In the next room my life’s great love exhales
a weary song to wind my daughter down
and with that melody the world unspools—

the sky reddens beyond the thin curtain,
our growing baby’s coos become slow breaths
before the song itself has come undone.

The evening’s dimming leads me to reflect
on all the human voices that I’ve known
that never will be able to attest

their verdict on the man I have become.



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.


Even the internet slows down for the holiday,
as families reacquaint themselves to how
the eyes add something to what our tongues say,

and even tongues can startle when allowed
to ping against enamel’s coffee stains,
the fingers drum the table’s edges, cowed

and cut off from their hotline to the brain.


The poet has not spoken since the stroke
except through gestures he shares with his wife
who helps him to compose his current works

by reading facial ticks, knowing his life
has shaped the lexicon within his mind
and through a shared glance, she becomes the scribe—

chanelling his verses, plucking lines
from mutual silence, where the most is said.
Just like the poet, she discerns the signs

says them aloud, marks if they make the grade
to know if that constant other approves.
Some may argue about who really made

these poetries and seek to know the truth
about the author of these lauded works.
But anything that’s truly born of love

is born of one self, made when two hearts click.
Just like my grandfather, who lost his sight
around the time my grandmother was struck

by a final malady, and yet despite
her absence from the material world,
he felt her presence still by his bedside

and felt her reproach when he drank his fill
of whiskey for his non medicinal needs,
and heard her voice still echoing through the halls

“The liar, he can see better than me!”


My younger brother shows his three year old son
his first portrait— a tiny, sluggish blur,
within a fuzzy lake of ultrasound—

and little Flynn, he doesn’t even stir
when told that’s how he looked when aged five weeks.
He studies it, doesn’t take it as a slur,

reflects a while before choosing to speak,
“That was me when I used to be a fish!”
When asked if he remembers that far back,

he breaks into a smile and answers, “Yes!”
My own child is bigger than that now,
already forming webbed fingers and toes,

reflecting those that chose to boldly go
from sea to land to breathe Devonian air.
The phase of life that our cells come to know

and not the fragile drape of self they wear.


My dear fellow caucasians of Pontins,
I understand the child perched on my back
Has Asian eyes, a darker type of skin—

but as I launch into my breaststroke
to carry him a full length of the pool,
please don’t stare or let your jaw go slack

as if I’ve grown another set of balls
across the wrinkled length of my forehead.
And though I’m not a follow national

I seem to tap into some primal dread
of tangled bloodlines, mixed up tones of skin.
My fellow honkies, put your fears to bed!

He’s the blood nephew of my next of kin,
no need to bolster up the National Front.
Although our Irish Filipino genes

will have your jobs and homes in seven months.

Canto XVII

My nephew dips his feet into the surf
and digs his pudgy toes into the sand,
and when the time comes to carry him off

he vents his rage by gobbing on my hand.

Canto XVI

On the southeast edge of broken Britain
our nephew scrawls the word “bum” onto sand
then smiles for the shot, as blameless as a kitten.

We sweep the beach at sunset though we planned
to wolf down greasy piles of fish and chips
but found the shutters down on shops and stands.

There are no oil rigs or passing ships
to pepper the horizon’s bare expanse
that flares amber as our mother star dips—

its final dose of photons find the lens
at edge of country, season, edge of day;
provides a feast for almost every sense,

then we resume our quest for takeaway.

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