Friday, 26 June 2015


We were told that if you cupped your hands to your ears, you'd be able to pick out the churring of the nightjar more clearly, and that if you wave a white handkerchief you'll attract its attention.

the backroom boys are in charge now

the backroom boys are in charge now

shirt-sleeved committees
sitting round big tables
drawing up strategies
talking to focus groups

striking poses and hurling
well-rehearsed insults at one-another

seeing themselves as characters
in hard-hitting TV satires

but always knowing
deep in their hearts
that the leadership gene

has passed them by

Monday, 22 June 2015

Mr. Sowoniuk

You were only obeying orders
only trying to please your masters -
you weren’t the sharpest chisel in the box
but you executed your duties
with enthusiasm and diligence.
The law’s the law

and rules are rules
and who were you
to disagree?
If a job’s worth doing,
it’s worth doing well.

Now, on this last night,
exploding fireworks
light up the sky
over the edge of the heath,
and the bars on the window
cast faint shadows on the floor,

and down the corridor
the night-shift officer  is in his office
with a coffee and cigarette
to keep himself awake.

Let the film rewind.

You’re  a man in uniform.
British Rail, London Bridge. Tickets please.
Thankyou, madam. Thankyou sir.
Executing duties. Enthusiasm. Diligence.

And all the while
a nagging memory at the back of your mind
that never goes away...

but that was such a long time ago
and you look so different now - heavier, jowlier –
unrecognisable -
and you’ve come such a long way since then.
Tickets please. Thankyou madam. Thankyou sir.

Let the film rewind further.

A different uniform,
Domaczewo, September ‘42
and a clearing in a wood at the edge of town.
The feast of Yom Kippur.
The law’s the law

And rules are rules,
If a job’s worth doing,
It’s worth doing well.

No birds are singing, and the ditch has been dug,
and they’re standing  there, fifteen of them,  naked and  shivering.
They look you in the eye.
You turn your face away.
They curse you.

Your past lies buried with them in the grave.
You were only obeying orders,
only trying to please your masters,
and now, on this last night,
exploding fireworks light up the sky

and the film is rewound.


flying into raking light
detects the marks that man has made

lush patterns
ghostly traces of habitation
that only a bird's eye can see

a slight undulation in the landscape casts a shadow

thunderbolt and elf-shot
found near here

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Ipswich Road haiku

an angry artist
leaves his mark on the pavement -
spunking cocks, you twats


what is his message?
a sign of male agression,
a threat to women


who is it aimed at,
this spouting jet of semen?
the girls who spurned him?


male against female
and the penis mightier
than the word

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


at last
to a ledge at the edge of the earth
a sheer drop
waves dash the rocks below
white noise between stations
the smell of guano carried on the breeze…

a long journey ends here –
along old migration routes
to this windswept corner
of western Europe
and the pull of the long midsummer days
and the light midsummer nights

evenly set on islets and stacks
bickering, squabbling
guarding personal spaces
this gannet city never sleeps
and the silver fishes swim in the sea below

Stooky Bill

well, he picked me up in soho
and he took me to his flat
he sat me on his knee
and put his hand up my back
and he let me do the talking
and it gave him quite a thrill
I said I’m really pleased to meet you
and my name is Stooky Bill

he said I was his plaything
he said I was his muse
I could’ve gone with anyone
he couldn’t pick or choose
but I said we’d stick together
for good or for ill
you’ll never get away from me
and my name is Stooky Bill

I used to play the music halls
I’d see my name in lights
I lived out of a suitcase
a different town each night
a gottle of geer down my neck
until I had my fill
I could’ve been somebody
and my name is Stooky Bill

he said he was a bachelor
but he married late in life
and we all moved in together
me and him and wife
unhappy ever after
in a bungalow in Bexhill
I used to be on the TV
and my name is Stooky Bill

Stooky Bill is the name of the ventriloquist’s dummy that was used by the inventor John Logie Baird in the very first television transmission in 1926