Category Archives: writing

Too late

I too would have liked
to write about fog but
the Big Boys intervened,
told me to shut up:

they’d been there,
seen it,
done the poems,
had the T-shirts printed.

So here I sit
quietly watching
a pale sun melt
what could’ve been

my poem – all fourteen
glorious fucking lines of it.


Writing

Some days
a cotton wool tide laps
the windowsill,

drops to reveal
the green valley, grey
limestone peaks,

then billows up
to smother window, view
and the house.

Amid the creak of
the rafters, the chimney’s
tinny commotion

I persevere.
Now you see it –
now you don’t.


Operating instructions

Assemble all the implements.
Then lock the door and set to work
when night falls.

It takes the darkness
for the thing inside to stir, and hours
of tender teasing out before it shows its shape.

Then deftly, cautiously, you set it in a vice:
compress, condense, and purify;
decide what must be smooth and what left rough.

At last you chase its silver surface; polish round
and round until it gleams with hope
and sparkles with despair.

Now get up from the table
with its paperful of fragile words.
Unlock the door. Admit the day.


Yellowstone

After the geysers come the restless nights.
I’m my own Yellowstone: as sulphur mists
dissolve the rim of consciousness

my superheated soul spouts similes,
mixed metaphors thud from the mudpool
of my bubbling brain, hissing hyperboles

ricochet off the walls of lodgepole pine;
from underneath the floorboards fumaroles
steam acid vapour. The silver lining

to these endless nights: sleeplessness
crystallized in syllables; the scalloped edge
around the hotspring of my seething mind.


Subversive dictionary

Green is the new black – at least according
to the entry I’ve just come across in my CALD.
That upset me. Put me in a bl– no, better
make that a green mood. We have to keep up
with the Joneses: who wouldn’t want to be
with it? Now I shall have to change my style.

Just when I thought I’d found my true colours,
out of the pink I’m asked to start from scratch,
green-sky a whole new set of ideas, as it were.
My language processing unit’s been put on
fuchsia alert; I’m well yellowed off, lavender
with rage, feel like shouting purple murder…

To earn Greenie points with the fashion set
I’ll have to leave my Beacon Hill whitestone
and relocate to the black belt, maybe even
the heart of the blue-light district. I’ll sell
my orange-chip company, find myself
a red-collar job, turn into a raving pinkneck.

But don’t accuse me of terracotta-nosing
the dictionary dictators! Soon even the last
white sheep will have to fly the black flag;
there’ll be no end of government blue papers
regulating everything; all sorts of indigo tape;
maroon-carpet treatment for lucky aliens who

struck silver in the mauve card lottery and
swarm over here hoping the grass is more
lemonchiffon X11 this side of the Big Grey.
Supporters of the Washington Puceskins
will send their kids to Goldbrick universities;
the radio will warn us of traffic taupespots,

while Turquoise Van Man will forever park
on those double purple lines; down under
hapless surfers will be eaten by Great Blacks;
cream supremacists and beige trash will elect
a Great Magenta Hope to the Ultra Pink House
But wait for it: on the ultimate black-letter day

in the calendar of this once-blue planet, the sun
– turning into a Red (yes, red) Giant – will see us
out in a multispectral, blinding blaze of glory
that shall reveal all things in their true colours:
a crimson ball of fire; searing white heat –

blackout


Love story, Midwest

That was long afterwards, though. Where I was now
was just wanting to get her to stop,

stop the car on that narrow lane on a Welsh hillside
whose name I’ve forgotten

like the reason for our insane quarrel, or where I found
the recklessness that made me

open the door of a car driving along a narrow lane
on a Welsh hillside, jump outside

while she was still slowing down, bang the bonnet
and leave a dent that we both,

separately, secretly, worried about for the rest of
that holiday, because of course

we hadn’t taken out extra insurance for the rental car,
as you do when you are young

and still trust in things mostly turning out right, and still
capable of insane, inexplicable emotions

that will make you jump from a car on a Welsh hillside
and write a story afterwards,

long afterwards, a story about a man skip­ping stones
over the surface of a twilight pond,

about two people walking through endless cornfields
towards the grain silos of a sleepy town

somewhere in the dusty Midwest of the United States;
a story about love.