…and what of that no longer spoken?
Will it wait at the crease of each corner
in a slouch hat, bedraggled raincoat,
melt into walls, must thickening the air?

Or slip the sash on an unguarded window,
sidle into alleys less well-lit
where a grey fox noses through
the detritus of lives less lived?

Drawn by the clatter of aluminium bins,
will it stare out over wet gardens,
a rust of trees – what is that ache
that comes with rain? – wait for the long dawn

and the cat to carry in the thrush?

A Lope of Time (Shoestring 2009)



And so we row keeping close to the shore,
observe the lodge beavers skilled from aspens

bark and sapwood of twigs gathered close by.
Farther out crosscurrents pull the boat,

re-define direction as the moon
determines tides, ancient monarchies, the rule of law,

and held, half-held, beliefs filter through the years,
shedding such light as they once possessed,

leaving evidence which we interpret as we will,
as we wait, a half-forgotten language catching at memory.
But there’s absence – does that matter? Does distance?
Time will betray essence

as skin, stretched over bones, reveals structure.
Yet here is no knowledge, no certainty:

take time apart and what is left?
Years in which shirt buttons are counted, a christening shawl

tracing a shroud. Perhaps that is the only true measure.
Perhaps with each departure

there is not renewal but simply a re-visiting,
a lope of time, the scratch of black and white film.
And so, unresolved, unable to distinguish
that certain darkness between the stars,

we lay our oars to rest, remaining here where,
the day dull and no birdsong,

rags of leaves disguise bare trees.
A shiver of midges rises from the water,

those who can, evade the gape of fish,
each small massacre Sicilian in scale,

though what lies just beyond the reach of memory
is a darker, harder find.

A Lope of Time (Shoestring 2009)





the garden a soup of light and shadow
that disturbs blackbirds, robins

the berries already red and the seasons
out of kilter.

We have grown old here, watching
swallows migrate,

a hidden history in each certain swoop,

for the droop of bluebells to smother groundswell
under trees.

In unvisited woods the cuckoo reports that spring
has arrived

but there’s little hope of frog spawn with the pond dry

when soft rain refused to fall. How can we even speak
of leaving

with the last of this year’s leaves yet to burn?

A Lope of Time (Shoestring 2009)


Only the sound beyond the ear’s reach
beyond silence, soothes.

Washed by constant waters
remembered, later, in the touch of wind on skin

in that first exhalation, first greeting
first knowledge of lying

outside the silence
the voice is heard, an instrument

whose sharps and flats desire interpretation
the rough bark startling

– as it still does –
indicates love or its faithful companion betrayal:

a kiss sword-sharp given in a midnight garden
a sop of vinegar-wine

– not a malicious act –
a rock rolled back, an empty cloth where hope also lies.


The Silence Unheard (Shoestring 2013)


Easter Sunday
After, a seagull drunk on air currents battered the sky with white wings yet heaven would not open, not recognising its screech.

Defeated, a dove falls to the ground, its murmuring stifled on stone.




No such place exists now but the few remaining who can remember
its location seek only to forget. They do not speak of the long afternoons
when a laze of bees filled the air, when the drip of honey was on every tongue and each man knew the promise.

Neither do they speak of how hurrying villagers crowded the paths which climbed beyond the tree line, determined to seek a place before the sun set and night barred further movement. Friend by friend, neighbour by neighbour, each unaware of the other, they scrambled over dead roots, evaded the grasp of trees and slid face down over scree. Finally they lay, acquiescent, as the bees, having herded them to this place, sang to them in the darkness.

The knowledge given has not been passed onto the children. If they are fortunate they will never know it.