So I sit here on the other side of the fence

A strange place it feels to me

Not like the usual ‘one year older’ place that feels the same

Where people (I did it too) like to joke

“So do you feel any older?”

And of course you don’t as the clock tick tocks and from one second to the next your age skips a number

But not this time

This time it has surely skipped a millienia


Somewhere where numbers mean nothing

Like being a newborn when everything is new

Everything is both what you expected and not what you expected at all

Because how can you expect this?

This time has no time attached

Madly treading water.


I am not fitted to this age

This half a century

I am no more prepared

I no more belong here than I belonged in youth

The gangly, stuttering, lip biting, jumper scrunching youth where I was in a constant state of one day I’ll grow into myself, I’ll know what to say to who about what and when and

I did, I think, know this for a time

A minute perhaps


Madly treading water.


I stand at the reception desk of the local swimming pool

I stare at the piece of paper that tells me I can now go to the sessions called ‘Young At Heart’

I smile a horrified smile

I will the girl on reception to look up

To see me

To say

Sorry, this session is for 50 and over…

But I already know she’ll just scan my membership card

Smile her rictus grin

‘Thank you love’


She can’t see me

And neither can I.


Madly treading water.



by Billy Patch

Made up serpent/dragon thing by Billy Patch

I’m sitting, staring at rolling news,
The rolling responses to rolling news rolling along as social media first recoils and then strikes and re-strikes at ever-moving prey.

In my mind I picture it as a serpent of sorts – not a snake I’ve seen on a David Attenborough programme –

(Oh bloody hell David Attenborough, please don’t die,
Don’t leave us flailing,
I bet you’re not even on Twitter…
I wish you were sat here now, in the armchair next to me as I write,
Reading a newspaper – or a nature book…
– do you even read those? –
Or a novella… something comforting with the noise of the pages turning and my fingers on the keys the only sound…)

– but a made-up serpent,
Perhaps one of the many drawn by one of my sons over the years,
Given basic life and rattling off sounds that we think we recognize
But each sound dies before we can grasp any meaning
Any clarity
Quickly replaced by more and more sounds clashing and roaring and…

I sit here staring at my fingers tapping keys having no idea what word will come next having no idea why I’m writing and who will read it and who will care but I continue, thinking of serpents and noise and David Attenborough and-

Usually I can ‘take a view’ on stuff (an expression I inherited from my Gramps)
‘Take a view on it love, things move on so fast’ he used to say… in the days before social media and 24 hour news coverage, before shops opened 24/7, when actually nothing moved fast to me at all-

But Gramps was in his 70’s (as my own Dad is now, where does the time go?) so I’m assuming to him the world was whizzing round the way it does as you get older, as he sat in his armchair, smoking and reading the paper. Smoking indoors!

News rolling, social media (which I fully engage in) chattering endlessly making no sense, but who CARES?
Who wants sense?

Tears keep rolling down my face,
Not splashing onto my keyboard in any clichéd way, my keyboard isn’t below my eyes, I don’t want eye-strain…

Tears for those I don’t know, for Jo and Brendan Cox and her children (her children, bloody hell),
For all those who were just fucking having a nice time in a club in Orlando with friends and lovers and lovers in waiting,

And for fear of next Thursday,

Fear of being stuck in a country that is being run by lunatics which is sliding into a madness I have NO say in because my voice dies as soon as I speak, replaced by the ROARING…

So I can’t take a view on it.

Not today.

17th June 2016

First Day Off For A While.

My brain just fell out.
It’s on the table in front of me,
It’s beige,
I thought it would be madly technicoloured
A swarming little mass of primary coloured worms
Firing coloured sparks and secreting an oily puddleness,
But it’s not,
It’s beige and quite still and quite dry.
It must be someone else’s.


breaking point (or: after reading one too many comments at the bottom of the internet when i wrote the top.)

Consumed as I am

Taken down and down

Again and again

Snagged on something diving faster than I ever could

Would ever want to

Struggling up


Huge shuddering breaths

Gulping at air once empty

Now thick with dense brown

I can squeeze it through my fingers



Plunged again

Caught fast,

Something jagged holds me under…

And – still for a moment –

My voice quietly pierces

Shall I just stay here?

It’s cool and navy blue

And so quiet’.

But no, the dense brown reaches down

And grabs my floating hair

(For a moment there

I fancied I could look like a mermaid

From above

To a passing fantasist

With an open mind)

Dragged to the surface to meet my mockers

Smiling like Bond villains,

Corners of mouths form little sneers

Stinking teeth too near

To my skin

Not letting them in

Not meeting their eyes

Trying to dive

Back down

Away from the dense brown

To the navy blue.


