Saturday, December 03, 2011


Red Zodiac

Tommy gradually began to realise that an X-ray and an extraction were not the same thing. An X-ray involved no taking out and was painless, whereas an extraction….The one good thing about the extraction was that Uncle Gerry was coming to take him there in the red Zodiac. There were Consuls on the estate, a grey Triumph and an ageing MG but certainly no Zodiacs. That was going to turn a few heads. The other good thing was that he was going to get an extra 1s pocket money on Saturday, which he calculated would make 2s .. 6d as opposed to the usual 1s .. 6d. When you added this to the 5s .. 6d he had already saved , it came to 8s which was one penny more than the price of the model Lysander aeroplane he was saving to buy. It was still there, in the window of the Ipswich Sports & Toyshop… Yet when Tommy awoke on the day, he felt a mounting sickness together with dreadful images of torture. His mother cooked him breakfast. Toast was not enough, she explained. He would get a headache on just toast. Tommy tried yet couldn’t eat a thing. Uncle Gerry laughed and even scoffed some of the egg while she was out of the room. He winked and wiped his moustache, knowing that if all the egg disappeared his older sister would be onto him.

Some time after the injection, which was a quick stab of pain, there was a crunch, a wrenching and a sound like a pencil being snapped. After the tooth was out, his mouth felt funny, trying to talk made him laugh, and his knees started to shake. On the motorway the speedo needle of the Zodiac went from 75 to 85 and touched 90. Tommy was forgetting about his tooth. They were off to see Haley in her caravan. She never made him eat anything, and she was often dressed in her costume, which was like a silvery glittering kind of swimsuit or bra. Still feeling drowsy from the injection, Tommy lay back on the comfy trim of the Zodiac’s front bench seat. His uncle was saying something about horse power, synchromesh and overhead cams. Tommy did not have much idea about what these were, just that they sounded good. When they got to the circus compound, Haley’s caravan door was open. She’d got him ice cream cake and cherry aid. Haley said the cake would be OK because it wasn’t hot.

After he’d eaten some of the cake and drunk all the cherry aid, it was time to watch Haley and Tearaway rehearsing. Tommy loved the sound of the big hooves careering round the sawdust ring. Suddenly Haley was up on Tearaway’s back whispering into the two pointed ears as they spun past. Steadily, she began to raise first one leg and then the other onto the horse’s brown back. A second later she was standing up and spreading out her arms for balance. Uncle Gerry’s moustache and his lower lip had parted company. Tommy, in his unmathematical way, wondered why the tent was getting smaller, and he watched as the performer effortlessly shifted her weight until, standing on one leg, she became a perfectly streamlined shape.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Card Player

Card Player

A card player smokes at a folding table
on his balcony over the alleyway,
which is reached by other alleys and steps
worn smooth as a luck-stone always carried.

He says the air’s better in his domain
fifteen feet up from the morning clatter
of chairs and bottles. He’s cool up there,
though the tuc-tucs come and the stalls are starting,

and all over the city voices are stirring.
In his one-room palace his hand strengthens,
his quick hands flick as they flip his cards over
and as they land on the green cloth he exhales

with the “Ah…” of one who makes a discovery
and an “Ah!” and “Ha-ha” of sudden good humour.
Though the game he controls is made of frustration
he’s fifteen feet up from it, in an air

of elevated thought, an unshattered air,
and the card player delights in not knowing
what is going to happen next in his life
of cards. He smokes. Tea sweetens his throat.


Monday, May 09, 2011

Climbing towards the Light

Climbing towards the Light

There’s a ladder I have to climb,
that goes up like a white trellis
into the blue sky. The sun’s already up,
nothing is in front of me but this.
The white rungs quiver, steady up,
sway again – it all takes time.

Too high now to go back down
I take my time and rest holding
onto the supports of thick-weave rope,
telling myself it’s easier to cling
than let go, believing I can cope,
cut off over a sleeping town.

Trouble’s already starting there:
business begins as curtains stir,
the whole mechanism is a clock,
vast, faceless and sinister,
without face or hands or safety-lock
to stop it. It works on air

as I do, and it feeds like us
and feeds off us – easy to forget
it is after all just a machine
that goes down streets in dry or wet,
fitting into each morning scene,
quotidian as the morning bus.

