Just put my two entries into the Bristol Short Story Competition. Why is this stuff so difficult for me to do? I wonder.

Anyway, that’s done. Forget it. Now hang the washing on the radiators.



Is it in the nature of music to become more hectic?
Or merely an excuse for not having an end,
In the sense of resolution, so to let it
Fizzle out in grandiose disintegration?

The toy car I found in the street is motionless;
The only car I possess, I feel like adding.
On the window-sill, red and shiny and exciting,
Next to the Icon of the Triumph of Orthodoxy:

A golden postcard from the British Museum,
The Empress Theodora, the Virgin and Child –
The infant like a shrunken Athenian philosopher
With his receding hairline and toga –

And all the priests and administrators there
Against the cracked background scored with crosses.
Did Iconoclasm save the Empire? All that bling
Melted down to pay the armies in adequate coinage?

I’ll leave that question open. I pick up my toy car
And run it along the table beside my poem.

Passing in Caithness


Passing the


domes of

burial cairns

five thousand

years old, but


seconds ago

the abstractly

situated sine

waves of

water, the

acres and acres

that simply


– a ruddy

tinted green –

to a horizon

with the revolving

propellers of

wind farms

pointing to

a possible

alt future



to offend

the jaundiced

piggy eye

of the latest


to whom all

lands, even

this independent

minded locale

are supposedly

meant to

pledge allegiance.

As you

decelerate to

let another

driver pass by

raising your

hand in greeting

I notice

a cow

on the edge

of the sky

chewing over

the thingness

of things.

Home Movie


Like so much

of Radiohead

the image of

children laughing

a family playing

on a summer day

in a sun-faded

home movie

viewed decades

and decades later

in a darkened room

as though the

music itself

was reaching us

from a

remotely recalled

idyllic past

the vinegary

taste of winkles

eaten with a

wooden fork

watching the

Punch and Judy

show on the beach

grit of sand

between teeth.


24. kensignton gardens DSCF5298

Augustus, the Divine, the Fortunate One,

Final surviver of the civil wars,

Last body left upright, he did a lot of building,

Created a marble simulacrum of himself.


The squatter, cross-legged, patient,

Behind her table-cloth of amulets,

Counts change from a velvet bag into

The palm of her hand; the ambergris of potions,


Murex and belladonna, washed from the Tyrian

Planisphere; the occult gear-wheels, the pathways through

To the different levels of Kabbalic illumination,

Represented in the symmetries of Tarot cards, the solar signs


Of the hanged man with a halo upside-down,

The tie-dyed circles in the breeze like purple flags;

There is the scent of lavender sprigs, and the raw smell

From bins in alleyways that back up restaurants


And sticky bars. How we wake, drenched in lilac,

Reeking of petrol, turning over a pillow in the night.