Second Saturn Return

O, so long

since we last met

I held you gone.

But here you are

across pooled night sky

your palm weighing

the flat of me

then sending it skimming.

Hop.  Hop.  Drop.

That sinking.

Those turn tail fishes

and these lines -

the fading ripples’ ringing. . .

July 2023

Noctural Hyperhidrosis

Dip your hand in the wetlands wordpool

finger through weeds, feel

the brush-by fleet slip of an eel -

ink black umbilical to the dark.

Or worse the whole

snaking river


out of your depth.


an oxbow comma,

and dip your nib

in the lexicon

of land reclamation.

Abstract if you must -




word-sheep grazing the page’s plains.

Or wet, wake on tide marked sands gasping

to ask: What land is this?

What shall I do here?

 July 2023


That sound

and looking across rooftops

surprised to find nothing.


Then taking the gaze higher

and oh!  Delight.

A flight of shifting geese

far off and high

writing the air

with remembered song

disappearing dots

playing out

on a pianola roll.

Oct 2021


Heaney would have liked the sight:

crescenting the lake’s paved edge

mostly men, booted and branded in their website T's

  - casting

massive magnets into the dark.

The weight, wait and haul of it

and bubbles rising like Poseidon's farts.

Hypnotic to watch

just one more throw of the old rope

and out of cold black water pull -

scooters, dead motors and scaffold poles.

A cache on the goose stripped verge

caught like fairground-fishing.

For the scrap man.

Hands. Face. Space. (A pandemic poem)

Returning the Aldi trolley.

A bloke: Is it a pound or a token?

Will I take change?

Holding out my hand

he puts silver in my palm and,

stranger - its pocket warmth…


Reminded of the time

I rushed from the heart ward

leaving mum with dad

to get her some food

and walk their little dog.

His harness, a faff, and he

used to walking slow,

unaccustomed to me,

eventually he ‘went’

so the flimsy nappy bag

weighed in my hand – warm...

Reminding me of the time

I heard an old lady talking

on the radio about her son.

She said when he was a baby

his bottom was beautiful.

It fitted in her hand

like two boiled eggs

in a hanky.

I carry this with me.

Mother’s Day

So many moons after

that snowy funeral day

I find myself

with a bowl of plain yoghurt

destined for the fridge, notice

the cling films green branding

and through

its stretched



become you,



Of This Tiny Thing.

A couple of days

after dad died

the trap he’d set


caught a mouse.

Mum hadn’t noticed

‘til I pointed it out.

She, brave, tried

to save me

from the task.

And so

we went together

taking it

to the bin

where, suddenly reduced

to huge tears

we stood gripped

in the weight

of this

tiny thing…

Reach, throw, wade and row.

Don’t go all mystical on me, please -

staring into the horizon smiling.

Don’t tell me the whale is

a mammal yin-yang

when I know

it’s a killer.

By all means watch

it splash.  See the play

Of beaded light

But come with me – now, please

Get out of the water.

Jan 2006

Dusting for Fingerprints

There was that one time

Dad slapped me,

a tea-time,


he’d said something

and, teen, I gave him that look -

I’d practised.

Unpractised, his hand struck

before snap-shot silence

and then ringing ears and tears -

his first, I think,

and him being sorry,

and me shocked -

his hand printed on my face.

The other month, at the hospital

when they’d told me he was dying

and he must have suspected,

the nurse whispered permissions for us

staying the night,

and he asked what she’d said,

and instead of truth

bared-faced, and upbeat, I lied.

And I’m left

wishing he was here

for tears and ‘sorry’

or to slap me

and print the silence ringing.

May 2009

Solid State Aphasia

I’m wearing my memories

on a chord around my neck.

They hang closest to

my heart and sometimes

touch my breast-

pocket nested mobile phone.

My memories are on a stick

I can beat myself with.

They are storm proof, ready

to slip into any port.

I’m wearing my memories

on a chord around my neck

along with an identity-

card and its chip

that opens doors and

calls the lift.

So it is strange

to find myself

on the stairs

breathless and split-

second perplexed

wondering where it is

I’m going

and what I set out with

to forget.

Dec 2004

Loss and all that

The staff palled up Irene with your mother

blanketing then together in the lounge,

knees facing each other, sometimes sharing

the green footstool, or a joke – no bother

together. So that often when we left,

after visiting on Sunday mornings

and kissing our goodbyes, far from bereft

your Mum was keen to get back to Irene.

At Christmas when the stomach bug took hold,

robust, your Mum was quick back to her chair

while Irene fared less well, then not at all.

Your Mum cried and tried to find a tissue,

wiped her eyes, folded it up her sleeve – neat

facing darker days, and Irene’s empty seat.


Mr Anecdote.

I won the title back in sixty-four

And, as they say, the rest is history.

It’s like that time

I was on my way

to Batley in the car

and just as it came on to rain

the damn thing stalled.

It was in the days before mobile phones

and so I had to search

for a phonebox wearing

only the shirt I stood up in.

Shirts were more lurid in those days.

This one, I can remember as if it were

yesterday, was all acid colours

and paisley print.  The stuff we wore!

Anyway, I’m out in the street

in the rain, haven’t a clue where

I am or where the nearest phone box is

when I hear this car slowing down.

It’s Batley mind, so I didn’t look back.

I wondered who the hell it was.

I’d visions of God knows what!

And who do you think it was

but our kid and his mate.

They’ve only driven over because

They heard the match is cancelled

and they know we’ll all be waiting

in the rain like plums -

and that’s how it was.

Now getting back to your question:

Yes, it makes me proud,

it really does, it puts me in mind

of that time when I was trying to get

the top off a battle of sauce

there were none of your

easy squeeze bottles then…

Jan 2005

Personal Effects

Among Mum’s stuff,

a small brown envelope addressed to her,


Bradford, April 16th 1973 -

when a stamp would set you back 2 1/2p

So, it must have arrived

four months after that Christmas

which outlasted our childhoods -

when Dad, in hospital, wasn’t there

and Santa’s generosity left

us unboxing guilt and undeserving.

Now, all these years on -

Mum gone – I refind this scrap,


and wonder at your hand -

stare at the kindness you still send:

“I came up on the bingo last

week and this is your share.

so treat yourself for easter.

a Friend”


In Praise of the Shed of Tranquility

Was it with the sound

of one hand clapping

that this window went

safety-glass splatting?

Once whole: now holed.

I see myself in this jigsaw

of an angel’s wing,

with camera and torch.

Behind me the washing line

and trees ask questions of the sky.


And will this thing remain a door

when opening it might

send the day thousanding,

into cells of fractured light?

10th June 2024