#poem #poetry #amwriting red onion

The older I get, the more like red onions:
I'd eat them as apples, if I still had the teeth.
There's something beneath ourselves
that in losing taste, picks at smells,
and tries to make of simple pleasures
for what they are. When I drove I car
I always drove fast, or balanced on the clutch
between the urge to stall, and the biting of second,
lies the sweet point; everything else is speed.
That soft mush. like a death row meal,
less grueling to chew than the walk.


#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo ....

Only breath, of all that connects us to the stars,
when held gently on the palm will trace the past.
No swiftless season there: to ripen lingered day
to that we might call wisdom, in folly unto art,
that meaning might be found. Then let it stand.
And, let it slip away across those ridged whorls
like dried apples; never bought nor bitten
but handed out for healthy teeth and minds.


#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo Without Grand Claim

Without Grand Claim

This little lamp, unmarked by soot;
so coyly hides when asked to play
the game of belief.  Instead I send
a raven with a dove in it's beak
in answer as a hoped of peace.

But when the pale rider comes,
perhaps alone, without the pipes
and drums of transformed time;
this little light, of comfort warm,
without the need to mark me out,
will be enough, I trust.


#poem #poetry #amwriting #naporimo 2C 17 April


The unmoving couple sit and wait for the bus
that will not come. They sat there yesterday.
Tomorrow they will still be there: I suppose.

And, they are. In the same clothes, same shoes.
Though today, which is tomorrow, for you,
a magpie watches them from a nearby roof.

Just one. For sorrow. Yesterday the magpie
was not alone, but in a three. For a girl, perhaps.
But yesterday you did not see it, as two

because you cannot be happy with uncertainty.


#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo Found


How long the rain, counted out like cotton
from a dandelion, upon her face: she would not say.
The distant hills grew dark and still she stood,
not waiting for the past, but for a present change;
when the telephone would ring, again, but not
repeat what had been said. In the growing glare
of evening, her silhouette mined sorrow
with all the sadness tainted silver bares.

Had she ever banged her head?
Or chipped a tooth?

At the third undrunk cup of coffee,
when the stain upon her cotton dress
hung heavy at the hem, she let herself
be led from the rain of the balcony to her bed.
There to take communion, of wine and pill,
as fretful faces murmoured low, she undressed;
stiff as a doll, staring at the ceiling.

Did she have any birth marks?
Had she ever painted her finger nails?

At the closing of the door, and the flicking of the light.
she held onto the crucifix, she wore before
as decoration. And sinking from unthinking
a prayer played upon the lips, for children....


#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo doubles Within and Without 5 April

Within and Without

Snared leverets lie, as neighbours,
angled on the quarter hour;
the hindmost outstretched tendons point
to the fact it's half past three.

I have followed the sun up the hill
to where the barrows softly rise,
more natural than the turning wheat.
And from this highest vantage, now
appears painted on the lower sky, the sea.

And all around me sings of birds,
and, all brightness rises from the earth.
And over, under, piled below
sleeps a king from long ago.

I cross this out: and pull hard on my roll up.
My blister is hurting more.
I slug brandy,
swallow a couple of paracetamol:
hope the pathologist has the sense to check my feet:
take note of the Ordinance Survey map, my pack;
and not assume suicide.

There should be a poem in these rabbits.
The bloodied necklaces, their heads together,
their bodies butted out.

But there is not.
There is a blister, needing three miles of nursing,
and a bloodied sock that may not fit
the dusty, gaping boot.


#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo sansan Hollow 14 April


Within this wooden womb, my heart:
its timbrel louder than the devil;
is all that breaks the silence here.
The circled walls, on touch impart
to fingertips some gnostic will
to know, some part of us explained.
The blank of touch: thoughts appear
traced into sense in patterned grain.


#peom #poetry #amwriting #ilkleywriters #Ilkley Scry


I found the cord of honeysuckle, you made,
garroted in the stump. One flower remained
hyaline, embossed where bark had flayed
before the tree lay drowned, in waves
of sinking sand and mud. Ungrievous grave
so simple there, where land meets sea in play
of silted dawn, of squelching dusk; opaque in clay.


