Off this Road

She fell out of love with me. 

Not long after she had to stay at home. 


We split up far too long before any newsy talk of being husband and wife. 

I met her not long before our troubles. 

Not long enough for her to be the Dean to my Sal. 

Today I wonder if she’ll take me back 

and we will make castles out of our affection. 

Pray, pray again and again 

Something gives. 

Sometimes even true love fails to make the distance. 

No word left to write.






A Place of Plenty

A place where all the colours run. 

A place where every thought is joy 

an Albion. 

A place where love is free 

from all the maddening games 

you and I played, for kicks 

I’d dream a land of plenty 

but there are plenty of other places 

you’d much rather be 

and I’m tired of trying 

to raise a glass and a smile 

to the love we scrimp over. 

I’d love to see a place 

where all the colours run together 

you’d rather scratch away  

in the darkened alleys 

the lower the place you keep yourself 

the less height there is to fall 

By Moonlight


The moon held in a glass of bourbon. 

The moon laid down on a canal bed. 

The moon so bright it led you and me home. 

The moon’s face travels across the waters. 

Its spirit is always trained on us. 

Its light thickens and thins, 

but it often hides itself, 

for more than a moment, 

behind seasick clouds. 

By moonlight I remember that old city, 

born of revolution, 

the only light in the sky sometimes. 

All the stars rubbed out. 

I remember us, in its streets. 

Kissing at corners. 

Frequenting the discos, 

so, we could be closer together. 

By moonlight I remember that city 

Made out of cotton 

Cotton streets 

Cotton moon 

Cotton hearts and mouths 

I remember us 

And I drink that full moon right down 

Heat of Summer Suns

With the heat given out by a firefly in a bottle, 

shards are broken, bomb and knife, 

the splinter of senses, 

The litany of evil deeds, 

that pour forth from the TV sets 

into houses where reaction is less compassion now, 

more of lethargy. 

These mayfly moments 

of sharpened hearts 

that can only exist for a second, 

dead after, remembered all the same, 

as strange, they weigh so much more alone, 

than the name of all his collected dead. 

A mask of hate, so much easier to wear than of kindness. 

Heroes are made in memorandum. 

Devils stacked high. 

The world steps on. 

There’s nothing else to be done. 


It all began with a whimper, 

a bang never came into it 


Together out of a bad habit, 

like smoking behind the bike sheds. 

The committee of their mutual friends, 

had decried describing the entire relationship 

as a waste of vitriol. 


There was excitement, 

in between the arms of the bony couch 

now and again. 

The rest of the time the dragged out pauses and silences, 

neither comfortable nor itchy 

they were just something that left a taste in their mouths. 

The only thing that made it feel anywhere right, 

was in the fact it was all so wrong. 


he looked at her over some cold toast 

She spied him from inside a hungover head, 

the kitchen radio did its best 

to distract itself from the empty hearted goings on. 

He thought it would be cold funny 

If their song suddenly came on. 

The odd bit of sex they still had  

did nothing but remind them how rare it was. 


He had a drawer half full of Dear Johns’ he never got up the nerve to send 

because to be in a relationship at all, well that beats the loneliness to bed. 

She sometimes practiced speeches to herself, 

she hadn’t the self to deliver 

but kept running laps round her head. 

Maybe next year would be better. 

Maybe next year we’d do it right. 

The Season of the Idiot


There’s little as sexy as stupidity 

damping down the depth of A B or C 

to be more mailable. 

Virtue comes with the simple message 

that culture hasn’t just ate itself 

as made a meal out of the banal: 

Warhol’s tinned split pea soup 

Double Elvis 

Diamond Dust Shoes 

All skyscraper high, filling walls. 

All of it all a show, 

that there’s as much beauty 

in consumerism, than there is 

in any past master’s brushstroke 

or sainted conceptual design. 

The season of the idiot 

is a marked card 

of surface over feeling. 

Wilde once said: “All art is quite useless” 

We’ve run with that one 

we have lost not the tools 

but the expertise, the craft 

that finished with Art Deco. 

There is no different between what’s popular and what’s avant garde 

Marx tells a friend over a pint of stout 

“True life, true work, is being able to see yourself reflected in your labour.” 

Warhol checks his reflection, 

tells Marx his 15 minutes are up. 

