The three year old falls in front of the bus
and all of us take in the harshest breath,
time slows right down, the ultimate darkness

hovers before us, this is more than death,
this is nature’s true, uncaring face,
this day will stay with us throughout our lives.

We’re thrown forward as the driver hits the breaks.
The boy, unharmed, is scooped up by his Mum
who takes the blast of the driver’s rebuke,

offers no audible defence to him,
just clutches her boy tight, he’s bawling now.
The bus moves on, the world slowly becomes

a blur through glass, a casual peep show.



I look back at the fragments of my day,
or into other half formed, half-arsed thoughts
in search of that first line to guide my way

into the poem, to sustain my art.
I may as well be that tribal shaman
who slays a goat and stares into its guts

for subtle missives from the gods to men.
Though the alternatives seem far more twee—
the zodiac, the tarot, the i-ching

or random accumulations of tea.
Billy’s tripe just seems a better match
for cynical and jaded trolls like me

when inspiration clip clops on my bridge.


If there was any time back in the day
I made up part of a male coterie
engaging in cock of the walk displays

so women within our vicinity
would wish the pavement to swallow them whole—
then payback of a sort occurred today

as I became the solitary male
at my dear wife’s first antenatal class.
There’s nothing that could make me feel as small

as realising that I have been cast
as stooge for the midwife’s comedy routine,
an easy target for some bawdy laughs

as all the other fathers must have been
at work, up to no good or unaware.
I guess it’s a fair cop, you get the pain

while I get two more fun Mondays to bear
the brunt for all the sins that have come home
to roost, to pay off the hefty arrears

clocked up by my errant Y chromosome.


One time while on a beach in Penzance,
throwing stones into the Atlantic,
my friend told me that if I ever chance

upon a stone that fits within my grip
to such an extent that the need to throw
it out towards the buoys and distant ships

is outweighed by need to keep it close
within my clutch, to press my clumsy thumb
against its cold, ancient indifference—

then that’s the stone I need to bring back home
to place onto my cluttered writing desk,
something to grip when the words fail to come,

to reassess my approach to the task,
to contemplate that no thown stone will ever
hit hard enough to put the wave at risk.

The stone itself is formed by the endeavour
of countless breakers crashing to the shore.
I clutch mine tightly, trying to remember

the sound of stones and mountains being born.


He had his technique down to a tee,
asking if I could do him a favour.
When I said yes he sat down next to me

and in great detail, went on to explain the
circumstances off his last illness
that led him to the railway bridge to take a

plunge with high hopes of a sudden death.
He showed me the steel plate inside his shin
and stopped a moment to draw a quick breath

just after he told me about his kid.
I cut him short by saying “Sorry mate,
I’ve got no change.” A lie and he knew it.

And though I didn’t think that he had lied,
that didn’t mean I didn’t also think
that he was in possession of a blade.

A liar and a coward, I could sink
to sordid depths as well, just watch and see,
as like all bigots after a few drinks

I make a big deal of my honesty.


The dead. I fuckin’ love ’em. They’re better
than us at everything, good or bad.
Even the sombre numerals and letters

carved on a lackwit’s grave, covered with weeds,
still hold a gravity that we can’t match,
no matter how considerable our deeds.

You don’t agree with all this? Kid, just watch
some half forgotten actress pop her clogs
and see the populace forget the stretch

of mawkish TV movie dialogues
from cookie cutter, penny-per word hacks
as they proclaim her greatness on their blogs.

The dead don’t spam me, nor do they break
my concentration as I try to write,
they sometimes haunt my dreams but when I wake

they head back to their distant, shadowed seats
to quietly look on my words and moves.
I’d choose their company, both day and night

in place of mouth and nose breathers like you.


Just as comedy outlived the promise
of being an alternative but proved
to become what it foreswore to dismiss,

another club of white men, wearing suits—
I scrutinise my own formative years;
the angry young man, shouting bitter truths,

the toilet venues, the squat party jeers,
how what I said seemed so damn important,
how I felt verse could put an end to wars.

I set my starstruck eyes upon the distant
and blurry goal of taking it full time,
snag that elusive quarry, recognition…

I must have been pissed when the moment came,
for here I stand in my hundred pound whistle,
recalling disparate pairs of slanted rhymes,

the odd anti-establishment epistle
and bawdy anecdotes for cheap guffaws.
One part of me still affirms this is all

I wanted: some door money, brief applause—
and yet, a tiny waft of disappointment
hangs on as I knock back my post show beers.

It isn’t so much underachievement
or having set my standards far too high—
it’s more that I know what the punters want

and what I really want my work to say
and fall short of both benchmarks, but still,
I’ve sailed my smile through far crappier days.

I could still be grafting for the council,
pruning roses down the South Acton Estate.
But instead, I’ve got slim volumes for sale.

Thank you all for listening. Goodnight.


All poetry’s in braille, you have to feel
the textured edges of the unfurled line
and still you will not be able to tell

the nature of what brushed against your skin.


O Dell laptop, you are now as dead
as the priest that took my first confession.
Your hard drive swarms with all of the unread

monstrosities that hatched through writing sessions
where caffeine did what booze does on blind dates.
I could take you to the laptop technician

to rescue pictures, scanned certificates
and first drafts that went on to almost shine,
and I would do so if not for the thought

of all my darkest brain farts being seen
by another, half discerning human mind.
Even the dirtiest crumbs of online porn

could not leave me a fraction as ashamed
as knowing that some speccy snark has ogled
my secret wanky tendencies to blend

my noblest thoughts with dog-eared doggerel.


That nutcase lily at my window sill
has pushed up two new flowers, silly cow,
as if we’ve seen the final winter chill,

but that’s plants for ya, got no brains to know
their taproots from their swelling, topmost buds,
hell, that’s how nature works, all go, go, go,

even that pessimist’s constituent parts
are heaving hives of microscopic graft,
the white cells that stampede within his blood

have no idea about the toxic draft
that brews within his tortured, lonesome thoughts,
they buzz on, optimistic, unabashed

on errands that the wiser would abort.

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