Are grey and silver the same?

Or can you simply choose?

Is salt grey or silver?

Or does the grey/silver just look salty white when it’s with the pepper black?

Are you salt and sand if you’re a graying/silvering blonde one?

Are you caster sugar and cheap coffee powder if you’re a greying/silvering mousey one?

And is it grEy or grAy?

And can I choose white gold instead of silver?

And is it white gold?

Because it looks silver, or grey, or gray, or salty or sugary…

And shall I ‘GO’ it?

Go Silver?

Go Grey/Gray?

Go White?

Go Salt? (No one ever said that, I know),

And if I DO what do I become?


The same, but grey (or silver etc. you get the picture)…

Because I want the wrapping to reflect the present,

I want the tin to reflect the contents,

I want my fucking hair to tell the world what I still am –

(Except, like the rest of the human race I’m not entirely sure I know what that is)

And ‘you know you’re not alone’ is ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY a brilliant thing,

A human thing (like I said)…

Aging cats don’t mind the odd speck of grey,

Aging dogs don’t speculate on whether their coat reflects their innards,

Aging fish …..

Fish don’t have hair,


Like a constant and comforting dementia.

And anyway, I don’t reckon fish age.

So where was I?

What am I saying?

Maybe my hair is thoroughly reflecting exactly who I am

Maybe it’s my innards that are wrong.

And maybe the grey silver sugar is something sprinkled onto our heads to say

‘I no longer have to give a flying fuck’.

Me and the fish.

(And yes I know there are more important things to worry about but if we let that stop us writing about humany stuff then there’ll be very little poetry and Pam Ayres wouldn’t be a household name.

In some households.)




If I see

One More INSPIR-fucking-ATIONAL Quote

On walls and feeds

Telling me what I NEED

I WILL PUNCH someone hard.

‘Only you are you!’

Shouted to the masses,

‘Share your unique love’

Emoted to the world,

‘Protect your exceptional self!’

Told to the crowds of dead-eyed unique, exceptional individuals,

‘See the bright new opportunity in each day’

Slipping off eyeballs as we click to see who’s clicking on our clicks.

Self-help dished out by faceless others,

Spilt there to help empty authors feel better about their special selves,

Checking Bitly for rising clicks

On freely given circular wisdom,

“We are each of us angels with only one wing. And we can only fly embracing each other”


(and yes, I will be checking Bitly to see how many people have read this.)


Fifa 15 for XBox 1

Are you really worth £54.99?

For that I could:

Fly to Rome and back


Sponsor an animal somewhere

For it’s whole life, probably.

Take someone special out to dinner

(As long as they went easy on the wine).

Or buy a second hand pair of Muck Boots

Seemingly expensive but last a lifetime

Not like FUCKING FIFA 15.

(And yes I know the digital download is cheaper. But what the fuck IS THAT ALL ABOUT?)


iPad vs Aye Typewriters.

(A poem inspired by the events of the last 24 hours in which I reach back to the rose tinted past and think about how progress isn’t progress at all. Sometimes.)

You can write off
Ye Olde Typewriters
If you like,
But I’ll tell you what…
All that Cloud floating
All them Portals portaling
All them Terabytes roaring
Can’t infallibly contain your preciousness
And when you lose something
The only way to delete your precious words
On Ye Olde Typewriter
Was with Tippex
Or chucking the actual paper
In the actual bin,
But either way

On the dangers of looking young from a distance….

I walked past my son’s school today.
I saw a young man walking towards me, 18 maybe, a non uniformed sixth former in any case.
I saw him clock me and I saw him look at me and I thought
“Oh shit”

I look like a teenager from a distance…

I sped up, trying to close the distance between us to cut short his glancing assumptions, but the years were dragging me down (along with a bad back and sore thighs from climbing snowdon and life).

I felt crippled with concern that as he got close enough to see the 30 year age gap between us he’d crumble.

But he steadfastly just looked at me but not my face.

Each step aged me 10 years, 20, 50,

And as he drew closer I felt a telegram from the queen was only a pigeon step away.

He smoothed his 18 year old hair in a tiny, massive gesture.
I died a little more.


He arrived inches from my wrinkles.
He threw me a look which froze on his smooth, smooth face.
I tried to express… nothing.

I saw him finally see my face
I saw him trying to express… nothing
And in doing so he said exactly what he was trying to hide.


