Some Poems & Links to Poems

You can read a few poems below, and also see some links to published poems.

Recordings of poems on The Poetry Archive.

'In Which the Capercaillie Ceilidhs On' in New Boots and Pantisocracies

'Seville Yellow' from Bearings in The New European

'9 a.m.' from The Leonids, in Aerodrome.

'My Mother's Dress' from 'Notes Towards Nasturtiums' in The Leonids, in The Glasgow Herald

Four poems, including thoughts on Nelson Mandela, Robben Island & the Cradock Four on Writer's Hub

'Spew' on Rozalie Hirs's Vertaallab

‘A Beautifully Constructed Cocktail’ in Magma

'Beetle, Fish & Fetish' on Essie's Fox's The Virtual Victorian blog

'Moth Storm' on Kathleen Jones's A Writer's Life blog.

Some poems from The Tempest Prognosticator on Michelle McGrane's Peony Moon blog

An interview and poems from The Tempest Prognosticator on Matt Merritt's Polyolbion blog

7 Poems on Poetry International


Certus Incertus

Noon classroom heat, the rhyme a perfect whole
shaped in her head, the air
as heavy as a drape about her

as she stands, the clever one,
her hands pressed hot against her skirt.
Then dumb-show swallowing

and mime. The rapid fire of cocked-up consonants.
The stretching out of time - 
A sentence come unstrung.  And no escape.

God wove humility into my tongue,
stitched knots into its root:
words made my stumbling blocks

and snares.  Both gift and downfall,
so a syllable could catch me unawares
despite the careful path

I’d laid about the difficult.
Alone, a poem was paradise.
Aloud, an ambuscade.

And still my name is treacherous:
the first an easy swim,
a sibilance, soft labial,

and then warm lateral rest.
A stubborn plosive bars the last,
refusing. The mouth’s tough muscle trapped,

a clumsy toad that’s scarred and furrowed
as if mapped with all its failed assaults,
the long embarrassments

as listeners’ lips chew silently,
rehearsing what they think I mean.
Pace! I’ve better words inside than these – 

gladly abandon sound bytes
and embrace the peace of foolscap,
the pleasure of a faintly humming screen.


From A Fold in the Map, published by Nine Arches in the UK and Jacana in South Africa


Meet My Father

Meet my father, who refuses food –
pecks at it like a bird or not at all –
the beard disguising his thin cheeks.
This, for a man whose appetite was legend,
hoovering up the scraps his daughters couldn’t eat.

The dustbin man, we joked.
And here he is, trailing his fork
through food we’ve laboured to make soft,
delicious, sweet. Too salty, or too tough,
it tastes of nothing, makes him choke,
he keeps insisting, stubbornly.
In truth, the logic’s clear.  His very life
is bitter and the spice it lacks is hope.
He wants to stop.  Why do we keep on
spooning dust and ashes down his throat?


From A Fold in the Map (Nine Arches)



You pith me, borrowing a layer of this milky skin -
your magic cloak, invisible, to wrap
your hero-lover ego in –

and snap this spine in two, like that,
so I am supple, pliant, bending backwards
to your fingers’ click.  Your acrobat.

Your little monkey coaxing coins into the upturned hat.  
A cute apprentice turning tricks, I caper
to the tune and grin, teeth needled like a cat’s.

Your tame familiar, little pet, so silky-sleek,
I’m always game and play so well –
the heist, the hoax, the bare-faced cheek –

always your slick accomplice, Bonnie to your Clyde.
Your lucky charm.  Oh yes, I am
your bread-and-butter, milk-and-honey bride.

Taught by ‘Yours Truly’, Master Shyster, Mr Money Man,
this good-time girl is never at a loss,
but can be streetwise, run a scam,

work sharp at cards and somehow always wins the toss.
So caveat emptor, this baby don’t come cheap –
is not content with surfaces, the gilt, the gloss,

but wants the dark and dirty, meaningful and deep,
and has a yen for more than just a pound
of flesh and blood.  The interest’s steep,

I know, but if you really want to play
and pare me, melt me down, strip off
and dress me up, you’ll have to pay.

Did no-one tell you there’s a catch to every wish?
The genie’s out the bottle, boy – 
I am no gold-egg goose, no sovereign-bellied fish –

I am the lone shark, love,
and now it’s pay-back time.


From The Tempest Prognosticator (Nine Arches)

2nd Prize, Ilkley Poetry Competition, 2007, Ilkley Literature Festival, judged by Carol Ann Duffy.