#poem #poetry #amwriting Return


They used to hang bodies over the black-water creek;
picked bodies of picked men, their entrails pulled
by the birds in greedy jerks. The dead glass eyes watching
over and out to the waves and the clouds:
or with a twist of wind, or the collapse of a gull tugged neck,
those same dead eyes might turn back, to the landward
from which they came, a week or so before.

We step across to the sand, as through a rent veil
which locks out the sound of the marsh, and the traffic.
These riddled sands, caught between the turning tide
in expanse, hold only ourselves and the wind.
We do not look back, but sometimes down
to the dry, to the empty, to the occasional shell still sealed.
We do not look back, too tempted by the coldness of the sea.

On each ripple dies a star, combed clean as morning.

#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo Index Poem 12 April

From in the Shadow of the Sword
by Tom Holland

Attitudes to slavery enshrines Mecca
as pivot of cosmos. Wilderness on borders,
competition for proselytes, earthquake,
and the flood, pays little heed to the Prophet.
Ancient manuscripts and Rabbis in Palestine
bargain with Constantinople over heresy:
contextualising tradition of charity
as cockpit of global affairs.
Harbingers of end days
Arab desert spirits decrees compulsory baptism
of Jews and Samaritans, re-minting of coins
and mercenaries patrol frontier.


#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo On the Day of First Dead 10 April

On the Day of First Dead

From the postbox on the corner
I watched the people come and go.

My mother in a sheepskin coat,
hunched and hurried, through the door.

And all the world was held within
the circle of the shadow there

in which, I chatted out the tale
of why I turned and turned, around

the postbox, cold against my hand.

#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo Spine Poem 10 April

On the beach Tolstoy learned
that Anna could not hear the silence of the lambs.
Her great expectations craved high windows.
a wonderful life, and bloody victory:
she hated little women.
Not for her the writers handbook,
with its female eunuchs taking tea with Kingsley Amis.
No. Ecce Homo.
So prick up your ears Tolstoy,
for Anna has the Inter-railing Handbook 1987
and is off to the promised land.


#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo things you thought you would never write 9th April

I have writer's block.

#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo Black Narcissus 8 April

Black Narcissus

The dried ring of yellow piss in the mouth
of the gusset: moonlight on the moving moor
rebounding with the dead reply of silence.

More precious than a common ring, this thing
elating from the act; more worthy than the weeping
common kindness of the common bond.

For echo has met echo in assumption
of their perfect love. In searching for a glove
their hands, dripping at the wrist, entwine.


#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo 352 7 April

(in memory of Keith Bennett)

Not gentle, not like home, these moors
lack beauty: lacking light the shadow lies,
a godless fleer hangs leering still.

Treeless, moulded, never still,
the passing clouds define the moors.
Looking from the bus, to folds and lies,

black ditches dark as witching lies
and creeping rocks that then stand still:
a single raven, on a wall, surveys the moors,

for on these moors, not like home, still lies...


#amwriting #poem #poetry #napowrimo Food 6 April

My little lad climbs on my knee,
picks out the letters off the screen,
'Am I a cereal killer?" he asks.

#amwriting #sketchbook woods

My father always told me not to go into the woods on Spittal Hill, or the beast would get me. But, my father was gone and my mother didn't care. She was obsessed with the new bloke, and he didn't care either.

So there was no reason not to: so I did.

Or rather I didn't, I daren't. I stood by the 'Keep Out' sign as Martin picked his way through the barbed wire fence.

It still puzzles me why he turned to say goodbye before he slid into the ferns.

It was like he knew.


#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo Bad Seed 5 April

Bad Seed
(for Mary Bell)

We murder so we can come back
purple where the white once lay:
to grip the stem with tight figures
cure sore throats we like to say.

Daddy bee too drunk with nectar,
mummy she has gone away:
come join us little children
all fall down we like to play.

See the little babies sleeping
peaceful, with a hint of grey:
see their mummies all o'grieving
skip away, away, and never say.

We murder so we can come back
we children crost with the fey:
We murder so we can come back
out all day in search of play.


