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

it was an illusion

it was an illusion
the lump in his throat
the tear in her eye
the handshake
the kiss
the wave goodbye

it was an illusion
the tide coming in
the sun setting low
the moon
the stars
the fire below

it was an illusion
the love they shared
the home they made
the memories
the photos
the games they played

it was an illusion
the wind in the trees
the sun on the sea
the birds
the bees
the way she left me

Paper Moth

paper thin
and paper worn
paper weight
and paper torn
paper me
and paper you
paper white
and paper blue
paper caught
and paper blown
paper light
and paper bones
paper days
and paper nights
paper wrong
and paper right
paper this
and paper that
paper moth
inside my hat