For breakfast I eat up my vowels, my a e i o u, to which I add from consonants a fricative or two;
After that I move my bowels then write as poets do, and frequently am quite surprised to feel a trill come through.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Take Five

Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka, Volume 4 is now out (and includes my Tanka 'saturday dad', first published in Simply Haiku).

Friday, 11 May 2012


A motley fool in well-worn rags,
rip-torn and bejewelled
in bells and baubles,
rides by astride his hobbyhorse:

“I am”, he cries, “a thing of wood,
a Marotte stick that has no feeling.
The Tree of Life’s own loggerhead
with seventy-seven buds, all sprouted.”

“I have no wants of this world
and laugh at its prince. I drink his dregs
and dance his jigs, for they mean
nothing to me.”

“Let the Devil play his trump.
I shall play the Fool for Christ --
and Shakespeare too --
for both know I know nought.” 

With one foot bare and one foot shoed
he canters down the ciphered trail:
"Tarry 'til I come again", echoes
through the Christ cursed years.

Sunday, 6 May 2012


Beneath the foam the blades
cut seaward, and constellations
sparkle in a hair-spray mist 
between the mare's tail wake
and mirrored cirrus skies.

Bare feet raised to breeze
upon the rails, he sees anew 
old ankles blotched and bloated; 
epiphanies passed in a daily shave’s
myopic view of jowls and wrinkles, 
masked in faces pulled 
beneath the foam and blade...

he looks away
to nod goodbye to Samos
and the horse, high on stilts,
pretending to be cloud


Walking out toward Pigeon Island
I pass men fishing from the rocks
with breaded hooks and baited looks
returning smile for knowing smile.

Suddenly I'm caught -- for a moment poised 
between an earthquake and a noise 
which groans from faults that lie below
and pound as ground grinds ground.

Excitedly the seagulls flock
to scraps of fish left on the rocks:
the sky is full of stink and cry
as squall carries squall and sewage.

Beneath the skin, his scent, a sigh:
My smile returns his knowing smile.

Red River Drifting

Between the red rolling river and the red brick lane,
in a shack that overhangs the embankment, 
a shot is fired. On the stove beans are boiling 
and there’s fresh fish waiting to be fried. 
Bats chirp among the wind chimes of the boat masts
on the water, a small town church bell rings.
Arse-slapped, newbones squeal. Blood falls
through floorboards into the red rolling river.

Rolling red past the pigs at outhouse gruntings,
the tappers cupping sap out in the groves,
past the ranchers at their whorehouse runtings,
the families at their TVs tapping soap,
past the church and voices singing
“Here He comes, hallelujah, here He comes”.

he sets his mind to unknown arts

The cripple and a preacher
lie sleeping in a doorway, stoned on vodka.
The cripple dreams a young man painting portraits:

At the sink his mother holds a herring by its tail
and with a knife she scrapes off its scales;
before the stove, smoky shades of grey define
his father's ashen beard, a smudge of scarlet, wine;
through the window are city domes and a bridge
beyond the labyrinth of his birthplace, the herring 
and tobacco, the synagogue and scriptures.

He awakes with his trousers unbuttoned
and is hard in a hand of the preacher:
he pretends he's still asleep and pictures
Pierot in a bowler hat, a fiddler at a window.