Wilde searches the stars for inspiration 

But they are just orbs of rock and gas. 

Baubles on a universal chain, 

always there, but seldom understood, 

so many lost to light pollution, 

from all the TV sets and phone devices. 

If we are really in the gutter, we are still head dug into the screens 

We use to make ourselves seem whole. 


Best Day

Best Day 


The crux of it all, head in hands, slouched over 

in a ball. 

Breath came in blasts. 

The shape of a slam wild card winner. 

Before the stage was spot lighted, 

the audience decked out in front, 

my arms and hands full of sign language, sweeping and turning out 

they had no idea of the difficult day to day. 

Still ill on chalky tablets, 

that tasted like bitter dough, 

thicken in the throat. 

Best Days 

happen in between the gears of other times 

makes them more honey drool sweet 

like a lubricate that keeps the whole thing clicking over, 

Bad Days are dry, rasping,  

the crux, head in hands, slouched over 

balled up like a fist 

but not bitter, about the surrounding age 

it would be nearly a year, thumbing through the months, 

before I was well again 

but the experience of performing in that large marquee in an autumn 

is somewhere my heart returned to 

whenever days got sharp needle point sore. 

Instead the taste 

A sweet centre, a confection, smooth, and delectable 

sometimes the things that defy importance 

are the ones we hold onto the most  

Show Your Bones

Writing poetry onto umbrellas 

Is easy to do: words in spirals, shapes and swirls. 

Written by pen, indelible, like art itself. 

In pubs and cafes around the cities North and South, 

collecting umbrellas from establishments, 

gains curiosity among the staff, 

and for a moment something new, 

breaks into the everyday. 

Brollies left in squares and street corners 

as a silent, secret, exchange 

the mystery of where, when and how. 

The touring is the purest joy really: 

travel as creation 

the bleary eyes in a Glasgow bus centre at 4AM 

or the walk into Edinburgh as the sun flung itself into the sky 

The Paddy’s Day entrourage the pissed up punters of Birmingham pubs 

The long, long journeys so full of the crackle of joy the mundane uplifted 

or the trip back to the alma mater, the umbrella laid outside the faculty 

all done with love, but also a mind full of both the beauty and the folly 

of a journey that means more to me 

but maybe something to those who swept up the umbrellas 

without a name or way to reply. 

Just another strange statement, among many 

That somehow sum up, just what it is, 

to be us. 


Dear William

Dear William


I keep wondering, what you heard or saw. 

The soot grainy details 

of how you fell. 

That last time we spoke a few years before 

you now confided of hearing voices in those final school years 

all I could do was feel 

that at last we left those satchel days behind 

when I severed our friendship 

I regret that. 

So, I felt good our last words were happy, peaceful 

full of interest in each other and how we were these days. 

You had landed this job in France. 

We had been there for each other in the early years 

when no one else had been. 

Fall forward into much later 

your younger brother at a wedding reception. 

We broke out smokes and chatted about you. 

I apologised for having once wondered out loud what had happened to you 

Neil just said his family never discuss you 

I guess some things are just too hard never soften. 

So, dear William, I hope you found something 

got something beautiful out of life. 

I still think of you when the football is on, certain tv shows bring back the years. 

I still miss your bad jokes and remember 

the day Ireland beat Italy  

and being sick on 4 pints. 

Rest easy brother, much more awaits 


Bop 1

These blame gamey days 

of lockdowns and attempted pick us ups. 

We have become the captains 

of our own quarrels 

the very great and the very terrible 

of us all, displayed for all to see. 


Touch from a distance 


The photographed beaches of bodies, these last few years 

of swept up refugees 

are now the front page of swathes of folk sunning themselves. 

The distrust of binary politics and the flimsy news reports, 

how we try to shake ourselves from this funk 

by the boredom of this humdrum rapture. 

The newscasts of the deaths of thousands filtering 

across the rolled out countryside. This greenish land  


Touch from a distance  


The dictates, the loose tooth thinking 

by governments and their advisors 

who jangle the keys in front of the cell doors. 

They keep us stuffed up with sport on Television, 

keep the question from our lips, we are not all equal when 

the sacrifices of the many are made for the privilege of the few. 


Touch from a distance