Circular Idiocy

I’m writing this to force me to write

Not because I’m suffering from writers block

I don’t consider myself a writer just at the moment

So blockages aren’t a problem for me

I’m writing this because if I don’t

I’ll scream for lack of writing

For lack of creativity

For sitting staring at screens

For shoving numbers round a page

For writing synopses which never end

For hating everyone at the Edinburgh Fringe

Hashtag Fuck Off Basically.


I’m writing this to force me to watch

As letter by letter something unexpected

Forms on the blank sheet of ‘paper’

Doing an impression of creativity

Giving me something to look at

Putting black on white

Stopping the glare of hashtag What The Fuck have You Actually Achieved Other Than Half Formed Plans and Circular Idiocy

And a passable score in Skyforce?

Although that’s not to be sniffed at

And gathering stars is a mindless progress of sorts

And I’m increasingly fine with mindless progress.

And yes I know there’s no spaces in actual hashtags.


I’m writing this to show you that my world is all half formed plans and circular idiocy

Which doesn’t make me unhappy

But it does give me deep wrinkles.

# SoWhat?


Today was that day the sun finally shone in that March way,

The way that makes me find a place to park myself,

Facing south,

Close my prickling eyes and turn my albino sunflower face towards it,

Drinking it in,

Consuming its warmth,

Craven and foolish because I know (even in March)

These first rays WILL burn me,

But, wreckless –

The way I felt after the 5th unasked for (but later charged for) coloured vodka shot served on a aesthetically pleasing wooden platter in a pretentious bar in Islington some years ago (never again) –




Happen –



Loving it.


(a friday poem for you. the end needs work…)

there’s a goblin of words
that sits in my brain
when I get the bus
he gets the train
when I run a bath
he jumps in the shower
I choose economy
he plumps for full power
he dances around me when I’m sitting quiet
when I start to slow cook
he starts to fry it (!)

but I’ve got him now
and shown him his place
he poked me in the eye
I punched him in the face.

Happy Friday!

25th Sept. 2013


A Mischief Smile

As I walked in the rain today

An elderly couple passed by


Hello he said

Hello I said

Who’s that? she said

Don’t know he said

Why say hello? she said

Don’t know he said

Well don’t she said

I won’t he said.


I looked back.

So did he.

We smiled a mischief smile.


Hello I mouthed

Hello he mouthed

She didn’t see

Her back looked cross

Tee hee.

A Thinly Disguised Metaphor About Stinking Drains

There has been a superfluidity of shite

running through my ears

trickling into my head

lodging in my brain

like bits of a roast dinner stuck in congealed fat

in the sink

(when I knew I should have put that weird plug that isn’t a plug in the hole

but even that was too much trouble)


So I washed up

and I poked stuff through the plughole

and stuff blocked the drain

as I sort of knew it would

(because it always fecking does)

and as I half heartedly poke at what was on my plate, then in my sink, now in my drain

letting  my finger wiggle into the warm oozy fat

which  contains pieces of what I lapped up only minutes before

I think


This is really, probably, quite disgusting in truth

and I try and picture the scene from an outsider’s point of view

an outsider that might stumble on the scene of me crouching by my gutter

poking the pork fat

(and not even hating it)


But instead I laugh out loud

at the stories we create in our heads

to justify our hilarious human moments

and wish upon wish you were here to see it.


And then I remember that this poem started as a metaphor

and ended with me on my knees poking stinking drains.


Que cera cera.

He Knows

The Man In The Tree









The first time they stopped

She saw my face

Whilst he saw a pair of baggy balls

How rude

I thought

But I got over it

When you’re 200 years old

And a tree to boot

There’s no point

Getting pissed off

Holding grudges

Who knows? Who cares?

So what if someone thinks your chin is a pair of baggy testicles?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


He sees it now.

She can no longer look.



so it turns out the seashell had no interest in the fish.

seems múm doesn’t always know best.

The Brixels

Today we made a band out of Lego

We called them The Brixels,

Although it was almost The Bricks,

But after 5 minutes of creative differences

We settled on The Brixels

With the proviso that Bricks would be

The name of their first album.


They have a drum kit-shaped eraser for

Their drum kit,

And a Lego mini-figure guitar

For their lead guitar,

And a hippy

For a drummer.

We thought their pretty Lego boy frontman was called


Their manager is a nerd

With a tiny laptop

Who we think says

“Live fast, die young”

In a very geeky Lego voice.