#shortstory #amwriting 3


They followed the path down through the woods, until they reached a gulley cut by a waterfall. The night was barely moonless, and the woods enfolding. Beyond the approaching rush of water, and the occasional car: the very occasional car, to remind them that they had not stepped back in time: the only sound was the breaking of twigs and the crunch of their boots.

Josh kept close to Mo, who was clearly in no mood to talk.

At the gulley, Josh could see down the narrow gouge the lights of what he took to be a farmhouse by the looming shadows of the outhouses. And, in the fields in front the dotted outline of what he took to be sheep. The path here turned back up the hill, but to Josh's surprise Mo slithered down the bank to the stream and set off down the steep incline. Josh followed. At the bottom the ground was marshy, almost ankle deep mud, they waded through this until they reached a thicker tree-line again. Here Mo rested, ducking down behind a tangle of brambles.

"Ok," said Mo, taking off his back-pack, "we wait here for the others."

"Others?" asked Josh, dropping down beside Mo.

"When they come, you say nothing. Let me do the talking."

The darkness here was almost total. The only real light coming the slightest reflection of moonlight on the head of the waterfall. The shadows ran down the hill in a perfect gradation of grey, into it reached the blackness with the arching cave of the brambles, And just as Josh's night-vision adapted, so his hearing in the stillness began to pick up on the sound of the woods. The faintest creaking of trees, the splash of bird-wings, the distant squabble of late roosting crows.

"Mo," he whispered, indicating movement away to the left.

They both stared at the shape, which hung frozen, listening. Then hearing nothing, the shape moved again, slower than before. Josh thought he could see the head, which seemed to be sniffing, but at the angle they were viewing from, and amongst the trees it was difficult to make out what it was. Mo, angled his body to get a better look. Josh noticed Mo's thumb moving above the trigger of the assualt rifle. The shadow was moving toward them, less concerned now. As Mo moved the rifle to his shoulder, Josh could see that the shadow was a deer. Josh's heart began to race, realising that Mo had taken the safety off of the gun, and was intending to take a shot. The creature was less than twenty metres away, it's eyes glinted, and it was clearly sniffing at something. Mo braced the rifled into his shoulder, his movements matching the deers for stealth.

Then suddenly deer startled and sprang back in the direction from which it came, Moments later they heard the sound of splashing, stumbling, and guttural curse. Mo clicked the safety back on, lowered the rifle and said, "that was freaky."


#poem #poetry #amwriting #nopowrimo Hinge 4 April


When just in lingered scented air
outstretching in unbalanced days
without the fullest heat of summer
   or forgotten cold, you, without reply
   before the month is ended: slowly
start to die.

              Not waiting for all flower bloom,
or trees to plump, their fruit to swell,
in single primal pivot hour,
our longest shadow turns, our hands hung loose
   at our side.

Sill, the rain hangs in season
   coming from the early year.
Still the turning, turning still
   in orange haze upon our eyes
   grown used to useful, useless days,
counting less.

June you are more cruel than May.
If it may be said that hope is worst;
   than failure, or success.


#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo Fan Letter to Betjamin 3 April

Fan Letter to Betjamin

The crumpets, and sunsets, a set won at three,
countryside dashing to afternoon tea;
dull tick of a clock at the end of the day,
as the 'help' pulls the curtain at passing away.

Of Bovril, of Ajax, of chewed Merry Maids,
of England, its seasides, its sadness and shades;
circling Terns evoked on the waves,
cove crashing Atlantic, or bright esplanade.

Bicycled churches tucked behind leas,
noting the sedge, and the changing of leaves.
Declaring that houses belong on the ground
and the love of child is deeply, greatly, profound.

The anger at the mock-timber peroxide-wavey-set
with their boorish way of remembering always to forget.
At 189 Cadogen Square they all sleep safer now, and,
bombs do far less damage than planners do to Slough.

The window smashing Teds, are all safe tucked in beds
in retirement homes. Though the way you said
their Monica, still tickles me to laughter: as among the broken glass
you documented something lost in the breaking broken past,

#shortstory #amwriting 2


Josh had made it his mission to leave college without any debt. He was entitled to a small grant, and took every chance he could to earn money: including some small-time pot dealing for Mo's uncle. He also had two part-time jobs, one in a book shop, the other in a coffee shop, both on campus. In the holidays he took factory jobs or picked vegetables. With the result that after two years of study, he had a net debt of £162, and had passed every examination and assignment.

