Between the subtlety of feathers
And the violence of a stone
Humanity it gathers
Shivering and alone
Between an intake of your breath
And the sentence that you speak
Is all of life right up to death
And the forgiveness that we seek

Between the arc of the horizon
And the spot on which you stand
Is the space you keep your eyes on
And the future that you planned
Between the destiny that’s fated
And where you did all you can
Lies a dream that’s been sedated
By the callous hand of man.


Time’s Failure

Doom chooses not the man on which it falls
Yet all too often it’s grief laden wing descends
The feathered shade and bleaker carrion call
Past which our light can neither break nor bend
Covers those left behind alone here with their guilt
Carved roughly into their collective pallor’d face
Afraid to move for fear that they might wilt
They hate the god who did this, fuck him and his grace
Turn any direction and only pity meets their eyes
The kind knows not how to hurt nor heal
Just placid, lifeless pity of the unknowing and unwise
Such sympathy is rootless, flightless and unreal
The fragility of life is all too easy to forget
When you’re young and drunk and being the bar room bore
But with greyness in your hair, and a head of half-regret
For the pain of loss we are but lost, and time will never be a cure

How many

Memories are dust
Caught hovering in the morning light
Above these last night’s sweated sheets
Whisper and watch them whirl
Like a scattering shoal of tuna
As the gaping maw of a sperm whale
Comes careering into view
That breath hangs there
Paralysed with redundancy
Gone with nothing but a wonder
Of how many breaths are left
How many blinks
Heartbeats, gulps
Meals, drinks, football matches
Films, music,
Successes and failures
How many?
And how good?

Lighting Candles

I lit a candle and its tears smoked skyward
Its kicking flame alive to an unheard beat
Is a step beyond a step back or forward?
When you reached the end, did you feel complete?
A glance up and nothing but a roof
Of hammer-beam and solid oak
A smell of incense and a hope of truth
In the words they say the lord once spoke
But doubt lays heavy in the mind
And I question the point of all this hurt
Why am I giving my body and time
To stand here in this empty church
To celebrate the soul of you now gone
To a place unfathomable or just not!
I remain here, where you came from
Thinking about what I’ve no longer got
But this charade is what we humans do
We mourn and miss and moan and cry
Grief will always be some other hue
Until the colour that we see, on the day we finally die

After Death

I never knew him, the man
with the cracked and craggy face,
Hollow sunken bones, he can
say he finished his final race
Pencil shaving eyes, and stray
nasal hairs that once quivered
Under sleeping breath, but clay
awaits what’s left and whithered

Mutterings and silent tears, how old?
is asked as if grief cares or knows
As he is lowered now, the cold
into the colder earth below

Memories as photographs, fading
in the history of his breath
Like the will to just go on, wading
through whatever’s after death

Poem About a Politician

Skin thin, and sallow eyes
Slits to hubris and candour none
A shadow under heavy skies
Lost from where you must belong
A monument to jagged pause
A trigger finger, blast away
A fingernail at oozing sores
That edge towards a mass decay
The Caliban of this new dawn
The trickling puss of malcontent
A vista of all goodness shorn
Is the world to us you represent

From a Pennine Hill

It is very English from atop this hill.
Fields undulate like apple-skin waves
across the sea of dry stone, gale hardened
lands fertile to the slightest infiltratory touch
of damson, bramble, hazel and birch sat
beneath the menacing outline
of a Kestrel lingering with intent
on a single breath of Atlantic-born breeze.
They abide contemplative aside the rivers
that carve and slice their way
across the epochs, scouring for time’s lost arrow
amid the mossy banks and polished
chestnut pebbles that lick the flesh
of mallards, sturgeon and toads.
Amongst the pastoral and meandering
nature of the day, a holy chorus strikes up
in the cordial confines of Methodism. Patrons
convinced of a heaven they will not see
already in bloom around them.
Across the skyline takes us
toward the lands of cropped hedgerows
preserved fences where archangels Cuprinol
and Ronseal are worshipped and flora
are grown by miracles; the wild tamed;
the choice of colour, of name;
begonia, geranium, and the cloying musk of Jasmine
reaching to the wild garlic across the
valley’s uncultivated and frenzied land
The dusky ghost of coal smoke rises
disappearing among the burnished gold
of a dinner gong setting Pennine sun
bleaching skies a flamenco skirt scarlett
deepening and dying out in to the funereal
shroud of folded, star-lit night