Hard to come by, hinges like those –

feel their thickness.

Chip out the layered years of clumsy paint,

leave them soak in easing oil.

With periodic gentle agitation,

from past into the present,

they’ll open fully once again.


The learning of new skills:

superannuated feet on rungs

are found and squarely planted.

Every joint and corner of every frame

is tested for integrity.

Each excavated face

gets hardened, sanded to a feather.


Slow work. Feel the difference

that sharpened tools can make,

if you take control of them.

Choosing age-long raw materials –

linseed, putty, turpentine –

entails more coats, extends their drying time,

yet will unite, bind with the grain.


Neither acrylic nor silicone

can claim the same;

repair without petrochemicals

does – in the short-term – cost you more.

But always rain finds a route to rot.

When sills begin to flake, we should not take

our window light for granted.


ix. 2021

Oh, Nadine *

Honey, is that you?

Hair whitened like the carcass of a beached porpoise.

Your fingers a garden rake,

clogged with fallen leaves and Irish cliché.

And cheeks puffy with undigested ostrich anus,

raw fish eyes and recycled vegan.

Your true-blue peepers, a reverse prism

shrinking rainbows to monochrome,

where every darker skin becomes Chris Eubank.

Ivory smile like coffin lining silk,

yours the imprint of a separated hatchling

raised by Baroness Council House.

Sonar of your bat ears fine tuned

to swerve any answer to any question.

And the nerve to get away with it.

Bossy yet servile,

you carry that gilt-edged file in ministerial red

like some fashion accessory.

A pantomime villain we secretly fear,

the poster girl for build-back-better days to come.

Seems like every time I see you

Darling, you are up to something new.


ix. 2021

* with apologies to Chuck Berry