Canto CLIV

When I bought this massive coffee cup
I didn’t entertain the slightest thought
of all that boiling liquid flying up

and soaking through all three of my tee shirts,
the first drops haven’t even hit the floor
and time has almost frozen, this minute

that ticks to its quiet end could be an hour—
awareness flares, boundaries are redefined,
that strange notion of being here before,

a helpless passenger in my own mind.



The man that I was ran five times a week,
weighed three stone less, memorised his poems,
never woke hungover before work,

dug for hours amidst the city’s fumes
and never lost his breath—I look ahead
at time’s narrowing tunnel and assume

that translucent skinned figure, bent and sad,
is probably the man that I’ll become,
singing Nirvana songs to bored grandkids,

on a rare visit to the nursing home
to hear my dodgy takes on history,
though none of them really wanted to come

’cause I spit when I talk and stink of wee.

Canto CLII

I wonder if a goldfish can go mad?
Is there a benchmark for fish sanity?
Are fish as sentient as thermostats?

Is there a man somewhere in the city
that slowly paces between bedsit walls
running on dry fumes of his self pity?

When his mind turns blank, does it twin with all
the poor eyed tiddlers in their bags of plastic,
lined up like fairy lights on fairground stalls,

a prize for those that can still hit their targets?

Canto CLI

Irony doesn’t seem such a treasure
when stumbling upon the hard, steel steps
while making my exit from the South Bank Centre

after writing poems about death
for punters that lined up for the honour,
to hear their darkest mortal thoughts expressed

in verse. I grabbed the rail, escaped disaster
and marked the only thoughts within my head
centred around my unborn baby daughter—

and as I settled down to catch my breath,
I’d never felt as thankful for believing
I hadn’t joined the armies of the dead

and kept step with the Home Guard of the living.

Canto CL

I’ve heard some horror stories from travellers
that there are several cities round the world
where you can tell a tale and have a laugh

with your fellow commuters and that all
the subway cars and creaking buses
are moving hubs for conversational

exchanges and some open heart confessions.
Fuck that for a sack of monkey bollocks,
I like the frowning home bound mob of London,

all holed up in the pyche’s concrete barracks,
this is our sole refuge for contemplation
between the verbose poles of home and work,

a secular chapel, station to station,
not looked upon by Saints, wandering eyes meet
the clinic adverts for boob operations

and now and then, a smattering of Keats.


I sometimes count the grey hairs in my beard,
excited, like a youthful silverback,
though it may turn sour in future years,

searching all day for one slither of black.


I tot up all my invoices to see
the princely product of a year in verse
transformed into stark numbers. This must be

the meagre weight of my well chosen words.
This is not a moan, nor an appeal
for patronage and funding, for I’ve heard

my fellow poets do the same for real
and thought each one an arsehole. I resolve
to write for love and peanuts, if that fails

I’ll pick up my old shovels, picks and trowels,
get back to proper graft like Heaney’s Dad—-
watching his son fanny about with vowels

and call it digging. That would drive me mad.
I’d have to dig a big old hole to show him
that depth is only handy for the dead

while shouting “Look at me! I wrote a poem!”


The dirty light      that strains through the low clouds
and the soft rain     that falls on dirty rooves
where buddleia        has grown from flighty seeds

in solitude       like many urban lives
it barely lights    this gloomy living room
where I have slowed      my thoughts and shut my eyes

to feel the drain    as early evening comes
a man outside   is sawing planks of wood
the pigeons roost      up high and safe from harm

no car alarms    no telephones   no words


What hope is there for a rabbit like me
to know that three female generations,
my mum, my wife, my first daughter to be,

are going to be fire breathing Chinese dragons,
I’d scuttle to my deep hole in the hillock
if it wasn’t for the simpler explanation

that astrology’s a load of dragon bollocks.

Canto CXLV

Remember when those knobheads on the news
reported live the nights after the riots?
When nothing happened, the term that they chose

to describe the empty, nondescript streets
was the cretinous refrain, “uneasy calm”
Each Sunday, when I put the rubbish out

against the public bins I sense the same
uneasy calm amid the shop shutters,
the roads are always quietest at this time,

the final hour of Sunday, even nutters
are shut in as the night shift employees
drive vans full of the Monday morning papers

to all the towns that orbit the City,
where some stories will hitch a lift from brains
of tabloid toting, middle class commuters,

back to their spawning grounds on morning trains.

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