There’s a window in the cellar

unhinged, laid flat:

on trestles rested, waiting for repair.


Plywood seals the crooked casing

it used to occupy:

a darkened room now left within.


Faced outside up,

the lattice is reduced to scrabble board,

blank squares unplayed by daylight’s dreams.


Dusty with sanding, work in hand:

that rotten corner sawn away,

a new one mortice-made.


Precision joinery, glued and screwed.

With kneaded putty,

cracking chamfers are renewed. Knotholes filled


When – at last – all primed and painted

then lifted back in place,

we'll see again through panes undimmed.


And over courtyard cobbles, etched

in moonshine, gaze

until our limpid eyes no longer ache.


iii. 2022


The end of the world as we know it

is not

when the first sniper fires their first bullet,

or when the first missile launches

from a clearing in the woods,

or even when tar is added to a first fragile Molotov

and its wick sealed tight,


in the scramble to escape a shelled-out ruin,

keeping low across twisted girders

with just what can be clutched.


Life is more than endless. 

Always on the way to somewhere else.

For 30 seconds before and after

                                                    blood flow stops,

gamma pulses heighten. As sentience clouds,

the rhythms of alpha, beta,

                                            delta, theta harmonise

in our last analepsis.

                                 Until then, we cannot guess its sum.



iii. 2020



Turns out there’s another clock –

not the one I wait beneath.

Time melts across its face, pacing the tangled crowds.


Beyond the point of waiting

there’s choice of destinations.


Headlong then to the riverbank.

Below the span of trains and traffic, upturned spines

of books in line, laid out.           


I buy a paperback keepsake,

cross the ebb surge further up.


A crow flaps the other way, perches

black on some abandoned fence: carrion guard

to plot of temporary wasteland.


From bridge to an exhibition

of old friends: a snail, a tree, three dancers.

I rest with coffee on polished wood,

see only memories.


Other eyes mirror their secret grief.

A child leaving breaks my reverie, and I too

make for the exit, spill

directionless onto the pavement.


Rescue arrives as a Routemaster,

red and numbered thirty-seven.


 ii. 2022 (1987)