Professor buys a pair of little shoes at an antique fair

Judy always preferred the colour pink
but these were crocodile shoes of the deepest green,

scaly, with a background hum of jungle
and small enough for  a crow’s feet.

They were made over a century ago.
She had lost them on the pier

curiously drawn away by Monkey
who offered his audience a queen conch

with the ruse of listening to his homeland sea
while a pickpocket fishy as a carp

stole buttons off their shirts. Punch intervened,
aimed and bowled a brass ball across the pier slats.

Jester and Monkey rattled their fists and fled,
and Punch was – well – a  hero.

But they had already stolen Judy’s shoes
and the pink pearl buttons off her cardigan.

Oh the loss she had endured back then.
If she wore the shoes now, Croc 

would surely thrash his tail and run towards
the tread of soft moccasin steps.

(from: Judy, Out of the Box)


Last year, when they should have been
riding camels in the Sahara desert

galloping to a musky tent,
he lay beside her in a hospital z-bed,

and waking, held a bowl while she was sick,
and going back to the hotel for more pants

he travelled by taxi with a dodgy driver
who drove down side alleys.

He returned to stay beside her all week
night nurses whispered, ums, doctors whispered, ahs.

When he thought they wouldn’t be allowed to leave
they pulled out her drips together and fled

to a waiting plane, and home
where he tucked covers around her till she was better.

Needle marks and x-rays appeared as destinations
in her dreams of sand storms and masked Skywalkers.


Seven Miles and Flying

Fuelled by dawn’s hazy light she pounds the lane
in pursuit of the rat familiar with her sprint,
he’s steadfast, tracking through tangled roots. Veined
ochre and cobalt blue flecked feathers glint –
a kingfisher confiding checks her, curbs free will.
She could retract or charge through, this blinking
is because she can’t fly, this running stilled
so not startle things or change thinking.
She aches to don her dreams in emerald satin –
a metamorphic enchantment and be
seven miles in front, wing-whirring, stone of spring
to shifting rivers, soothsayer to the tree,
awakened empress hawking as she sings,
sky-blue journey in the flight of her wings.

(Two poems from: 'Notes From the Balcony')


Standing Stones*

My father taught me to carve stone with stone,
to caress formations so that curves
lie in shadows, and the circling sun
ripples their contours like muscles to your eyes 

I can lay hearts inside stone; surface nipples
to suckle their unborn young. I can shape stones
like ancient lovers that never touch,
that whisper in each other's breath.

I will teach my son how to hold his visions
around the chipping stone, and he, his son,
and all the way down the ancestral line
until tools are metal that carve metal, and air.

The standing stones whisper to me
that seasons fall decade after decade,
they weather the storms, yet grains fall softly,
one per year, until one day they fall wholly

and gently kiss, buried in forest
amoungst centuries of fallen leaves,
when my bloodline's sights are set in the distant stars
and he carves away this Earth for fuel.


*Stone Circle at Kingarth, Isle of Bute, Scotland

'Standing Stones' first published in 'Reach Poetry Magazine, Issue 126',(Readers vote, 2nd place) republished in 'Quantum Leap Magazine'.




When the sea-ice cracks,
ice-floes begin their melt journey.

A pair of young narwhals, attracted
by prisms on the island’s humped back,

by bursts of diamonds down to the sea-bed,
swim among moving blocks of sea-ice.

The two of them become trapped by a sassat.
They dive into the freezing ice,

re-surface with a sorrowful whistle,
then gather speed, sing sounds

like waterfalls and running rivers
in the pool of blue-white-salty sea.

He dives alone
rises and side-butts, heaves

the female onto frozen white tundra,
she slithers into ice-fog, thrashes

within sight of the blue arctic-waters.
Clicking sounds echo from the scattered pod,

with iron tusks that clash in V’s
they haunt the jigsaw of blue and white

for the missing. The lone narwhal
with his long tusk cleaves into a slab of ice.

*Inuit word for ‘The Land That Never Melts

(First published in Reach Poetry Magazine, November2016)



Purple Elephant

Sewing sequins on a purple elephant
lying upside down under her rounded contours
I made a silver star for her story:
where she'd come from out of the cupboard
when a badger ran in from the wintry field.
I opened my arms to welcome him,
and tended his feet
which had pounded the frozen clumps;
musky scent and greasy hair against my face
I stroked his whiskers,
gathering the dew to shake
into diamond sequins
to thread a seat for my purple elephant, weaving
chains to wrap around her and guide
her to the last minute's horizon.
The badger didn't stay. His mission
was to continue
across the pink fizz of a ploughed field
becoming ghost to the seven sequins in the sky.

*Feature Poet, Orbis 151, Spring 2010, 3rd place Reader's Vote ('Notes From the Balcony')



Judy has a proper day off

Judy drifts
like cotton-wool puffs
hunting down lost horse-shoes
on the beach. She watches reflections
in pools of cormorants wing-drying
on wooden groynes. She counts
the time it takes for beadlet-anemones
to slide from the tip of a flint rock
to the base (under water). 
She sings like an alto-cumulus
while stone picking for dinosaur teeth
on the shingle beach. She walks
the strand line for feathers
to make dream-catchers. She learns
warm westerly breezes. She waves
a lot, paddles a lot, and makes tea
in the beach hut where diamond-
dust settles on sea-shells.

(from: Judy, Out of the Box)


Songbirds Dream of Singing

The sound of muted wing beats
cuts deep under the skin,

wrapped in four walls, twiddling
a penknife as the dark creeps in.

Wall dragons and brothers sleep,
only her shadow stalks, with gritty edges

and towering limbs, unfazed –
it steps with fugitive

over dark frays on the stairs
shudders on click of iron key.

The white owl from the rooftop
swoops over her stealthy shadow

looming for the girl, who slides
a wooden bar of the shed.

Stars illuminate make-shift cages,
roosting greenfinch twist their heads;

bullfinch, chaffinch blink, tiny chests beating
visibly behind rusted wires, instinct

kicks in, they know silence and the arc
of the earth into the light of dawn.

Her shadow learns the close proximity
of wing beats and the freedom of kindred things

flying into blue. Open doors.
Stillness. The loss of ‘five bob a pair’

someone has to pay for. Breathless,
by rakes and spades, her shadow leans in.

(from: Something and Nothing)