I don’t climb to get away.
I quarry into the sunlight,
the unburst bubble of dust-seed air.
Sirens, planes, birds in incessant flight
will soon make nothing of my dare –
resting, I greet the swaying day.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Night Mirror

I have recently made a short video of a poem called,The Night Mirror. If you would like to see it please be prepared to use headphone or speakers, go to Youtube and type in:

The Night Mirror wmv

Monday, March 07, 2011

Joyce explains that the way to get an Amaryllis to bloom again is to keep watering it after it flowers, say in December, all the way throught to September as a greenplant. Then not to water it (much) from October to December. Then to start watering it again. This has been born out by the reflowering of Joyce's Christmas 2009 Amaryllis which she was given as a present.

Reflowering Amaryllis

That year of growing
taller and taller meant
you reached the ledge to bloom

dear Amaryllis
thank you for sharing this - well
that's what people say...

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Feb 3 2011

Feb 3 2011

net curtain, yard - our
Xmas 2009
amaryllis blooms!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Everything's been thought of

I am delighted to be able to introduce this poem by guest contributor John Arnett:
Many thanks, John! Hope to see more of your work.

Everything’s been thought of

Celebrity culture
Media vultures
Electrified fences
Flood defences
No win no fee
Reality TV
Airmiles and turnstiles
BOGOF and log off –
Everything’s been thought of
There’s nothing we’re short of.

Binge drinking
Joined up thinking
Conspicuous wealth
Emotional health
Identity theft
Empty nest
Look away now
If you don’t want to know –
Everything’s been thought of
There’s nothing we’re short of

Attention deficit
Short term benefit
Trophy wife
Allergic to life
Recreational drugs
User name
Repetitive strain –
Everything’s been thought of
There’s nothing we’re short of

Radical preachers
Burned out teachers
Human resources
Rising divorces
Prequels, sequels
Botox, detox
Factory farming
Self harming –
Everything’s been thought of
There’s nothing we’re short of

We’ve encountered a problem and we need to shut down
We’ve encountered a problem and we need to shut down

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Leicester Square

Leicester Square Cover Image

I see myself in Leicester Square
which is a kind of overcoat
loose and comfortable to wear,
with bars and diamonds
and tree motifs,
and the weave itself
made up of tiny laughter
and griefs.

Walking through mile-high drizzle
the people here
are dressed to dazzle:
there goes a giant eye,
here comes the Planet Mars.
Some are dressed
as teen-age gangs,
a few as cinemas.
A woman smiles at me,
her gown a shimmering clock
that strikes on the second.

The carousel has run amok;
you can’t see the old grey-beard
who thinks it’s Derby Day;
the clouds fly past him,
Hitchcock’s Birds are coming.

Now that
is weird:
I know that girl
In the mini-dress –
I remember her corduroyness.

A ghost steps out
of a Silver Ghost,
a crowd of masked lone rangers gathers
gasps. Someone whispers, “Diamond!” or
“diamonds…” Is it Legs
or Neil or that man Bond?

I tighten my belt
as erically as I can
and amble on: it’s my coat that wanders
out of the lime-light
into the night, no cares
but The Care of Time.*

The Care of Time was Eric Ambler’s last novel.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Why I am not a Rockstar

A Tribute to Frank O’Hara (although I think I would have made a worse rock star than he would have a painter….

You first realise
about John and the red guitar
when you see him with head down
guitar neck up and the note
the fingers wanted from the red
guitar flies out at the audience,
thru the floor, accelerates
beyond its old shape, and the singer sinks deeper
in his groove and the bassist
is fine-tuning the cellar.

In the interval with a beer
pleased to see us,
he looks up quizzically, seems to see
a spinning falling coin
or as if lightning is spreading
across the sea,
the next set coming...

By the time we
get to Angel
there are more people
going home than occupying
the restaurants and bars.
John’s a moving point
a van thru N.London
w/speakers amp and mikes.
Part of him has gone to Phoenix
and the rest of him’ll wake up to
the book he left off reading.

And who am I – the guy
who can pump hell out of an upright piano?
or hold it all together on the drums?
My band is a wavelength
and my notes are in pencil –

today with a Staedtler 2B pencil
in a notebook that cost a pound.
The bracket opens does not close
and a line ends/
or at least another begins