Selection (Poems, 2022-2023)

A selection of poems from 2022 – 2023.



They come asking where 
is my lost coffee cup, my glove,
my God? I promise to have 
a look round, returning often
empty handed. Settling
for my company, they share
a while the deep pocketed 
disappointment, leaving 
hope light as lint on my palms.




And we talk as though we have 
no hand in our mutually assured
destruction, reaching past love 
to grab knowledge by the throat;
but who among us has not crossed 
dignity’s boarder to seize a point 
in conversation? I know of silos full 
of sin, camouflaged so skillfully the 
satellites will never see them, ready 
to launch on any given other.
I deem a threat.




Because we have a lot in common like
the mistrust of machines or the question
of what happens when the head’s bowed.
God seems always gone to you, migrating
to some warmer clime.

You let go what’s unusually leashed, 
for better or worse you’ve taught me
that much slowly, never in a raised voice
but with a touch of the arm while walking
and a stop. listen. The raptor glides overhead.




Watched a man watch his daughter 
eat scoops of sea foam ice crème
one morning before eleven; she had
no business indulging, nor he smiling,
still the clouds made way for a bit 
more light, and James was corroborated




A window’s hung on the east 
wall. Simple scene, lattice overrun 
by vines perennial, verdant 
more so in gentler months.

Framing the evolution without,
I often thought that lexicon 
of leaves revealed more within
than many sermons.




Waking among them, tremendous, 
swimming in on the neolithic 
mist, we hushed each other, believing 
our cheap canvas camouflage. 
It was magic, their scale 

to my small life. 
One evening, heart drumming 
into the sod, I crawled on my tummy 
near as possible, primitive pen knife 
in my shorts’ pocket, a brief rite
of passage before teethe brushing 
and sensible bed times reined me 
back in from boyhood.




I was not worthy
of their unsophisticated 
prayers, cast as coins
into the wishing waters 
of the deep, expecting 
change. It came.
For all their poverty 
of diction they knew
the second language 
of trust which I had not 
retained. Pockets 
full, they sat at water’s 
edge, spending indiscriminately 
as I held out my hands
begging for a penny.




They flocked to her 
grave, once he was down, 
eager for her company 
over his. Shovel by shovel 
the earth subdued 
his memory I was left 
alone with, to witness how
a mother’s wing always 
finds a way to exhume itself.




We’re a bit drab, collected 
mostly from the lost 

and found. Rarely do we excite 
in ritual, as it often resembles eating 

your greens. Blood loss is common,
as are open wounds. Our best quality 

is the ready admittance of self
righteousness, for which 

we have no remedy 
other than turning up.




The bush burned 
briefly in the child’s face 
before disappearing 
into another;

I could not hold 
the gaze, a quickening 
here and there between
the scruffy looks and 
stuttering smiles;
finally it retreated long
into the mirror, flickering 
beneath eyes afraid yet 
asking to be consumed.




Among match stick houses 
and mid-century telephone
wire we have forgotten 

about the fragility of the ship’s
hull and the autumn when 
the stomach turned for fear 

too little was harvested; forgotten 
about stone and iron and that we
had great grandparents 

at all; here we present history 
with the future only, expecting it 
to bow and ask for directions.




Drums were beaten 
among food trucks
and craft beer stalls,
and giving one ear for half 
the hour we called it a draw,
“enough for now”.

They called it honour, but I 
felt none among thieves.




Couldn’t say what 
but it resembles surf 
as from the North Sea, 
so that when the tide pulls 

the fissures in character 
widen and I fret you’ll
be lost, hypothermic
in the wash.



BURN (in memory of Gordon Fee)

We cannot all design rockets, though 
from time to time are expected 
to fly. Fuel in excess, every preacher 
can be consumed, it is the precision 
what is lacking. We look then 
to the scholars on fire, mathematicians 
turned pilots, who, refusing to sacrifice 
thrust for trajectory, trajectory for thrust, 
go brightly, leaving us a path of light.




The language of the universe is said 
to be pronounced by finite equation. 
Black wells, immeasurable and growing so, 
reduced to tidy sums. No wonder 
we are formless and void, desperate 
for a word’s warmth, the visible, if illegible breath.




I have not often chosen the better thing.
Firs as cut from construction paper at dusk, 
early morning’s noiseless firmament, 
coffee from disposable cups or Made in China 
while the antique wastes. I have not 
often chosen the better thing, though being 
patient it remains, never taken from me.