Which made all of us laugh out loud.


In my day we had to use our imaginations when it came to Lego.


Their first song will be a cover of

Brick by Brick by the Arctic Monkey’s,

Or Build by the Housemartins,

Or I Need A Hero (Factory) by Bonnie Tyler.

They will then branch out and record an original track called

You Need to Lego, It’s Over…

(Feat. DJ Stud).

This made us laugh a lot too.

But not as much as the geek saying

“Live fast die young”.


They’ll probably be a YouTube hit.

You heard it here first.

You’re Like An Onion.

(I thought this picture would save you having to visualise the onion….)

You’re like an onion

He said,

Admittedly quite wrinkly and a bit flakey.

But multi-layered,


He trailed off.

Are onions unpredictable then?

I said.

They can be love, yes…

They can be.

You’re like a turnip

I said.


He said,

Go on.


I said

That’s it. 


My foot never wavers on the accelerator pedal

The tension is an exact science

The dial never moves

How does he do that?

It’s nothing now. I have mastered it. My right leg has grown accustomed to the demands.

A cacophony of car horns greet me as people pass, fingers and fists aloft

“Oi, Grandad!”

My wife sits, staring grimly ahead, pushing her right foot into the floor with increasing insistence

Go on, go mad, 31 miles an hour, it won’t kill you.

I know what you’re thinking

I say

And you’re wrong.


It is easier to go back

than move on.

It is easier to retrace those steps

and deepen that familiar rut

so soft under foot

which whispers your favourite thoughts on a loop,

dispenses familiarity through the soles of your feet,

questions nothing,

gives an enigmatic ‘you’re fine’

and accepts the explanation of

‘it’s not you, it’s me’

as if to say

‘what else could it possibly be?’


Do you see those hard little nuggets of self-knowledge

that you’ve picked up on your well trodden journey?

You could stand still now,

liquefy them

and slowly inject them into the hollow you left,

if you like.


Remember how, when you left the safe place,

you didn’t really know if the hollow contained


or everything?


So the syringe sighs down as you hope to fill this hollow with something like




– let’s not forget the happiness –

exhaustively looked for

still yet to be claimed.

You hear a little voice

– a familiar little voice you know and think you love –

saying again and again,

‘I think it is already full,

I think something crept in whilst you left your well trodden path

and quietly stretched until it fitted.


I think it’s full”.


But instead you keep looking for the unknown in the known,

glorious technicoloured mediocrity,


smooth corners,

clean sheets,

rails that you can stay on,

facing forward.

My mum always told me that looking out the windows would make you travel sick,

So maybe we don’t even take the journey.

Maybe we stand at home in the drive

staring at the way forward,

or sit in the kitchen

eyeing the drive,

or lie in the bath

building a defence against the middle road

and locking ourselves in a symmetrical conservatory.


At least you can see out

if you keep the windows clean.




Life, The Universe, The Dolphin of Joy

A friend of mine is 42 today

He told me not to use the quote from the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

He said

“Don’t give me that fucking Universe shit”.


I didn’t like to tell him I haven’t got him anything yet

Let alone the fucking Universe.


But I’m going to get him something from the Early Learning Centre

Not because he’s in the Early Learning stage


He’s 42

But because that’s the only place they sell

The Dolphin of Joy.











Iridescent shell

They smiled at one another

So happy, amazed at the wave of unimaginable treasure tumbling and pushing for prominence

Their hopes, dreams and mischief reflected back in the glittering surfaces

Their long slumbering desires whispered

“look what we found for you both”.


Shining shell

He held her so close with his eyes

And spiralled round her heart

She touched his hand

Just to make sure he was real

And holding it, curled, happy in the deep, dark, quiet of him

Away from other clattering hands and chattering voices

She tasted the glittering salt on his tongue

As it found hers

Touching the absolute depths of her.


My sweet, sweet shell

You have my heart

She can hear the sea swell

As they try to pull apart –

I’m curled right here

Waiting for the tide

Stronger for knowing him

She loved him. We tried.


Recycling Day

Passing Number 40,

The dog stops to sniff at former piss on a wall so low as to render it completely pointless,

He cocks his creaking leg on the brown plastic box containing Number 40’s fortnightly empties,

Grants Whiskey, Mateus Rose, Aspirin…

The dog’s owner tries not to make snap judgements,

But she has.

Passing Number 42

The dog sniffs and quickly positions himself to splash the blue bag containing Number 42’s fortnightly paper and card,

National Geographic, A gas bill, A handwritten note…

The rarity of ink on cartridge paper (100gsm minimum – she’s a sucker for good stationary) slows her steps.

