bad, bad words

bad, bad words. pic


I can’t contain my words

they are feral

and when I go out

they let me down

bad cats and dogs and birds

bad, bad words

you know, I once saw a man taking a parrot out for a walk

it perched on his shoulder attentively

looking at him with its sharp beak poised

and I wondered if it ever bit him

for the impertinence of taking  it out unfettered

attached to his shoulder so somehow – owned

the wild bird in its native forest – exotic

would protest,  preferring not to be tame

bad, bad words

they grow into characters, they assume persona’s

I glimpse them as they frolic

I know them as they choke

a gale of consonants and vowels

incipient sounds like weather on the make

puddles of confusion – a mosaic of mistakes

I should have stopped to take a picture of that man

with that parrot on his shoulder so full of withheld

bad, bad words

and now my mouth is full of ammunition for another day


Derision. pic

‘it’s beautiful’,  he said

from the bottom of the wishing well

his eyes, intent, squirming

to find light and  traces of form

for a way out, a clue. A shape revealed.

A helix. An escape. An easy win

like the numbers on a lottery ticket

yet always they seem so distant

so not palpable. Fathoms below and miles above

 they are treasures of the rainbow. Ephemera.


And so he went on saying things

clutching at all forms of optimism

knowing that in truth he was going blind

as the bets were lost

All belief, beggared and lost in shallows

the words just backward utterances. Infarcts.

The light going skinny, malnourished to a fade

so grey and white that winter would muscle in

even into this empty spring

from which, when he looked up

he saw death with petals in his eyes

and the earth, a crust at their rims

So many scattered things

Dry spell

Dry Spell. For poem.

Soft brush of rain on glass overhead

the fall of notes punctuating this space below

A mood evoked

I surrender to the gradient of sounds sent down

from somewhere in the sky

and wallow in the melody

of a siren song

Will I venture out into the physicality

of precipitation

or immerse myself in the comfort

of discomfort kept at bay

These small margins of progress are the order

of my day

How good it is to live in luxury



Struck by the morning shakes

with rising sounds that seep

through my conscious, protective curtain

and usher in the echoes of displaced energy

The tappetty clatter of a bus outside

as it dutifully stops, and then

a thrum and chortle as it shrugs away

replaced by the low ambient thread

of rattled air rising as a plane

bullies the space above Heathrow

taking dreams and commitments

along with the silent witnesses of luggage

assembled to lend comfort in displacement

The aerial beast thrumbles on a soaring note

like effervescence

and throbs away until a whisper

is replaced by birdsong

Our house, it’s apertures all open

to circulate this summer heat

is our fortress. A leaking bastion

that allows me to listen

to the world outside

our manufactured harbour

This safe place where I recognize

the wheeze and irritable chug

of the central heating.

It’s pipes and turns in dark corners

harnessing an insurrection when the pilot flares.

Pavement noises. Friction of the everyday

A lad with his skate-board rasping

against the bored, scuffed cement

and the slidings of last night’s dreams

as they evaporate on the morning air

Start me up

MeLearned Fish.jpg

untrammelled by fear

the first thought

that fragile thing


with those first

moments unleashed

before the day unfurls

that precious arc

of the fisherman’s net

cast wide, and it

should always be an optimistic sweep

of eyes not yet occluded by doubt

limbs not bothered by gravity

and a heart willing to pump

fresh energy to gather-up

the mornings catch

always in debt

to deep, deep sleep

On the verge

On the verge.

Would beauty do?

Alone amongst the gristle of the everyday

A poppy waves not red but orange

On a supple stalk that eeks succour

From a brutal verge

A nondescript suburban highway

Cuts gradients and shapes

The enforced conformity of progress

Into vectors that cars and lorries

Stamp upon

Yet on the side

Emerging from the shoulders of a mole

Crusty pellets of dry earth

Sustain that orange flag

Defiantly romantic. Almost carefree

A splash of colour

Raising hope on a flag-pole

Against the dirty clamour

Of so many imagined goals

Softens the view

On hearing Leonard Cohen’s new album, ‘Popular Problems’

Popular Problems

Popular Problems


Reconcile yourself with the past

Buy some music from the mouth

Of a man who knows

Whose words rode over you decades ago

When even flesh wounds were deep

Tears were squeezed out of innocent pores

For the loss that the future already knew

Weighed heavily on that version of me


I could taste the void

The useless beauty

That would be the gulf

Between now and then

An ocean of lies

The dark passing echoes of closed doors

A concertina of blurred emotions

Emerge now


To his voice which sounds embalmed

Dark, grainy and spiritual

Stripped of peripheral notes

Unnecessary harmony

Just carrying flesh on articulate bones

Stretched to near the end

And still he makes sense

Of the solitary in me.




To all of that

Loquacious man

You spent so much

Time in air

With stories that sailed

On perfumed winds

Close to the edge of reason

And frequently beyond

But the fuel you used

High octane stuff

Was poison

So when you sucked

You swallowed tainted fuel

And lit a flare

That could only ever do one thing

Gutter, stutter or fizzle out

And you reached all three

Now you leave

A crater on the moon

One holed sock

And a legend

That could never be.




It is easy to follow convention

Travel a well worn path

And blend, inconspicuous into the flow


But the runt will feel a heavy hand

Upon his growing burden

To live in perpetual disagreement


For those who are normal

And float, unperturbed  by flaws

Will essay on through life


So the journeyman is bound

Like some casual make-weight

To endure the boredom of the commonplace


While gilded souls. Chosen ones

Float on the sumptuous presumption

That life is good


I can’t help but spare a thought

For someone, somewhere

In the rain or the heat. Desolate.