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


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

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

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