"What the hell is this?"

"Cammo," answered Mo, daubing his cheek with black grease paint, "put it on."

"Is this necessary?"

"It is if you don't want to be seen. Hurry up, we need to get this done before midnight."

"Or we'll turn into pumpkins?" asked Josh sarcastically, taking off his jacket.

"No. Because after midnight the Old Bill will be out stopping drunk drivers and Dark-Skinned fellows in Four-by-Four's. Which means me," he nodded, at his uncle's car. "and they might get a bit suspicious is they find the boot full of dead sheep." He threw the cammo-paint to Josh, who missed it, "Right. Do you want the AK, or the shotgun?"

"What are you talking about Mo?"

Mo took the two guns from under the passenger seat of the car, and held one in each hand. "You have a choice, an AK-47 or a sawn-off shotgun."

"Where did you get those," asked Josh, picking up the cammo-paint.

"You take the sawn-off." Mo thrust the gun into Josh's hands, and disappeared round to the driver's side of the car. He re-appeared with a two large hunting knives, "come on, come on, we haven't got all night. Look, don't worry about the trousers. Those black jeans will do just fine for now."

"But, but..."

"Look man! Stop whining. You either want the money or not. If you do, get ready quick. If you don't, stay here."

Josh made two smeared green-black lines across his cheeks, and another down the bridge of his nose. "I was going to say..."

"Yes well don't," said Mo, securing the the knife belt around his waist. "There's a first time for everything. The guns are for our protection. We'll do the killing with this, if need be." He thrust the other knife into the ankle of right boot, and took a large lump hammer from the rear of the truck. "Are you ready?"

Josh tossed his jacket onto the passenger seat, "Ready," he said, putting on his 1-D beanie.

"Good," said Mo. The indicators on the truck blinked twice. "Two rules, don't touch the trigger on the gun. You're not a cowboy. No matter how tempting it is, leave it alone. And two, don't puke."

"No shooting or puking. Fine."

Mo slung the pack on his shoulder, handed Josh the lump-hammer, and set off into the woods. The headlight of a car passed on the top road, the sloshing sound it made seemed very far away.


#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo The Bomb 2 April

The Bomb

It ticks, it sits like spit on a coat.
The flap is up, and photos are at home:
a left envelope between the cruet.

We make a rather perfect pair
to spend a nice forgotten hour,
unclaimed, amid the furled urning steam
tannin as the walls of the railway buffet.

Stabbing the crumbs on the plate,
the tealeaves tell to look, so I do.

No note.

The crimped edges of the pictures
and the yellow tone hint of summer,
glossy summer,

two children, a boy and a girl, with spades
kneel smiling by a four bucket sandcastle;
flagged and shelled, damped moated.
A suited father eats ice cream.
The mother, with an elaborate permanent wave,
her hand beneath her chin, as she
is joyfully caught with an eclair.
No note, just three photographs, fading
to sepia.

No one died.

The last crumb on the plate, still carries
the crystalline crunch of Bath buns.

#poem #poetry #amwriting #sketchbook ufyweiuf

I don't seem to have the knack
of forcing my children to eat things they don't like
but later adore.

I dangle pork pies above their sleeping noses
in the hope they will dream about
and crave the jelly between the pink and crust.
Or will they come to appreciate
the sublime silkiness of tinned pears
with tinned milk, on a wet Sunday
with the shops shut and Upstairs Downstairs on the tele.
What hope they will ever know
the taste of bird's tongue and top of the milk
on frozen snowy mornings,
mornings so cold the thick warm cream
froze your teeth, in equal proportion
to the three teaspoons of sugar, on each Weetabix.
They will never the agony
of school summer milk, curdled to the taste of crayons.


#poem #poetry #amwriting 2A


Forgive me for not knowing
the view from those lost shoulders.
Chin resting on that balding pate
and the strong hands that held your ankles
when rolling with the gait, and you pointing
to the world seen above the knee;
you then now free. Free to see the boundless
days, the outstretched: when to be ten
was more real than being old, and more grown up.

