Thursday, 16 June 2016

Not Even The Police

...can save him. Or his two brothers in the water,
trying to be salmon, trying to grow fins.
It’s the waterfall, how it just keeps rolling
the river over his head. Some howling baptism
that just won’t give up. Can’t give up.
Even if there was some forgotten tap
waiting under the fells for a hand to find it,
a hand to turn it, time rushes on.

Its relentless flowing - over rocks, under bridges,
between riverbanks that cling with their fingers
of roots, their fingers of mud. But still that river
keeps galloping, keeps howling and thundering,
keeps rushing over cliffs with its grinding water-mouth.
Straight onto his head. His adolescent head.
His flesh of my flesh head.
And his brothers in their anguish, reluctant
to leave the water even hours later.
Chasing a helicopter with his body in it,
its flesh too small to hold his soul, so it lets it go.

His mother said he was going to be a giant.
Towering over the family in his gangling guise.
She showed us their photograph, all puffed up
and proud, a Blackbird nestling her beautiful brood
in her tiny fist, soft as a cradle. Soft as love.
The three brothers, arms linked in a chain.
The youngest at the end, unsure in his reaching-
to-adult skin. All of them smiling.

His gaze reeling off to the left, fishing for a future
outside of the frame, oblivious to the departure that will
hook and land him two months later.
Me sitting on the settee, in awe of his growth.
Tiny Curtis wearing the skin of six foot giant
over his bones, trying to figure how to make it all fit.
How to anchor into it, even as it flows towards death.
A lad with no scales or gills. Sixteen years old and gone.

Friday, 10 June 2016


He tries to tell me the difference
between mist and fog, how the weave
of cloud tangles distinct in both.
I ask whether one is more a plait
and the other a ribbon tied in a knot
at the end. A red one probably, pulled
so tight that when the edges fray
they will still be tangled, remain together

like the mast lights at dusk, and the haloes
he keeps searching for on every moth's shadow
that patters against his father's darkened window.
He says no. It's more the difference between
a discarded summer sheet and a winter duvet.

How a clinginess will rise through a mind
distracted by time, and how it crumples us.
How it takes dandelion petals turned grey
and delicate, scatters them among the breath
of breezes. Scatters them like ashes.
And we have to wait until they catch and root
down because life is like that, he says -
the difference between mists, between fogs.

Thursday, 2 June 2016


I look for you in the night.
In the shadows from stars, I look.
Between wing beats of lost moths, I look.
In the mast's three-eyed glare, I look.

When a fox pads past on feet made from ether,
I look among paw prints she presses on low clouds.
In the closed heads of dandelions, I look.
Imagine the howl of your loss curling there,
budding closed with its need not to be heard.

On rooftops where ghosts gather, I look.
Among the roots of an upturned oak, I look,
seeking reflections of your thoughts among clarts.

When an owl glides past, I look.
When it swoops to the fence, I look.
When it hunts my gaze, I look.

In the pattern of its feathers I think I glimpse your lips,
open to a scream. Then the bird flies off towards the fields,
and I look, and I look, and I look.

All night I do this staring.
This staring and searching for you.
And even in the embers of this blazing,
I keep on scouring. Looking for you.