds

every morning

you are still alive

Wednesday, October 14, 2020


 these huge ferns

at the riverside

how vigorous, how vivid
how ancient in their ratio
just waiting for us
to fuck off


do not for one moment
let your heart stop
for there are miracles yet
to endure 



Tuesday, September 29, 2020

 Deadness all the way. No empathy or human feeling beyond raw reptilian appetite. Oh, and maybe a cold, dead fury. He's very dangerous.

 in the autumn floods 

yellow-white turnips

bob like skulls

Sunday, August 02, 2020

rope swing

all night long the beck
the river, the stream
the dark, the bright light
the rush, the rope
the parapet, the jump
the rocks the death the ripples
on and on
Alfie says get that rope down
I believe in him
I saw him first emerge
and we swing again
but only I will swing that close
to the huge drop
into the river and its black flood
that's my job, isn't it
to risk death always
with such love
that they can be scared
of nothing?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

a black and white
explosion of sun and air
two feathers falling

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

the pumpkin people

the pumpkin people have no souls
they sit by riverbanks in the spray
oh my, they say
the pumpkin people are athletic
and will jump over your rooftops
even if you don't like it much
some of them collapse
into pumpkin heaps
wailing at the roadside
crying for their interiors
splattered by fast cars
but just one lightning flash like this
and a pumpkin person shoots by
in a great pumping bang
zenith lightning waterfall disaster
it says
oh my again
don't you want to be
the disastrous pumpkin people
with pumpkin heads
and pumpkin toes?
all night the light played
around my door
and moths upon the wing
at dawn I went to the river
where last I saw the moon

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Coronavirus conspiracy limerick

the Chinese have loosed new diseases
from mutant bats cooked in their freezers
they want to destroy us
and then to employ us
as zombies to kill our lord Jesus!


All that I can't forget

what sheets our sheets all that waterfall
of attempted forgiveness
an owl hovers in the blue darkness

in the brake an eruption of nothing
just a moment, nothing again

oh just a moment

never more, though, never
can such

when the sun still wears hats
and the moon
still breaks
every moment

like a far-off baby
that rides, crying

on the red shouts
of wolves


We are the Pumpkin People

(it was the wrong world because)
every time we hopped out
of our rabbit hole together
we collided
and still concussed
demanded to know
who are you
why are your teeth in my mouth
and where are the balloons?
now our balloons are dead as pumpkins
with no candles licking light within


Tuesday, June 09, 2020


oh there once was this feller called Trump
who quite liked to emit from his rump
the most bizarre tweets
while munching on sweets
as he pondered who next he should dump



Saturday, June 06, 2020


not one sound tonight
not one hoot or shuffle
from the ancient ferns
or down the dry hills
even the lowering clouds and their black birds
all silent
I hope I am not the only one left
to speak of it to no one



my little poems
have run away from me
down the dusty hillside
into the sparkling lake

what fun to watch them 

I do kinda like this permission to look like a bank robber. Okay, worn out and going to bed.

Iambics for the Dead (to CF)

two end walls (mist)
of the ancient house
in the hill above the sea
the grass is (like fairies) rough
but yields above the knee
and there we swell
two chimneys snuffed
askance, we, side on side,
to sea birds' beck and call
(your wall there, my wall
looking hovered like the sea
hanged above the fall
of moon and sun
and rush and tide and spree
Saint Mary's Well
below the springing steep
the crickets every step
so leap
and rear and wash
the maddened hare
upon the rock above the sea
all we know divided
as bells the boat
beneath the stoop, the fall
and bright at last
from Bardsey's overfalls
breaks free
the clutch of two
walls sad as smokeholes
fireless, grassed over
whistling as all
midnight is long in you and me
hillfog, love, three
fret and spark and twee upon
these walls where once
a tree or two made three
where midnight once blew strong
in you and me
I am the Owlman.

At last my PPE has arrived.

The Night's Travel

in and now out the same door
like all knives whirling
our utter politics in collisions
of limestone pavements
across all this she travailed
with sepia sandbags
of County Clare
all sailroads to traverse
and only 8 O-clock
by the whale's chime
this big hand by the night's wild travel
points to 12
the little hand
flickers and stops
iris of heart attack hope
—love of small things
and wild places
be certain now be sure
it's that time
in between
where the hands don't count
it's okay to be scared here
to lie down and breathe
to lie a little
before waking
(Published in Poetry S/Z 2009)

Birthing Ganesha

Birthing Ganesha (an extract from a novel)
‘I shall swim into quiet water’—Virginia Woolf, 1940.

