Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Buttercup triumph

She leads me through the field, her hair aflame,
And smiles and laughs the while, as if the ease
In which I find myself while in her company
Were natural as the grass beneath our feet.
The Heavens, she declares – perhaps decides? –
Describing much besides the meadow’s name,
And turns to me. I fall for two blue dawns
Above the dark horizon of her shades.
And there beside a clicking, licking stream
We sit and kiss away the afternoon
While buttercups, their faces to the sky,
Our secret triumph sound to passersby.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

How history repeats itself. Refrains
And choruses as common as a carol
Run through our shared and pooled biography,
And what we deem - or dread - as change is but
The half-remembered humming of a tune
The world learned in its earnest infancy.

Saturday, 14 March 2015


Imagine fifty ravens at the Tower.
Some twenty archers strumming twenty bows
Shoot thirty of the ravens in an hour.
Another twenty-five, alive, arrive,
But ten are killed before that hour's close,
Along with five that had the first survived.
If for one hour more the arrows fly,
But no more ravens come, nor no more bows,
I ask how often does a raven die?

Wednesday, 11 March 2015


Robin Williams. You were the only
Transvestite in the Bay Area to ever
Put the shit up Pierce Brosnan.
If it would have helped you
In any way
I would have stood
In a flash
On any desk to hand.
Vietnam - and the rest of world besides -
Wish you, in funny voices, finally goodnight.


Rik Mayall. Your grimy Y-fronts
And sweaty-palmed hair
Are all I think of
Whenever I see the sign
To Weston-Super-Mare.
And you were
The only pervert I'd ever welcome
As an imaginary friend.
Rest in peace, Rik Mayall.



Harold Ramis. You wrote
Animal House.
It was so funny that I had to
Rediscover bladder control.
You were Egon too, and seemed
To be the only 'Buster who
Actually knew his business.
You even made that cynical harridan
You even made her swoon
With sly fly chat on
Moulds, spores and fungus.
Rest in peace, Harold Ramis.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Lament of Catherine of Aragon

When I was young, my tutor gave to me
A book of stories, written by a Moor.
I had to hide this treasure carefully
For even princesses are bound by law.
But every night, I’d sit by candlelight
Alone and read these outlawed fairytales,
And go to sleep with dreams of dark-skinned knights
Who, dressed in pointed helms and golden mail,
Would kidnap me and whisk me to their lands
Of secret deserts, scorched from high above,
And there, amid the soft and glowing sands
Of Andalus, would sing to me of love.
When no one was awake, when nothing stirred,
When all the palace slept beneath the stars,
I’d read of a princess of Christian birth
Abducted by an Arab from afar.
He stole into her room at dead of night
And spellbound by her skin, as white as milk,
As pale and delicate as soft moonlight,
He stole her; on a horse with wings of silk,
They flew for seven nights and seven days,
Until a castle grew from golden dunes,
Its spires lost within the sky’s blue haze,
Its walls surrounded by a blue lagoon.
And seeing it, the princess shed a tear,
And murmured to the Moor, “Is this your home?”
And smiling, he replied, “My darling dear,
This home is ours, yours and mine alone.”
But still the princess cried, because she missed
The snows of northern Spain where she was born,
And so the Moor, he stroked her hair and kissed
Her hand and said, “Love, do not be forlorn.
You are my love, my dream, and I will show
How much my love will do to prove it’s true,
So sleep tonight, and dream of silent snow
And on the morrow, wake and see the view.”
And so she slept in perfumed sheets so fine,
And dreamed of snow that fell without a sound,
And when she woke, she rose to see the shine
Of sunlight that, it seemed, shone all around.
And shading her blue eyes from such bright light,
She wandered to the window, where she saw
Just how much she was loved by this dark knight,
Just how much she was worshipped and adored.
For there below, enveloping the land,
As far as where horizon met the sky,
There was, instead of dry and dusty sand,
A sea of poppies of the purest white.
And happier than she had ever been
She cried one tear, which dropped and dried away
But ever after, she was never seen
To cry again until her dying day.
No longer am I now that little child
For I may read whatever books I like.
No longer am I happily beguiled
By stories of a kidnap in the night.
No longer do I dream of distant lands
For I have lived away from home for years.
No longer may I cry away the sand
For I am dry, and parched of any tears.
Two princes now have come to take my hand
And whisk me off to foreign spires and towers.
Two brothers, both the heirs to England,
And neither ever gave me any flowers.
And though I cannot outward let it show
There never was a wife more worn with woe.