Calling, calling

Parlez-vous français?

Pardon, this is a Whitstable number,
we live near the greengrocer and take
tea at 4 with a cherry slice on Tuesday.

Parlez-vous français?

I think you have the wrong number,
for I have never left this island
except when war called for my body.

Parlez-vous français?

You sound distressed so perhaps
you need to ring your number again
with fingers in the dial following turns.

Parlez-vous français?

I’m sorry, I am unable to respond
for I know nothing of what you say
and soon the sun will make shadows.

Parlez-vous français?

I am sorry…si vous appelez encore,
je doit rappeler à la police
de votre emplacement,

Vous ne parlez français!

No and now I shall put the phone down
for it is time that the sparrows were free
and this will be when Eagles are clipped

Published in Your One Phone Call

A weekend diary

Today, I shall love my son
as kitten eyes and tease
with milk teeth words

He said I was a Lion
with dirty mange
and claws of iron

Today, I shall love my son
as a Sparrow on eggs
in spring warmth

He said I was a seagull,
screaming and shitting
on his chips

Today I shall love my son
as a seahorse and hold
him tight beside me

He said I was a jelly fish,
a poisoned sting
and no back bone

Today, I shall love my son
until he comes back
from his mum

Published in Your One Phone Call

Falling without stopping

Perhaps if I had imagined you as a lily,
your lips stained with dust blown on the wind,

dress green with the touch of moon white
and you there waving as you danced away,

we could have been the sea on white sand,
the flash of silver, skimming the rustle of waves,

dolphins that leaped and twisted the air into circles,
or boats with linen sails where we drank champagne

but I found you as a winter birch hard lined with frost
with dry stone walls broken but still too high to climb

and no birds in branches that would sing in dawn
on a cold moor where even sheep huddled for warmth

yet when we meet wearing other people’s happiness
let’s not forget once we kissed not wanting to let go.

Published in Your One Phone Call

Things discovered today between train windows

that few public phones work
when you are trying to phone where you left your mobile.

that nine hours on trains with six changes
does not lead to poetry gold

that living a dawn and dusk working day
is not a reason to love the Romantics

that it is easy to be forgotten
when you don’t break bread with real poets

that singing aloud in First class is frowned on
even if in tune

that the innocent granny on her ​second bottle of wine
can still knit with clicking needles

Published in Your One Phone Call

Learning that madness is the sane thing to do

We laughed about the misty weather
it was Cornish sunshine we said

The Sunday lunches and the truth not noticed
stayed as ever unspoken

I admired how well you were looking
you joked about eating for two now

Once you screamed saying it was a nightmare
when I woke you with a kiss

You were something big in publishing
and I pretended to be jealous like old times

To stop love becoming sex you
once pissed over me

We said we must have a coffee at the new café
as they do such lovely fresh things with chocolate

In the end you ran out naked
to become catatonic

We kissed on the cheeks to say goodbye,
you barely flinched and walked away straight-backed

I wish his death had made you free
but as you would have said so does the lie

Published in Your One Phone Call