Finally called on out 
of necessity or nostalgia. Still, 
a comforter. One folding my hands 
into pockets, I am shepherded 
from exposure’s life sentence.




Someone must go slow
because they all go 
so fast. If no one takes time 
we’ll end up running out 
the clock with nothing full 
about us but the inboxes.




I saw God once, not in a bush 
burning but as a leaf 
dying, preforming a slow pirouette
from a great height to a mass
grave made holy ground. The movement 
was so graceful that for a moment
I felt as if I might dance also.




Many sick admitted, many
unaware of what is
sick. What will they settle for?
Comfortable rooms, entertaining 
speech, pats on the back, 
“there, there, it’s not so bad.”

Are they contented to sit 
in judgement of one another
or will they turn 
to sit in circles, waiting with the one 
ear left since Gethsemane?




Some we come to see
soar, heard as a symphony 
from the back seats.
Most we come to see struggle,
heard as a child’s recital, the off 
notes clanging in our chest 
cavities, permitting us also 
to risk approaching the piano.




Locally sourced in weather and weeds, appeased only 
by death’s happenstance, certain as a tossed coin. 
No, far more strange

than known, free than owned.
Procreator of Methuselah’s star, yet drawn to sit 
around our ailing fires, even to gather the ritual’s kindling.




Her song, shouted into the wind 
with no drum, no accompaniment 
but hunger pangs. I asked if you heard 

from beyond time and matter, half 
condemning your distance. “I have”
came the echo “and made you 
near enough to reply.”




The rite long mistaken 
as proof of allegiance is made 
holy by the spark, locatable 
at the start of time’s long chain 
reaction, warming here a space 
left in straw. The gap 
between the cherubim filled. 




Geese, not angels, past 
my kitchen window this Christmas 
night. I strain to spot a form, obscured 

in frost and fog, but hear clear the new 
creature’s cry east up river; the history 
sending hope to all future.




Flesh as feed, a body holy
for the hungry in a trough. 
Herdsmen corralled to make 
matters worse, signing to all 
things they are made clean. 
A girl with no longer a secret 
in utero but in heart, treasure 
hidden in a field.




The impenetrable promise was 
the house wouldn’t collapse in
such dramatic or unpredictable 
weather, but it’s the creeping 
erosion of a faith not attending 
the depreciation report 
that worries, the footings 
hammered at youth into bedrock 
washing unnoticed to sand.




Ninety-nine left unanswered 
on the hillside as the one stray prayer 

is tracked in the dark. Not so lost 
to hope’s precarious edge, 

it will be a long walk 
back, but the burden is treasured 

and joy sits expectant 
on the horizon with first light.




A star once, I spread 
warmth on a limited sphere 
of living. Flowers along with 
civilizations rose and fell in 
the inevitability of my benevolence. 
At some indistinguishable point 
there happened a tip inside
from expulsion to implosion, 
so that now I consume only, 
insatiable and vast, no morsel 
of matter or history satisfying
the shadow of my appetite.




So this is where it ran, on the Severn,
your antipathy to industry’s toxic reach grasping
at your mother tongue 
up river. If ignitable would you burn it
as the cottages, caring little for the fallout
in the name of nature’s better principles?




I haven’t met God much
outside a handshake 
or a hug. He seems to tie himself 
up in the fragile trust we tether 
to one another. God exists
largely in the connections we make 
and break and make again. 
We’re always breaking.
So God sets himself in the torn 
bread and the bloody places 
we scaffold, having chosen
not to shy away from the horror 
of our relations but extending 
his hands in a show of trust 
we do not know 
how to offer one another.




I came to Manafon
for melancholy, but the country 
church was not silent 
in the least. Filled instead 
with birdsong and talk
shared with a vicar
of golden heart, plucked 
from the man’s body 
hanging in the window. 
No grave faith here now. 
Only saints alive with colour
and a winter valley speaking 
quite clearly for God.




In the sparse room, away 
from commercialism’s bustling 
temples, we prayed. They 
bowed in silence, I 
sat in tears, as we all tried 
to put God together 
with the children eastward 
under the rubble.




So it’s on us, is it 
– famine, fire? I will give 
you Hiroshima, the camps 
and gulags, but when 
the plates are in conflict 
what have we to do with it? 
Original sin feels woefully 
unoriginal now, an 
ancient history I doubt 
tectonic. What have you then 
to say for yourself? Come down 
from that question mark 
and we’ll believe you.