She pauses, tries to read the note without seeming obvious.

The dog stops again,

He’s always stopping to sniff,

To piss.

She feigns irritation, rolling her eyes to precisely no one, whilst reading the spidery writing which so clearly shouts “I am old”.

“Is it safe to plug my vibrator into the mains?”

Not quite the request for an extra pint of gold top she’d been expecting.

The dog strains at the choker. He never actually chokes.

She walks on, thinking.

Echo Falls, Sainsbury’s Basics Worcester Sauce.

Is it even possible to plug a vibrator into the mains?

Maybe in the olden days, when the spidery writing woman (she assumed it was a woman) was still young and perhaps had a stronger wrist –

The onset of osteoarthritis can only be a complete downer when it comes to unwieldy, repetitive, manual manoeuvres,

She muses.

When were the mains even invented?

She thinks.

Who the fuck was she writing to?

She wonders.

The dog sits suddenly and refuses to budge.

He does this a lot of late.

If he could write it would be very spidery indeed.

And his vibrator would be administered by the dog equivalent of the Victorian Doctor.

If such a thing exists.

She stares at the deaf pet. He studiously ignores her.

She retraces her steps and looks into the blue bag outside number 42 again.

“You see I only have a spare 13 amp fuse and the plug on my vibrator says 3 amp…”

The dog joins her. She gestures to him to SIT. She fancies she has taught him a crude form of Dog British Sign Language.  She hasn’t. She pulls on his choker. Not choking. She holds him taut.

“… and I don’t want to electrocute myself whilst I’m almost ‘there’…”

Almost there?

She tries not to picture it… the owner of the spidery writing plugging herself into the mains, fizzing whilst on the vinegar strokes…

But she (like you) couldn’t help but see that unwelcome and vivid picture.

The dog strains and coughed up some yellow phlegm.

She smiled at his timing. Chiming with hers.

She drags the dog away, musing.

Butcher’s dog meat, Tesco’s baked beans, Tinned tomatoes. Not chopped, whole plum. Tricky in a sauce. Always too watery.

“I’ll just risk it”

She looks up at he house for clues.

The bedroom curtains were closed.

It was 11am.

The dog strained at the leash.

She smiled.

“What’s the worst that could happen”.

last chance (1)

the fish looked at her captor

the fisherman looked at his prize

I will only make you happy if you let me go

said the fish.

I will eat you

said the fisherman


enraptured by his catch.

the calamity of me

black eyes glitter,

tiny face turns away,

nestles in creamy flesh, no longer mine.

they are both lost to me

and who can say for how long?


people ask me on a daily basis,

are you besotted?

you must be besotted.

they bombard me,

i was besotted

instantly besotted

it’s natures way isn’t it?

nature… clever bastard.

i nod and smile,

i coo and push the pea in a pram

round and round to show

who’s the daddy,

to try and stop this tiny wrinkled


screaming at the calamity of me.


people stop me every other step,

they stare into what i believe to be the overpriced over complicated over fussy pram cum pushchair cum carseat cum highchair come paininthearse

he’s beautiful!

you must be so proud!

they tell me

my first born instantly stole my heart….

nothing was ever the same again.

i nod

and smile

and coo

and push the squally pea in a pram away,

sneaking little peeks,


it’s a baby…

wrinkly, red and screaming,

and I don’t know him

and he doesn’t want me

because I’m the wrong one.


i hear there’s hope,

i read that there will be a time when they both look up from their lactose infused two person party

and he will see me,

his eyes will no longer be black

but another colour more suited to ‘eyes’

– perhaps (i fervently hope) mucky brown like mine –

and he will see me

and smile

and i will fall in love with him.

i hear this.


in the meantime

i nod

i smile

i coo

and feel a terror unlike any other i can imagine.

where’s me cuppa?

waking late

lazy from love

mouth thick

thighs protesting

half heartedly

glad to be alive

she craves tea

and on hearing murmurs

creeps lower in the musty nest


on this morning of all mornings

the tea will come to her

the bathroom door

caught between twenty draughts

groans and crumples shut

time and time again

the distant radio plays its bass line

time and time again

the murmurs stay as murmurs

but no murmur can ever present the tea to her

she narrows her uncleansed eyes

and shuffles up for air

squinting at the cloudy light

she hauls her heavy heavy limbs from the warmth

plunges feet into ancient, once fashionable, furry boots

and starts her shuffle


towards the heart of the house

murmuring to herself

“I’ll get me own sodding tea”


and when the last guest left

you left

and i took the balloons down

taking care not to drop the drawing pins on the floor

and i pierced each balloon

put the pinprick to my mouth

and breathed your breath into my mouth

because that was the last of you



You say

So I relax

Twitching with the effort of not doing all the things I could be doing whilst I’m relaxing


Stop looking at your phone

You say

So I stop looking at my phone

Unsure of what to do with my eyes

And my thumbs

So I look at my thumbs

And I notice they’ve grown older.


