Poem with a Descending line

It’s the law of diminishing returns-
The fostered child put out to grass,
Grown wild, passes unrespected.
The civic spends more than it earns.

Who knows how these things come to pass?
It’s the law of diminishing returns.
The bed sheets peel like pages from a book,
The box gets padlocked at the hasp.

There are always lessons to be learned:
The bruised thigh, the eye bruised by its knowing.
It’s the law of diminishing returns.
Prudence weighs gains against outgoings.

She was six months gone & still not showing.
The body has its own economy, its final terms.
Lean times will foster leaner outcomes.
It’s the law of diminishing returns.



‘Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends’ – a toast..


It was a champagne reception,
With champagne cocktails.
Taffeta sprayed from the waist,
Like champagne.
Their vows giggled on their lips.
Like champagne.

Like champagne, the perfection of desire.
Like champagne, exquisite blisters.
Like champagne, the kiddie in the river-
Bubbles ascending, golden light.

Champagne: its base, its superstructure-
It melts into air.


They poured over the trenches, like champagne.
Shrapnel, cordite, bullets, like champagne.
Like champagne, we remembered them.

Hawblossom like champagne.
Cow parsley like champagne,
Cassiopeia like champagne
The ditch, the hedgerow, then the stars.

She rose from the commode like champagne in a flute,
The carers applaud, like champagne.

Seborrhea, like champagne.
Hypertension, like champagne.
Asthma, like champagne.

Under the microscope: basophils, lymphocytes-

A dry day in April, then the rain broke. Hail pattered
On the roof of the nissen hut.

Two Easter Poems

Easter Saturday

Do you not yet understand, that whatsoever enters in at the mouth goes into the belly, and is cast out into the drain? Matthew 15:17 KJV

Even in the belly of the dead Christ bacteria
Breed. The cold flesh stirs to a murmur of trapped gas,
Blood pools in purple blooms along the back
And yes, bowels void and pop.
Even the skin will slip its moorings.

Leave the abstract to the Gods and air;
Despair, love, anger – vain ambitions,
Are nothing to the Dead.

In the cave behind the stone,
Meek matter reclaims its own.



In the queue at the corner shop, the lady with the zimmer frame
Buys two shop-soiled Easter Eggs and a can of Special Brew.

We do not meet her eyes, but stare instead at the floor. She has no shoes.
Her feet: swollen to a deep blue-purple, raw with roseate scabs and road-grit.

We wait as she fumbles for her monies in a purse more worn than used.
The shop assistant’s open palms: cupped, expectant of a falling gift.



Sons fall before their mothers, some from city walls,
Others kicking in their own coughed foam.
They bring them in on trays, like tea, or news.

Who, in my old age, will call me his slave?
I who once turned heads with an eyelash flutter,
Bent double with a stoma, peg-fed, fucked.

Ask an old mouth for the measure of the times
And it stops. The face drops. It’s a kind of
Disappointment. Words can sink or swim.

Oh bald man with a beard and ‘Say your name’ and
‘What’s today?’ and ‘Who is this year’s man?’ These are
Stones dropped in a hollow. I echo.

‘House!’ calls Cassandra, and louder, ‘House!’ again.
Bingo was yesterday; today’s a sing along.
Wrong days. You see the problem, don’t you? Wrong.

Who of any of us knows how their lot will fall,
Out here amongst strangers and strangers to ourselves?
Each day they change the label on someone’s door.

This is the house of sitting futures. This island.
This is the handle. This is the spout.

And yet it moves

We conclude therefore that stars are seen at midnight in uncurtailed glory…
Galileo: ‘The Sidereal Messenger’

In 1610, Galileo Galilei
Observed moons orbiting Jupiter.
He shifted one foot to another.

For this, they locked him in his chamber.
The table, chairs, the painted mirror
On the wall: tangents to a frozen centre.

This was the Inquisition’s irony.
We could speculate that dust gathered
And was thrown through winter light,

That there was a call of cicadas,
And the thought of birdsong, echoing
In courtyards, without measure, without end-

And laughter, the abjured word spoke sotto voce
To the door, the stars their own answer.

The Visitants

At length, we found them in a noisome byre:
Unregistered, swathed in crawling rags,
The she soiled in the fundament of her parturition.

The father, such as we supposed, babbled
In a tongue out from the North. We beat him
South, East and West, until he learnt our manners.

The mother, suffice to say, kept schtum
As we worked upon her man, though she clung
To her spawn so tight, it took a punch to wrest

It from her breast. We gave each one a number,
Drove them to the edge of town, and sent them packing.
‘There is nothing new underneath the sun’

Or so old Ecclesiastes says.
We’re keeping it that way.