Saturday, 20 September 2014

Take a line

Take a line as it coaxes you
into an argument of structured time.
Watch the line and follow
its careful patterns of rhyme and half-ryhme.
Observe its precarious virtuosity.
You can harness it like Aristotle
there is a pleasing symmetry
In Shakespeare’s trick – thesis, antithesis –
but Petrarch’s dance of sextet and quatrain
is the holy marriage of thee and four –
the poetry of two times seven.
Watch the line plunge and come back again
as it turns to magic a prime number
winding precipitously to heaven.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Last night

Last night it was whisky and tartan
Alex was king. We partied for hours
We were blood brothers, we were a clan
The air was blue with our saltires

Last night we re-opened the shipyards
We popped Champagne, we ended the truce
Last night, the future was ours
We were Robert the frigging Bruce
This morning we woke to a cold, grey dawn
We'd been stiffed by dough-faced Cameron

By Murdoch, by pin-striped businessmen
By bankers, by Edinburgh again
By Miliband the wee little clown
We burst the balloons – what a let down

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The new faces of 1958


The future is beckoning them
From a bedsit in Notting Hall Gate
They'll smash colour, like an atom
They’re the new faces of 1958!
Have you seen the Jackson Pollock?
It’s taking Whitechapel by storm
Like Tommy Steele and his caveman rock
With a Ginsberg howl, they’ve all gone freeform
Being shocking and new is their riff
They are excited about Mark Rothko
They’re taking a waltz on grandad’s quiff
They loved This is Tomorrow
It's strange how things comes back again
Rita Ora is the new Alma Cogan

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


You’re the shyest guest at the party
Your changing face has many moods 
You charmed the guests on the balcony
You lit up the old house in the woods
You whipped the sea into a frenzy
You taught Orpheus to play the lyre
Without you there would no poetry
I bathed my face in your cold fire
You’re the witch doctor at the carnival
You gave us fever, you gave us rhyme
You linger around the hospital
Without you, there would be no time
Always invited you don’t always come
You’re mysterious, the zero in the sum

Oh you think you are so good 
No-one asked you to pass by
With your vampires and fake blood
You make wolves howl and babies cry
Like some moth-eaten Svengali
Carefully, you coached each Muse
You’re an embarrassment, a cliché 
At Knossus, you ran the sacred bulls
You float, like an anaemic flower
In your fortress of selenium
You are passive, you have no real power
Your religion is delirium
Though you merely reflect the sun’s light
Some are led by you to dream or fight

You are known in the local nick
And every other police station
For inspiring each lunatic
In this inebriated nation.
Look what you did to poor Odysseus –
You gave Circe the potion for his wine.
In order to make a fool of us
You turned all of his men into swine.
As you creep around the sky at night
Staring down with your owl's eye
You like to make us argue and alright
But, if I were to use as an alibi
The fact that you toy with us for sport
My words would simply be laughed out of court.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The age of barbarity

 For AJ

You with your radical innocence
did not ask for this daily display
of stupidity and error
this war that is not really a war –
our conscience has been privatized.

We have replaced the old terror
with a new state of anxiety.
our words have lost their power
through the currency of lies.
We have been infantilised.

Here, we are remote from the horror.
You love your silver scooter.
I follow you carefully to the shops
attached by love to your dark eyes.
They pull at me from the kerbside.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Mornings with AJ

The radio tells us of sun and showers.
It talks of the Yazidi genocide –
a kaleidoscope of global powers
and a famous comedian’s suicide.
Reflecting upon ‘British values’
I cross the giant’s kingdom of Sainsbury’s
to buy your Snickers and vinegar fries.
It’s a dilemma. What on earth are they?
When should we act and when turn aside?
You are far more interested in toys
than the slaughter on a mountainside
or the tortured comedian’s woes.
To the bipolar blink of light and dark
we wake and sleep. We walk across the car park.

The feather and the drum

 Capot on third fret

With(Am) army boots upon (D) their feet
They (Em) left their home in Tamworth Street
(Am) Frank joined first, the (D) infantry
(G) Although his trade was carpentry

(B7) Bullies and the lies of crowds
(Em) Used the feather and the drum
To (Am) take their lives and (D) blow them out
(G) But we will remember them


He had a daughter and a wife
He bid farewell to his old life
An empty place now he was gone
It was the turn of brother Tom


Bullies and the lies of crowds
Used the feather and the drum
To take their lives and blow them out
But we will remember them


With gun and mortar, plank and bomb

They served their country Frank and Tom
It was a plan that could not fail
A final push for Passchendaele

Bullies and the lies of crowds
Used the feather and the drum
To take their lives and blow them out
But we will remember them

They were not born for smoke and mud
For shrapnel or for fields of blood
A butchers’ s war extinguished them
They died at Ypres and Pilckem