Saturday, November 15, 2008

The best policy

Sometimes the truth hurts:
But then, on the other hand,
Lies hurt all the time

Friday, October 24, 2008


There came a time
In the swimming pool
When I took off the floats
And he swam from my arms
Frantically paddling to the side
Go on, I said, you're safe

I ran along behind the bike
My hand steadying the saddle
I gave a push and stopped
As he pedalled on down the path
Go on, I said, that's right

The documentation has been checked;
He heads for the departure lounge,
Walking tall;
He lifts his arm to wave
Go on, I think, fly away

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Burnished with wear, the ring
Is pitted and tarnished: it sits
On the mantelpiece, no longer
Warmed by proximate blood;
The finger it encircled reduced
To fleshless bone.

Smelted, forged, wrought
And tempered, the ring retains
Its form on cooling. The fading
Of the heart's heat leaves
No shape memory.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Toronto notebook: a haikulogue


The taxi driver's
Accent is hard to pin down:
Oh, it's Serbian

The same but different

A squirrel explores
The corners of the car park
But its fur is black


Pedestrian city
Nobody wonders why you
Choose to walk around

Negative advertising

A sex shop is named
Very unappealingly
It's "Not just condoms"

High rise

Hemmed in by glass blocks
The passing clouds can be seen
As cool reflections


Plastic surgeons and
Dentists vie for passing trade
With the sandwich shops


Sirens aren't common
The police station dormant,
Another office


I've changed my watch but
I think my stomach's still
Eating on British time


Breakfast is labelled
"All you care to eat": Nanny
Would surely approve

Local news

Headlines mean nothing:
names I have never heard of
Doing something, or not


The air's sickly sweet
In the wake of a black guy
Smoking a fat joint


The pavements are full
As tourists and locals seek
Food, drink and good times


A long-legged girl skates
Dodging through the ambling crowds
Eyes follow her path

Temperature control

The Canadians
Have their air conditioning
We have our windows

Small rebellions

Although the waiter
Says "Have a nice day" to you,
His heart's not in it


Doors which are unlocked
Are still kept closed: no labels
Hint at openness


People approach me
All the time, wanting to
Tell me boring things


Ivy hugs old walls
Obscuring Gothic windows
Clutching ancient stones

The passion

A nude bronze statue
Arms outstretched, unsettles me
"Crucified woman"


Visiting tourists
Forgetfully say "Here in
the United States"

An exception

Although order and
Tidiness seem general,
There's some graffiti

Manners 2

"No excessive noise"
Warns a road sign, leaving its
Key term undefined


The Catholic church
Sounds the hours with its bells; chimes
Doubled by echoes

Nutritional advice

Chocolate milk is
Not a food group; and maple
Syrup is not fruit

Half empty

Wine bought by the glass
May not fill it halfway up:
Leaves me wanting more

Queen's Park

The park is busy
A girl does Tai Chi while
Joggers trot past her


A squirrel sits up
Swaying, focused on watching
The berried branch move


The forecourt rattles
As the subway train passes
Beneath the sidewalk

Meteorological Office

A proud plaque records
"Bringing weather to you since

Rapid transit

The line runs next to
The real railway, carrying freight,
Its bigger brother

Little England

Islington, Old Mill,
Runnymede, Lansdowne, Bathurst:
Named by pioneers

Airport bus

Flight crew, when earthbound,
Share bus seats with mere mortals:
They stay dignified


The premium class
Passengers queue just as long
As all the others


On the brink of change
Turning back to UK time
My watch means nothing


The gallery looks out
On boys' toys - the planes and trucks
Playing together

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Belfast notebook

A series of haiku written in the course of a visit to Belfast. They are intended to catch my thoughts and reactions at the time and don't reflect my considered views.

Safety announcement:
Bend forwards, head down, and then
Kiss your arse goodbye

The plane, like a queen
Moves fast and straight above the
Chequerboard of fields

From above, the clouds
Look clean and new, like Earth
When freshly fashioned

The cold bus station
At night, empty of buses:
Travellers marooned

Turning a corner
I find an angry mural:
Still fighting a war

Midnight, midweek, still
The air thick with strong liquor
They're hard drinkers here

Dressed up like a Gothic church
Knowledge is worshipped

Larkin liked it here
But he liked Leicester and Hull
So can't be trusted

A loner zig-zags
Talking as he walks along
Lost in mobile chat

An accent suited
To rapid escalation
To extreme anger

Peace's four horsemen:
Building work, English firms, wealth,
Global chains, have come

The place has Troubles:
The past not an anodyne
Distant narrative

The departure board
Makes it seem halfway between
London and Dublin

Faces pinched and pale
Vitamin C hasn't yet
Arrived in Ulster

Happy to talk to
Anybody, anywhere
Or just to themselves

They still make things here
New factories not just shops
How old fashioned is that?

Coffee house culture
Brings the cafe tables out
Into the drizzle

Government buildings
Old, squat, proud and resentful
Fight irrelevance

The street map shows no
Boundaries between beliefs
Just names from headlines

Big Issue sellers
Are a commonplace, alas:
They're no big issue

The city drivers
Are always slow to signal
Quick to sound their horns

The delay is due
To the road improvement works
Thanks for not minding

I'm doubly foreign
English, from Wales: a tourist
Fresh from overseas

However modern
Airports always have concealed
Tacky old corners

A hen party shrieks
Dressed in custom-made T shirts
Ready for wild times

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Come buy, come buy

'"Come buy, come buy," was still their cry.'
Goblin market, Christina Rosseti

'You like my poems? So pay for them' Wendy Cope

Gillian Clarke and Wendy Cope
Clutched slim volumes in the dark
"Our readers are our only hope"
Said Wendy Cope to Gillian Clarke

"We'll take a stand against the trendy-
Stick to printing" suggested Gillian
"It worked before" remembered Wendy
"Making Cocoa sold half a million"

"Well, nearly" Gill muttered in dismay
"If we don't fight it, noone will:
If people want us, they can pay"
Responded Wendy Cope to Gill

It seems the poets were unaware
In the world beyond the reading list
People choose from what is there:
If you're not online, you don't exist.

Friday, January 04, 2008

An old ploughman's view

They ask me if I miss
The jangle of the horse harness
The romance of the plough team
Now that tractors rule

They don't like my reply:
"Where's the romance
In staring at a horse's arse all day?"

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Gospel according to Martin

I have unconsciously been slowly creating an alternative Bible as a result of my returning to Christian (and Old Testament) stories in order to explore moral questions. Some are critical and perhaps heretical, but they represent the ebst and most serious poems here.

Creation: Diminuendo

Noah's flood: The raven's tale

The Massacre of the Innocents: Collateral damage

Nativity to Crucifixion: Mary's lament

Crucifixion: Stations of the cross

Acts: The gospel according to Thomas | A Monmouthshire hedgerow

Revelation: Seven cities | The cloud of unknowing

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The new Shakespeare


"Jealous much?" asked Iago
"Totally" replied Othello


Hamlet's dad was all "Woo-woo, I'm dead"
Hamlet was all "To be or not ... whatever"

The Merchant of Venice

Shylock was so into bling it was untrue.


Wannabe king Macbeth was like "Is this a dagger, or what?"
Lady M rolled her eyes and said "Duh!"
Then he went postal

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo met Juliet at the prom
Their clueless parents were like "No way"
"Yes way" they said, and died.