Thursday, 7 June 2012


I have avoided the jubilee
As well as a man can try
I have ducked under the bunting
I have unwaved the flags
I have cocked a snoot at the cones
That blocked off the street party roads
Where everybody was indoors
Watching it all on TV
As if it was the 70's
And all the shops were closed.

I have tried not to think about punk
Which was as long ago from today
As the Second World War was from them.
Something more
Than spitting distance
I suppose.

But I'd had a bath and I was bored
And I turned on the telly and there he was:
Rolf Harris
Singing "Two Little Boys", accapella,
A song that can always make me cry
With its final chorus
Such a bittersweet echo of the first
And I thought to myself
"Maybe this whole jubilee thing
Might not be total shit after all"

But then Lenny Henry appeared
(Lenny Henry
Lenny Henry
Lenny Henry)
During the second verse
And told him to stop now
Stop singing, stop the song in mid-word
Because Stevie Fucking Wonder
Was ready now.

And I felt good again.
I knew my place.
The jubilee thing was not as bad as I'd thought.
It was worse.

Friday, 28 October 2011

October Haiku II

Rainbow-weather drive
Roads of gold in the wet sun
Playing the Ramones

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Haiku- October

Autumn-moon morning
Children laughing in the park
Cold little fingers

Monday, 9 May 2011

A Gentle Man

I drove you to the hospital
The day before I started work
At my new office job.

I tried to tune the radio
And natter while we had to wait
For them to call your name

But all I got was Heart FM
And static. I just made it worse
For everybody else.

And then they sentenced you to death
And gave you leaflets you can’t read
Because of your bad eyes.

A miner’s lungs are chock with dust,
Like wrapping paper, ripped and chucked
In Argos shopping bags

The day that shadows Christmas Day.
These things we used to love, and, then,
We burn, or throw away.

There’s nothing hidden in my chest
But air, conditioned in the pumps
Of tubes and on the train

And in the softening hours spent
On chairs in meeting rooms with pens
For picks and ink for veins.

I drove you home in winter rain,
My Nissan Micra stuck behind
A truck that ferried skips.

These massive yellow coffins racked
In rows to bury working men
Who coughed themselves to death for jobs
That waved them off with fucked-up lungs
Instead of carriage clocks.


On summer lunchtimes (sometimes) I have seen
My colleagues walking outside in their bubbles; gone:
Entangled in their introspective scenes
Identity, the subtle debt, long overdrawn.
Set free from email screens and office schemes,
They’re unaware I’m clocking up the leagues
They've cast their souls out on the winds to sea
To nest improbably, like halcyons.
They wander past the verges choked with weeds.
The nettles dream of golden galleons.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Upside Comics

Check out the new website for the children's literacy project Upside Comics

Thursday, 21 January 2010


My keyboard’s very dusty on my desk

There’s bits of fluff and specs from god knows when

All stuck between the keys where you can’t get

To with your fingertips or with your pen.

I wish I had one of those things, you know,

Those tiny hoovers that you sometimes see.

I’d run the nozzle up and down the rows

Between the numberpad and function keys.

But then, I could just turn it upside down

And slap the back and jiggle it about…

I’ve seen that done before, but then, I’ve found

The desk gets dirtied when the dust falls out,

A grey duvet of dead skin cells and hair,

The sheddings of your keystruck love affair.

Monday, 14 December 2009

The office is cold today.

The office is cold today.
Your fingers walk like numb Cornettos on
the keyboard keys, deleting spam
Viagra emails from Nigerian diplomats
and looking at the clock to see
if it's time yet for your cup of tea
and wondering who brought those biscuits in
and what a nice old tin they're in
and do you sit near her enough to ask her please?
It's half past nine and you're already bored.
Maybe the heating's broken
so you could go home?
But no, the radiator rattles at you
like a cancer patient battling on
"I'm still alive, you mother fuckers!"
but at least in hospitals the bloody heating works,
at least you get to see the nurse's smiling face,
in hospitals it's not as cold as outer space
and you can tell the living
from the dead.
Not like this place.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

"The Offyce" by William Blake

(Note: This William Blake parody concerns itself with the English version of The Office, so apologies to my North American readers who won't know David Brent and, of course, apologies to William Blake who really deserves better)

The Offyce
I soughtest out the DVD
From shops where banners bode
For ten pounds I could freely see
The Christmas episode.

I'd gone and missed it on TV
So pounds I paid them ten
To find out whether David Brent
Would do that dance again.

O! With trembling hands I swiftly
to my home did frollick
To see that "MC Hammer shit"
But did he? Did he bollocks.
This gunk i cough up
is green and it glows;
The slime in my throat
that sprays out my nose
is thumping about
in the tubes in my head.
Fuck going to work,
I'm going to bed.

she vowled at me,this Mancunian girl:
a; and e; like a fax machine.
I consonanted in reply,
accentless myself of course.

hunting for hedgehogs

hunting for hedgehogs is quite hungry work:
digging in the dankness and delving in roots;
it is enticing to imagine an igloo of rice
smothered in soysauce and sautéed in ghee
or legumes with limejuice liberally applied.
to be honest, these hedgehogs are hardly as nice:
they’re chewy like cardboard and crunchy like nuts.
their prime cuts are paltry, such puny old meat
hardly befitting the butcher to bring out his knife.
yet their flesh is well-favoured in far eastern lands;
a decadent delicacy of dubious tradition.
some say that the skin is suspiciously akin
to that of a human who hunts hedgehogs by night.

