Poetic Insight

It’s an odd thing (thing?)

that the poet seeks the eternal

in the concrete, captured by the red

wheelbarrow – at least by the barrow –

redness being too abstract, a shake

in the immaterial waves, just

a gloss on the true rooted thingness.

A barrow has no smell of money,

no hint of passion and no status:

it beautifully serves the purpose

of our worldly poet’s reality.

Hard to say what it is that depends

on the wheelbarrow – no mansplaiining

is available; in fact it seems

to be purposefully opposite,

chosen as one western hand clapping.


He could hear the rain dripping

at the half open window

as the wind sighed wearily.

The day had no more to say;

wordless murmurs of the night

sinking to savagery,

to the ruthless violence

of survival. All anchors

had been dragged from his seabed

and lay rusting, forgotten

in some untidy scrapyard.

And fear sent his mind spinning.

He was locked in an absence,

all neatly trimmed for display

to emptiness and silence.


The red wheelbarrow stands accusingly

amidst The shambles of rusting iron

in a forgotten field. You can look out

to where the shivering winds of Autumn

blow the skin off the lake, where the angry

muzzled sun fights the gloom through breaking clouds,

but the field remains, draped with debris,mud

closing its filthy embrace around it.

And what is left is abstract and shifting,

hope only to be found in the spirit

as the red fades And the wheelbarrow rots.

A Script

I find the story stumbles around

that space between memory and thought,

bumping into events, or hearing

its own voice echo in the darkness.

It’s a mean little tale, scurrying

around the discarded husks of life.

Who cares that a bishop overlooked

a shared river of belief, and saw

only the glint of gold in the lens

of the world’s camera? Saw only

history’s reflection of power?

Although he was cast from the temple,

demoted to anonymity,

in the side aisle, far from the altar.

We know God will be found in the shade

amongst the powerless, where hunger

and self doubt shuffle off together.

The Onion

He held out his hand to the poor beggar,

sitting where the flailing thorns of Winter

scratched their poetry on the blank parchment

of his abandoned life. All was stillness.

All that he offered was an onion,

skin brown and brittle waiting for the slime

of decay to fold its poisoning arms

around the glistening flesh. The rain fell.

It was the smell that disturbed the beggar

and he turned his head so the rain trickled

down his neck. He reached up at the dry roots

and grasped the hope for rescue. With clenched hands.

Muttering to himself in his darkness,

he held on to the roots and was lifted

into the bright scream of the Winter day

where the sun’s interrogation shamed him.

And the shame grew heavy.

Was he pulled back by his own fecklessness

or did the urge of dog to eat dog grab

his hands and pull them from the onion?

No one cared to look – he was forgotten.

Mystery, miracle and authority

It’s not enough that nothing is turned

into a morning smile, into the free

swing of the salsa and the sudden spark

of discovery. We expect the laws

of Nature to be overturned for us.

We may taste fruits of the tree of knowledge

and see the dogs of war unleashed. We think

then that knowledge is what we know and spurn

the inconvenient and all that turns

us away from the spotlight centre stage.

So we look for new leaders of our tribe

who will place our world on a pedestal

and save us from knowing our ignorance,

from the painful consequences of choice,

from the wounded impotence of the heart.

Fall 2

It was just after 3 o clock, I think,

the summer slipped away. We’d seen the tired

bend of old age, the shine of vigorous growth

decay to worn skin and to brittle veins,

and desiccation falling around us.

But still we sipped cool drinks and felt the sun

weigh down our eyelids to an idleness

of plenty. The summer sadly has gone

when you look up to see the clouds and feel

the wind turn. Always ‘now’ has just happened

and the birds somehow have flown.


It’s the certainty of the monument,

with all the solemnity of delusion,

pretending the thieves won’t come in the night

to melt those carefully moulded figures

pretending the storms won’t sandblast the scripts

to blankness and cut away the sculpted

lines, pretending the wars won’t crush to dust

the vain pretensions of power. Now we

tend to hide vanity behind high art

and the God of originality.

But you can be sure that we will forget;

the best hope for survival to be left

as the sun sets on an abandoned town,

in the corner of some neglected room

where the Poet might find the shape of love.

Ted Talk

I can’t see through the turgid waters

silted up with explanations

decaying in the indifferent sun.

The stench drowns the fragrance,

stillness hides the sinking corpse

and the sad confetti of Autumn

drifts into the one, twos of data.

Limbs of trees blown to smithereens

in the wild warfare of landscapes

are beached here like gravestones

asserting the incoherence

of lost moments. Yet i search still

for the flash of silver until

the light of the evening falters.

To be a ‘square’

The taunts may not break the bones

but they sculpt shapes from unmarked

faces and create something

wounded; they carve hidden holes

in private spaces and scars

tighten the flesh to straight lines,

to rigid squares of defence.

If you are lucky, the pain

plucks music from the tightness,

softens the sinews to curves

of sympathy, and hot tears

lubricate the sensual.

You may be ‘square’ but loving

spins the block from its prison

to skip lightly with beauty

flowing freely through your heart.

Less lucky and the world thins

to a brittle construction

of facts and judgment. New walls

are built to lock safety in

and you look through arrow slits

at a dark threatening world.

‘Square’ becomes safe and correct

and all curves pose a danger.