Between Culver and Dunnose …

… is where my eye would fix you still,

marking the play of waves

in tranquil gaze across the curve of bay.

There, edge-bound broom and gorse

reach out their yellow-loaded limbs,  

north to the sweeping height of chalk.


Turning south, with a sleight of hand,

dog rose tumbles over the groynes.

Like some figure of speech

a poppy hides in cow parsley.

Face to face, these your pictures hang.

We talk perspective: how sometimes


one must exaggerate a speck

to show a billowed sail.

How wrists strain with expectation of insight,

yet stay their execution,

from the blank page of beginnings

to our last dreamt stroke of colour


 (for Eileen Cassidy, 1928 - 2020)


i. 2021


I knew I wasn’t

the most embarrassing Dad

when I saw the guy in cargo shorts

and a fake Fair Isle tank-top.

One of those jumpers

with a shirt sewn in.

He was trying to hula hoop.


v. 2020


Pull yourself up

(as we’re all supposed to)

grasping, for support,

whatever furniture comes to hand.

Feel your leverage strengthen

in a newly visible horizon of legs:

four-square chairs, a table, grown-ups.

Tumbles become fewer

and plastic bones will rarely fracture 

in the forest of hardened verticals.


Make your entrances matter

(each year is merely a fleeting stage).

From one small step go further –

run, leap, dance – quick then quicker,

only slow when you near the brink

of falling down.

Windows in the sky

are not for climbing through;

even should the breaking waves below

sound like paradise.


Just keep going

(old people say this all the time)

and second guess the hazards:

kerbs and slopes, stairs and rugs,

spills, pets, darkness.

Risk grows in likelihood and consequence.

Don’t clutch at old regrets with flailing limbs,

take an outstretched hand.

When you reach that place you can no longer stand

better to have walked there.


xii. 2020


Beside, asleep, you wait

for summer through an open sash.

I stretch, unloose

a back that’s been on bended knee

lent over gooseberries.

Birdsong decorates the silence.


Fruit swells on last year’s shoots:

at a hand’s reach

its tartness yields to my caress.

Tingling from the hurtful thorns –

scratches, sweat and sunburn –

I drift into recollection


of long-since lovemaking.

How our necks, like jousting giraffe,

once collided.

How skin brushed against skin;

a palm placed at my waist, though now

your work-strong arms lie resting.


Even the coldest roots will warm,

unseen, when winter melts.

This is our time.

With sharpened blade, we prune bare limbs -

the damaged and dead wood.

Let fresh light bathe a tired heart.


ix. 2020