You ask me what is it

this brittle I’m speaking of:

what is this short temper?

And I am cracking the colours

having broken the blue

I say brittle is like this

and the shortness in my own breath

shows me how long I have been wanting

that exact blue of your eyes.

The red is no better

run like the Rio Dulce into murk

nothing can save us now

the sweet scratch of your nail

through the hardening colour

makes red redder and the

small smile you give me

is as clear as the sky.

Then, yellow will not shatter.

Yellow will not yield

my thumbs are worn, nail bed

lifting from my scratching at the

yellow you say brittle in my ear

and I know myself that I shatter

in the the yellow centre.

We have found the colours,

collected them and grouped them

we made them run and spilt them

we have seen that they each will do

the thing they themselves dictate

being made waxy and soft

until they cool. Then they are

as crisp as the day

and as likely to crack into shapes

spelling brittle across the board.

You sisters take the round ones

and make marks big and small

over huge sheets of paper.

The spangled colours are

as mixed and sweet

as the lines on the maps that show the way.



I came to hate that clock

its stiff hands chronicled grief

and all its ticking days

held steady up the time

each one of you died.


I dream of that house

the wax flowers on the door step

the rows of bricks that

were the formal entrance

on the shady side.


I dream you have installed

an impossible aquarium

where huge faceless fish

idle in the clarity and swim

their speckled bodies against the glass.


The solid gold of the inner workings

don’t hold back all this changing

from metronome to monotone

that dark peculiar portrait

haunting the hall.


I came to hate that clock

that percussed breakfast

laundry, the bringing in of

bright jewelled tomatoes from the sun

and patience on the flecked laminex.






It is awash

again, aiming

sunrise moonset

months then years,

gone into the sliding jaw mouth past

slipping water-like the falling.

Is it the photograph

stopping this moment,

or slowing

the bubble of that, or this,

bursting the passing


with its glassy lens-tooth

as if this could stop the flow and flow of it?

Days pass

with the claw and claw

as it trembles

but never slows

the tilt of the eye

the kink of the clock,

runnels of it through the evaporating mind

falling and falling

moonset, sunrise.



The paragraph where I fall in love

is written, published, distributed

has sat all papery and lush on the shelves

for some years now – but has been read a loud

and sounded out so the words are

round like the moon and just as full

but reflected, now, like so much light.


It is the tang and spring of the garlic in our food

the surprising sweetness in the nip of it

papery and cloven the hooves of it across our floor

like so many feet in the night

searching out the warmth we make

for heat that shatters across the tastebuds

is grown on the good stuff

filled the mattress with its outer layers

falling off and falling.


I will write you poems on fault lines of

this fruiting body

I will drink your breath ’til dawn when you turn in your sleep

and face away from me

I will inscribe all the tiny events

into the curve of the skin

and peel it peel it

the paragraph when I fell in love

in minute letters all over again.

We put you here


With the seashell wash wave there

swimming bones

all the small ones with names like carpals, sesamoid, phalanges

can at last intertwine and rest there mistaken for fish spine

among the debris of the ocean’s sigh.


I remember you with that strange spongey swimming cap

in white flotsam feet up longing out your body to the sea’s

in and out green and glassy

clean like eyes and wild like hair.


When they come to pick over my life like gulls

(scaphoid, lunate, triquetral, pisiform)

can they see in every reflected surface

how we would laugh together and pass it from wave to wave

until we surfed them home?











Poetry, Uncategorized

He won’t believe me,

this boy who saw glass 

melted flame hot 

spun stretched and blown –

from sand.


All those fish that swam over it

lived among it, died with it between their teeth

so we make windows, bottles, lenses 

from opaque time.


Out there, the sea keeps kneading it 

even without earshot

and spreading it out

that sea so clear 

it gifts it name to glass.


For the children, really

– like this unbeliever –

so they can see.

Invaders – a typed version (A visit from Black Peter)

Poetry, Uncategorized



There was a rap at the window next to the blackboard

and in they swarmed, two of them

faces blackened, a sack shouldered.


Children leapt from the perfect circle on the floor

shrieks and scampers away from these invaders

who fixed us with their blinking eyes, white rimmed

and to each of us

they told the stories of ourselves.


My tall friend was ‘forgetful’

– but it’s me who can’t

recall my own story

memory’s cloth closes over

the way time muzzles thought

dents and fingers

the smoothness of it.


But then, the youngest of us

whose curled head was lost among our shoulders

put out a hand

pushed aside the bristles of sticks

and claimed his bag

of fruit.