Geography Lessons

We are betterer then the Swiss
cause our cheese has no holes
and they need feet of snow
before they shut schools down

We are Africans that got lost
walking on water to China
and became white because
we argued with the sun

In Russia, they make cold sores
so we have to keep curtains
ironed in case they come
and make us like the poor.

Australia is made of desserts
that kangaroos jump in
but not like our puds
as they are originals

Reach Poetry

Down where the washing-line stood

an orange flicker
in the outside privy

where leaves rustle
where night screeches

said carpets rolled
said bottled beer

said black and white faces
to fade, to stay young

for voices by the piano
for tunes of summer nights

when fat fingers thumped keys
to gramophone scratched trumpets

while in shadows
in unlit hedges, a cat hunts
and something bitten screams a melody

 

Reach Poetry

Early morning in Mafeking Street

I may have been dead or at last breath,
you came skipping up from the alley
short bare legs, dirt on your knees.

I saw you stop, a thrupenny jubbly,
in your hand colder then I was,
the blood on my face jam thick.

I was wrenching a punctured fifth wheel
when the axle broke, pitching the trailer
on me as straw bales toppled like Lego bricks.

I saw you laugh at the policeman too fat
trying to run like a keystone cop,
as he blew his whistle in the empty street.

I could hear the ring of the ambulance,
you danced to until you saw the man
jump out with big sticks and a blanket.

I watched you stand, jubbly untouched
as they bent over me then you turned
and ran to play and so did I.

Reach Poetry

 

On not saying hello

It was on the 8.30 to London and I was lost in a poem
more to pass the time then for serious effect
when I looked over and saw a basement squat
and a time when you and I were friends.

More to pass the time then for serious effect
I imagine leaning over and apologetically reminding
you of a time when you knew me and my brother.
I turned back to my poem and remembered why not.

I imagine leaning over and apologetically reminding
you of my brother, now dead but scared of life yet
I turned back to my poem and remembered why not
as the train announcements make you stir.

Of my brother, now dead but scared of life you
won’t recall but it’s when I lost my world
as the train announcements make you stir
I see his face sketched now only in my thoughts.

I won’t recall when I lost my world
as I look over and see a basement squat
so as the train announcements make you stir
I’m lost in a poem on the 8.30 to London.

SOUTH Poetry Magazine

If they are so hard up why aren’t their kids skinny?

My granddad would put the Mail
on the beeswaxed table,
and reach for his pipe to point his opinions.

‘Anyone can afford a bit of veg.’
I’d murmur ‘ Cheap vegetables
starve the poor of Africa’

Grandma would sigh,
straighten her housecoat
and dust the mantel-piece clock.

‘He’s right you know, in our day,
a man did a day’s work and then
got out in the garden to dig.’

They looked blankly at my joke
about the Archers’
High Rise market garden.

Then pipe wagging, he’d say,
‘In my day the streets were our playground.’

‘Yes but what about the cars’ I’d say
and they’d agree
and say it’s a disgrace they had cars.

Granddad would then
blow a kiss at Grandma,
who’d giggle
and tell him to stop being so daft.

I’d reach for the Kipling’s cherry cakes
and ask after cousin Betty.

 

Reach Poetry

On retiring to bed with a cold

When her,
she says,
tomato soup,
Heinz, red, warm, white bowl,
round not long spoon,
bread triangles, toasted, slightly,
butter spread to be seen, not melted,
tray, pink not white, wood not plastic,
bottled water, not tap and in the nice glass,
fluff the pillow, straighten the duvet,
do you love me?

When him,
he says,
let me sleep.

Published in Gold Dust

I wished upon a star

When was that night of Christmas lights
in streets shine-wet, the splash
of footsteps, windows bright for the curious
and you, hand cold and rough
as I tasted wood smoke of fireside happiness
Our conversation as empty
as the puddles, just a reflection
that vanished as the car swished
by letting you make a joke about snow
I wanted to say ‘fuck’ but you had.

Now even the roses on the bird-cage
are plastic as the voices
that made me invisible,
like cast off toys in attics,
then dogs barking
said it was time to kiss the cross,
keep eyes cold,
like rows of your brightest books,
but outside leaves rustle in the wind
and distant birds dot across the sky
saying all that matters.

I am not a silent poet