turning point

my life etched in the rocks
spotlighted by the late morning sun
shadows and light
flashing by in an instant
the time it takes to graffiti a name
to twist barbed wire into a knot
to give a cloud a name
coyote, tumbleweed, drifter

a straight road through badlands
rolling rocks motionless
like the traveller
uncertain whether to continue
rooted like the sagebrush
tempted, almost, to stay put
become dust and carrion
or golden whispering grass

total release

lying limpid
dissolving into the dust
the sun failing to persuade me
back into life

I can feel the tendrils of her curls
the hot breath from her lips
she leans over my departing spirit
and whispers . . .

. . . here is where you wanted to be
the mountain eerie away from noise
in sight of angelsĀ spiralling down
to collect your soul

and all the memories you ever held
will be gathered for eternity
shared amongst the stars
to forever float free . . .

. . . this then
is the finality of my life
the pending obsolescence of flesh
total release

demesne de ma belle mademoiselle

tired winds whisper through the shutters
breathingĀ  stories into the dust above the fireplace
where once hot embers warmed your toes
now only ash and fallen plaster lie in remembrance

the mottled mirror in its gilt frame has long since gone
the furniture too – auctioned off and wheeled out
on sack trolleys borrowed from the stables
themselves now ravaged by worm and rust

left behind when all had fled this crumbling pile
your white dress and pale skin stalking the corridors
ghostly and forlorn on floorboards unfit to bear
the weight of words that tumble from these walls

I too am lost as I wander from room to room
doors creaking to the push of my hand
filtered sunlight finding the motes of memories
that float in limbo in time’s absence

a bell far off rings and in my mind I scurry off
down staircases to kitchen and scullery
the servant boy who idolised the Mademoiselle
who dreamt of running away with his belle

only to have found himself an old man selling
tomatoes and tales under the lime tree in the square
searching every young woman’s eyes in hope
that one day, maybe, she would return for him


your name and mine

the storm last night blew
the last remaining heart-shaped leaves
from the poplar trees
and swirled them through my darkest dreams
in which your knuckles rapped upon my eyelids
in which you called from beyond the clouds
my name and your name

and with growing intensity
every last remaining rusting roofing nail
that keeps my house from blowing asunder
jiggled like loose teeth in a crowded coffin box
on which your fingers had once released
the suffocating soil to bury my voice
from that day forth

oh that I would recognise you now
with your hair tangled in windblown knots
and your limbs akimbo amongst the fallen branches
strewn upon the orchard grass
where leaves lie rotting and colour is drained
from cheeks that once were apple flushed
with your lover’s kisses

you are but the ambient past to me
pliant and fluid with a light that glimmers
not guiding or warning or even moving
but still as a mirror on an oaken table
your calfskin gloves neatly folded
heart-shaped leaves from the poplar trees
pressed between the pages of your journal

all substance turned to dust that blows
on the opening of the crackling memory
you offered me no more than you could
the leaf held to the moonlight reveals its veins
as if the blood has been preternaturally drained
and I am left with only an echo
of your name and mine

me and indoor cat and the sun god smiling

on my last morning in that room I woke to find
two grey cats sitting upright on the lawn
resembling Egyptian Bastet statues hewn from stone
under parting clouds that cleared to say
your time is done now slink away

I dozed beneath my red wool blanket
the indoor cat curled tight against my chest
its purring conferring some inner soliloquy
that questioned the need for getting up at all
when dreams held greater sway

when next I woke the grey cats were gone
had they ever even been there or were they
(as I thought) just a figment of our imaginations
borne on the perfumed scent of morning
that bade us move from here and be gone

and though the boxes were packed and loaded
and no future would now bind us to this place
we left after breakfasting on dusty memories
through the front door and down the street
me and indoor cat and the sun god smiling


our heartbeats float in whispers
dust motes pepper the air
the mottled mirror hangs askew
in it your reflection

I don’t know what you’re thinking
or even if you like me
you brought me here and now
you don’t know what to do with me

this room on the first floor
the world looking in
but you like it that way
you say you find the intrusion ‘cosy’

an overgrown cheese plant
artist’s materials on the floor
Matisse style work in progress cut-outs
all of your ‘things’

most likely I am just passing through
your life and your room
your body that you half give
reluctant as a virgin

and when you hold the door open for me
I walk down the narrow stairs
enter the street and look up
but your windows reflect only the sky


whilst hoovering up dust under the bed he found an old policeman’s truncheon

fingerprints long since forgotten under spent human skin cells and hair drift

with forensic capabilities he recognised the woollen fibres from the red blanket

no doubt about it there were also fragments of novels and discarded dreams

the sagging mattress had not been lifted and turned for how many years now?

not since his wife died.

there in a box her jewellery had been placed along with letters and pollen

he wasn’t sure why he had kept all this stuff when he hadn’t loved her enough

domestic dust may contain minuscule quantities of burnt meteorite particles

we are all made of stardust or some such bollocks the labels should have read

dust – dust in homes, offices, roads, atmosphere – dust in our deadened souls

since his wife died.

a paper thin cut to his finger drew beads of blood from beneath his nail

add that to your evidence oh god the creator of heaven, hell and earth

outside the harvest moon was a dinner plate rolling along the horizon hill

moon dust and madness with a one way ticket from this doomed planet

he left the truncheon undisturbed beneath its grey woolly blanket fluff

his wife died.

her vision of death was one of deep undisturbed but semi-conscious sleep

unbelievers both and agreed there would be less disappointment that way

what else can you say about dust? There are dust storms and volcanic dust

cremation dust scattered on a favourite and meaningful patch of pretty land

a cliff view overlooking a lighthouse and the oil refinery tanker sea queues

wife died.

it was all a blank now – pictures turned inwards to face the flock wallpaper

books reversed so he would never be able to read the titles on the spines

home videos wiped clean and hard drives smashed with a sledge hammer

letters returned to sender marked no longer at this address and underlined

fingerprints and fibres – cast off memories – tinned peaches in the pantry