december is a thief
christmas is a thief
winter is a thief

covid is a thief
grief is a thief
self-doubt is a thief

depression is a thief
social media is a thief
these four walls are thieves

people are thieves
fuck the thieves
these thieves like us . . .

Bob and Diane in Quarantine

put the face mask on, he said
through his own face mask, now
turn around and fold your arms
she did what she was told

he slipped a single duvet cover over her head
pulled it down over her shoulders, just how
we got into this mess,
she felt alarmed
panicked a little and muttered, I feel so old

hang on a mo while I do the same
he struggled with his double duvet cover until
they stood like two big spuds in flowery sacks
and only then did he move much closer

wrapping his duvet clad arms around her tired frame
remember when we used to stand up on the hill?
we were a right pair of Swansea Jacks!
me in my loafers and secondhand motor

we watched the sunset every night, she said
and everything seemed alright back then somehow
she wiggled her bum reminding him of her charms
he giggled, now you’re making me feel bold

they held each other like newlyweds
till death do us part was what they’d vowed
we must look like we’ve escaped from the funny farm!
or two giant spliffs, stuffed and rolled!

I love you Diane . . . our love is an eternal flame
I love you too Bob . . . and I promise I always will
he lifted the duvet from Diane and stepped back
at 2 metres he did the same, regaining his composure

I’ll put them in the wash, he proclaimed
she replied, this quarantine business gives me the chills
yeah I’m desperate for a drive with you in the Zodiac
same time tomorrow you old duvet lover . . . ?




seems like I’ve been here before

not one living soul passed by during the night
no tracks or traces left in this unforgiving wilderness
I search for clearings but only briars are forthcoming
soon the mist may clear and the path become visible
onward and upwards my journey takes me


at least everything is turning green
I notice gardeners are getting their fingers dirty
robins plucking worms from between their feet
the skies are widening and the air is warmer

but I know for some

darkness hangs over them still
a few more months needed for them to catch up, maybe
at least everything is turning green
that’s something

(written for someone who just wants to feel better,
who wrote on their blog: At least everything is green here)
a nod also to New Order – the fab early years post Joy Division.

Petite Fleur

She asked me if I was happy.
I don’t know, I replied, are you?
She paused and thought for a while before saying,
I think there have been periods of happiness but on the whole, no not really.

We were sat on the terrace of a bistro we used to frequent.
How many years, I asked, thirty-four, thirty-five?
We tried to work it out and settled on thirty-four.
Half a lifetime, almost.

A seagull strolled along the iron balustrade,
stopped and squirted a stream of white crap over the side.
It landed with a slap on the black tidal mud below.
This unsociable act appeared to give the seagull great pleasure.

Tilting its head backwards it squawked at the sky as if to declare
‘this is my patch now’ before flying off and forgetting,
circling away towards the new white footbridge to alight and no doubt
eject its fishy crap once more like an incontinent vandal.

A breeze blew across the line of low tide water below the houseboats.
It caused little ripples to fan out in all directions
all of which were unsure which way to run.
I looked at the side of her face. Laughter and life outlined.

The bone structure was less defined now under her fifty year old flesh.
Like myself, I noted a few extra pounds here and there.
Beneath her skin a slight translucence glowed,
a bit like an underwater river. I found it strangely alluring

but it also made me feel like I was drowning. Lost at sea.
I crossed my legs and leant forward and she turned and smiled
as if having read my thoughts but more likely a nervous reaction
to the break in conversation.

Do you remember, up on the hills? she asked,
turning to look southwards. The biplane had circled overhead
whilst down below we had made love in the wheat field
surrounded by poppies. How could I forget.

I went to get more drinks and when I returned
she was standing by the iron balustrade,
her dark hair across her shoulders, her head turned away.
In contemplation of the ebbing tide, perhaps.

I fought the temptation to stand close behind her,
to feel her body close to mine, one last time.
When she turned, her face revealed the single line
that a teardrop makes as it trickles down a woman’s cheek.

Why did you come back? she said suddenly.
Her words hit me like a gust of wind through a propeller.
I looked away and up the river, steadying my thoughts.
I’m sorry, was all I could think of in reply. And I was.

You used to call me your Petite Fleur, she said.
I’d forgotten that. A bit embarrassing really.
I had been her first and she, mine.
I had plucked the petals from my little flower

one by one, until the call had come and I was gone.
I watched her fly away in her poppy print dress.
A flock of seagulls battled with a biplane high in the sky
and I knew then that this war was finally over.



“Daddy Was an Old Time PREACHER Man”

Been thinking about the word ‘PREACH’ today

How Madonna implored her Papa not to
Would have been a waste of time anyway
She’d already made up her mind

And Stevie Wonder beseeched the PREACHERS
To keep on PREACHIN’ to reach the higher ground

Drake said it six times – I don’t know why
PREACH PREACH PREACH – and that makes six
I guess he wanted to press the point home

And the only one who could ever reach Dusty
You guessed it, was the son of a PREACHER man
Yes he was, ooh yes he was, he was, he was
Yes I think we got the message Dusty

Aren’t we told to practise what we PREACH?
And aren’t we told not to be too PREACHY?

