The hospital gives me the chance to bring
the first noble truth into focus,
for all that breathe are also suffering,

but when I head outside to wait for the bus,
within the clammy streets of Camberwell,
it’s not long til I dump my mindfulness

and tell a stranger to go fuck themselves.



Outside the double glazed window, just across,
from where my baby girl snoozes away,
pumped full of milk and gripping my fingers,

the Power Station almost fades to grey,
within the week long, secular deluge.
I forget what it’s like to walk in rain—

the seven days we’ve spent under this roof.


I take the trek up just one flight of stairs,
scrub my hands and arms and walk on through
to find you strung with drip lines and thick wires.

Your readings have been good, steady but slow.
You’re doing your bit, under watchful eye
of surrogate Titas—Filipinos

and Irish nurses too. You sleep as I
take you into my arms and whisper how
your mother’s getting strong as well. Your cries

are easily sated, though my own
still bubble upwards, lava like, sudden—
and though you’re barely under seven pounds,

your humble heft helps me to hold it down,
maintain composure, keep the long sob in.
Your short vowels hold back pity’s pale poison,

the sweet song of the smallest violin.


I didn’t hear the news today, oh girl,
about today’s seige in Tottenham Court Road,
well, I didn’t hear of it until

it was concluded, busy voices said
that it was over as I sat and watched
you watching me. These days I have not paid

attention to what’s current or what’s hot
within whatever fashion week applies
to whichever city. Some might have thought

I was invested in the tragedy
when word of mouth reached me, for it appeared
to those that were not looking at your eyes

that mine were welling up with sudden tears.

Canto CCXL

Okay, daughter dearest, hear this right,
that crazy stuff each side of you is noise.
That crazy stuff in front of you is light.

The warbling beyond our curtain is
a Nigerian couple casting Satan out
of a bed provided by the NHS.

The NHS aren’t devils or devout,
they are the country’s socialist backbone,
the young nurses that once cried “Maggie out!”

are still walking the wards where you were born,
though the moral high ground that they tread
might soon be privatised by George Osbourne

before that hated, heckled Baroness
has sunk into her private trust pillows
to die a premium, elitist death.

Oh dear, I’m talking politics, I know,
it’s yet to stain the mind of your sweet ilk,
but since we’re skin to skin I must disclose

like Thatcher, my man boobs will not give milk.


I ask myself if Plato ever spent
48 hours in an induction bay?
Sometimes we get the chance to reaquaint

ourselves with outer corridors where we
think of ourselves as being “outside”.
After midnight, when I finally

exit the hospital, I often find
a powerful sense of unreality
about the rain soaked pavements and the lines

of blossoming, yellow tinted trees
in sodium light. It’s easier to breathe
in this world, momentarily relieved

from all we’re yet to face inside our cave.


Labour hasn’t started, so we snatch
whatever sleep we can as hours stream
like fluids through a drip. I keep a watch

for midwives that appear like fleeting dreams
and vanish with the words “I’ll go find out…”
the curtains flutter, they never return.

Before I left at 4am last night,
I heard a newborn’s first cries down the hall.
Despite the rain that sputtered down outside,

the birds on every branch sang loud and shrill.
Right now, a blue partition cuts us off
from the Polish single-mum-to-be’s sad call

for doctors, birthing room and pain relief.
And you, my love, are somehow able to,
curl up against the chaos and drift off.

I self administer an espresso.


Prostaglandins, prosta feckin glandins!
open up that gateway, work your charm
and put paid to the Problem of Induction

and keep my little ladies safe from harm.


It’s oddly fitting that the final day
of our thirtysomething, Zone 2 coupledom
would be a Sunday. The same old films play

on laundry day rotation, viscous calm,
where next week’s immanence dry humps the leg
of ticking, Sabbath sanctioned tedium.

Full time whistles end the hit-hoof lag
of nil-nil draws but will not help the climb
of mid table minnows in Sunday League.

In musty chapels, in half whispered rhymes,
congregations rote-petition God
until the droning sermon mumble comes

to send the most devout soul on the nod.
Hangovers prove trickier to shake,
Ibroprofen capsules are swallowed

in greater numbers than the glib intake
of thin communion wafers. Not long ’til
the sudden moment when your waters break,

and others face the dread of work or school.


The spring day sky is always at its grandest
when spread above the drive-in Maccy D’s
or dull red rows of small suburban houses,

where bored kids in square yards look up to see
the Rorschachian plenum of the heavens
that evoke annual visits to the sea

and mountains like the ones on television.

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