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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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

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.

Poem in The Pangolin Review

Not only is The Pangolin Review named after my favourite creature I’ve never seen, it’s editor Amit Parmessur has been kind enough to publish one of my poems in the latest issue.

You can find “An old friend” by clicking here and scrolling down about two-thirds of the way, though you’re very likely to get distracted as you go. My thanks to Amit for including my poem.

Poems published in Issue #6 of Neologism Poetry Journal

LeanMy thanks to editor Christopher Fields for taking a punt on four of my poems for the latest issue of Neologism Poetry Journal. This issue is – in Christopher’s words – “a little lean”, which I’m guessing could be a reference to the fact that it contains the work of only two poets. Alongside some fine work by Megan Mealor, you can find my wee quartet – Philadelphia Skyline, Your country, Crows and The quietening down – by clicking here.

Image: JimboChan

Going Home

Going Home

Going Home

Falling asleep on our journey back tonight,
you didn’t see how the sky was starred with a thousand geese,
spearing off in confused fragments to all directions;
some the usual south, others west, others even north-west.

Your eyelids flickered at the horizon instead, painting yourself a brief dream,
far away from the violent uncertainty of these last three days,
the astonished air still bruised with unspent cloud, above the washed earth,
the rivers of angry traffic still fighting their way home.

 

First published in Allegro Poetry Magazine, issue 13, 2017

Why we are not birds yet

Why we are not birds yet

Why we are not birds yet

It is not solely the weight of our bones,
and the seriousness of the marrow crowding
their cavities, leaving no room for air.

Nor is it the sorry failure of our shoulders,
too pre-occupied with the burdens of
reason, guilt and all those things we’d

prefer not to know, to ever operate wings.
We may grow flight feathers, and knit them with
wax strong enough for orbiting the sun, because

we are amazing, after all, especially to ourselves,
yet still we cannot circulate comfortably in
three dimensions, even through the fine skin

of our atmosphere. Our attempts to do so will
ultimately be the death of us. The only choice
we have, if any, is how quickly to fall.

 

first published in Rat’s Ass Review, Fall-Winter 2016 Issue