No bruises show



They found my teeth in the silty riverbed:

Separate, yet still gritted.


Through empty sockets, you can clearly read

My eyes are rolling;


See? My jaw, smashed to an everlasting

Never mind.



I wanted to write something short and simple, about uncovering the skull of a victim: not of any specific crime, certainly not for any crimes that have ben tried; a victim of her partner, and her place in society. My alternative title was “Not Woke,” the preserved, sleeping head of a person who didn’t wake up fast enough. 




July Eyes



closed-eyelid colours, beating with the sunlight,

dappled space, the warm red resting out –

the song of breathing, heard outside your head




Still experimenting with briefer, less structured forms. And longing desperately for summer. 

why dont u just—



Well, maybe she would. After all

the encouragement, the touches in corridors,

messages in her desk: maybe she just might…


the talk had talked, and made it true: the songs

they sang for her were proof, like an Act of God,

the writing on the wall, and on her locker,


the paint in her hair. Perhaps, at last, she would.




Designs for Life


All artists wish for

a blank canvas. Clear enough

to reorder emptiness from drawn experience,

subtle shades, their own landscape,

forests murmuring out distantly;

features flourishing like asphodel.


The architect sees lines: the clean

structures , and order of light,

modes parallel, forms of

the constructed life.


The musician wants movements,

seasons lived across colours, depth

of wind and distant water, leading to

a lasting resonance.


The poet hopes for one

final, perfect word,

then silence.




O Pupper, My Pupper


But O, I long to wend this weary night,

All stratagems and schemes of woe to scupper

Met at homestead door by hurtling sight

Of he, most playsome and adventurous pupper!


To frolic fulsome in the honest throes

Of fluff at haste: prevails, the boundful woofer,

Chasing tails and reckless overflows

Of love with such as he, the faithful floofer.


How did you learn to snug? How came the Lord

To shape the cast, your form to cultivate:

And into this such endless huggles poured,

To render countless cuddles animate?


O pupper, scuttle scritches ‘cross the floor:

To hark approaching pupper, evermore.




I was asked by one of my followers, in exchange for a quantity of wine, to write a Shakespearean sonnet, Whitman-esque in dramatics, on the subject of doggos. It was perhaps the most fun I’ve had writing anything in 2018 so far. 





drawing lips on your face, like

the final touch to the canvas:

real self-portrait, the red ideal,

hung against white, and waiting.




I have so many friends who are self-taught makeup artists. They never fail to amaze me. 





Through the windscreen, we see cars. Ahead,

dead cars, without start or end.

Above us, seagulls dance. But we aren’t there.


For now, we’re parked while in motion:

en route to standstill. Somehow

worse than if we’d never left, at all.


But at least we’re ready to board, right? I feel

we’re always waiting to board, car engine off

to save fuel, the ferry somewhere ahead;

cellophane picnic on the dashboard


the orange peel spices the air

between us, a tang of it,

pricks at the eyes


overhead, a single cloud, as if from

where a shuttle failed to make orbit:

dark, ruined, carefree


outside, and far across the grey quayside,

I see journeys – other people’s ships – leave silently, forever.



My old friend Gary Holdaway and I used to participate in a writing tug-of-war, each one responding to the last writer’s yank. We’re now trying to synchronise weekly outputs, every Sunday, based on a set 7-prompt theme. This week’s prompts were dancing, windows, unrequited love, spaceships, boats, food, and eye contact. 

Most of these prompts are explicitly referred to in the text, but there are two that need explanation. The first, unrequited love, is not so visible: a failed love from the narrator’s perspective, perhaps, a shuttle which has taken off but is disintegrating mid-air. I think the next prompt (eye contact) gives some further explanation though, in that the narrator may be to blame. Notice that he looks everywhere else but his partner. This is a man, cursing circumstance, but unable to admit that he has made a terrible mistake.