Breathing, Listening

Have we not slept with someone who

seemed to stop breathing?

Have we not stopped breathing,

listening anxiously for the belated

exhalation, the murmur of

incomprehensible words, the

wriggle of toes that allows our breath a

final release, knowing

life yet lives?


Coming into Crewe I passed

debauched old rolling stock

rotting, reeking of those days of

three classes, compartments, corridors,

but at least a proper

buffet and a bar and a

decent rolling restaurant with

good wine to make

delay at least bearable.


And then there was the

great white worm of the

Advanced Passenger Train, the

promise of a past future of

more speed but less pleasure, now

tired and tilting.

“Young Osric”

I run off stage in character keep

running to the Tiring House

tearing off the wig from

God knows whose head

rough hands helping me

strip my dress and bodices as I

sweat out the woman I was as

tears and rough usage

fumbling with different buttons as the

Clowns fumble with skulls

laughter and dread silence my

cue to be Young Osric

baited as a chough a

water-fly and fated to

hold a dying Queen’s head amidst

all that blood

an empty purse on a

vast stage but at least and

finally I can be a boy


Poetry is bones, the flesh

chewed to the gristle, leaving

just enough to recognise a

human being.


But you won’t stay a

quiet skeleton in the corner,

keep growing more flesh for me

to gnaw on.


Perfect from a distance,

up close your face wears

faint lines of age which

others seek to mask with

expensive unguents or

cheap powder, but of which you are

proud, knowing a stylus

dropped into any groove would

replay a fine memory



Perhaps Ptolemy wasn’t so wrong when

I feel some nights the

spheres within spheres, the

roiling clouds wracked by

moonlight, the slowly

circling stars and the

great red-hot iron

rim of the galaxy

rolling soundlessly

millions of miles

above my head.



I can only cower beneath the

monsters chasing each other above me

so I seek out the depths where

like the coelocanth I might

never be found.


Night after cloudless night

pursuing Perseids draws a

blank knowing once

curtains are closed

one fiery fingernail will

scrape across the sky’s

black board.

Prude and Prejudiced

The weather cannot choose to be

hot or cold like you can, wearing

airy clothes whilst making

coffee, pretending you are

unaware of how nearly

nude you are or how hard it is to

share this space when you are a

prude and prejudiced.


The pigeon on the neighbour roof

immobile this last few hours

blinks its incomprehension as

day collapses into the

gutter of night.

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