Saturday, 1 January 2000

A Selection of Poems

Poems from Host, published 2010

From "Bedrock" A sequence of monologues


From Mud, Two Wedding Presents, 1927

Your father is right, of course,
clay makes for durable walls,

but there’s more to a marriage
than its house. More to mud:

porcelain, glazed for pleasure,
cool and foreign as a geisha.

I did not sculpt my present
as your father built his,

but with one son, each parent
must claim their own ground.

Hold this vase with fingers like petals.
Place it well. Listen.

As a shell speaks of the sea,
hear what this silk voice can teach.



Witness the Potato, 1934

Blind. Accepting dirt
as nourishment.

Seeds one into a dozen
nuggets of gospel

white. Eventually it will
out. A quiet servant.

I dig for this fist
wash it in my mouth.

Some are turned to drink.
My spirit bakes them.



A Fool Keeping Silence is Reckoned Wise, 1973
pvbs 17:28

They could not hurt anyone
in the way of sticks and stones,
yet like thieves and murderers
our tongues needed guarding.
Actions spoke for us.

If we could improve on the silence,
best to be a straight-talker.
Boasting, uncouth as bra-straps.
Whispering, akin to wearing yellow at a funeral.
Worst are the liars. They eat their own lips



Kitchen AGM, 1992

8pm. Present: Husband
and Wife (Co Sec)

All persons entitled to Notice
agreed to accept short notice.

The Minutes of the 30th AGM
read, approved and signed.

Wife retired by rotation
re-elected to the board.

Accounts for year ending
presented. Adopted.

Signed Husband, Chair.


More information about the story behind 'Bedrock' is at the bottom of this page of the site.


Poems from 'Landfall', the second section in the book: opening a window in a claustrophobic house ...


Wonder Child

My friend’s Aunty Margaret
knew a little boy who
was that curious
he could spend
all day long
in a bucket.



Neither Up Nor Down

We wait for a bus, not knowing its arrival time;
nor its destination, beyond Up.

After half an hour, we walk
along a road that turns into track

that climbs to a vast green falling away of all noise
except the amplification of water,

the thin call of cirrus
and us.

We turn round before bagging the summit;
fail to feel failure, and settle near a solitary picnicker.

You make lamb tegine; I unpick the latest Cronenberg;
we compare shampoo.

We scuffle, take photos of our gurning,
looking bald and ill. We laugh because we’re not —

we’re only halfway through.



The Lighthouse Doctor

No light circles above his cottage now,
just the channel buoys wink on shifting sands.
Crook Perch. Plover Scar.

He barefoots the corrugated beach,
one eye on the wormholes
one ear open to what they whisper.

Patients include the distant,
the clammed, the bruised,
those pulled by the moon.

He prescribes waltzes
between skears
and kiss-chase with plucky dunlins.

His thumbs, pulsing irregular,
can break habits like bones.
Then reset them.

His fingers thread samphire
through driftwood,
stitching the air we rip as we walk.

Silent, sometimes miles apart,
we cure him, as he cures us,
with each touch.



The Prize

Under the salty grind of sky
everything slows to her pace.
Her toes flick the sand, skitter crab pincers.
Her arms ache, carrying the rock:
heavier than four years of arguments kneaded into a loaf
as round as her world.
Her fingers feather this dinosaur egg.
It rattles with her aunt’s refusal to carry it for her,
chafes her swimming costume.
It’s worth more than a bucketful of stars
or the murmur of light in a moat.
Her aunt follows, arms hanging
like dead deer legs, stalking her shadow.
While she trudges on
with the surety of the continuously loved.