Putting back the clocks



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


Poem published at Autumn Sky Poetry Daily

My poem “Nelly” has been posted today at Autumn Sky Poetry Daily.

It’s a poem about my Grandmother – my Nan – her funeral, and my imagining her as a young woman leaving the place where she was born and grew up to start a new life. If you’ve visited my “About” page, you’ll already be acquainted with her and with the origins of the title of this blog.

My thanks go out to Autumn Sky Poetry Daily editor, Christine Klocek-Lim, for choosing to publish the poem.


Overcoat 2



It was autumn in my endless year. I was under-ripe,
an empty bucket. So I bought an overcoat belonging to

a dead man. I gave a five pound note to his crushed-up
daughter, and released it from where it was hanging,

all limp and unwanted, in a hidden closet, next to
a woollen suit and a defeated army of collared shirts.

The sweetness of the lining against my shaved neck
offered a first kiss, the stretch of bottle-green cloth

across my unsteady shoulders, an embrace, of sorts.
Wearing it with black shoes punched with silver buckles,

and a shirt whose tight cuffs never quite stopped making
my wrists itch (though I was glad of the distraction),

I toyed with a bashfulness easily mistaken for arrogance,
took the first, tiny steps in a long, unmapped journey.


first published in Bluepepper, 2017

All breakages must be paid for


All breakages must be paid for


Too much shiny cloth gathered
between the trouser legs and
around the ankles of the
inevitably off-the-peg suit.
Too much product on too little hair.
Asked to stand a step higher
by the serious photographer,
he clings on to his bride,
half like she’s a chainsaw
in the poorly co-ordinated clutches
of a novice, half like she’s
something unimaginably fragile,
and no amount of tenderness
will prevent her future destruction.


first published in Love & Ensuing Madness, Rat’s Ass Review, 2016





At first she seemed to like

that I came to her dirty,

a little unclean at the edges;

my sweat was fresh and worked for,

smelling of life and death,

and something in between.



Then – for some reason – I began

scrubbing the crescents of earth

from under my mean nails every night,

until they almost shone like meat,

using her heart-shaped soap,

scented with oranges, while she lay

in her bath-tub, watching me, waiting.



And everything changed.

Everything does, slower

than you can see; those edges

get rounded off and rinsed away,

leaving something lessened or hollowed out,

no longer like a heart at all.


first published in Firewords, issue 5, 2015






I kissed you too much that morning. Or it could’ve been too often.

I don’t know which it was. I’m just sorry. I’ll blame the returning sun,

the way it had silently purged the dark night of darkness, and the

drunken streets of drunkenness, and shown me with its straight face

that not even within an eternity could I ever kiss you enough,

never quite capture something enduring of you with lips or eyes,

never leave myself properly marked, stained, different.

I don’t pretend to know what ‘good’ means; I just know that it’s

what you’re gone for. Those final moments before the first one,

before everything changed, I cannot find. Amongst all this

intangibility, I’ll start my frantic search for what was important,

what really mattered, when the need inevitably comes calling.


first published in Melancholy Hyperbole, 2016