Poems

Here are a few poems to give a sense of what kind of things I write. Clearly it is only a small glimpse of what I’ve produced. These particular poems have all been previously published.

The Day David Attenborough Died

The news appeared online mid-morning,
catalyst for change, and like fire or flood
it spread across the office. We sat
dazed at our desks, searching
for words or ways of understanding.
After an hour or more of silence
we left our workstations,
making sure to turn off all the lights.

Days later I heard that in almost every school
across the land classrooms emptied
when teachers broke the news,
and the kids held hands in circles rippling with tears.
Factories halted production; mushrooms
and strawberries were left to go round
and round on belts, plastic punnets stood empty.
And pilots quit their cockpits, refused to fly again;
that was the start of the Heathrow Nature Reserve.

By noon all cars had been abandoned,
most have been left to rust
where they stood; strange totems from the past.
And as I walked the six miles home
I passed people who needed to talk
or share their thoughts; some just needed a hug.

And on that night, it’s said,
fireflies across the globe turned out their lights,
while howler monkeys howled for hours
and in the Congo gorillas sat and reminisced.

That day has turned into a decade.
We still dream of his voice
echoing across the blue planet.

 

david-attenborough-

 

No Reception

After a while we leave the footpath,
continuing in comfortable silence,
each wondering how we can turn today into forever.

Life must still be happening to people,
shops will be open, traffic is stacking up,
and we must believe that there are passengers
in planes that pass overhead.

But out here, where we have no reception,
there’s sky, fields, crow crested trees and us.
The sun is splashing through leaf cover
and I squeeze tight shut my eyes
to see a kaleidoscope rush of yellow and green.

Only when we see the burnt out car,
that’s flattened a path into wheat,
do we feel the tug of our lives,
hold our phones up high
and search for a signal.

 

Open-Plan

The firm Henderson works for has a new office:
open-plan chrome, riverside views towards the city.
But not one person in the office knows
that Henderson keeps a panther in his spare room at home.

At weekends he spends time in the garden
walking and grooming the animal;
he brushes Sable’s coarse black coat
until it shines like tar.

In cold or wet weather Henderson
puts her on a treadmill
and she walks for miles.

What Henderson does not know
is that newly appointed Amy Bridges (Accounts)
who sits at the next desk of the open-plan office,
spends her spare time guerrilla gardening.
Tonight she’s digging in some daffodils
along the central reservation
of the road that takes her home.

 

 

Boot Cleaning

I’m jinking a knife between the studs of a boot
dislodging mud.
I tell myself there’s pleasure in patience rewarded,
the slow reveal, a job complete.

My son has not yet learned this;
too young to wait, he leaves the dirty work to me.
When I look up I see my mother holding boots.

She smiles and winks,
nodding down to the ground,
where, spread before her,
is every shoe I ever wore,
polished, dubbed and gleaming.

 

A Four Letter Word

Rain-puddled and bus-stopped,
Ellie is reading the horoscope App on her phone,
the one she downloaded just for a laugh.
It tells her Love may lurk in unlooked for places,
which reminds Ellie of the words said by
the postcard-perfect Indian lady
who sold Ellie the woven bag
that sits on her lap, when she passed
through Otovalo while back-packing
around South America.
Your green eyes bring love
when you don’t see it coming.
But tonight, just as that day in Ecuador,
the four letter word Ellie most longs for
is home.

 

This handbook remains out of print

Swimming uphill with a snow suit on
Is not recommended for beginners

It can be vexing to find oneself
Trailing in a stickleback wake.

The safest approach to making the level is to lie on your back
Letting the current take over in time
You will note a point between silt
And shore can be found.

Intermediate persons may like to try jumping
From the bridge in order
To determine the size of their splash.

An instructor may be bankside
To offer assistance.