Stop frowning

You say

So I stop frowning

And I affect a slightly surprised look

Widening my eyes

Which gives me more wrinkles.

Try it.


Take a break

You say

So I take a break

And I write a poem about taking a break.

‘Should’ Ended A Millennia Ago.

There are times when you feel the need to reach out

To people who don’t know you at all

Connections you make because you can.


There’s a danger here.

This thing that most of us know –

Either because we’ve been told, or tell others –


‘You make your mind up about someone within the first 10 seconds”


And there are reasons for that.

Ancient survival

Mating possibilities



But what about when we can’t see each other?

What about when we read just their written words?

These scrolling rolls of 140 characters

With no visual cues?

Maybe a hasty but controlled twitpic

Where someone else did the first 10 seconds



The world where we find our opinion of a stranger by touching on a profile picture








Answers to Facebook’s insistent chipping away at us with the

“How’re you feeling Lizi?”

(Did anything ever feel so insincere? And yet we feel compelled to answer sometimes)…

When we’re largely conditioned to say


Knowing if you tell the truth it’s a case of

Who cares?




Which takes me right back to where this started.


There are times when you feel the need to reach out

To people who don’t know you at all,

Connections you make because you can

Not because you should.

And actually –

You should.

I Was Wrong

Whilst out walking the dog this morning

I saw a woman sat, staring at her tv.


Get a life

I thought

It’s 9am.


Turns out it was a fishtank.


My misplaced




turned instantly to envy.


I went home

And turned on the tv.

There is The Question Of Sanity.

I create many worlds

some of my worlds will be lost

some will flourish.


I populate my worlds with people who come to me

some willing

some unwilling

some wooed

some beckoned

some told

some who just arrive unannounced

sometimes with a flourish

sometimes a whisper.


I try to look after these people

these people who populate my worlds

weaving threads of varying thickness between us

some may be in the wrong world

and may leave it for another

another of mine

or someone else’s completely.


I cannot look after them all

some may want to run

some are pushed

some just simply disappear hushed and un-noticed

(some re-appear hushed and un-noticed after a breath or two)

others shout in my face night after night

until I turn them down

or off.

Loathe as I am to lose the thread that binds us there is the question of sanity.


“Great minds think alike”,

This stranger said to me as we both dropped our bags of warm dog crap into the bin.


There was a flattened hedgehog by the bin

Proper flat


Like a spikey oval plate.


She stood waiting for my reply.

She hadn’t seen the hedgehog.


“Um, yes”

I said

As I noticed the guts of the hedgehog

Sitting on the pavement nearby

Red and jelly-like

Having been somehow ejected from its body.

A shocking contrast

Poised, pink, wobbling

Like they had another life to start.


I started laughing.

The stranger half smiled and looked at me, quizzically

Head half-cocked

Like her too-small dog.


“Show some guts!”

I said,

“I did!”

Said the hedgehog (with me doing it’s tiny voice for it)…



I walked off, shaking with laughter.

The stranger looked after me

I imagine


Whilst her too-small dog cocked his leg on my flattened friend.


Great minds.


I don’t like Mondays mum…

Says my 11 year old.

There’s a song called that…

I tell him

…written by someone who really didn’t like Monday,

 from the olden days.


I really don’t like Mondays…

Says my 11 year old, tears filling those blue eyes he has,

…right now.


I look at him,

I shut my eyes for a moment


What if you die whilst I’m at school mum?

He says,


My 8 year old joins in,

I think that too. There’s a 1% chance that absolutely anything could happen to you whilst we’re at school…

My 11 year old nods, fresh tears falling,

…Or asleep.



I ask.


They both nod, bereft, stood before me in freshly washed and carefully ironed school uniforms.

And I feel the weight of their need and happiness pressing into my eyeballs,

And I smile and say,

School. Go.

They do. They go.


And I stand, eyes full, looking at the place they just were.




