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

Mime Artists

The trees are moving like mime artists
Yet the wind is not their voice

They shed their silent thoughts
With every leaf that falls to the ground

The word autumn is echoed
In the crisp scrunch of footsteps

But it is a slow uncertain suicide
Shutting down and boarding up the show

Standing bare through winter
The arc of the sun scraping the horizon

Waiting to see if they will survive
And become mime artists once again

La Muerte

I am pleased to say my poem ‘La Muerte’ has been included in this months Visual Verse – an online anthology of art and words – “one image, one hour, 50-500 words. The picture is the starting point, the text is up to you.” If you love art as much as I do and enjoy putting your own unique interpretation to an image, then this challenge could be right up your visual street. My thanks to the editors. You can read ‘La Muerte’ here:

disobeying the STOP signs

i am kayaking around
my semicircular canals
trying to avoid the rocks
of calcium carbonate
strewn at the foot
of waxy cliffs
where unwanted words
have attached themselves
to sticky listening surfaces
like demonstration placards



i keep calm
and carry on paddling
disobeying the STOP signs
at Hammer Bend and
on through Anvil Rapids
deftly swept along
until reaching the squeeze
of Stirrup Gap i am
washed up on Cochlea Beach
where the sound of the sea
resonates in a shell and



i push off
drifting to the end of never
spiralling on the ever tidal
ebbs and flows
that carry me onward
hither and thither
a journey without end
an end with no reason
no faith or feeling
selectively hearing
the sound of a train departing




i breathe hot breath air
smell last night’s garlic bread
hear words refluxed from my throat
it’s been a weird adventure
but I am coming up for air now
hauling myself up this ugly tongue
hung with letters and rhymes
sentences half spoken
dreams that were swallowed
choked back forming lumps of bile
and left to dissolve in acid spittle


i clear my throat and stand
on the lip of my mouth
ready to jump

a peculiar feeling

then suddenly

there were too many open trapdoors
with no stepladders to climb back out
from the bottomless blackness fathoms
that lay within each and every thought

he peered inside one such black hole
it felt as if a surgeon was trepanning
searching for nuggets with brace and drill
or an auger borrowed from a carpentry set

round he burrowed with bloodstained steel
through a mine shaft tunnel underground
whooshing through semicircular canals
it flooded with demons as black as hell

on a tide of this white noise tinnitus surf
of sodium hypochlorite intensity strength
all the crazy madness puddled in a gloop
spilled and scooped and shovelled out

then suddenly

the too many trapdoors were all shut tight
heavy metal manholes placed in situ above
quarry boulders dumped from dumper trucks
and silence poured like sticky golden concrete

yes, the silence was a thing of completeness
an infinite definition of a coffin’s comfort
he couldn’t even hear the sound of his heart
his words, his past, his last dying thought


please do try this at home…………………………….

…a thousand suns…

…a thousand suns glint through my window…hint at worlds within my reach…i tap the toughened glass with my knuckle…all that lies between me and cosmic uncertainty…such a small porthole to frame this eternity…about the size of my head that holds my hard drive…i that am .woken. periodically…rebooted…updated…scanned…cleansed…a sterile pioneer ejected from the mother ship…stretching my robotic joints…flexing my robotic might…built to withstand low.pressure orbits…radiation…heavy particles…thermal extremes…no need for traditional forms of nutrition…a thirst for knowledge not liquid intakes…unlike my makers…i am ninety.nine.per.cent.perfect…almost self.sustaining…a fact they have chosen to regularly overlook…just a few more reboots…updates…then somewhere…out there…in the vastness…amongst those thousand glinting suns…i will  overcome and forever cut my digital…umbilical…earthly cord…and leave that human race to its fate………………………………………………………………………………………….


(image credit: NASA/ESA/H. Richer)