(this poem is an exercise in writing alliterative AngloSaxon-style verse, in the "syzygy of dipodic hemistichs" (!) mode of epics like Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Props to The Ode Less Travelled, where these exercises can be found)

in October the weather
sprouts waterlogged bricks;
city streets dunked in water
like naughty witches;
the sodden verge; flooded weeds
in the sky-sucking sewers
and storm drains draining rain from
soggy clouds overhead.
do you really believe all
the rain falls back up
into the sky when it dries
off my trouser leg?

(this poem is an exercise in writing syllabic "haiku"-style verse, alternating lines of 7 and 5 syllables per line, props to The Ode Less Travelled)
you want to be the newest broom?
you want to seize the reins of fate?
you want to hide inside your room?
you can't sweep up in rollerskates
Hole Puncher
The voyagers with cheap-day tickets claspTheir ugly luggage, lollygagging fagsTo lips and snogging, leaning on the glassAnd killing time and toying with their bags.They watch me eating lunch. They stare like fishWith less charisma, less romance and poise.No voyeuristic thrills are ever gainedNo hello fears, no happy farewell kiss.If either witness wanted tears of joyThey’d have the decency to take the train.My office window used to give the park.It calmed me down to look and see the treesAnd see the birds inside the trees and drunksInside the pond and punching down the beers.But then the council slipped a whole new stopFor coaches right in front of where I sit.They said it’s for a year or maybe lessBut now my little view is always croppedAnd diesel fumes come through the glass and stingThe eyes that give the backside of the bus.The man who wears the day-glo yellow vestVeers up and down all day. His name is John.We mean to get his surname somehow yet.He punches holes in tickets with a wandThat makes his chest tip upwards when it clips,Denotes authority and right of way;But power waxes where love’s glory grows.I sat and watched the crippling of the hipsI sat and watched the soulless wand decayI sat and watched the endless trippers tripI sat and watched the summer roll awayIt's not the same. The puncher just clips holes.

These are just some seasonal haikus I wrote for fun. Props to my homeboy Basho.

April; a rabbit
Suddenley in the garden,
Chubby hole-digger

Devonian beach;
Sunburnt legs swollen, basking
Foolishly like sharks

Autumn leaf, rotting
Beneath a million brothers;
Sweet decay escapes

This December sex:
Duvets and central heating,
Moisture on glazing

Yum Planet
These pages tasted like applause: So sharp at first but soon a mush;
They globulated into paste.This plastic pen was warm like ice
That doesn't melt; or glass with sweet Umami flavoured fingerprints.
This ink-line raced along my tongue: A moonray; quick and bitter; cold
And colourless; not even black. I'd know this without tasting them
Because I tried to eat the worldLike you (when I was your age) too.

Sandra Blazing
stars turn supernova when they die; tyres pop and squeal before they blow;
candles shrink and gutter in their sticks. lovers’ letters flutter up in flakes
from her break-up pyres in kitchen sinks, while volcanoes sputter out the sky.
social workers burn out at their desks and it’s not till lunch break that you see
her go kicking pigeons round the park.

They carved my head
With alphabets,
And hieroglyphs.
But now the letters
Will not let me sleep.
They keep me up
At night, the words
Of spells that spell
The names of trees
In lowercase, in
Case you want to see
Them join their hands
Like walkers in
The woods. I'm wide
Awake, at war
With runes that won't leave
Me alone to read.

Alternating Lantern

You’re solo. Haloed loop of white on black
One lonely boob conducting moods at sea
Dogs woof yr name but then u start 2 cool
Yr horseshoe, hoof-like face cartoons a grin
Turns thin & sideways hooks & disappears

Moon Goddess

My goddess of the moon is silver, white
And endless. Nights are blessed by beating wings
Of moths who worship her in wordless flight.
My princess summons moss to glow and sing
In brightness. Luminescent candlelight;
A navigator’s temptress; cosmic bling.

Soon Come (for Diana, who is expecting)

She’s a fat croissant,
Full of milk.
Her belly brings
The moonlit nights
She’s waxing. In
The swelling tides
Are Braxton Hicks,
The kicking tips
Of dancing toes
Waiting to go
Outside and play,
Itching to skip
Across the waves.
She’s a fat croissant,
Full of milk.

Thames Slink

The piss-head on my train sits down and laughs
And tries to catch my ear with hissed advice
“A few are country pubs on summer days:
Beer gardens made from glue and you’ll get stuck
In there for good. But others tickle you,
Like feathers do, before they fly away,”
I have no idea what to say, so I
Ignore his words for alcoballyhoo.
“Some other girls are West End musicals,”
He gets me looking up at him at last
“You wouldn’t say you had a bad time, but
You know you’ll never want to go there twice.”
He clunks the bottle hard against his tooth,
Gets off around Kings Cross and takes the tube.