she steps outside
thru the broken screen door
straight into humid heat
southern Louisiana
high pitched cicada noise
all around unnoticed
unsteady on hard bare feet
on weathered wooden boards
railings for support
t-shirt stained with sweat
daily chores
children dribbles
a Bud Light in hand
her drunken heady poise
she exhales smoke spirals
takes two steps down and
sways to the swing seat
thru scattered yard toys
thrift store bargains
Walmart remnants
church offerings


he follows her scented trail
bare but for baggy gray shorts
his hand inside
full of himself
manly desires begging
night threats releasing
his time to entreat
dark neighborhood streets
sound of shouts
tired air con units whining
yet more background noise
add it to the cicadas
the voices in his head
volatile cocktails
street corner dealings
no work just more heat
deep south swamp heat
dripping sweat summers


her mouth full of cold beer
holding it back to enjoy
then sliding down throat
draws another
he calls her his
lips tits and bum whore
she takes his hot lusting
sticky as candy sweets
abandoned in sweating cars
this token moment of love
dirty and indiscreet
a pleasure for her Sonny Boy
distracting for a moment
defence methods deployed
it uncripples her from the past
childhood horrors
recurrent nightmares
he wanders sated back indoors
cicadas scream from trees
hands over bursting ears
heart beating like a drum


and later
for absolution
she showers off the guilt
the smell of him
the taste of him
the all and every
last stinking piss of him
with the water running
she can’t hear the cicadas
the air con and the children
or the cripple next door
wheelchair bound and blind
who shouts foul obscenities
to anyone who will listen
and this is her life
of welfare benefits
food stamp grocery shops
and of course she loves him
his lips tits and bum whore
who beats her now and then
but still she prays to her god

deep south2small


I took a shallow dive
To make me feel alive
But the bottom broke my nose
My arm, my leg, my toes

I took a shallow swim
On a careless whim
But the current was too strong
And something went quite wrong

I took a shallow bath
To wash away my wrath
But the water was too low
So my wrath it wouldn’t go

I took a shallow thought
That in my mind was caught
Tossed it in the air
And said that’s only fair

I took a shallow breath
To say hello to death
Who was knocking at my door
And now there’s nothing more


Distant memories
They are mouse runs under corrugated sheets
Lifted to expose secrets that would otherwise
Have lain dormant under crumbling skies

Like the patch of downland we called the field
A folded and forgotten handkerchief meadow
Tucked away behind the haunted house
And the dovecote with the waffle walls

We filled its cubby holes with hide and seek treasures
The rust red leaves of autumn’s arms
Blue broken eggshells tossed from spring’s nests
All arranged with feathers found

The light of the passing moons
Cast long shadows on those our dancing days
And months made years made men of boys
Made laughter peel like church hung bells

Now dormant in silent repose
Having placed our pasts in hibernation
We sleepwalked into the adult world
To find our hunger lost


Down Rue Emile Zola to the war memorial
Where the cats lounge in the shade of the names
A couple dozen or so from hereabouts – never made it home

They purr – the cats – not the dead
But don’t get too close
Their claws and fleas protect what memories are left

This small town, built in the round
Church and steeple the highest of the high – naturally
The rest all post-impressionism

And from the water tower on the adjacent hill
A jumble of terracotta tiled rooftops demand the brush
Shutters drawn against outside intrusion

I’m a bit Sunday lost to be honest
Shops all closed, swifts screeching between the gaps
Flying out over olive groves and neat rows of grapevines

The soil, the climate, the topography, the people
It’s what flavours the taste – so they say
In the Cave Cooperative a bottle costs less than you’d think

So we buy a case next day before heading out
A long toll road drive up through the Massif Central
Where angry farmers block the road with tractors and barbecues

Reintroduced wolves are killing their sheep
They stop the traffic; demand the right to shoot on sight
Not us thank god – griffon vultures watch from overhead

Great barn doors spiralling above the Viaduc de Millau
But we move on undetected
Overnight in Vichy, crack open a bottle of the red

Drink a toast to Emile Zola, the cats, the dead
The farmers, wolves, Cézanne, sunflowers, swifts
And not forgetting the terroir that makes it all just what it is