Monday, December 28, 2009



Flatlands, eel grass, marsh harriers hover,
copper sanded estuary, reed banks;
paper and glass still prosper; vessels
like floating caverns, grey container-men
Harwich-bound, blank the docks. Pluck owns
the river – swifts weave through park's air space,
lion-cat stroked in the foliage,
Limehouse massage, in and out calls;
once-The-Mission flanked by bovver
is unreal estate, locked gate. Pranks
came at night, a skull-and-cross-bones,
concrete stained by graphic rain.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Search Party

Search Party

The plans we make are dangerously at sea;
I note your natural confidence and ease
about train bookings, the itinery
that takes us to the Southern tip, then sees
us on a trail that winds intrepidly
into the depths of more uncertainties.
I go along with what you say, then freeze -
wanting to pull back from this unsettling journey.

And then the news that you haven't returned
from an excursion to a wild life park
over six hundred acres in the West.
You stayed to see the sunset as it burned
the trees, lingered there after it was dark,
a friend reported, or bare-facedly guessed.

Then, not worried for you or about you,
we thought we saw your form fly genie-style
emerging from a vase. Just how you flew
we didn't surmise, though it made us smile
to see you smugly calm and bang on cue.
Each day I have to walk a forest mile
on shifting floors, and ratchet up my guile -
no map or guide, the light our only clue;

and your penciled note: "Head for first light
and don't stop 'til the Asian birches start."
In truth I don't quite trust anyone here,
though I stick close to the camp fire at night.
They say there's a new danger everywhere:
seen from far, you couldn't tell us apart.

Under the restaurant's concrete canopy,
the terrace overlooks the lake. We float

above the gentle darkness, less weary
now that we have a bowl of matelote,
a table and - increasingly remote -
chance of a bed. This good, reviving Cote
du something starts to make me worry-free,
though deep down still anxious about the journey -

I've lost all track of you, and lost your smile,
expect to see it like a pale night light,
can't place the way it dimples into shadows.
Instead my watch's luminous blue dial
tells me we've still got hours to kill. I doze,
give up, decouple; it doesn't feel right.

I measure a chaotic football ground:
buses in perpetual movement commute
past me to an unseen moving-around.
The city moves on from route to crazed route;
the engines growl and rumble, shudder, shoot
into tunnels, a sharp, determined sound.
The smallest spat could lead to a dispute.

It's in this sprawl there is a slender chance,
split from the rest at last, of seeing you.
An out-of-town high street, a doorway where
an old kebab shop has a teashop air,
though the unlikeliest of rendezvous,
is where your elfin shape could take on substance.

In slanting evening light where crowds are massing,
wishing we'd thought to bring a camera,
seeing that not to act would cost us dearer,
we move with them, the group we thought was passing,
involved in scenes that get embarrassing.
When anger spills over, nothing could be weirder
than not knowing who it is you're harassing,
crushed against a costume and its wearer.

It's not so much the weight of others makes me
afraid, the need to shove and wriggle free;
rather, it's irony. I tracked you down
against all odds, and if in this strange show
I lose you again the joke would gain renown
amongst our peers. Hold tight and don't let go!

There's a small park near the hotel: I stare
at a white page and try to write this down,
before it peels off in the fresh air
of morning, floats away across the town.
Fact is, last night, over pizza and wine,
you told me the story of your adventure,
starting with how you climb through night to where
the stars shine bright as an amphetamine

high. It was here you had to admit being lost,
and how you stayed lost for, “over all
a longish time…" I write and scribble quickly
all that I can remember and recall
of you, your voice and what it said to me,
vaguely aware of coffee on the roast.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Molecules, Thin Notes

Molecules, Thin Notes:
Towards a Psychodrama for Weldon Kees

The pencils sharpened long ago
are grey towards the point, the car
abandoned at the Golden Gate,
what make was it and how many
miles on the clock?

“I did my bit for old Miami,
stayed in a boarding house there,
three short weeks one Summer.
A waitress lost her job over me:
I lost my sense because of her.

I parked again in Lovers’ Lane
where the airliners fly low towards
their landing, and the railroad
meets the drive-in picture-house under powdered stars.”

The murder hunts the day of his disappearance
could have sirened the mystery of his loss –
a man pushed in a river for his watch,
a boy stabbed by a railway line
and grizzlier sadistic headlines, gone
like Happy Hour slates chalked for a day,
cigarette buts swept by a janitor.
Each passing year the headlines and the horror
replaced by new, and then outdone
by Armageddon archives of the bomb.

“I did my time in Mexico
jumping freights and hopping trains.
There’s no sun quite like that, burns
and purifies, steals up like peyote,
makes changes to the conceptual brain.”

Did he leave some molecules, thin notes,
tucked in to an Arthur Waley – undiscovered,
a poem for the last steps before the Golden Gate?
His apartment buzzed one last time
with a small bevy of gallery owners,
magazine editors, and Ruesch now working
on a film; drank and conversed about their man,
throwing no light. No light could be
thrown: his life, it seemed, like Robinson’s,
was constructed by one pencil
sharper than the rest.

