Late Summer

I felt the colours brushing off my face

as I drove through Summer’s exuberance.

I was an arrow, dull-rusted by time,

blunted maybe, aimless, but on a course

set by some naked marriage of fury

and desire. All I saw were like airwaves,

trembling wrinkles hiding behind make up’s

smooth public face of a pretending life.

Here was where the bite meets the blood;

where dark dread drives shame’s secrets;

where hope loses hold and the voices set their terms.

Here was where bodies hang in the darkness

and we take shelter in the helplessness

of the ripe barley, the soaring buzzard

and pale smiles of polite recognition


A Family Photograph

The photograph caught my eye;
All gone save two.
The smiles have faded;
The moment was fleeting,
Just a milestone
Left by the roadside
For travellers passing the other way,
Or to arrest me
As I spiral past
Still looking for the route.
There are no signposts;
Only the shape of my forming
Stays still to guide my steps;
The lean towards a silent father
In whose company
I could not be lost.


This refers to an old family photograph from my childhood, which showed how family dynamics are made so clearly visible by the unconscious ways we behave.


As I watch the sound of voices

Sucking the air from the room,

The roar of my silence swells.

Its skin bursts and the smiles

Are punctured by the dry prick of wit.


Best ignored – and I am left

Wondering if the sparkle of goldfinches,

The rattle of rain on the windows,

The drunken sway of the wind in the trees,

Are the ‘still small voice’

Or the last refuge for my absence

The Railway Station

Stations had their own smells-

Steam bursts hissed the cocktail

Of oil, soot and hot grease

Across the open toed sandals

Of waiting boys thrilled

By the piston power,

The drive of skidding wheels

The explosion of smoke

Into victory’s disappointed fifties.


We were leaving

This heaving churn of mechanics,

This golden age of decline

And stepping across to a new platform.

No steam clouding here, no fire

Dragons, no soot, no scents.

We were stepping thoughtlessly

Into modernity, clean

Electric, speedy, taking

Us to a new world

Of specialist secrets, hidden

Powers and practicality.

The old romantics see this

As a step to sterility –

The scraping away of slums

For the clean lines of loneliness,

Of craft skills for the industries

Of service and alienation,

Of time for the local

For the stress of celebrity.


I however felt the pull of the future,

The elusive perfume of possibility.

Days at the Seaside



Some stories have stood the test of time,

Sticking out of the landscape of life,

Like limestone – flawed and hollowed

With lost caves and strange rushing waters.

As for me, I was a boy that found

He had a socialist stomach, firm

And fearless in the old bone shaker

Rattling to the seaside through the rust,

But prone to rebellious disgust

As we took the same road, all bumps smoothed

By soft springs, perfumed with money.

A Child Moves

That first night I went into town.
Through unknown streets.
It was the start of something
I can now see.
But then, I existed unseen
Between a known past of play,
Woodlands and sunshine,
And an unknown future of work,
Pavements and grey clouds.
On this walk, nothing happened
I thought. The air was still,
Faintly soot-scented, all here
Was as it had been.
But I had moved –
This was me, alone with my sensations