Poem of the Week

I’m very pleased to say my ‘at the sink’ is this week’s Write Out Loud Poem of the Week. You can read more about the poem on this link:



photo credit: BBC Films / UK Film Council from the film Fish Tank (2009)


A Mighty Leaf

The mighty leaf lay on the ground
A blanket for the lost and found
Within the woodland’s earthy realm
We kissed at night beneath the elm

In daylight hours the sun had shined
Our hungry lips had warmly dined
On this and that and pleasant stuff
That quenched our love near enough

Seasons came and seasons passed
No-one questioned, no-one asked
Why the leaf turned crinkly brown
From winter’s cruel and frosty frown

But we all knew the months ahead
Would offer up more paths to tread
One for hardship, one for pain
And many days of freezing rain

But all good things to those who wait
Get on with life, don’t hesitate
For when the mighty leaf turns green
Spring’s passions will turn libertine

at the sink

She’s at the sink pointing her finger at me
half turned away from the pile of dirty dishes
white camisole over rainbow striped panties

She’s looking down the barrel of her arm
aware that I’m staring at her bum and thighs
smell of bacon fat congealing under the grill

She’s not smiling with either mouth or eyes
dark roots shadow her bleached blonde hair
static pupils beneath eyebrows and fringe

She’s standing with her belly pushed forward
I’m sat at a kitchen table in a high-rise flat
sun breaking through inner city clouds

She’s not going to say anything until I do
the hot tap drips into a red plastic bowl
there’s a bite mark on her right buttock

She’s got that ‘last night’ look on her face
remnants of mascara and red lipstick
yellow egg yolk varnish on her toe nails

She’s tilting her head slightly forward
taking aim and waiting to pull the trigger
this is how each day begins and ends

crap poem written in a supermarket car park

man in motor
supermarket car park
staring out the window
waiting for his missus
she’s doing all the shopping
chatting with all her old friends
blocking up the aisle ends

Doris has a bad back
Derrick’s had a prostate check
only popped in for some milk
condolence card, pack of mints
blue badge comes in handy
less to walk and less to carry
a Lidl bargain every day

sitting with his iPhone
not a clue how it works
son bought it for his birthday
prefers the tele anyway
mainly watches BBC
occasionally ITV
two remotes and DVD’s

what’s she up to silly moo
been sat here half the afternoon
here she comes thank God for that
home in time for Bargain Hunt
Flog It, Pointless, worth a punt
and coffee in his Corrie mug
but wake him up before it’s bed

Helga’s Glorious Tomatoes

I had dropped off the Skyline Drive
Like a swallowtail from a flower
To drift down and catch up time
From the dizzy heights to Charlottesville

Like a swallowtail from a flower
I dropped away from the Skyline Drive
And drifted downwind to catch up with time
For I had been losing myself in the dizzying heights
Where black bears played hide and seek with tree shadows
And the daily procession of Harleys and vista seekers

Watching swallowtails
Dropping off the skyline
Drifting down to Charlottesville
Catching up with lost time

A year ago –
And then this.

Charlottesville, Virginia, one hour later
I skimmed your city limits
Headed slightly south to Helga’s house
My destination, dinner, bed
Charlottesville, Virginia
A year ago
Your first couchsurfer

And then this
Of all things
Not a stone’s throw

I remember the tomatoes you grew
That we harvested – a big tray of whoppers
Heritage varieties you called them
Fat and juicy with VA sun
I was your first couchsurfer
We watched fireflies from the decking
Can’t remember your husband’s name
We became friends

I’d dropped off the Skyline Drive
Been watching swallowtails
Tried capturing them on my camera
Black bears that never appeared

You said
Take them to your next host
Mimi and Rob in Edenton, N Carolina
Almost ran out of gas on that stretch
Charlottesville, Virginia to Edenton, N Carolina

Almost exactly one year ago
Helga’s tomatoes
And then this

I came back your way
But we didn’t connect
Our paths didn’t cross
You were up at the cabin
Feeding Luca the black bear
By hand

Silly, fearless, generous Helga

I came back your way
Through Kentucky and Virginia
Past confederate flags
America’s slumbering trailer home masses
Stayed in Charlottesville
Worst motel on the whole trip
A brothel

No Helga’s juicy tomatoes

Drove the whole length of the Skyline
No dropping off this time
No swallowtails either
Just plenty of mist

And then this.



Summer Broke

Summer broke
With the snap of a twig
And a rattle of branches on our window

Witches claws you said
We snuggled back into an extra hour
Beneath the printed leaves on the duvet

And the sparrows on gutters
Rubbing beaks and telling tales
We later found one in the wood stove

Covered in ash as if cremated
Flew headlong into the kitchen window
I picked it up and held it to the air

Beak gaping open shut half dead
Eyelids open closing semi-conscious
It took a while before taking flight

These are moments to remember
Better than weddings and birthday parties
Your words not mine

I could never match your words
They came like sudden surprises
On the wind like birdsong and seasons

You kicked them about with childlike abandon
Autumn leaves lifted and scattered
Winter warmed behind scarves and mittens

We rode the storms together
Counted clouds and named their shapes
Ignoring what lay straight ahead

The cancer that came and took
Summer broken with the snap of a twig
And a rattle of branches on my window

Like witches claws you had said
The words now hollow echo in my head
Beneath this lonely extra hour duvet leaf

Hey Pesto!

crushing garlic on my brand new
fairly traded organic bamboo chopping board
the pungent aroma fills the air
sticky juice oozes from plump cloves
thin papery outer layers stick to my fingers
always a slightly laborious process
prepping garlic but

in the background soothing New Age sounds
a reflection of peasant life in Tibet or Peru
or somewhere cloaked in colourful robes
the tick of the retro rail station clock
like a heartbeat metronome
meditating on the moment
music to crush garlic by

music to watch birds fly
a late summer bee buzzes past the window
reminds me of those dreadful drone things
they fly them for practice over our house
not like the winged visitors gorging
on sunflowers and peanuts
hung from the ancient apple tree

they ask for nothing
take only my appreciation in return
take another bulb of garlic from the pot
the terracotta pot gifted me by Monica
Portuguese and oh so very good looking
she was also Catholic and always off-limits
despite those dark eyes

they were too deep for me
swallowed me whole every time she looked my way
she gave what she thought was good advice
but not what I ever wanted to hear
never the words that would invite me
to her bedroom door
into her bed

into her arms
and now when I crush garlic
I think of Monica and what became of her
I scoop it into the food processor
add pine nuts and parmesan
basil and the oil from extra virgins
press thumb on brushed steel button

and gaze out the window
a sparrow hits the glass and falls to the ground
the Buddhist monks and llama farmers
drowned out by the machine’s whizz and whir
I watch the sparrow stagger about the patio
like an old drunk recovering his composure
lessons learnt in flight dynamics

window collision avoidance
pesto making with crushed garlic
drones that crash into hillsides
Portuguese Monica and what became of her
I dip my finger into the flavourful sauce
smile at my reflection
and taste the perfection of now