Town Planning

Rewalking the streets of my childhood home
the map redrawn
New streets roam where there were none.
New hopes and homes in the shadow of towers long gone.
The room where you broke my heart,
carted away with the rubble.
Dust long settled, dug in to the foundations of new lives.

Clean lines on these show homes.
“Tasteful” art on the sill,
meaningless but matching.
The choice between memory and moment.

Why do I hold on to echoes?
Standing in the shade it is dark and cold.
I need to make new pathways of my own.
New neurons sparking, branching out.
Remember or forget – but don’t get lost.
Time to clear out
the accumulated mental tshotchkes of a thousand years.
Of lives not lived.
People I used to be.
Thoughts thought too often
they have become worn
and no longer fit me well.

While I was driving donuts around
this subconscious suburbia,
the sun was shining, rivers flowing
brick stacked upon brick and other people’s
children scuffed their knees,
making memories of their own.

Opening my eyes, I breathe in the
impermanent breeze.
We are as fleeting.
How sad to remain wet from
rain which fell from clouds
dissipated a millenium ago.
I let this passing sunlight dry me,
warm me, unseize my bones.

I take his ageing hand and walk forward.
I will pay attention to this film, for the rest of its run.

Henry Cole wrote a card

The Christmas list
gets shorter every year.
The names change.

Families grow,
then shrink,
then suddenly –
the solitary names

You write the card still.
By mistake.
Then remember,
and sit
staring at your error.
Maybe a tear
maybe just numb.

How does life go so fast?
How quickly does that light fade,
the sharpness blunt
before the blade breaks.

Even the wedding list.
So quick a time
between planning
and execution –
suddenly shorter.

The names dropped.
Cards unwritten.
Those you optimistically
for years
but never gave
or sent.
But now –

My world is smaller.
My grip was not
tight enough.
You all slipped through
like sand.

Waking, overwhelmed.

This mind of mine,
this heart,
an instrument, fine tuned
to resonate,
respond, to the most
exquisite sorrow,
the mournful keening
at the centre of all things.

It sings with joy,
radiates love.
To know, to see, to feel
all that is.
Your eyes, your hair, your skin.
The roll of the earth
in its greens and golds,
silvers and greys.
The baby’s smile,
the last breath.
The bright white heat
at the heart of

And in knowing love
it knows loss.
Feels the world wrenched away
and cannot bear it.

There is no escape.
Only now.
This moment – you are in my
my heart,
my arms.

You who breathe,
who sleep,
who held me as a child.
This good earth
that carries me home.

This air in my lungs,
the shining stars of the sky.

I must not let the beauty
of the music
make me cry.

Knowing that the song must end.

Perhaps in truth,
I know we are only notes,
in a never ending

to create new
harmonies –

through which
the infinite
makes itself known.

National Poetry Day : Drury Lane


My walk to work yesterday (captured for National Poetry Day)

From high above the city
(woke before dawn in darkness
Listening to the fading quiet –
A thin sliver of the night
heralded by wandering revellers
wending their way home
in dwindling numbers.

Rounded by the returning rumble
early traffic
bins and the yawning of the crane
Sweeping smooth like a Hopkins skate
across a gaping hole-

Hidden from pedestrian eyes,
We see it though,
who live as the crow flies.)

Descent and into the flow,
down towards the stream
down Drury Lane past
the temple of the Great Architect –
not left to where William and Mary
tended the rose,
issued coins to aid the progress of the Rake.

No – to the Arc of the Aldwych,
with its chunky red necklace of buses,
sleek and new, sci-fi smooth,
going nowhere faster than you.

Thoughts trickle in here
What would it be like to do this every day?
Stop for coffee and watch the fray, the freyed and fraid.
Black beetle cabs scuttle and shine,
unburden themselves of their oblivious load –

Kerb to foyer past doorman and shining brass plaques.
Eyes high, coat over arm, briefcase, phone.
Places to go, people to see,

Except him. The man on the pavement
to the left of the $door.
The one they ignore
In their haste and importance.

The one who has seen
who has been
so much more
than they, than they know
but suffers now so
Gets no buttons and bows
no help this hero.

Left from the strand and on to the
wide open bridge.
Wide and wild, the wind over water
hair whipping the breeze
watching the churn and the eddies below
brown river of stories.
If I jumped here I see the strong arms
that would pull me down
my lungs would silt,
fill with mud, cool my blood
and still my restless dreams.

Where would we settle, come to land?
Be picked clean by cockney seagulls
or carried off past the barriers to sea.
Whitstable oysters come feed on me.

And now I meet my waterloo and hold.
Back into the belly of the beast.
A day begun, my captor resumes his feast.

Walking home, Pecket to Old Town, Twilight

sunset from pecket well
She dropped the Blood orange moon
and stained the evening sky,
a gluttonous autumn feast, raspberrie and plums
smeared from her sticky thumbs.
Mouth wiped clean on dusty clouds
and grey beard contrails that divide
the heavens – new realms of
mackrel scale, tabby fur, owl feather, speckled hen.
Waiting for the fire to go out.
I lost my breath, and then
a bat swoops low above
rose tinted thistledown.
The farmhouse’ sightless eyes
reflect the gaudy show –
delights for turks or shepherds or
weary walkers on their way to home and sleep –
a cut across the tops – a quiet treat.
Calves butt and play in twilight fields.
Heptonstall silhouette against the lurid sky.
Turning my back, not left to the black chapel
where we said our scarlet vows,
but down in the dark past
cricket pitch-black and silent
in the shadow of the mill,
Windchimes twinkle and blend with echoes
-clogs on cobbles, chattering and clattering,
Someone has left a coin in the washing machine.
Before me the moon in full display again,
Washed clean, damned spots got out.
Glory against an ink blue sky –
liquorice mountains in the early night.


Spider web dripping with dew

Nature’s jewellers have been out early,
stringing bright necklaces of morning tears
in the soft, quiet, mist.
New ploughed fields picked over by the glossy pheasant
and his hens, a bridal party of tiny twites in tow.

Cows watch proceedings and chew, ponderously
deliberating on deeper things
that never enter into the minds that race,
the scuttling creatures, who are too busy and blind
to see beauty in the rise and fall.

Chill in the air, smoke on the breeze.
Long shadows lay carpet for the frost
to skip across the hillside, dance beneath the trees.
So delicate a touch, yet deadly –
Not long and those diamond webs will freeze,
and shatter, scatter with the ashes of our broken hearts and dreams.

The weavers never weep. Simply pull the thread again,
start a new stitch and breathe deep.

Last chance.

The Calder cauldron boils again
Hardcastle hags conjouring the change
The slip from green to golden glow
The burnished throne.

As though the bubbling mists were steam
The heat rises
Summer grasping on with her last gasps
To the leaves
Before they crispen, and fall
Crumble to rust
Wash the river red and sleep
Under their snowy bed.

Stoodley peaks above the foam
Through mellow mists
O’er rose kissed meadows
Where contemplative cows
Chew cud and watch the swallows fly.

Beneath the peace
Shaded from the sun
The grey dawn daily race is begun.
Enduring faces waiting for release
Play out their roles
Earn their tickets to the feast.

Soon she will peel back
The steamy skin
For one last glimpse of her
Radiant and high,
Before the fall,
When she is distant, cold,
or barely seen at all.

Children play and cats roll,
Bathe in that leaving light
Twilight is coming,
Get ready to be tucked in
For the long cold night.