#poem #poetry #amwriting #napowrimo #lune 1 april

at the edge of clouds
wait mothers
swelled with childish pride

#shortstory #amwriting 1


"NAZI'S OUT! NAZI'S OUT! Hey man what are you doing?" whispered Mo, between exclamations.

"I'm rolling a fag: OUT!: what does it look like."

"NAZI'S: the cameras are rolling. NAZI'S: Amy will do her nut, if she sees you."

"OUT!," Josh licked the paper, "fine."

Josh made his way to the edge of the crowd, and ducked back behind a large concrete gatepost to make sure he was not in view of the news-crews. He lit the cigarette.

"Herbal is it?"

Josh looked up to see a policeman standing in front of him, "I wish."

"Oh don't worry sir," said the policeman, moving into the gateway beside Josh, so as to be equally unobserved. "We are under strict instructions to only arrest toublemakers today. It would be awfully bad form if any of your lot were to be arrested. Very bad PR all round. What with Austin-Maxi making hay about the corruption scandal."

"My lot? What do you mean my lot?"

The policeman adjusted the radio on his shoulder, "aren't you with the anti-Nazi's? I was sure I saw you venting you spleen not two minutes ago."

Josh shrugged his shoulders. The policeman had a cocky air that Josh did not all together trust: not least because the number on his shoulder had been obscured by a piece of black elastic. "It's a free country," Josh replied, hoping the answer would be sufficient, the policeman would take the hint and leave him alone.

"I take it you are one of the rent-a-mob then?" continued the officer, not taking the hint. "How much did they pay you?"

Josh was about to answer when Amy appeared. "There you are," she said, however her gaze immediately went to the policeman, and then back to Josh. "What's going on?" she asked, a note of heavy suspicion in her voice. "Josh?"

"I'm trying to have a quiet smoke."

"We need you in the demo. The film crew are having difficulty filling the frame. You are letting the side down. Come on." She grabbed the placard leaning against the post, and thrust it into Josh's hand. "Now!" she said, pulling him by the arm.

"NAZI'S OUT! NAZI'S: how much longer do we have to be here?" Josh asked, waving his placard.

"OUT! I'm not going on the march," said Mo, "they've had their twenty quid out of me already. Do you want to go somewhere afterwards?"


"Oh wait, I have to see my uncle."

Amy turned to them, "will you too stop gossiping and protest, please."

"I'm sure she fancies me," said Mo, winking.


The door of the tanning-salon-cum-party-office opened and out came Max Straw, the object of the protester's anger. The crowd jeered and shouted insults at the rather small man in a neat suit, who smiled, and blew a kiss as he got into his car. A few of the protesters, closest to the film-crew from the local BBC news, jostled with the tight-head from the police rugby team; and an egg was thrown, but didn't hit anyone. And with that Mr Max Straw was gone. Leaving only the local candidate, Noreen Plum (Mrs), and her election agent, Henry Plum (Mr), and a few of their supporters on the far side of the road, to shout at.

Giles on the megaphone tried to get a chant of "SCUM, SCUM, SCUM" going. But the autumnal afternoon was growing cold, and most of the crowd wanted to be like the news-crews: namely pack up and go home. Besides the Plum's spoiled the fun, by going back into the tanning-salon-cum-party-office.

"Wait a minute," said Josh, holding out the money in his hand as proof, "I'm two quid short here."

"I docked you for your unauthorised smoke break," said Amy, turning away, to deal with the sundry hands outstretched for payment. She was checking the list of those to be paid, when Big Malc, the local convener, intervened, by pointing out that this was hardly the best place to conduct such business, and bustled Amy, and a trailing gaggle off students, into the Nice Buns cafe: where the affairs of the League might be conducted in private.

"I can't believe she did that," sighed Josh, pocketing the short change.

"It will be worse when the revolution comes." It was the policeman again. "Still, it will good for me. I'll be on triple time come that happy day."

"I'm so pleased for you."

"Don't spend it all at once," mocked the policeman, as he moved off to join his colleagues laughing and joking by the van.

"It looks like you made a friend," observed Mo. "Oh, and don't feel too hard done by, they ripped everyone off by two quid. I was seen on camera yawning."