The Dog And I

There are women in the house

A feast of them in the kitchen

Excited

High-pitched

Well-dressed women

in high heels.

Seven bottles of white wine ready, chilling,

a choice of Gins, ice, quinine,

feminine time

in the back of the house.aa

The front room is for exiles.

Louis sleeps,

Paul composes

It’s too soon to know whether there’ll be leftovers

to go with le vin du Val de Loire.

That’s a masculine tipple

the dog won’t taste.

There’s Netflix for company,

that’s androgynous,

voluminous

for us.

Us men don’t complain.

A house divided is a house subsided,

the women retired to storylines,

men to their separate ways.

After all, what does an English Setter desire from his master who sits enthroned on a sofa

This dog begrudges nothing,

even monkfish tails roasted in Parma ham,

even goats’ cheese coated in pomegranate and cashew nuts,

even balls of something alongside beetroot and blackberries.

They can get sloshed on Vermentino

for all a couple of testosterone junkies care.

May they scoff La Brie et Le Bleu

Sauvages

Formages

Dommages

And when the women find tartes

tantalising

may they feel stuffed.

The jaw that rests on the carpet

is turned away from the piano

the girl of the house used to play

before her lessons.

She’s out tonight

drinking Capri Sun.

That’s one less woman at the table,

one less mouth for scoops of honeycomb ice cream from SuperValu or Liam Ryan or What-You-Ma-Call-Em.

This dog begrudges nothing,

unlike the women who vie for second helpings.

He pays no attention to the hunger of women,

unless they run out of wine,

start telling dirty jokes

or leave early.

Brutus of Troy Was Here

There was nothing cold about it.

The vitality in its veins

moved in time

with my blood pressure.


It was always so.


There was fire within its walls

from the start,

since the first sod was turned.


It flows all night.

There were ashes glowing

as I flew in and slipped back to nest

inside the city

where strangers become mates.

It will be told.

There’s a world washed by fresh water

flooded by émigrés from Earth.

O River Thames,

tributary,

you’ve nourished us all.

I left my soul behind

I went abroad in Moanbaun woods last nightThe air was crispy sharp and stars alight
Out of the shadow of an old oak tree
stumbled a tall figure following me.
‘ You’ve left your soul behind your back’ she groaned
‘That weight you bore from birth and never owned
it cost a fierce fortune to germinate
and raise from seed divine now rests in state.’ Underground, earthworms slept on roots below
surface, undisturbed by an angel’s flow.
My body freed from care in time for life
Immortal pest intestate cast without a strife. So all I crave and relish on this crust
is Liberty that rises from the dust.

Grace

The poem read by the poet

She came – like a story – into words
from roots planted deep in the womb of her mother’s mystery.

She came – like a foal – from that womb,
a filly full of windswept curls.

She crawled on kitchen floors – between legs of chairs –
until she stood steady and strode past barricades and cant.

She rode her way into her biography
on ponies that foostered – she put manners on their stride.

She carries the weight of her imagination on her back
every morning – on her way to school.

Are you awake?

I

“Is anyone awake?” said the man in his kitchen.

Is there anybody out there

whose eyes, however brittle, are awake?

Is there anyone there for me?

Is there anyone I can’t see?

II

What about the people across the ocean?

What about the people across the land?

What about the people by the lakeside,

are they all sleeping?

When will they wake?

When will they rise?

Like Lazarus, or like their sleeping dog?

III

Yes, who are these people

who are awake and are not speaking?

Are they there for me?

Do they have any way to see the difference they make,

the meanings they build,

the hours they swill?

IV

It’s time for tea,

the kettle, she boils.

The bag has been thrown in.

My cup is not empty.

The chemistry is about to begin.

V

Who is asleep?

If you are asleep, may you be woken.

If you are awake, may you sleep.

You may be in the dark
ears perked
listening for the commas

There may be wax
earwigs
waiting to soften and fall

Are you still?
your eyes locked?
doorway rusted overnight

When will you ever earn

the flowers in your ears?

Graveyards are singing,

welcome the sound of dawning insight,

clasp the stave of whispering shadow.

Enter the Beast

She’s crossing muddy waters (song lyrics)

[In honour of Robbin T Milne, painter]

Hang up, hang up

Your summer brushes,

Your daytime rushes

Your morning blushes

Hang up, hang up

She’s crossing muddy waters

Going out on the tide

She is crossing muddy waters

Heading for the other side

Because she has to earn her living

Needs more food to keep her going

The paint, it doesn’t come free

Her paintings don’t grow on trees

Hang up, hang up

Those summer brushes,

Your daytime rushes

Those morning blushes

Hang up, hang up

She’s crossing muddy waters

Hanging out upon the sand

She’s crossing muddy waters

She knows you’ll understand

Because her shoes have all worn thin

And her makeup’s all run dry

You know she’ll never win

Until she can afford to cry.

Hang up, hang up

Your summer brushes,

Your daytime rushes

Your morning blushes

Hang up, hang up

She’s crossing muddy waters

Wading through a cotton field

She’s crossing muddy waters

She’ll never ever yield

Because her eyes are losing light

The glass cracked and out of date

You’ll see her virtigo

And always running late

Hang up, hang up

Those summer brushes,

Those daytime rushes

Those morning blushes

Hang up, hang up …