“The subway cars I ride are knackered now,
the rooms I write about long since disbanded;
the syllables of dialogues that ended float
where the railway does something dramatic
before disappearing under roadway, houses, shops.
In hot July brickwork clings a flower,
course green and yellow: I’m untidy here,
all my senses peeled back. Do you mind if I join you,
shirt clinging in the heat, the static
where the screeching tracks head South,
the wagons open top?”


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Alan Ginsberg Dream

Alan Ginsberg Dream


Alan: I decided to write down those memories I recall from the non-ego memory e.g,

When I was so little
I was barely a weight
in my mother’s hand…..

Then, I see in my dream, the reader has a choice between hyperlinks to reach the end of the poem. The hyperlinks become feely bags you can reach into and pull out the poems. Some of the bags are shaped like Teddies. Joyce knows some of the poems – she comes in as I am pulling out the one above. I wake up.


When I was so little
I was barely a weight
in my mother’s hand

knitted shoes
the size
of her thumb

the beating
of her heart
was my Paris

the conversation
of strangers
London’s mighty roar.


Being on the river
with my mother when
she was still young
enough to fall
on the pavement, pick
herself up & carry on –
luckily her glasses
not broken.

Tall just up to her
shoulder, sitting together
on the wood-slat,
cracked varnish seats
and reading the names
on the sides of barges
yachts & launches and she
knowing I am short-sighted,
saying: “You may
need glasses some day.”


From the Summer
of being fucked up what did I learn?
That people we don’t know
are just as important as people we do,
and other people’s mothers and fathers and best friends.

That night I travelled up the Northern Line
thinking to sleep at my Auntie’s house:
all locked up and silent, forgot she’s
away the weekend – stalled me - I travelled way down
the Northern line to Oval, Cleaver Square
to tell Martin about my girlfriend
and having nowhere to sleep –
and chanting Martin, Martin to no effect, no
window slung open in reply –

Up the Northern line, back up again –
in Pond square I found a
parked car – the replica of Martin’s
black 1950’s Morris his parents ‘d bought him
second hand – knowing it’s not Martin’s car
I get in and find there’s a neatly
folded blanket on the front
seat – curl up that summer night
in door-mouse comfort, feeling
like a Camembert in a picnic basket
sleeping until 6.0 am, when I

stealthily slip the handle up & roll out
onto well-worn tarmac under green Highgate Trees,
remembering to refold the blanket

thankful for this unlocked car
in the morning when Ginsberg was
king of Czechoslovakia
and the May – headed back past Highgate Cemetary to
Achway, and Mum and Dad in Brighton
for the weekend, saying I
spent the night with a friend.


Friday, May 08, 2009


To a Woman Dreaming

O woman in the act of dreaming,
with your sweet misnomers, understand
how I can plunge into roadless bliss.
Keep my wing safe in your hand.

The freshness of evening light
fans you with the passing of each beat,
with a force so delicate
it pushes the horizon back,

quivering vertiginous. See
how space is like a vast embrace
which, sick of being born for no-one,
can’t pour itself out or calm down.

Couldn’t you feel the paradise
begin like a concealed laugh,
and flow from the corner of your mouth
to the depth of your one white throat!

Aegis of red sand beaches,
stuck in golden evenings – this is it!
This whiteness of closed flight you place
against the fire of a bracelet.

From the French of Stephane Mallarme

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Peppermint Aero Green Box

Peppermint Aero Green Box

What goes in to nothingness
comes out unscathed:
minute unnoticed changes

from dark swathes of inner space,
the leaves’ green tips of carbon flame,
tall pots new-staged in restaurant window.

The Gardener’s Hut looks out
as if from its own transformation –
traumatic or benign?

I don't know what's in the green box:
a glossy close-up curving back,
a memory that springs out at you.

I see a box where flowers were,
and where a nice girl sat reading
framed in April sunlight;

and the tulips lining up
were trying to catch her eye
while the taller shrubs looked on

and the poets stood very still
and tall pretending to be planes,
or floating seeds, amber tea

pouring through dry air.
Sometimes, on the edge of hearing,
they can hear the church bells

grandly inaudible and loudly not there,
waiting for the world to end
at the turning of a page.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Peppermint Aero Chutney

It was a fortunate misreading
the kind that over-rides the first
dull meaning in a magazine:

four tigers in a frame.
I see them painted by Rousseau.
One gate at least hangs open:

There's a barrier, ten foot tall,
of dull wood painted green,
where the flowers and pathways were.

The overwriting hand is poised.
I think of William Blake,
his birthplace up the concrete steps.

There's an old VW convertible
that often parks round there,
yellow as a plastic bee.

No shop front that I pass
and pass again is ever the same:
blue as surreal ceramic.

Why does latte come out black?
With spikes up close, they look
bigger than church steeples.

A lemon nestles among the apples.
Being very sorry, or just being...
Acting up or just acting...

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Soho Side

Soho Side

Walking the Soho side of Soho Square
I stop and stare: “Who locked the gate on us
in broad January day light?” I enquire
silently, where two girls chat and share. I suss
that they don’t care, don’t notice me; the gate
was never open for these sleek women,
whose English sounds quite confident and bright.
Staring on past them through the gate, it’s plain
to me: Summer has been padlocked away
by the cool giant who wants to ban our pleasure
of lying on worn grass in idle array
until there isn’t any grass – a measure
of potential, in one part of the melee,
for talking up a rapid urban culture.