Tuesday, 21 October 2014


Thunder frightens us; it works, dear deity.
It is like the crash of artillery
and the flash – an arc of petulance

is a whiplash across the bruised sky.
Our lives had been so orderly

now we dance to your howling tune
as furniture tumbles across the lawn.
A storm shows that you can still be angry.
You know how to put on a good show
you design its light and sound so artfully –
in your wrath is a great theatricality.
Perhaps it’s a covenant, like the rainbow
or a warning against complacency
each damaged town a test of ingenuity.

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Lord Nelson

The palms of Queens Road parade raggedly
as if in some listless Mediterranean
of pay-day loans and graffiti
bruised concrete, a pale yellow sun.
Trafalgar Street leads to the Old Kent Road
where each pub could have been Henry Cooper's gym.
You can almost smell his aftershave
‘splash it on all over’, they called him.
Through the frosted glass of The Lord Nelson
like a sallow ghost, see the faded potman
his fingers twitch for a cork-tipped Rothmans
he is shadow boxing with Charlie Chaplin.
The pub seems trapped in an eternal night.
No-one would enter; not even the daylight.

Rye Lane

Sleek and red the sixty-three
bicycles and vans converge –
Peckham’s traffic mingled in
Cacophonous proximity.
The noisy vendors’ thrust and glare
flows to the pulse of Africa.
Beauty is on offer here –
false eyelashes and human hair
mobile phone accessories
scrawny chickens and breadfruit
the ocean’s harvest, fresh and dried
the emerald of the library
giant yams, cassava root
the church that tells us Christ has died.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The curtain twitcher

Using algorithms and calculus
juggling with equations like Euclid
it draws a map of our loneliness
it knows what we desire, what we did.
Peering through our curtains at night
it knows what we have done, where we have been.
Stuttering in patterns of light
it seems to read our minds through its screen.
We know that there’s something divine in us
that we are the flame to its spark
that it is merely a computer –
a grey box that glimmers in the dark –
that we are divine, we contain godliness
but that it is a glorified abacus.

Monday, 13 October 2014

The night Philip Larkin played with the Sex Pistols

Larkin straps on his Gibson SG.
It's his chosen weapon of attack
for the blistering riff of Mr Bleaney.
He looks at Johnny Rotten – a flashback.
How he had loved the Sex Pistols’ first MP.
He wrote a letter; Johnny said join us.
That day, he left, for good, the university.
He went down to London on the bus.
Steve Jones is toast, says the NME.
Larkin brings to the band a new energy.
Punk’s gain is a loss to the library –
each slab of noise is a sonic elegy.
Rotten scowls, from Glen Matlock a grin.
One, two, three, four … Larkin counts them in.

Friday, 10 October 2014

The hell raisers

Always up, watch them as they gurn and preen 
looking smart in their neat slacks and blazers.
They lurch at us, drunkenly, through the screen
like dinosaurs. They are the hell-raisers.

They create havoc on late-night TV
they are our clowns, our holy fools –
they spin and weave for  us reliably
and drive their cars into swimming pools.
See how, in their narcissistic self-harm
they always go too far, try too hard.
They are sad clowns; all of their charm
seems touched, like Yorick's skull, by the graveyard.
To absolve us of our ordinariness
they are not like us, they are famous.

Monday, 6 October 2014

The choice

I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations - one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it - you will regret both.

Should I go out or stay in?
It’s simple really – a polarity.
Out there stuff is happening
as it always has done, without me
so why do I feel this anxiety?
Yes, I could use up my energy
in a bar somewhere, in company
but my sofa is comfy, but why should I?
The universe will not acknowledge me
in its slow progress to dissolution
through the immutable law of entropy.
In a few billion years it will be done.
I might have fun but, there again, I might not
the choice, then, is should I stay in, or go out?