(from 'The Dogs of Humanity')
Mad dogs, the lot of them
with only one bone to slobber over:
the bone of extradition,
outside their kennel clubs and kennel houses,
sniffing for some foreign blood;
their world is a butcher shop’s window
and you wonder how hungry
the dogs will be today.
Sweet flash of fang
and dropped snarls
bray in neighbouring airs,
a sniff of the fight;
then it’s worthless to throw
your money into the ring:
no one wins here,
no one breaks from the leash.
for Tom French
(from 'The Dogs of Humanity')
Took the sailboat out again today:
it’s a distant shore now, getting further
and further away; shallower, even.
Still, once navigated, you can drop down,
deny the years’ advancing winds
and just float. I have little say over
where the anchor plumbs: a lazy duck
on a canal’s soft current breaking at my back.
Some days, nothing bites and the sea is gone;
or, the fishing’s good. I reel her in,
inspect the catch, judging weight, sense scales
slipping in my hands. I feel comfortable
in returning them to this ocean’s shift.
Winner of the Glebe House Harmony Trust
poetry competition 2015
In dreams, I am often a child again.
In reality, I tug at my fantasies,
trying to strap them down
against the sides of life;
pull the centres towards each other,
to create an object akin to life.
It teeters for a moment
then drops away from me.
I'm always on the wrong side of the see-saw.
Yet, it isn’t the merry-go-round,
looking for balance, or the swings,
oscillating towards inertia.
When the pendulum stops,
the ride is over, the park closes,
then I and my counterweights
camp under the stars until opening time.
I'm hydrogen dreaming of helium,
knowing that sun and gravity will come.
Winner, EditRed.Com 2006 Writer’s Choice Award for Poetry
Perhaps a string of kisses would drape
the tender nape
of your stretching neck
an auburn pillow;
perhaps we could turn to yellow
in this crystal sunrise,
a golden nest around our bed
praising the wisdom
of our slumber;
perhaps the world will thunder
this pellucid girl and boy;
caught adrift their morning love:
the deep embrace of each other;
perhaps they could be lovers.
(from 'the x of y', shortlisted for Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2018)
These eggs splinter under my urgency,
yolk and white slipping straight into the pan,
too slick to separate. Then, half-moons of shell,
wet and unwanted, dribbling over my fingers.
Eggs are quick.
You need to slow them down
in order to scramble, trap them
in butter and milk, steady them with a whisk.
I observe how this coagulates,
the haemostatic magic of liquid and heat,
tease away clumps from the side,
lower the ring to delay transfiguration.
I think of butter icing, clotted cream,
how life moves through simple methods.
(from 'the x of y')
You are a butcher of the mouth;
although one may proportion the blame
between us: I of indolent care
and you of savagery and destruction.
I cannot relay my pain as you grind
across my mandible, your hands moving
as a hacksaw through wood; only grip
the armrest and incise nails onto palm.
The tooth cracks. You have squeezed
when you should have yanked, leaving shards
of dentine and pulp jutting out, a new
mountain range constructed in blood.
It takes a quarter of an hour for you
to pick out each red remnant,
the pliers wading in, as I imagine
the scene left behind, the weeping gape.
Afterwards, you prescribe me painkillers,
but nothing to deaden the memory of
you lurched over me, with the weapon
of your profession wrenching me apart.
(from 'Dōji: A Blunder')
Dōji truffled out a corpse;
he knew nothing
of limbs, of lungs, of brain.
He saw a puppet,
so Dōji picked at the stuffing
and pawed out innards
onto the soil.
Mud was formed
from thick remnants of bladder-spill
and intestinal slop.
The earth grew warm from the foraging.
Dōji poked his head into the shell
the rain came, as Dōji pecked and clawed,
fitting the skin over him.
He could breathe,
he could move,
he was dry and could not be seen.
he had found a new game.