Tuesday, 23 October 2018



We are all nothing but ghosts to us now.
Time shadows its spell like this.
Walking streets once familiar,
in places past, the faces pass.
Some you think we could recall,
some are hardly there at all.
Big differences quickly glimpsed
that really are only small,
massive yet intangible.
The record pulled from its sleeve
hardly changes from day to day
as indelible as black permanent ink,
like the world, it turns and turns
and the tracks remain the same.
Fixed; solid since the time it was pressed.
Perhaps a skip you don’t recollect,
hearing crackles that you did forget.
But who’s to say it’s the groove at fault
in its infinite ever decreasing spiral?
The stylus is just as much to blame,
never different in its constant change,
tunes still scuttle through the brain.
True it is that time makes us ghosts,
to those we once loved to touch the most.
Well, they are still alive somewhere,
but locked back, stuck tight in the year
we smiled, shook and said goodbye.
Phantoms who live in dreams,
whisper haunting snatches of speech,
at once there but still just out of reach.
Only memories of what they once were
remain. And if by chance you meet,
it is thankless to stop, smile and greet
the cadaver. Because familiar looks
are locked libraries of lost books.
The lovers that you yearned to hold
have gone. They have grown old
with a shrug. Only the flesh remains,
it looks just about the same:
a little older, yes; worn by pain.
Perhaps that wrinkle you hadn’t seen before,
this guilty splash of grey,
those scars that break upon your shore.
But all we once were has drifted away.
And the programme needs an update,
some context to rewrite your soft wear,
patches to fix functions and rejuvenate.
It takes time and you know you will defer.
But even should you accept these changes,
and your words are more than slight exchanges,
what's left? Only shadows.
Scattered grains beneath time’s plough
we are all nothing but ghosts to us now.

Departure Gate

Departure Gates

Remember that when you return
you use departure gates.
 Contemplating ancient concerns;
all those never too lates.
Clockwise anti-backwards
 turn the astral night skies.
Counter whirl minutes westwards;
riffling stacked memories.

Remember that when you return
tunnelled, through tubes and pipes
fast forwarding backwards to the past,
you bear the baggage and the gripes.
Where here, burdened in this place,
sensing only yourself as real,
those who touch in frown your face
must flee your ghost in haste.

Remember that when you leave,
through arrivals you are born.
With travelled, returning hopeful face
well-lined and rip knee’d torn.
Decisions that were patches sewn
with expediencies’ threads,
have rendered you as lost recall;
 you can never now come home.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Weighing Anchors

Weighing Anchors

Sea anchors clutch vessels close to shelter,
rocking the cradle, rocking the crib,
braking the bow, but the drift sets in.
Imperceptible at first,
faintly, faintly
and a feather will fall as fast as steel
so stay your hands to ship’s wheel.
Bulkheads dread naught
in the bosom of the bay;
yet under the plimsoll line lurk
 touch currents that thrust leeway.
Listen to grandfather’s cries of lee – ho,
while the trimaran drives about its business,
neatly trimming Maltese cliffs,
boom briskly sparing with air, fore and aft,
flaps the foresail, only briefly, halting craft
where St Paul spreads his arms
across the bay,
to call him fast away.

Set sea anchors by the compass,
for kind storms blow in from the west,
to disturb the resting place.
Fix position with sextant and chart,
secure the driftwood,
still statue the bark.
Eternal tides turn in gentle movement
 under grey floating flotsam clouds.
Beating to shanties of passing days,
hearts and minds are washed with spray.
Father, thoughts athwart his brow,
claps binoculars to eyes,
casting off the sturdy guide ropes.
Bootpushing the stern from feather reeded banks
who list to starboard in rueful sigh,
wheeling aloft, birds beckoning cry.
Crossing still watered Norfolk Broads
firm stroking and heaving on rowlocked oars
he rests to pause.
Ripples whisper to lap the lake’s shore,
where St Peter makes ready to haul anchor.

Set sea anchors to harbour from storm,
hold fast like a barnacle sticks to rock.
Ride the waves, surf the shock
prevent the ship from being shorn
from its surfaced moorings torn.
Where now, dark deep below,
the whirlpools and the eddies swirl,
pushing the keel in movements slow,
away beyond horizons go.
We might look back in shock to see,
in all fair weathered mediocrity
those paths shaped by necessity,
decisions without determining course.
 Hauling sail without remorse,
drifting the familiar far astern
swells the sea in soft patterns.
In the wash, the bonds of the past.
Everything we supposed would last
lie scattered around the beached craft.
St Christopher with his staff now beckons,
where chronometer silent ticks the seconds.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Angel Heart

Angel Heart

Looking back from far flung and distant,
I suppose she came to me in a vision.
Me, drifting drunken, forging paths in indecision.
That night, a tawdry whole lot of nothing to do:
just endless trailers for hot toasted pop tarts,
feeling with tacky tongue the fits and starts,
sifting through promos of broken angel hearts.

A gummy evening stuffed full of little enough stirring,
when she appeared. I tended my flock
with my crook, and read her words with shock
then delight, raising an adequate semi salute.

It looked to me as if she was shaded by halos,
crayoned by rainbows,
veiled by half an afterglow,
scented by dusky musk,
bathed in secret trust.
But I wasn’t to know, really.
She bade me come,
by the pricking of thumb,
racing my pulse to the beat of her drum:

‘I have always thought you were quite cute,
when you see me revealed, aim but don’t shoot.’

No, don’t laugh.
These one-liners are shallow, it’s true:
but heavenly creatures have little else to do.
Yes, she promised me to never forget,
and that it wasn't only rain that made her wet,
bind her tight with silks and we’d be together yet.
After that, she was about as true as her words,
occasionally seen and often heard,
nonetheless, like all celestial things,
soon weary of earth.

Well now, if your pure white panties become sticky
from all the spells you’re casting;
promises of love everlasting,
then maybe you should wash them; wear none at all,
or at least not show them to other men when you call.
Still, then again, I’ve heard of those
who’ll sue you for the prick of a rose,
while teasing with the stripping of clothes.

So, look.
I actually don’t think she is to blame.
Fickle things, exposed to naked flame,
must always melt like candle wax,
 cavort and frolic from truth’s heat in shame,
capricious until heaven beckons back.

Looking again from far flung and distant,
I suppose she ascended to nonexistence;
took the path of least resistance:
spewing filthy language, callow and lewd,
broken promises, narrow and crude,
and table leavings of second-hand nudes.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Up, Up and Away

Up, Up and Away

Up, up and away my beautiful boy,
astounding young and remarkable writer;
 super neat joiner of ‘ch’ to ‘ssh’,
seize the day’s pen even tighter.

Up, up and away, you kisser of dreams,
joyful imagination’s firelighter;
spark your flint on life’s tinderbox,
paint your pictures even lighter.

Up, up and way, you builder of a million
impossible and incredible shapes.
Gaze your azurri flash blue eyes at clay,
sculpt rock into limitless landscapes.

Up, up and away, you voice so sweet,
carve melodies into sky. Clouds will part
to hear in awe your silver tongue
honeybreak ten thousand hearts.

Up, up and away, now besiege the stage,
blind thunderstruck audience with a myriad plays,
turn quick your page, storm life’s fourth wall,
gather happy bouquets from one and all.

Up, up and away, grab and sunclasp the day
hold it dearly, tightly; glitter and shine.
And when at last he sleeps in peace,
leave your grandfather far, far behind.