Thursday, February 28, 2008


I’m watching
another splendid
London morning
into another
of layered, mildly
blue greys,
made moreso
as crows fret
the tree behind
the little brick
my window perch
on Crystal Palace
Road, braying,
beaks poised
into freshening
wind. Rain
gathers itself
for a long, cold
night. Let it.
Let it paint
the street in light,
send the crows
to grutch in more
expedient shelter.
I have only
these hours
left, to watch,
to point my face
into the wind,
before morning
comes and I
must fly away.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I saw them on the platform,
a mother and her son;
he was in his uniform,
she in blue homespun.

We were crowded close enough
that I couldn’t help but hear;
he was acting cool and tough,
but she could see his fear.

“I know you’ll be a righteous man,
and do the things you must.
It’s all in Heaven’s perfect plan,
the only plan we trust.”

“War is hell; we’ve heard it said,
and it’s very likely true;
but you’ll get accustomed to the dead
after one or two.”

“The sooner you get on with it
the sooner we’ll be done.
It won’t be easy, I admit,
but try to have some fun.”

“Splash their bodies in the street,
paint the walls with brains;
don’t stop until their blood completely
stops the city drains.”

“String their guts across the sand
to ripen in the sun,
and keep your Bible close at hand,
your Bible and your gun.”

“And don’t forget the children, Dear;
a couple every day;
they’re little heathen eyes and ears,
don’t let them get away.”

“Free the ground of Christendom
from the moon and scimitar.
Spread the word of Jesus from
Kirkuk to Kandahar.”

“When all of them are belly up
and victory’s in sight,
we’ll kill a pig and raise a cup
and celebrate all night.”

“I love you, Ma,” the soldier said,
a glisten in his eye,
“I love you, too, so go ahead.
Goodbye, my boy, Goodbye.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This Be The Reverse

They’re fucked up, your girls and boys.
No use denying it; it’s true.
At first they only broke their toys,
now they’re bent on breaking you.

It never should have come to this;
the schools, the teams, the ballet classes,
the never failing goodnight kiss;
all that for these jackasses?

We ourselves were raised by clods
who’d barely made it from the cave;
but we contrived to beat the odds:
we took our lumps, and we forgave.

We scrapped the wrong our parents did.
We set ourselves to building trust;
now our trusting, rotten kids
are all fucked up. But not by us.

Science points to peers, milieu,
while parents largely get ignored,
so as you bid your kids adieu,
don’t feel guilty. Lock the door.

Friday, February 08, 2008


So. Did life turn out
anything like you thought?
No, it seldom does.
Whatever the dream was,
we all seem to get caught
in the usual roundabouts.

Not that it isn’t better,
sometimes, if we do.
Youthful dreams are mad,
sometimes, as Mom and Dad
insist, and Sweetie too,
so when the fateful letter

comes and we must read,
know our lives have veered
away from us, we find
an alternate design,
some adequate career,
the things we think we need.

But would it kill your Honey
to wait a little while?
Will the bank collapse without
another burned-out
clerk to lose their files?
Other people’s money

is joy to spend, but no
fun to copy out,
and living, on the whole,
is better with a soul
than existence is without.
Money comes and goes,

but dreams are all we’ve got,
all we truly own,
even unfulfilled.
Daughters, sons, build
your dreams of native stone,
and plant forget-me-nots.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Winter Morning

A mockingbird
flashes into
the iced fractals
of dogwood,
clings, alert,
flashes away.
The dogwood
quivers within
its glass armor,

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Painful Case

Jim lived a life where things made sense.
The things he did, the things he saw
conformed to rules of evidence;
he was a Master of the Law
of the unintended consequence.

It served him well, one would think.
Our Jim made fortunes by deceit,
by playing legal tiddlywinks
for the better felons on the street;
if conscience quibbled, there was drink.

It never did. He loved the scam.
He’d watch his clients skip away
from their appointments with the slam
with cockeyed pride that made him say
“I lie, therefore I am.”

Were they guilty? Goodness, yes.
Did it matter? Not to Jim:
they paid him well for his success
at mesmerising every dim
jury with his ferrety finesse.

Then Vinnie Spoons ran amok.
Lacking the requisite retainer,
he engaged Jimmy with a Glock;
the case was truly a no-brainer:
he shot the phone, shot the clock,

shot Jim, leaving more
loopholes than the law allows.
Sometimes Justice kicks the door
and has its way in the bawdyhouse
we choose to call a world. Encore.