I didn’t want to ride past your place tonight,

not with that apprentice sun – wearing its

demi-god clothes – embarrassing the sky,

and wasted on these ungrateful streets.

The beach would surely feel better, even with

the swelling tide of kids, just delivered from

the crush of exams, revving their engines.


But every road I followed seemed to take me

your way somehow – every convoluted loop

through the anaesthetic monotony of housing.

I had to avert my eyes as I eventually, inevitably,

passed by, so I wouldn’t catch a glimpse of

that other car spooning yours on the drive,

could avoid guessing what it might mean.


first published in Brittle Star, 2017




God once stopped while I was hitch-hiking,
barrelling south down the Ghost Road
through that endless stretch where
Yorkshire almost starts to resemble Texas.
He flung open the door of a long, white
Mercedes with seats made out of cows.
Given all His hard work, I couldn’t begrudge
Him it, nor the platinum signet ring on
His little finger. He looked – that day – not
unlike a young Topol, or Trotsky, with a
well-groomed neatness to His silver-threaded
curls and goatee. We talked about cars
and girls, the usual stuff, vulnerability.
He asked me how I liked His ride; I guessed
the ambiguity was entirely accidental.
What would you do – He asked me seriously
– if I were to reach out and touch you,
right here, right now? What would you do?
The question hung in the slim air between us,
like a brand new planet, still in its wrapper,
dangling innocently in the heavens He’d built.
Gazing out at the reams of road ahead
waiting to be swallowed up, I shuddered,
understanding for the first time that my soul
was really only ever going to be on loan.


Original version published in Algebra Of Owls, 2017





From my second storey room

up at Eddie’s I hear the kids

screaming over at the park

across the street, squeezing out

the pulp of the summer holidays.

Through a thin stripe between

the cigar-brown curtains the sky

is darkening, but I can only imagine

the world as puzzled together

from random sounds, peopled by

grown-ups on blood-pressure pills

bumping their tidy cars at twenty

along the ruts of the avenue.

Gulls yack the shore in over

the rooftops. Somewhere near

there will be waves throwing up

the ocean onto a dog-walker’s

beach, waiting like idiots for

the mood to reveal itself.

My bed creaks out a lullaby

on its springs every time I move.

I’d lose my mind if I could only

remember where I’d left it.


first published in Stickman Review, 2018

Exit Strategy


Exit Strategy


Ahead, the muscular arms of the valley

threaten to close over, hack the daylight,

impose a night sky cleansed of stars.


I poured myself, and everything I think of

as everything, into the back of the car,

leaving more space than when I began,


yet still I’m weighted down, by a tombstone

on my shoulder, a last supper of cold soil

digesting inside. The road begins to climb.


I stumble along at the speed of darkness.

Behind me, you and someone’s army are

pasting my likeness onto every blank wall.



first published in Soft Cartel, 2018


Being Neil Armstrong

Feels appropriate to repost this just now…



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.

Pushcart Nomination

Black MariahIt’s a tremendous honour to have had my poem “Harry” nominated for this year’s Pushcart Prize by the lovely folks at Sleet Magazine.

I’m very grateful to Susan Solomon, Todd Pederson, Jamie Buehner and everyone else at Sleet for their support. The Harry in question in this poem was one of the kindest, gentlest people I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet, so this nomination is particularly touching, and feels – for me, at least – like the perfect tribute to him.

(If you click on the link to the poem, please be aware that there are five stanzas, not just the three that initially appear. You’ll need to do a little scrolling down!)

Image: Black Mariah by FM.

House of two trees



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 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