Three Colours: Synaesthesia


i. Green

cut grass.jpg


Grass-cropped, cut for the air,

Clean and stained like rough trouser knees,

Green as bottles. A cut summer smell.




ii. Grey


pipe smoke.jpg


One pinch of salt for the pipe, a curl

At once gone: but the lingering fingerprint

Of granddad’s pipe, one grainy whorl of ash.




iii. Purple


purple roses.jpg


The sheets smelt of us: crushed roses.

You held me, dappled, long morning sun:

A pattern for warm sheets, now unvisited.




Wordless Gods


petra sacrificial altar.jpg

Sacrificial altar in Petra, Jordan. Although used for animal sacrifices, there is some evidence of human sacrifice at that site as well. 



For a man with neither Hell nor God,

You fear them, so.


I imagine, in the midst of all this,

Hauling the carcass to a battered stone:

The first sacrifice to a God, unnamed

And therefore beyond invocation.

Pleading for direction – whether right or wrong –

Seeking the word, to call it, choke it out

As barren and naked then as any man,

As barren as the sands. And I feel,

I know, that all our Sunday prayers

Are the same indictment of the self, the same

Confession, in any word or tongue,

To an unnamed sun in that lost wasteland.


So you stand in the sands, dagger in hand

Desperate for blood to bring rains:

You have no name, for the merciless sun.


And you, a man with neither Hell nor God

To name, still fear them, so.



I know many atheists or agnostics who have a tremendous fear inside them when confronted with eternity. It’s unsurprising, given the enormity and complexity of the universe, and the absolute uncertainty of its destination. You need no God to be awed by this. They very eloquently explain their fascination with the mysteries of a purely material existence. Even so, we don’t truly have words to describe it. 

But it does make me wonder, whether in pre-historic cultures – or even before “culture” itself – there was ever a God to be invoked. Was there ever a Name, or a Word; to whom did they first call for salvation; who told them, there was a God? 


Dormant Fire




The ancients believed the skies

Could be scried for secrets. Perhaps

Their astral lines were false.


But they may have found truths

In other substance,


That pagan belief that elemental fire

Lay dormant in material – wood, coal,

Books and men – there

Is truth in that.


Just as there is water in flowers,

Earth in mortal bones, and air

In every scent;


And that the aerial may rise

Whilst ash descends.


Yes, there is fire in books:

There is truth in that.



Stylistically simple poem, partially inspired by pagan concepts of the elements (the notion that fire, as a substance in itself, lies in flammable substances just waiting to be released in flame); and partially inspired by a growing anti-intellectualism here and overseas, denouncing anything theoretically inconvenient, to my mind, bordering on book-burning.

Farewell Note




It stems in part from knowing

We won’t be there, at our end.

It will happen to someone else, as

It has always happened before, to somebody else.


And though every day ends as we know it must

With a final, last, long look at an

Untraceable sun, we raise

One final glass, do we not? One deep, final,

Fierce farewell to our friends;

But at the end of every night of your life,

As you leant over to close the door behind you,

You always said goodbye to your friends.


You signed up for nonexistence, babe.

Just as the final last laugh is

That snappy sign-off,

Your “That’s all, folks,”

As the credits roll,

A wink as the circle closes inwards:


The final punchline at the end

Of the contract is

The dotted line, the very final line

With your signature still wet.


The Monk’s Regret




I tire of chewing and drily swallowing

This bread of life, praising gratefully

Even this first crust.


Some weighty meal is mine, this day-to-day.

I adorn the habit and the cowl, despite

A dry-mouthed vow.


I weary, heels so tightly following

Which tread this path, taking faithfully

Even faith’s dead steps.


Done, with this: their fine, deserving way.

I scorn the orisons of all, and wait

For my last dust.



I’m losing him to the night



I’m losing him to the night. These last

Few days looked up, found they were months.

Each time the door was shut behind,

Shook the house like a final word,

Each night.


A little of me leaves each time he leaves.

Some measure of me stays, brews the pot,

Sits tight for an approaching wind

Of my own imaginings.


I know it’s just me. I know it’s just me.

How could it be, each and every time,

That he is truly gone.


It’s only me. I know, it’s only me

Alone with my long-stewed tea.


It cannot be, I’m losing him to the night.