Wee done,

She shook out the last few drops (no loo roll),

She stepped out of the cubicle and stared around, looking for familiar white sinks and smeared mirrors.

But there was none.

Her eyes fell on a row of large alien letterboxes

Just sitting there, in the wall

Just below chest height,

Black mouthed,



She glanced around,

She was alone,

No alibi.

No witness.


She approached the alien mouthpiece slowly,

Head held back a bit,

Eyes darting, checking the exits,

Ready for flight.


She could see a label, stuck to the metal,

It said:

Soaps, washes and dries.


What could it mean?







She crept closer, head slowly thrusting forward until her eyes were level with the alien opening.

Soaps, washes and dries.


Feeling braver, she allowed her head to enter the black hole

Twisting her face to glance up

Looking for clues

Soaps, washes and dries.


Nothing happened.

Nothing at all.


She withdrew, shaking her head in bemusement

And, taking one last look

She left.

Soaps, washes anddries.


Outside, in the blinding light

He was waiting:


“Aren’t they just amazing?!”

“What are?”

“Aren’t they just so clever?!”

“What is?”

“It just does it all for you!”

“What does?”

“The sink!

You just pop your hands in –

It’s automatic –

First soap then water then warm air

It’s so simple!”

“Isn’t it clever?”


“I don’t know, I didn’t know how to work it,

 I just stood there and put my head in.”


He laughed. So much.

“I’ll have the last laugh when an alien delivers a letter”

She thought.


Soaps, washes and dries.


 How can you feel something one moment and then

Nothing whatsoever

The next?

She asked him.


Well imagine this

He said.

You stub your toe,

It hurts like fuck,

And then it doesn’t.


It’s not the same.

It’s the same.

It’s not.

It is.

It’s exactly the same.


She went very quiet,

For quite a long time.

Too long.

He thought she must be thinking.


Do you get it?

He asked quietly.

Of course I ‘get it’

She said.

I’m not an idiot.



He thought.


And I wasn’t thinking,

She said


He said.

Just then

She said-

You thought wrong.

She went quiet


He left before either of them could break the silence.


She watched him go.




265 solar masses.

she’s stopped.

she can’t imagine ever going again.

she’s mastered perpetual motion

but she now lies, leaden,

laughing in its busy face,

not that it’s noticed

too busy.

she weighs as much as the earth tonight,

or possibly even R136a1,

a star which, at an estimated 265 solar masses, is so massive that it burns its hydrogen fast enough to be considered middle-aged at about a million years old…

(just saying…)

she knows how it feels.

actually she doesn’t

not really.

she’s just a woman.

and this is possibly old news now.

what with the universe expanding at such a phenomenal rate

and her impending early night

(which no one thought they’d see in a million years)-

nothing is as it seems.

so anyway,

she’s stopped.

and no one can quite believe it.

because we can and we always could

we will move the immovable
as we will prove the unprovable

give us a length and depth of time
that is now so rare
give us a moment of real contemplation
if you dare

give us room to breathe
and open space to plan
and we will move your immovable

A Guest Is Best

a guest is always best

 ‘if we’re not his property he can’t get angry’

the little one said.

‘it’s better when he’s a visitor.

a guest is always best’.

he smiled at his accidental poetry.

‘so promise me he’ll only ever visit,

never stay,

‘cos that way

i’ll always get away

with murder’.


if I were a fish

horizons would mean nothing to me

waves would come and go

i’d take a deep breath and dive deep

again and again

if  I were a fish

the bottom of the sea would be much like the top

low fish would look up at my disappearing form

high fish would look down

i would neither know the difference

nor would I care

if I were a fish.

here. not here.

absorption to apathy

in an instant

something captured

held down

a perfect mouse under a perfect paw

thrashing and squeaking


for sport.

he had no appetite

for mouse

just the pleasure

of playing.


tonight i found a lacewing on my loo roll

and in my efforts to protect it i tore off less than I normally would

because it was so close to the edge

and a little later

as i was cleaning my teeth

i looked over and it had gone

and i remembered it could fly

and i smiled at the ludicrous lengths we go to

to protect those we hardly know

when they can fly away

as soon as we turn our heads.

ode to chardonnay

Ahh Chardonnay…

You are, admittedly, a bit unfashionable now,

but you remain undeniably delicious


You slip down like a big girl’s cordial,

dangerously easy.

