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


As you danced in the street

Barbara Croker,
at 22 with the green door,
with ‘mustn’t grumble back’
and ‘legs that’ll manage’
will dream
of falling under
cat-eye stars
where wind screams
not like seagulls
wanting fish
sea fresh
nor a man
but like a mother
her boy
as waves
today from tomorrow
when she will awake
to old photographs,
summer beach smells,
and a hand still reached for.

Reach Poetry

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

The Shoemaker Writes at his Window

Today I write to tell you I saw Sarah again
her neck curved, each move of ballet grace

I took her calfskin shoe and placed a warm,
innocent foot on plain paper to trace

Then, as now, she is moved to speak of the patterns,
and shapes of signs that make us die or live

She laughed and mentioned that when six, Karsula,
the cow chased her down the neighbours field

so she learned not to cry out loud when running
We smiled and told stories of weddings – mine

clean fresh water and a simple soup, hers, herrings,
apples, and a plain sponge cake

We kissed cheeks and said, ‘Let’s meet again’
for we have become scratchy voices on tapes

a pair of weekend monuments for bored picnics
while out of sight, the shoes stack again

Published in Ink, Sweat and Tears


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

…but I never smoked?

The screen PDF is of cheap paper
with the grey tired print of a duplicate
made relevant by a name written in a space.

Once, this would have been dictated
by a consultant smoking a pipe, tamping
tobacco down and relighting between words.

The secretary scribbling, worried about
frozen dinners and having to explain
shop meals to a man who worked.

Linen paper with embossed type landing
on the mat in a sealed franked envelope
for a weighing of consequences.

Now a button is pressed on the way
to making tea and it arrives with a ping
in the list of discount opportunities.

Published in Gold Dust