Break out the good stuff



Congratulations! You broke a heart.

How mighty you are, to crack that little nut:

To find the strength of all those men who once

Prised open yours.


Great job: you did it. Get out the good glasses,

Someone mercy-dash to Sainsbury’s

For whatever discount fizz they may have left.

Stay up ‘til late


Red-eyed, hoarse from choking sobs of joy.

From days when you’d sit lovelorn as a boy

You hoped one day you’d be the handsomest.

Well. You passed that test.


I’m sure your mother could just die from pride. She always

Said that you’d break hearts. Oh happy days!

What you always wanted. A dream comes true.

Three cheers, to you.





for Joe – Strange Creatures



It takes all sorts, they say, to make a world:

All strange creatures, wide-eyed beasts and grim,

Thrilling in the wonders of the wild;

Dwelling in the comforts of a home;


Dancing mooncalves, too, and foolish fauns.

Yet we two monsters, separate in our ways,

Have nonetheless discovered in our haunts

The truth of one another, in the eyes.


Oh, I have seen the reckless manticores

Bloodlust under moonlight. I am done

With half-crazed revenants, their waking curse.

I relish now the darkness of our den.


It takes all sorts. In all things monstrous,

We find each other. What unnatural luck.

Let’s wonder, while the moon is curious,

What kind of worlds together we can make.



  • Written on request by a good friend, for her partner on his birthday. 



for Alec and Lydia – The Works of Truth



The task of yours: it is the art of truth.

Tunneling through doubts of ancient stone,

Strange symbols on the walls. You hope to sleuth

The place of us, with pen in hand, alone.


Did God, that fabled troglodyte, dwell here?

Are these his words? Those etchings are as sand,

Language collapsing into dust. But fear

No lamp-lit loneliness: she takes your hand.


Dig deep into the cruelty of the earth,

Give to it your nights, your frowns, your youth.

The diamonds there are glass: for in their worth,

As long as she is there, you’ve found the truth.



  • On the wedding of my good friends Alec and Lydia. This was the draft: the original is theirs alone. 




My final curse on you, my love, is this:

That I renounce all curses. Call my name

Three times before the pallid mirror-glass,

Light a ghosted candle. I won’t come.


If you should see a shadow, seething by

A sighing curtain as you wait alone,

They won’t be my eyes, watching you at night.

Whoever preys upon you, I’ll be gone.


Should you, waking at the witching hour,

Hear me on the stair and choke your breath

In stifled screams, I shall not be there.

The death I leave to you is honest death.


When silence echoes in your heart, until

Piano music in an empty room

Stirs you half to madness, and the shrill

And ceaseless melody resounds the tomb


In which you live, you’ll wish that only I

Could stop your heart, so lonesome and bereft.

I will not haunt you. You will watch me die,

And be haunted by what ghosts are left.



Stroll in July – on turning 26



My legs tickle briars, met with thistle touch,

Tender ache. Brush the silk-long grass;

And from low-hanging branches, read their palms,

Fingertips of every leaf veined out.

Bespectacled by sunspots overhead,

Blinking through shaded motions. Down the path

Leading greenly through the winding stairs,

As old as fairytale: beneath, cool dirt

Shifts like shade as breeze drifts the canopy.

It brings a lilac scent, promises earth.

I cannot now remember the way back.

The sound sifts through me, raises my arm hairs,

Prickling anticipation. A trodden track

Leads through the woods.



Dedicated to Edward. 




Half-rhymes for Luke



How often, to hear wisdoms of the wise,

Of they who live without the fear of love:

That bread is not for breaking, and that wine

Is only worth the price that one could give.


They, for whom a bridge is peril’s stairway,

Seldom see you from the other side:

For whom the travel’s treacherous and wary,

“The best of luck” is such a mournful sound.


They, for whom a sunset only wanes,

Never see how bright the gold can last.

They see long shadows in a woodland’s ways,

Fear all who dream of forests end up lost.


There are worse things, I hope, than forest lanes:

Sunlight shimmering past dreamy eyes

While dappled sunspots dance, and evening fades.

I hope there’s worse to fear in life, than this.