On Native Soil



I carry in my head my mother’s soil:

A cup of her mind. We share the same loam,

Dark and rich like an evening’s coffee grounds.


I furrow the dirt: just as I comb my hair,

Brown as hers once was, I rake thoughts over,

Turning the old ground, letting earth taste air.


A drizzle of water, or wine; a sacrifice

Of spirits to the soil, so in that loam

A thought may germinate, a grain might grow.


I tend this modest garden, tenderly:

Reading to the roses, and the lilies,

Tales of those who wait beyond the fence;


And imagine, an intruder on my lands

Might one day take his ripe, firm gun and plant

An iron seed into my dreaming earth.

Thin Talk



Every time your lips move, it’s the same

Cheap cuts. You serve a gruel which seeps

Right through your teeth in trickles. But where’s the beef?


With words so thin, you talk no taste: no pound

Of flavoured flesh; no marbled slab of tongue.

You hand me this cold broth. A bowl without sound.



This is a poem which really needs to be said slowly, out loud, so you can savour the dissatisfaction rolling over your tongue. If someone fails to talk straight – to chew the fat, to sink their teeth into it – spit it out. 




Though we might share a breath, stood toe to toe,

You glance about and dream my place were empty:

And though I left deep footfalls in the snow,

You’d overstep me.


You do not see the very signs you ought to.

Have you observed the air wring branches out?

You would not feel the wind unless it fought you,

And see it less, I doubt.


It’s not her death, but in the creaking stair

Through which the lover stirs our slumber most.

You’ll overlook a wife who isn’t there,

But not a ghost.