Hellfire PREACHERS do it with damnation
Missionary PREACHERS do it the world over
Evangelists do it disguised as door-to-door salesmen
Beware the black suits and shiny white teeth


It’s all very blah and contradictory
To PREACH, by implication, is to refuse debate?
I PREACH therefore I am right. Right?
Whether it’s from the Lord or from the heart
About global climate change or sport
Politics and ethics, pacifist or militarist

You gotta believe in your chosen message
Whether illogical or not it doesn’t much matter

To PREACH without being PREACHY
Well it’s nigh on impossible surely?

And the role of the poet in all of this?
To try and express what we feel not how to feel
Not as a PREACHER or as a leader
But as a reflection of us all
I believe John Lennon said that

Go tell it on the mountain folks
And don’t forget your kids.

with thanks to:
& The Wilburn Brothers



escape routes

staring at the cracks in the ceiling
he went in search of unexplored lands
lost worlds mapped in lines and stains
one-eyed cyclopes in missing plaster caves

there the route to King Solomon’s Mines
Quatermain exhausted he falls to sleep
forty leagues of adventure dreaming
he climbs Kanchenjunga in The Lakes

exploring Slater Bob’s copper mines
‘sing out if you see rocks under water, Roger’
but there are only books lying on the floor
slipped from the hand of a tired boy

now the books are aligned on shelves
classics, fiction, poetry, art, nature, travel
and the man still dreams of unexplored lands
the cracks in the ceiling his escape routes


the black holes he passes through
huh, the mazes that he wanders
a different form of escape sometimes beckons
one that cannot be written in words


‘sing out if you see rocks under water, Roger’
adapted from Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.

Red Snow in the Morning

we watched with growing incredulity
was that really red snow on Mars?
surely the television would never lie?
or the Russians deny they’d got there first?

the son of a son of a spaceman
Buzz opened his Tesla umbrella
he bent down and scooped up a red ball
like raspberry ice cream in a pitcher’s hand

he lobbed it at Armstrong Jr’s daughter
who turned and wobbled on 3.72076 ms−2 gravity feet
Whoa! she was heard to shout at multidirectional shadows
the red snow falling thicker on the Stars and Stripes

the pair sat on the step of their BFR rover
not entirely sure what on earth to do next
we watched with growing incredulity
as they slipped peacefully into a red planet sleep


The King is Dead

my mother’d come screamin’ from out the kitchen
her eyes a-blazin’ with the flames of tumbleweeds on fire
right down the stoop she’d run arms open ‘n’ outstretchin’ to me
her familiar smell of hairspray mixed with chillies ‘n’ sweat
television newsflashes flickerin’ like lightnin’ through the blinds

I’d been seventeen years old as I stood witness in that dusty yard
the sun a burnin’ ball balancin’ on the far mountain ridge
we’d lived in a crater that shucked moisture from beneath the skin
spend too much time out there an’ y’all brains would start boilin’
our trailer was a white billboard box advertisin’ our poverty

seemed the devil had gotten inside ‘n’ taken ahold of her mind
she shooked ‘n’ shaked like a rattler cornered in a ditch
slowly her hands ebbed away down the length of my dungarees
her blazin’ eyes dampenin’ as the heat within subsided
she lay shiverin’ on the ground at my bare Baptist boy’s feet

my birthday ice cream meltin’ over my hand in astonishment
she just lay there clutchin’ at her heart that had busted apart
Nevada was a cruel motherfucker whore she’d once said
an’ Vegas was its jumpsuited rhinestoned bedazzled pimp
but each day she’d driven into that city of music ‘n’ sin

she’d worked the International Hotel & Casino showrooms
guidin’ customers to their seats with her little pink plastic torch
an’ never did she miss a single Elvis show in seven years
that’s eight hundred ‘n’ thirty seven Elvis shows she’d gone done
no wonder she’d grown so attached to the King

I’d bent down and stroked her hair with the familiar smell
but somethin’ had already died behind her tumbleweed eyes
then the words blew from out across the darkenin’ desert sky
“Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?”

lyrics in italics by Lou Handman & Roy Turk


A Short(ish) Poem (with vaguely related YouTube link and hurriedly thrown together Oliver! meme)


does poetry homogeny
create dull monotony
like a bowl of grey gruel
or boring school rules?

if / maybe less is snore
please sir, give me more
so rich and so fruity
like juicy Luci Watusi

a high word count
or a low word count?
it doesn’t much matter
which side you’ve buttered

as long as it’s tasty
not cold lumpy gravy
but it’s time I must stop
before this all turns to slop

and I’m tempted to go on
and on and on
and on

I know, it could have been shorter!