Poem in the November issue of Snakeskin

Very pleased to have one of my poems included in issue 266 of Snakeskin Poetry Webzine, a special issue devoted to short poems of nine lines or fewer.

You’ll find “Refugees” sitting in the right-hand column of the line-up for this issue. My thanks to editor George Simmers for choosing this one and giving it a home.

Remembrance Day

Remembrance

 

Remembrance Day

 

When they silence the radio show at eleven,

leaving empty, unimprinted airwaves to spill

 

sideways from the set, I’m cupping rosehip tea

in two wounded hands. But there’s no peace.

 

The crumpled ringing of a ceremonial cannon-shot

slaps around the mile-away harbour,

 

while in another room, the washing machine

grinds on, waterfalling, buttons and zips

 

drilling at the glass porthole as they circulate.

Children – innocent as wind – shriek outside,

 

their insensitivity frightening off death, if only

for a moment. Settled in the mug, my over-stewed

 

brew exhales, wine-like. When I finally drink,

its flood over the ploughed field of my tongue

 

is fruit-red, blood-warm and unapologetic,

each mouthful a release of winter from its prison.

 

 

first published in The High Window, 2019

Putting back the clocks

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Feels appropriate to re-post this today….

 

Putting back the clocks

 

It catches us by surprise every time.

We never manage to be ready for it,

even though the slowly-paling days

have already shrunken down so much

they barely even fit into their boxes,

and complain fiercely to everyone

about the lack of themselves.

 

Without any clear reason or instructions,

we’ve started eating porridge again.

Taking herbal supplements. Regular showers

of leaves spray from the parade of trees

lining the wet streets uptown. Certain

bolder ones – poplars, you decide –

are the first to go fully, brazenly naked.

 

Trying to ignore the wheezy darkness,

we roam the house, digging out timepieces,

stealing hours, pushing buttons, twirling dials

on the heater controls. It all adds up

to so little. But always there will be one

we’ve missed, will discover mid-January,

clinging quietly to last year’s summer.

 

 

first published in Northampton Poetry Review, issue 2, 2018

I want to kill your dog

dav


I want to kill your dog

 

Actually, that’s not true.
What I want to do is
take him out for coffee,
somewhere quiet and
unthreatening –
that new place just off
the High Street, perhaps,
where you sit on bean-bags
and they play Coltrane.

He could have whatever
dogs have, and I’d
offer him that little
amoretti-flavoured
biscotti from my saucer
as a goodwill gesture,
although I imagine
he’d prefer a beef
or chicken-flavoured one.

Because I’m sure we could
connect in a different,
less rudimentary way,
you know. Maybe not.
At least I would be
careful to keep my hands
under the table, out of sight.
I wouldn’t want to make him
feel uncomfortable.

 

first published in Otoliths, 2018

October

IMG_0668 (2)

October

Your apologetic square of
buttercups and grass is already
rationed a pitiful allowance of sunlight,
barely enough to shrug away
the dew, let alone warm bones.

The shadows across it are now
of the sharpened, blood-drawing kind.

I stare, flat-eyed, at the dereliction
from your window for longer and longer
each morning, catch myself way adrift
from the presence of only moments ago.

Unnamed promises have slipped away,
irretrievably, flowers become seed-heads.

And it’s happening to you. I watch you,
in time-lapse, physically recede,
disappearing around a corner,
beyond sight, out of reach;

folding in on yourself like a balled-up sock,
a puzzle without solution, ruminating.
Dark wheels of thought hinder
every laboured movement, as you
rehearse another long, inner winter.

 

first published in Northampton Poetry Review, 2017

Watching the first geese depart

dav


Watching the first geese depart

It is the altitude I notice first. The lack of it.
They pass so low – barely clearing the tired reach
of the trees up into the pond-coloured dusk –
I could almost grab at their trailing feet.

August thirtieth only. Moonrise. The blare of
their gossiping stabs at the stillness gathered
in a narrow band of sky between our roof
and the neighbours’. They cross it in seconds,

flightpaths mangled up, unreadable, waiting
for a pattern to materialise, for leaders to emerge.
Inside, I know you’re up there on your hands
and knees, drained, shunting boxes about the attic,

squinting at faded labels in the rusted light,
fighting off melancholy. I hover deliberately
until the street is silent, measuring the air, holding
a lungful in each open hand, checking for echoes.

 

first published in Here Comes Everyone – the Rituals issue, 2018

Two poems published in “The Lake”

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I’m extremely pleased to have two of my poems – Calling my grandfather in from his workshop at lunchtime and Blossom – appearing in the September issue of “The Lake”, which is now available online.

These poems were part of the first submission I’ve made to any publications for quite a long time, so I’m particularly grateful to editor John Murphy for giving them a home. John was also kind enough to publish another of my poems – Extract fromNotes for the unborn child – back in April 2017.

Being Neil Armstrong

Feels appropriate to repost this just now…

 

being-neil-armstrong

Being Neil Armstrong

 

You imagine it sometimes happened unexpectedly;

he’d be out walking, or in some Earthbound vehicle,

and his apparently random trajectory would bring

a moon into view, just like that, framed like a

backlit well between two buildings, or in a hole

bitten out by time’s lazy doodle on a mountainside.

 

But then other times perhaps he’d wait deliberately for

one to rise, parking up the car or resting in a silent chair,

always facing eastward at just the right moment;

he’d have that uncanny knack you couldn’t explain

of knowing when it was lurking just out of sight, yet

about to breach the slowly turning curve of the horizon.

 

You just couldn’t know, could you, what it might be like?

To be him? Knowing how it all looks from up there,

remembering. Waiting for Sting to come on the radio,

when you’re driving home all alone, singing about how

Giant steps are what you take…” and screaming out

at the dashboard, or into the utter emptiness above us.

 

first published in Bunbury Magazine, issue 13, 2016

More poems in The High Window

The summer issue of The High Window has been released this week, and I’m pleased to bring news that it contains two of my poems – “The Long Drive North” and “Remembrance Day”. Clicking on my name in the list will parachute you into the appropriate place, although there is so much fine writing to admire within it’s worth plunging in anywhere.

This is my second appearance in THW, following on from the publication of “The Martian View of Earth”, “Cross-country Champion” and “Stars” in 2017. I’m very grateful to editor David Cooke for once again choosing to publish my work.