Portentous watery images occur repeatedly and hauntingly towards the end of Virginia Adeline Woolf’s diaries, which run out suddenly, shortly before she committed suicide by filling her pockets with stones and wading out into the River Ouse: ‘wet passages … water broken, white, roaring … may the flood last forever … wild grey water …’ The entries terminate shortly thereafter; there would be nothing further. That channel was now dead.
If one were to ask our Adeline how she had chosen her name at the age of sixteen (as is the tradition these days), she might well cite as influential these diaristic references with their suggestion of a dark prescience. Perhaps she wanted to be a larger-than-life literary seeress immortalised in a mythic death scene (for who truly does not want to be a superhero like that?). And of course Adeline—like anyone sufficiently Romantic—wondered what might have come next in that truncated diary if Virginia Adeline Woolf had lived to tell the tale. It was, she thought in later life, somehow similar to Paul Cézanne’s final order of oils arriving a day or two after his death in 1906. What might those paints have become? Certainly Pablo Picasso—who called Cézanne ‘the father of us all’—would have wished to know, and, like Adeline, will have mourned for what might have been.
Riley definitely wants to be a comic-book superhero; he wants this so much that he has now dissociated to the point where he is almost no longer real outside of his fictional self. Perhaps he is now only a character in a sort of graphic novel without pictures. But, however much he may have lost or gained in this transmutation, this is not a story about Riley, who waits, frozen in his charcoal shadow, for some possible future revival: this is a story about Adeline, who, in another life, allegedly bore splashing witness to a remarkable and divine metamorphosis—perhaps a birthing.

 (A lost valley, somewhere in the flooded blue jungles of southern India.)
This happened on Adeline’s eighteenth birthday, just a few weeks after she killed her father with a spade (of which there will be no mention here). She was a mycology student back then, on a field trip to India to study the fungi of the Subcontinent, which has, after all, one third of all the fungal diversity of the world, much of it still undescribed and unclassified.
It was a place of rearing elephantine baobab trees, of giant arboreal tigers, many of them white as Siberians, almost as big as elephants, curled like freakish housecats in their high nests. (One hears them growling from above, but they seldom attack in such narrow daylight.)
            Blood glistened upon the jungle-water, attracting freshwater sharks and zombie-catfish; smoke drifted through the trees, rising like a spectral offering to the gods above the thick canopy. Adeline had arrived in the wrong season, as the forest was currently drowned to a depth of three or four feet. There would be no discoveries of nameless toadstools on this expedition, but anyway and undeterred she came, lurching in her ornate howdah at the head of the procession, riding a huge Asiatic elephant bedecked.with silks and gems.
And so she splashed through the shark-infested shallows, through the drowsing trees, through the pillars of green sunlight, and all the air mad with birdsong and huge dragonflies, into the lost valley beyond.
‘I seen a horsefly,’ sang Adeline gaily. ‘I seen a dragon fly; I seen a housefly … but I be done seen about everything …’
But then, as the Tiffin hour approached, what was that scent of blood and fire? Adeline pulled up her mount, signalling the caravan to halt.
Nillisi, nanna prītiya ānegaḷu!’ she cried in hushed and urgent tones, in Kannada, the elephant tongue, raising her hand like a trunk, waving her pith helmet aloft.
And Adeline and her company peered through the trees to behold a great wonder.
            There in a ghost-glade was a blue boy, perhaps fourteen years old, no more, blithely sawing off his own head with a large, curved knife. Rolling in the water beside him was another head, that of a juvenile elephant, leaching blood and ichor into the smoky ripples, for it seemed that the water itself was somehow alight. And as Adeline watched, the slender, straight-limbed, headless youth—vivid as lapis from the haunted mines of Shortugai and Sar-i Sang—with all seeming unconcern, lifted that great head by the tusks and placed it where his own had been, whereupon it seemed that it miraculously attached itself and became alive again, though now it was half boy.
And this was the legendary moment of the birthing of Ganesha, god of wisdom and words, deva of science and art, patron of new beginnings and humble hopes.
And so Ganesha, mighty Lord of Bananas, Spouse of the Speaking Tree, there amidst the steaming waters, danced and splashed himself to life before ascending on invisible wings into the shimmering upper air.
And the date thereof was the twenty-second day of the eighth month, which is hereafter laid down in the law as holy and inviolate.
And Adeline and her yawing équipage retreated then in fear and wonderment, back to lesser lives, nevermore to speak or think of such marvels.


Mulberry Harbour

Mulberries, on the tossing sea
what now, Germany, beloved
home of revolution?
"It's okay, son; we're paratroopers
and we are supposed to be surrounded."

once you've seen it
you can't unsee it:
your ape face

In other news today, here in Yorkshire our reservoirs are still orange:

Getting away with just about
for years
has had the surprising effect
of making the police think
they can get away
with just about anything

I play Tennis
love means nothing
to me

are the breaths
within kisses