You look like urine


but there’s something about you

which still whispers,

ooo, nice.

finding the plot. 

 he settled

pushing aching limbs into unfamiliar mattress

number 4 in as many days.

he imagined peace

he thought of dancing

whilst his eyes

stared at the page

too white

just the words dancing

thoughts not thinking

just sinking

into the puddle

partnering the plot

of unwanted stories

offering wanted respite

from circular madness.


round and round they go

just questions upon questions


forward rolling


skilled yet falling

just out of reach.

he knows peace will come

one way or another

but for tonight

some one else’s story will do.

sixth sense or no sense at all.

for my sixth sense

i choose adventure

the thought of sitting still in stagnating security

fills me with as much horror and panic



free falling through a cyclone

no, not that

it fills me with as much horror and panic





NOT free falling through a cyclone

(should, in fact, the opportunity ever arise)

that has to be better than stillness

still water stagnates

and standing still hurts my knees

after a bit.

a split second changes everything

it didn’t matter that there was no history

all was present

like the speck before the big bang

the density

the weight

the completely compacted everything

was there

for the taking.


stood, stone still,

you sense the freedom,

the space to breathe.

you stretch, limbs so long, so languid, the tips unfurl and travel ever outwards

beyond blurred edges,

a carefully chosen special effect.


feel the tremors come back to you,

wondering what unfocussed fun you are having,

whilst here,

in the sharp centre,


there can be none.

enid 4

I feel awake to you 24 hours a day

stepping lightly through this gentle wreckage

frozen in this moment

an eternal pause

what is this?

where is my mind?

where is my sense?

and you


just out of reach

disappear from view.

we needn’t have worried

she stretched her legs in front of her

feeling the gathering vibrations of the oncoming train on the ancient track

beneath her.

muscles groaned, bones shifted

we needn’t have worried.

people surged for the oncoming train

but she knew it was too fast,

pushing too much air

pulsing through the morning

hammering a path.

people stepped back

hair whipping against cheeks

fringes standing on end

wigs, no doubt, slipping.

but the train flew by

oblivious to their need.

we needn’t have worried

she smiled.

people muttered, groaned, swore

angry at plans thwarted,

turning to assumed complicit strangers

“fucking train”

the expletive hung in the air

shocking in a way it never is indoors with friends.

she sat watching

trying to work out exactly how the world had shifted

and precisely how much.

people’s faces were beginning to relax again

eyes repeatedly returning to the information board

the ‘fuck man’ looking lost,

torn off

like it had all happened too fast,

was all over too quickly

and yet nothing had actually begun.

we needn’t have worried

she was surprised at how warm she felt

sitting on the iron seat

people wrapped up, chins down,

making a show of their chilly discomfort,

but she was – coal fired –

banked up,

confident the warmth would last as long as she tended to it.

people were calling other people

telling them

we’ll be late

it’s a joke

a disgrace

fucking train

no information

total nightmare

it’s a disaster

fucking train

fucking train

fucking train

the words fell around her

finished fireworks reigning down,

she saw the contorted faces

hands pressing phones to ears

a disaster?


not that.

a gift of time

to sit

warmed by the still-present moments of him


re-captured fragments

pressing on her eyes

her fingers

her belly

her thighs

lips pulsing

skin buzzing

pressing against the restraint of her clothes wrapping newly-flowered body

in clean cotton

and pungent wool.

(how can a body flower so fast?

like time-lapse photography, taking the breath away

-perhaps perfectly preserved all this time. just waiting…)

we needn’t have worried.

she stretches her legs,

flexes muscles tight

smiling at the tension

as the next train sends its grumbling rumble down the line.

this one

she knows

is the one.

no-one else moves

wary of looking foolish,

but the train glides into the station



and slowly relaxing its gigantic metal muscular frame

it gently shudders to a halt

and holds itself there,

a dubstep deep bass throbbing continuously.

it has stopped

just for her.

people step back

hair whipping cheeks

fringes standing on end

wigs, no doubt, slipping.

she meets their eyes,

every one of them,

and she steps aboard

mindful of the gap,

leaving this frozen chaos behind,

and the heavy, heavy door slides shut

with a huge whispered sigh

deeply content.

she smiles at you

and you smile back.

we needn’t have worried.




something today

 that made me laugh out loud.

It was in a comedian’s autobiography.

It made me remember another comedian.

One night with another comedian.

It said that if you wear more

than two badges

You’re a


Hell Yeah!


made me smile

knowing that the moment

you pinned that third badge onto me

I had saved you from one sort of craziness, only

to offer another temporary insanity.  James

Brown shrieked in the background,

your hands shook  a little

as I remember.

I swayed