Category Archives: Moments

Recipe for happiness

go away
far away
alone

don’t phone

embrace
the longing


Walking on Thin Air

You will never be standing
on that impossibly thin line
four hundred metres
above the ground
between the two towers –

oh but you will:

all of us will, or were,
or are (even now),
only we did not realise then,
or have forgotten,
or choose to close our eyes

to the immensity of the drop.

 

(On 8/7/1974, Philippe Petit walked  the tightrope betweeen the twin towers of the World Trade Center.)


Party

You wake up in a leafy street at dusk – it might
be Cambridge, Massachusetts: wide sidewalks,

separated from the street by strips of lawn;
white porches, pastel clapboard mansions

with wooden pillars propping up solid suburbia.
A yellow house pours honey-coloured light

from every window. On a gentle tide of voices,
music, laughter, clinking glasses you wash up

against the Doric columns of the open entrance
and are swept inside. Past the grand staircase

with its sweeping banisters you drift through
rooms with crimson sofas, Tiffany lamps, tight

crowds of people lost in conversation, out
on a balcony where girls in flapper dresses

smoke black Sobranies, and in the library
men drinking rye talk baseball scores.

Notes floating from a grand piano draw you
to a ballroom where a boy in white tuxedo

and a girl in red glide dreamily across the floor,
oblivious to your silent passing. Lured by

a hallway’s chequer board of black and white
you sink into the dark recesses of the house.

The happy din of voices dies away; the grand
piano tinkles to a stop; the muffled sound

of car doors slamming, then the hectic play
of headlights on the walls; and you remain,

a shadow drifting noiselessly from room
to room, turning the lights out one by one.


Salisbury Cathedral

459288

Some people say an ancient race landed
a spaceship here a thousand years ago.

They sent out scouts; explored the land;
settled, and tilled the soil. Then famine came,

and war. All memory ends here.
The travellers are gone; their ship, forgotten.

Until tonight. Tonight I walk the length
of the great hull. Anchored by buttresses,

pinned down by rusty scaffolding, it lies
a prisoner under an alien sky, the spire

straining to make contact with the stars.
A late car passes in the rain. Lights flicker

on the walls. I hear the swish of tyres
on wet tarmac; the hum of mighty engines

waking up. The ship is stirring. Timber
creaks; a finial falls, a flying buttress

scatters Purbeck stone, the sheer sides
soar up, vanish into space –

I shut my eyes – and it is nothing –
just a tale – as insubstantial as the wind

that shakes the chestnut trees and chases
leaves across the black, deserted Close.

 


Paper thin

In the small hours
I listen to the busy
comings and goings
of ambulances

swapping stories
from behind
the paper thin facade
of everyday


Cotswold Graveyard

Grey stones
under a grey Cotswold sky:

fading letters
summing up faded lives;

and the roofs
beyond the graveyard:

grey stone
under a grey Cotswold sky.


Grizzly bears and other surprises

The massive grizzly
is feeding placidly
on crimson huckleberries.
We click away.

The sudden hot stink
of putrid breath –
the crunch of jaws
on cranial bone –

unthinkable.
This is a family holiday;
The grizzly is still feeding;
we click away.