Category: Uncategorized

A Veterinary Suicide

You died like a sick animal
for reasons which the average heart
will barely understand

How often before had you 
hooked up a drip feed similar to this,
or pushed a hypodermic
through a thicker skin than yours
to give unknown relief to feral pain?

Did you think yourself unsuited,
and with human contact down,
have only lethal hope to hand,
to take the conscious step
that marks us out as otherwise?

As much as I know, I know of this
through the grief of mutual friends,
and can but wonder, and regret,
where some distinction touches me,
your death in a chosen captivity

A coursed hare heart
that ran too rare and fast
for what you thought could cure,
to break itself in fall and twist
and leave you with no way between 
the stretch of yearning for the wild,
the ruthless logic of despair,
the calculated choice

So death, which in us makes
the animal apparent,
defines in you the human
and intervenes as paradox:
the magical and obvious,
the instinctive and the planned;
and the aching disappointment
of the shadows in between

In this dazzle 
of vicarious bereavement
I lose myself, 
not knowing what to say,
but shedding skins 
of difference hope 
that in oblivion or bliss
your animal heart
and human mind
rest in equilibrium,
lie undisturbed, and free 

The Memory of Clay

Pliably unravelling,
she shaped me underneath her hands

Repairing every bend and tear
belonging I became complete

So send me to the fire
before she thinks again

Let me assume my given form
in this furnace womb

Let me remember how I was
given my intended shape

Under and within her hands
never able to forget

When I was all she kneaded
when I was all there was

While in this refining fire
I dry, forget my lines, and crack

I dry, am brittle,
liable to snap


No one can take this test for you
and what would be the point?

It’s essential to be honest,
these hours could define
your life from here on in

And life’s not a rehearsal,
so what could you revise?
Too late to take a different course

All this and more come floating in
as you wake at 3 a.m.

Nervous, feeling foolish
in your backless gown,
and all the while thinking

of the answers that
your stupid blood
proved too thick to give

The Maker in her Workshop

A room beyond darkness,
where generous energy conceives
a life after clay

the kiln stands for a womb
where twisted shapes are
fired into life

I stand beside the door and watch
the elemental shaping,
the strictures of your being,

and in the northlight progress
as the spirals of your works ascend,
count down the aching hours

dwelling on the threshold,
I hang between the fiery air
and the auguries of spring

the door to summer opens,
your son and daughter
come running in.

Two smacks at Auden


The fever took the city in its grip.
Enemy agents safe through vaccination,
met the planes that landed at the strip
and spread abroad the news of the infection

The unseen hand that quarantines hotels
sent ambulances each day for the dead.
Softly, someone tolled the abbey bells,
but no trams ran, and all the workers fled.

His departure started from a foreign bed
when the panic of invasion made it easy;
engrossed with what the poster hoardings said,
then in the station bar with vin du pays
while through the endless landscape of the city,
a van goes packed with meaning, like a phrase


No one, not even Oxford was to blame,
(blame if you like the anal penetration)
buggered in the States, his work became
a literary firm of masturbation.

Deliberately he chose the dry as dust,
kept poetry like postcards from a whore;
Chester was his public love; his private lust:
Stephen, Christopher, sundry others more.

In legal acts on ribald speculation,
he timidly reversed the life he’d led,
when poems had come from queer goings on
in the loose expanses of his double bed;
And only forty years of poor revisions
part well-hung student from crotchety don


Please turn your head and look towards the light
and tell me what you see beyond my hand.
When you took that knock, how long were you down?
How far did you fall and how did you land?

You’re not the first I’ve seen like this for sure
fretting in the consultation chair;
others have been worse, almost beyond a cure,
but a normal life is possible with care

I’m telling you this to put you at your ease,
you are at once both delicate and tough,
and this is the same as all other disease:
curable if treated soon enough

So trust me to perform for your sake, and ours,
that delicate dance of scalpel and glove,
to cauterise the heart and kill the cause
of life’s most life-changing injury, love.

The Cure for Wounds by Sympathy

I longed to touch and heal as if I could
With one light-hearted blessing close a wound
Equivocation present in the blood
Made my clumsy tongue and touch express
In ways I never wanted to or should
And only served to cause you more distress

My presence is too much for you to bear
Whatever gift I have I cannot give
Your symptoms manifest when I appear
So making my approach to you unsure
The benefit of what I bring unclear
And love as likely curse as likely cure


I want your ear your tongue your touch your cunt
I want you close against me here and now
I want I want I want I want I want
And what I do not want you need not know
For knowledge is a shifting weighty thing
It cannot lie between your thighs and swear
As I and others did that there’s no song
Or prose to drape you sans pareil mon souer
I cannot give a tender to the fear
I cannot kick against the pricks who doubt 
I cannot be myself without you near
Philosophy or sophistry or cant
Will spin away like gossamer to air
And leave as much as sonnetry will dare

Snowblind at Midsummer

The bleak, unhallowed call of God
comes in the nonsense calm,
comes where the quiet pitch of wind
might barely stir an inch of grass
or rouse a head of corn from stoop

black ice on the path of words
makes language inexplicable
and there the stunning blow of God
makes landfall in a silence

But call and blow are not enough
and so the freezing mist and sleet
fall out of season everywhere

On every orchard sunset bronze
and every fleet of growing corn

The weather touching in my head
defies the sense of what is there

Renoir’s Field

Your father is buried in Renoir's field
but you will be following soon;
Shakespeare's hat lies turned in a ditch,
full of the silvery moon

The masque performed by the mummers was drab
while you sat with your tarot and loom,
weighing the sea and the sky in your hand;
and the priest in the secret room.

The soldiers are going to Marston Moor
and leave to a marching tune,
the frozen mosaic is down in the mud
and you will be following soon