Living next door to a man who keeps pigeons

Pigeons

 

Living next door to a man who keeps pigeons

 

We only compare notes at first light, when he goes
to open up the hatch, grey bib-and-braces, ill-fitting.

They boil out from the coop, and I stand gawking,
open-mouthed throughout their exercise hour,

following each hypnotic circuit overhead as they pass,
a mist of frantic wing-beating, synchronised like a

herring shoal slicing up the sea, flashing silver
on the upstrokes. I will strike him as a bored ghost,

perhaps, there behind the glass. Or an abandoned
mannequin wearing unfashionable clothes in the

window of an empty shop, mutely oblivious to those
eye-sized spatters weeping down the sash-panes.

 

Original version first published in Otoliths, 2018

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Putting back the clocks

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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

For one night only

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For one night only

 

By 5.30 they were gathering.

The paintbox sky was losing the will,

and I called you from the shore,

to draw you out,

to parcel up the moment,

before the darkness scrubbed everything away.

 

Ten minutes later you were by my side,

your face in profile –

bruised from another day’s assault,

but reliably perfect –

gaze following the swarm of starlings,

over and above and around and over the water,

lost in their murmurations,

wanting to be neither explained nor described in words.

 

Lapsed finally into that state, immeasurable in time,

we prayed for the inevitable gloom to somehow spare us,

we begged each one of the thousand birds

to circle once again before dropping to the reed bed.

 

I kissed an exploratory tear as it left your eye,

knowing exactly what it was for.

 

 

first published in Wildflower Muse, 2016

 

Streetview

Streetview

 

Streetview

 

I stand by the gaping window and

wonder how you do it, just watch

 

madness drive by erratically in its

slow car, round and round.

 

See the children stomping schoolwards

every morning, slumping back, afternoons,

 

as old women and men, heads

too heavy and worn to hold aloft.

 

Garbage scatters like crows quarrelling.

The sun warms the concrete heroically,

 

but no-one feels it. There are an infinite

number of ways for nothing to happen.

 

All of them end in emptiness.

In the evening, there is no darkness,

 

just a curious light laughing at gravity

breaking its laws like ribs, one by one.

 

Death has finally found a home

in your open mouth. It is

 

furnished with stolen goods

found discarded by the roadside.

 

 

first published in Ghost City Review, 2018

House of two trees

House

 

House of two trees

 

I see it every day through a car window.

It ghosts alongside like a stalled memory,

age uncertain, between drawn curtains

of teenaged birch, once autumn’s first gale

has shaved away their weak, buttery leaves.

Only its gable ends remain, a pair of

house-shaped symbols of wet, mossy stone,

linked by a low skirt of rubble, no sign of

a doorway or chimney-breast from this distance.

In each of what would’ve been its two rooms,

opportunist sycamores reach up beyond

the level of the eaves, and must form

a roof of sorts in full, late-summer leafspread,

but now join the hunched cluster of skeletons.

Sometimes there are rooks, crows, neither.

I return eventually to our home, twelve years young,

and backgrounded by those half-dozen acres

of pine, poplar, oak – their own sycamores too,

whose diaspora of seeds choke our garden

and gutters with saplings every spring.

And I can’t help wondering about time, the Earth,

the waiting game they’re playing with us,

the winning hands they’re inevitably holding.

 

first published in Liminality, issue 11, 2017

Aftermath of a minor collision

Aftermath


Aftermath of a minor collision

 
The damage is inconsequential, mere molecular exchange

that it’s not worth bothering to get fixed. Those fanned striations

to metal and polycarbonate. The cracked plate remains legible.

 

But then the talking begins, and you gate-crash the narrative

with your machined hair, your plastic-coated name badge, all its

accompanying officiousness, its way that things have to be done.

 

Oblivious to the audience, you circle, fucking vulture, hungry for

the programme to kick in. You don’t get it, do you? This journey

of ours through the asteroids? You have no idea what’s coming next.

 

 

first published in Thirteen Myna Birds, 2017

Poem published in The Clearing

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The Clearing is a fascinating and beautiful online journal published by Little Toller Books that “offers writers and artists a dedicated space in which to explore and celebrate the landscapes we live in”. I’m really delighted to have just had one of my poems – “Spit” – posted in the journal, alongside fine pieces by three other poets, Garry Mackenzie, Mark Howarth Booth and Oliver Southall.

You can read all four poems here.

Thoughts from an early morning train

Thoughts

 

Thoughts from an early morning train

 

Strange how certain things – whilst falling apart –

take on shapes that almost seem deliberate,

as though planned that way, as though this

were merely a truer angle to see them from.

A reassembly of ideas. A reversal of mirrors.

So you become the terrified hare cowering in

the tractor wheel ruts as the carriage spears by,

not the owner of the jaded eyes witnessing it.

You always have been. You see holes now

where once there were pegs, an illusion of

opportunity created by yourself, by your own

shadow sweeping across the picture as you pass.

 

first published in Across The Margin, 2017