Below are a few poems from my two published collections, Red Gloves (2020) and The Met Office Advises Caution (2016).
Links to more poems can be found here.
Links to more poems can be found here.
The Desire Path
Now I go back I notice
and the new twigs I’d thought of as budding
bobbled with disease
and the birches’
and the scattering of feathers
like a planned demolition.
The river curls
round on itself. Someone
has knotted a scraggy
to a stick.
Soon the sleepy adder
under her quilt
and I am afraid
and ill-equipped to wade
the few metres that divide me
from the far bank
where spring is.
The women are carrying the coffin. Under the fear
of slippage they make slow steps.
We cannot say that they advance.
More than one woman is weathering – from the cool
top of her head to her strained fingers to her toes
pushed together in interview shoes – the urge,
like a rip tide, to run backwards and away.
Today is not a normal day.
How awkward we are.
Even were they to confer it would not be possible
for these four women to set down their load
with elegance. The military could manage it –
but military is system, control from above.
The women are moving from within.
More than one will go to ground today.
More than one will be tugged
otherwards. Husbands and children.
How requiring, how embarrassable we are.
One is wearing red woollen gloves. She is pressing them
to the wicker as though without her hands’ small force
the entire construction would fold.
little lady little man
little pot little pan
little table little chair
little cupboard little stair
little plant little leaves
little rooftop little eaves
little cake little pie
little naptime lullaby
little blanket little book
little corner little nook
little cushion little frame
little thing without a name
little statue little bell
little bauble little shell
little lamp little pin
little box to put it in
little apron little jug
little window little rug
little postcard little rock
little candle little clock
little broom little door
little greedy wanting more
When all this is over
I mean to run fast
where the buzz of machines
and the humdrum of walls
and the flummox of words
are behind me
where no one not even
myself observes me
oh yes I intend
to run in the dark
where the thud of the feet eclipses
the thud of the heart
where a chill night bites me
and a slick sweat coats me
and streetlamps gild me
and church bells ring me
Now it’s autumn
and another year in which I could leave you
is a slowly sinking ship.
The air has developed edges
and I am preparing to let myself lie
in a curtained apartment,
safe in the knowledge that strangers
have ceased to gather and laugh
in the lane below
and the brazen meadow no longer
presumes to press its face to the window
like an inquisitor.
Soon even the river will evince a thicker skin,
my breath each morning will flower white,
and all of summer’s schemes will fly like cuckoos.
The leaves are turning and the trees
are shaking them off. Bonfire smoke
between us like a promise lingers.
I find myself standing in the garden
among familiars: pink and yellow roses;
an anniversary birdbath now wrapped in moss;
the stone-grey football that soaks up water
and wheezes like an old man. On the ridged path
loose soil shifts between my toes.
I reach over the back fence, unbolt the gate,
sidestep the fat blackcurrant bush
and weave through avenues of runner beans.
In the heat of the greenhouse, time breathes
slowly, the air heavy as tomatoes;
the same air that hung about your hands.
I make an inventory: cracked flowerpots;
radio components awaiting reincarnation;
spilt seeds still clinging to dreams of geraniums.
I close the door. The sun stays inside, dozing.
In the shade of the laburnum your collection of rain
is brimming again. I deliver it. It keeps returning.
Surprised by the underside of a snail –
a beige highlight
on an otherwise black window –
I went to the next room for paper and a pen.
I would have sat for hours in the dark
distilling words from it;
studying the plasticine slur,
the way it stuck there
as though on purpose, to rescue
the evening from monotony.
Before I got back
the snail moved on
leaving the window vacant,
a frame to hang a poem on.
The Met Office Advises Caution
While the river turns up its collar and hurries along,
gulls line up to submit to the weather. One jump
and air possesses them, bodies and wings
helpless as handkerchiefs snatched
from windows of trains intent on the coast.
Each bird is flaunted against the sky,
a warning to any cyclist still clinging on.
Branches lash out; old trees lie down and don’t get up.
A wheelie bin crosses the road without looking,
lands flat on its face on the other side, spilling its knowledge.
The Molecatcher’s Warning
Nobody asked or answered questions out there.
Ten miles from the nearest anywhere
the landscape was a disbanded library.
Only the moles remained,
strung on a barbed wire fence,
a dozen antiquated books forced open.
It must’ve been the north-east wind
or a bandit crow
that picked them over so –
not a scrap hanging on
inside the stretched skins,
their spines disintegrating.
Read in me
they wanted to declare
how it all ends.
But the threads that once
had a hold on their hearts
dangled, loose and crisp.
And their kin
can’t read anything
Washed clean at the end
by twenty hours of serious rain,
the remains of a hare are sticking
to the road in front of my house.
With all the dart of it knocked out
there isn’t much left to consider:
a stream of southbound traffic has planed
tawny scruff to flat grey.
What mattered were the moments before the sky
let go, which followed its last dash
and the squeal that brought me
to the window,
where I saw it laid up on the tarmac
like a hot baby in the act of waking,
coming round to the sense of a mother
somewhere, to justify its reaching,
its mouth closing and opening,
shaping a soundless cry to the morning
and its big black eyes gaping
as though looking for an exit.