Poppy Charades

dismembering men
remembering them
put them back together again?
not a hope in hell’s chance

the bomb’s glance
their limbs danced
what merry tunes
the bugle men played

at the going down
at the blowing up
there’s nothing left
but poppy charades


blood and milk

your body spurted blood and milk
I understood none of that
to me you were my mother earth
to others just a vassal
I wept when they raped you
your lush folds defiled and burnt
I swam in your salty tears
leant my head against your soft breasts
when once long ago you held my hand
as we wandered through your lands
you taught me all the songs I needed
that welled from springs and hopes
but now I walk these paths alone
there is no love left to share
only bitter pills to swallow
and the memory of your flesh

give peace a chance

we remember our dead
we pay them respect
but the road that we tread
we have to reject

you choose red or white
it’s your chosen voice
you pay your blood money
you makes your own choice

but choose neither one
take a different side
no bombs and no guns
our world pacified

a fight that’s worth winning
borne from circumstance
we’re silently hoping
to give peace a chance


l’art pour l’art

opened the curtains
what did I see?
a Henry Moore statue
looking back at me

but which was the back?
and which the front?
and how did it get here?
this bronzed art stunt

I closed the curtains
went back to bed
thought about Henry
dreamt of Braque instead


keeping the windows open
we invited in
the sounds and smells
from the street below

the boulangerie opposite
the pâtisserie adjoining
the bar tabac on the corner left
the early morning cleaners
coughing Gauloises curses
shouts and moped engines revving
the chop and chuckle of the butcher’s cleaver

the Paris sun filtered down
through narrow stone valleys
warming our arms and shoulders
leaning on the balcony railings
the universe holding us together
the space around us impartial
the air we shared vital

stepping inside you disappeared
I heard the door shut like gunfire
the echo of your footsteps on the stairs
the distant voice of the concierge
as you bolted into the street waving
head turned to blow me a kiss
which I duly caught and returned

but you were gone again
like the breeze that wasn’t there
only the image of your red dress
burnt on my retina
your lips hot on mine
our lovemaking exhausting
time distorted in a city rush

we ate the frangipane tarts
sprawled on the bed half-clothed
the heat rising from the morning
as if Provence had ridden here
bareback on a Sahara wind
each glistening apricot oozing
southern promises of heavenly delights

keeping the windows open
we invited the world outside
to listen in to our world inside
our room above the street below

Spy Story II

I woke in a strange bed
in a strange room.
Beyond the grimed window
a street I never knew.
I turned and met your eyes
a stranger from another time.
Beyond your gaze a fathom
of bottomless ocean blue.

You spoke to me of love
from your ravenous heart.
Beyond the papered walls
a beat was heard in echo.
Your finger placed upon me
sealed my lips from speaking.
Beyond your warm touch
of fathomless origin.

I stood in  a strange room
with four walls and a bed.
Beyond the gilt edged mirror
a reflection quite unknown.
I turned and met your eyes
a glance from another time.
Beyond the motes of dust
a motionless tide crept in.

You moved between space
from here to there to here.
Beyond your moonlight skin
a glimmer of something pure.
You spoke to me of the past
when time had just begun.
Beyond your years of living
a restless soul was sleeping.

I woke in a strange bed
in a strange room.
Beyond the grimed window
a street I never knew.
I turned and met your eyes
a stranger from another time.
Beyond your gaze a fathom
of bottomless ocean blue.

(after ‘Spy Story’ by Vernon Scannell)

C’mon Nature!

Stop crossing busy roads and getting squashed you numbskulls.
Stop migrating over lands where you’ll get shot, netted, eaten or stuffed.
Stop mixing with cattle and risk being culled for allegedly spreading TB.
Stop smiling and acting like you want to entertain us in tiny cramped pools.
Stop going near Japan, Iceland, Norway, Eskimos and harpoons ffs.
Stop growing your ivory tusks and you’ll avoid being poached.
Stop growing your pointy horns and you’ll also avoid being poached.
Stop swimming in large shoals which are easily detected by trawler men.
Stop being so lazy and get shagging to save your species. D’oh!
Stop eating plastic and sticking straws up your noses you idiots.
Stop burning bright in the forests of the night and get yourselves more camouflaged.
Stop lagging behind in the evolution stakes and get like your cousins instead.
Woolly Mammoths!
Stop dozing in the Siberian tundra and get your DNA checked out.
Stop being dead as a dodo and start making an unexpected comeback.
Stop standing still and start acting like the Ents in Lord of the Rings.
C’mon! Fight back!

Genesis Reversal

On Monday
a last lonely animal was killed
and the last greedy man took his fill
one last supper and one last thrill

On Tuesday
fish and birds disappeared
nowhere safe for them to dwell
time indeed to bid a fond farewell

On Wednesday
sun and stars all quickly dimmed
the waning moon turned to hide
showed only its colder darker side

On Thursday
land and plants began to whither
browns replaced the healthy greens
dusty winds blew hither and thither

On Friday
sky and sea could not be seen
the tides retreated indefinitely
tamed for all eternity

On Saturday
night and day became the same
the last remaining rainbows frayed
and faded to the greyest greys

On Sunday
our silent planet took a rest
reflected on what might have been
if humans hadn’t made such an awful mess

of running such a perfect place . . .


one day

one day
when I am dead and gone
I will come visit you in your house

so listen out
for the sound of my footsteps
crunching the gravel on your drive
the squeak of the swing seat
when I take a rest on your porch

I will warm my bones under your southern sun
before opening the screen door with a rattle
look up and see me standing there
as if all our yesterdays
had come again

you will take me to your room
and I will fill your body with heat
the cicadas will talk like typewriters
the moon will wax lyrical
and I will leave through the open window

one day
when I am dead and gone
I will come visit you in your house